Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1996



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 to commence this afternoon's business. Are there any introductions before we begin the daily routine?



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 950



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



Whereas the Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta have already cancelled plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; and





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Whereas despite attending this forum last year and meeting with corporate bigwigs, Nova Scotia is no better off one year later as a result of this trip by the Premier; and



Whereas the Premier will spend at least $30,000 of taxpayers' money by returning to Davos, Switzerland, this year;



Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier of Nova Scotia is insisting on going while other provinces are cancelling, the Premier provide Nova Scotians with a detailed agenda of his actions while in Switzerland, including the number of meetings, who the meetings were with and the potential benefits to Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 951



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 consistent, constant, continued theme of the Liberal Government has been that there is no money; and



Whereas this week alone ministers are skating around their commitments to one-tiered social assistance, special needs education, and basic transportation links like the Bluenose ferry; and



Whereas the Premier has, nevertheless, found $25,000 of taxpayers' money to pay his admission to a conference in Switzerland as part of a busy program designed to keep him as far away from Nova Scotians as humanly possible;



Therefore be it resolved that a Liberal Government that tells families in poverty, school children, the unemployed and others that there is no money, should provide citizens with a written explanation of why the $25,000 admission fee is a higher priority.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Lunenburg.



RESOLUTION NO. 952



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



Whereas Composites Atlantic Ltd. of Lunenburg has been awarded a $127,739 contract to design, produce and test composites that would outperform conventional materials currently being used in space; and



Whereas Composites Atlantic Ltd. was one of only five Atlantic Canadian firms chosen for projects to advance Canadian space technology; and



Whereas composite materials are increasingly replacing conventional ones in space structures;



Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Composites Atlantic Ltd. on the receipt of this contract and wish it continued success in future contractual competitions.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Kings West.



RESOLUTION NO. 953



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



Whereas when the Opposition called for the question on Bill No. 47 during Committee of the Whole House on Bills, the government insisted on talking on the title and leaving no time under the government's own imposed closure rules for the House to consider amendments; and



Whereas after filibustering their own legislation, the Minister of Health and Government House Leader publicly stated they had hoped to introduce amendments to the bill; and



Whereas if the Liberal Government was sincere in its desire to amend Bill No. 47, it would have jumped at the opportunity presented to it yesterday to take the Opposition House time to introduce its amendments;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government acknowledge that it had absolutely no intention to introduce amendments to Bill No. 47 and that their public statements to the contrary were pure political gamesmanship.



MR. SPEAKER: Pure political, what was the last word?



MR. MOODY: Gamesmanship.



MR. SPEAKER: All right.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.





RESOLUTION NO. 954



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



Whereas two Cape Bretoners will be honoured by the Crime Prevention Society of Nova Scotia on January 25th; and



Whereas Mary Penny of Sydney and Constable Ronnie Donovan of Glace Bay will be recognized respectively for their work with the Block Parent Program and the Glace Bay Police Boys and Girls Club; and



Whereas Ms. Penny and Constable Donovan were recognized for their efforts and hard work by the Cape Breton Regional Police Force;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature commend Mary Margaret Penny and Constable Ronnie Donovan for their efforts in assisting youth in Cape Breton obtain a better way of life.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Yarmouth.



RESOLUTION NO. 955



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



Whereas the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission has adopted a fair and safe play policy; and



Whereas this policy will promote fair and safe play in Nova Scotia's sport and recreation facilities, both indoor and outdoor; and



Whereas this policy was developed by the Provincial Fair and Safe Play Committee, established in the fall of 1994 following a racist incident in a Nova Scotia arena;



Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the committee for developing the policy and encourage all sport organizations in the province to adopt the policy as part of their operational procedures.



Mr. Speaker, I request 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.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 956



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



Whereas despite repeated requests, the Premier has so far refused to speak to the Prime Minister about the economic disaster looming over the people of southwestern Nova Scotia with the cancellation of winter ferry service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor; and



Whereas the Premier will leave next week on his passage to India; and



Whereas his trip abroad will provide him with an opportunity to bring to the Prime Minister's attention the need to ensure passage to New England's vital commercial markets is maintained by way of ferry service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier make good use of his time abroad by calling on the Prime Minister to provide whatever support is necessary to ensure winter ferry service is reinstated between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor as soon as possible.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



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



Whereas on May 11, 1993, the Premier specifically promised, on behalf of this government that, "workers' compensation will be forthcoming to those employees who become environmentally ill as a direct result of their workplace environment"; and



Whereas today Ann Thompson, one such employee, is going to court to seek enforcement of a Workers' Compensation Appeal Board decision that she should receive compensation; and



Whereas the government has recognized that it can and should act to ensure that the workers' compensation system fulfils the objectives set out for it by the government;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Labour Minister to appear as a party before the court in support of Ann Thompson and to provide all other possible support for her battle to gain enforcement of the policy on workers' compensation for environmental illness that the Liberals promised.



MR. SPEAKER: I don't believe that resolution to be in order because we have a long time precedent here that we don't comment on matters that are before the courts, certainly not to the point of attempting to intervene in court hearings or decisions.



The honourable member for Victoria.



RESOLUTION NO. 957



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



Whereas the revitalized Cape Smokey ski facility in Ingonish will celebrate its grand opening this weekend; and



Whereas operated by the Ski Cape Smokey Society, the ski facility includes a new quad chair life, an expanded lodge and a new snow groomer making Cape Smokey one of the best ski facilities in the Maritimes; and



Whereas the dedication of the Ski Cape Smokey Society has rescued the hill from the brink of closure, with the help of ACOA, the Economic Renewal Agency and the municipality;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the community-based effort of the Ski Cape Smokey Society in revitalizing Ski Cape Smokey while inviting all Nova Scotians to enjoy a great Cape Breton Highland ski experience this weekend.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It appears agreeable.



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



The motion is carried unanimously.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 958



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



Whereas residents of Parrsboro and other communities across Nova Scotia are being impacted by the loss of bus service; and



Whereas four members of Cabinet were stymied yesterday when asked for details on the Premier's special Cabinet committee allegedly appointed over one year ago to examine the issue of inter-urban bus travel across Nova Scotia; and





Whereas despite both public and from statements made in this Legislature by the members for Cumberland South and Chester-St. Margaret's, Nova Scotians have not been provided with one iota of information concerning government's promised look into inter-urban bus travel;



Therefore be it resolved that in the future, instead of playing tag team during Question Period on an issue of considerable importance to thousands of Nova Scotians, this Savage Government become serious and see whether a viable inter-urban bus transportation policy can be implemented in Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



Are there any further notices of motion? If not, I have a request from the Government House Leader to revert to the item of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Insurance Commission Annual Report for the year 1994-95.



MR. SPEAKER: The annual report is tabled.



There will be copies distributed now to all members.



I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. He has submitted a resolution for debate:



[12:15 p.m.]



Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government honour its 1993 election commitment to create a one-tier social assistance system in Nova Scotia.



We will hear discussion of that matter at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon. Now the time being 12:15 p.m., the Oral Question Period today will run for one hour, that is until 1:15 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



PREMIER - TRAVEL: SWITZERLAND (DAVOS-1995) - BENEFITS ANALYSIS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Premier. The Premier has indicated that he feels there will be a net benefit to the province in his attending again the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Premier did attend that meeting last year. Would the Premier table for the information of the House a report that specifically identifies the benefits that accrued to the province as a result of his attendance at last year's meeting?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk about Davos and the World Economic Forum. It is an opportunity for us and one that we intend to follow. I think it is important to get across to people that this province cannot afford to sit on its duff and expect business to come to us; we have to go after business. (Applause)



Following the very successful G-7 Summit that we held this year and the fact that we broke ground in going there last year, the opportunities for networking with a number - there are some 300 presidents and CEOs of large companies - the opportunities that one has for meeting with those is very important. The opportunity of laying the seed for some further development is one of the reasons that one goes to these kinds of conferences.



It is also very important to remember that many of the companies are in the areas that this province has chosen as opportunities for development: pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, aerospace. These are the people, for instance, who we met with and will continue to meet with.



I think it is very important to impress upon companies and CEOs of companies like the ones that I have referred to, that Nova Scotia is a good place in which to invest, that it is, after many years of wasted opportunities, getting its financial house in order and that what we tell them may not produce results in 1995 but the follow-up is very important. I have no hesitation in saying that this province will gain not in quantifiable amounts that you can say by January 3rd so and so will be here, but in creating and sustaining the image of Nova Scotia as a good place in which to invest. (Applause)



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I really had only asked the Premier to table a report identifying the benefits, I wasn't inviting him to make a speech.



Could the Premier indicate the size of the group that will be accompanying him on his trip to Switzerland? If so, will these people be travelling at the taxpayers' cost or will they be travelling at the expense of some other group? Could he give us some idea of the size of the group that will be accompanying him?



THE PREMIER: One of the important parts of this is the staff work that goes with it. I will be taking a senior deputy minister, a senior trade commissioner. I would like to tell you, Mr. Speaker, with a tremendous pride, that we are going on the lowest possible tourist class seat sale, $570 return, booked well in advance, so we can get there at the least possible expense to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. (Applause)



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for at least a small amount of detail on the trip. I certainly encourage, since the Premier is going to be doing some considerable travelling this year, that he continue to seek out the least costly way to travel. I certainly encourage him in that endeavour.



Will the Premier, on return this year from his trip, bearing in mind that it is going to be a more expensive trip this year since he is going to have to pay the membership fee of $25,000, is the Premier prepared, on his return, to table in the House at our next sitting, a full report of the trip and the benefits that are accruing to the province as a result of this particular trip?





THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the attitude taken by the Leader of the Opposition is very credible, we do want to make sure that opportunities are not wasted. However, it is often difficult to put down because one of the conditions that people often ask is that they don't want their names brought back anywhere.



I met last year with people ranging from the President of Ireland to Shimon Peres, not that they were choosing to invest in Nova Scotia, I have to tell you, but the calibre of people is extraordinarily high. The chairmen and the CEOs of companies do not want their names released and there is a certain amount of understandable caution here, they don't want other provinces to know. So all you can report on is the opportunities that we see, the opportunities that may be created by meeting more people. I should also add, Mr. Speaker, some attempt has been made to indicate that others are not going.



I should tell you that both Ontario and Manitoba are sending full delegations with more than Nova Scotia but that is in keeping with our status. So the idea that some come and some go is not an unusual kind of experience. The opportunity that we are creating, not for the people in Ontario who need assistance from welfare, my friend, what we are creating are the opportunities which we will certainly report on. But public consultation is not the secret of networking.



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



PREMIER - TRAVEL: SWITZERLAND (DAVOS-1995) - BENEFITS ANALYSIS



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to go to the Premier on a question similar to those and related to those that were asked of the Premier. Certainly, I think, we would all agree that it is very important that we try to attract businesses to Nova Scotia. Certainly it is also important that if we are going to be spending taxpayers' monies to the tune probably of at least $30,000, we have to have some kind of measurement. We have to have some kind of measurement that we can look at to determine if there is going to be that value there for that money. Even a door to door salesman who is going around selling vacuum cleaners will be assessing what the results were when he came out of a particular neighbourhood, to see if that was worthwhile.



Now the Premier had an opportunity to go last year as a freebie and therefore we have an opportunity in the Government of Nova Scotia to assess and to evaluate if the expenditure of that money would be worthwhile for this year. So my question to the Premier is quite simply this, was an objective evaluation of the benefits that accrued to Nova Scotia as a result of the Premier's attendance last year done and, if so, will the Premier table in this House a copy of that evaluation that was done on the benefits that came out of attendance last year?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I should perhaps remind the Leader of the Third Party first of all that the salesman does not add up at the end of the month his sales, he adds up at the end of the year and two years. It is not important to check at the end of the first week what your sales were when you travel around houses, but what the potential is for many years of sales. That is obviously a lesson that has escaped you. The issue that we have done is that when we got back, we had a post-mortem. We had an analysis of the contacts that were made. We followed up with some of them but at this particular point, there is nothing on paper and I don't intend to put anything on paper that would involve the names of potential customers because that is not what networking is about.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course the Premier would know that the salesmen whose livelihood depends on what they are doing, would want to make sure that they are not wasting their time. The short answer to the second part about tabling it was no.



My second question to the Premier, again dealing with travel, whether you are going to Davos, whether you are going to Boston, Ottawa, Thailand, Vancouver, you name it, you are going by air and air travel involves frequent flyer points. The Premier last February said that there would be a firm policy in place by May or June of last year on frequent flyer points. My question to the Premier is quite simply, where is that firm policy that the Premier promised to have available by late last spring?



THE PREMIER: Alas and alack, Mr. Speaker, in a year of major changes in reform of health, education, community colleges, I have to admit that we have not got a firm policy on that very expensive issue of flyer points. However I do have information for you and that is that yesterday, my secretary was instructed to see that the 101,000 points that I have can now be used on one of the flights that I intend to take either to Sweden or to China in the air company that we will be going on. That will mean that those points, which have been accumulated in business for this province, may go towards creating an even cheaper flight than the very cheap one that I got to Davos.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that just warms my heart. The Premier has said that he on his business alone, the Premier alone, 101,000 points. There are many members of Cabinet, there are many employees of the Province of Nova Scotia who are travelling around the country and around the world on government business and they are accruing frequent flyer points. If those points came to the government books, then thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars could be saved on travel, and that money then used for needed health, education, community services programs. So the Premier may discount this but . . .



MR. SPEAKER: This is the fifth sentence now. The fifth complete sentence.



MR. HOLM: My final question to the Premier. When will we have in place in the Province of Nova Scotia a program that will ensure that not just the Premier, the Premier doesn't have to ask that his points be given for an another purpose, but that the points that are earned on government business are then going to be used for government business and thereby saving many thousands of dollars that could be put to much better use in providing the essential programs and services that this government is so intent on cutting?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the dilemmas you face in being government, sometimes, is that you would dearly like to ask the Opposition a question. When I talked about my cheap fare to Davos, it stands out in remarkable contrast to the only time that the couple over there went to Ontario and they went full fare.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame! Shame!



AN HON. MEMBER: Did you get any frequent flyer points?



THE PREMIER: However, Mr. Speaker, if they are prepared to give us the frequent flyer points to go into a pool, we would be delighted to use them because obviously you get more (Interruptions) flying points the more expensive the air fare. So they would have got more points from that than I would have.



Mr. Speaker, I repeat what I said before. This government has been busy, too busy for most people on the Opposition side. I will tell you, we have not worked out a policy on this; there has been a lot of discussion on it, but we don't have a policy. I will tell you that we will have a policy, but I do not regard it as serious compared to the issues that we have had to debate in the last year.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



ERA - KLM: MARKETING ACCORD - ECONOMIC BENEFITS



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. At the end of 1994, the province, through the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, worked out a deal with KLM whereby the province provided $1.5 million to encourage their marketing efforts of travel to the Province of Nova Scotia. I was wondering if the minister has prepared, as yet, a report that back in November he said he was in the process of putting together, which would describe what economic benefits accrued to the Province of Nova Scotia from that investment of $1.5 million back in 1994?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr Speaker, we indicated at the time, I believe in response to a press question at that time for a full accounting, that we would aim for spring of 1996. We are still on target for that. The expiry date is March, 1996, I believe, and we intend to, as we have said on a number of occasions, put before the taxpayers of this province a full accounting, a full statement of return on investment for those funds.



[12:30 p.m.]



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as part of this agreement, as I understand it, the province was provided with some cargo space for companies to take over materials to demonstrate in European markets and also a number of tickets to and from Nova Scotia to Europe. I was wondering if the minister could advise the House either today or by way of a report at some future date, perhaps next week sometime, of the number of persons both in government and outside of government who were provided with tickets under that program and what the purpose of their particular trips to Europe were for?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we provided that information to the honourable Leader of the Third Party and to the press. I would have no hesitation in providing the information on who has taken advantage of the various categories of this accord to the honourable member.



MR. RUSSELL: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is that this agreement expires, as I understand it, some time in April of this present year. Will this type of agreement be entered into with Icelandic Air and are there still some tickets available through KLM for the government and the Civil Service?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, again, in response to questions some time ago, it is incumbent on our government, our marketing department, to enter into cooperative advertising marketing accords with airlines who visit the Halifax International - I state that again, International - Airport here. They bring tourists and business people and investment and cargo opportunities. So there will be other agreements, cooperative marketing and advertising agreements with airlines. There are now, there will be in the future.





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



SUPPLY AND SERV. - N.S. HOSP.: HEATING CONTRACT - AWARD



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Supply and Services. The Minister of Supply and Services, in November 1994, indicated through the public tender office that he was interested in having people bid to qualify for doing the heating work at three provincial facilities. Two of those facilities have already been awarded. Since November 1994, the third one has still not yet been awarded. I was wondering if the minister would indicate when the heating contract for the Nova Scotia Hospital will, in fact, be awarded?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite. That is the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth? Is that what you are referring to? I do not have that information at my fingertips. We will look into the matter for you and we will let you know in due course.



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary?



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, no. He has indicated he would be furnishing me with the information. I would like to go with a new question if I could, Mr. Speaker?



MR. SPEAKER: By all means. The honourable member for Kings North.



NAT. RES. - NSRL: ASSETS - SALE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister of Natural Resources will recall that on Tuesday in Question Period he indicated that on the sale of NSRL that he was going to do the absolute best he could for all Nova Scotia taxpayers and get as much money for the proceeds as possible. In April 1995, the Minister of Natural Resources met with a Mr. Lorenzo Cheong from Malaysia. In May 1995, Mr. Cheong indicated that he wanted to purchase the shares of Nova Scotia Resources at a 50 per cent interest in the Cohasset and Panuke oil production and 100 per cent of the Penobscot oil field. Mr. Cheong, of Malaysia, came to Halifax to put forward a formal proposal of purchase to the government and I am wondering if the minister can indicate why, in April, he would not meet with Mr. Cheong nor would the agent selling NSRL accept his offer?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the disposition of those assets, the member opposite would have heard on Tuesday in Question Period, the issue is Rothschild is a corporation and a company that is doing the disposition of those assets and for Mr. Cheong to deal with me would be considered political interference. He has a process to go through Rothschild. They are the ones, in fact, that will be dealing with the disposition and the clients. It is up to them to make that determination as to who they want to deal with.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the insightful information but I think we have a real problem. Mr. Cheong arrived from Malaysia, a country that the Premier is flying all the way over to try to entice people to come to Nova Scotia. He arrived from Malaysia with a $50 million line of credit signed from his bank and an offer to spend $250 million in the next two years in Nova Scotia's offshore. Would it not have been prudent for the Minister of Natural Resources to talk to a gentleman that wanted to get heavily involved in Nova Scotia's offshore? Why would the minister not meet with him and why would he not demand that Rothschild have a look at his offer?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite, whatever information he has got and whatever facts he is so-called allegedly bringing forward to the House are accurate. I believe the issue in regard to Mr. Cheong and Rothschild has been discussed, people have brought the issue forward and their concerns at whether or not they were treated fairly. I believe that the process was handled properly and effectively. In regard to Rothschild dealing with this particular file, I would ask the member opposite if he could bring to the members of this House any proof that would prove that Rothschild, which is one of the most respected international companies in dealing with these matters, have done something wrong. If he wants to challenge Rothschild's ability to deal with the disposition of these assets, bring the information or proof forward that they have done something wrong and obviously, that will be looked at. They are a reputable firm. If he is saying that they are not a reputable firm to deal with the disposition, so be it. I happen to think they are a very reputable firm and that they have handled this process in a very professional manner, something that maybe he should take a look at himself.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, for the minister to indicate I am challenging Rothschild, I am not challenging Rothschild at all, I am challenging the minister. When a gentleman arrives from Malaysia with $250 million and he says, I want to do business in Nova Scotia and the minister won't meet with him, I have got a problem with that. Would the minister indicate then how many offshore oil companies Rothschild has sold? I am not challenging or criticizing Rothschild in the least, they are a fine company but this is the first time they have sold an offshore oil company. Perhaps it would have been prudent for the minister to maybe have a look and see if there was another company offering more than $50 million and promising to spend more than $200 million in our offshore. Why didn't the minister challenge Rothschild to meet with the gentleman with that kind of money when the Premier is going to spend taxpayers' money to try to bring them to here?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member opposite indicated that he had problems and I would concur that he has problems, to what degree, I won't entertain those comments here on the floor. I will say that Rothschild is a company that is absolutely without dispute one of the best companies anywhere in dealing with the disposition of assets. Mr. Cheong had presented his situation to Rothschild, they determined it was not to their advantage to deal in this particular file for whatever reasons that were there and I would assume that those are accurate and legitimate reasons. With regard to a minister interfering with a process that is trying to be dealt with at arm's length, at any other time it would be perceived to be or it would be alleged to be or it would be presented in this House as being political interference for which this minister is not interested in pursuing.



I am fully aware of the potentials for the offshore, I am fully aware there are a number of companies that are prepared to invest in Nova Scotia's offshore which is evident in the Pan Canadian purchase of LASMO, which is evident in the fact that a consortium of individuals have purchased some $86 million or bid $86.4 million for 74,000 hectares of exploration opportunity in the offshore. I am very much aware that there are companies that are showing all sorts of interest in Nova Scotia's offshore and that will continue as long as we are in government in this province, to make sure we provide an environment to foster economic activity for Nova Scotians, in Nova Scotia and that is really the way we have handled it all along. Thank you.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



CONSTITUTION (CDN.) - P.E.I. VETO: ALL-PARTY COMM. - MEET



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. In October, the Premier responded to a suggestion that we become involved in an all-Party approach to Nova Scotia's position on the issue of national unity. We had an early meeting and we met again on December 1st. Among others present at that meeting were the Premier, myself and the Leader of the New Democratic Party.



I was under the distinct impression that we had a verbal agreement with the Premier that we would have an opportunity to discuss Nova Scotia's position on matters that related to national unity. I did write to the Premier on December 15th, suggesting an earlier meeting, earlier than the arrangement that we made on December 1st, and that was to meet on December 22nd, as I felt that the Prime Minister's initiatives were certainly not appropriate in addressing the issue of the day. I did not hear from the Premier on that issue. I will table the documents, which is the record of the meeting of December 1st, and, as well, my letter of December 15th to the Premier.



I learned today in reading the press that, in fact, the Premier has worked out a deal with Maritime Premiers to address the issue of the veto of Prince Edward Island in the arrangement that was suggested by the Prime Minister. So, from that it looks like the all-Party arrangement that we initially agreed to has gone by the way because I was not party to any discussions with the Premier as to the position of Nova Scotia on the issue of the Prince Edward Island veto.



Not wishing to discuss the issue itself but the way in which the issue was addressed by the Premier, would the Premier confirm that, in fact, there is now no all-Party process in this province on the issue of national unity?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would not confirm that.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, then through you to the Premier, if that is the case, then when does the Premier intend to call a meeting of this committee to discuss the arrangement that he has negotiated with the other Atlantic Premiers on the issue of a Prince Edward Island veto?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition should not take everything for granted that he sees in the media. What we have done is to work out a potential agreement that satisfies some of the legitimate aspirations of the smallest province of the four. It has not been signed, it has not gone to the Leader - well, it may have gone but I don't know that Mr. Wells is that interested in it at the moment, it has not gone to Newfoundland.



At the moment these are negotiations, in an attempt to address the very legitimate concerns of P.E.I. Insofar as the team approach here, the reason that we did not have the meeting - which, by the way, your letter may have been faxed, I didn't get it until the following Monday because I was out of the office on Friday, Friday was the 15th - is because I also said that I would include in the meeting representatives of the aboriginal communities. We were unable to arrive at a satisfactory way to create the opportunity for the four main groups to come together, until really just a couple of days ago.



The process will continue, you will be consulted and the opportunity to have input on what we have discussed with P.E.I. will be given to you. Nothing is signed, this is purely and simply an attempt to address the issue of a very small island that feels very uncomfortable with a veto that, were the veto to be exercised by two provinces with 50 per cent of the vote, P.E.I. doesn't count. The Premier of New Brunswick and the Premier of Newfoundland and myself, at telephone conversations, agreed that we needed to address this issue. We have given a letter of comfort, I suppose would be the word, to the Premier of Prince Edward Island but it is not yet finished, it is not signed. You will have the opportunity to comment before that.



DR. HAMM: The way it was reported, and the Premier may or may not have seen this, was that the Premier has agreed to extend to P.E.I. full status under the new rule. I will table that.



[12:45 p.m.]



I wish to comment on the fact that it would never have certainly been my appreciation of our arrangement in the all-Party committee that in fact an external arrangement would be made with other Premiers or with the Prime Minister, that discussions would take place prior to discussions taking place at the all-Party committee; it would seem to me that the cart somehow has gotten in front of the horse. By way of final supplementary, would the Premier indicate then just when he plans to call the next meeting of the all-Party or Tripartite Committee on National Unity?



THE PREMIER: As soon as possible, Mr. Speaker.



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



HALIFAX FAIRVIEW: BY-ELECTION - CALL



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to also go to the Premier on another matter dealing with democracy. Of course, in democracy, it is a generally accepted practice that the people who live in an area get to select their representative who is going to represent them and their concerns in the governing body in the province and country. I can understand that the Premier, as Leader of the Liberal Party, may want to be able to have a say at least in who is going to be representing his Party in any by-election, or any election, but he certainly does not have the right to hand-pick who is going to be representing constituents.



So my question to the Premier, why is it that he has chosen to deny the residents of Halifax Fairview the right to have their own elected representative, elected by themselves, sitting in this House in time for the spring sitting of the session and the important budget debate that will be occurring at that time?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party, who has vast experience in this House, knows full well that everything is legal, that there is a six month time period during which an election must be called. I would remind him that, for several months before that, the riding was significantly neglected by the peripatetic travelling of the now Leader of the federal Party. We didn't raise the difficulty with that; in fact, we were so touched with that, that was when I asked the member for Halifax Bedford Basin to stand in and to supply some of the needs of that constituency.



AN HON. MEMBER: Who looks after the Premier's riding?



MR. HOLM: Yes, I wonder who is looking after and who is going to be looking after the Premier's riding while he is doing his globetrotting around the world? I also say, Mr. Speaker, that I never suggested that what the Premier is doing is illegal. It may not be proper, but it is not illegal. My question to the Premier then is quite simply this, what factors - because, obviously, the Premier has decided by delaying the vote, he has obviously decided that the government doesn't have a chance to win that seat - maybe the Premier could tell us what factors persuaded him to deny or to delay the democratic right to the residents of Halifax Fairview, the right to have their representative elected by themselves sitting in this Chamber? What factors caused . . .



MR. SPEAKER: All right, thank you . . .



MR. HOLM: . . . the Premier to put off that vote, which he legally is allowed to do?



MR. SPEAKER: . . . you have asked the question.



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the factors that go into calling a by-election are obviously rather complex. They do involve such things as bad weather. They involve such things as the House sitting and obviously we would not particularly want to inflict on any particular group of people the opportunity in very severe weather, like today, to have a vote. Those kinds of things would disturb us and we will choose it at the appropriate time.



MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Premier's predecessor, Mr. Cameron, put off calling the by-election in Halifax Atlantic and that is when his former Premier went to Ottawa, now a senator, and the Premier's immediate predecessor, of course, very shortly went to Boston after his decision. There are many features that do go into deciding when a by-election will be called. I would suggest that one of those has to do with opinion polls more than with the weather. My question to the Premier is quite simply, why has he chosen to put off or to delay the democratic process for his own partisan political reasons instead of putting the concerns and the democratic rights of the residents who live in that constituency ahead of his own partisan, obviously poor, opinion poll results?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I suppose I could be guided by the fact that I do want to make sure that the people of that riding have the opportunity to be well represented by a Liberal in the next election. I think it highly likely that that circumstance will occur. But I will take the remarks of the Leader of the Third Party into consideration and when I look at the mix and the time and look again at the weather and the very bad sort of circumstances that we face in winter, I will let him know, as is the legal custom.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV.: SOCIAL ASSIST. - SINGLE-TIERED



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Community Services. We had some discussion recently about the relationship of a one-tiered social service system and the process going on in the province of municipal amalgamation. My specific question to the minister is, is the move to a one-tiered social service system tied in any way to municipal amalgamation?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have indicated to various regions of this province that we would be prepared to work with them toward a single-tiered system. While amalgamation may not be taking place, I think it is logical that the cooperation and the working together, an outcome is the amalgamation of several services and that the one-tiered system doesn't necessarily work alone. But from my point of view and my initiatives and the Department of Community Services, we have not had amalgamation as a criteria for moving toward a one-tiered system.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I took from his answer then that he said that the answer was essentially no, they weren't inextricably tied together and that in fact negotiations were going on which were not tied in with municipal amalgamation. The minister nods in agreement.



By way of supplementary, would the minister indicate then which areas of the province other than those three areas of the province that either have had amalgamation or are undergoing amalgamation, in which areas of the province other than those three is he actively engaged or his department actively engaged in discussing a one-tiered social service delivery?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have quite a bit of initiatives on our plate relative to the one-tiered system at this juncture. We have an overall plan that would involve the next several years to complete, to move to a one-tiered system. That has been the initial objective of this government. In Cumberland County and the northern part of the province, we have been working, our staff has been assisting. We have been trying to provide technological and other resources to the municipal units in that particular area. Whether we will move directly within the next short while to a one-tiered system remains to be seen at this juncture. But there is a lot of cooperation and sharing of services that can take place that essentially is part of a one-tiered system. So we are moving to that.



In fact, there is no commitment made to any other region in the province that we would administer a one-tiered system in their particular area. But that is one area that I would suggest to the honourable member that he may want to look at as an area of cooperation.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister. One of the questions that the issue of a one-tiered social service delivery system raises is, will it be the intention of the minister and the government as it takes over the service to use the provincial rate of family benefits, will it use the current municipal rate that is in place now for those services or will it, in fact, be a blended rate, because as the minister is full aware, there is a considerable difference in that allowable under the provincial system and that allowed under the municipal system?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a good point, because one of the main advantages of moving toward a one-tiered system, of course, is within the administrative structure that you are moving to a standardization of rates and policies. As I think the member is indicating, this time there are great variations, not only between family benefits rates and municipal units but also within the municipal units themselves. The logical course of events would be negotiations that would work out a funding formula with the respective municipal regions as they would be at that time, but that would standardize rates across the province.



There may, Mr. Speaker, have to be consideration relative particularly in the area of rents, that that might have to reflect regional differences. I think that would be the main area that there might be some variation in. This would be all as a result of negotiations with the particular regions as we move to a one-tiered system.





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



JUSTICE - POLICING: MUN. SERV. EXCHANGE - COL./CUMB. CO.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Justice. The minister is probably well aware of the difficulties and quandary several of our municipalities are having with the April 1, 1995, service exchange between the province and the municipalities, relative to policing. The difficulties between Colchester and Cumberland Counties have been in the news quite frequently and their budget considerations with regard to policing. I wonder if the minister has looked into this confusion and has the minister taken any action to alleviate the concern between the two counties?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have tried to communicate with regard to municipal service exchange on policing and other related matters, the cost of prosecutions and fine revenues. In fact, I have written to all mayors and wardens in the province in the last month. This particular matter that is raised, possible problems between Cumberland and Colchester, I am not specifically aware of. I do not recall it being brought to my attention, although in the volume of mail I get it may have come up recently. If so, I would certainly be glad to check on it.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that undertaking by the Minister of Justice because there is some confusion and a little bit of misunderstanding between the two counties over a policing matter. It appears through reports that the Justice Department has corrected the budget confusion in the 1996-97 year, but in the meantime, the government has left budget discrepancies between those two municipalities. In fact, the two municipalities have been left to sort out their differences, I suppose, between themselves. Would the minister, in consultation perhaps with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, see if they could alleviate that particular situation between the two counties?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I implied in the answer to the first question, I would certainly be glad to check with my officials and see what representations we have on the matter. Certainly, I consult frequently on matters such as these on municipal service exchange with my colleague, the Minister of Municipal Affairs. On the other hand, I think I might want to wait until I get some representations from the municipalities involved. If they have some specific questions or matters that they want to raise, if I have not already received them - I am not sure I want to meddle into the matter - however, I will check and see what is there and if there is something there I will certainly try to sort it out and get some answers. If there is no representation from either county, I would rather wait until I hear from one or other of the counties before I go into it. Although I am not sure I can agree with proposals they might put forward, I certainly would be glad to check into it.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would never suggest that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General is not conscientious, but I think if he does get a chance to check his mail bag, he will find that he does have some correspondence relative to this concern between the two counties.



Can the Minister of Justice tell the House if he is satisfied that the Enfield RCMP detachment has an adequate and sufficient number of officers to serve the vast area that they are required to serve and protect?





MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned I should check my mail bag and I have already indicated I would. I may well have correspondence from either or both of those counties on the possible or perceived problems and I will certainly undertake, as I did earlier, to check on that.



The matter of the policing out of Enfield, I don't have the letter with me but I know I wrote a detailed letter to the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on the matter of policing and I am satisfied that the matter is being dealt with fairly and reasonably. It is my understanding that the service being provided there is a reasonable one, given the resources of the province and of the municipal units involved.



[1:00 p.m.]



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



HEALTH - COMMUN. HEALTH BDS.: ESTABLISHMENT - UPDATE



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The Blueprint Committee Report, and I want to quote just a couple of lines, the quote I want to read, the Blueprint Committee Report said, "To ensure we do not centralize services at the regional level at the same time as we are trying to decentralize the decision making process, the interim RHBs should begin the process of establishing CHBs immediately. Therefore, the highest priority of the interim RHBs should be to determine community boundaries and facilitate the establishment of CHBs in the region.". I think the minister is familiar with that quote.



I wonder if the minister could bring us up-to-date on what has been done with the establishing of community health boards by regional health boards in the province?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question on the part of the honourable member opposite. It provides an opportunity through his question to thank the members of the boards that are so diligently pursuing that particular objective. However, it would require a fairly lengthy answer.



I might begin by saying that the various boards are in different states or different phases of the development of community health boards. The major coordination of that, in cooperation with the regional health boards as they exist, is a function of the systems reform branch of the department and that is proceeding.



It might be useful, if I might suggest, that perhaps I could table a résumé of where we are in that regard and the system reform branch in cooperation with the CEOs of the regional health boards could provide that perhaps fairly quickly and I could pursue that this afternoon, if the honourable gentleman opposite might find that interesting.



MR. MOODY: I know the minister is sincere in offering me that information and I very much appreciate it. I just hope that I actually do get it. I am sincere and I know the minister is sincere. If his staff could provide it, it would be very useful. I think the minister wants to tell what is going on, if there are good things happening, and I think this is a good thing and I think we ought to know where it is at.





I wonder if the minister could tell us the progress that has been made in identifying community regional and provincial core services. As I understand it, the regional health boards may get into different services but there will be a core service in all of the regions. I wonder if the minister could tell us the progress that has been made in that area.



DR. STEWART: Again, Mr. Speaker, I might include some reporting in that regard. The determination of core services and the issues surrounding that very important function is being carried out by a division of policy and planning within the department, in cooperation with the regional board chairs and the CEOs which meet on a regular basis. The work continues on that.



However, I believe that the priority is being given to the CHBs, the community health boards and their creation and the boundaries thereof.



MR. MOODY: The minister has indicated that the core services are being put together by the planning committee and by the chairs and some of the regional health board members, I suppose, will have input. I am wondering, through you, Mr. Speaker, if the minister would indicate if there is an opportunity for the public to have at some point a look or some say about the regional core services that will be provided because otherwise, in the minister's answers thus far, I see no opportunity for the public to either react or have a say on what the final core services will be in the four regions of the province.



DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I could say that part of the process of the core service issue will be the process by which those are finally agreed to and part of that is the consultation with various groups and the public in general, so I could include that in a brief report as well.



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



HEALTH: QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE BD. - MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am looking forward to that information as well. On a new question, and I am wondering if the minister, and I haven't been able to determine this and I have been asked this, hospitals will be reporting to the regional health boards and to the minister. I am wondering if the QE II Health Sciences Centre board will report to the regional health board here, the central health board, or directly to the Minister of Health? I don't know if that has ever been officially stated and I am still confused. I wonder if the minister could answer that?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, for clarification, all health programs, and particularly facilities, there will be a management structure set up under the regional health boards for all facilities within the province. Having said that, the discussion at the moment is the specialized nature of the tertiary care facilities and how they may relate, not only to the central regional board here, but also to the provincial programs and services board which must be set up to ensure a standard of provincial programs across the province. So although it is more - I would say - complex in regard to tertiary care facilities in the central region, it is still an announced intention that all facilities, i.e. hospitals, would come under the management structure of a regional health board.



MR. MOODY: I think I am beginning to get a clearer picture. The facility's management structure is what the minister is talking about and I understand would be put in place in each of the four regions to oversee the administration of the hospitals. I guess, could the minister indicate if this means that the facility management committee will be responsible for human resources management for all the hospitals in the region, including the employees of the QE II? Would that come under that regional management structure that he is talking about, the human resources side?



DR. STEWART: Yes, and the honourable gentleman opposite calls to attention, I think by implication, the complex nature of the tertiary care facilities particularly in relation to, for example, the QE II and the labour issues. Those are the very issues that are being considered very carefully as we proceed to set up a management structure that would be consistent with the legislation and consistent with the announced intention for regional health boards to oversee the management of the facilities. So that issue is one under discussion. It has not yet been decided and would not be until, of course, the regional health boards have conversations with those facilities and with those involved in that. So it is not yet decided. That is part of the discussion, however.



MR. MOODY: I thank the minister for his answer. I assume it will be done by April 1st or sometime - it can't go on forever, not knowing - I expect there is a date. I wonder if the minister could indicate, through you, Mr. Speaker, I know the regional health boards are not paid and I am not sure if the chairpersons receive an honorarium or not, maybe the minister could indicate whether the regional health board chairpersons do receive an honorarium and whether or not the regional health board members - I know they are not paid at the present time - but is there any thought by government to start paying the regional health board members in 1996 or in the future?



DR. STEWART: The policy as we had agreed on in discussions, both with the regional health boards and in the tradition set, I think, by the previous administration, is that this is a voluntary effort and a volunteer effort of great value, but that expenses would be covered as the honourable gentleman opposite suggests. That is the policy; it will remain the policy, keeping in mind the enormity of the task that we have actually asked these boards to undertake. I would say that at present there is no effort on the part of the regional health boards or, indeed, on the ministry's part, to change that policy. I do believe, however, that the whole issue of reimbursement and remuneration for boards, particularly in the field of health, needs to be revisited on an ongoing basis to make sure that we do a proper job of that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



CONSTITUTION (CDN.) - P.E.I. VETO: PUBLIC PROCESS - PLANS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Premier. The Premier is aware that one of the major criticisms of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown processes was the failure to make them totally transparent. The Premier, I am sure, is aware, through you, Mr. Speaker, that the Meech Lake and Charlottetown processes were somewhat flawed in that they were not totally transparent; in fact, this was a very strong criticism of the Meech Lake process. The public is demanding, of course, in the issue of the changes in the Constitution and the issues of national unity that there will be complete transparency. My question to the Premier, now that he has indicated to the Maritime Premiers his personal position, I understand, on the issue of the constitutional veto, what kind of public process does he plan to undertake to involve more people before the province is totally committed to this particular position and to other positions that the government may take on constitutional veto or other issues of constitutional change?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I have said so far is that the Province of Nova Scotia, speaking for the Liberal Government, endorses the two issues that were put forward by the Prime Minister; that would hardly surprise the Leader of the Opposition. The consideration of other issues, the question of public hearings, the question of how involved people will get, why those are the very issues that I would choose to speak to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Leader of the Third Party and to our native peoples in the upcoming months. I think it is very worthy of discussion and input and I will be delighted to discuss it with him.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, on an earlier question, I had asked the Premier when he felt that he would be calling the next meeting of the all-Party committee. I know the Premier will be travelling extensively over the next number of days, so is it the Premier's intention then, shortly after his return to Nova Scotia, that he will be calling a meeting of that committee or is he thinking of sometime in the more distant future?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, obviously this week has been a very difficult week for me. I have had more meetings than I would have liked to have had by virtue of the necessity of putting a lot of work into this particular week. I haven't had the opportunity, but if it is the wish of the two Leaders opposite, I am quite prepared to nominate my Deputy Premier to sit in on this when I am away and to engage in the kind of dialogue which could indeed be constructive.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, thank you, but it would be perhaps preferable to have the Premier present at those meetings.



By way of final supplementary, what is the intention of the Premier in terms of the involvement of this Legislature in issues of concern and issues that have a bearing on national unity? Will the Premier be introducing resolutions to be debated in this House? Will he be simply consulting members of his own caucus or his own Cabinet? How does he plan to take issues of this nature and have them debated publicly?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would be presumptuous of me to give my views now when I have not consulted with the Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the Third Party or the Leaders of the Mi'Kmaq. So, it is my intention to look at those processes to see the ways, there are certain legal requirements about public hearings, should there be changes constitutionally, which we cannot get around. By and large, it is the feeling of most of the Premiers that I have spoken with - and I have spoken with many in the last while and to the Prime Minister's office - that we proceed with due caution, always understanding that the situation in Quebec may, indeed, accelerate when Monsieur Bouchard becomes the Premier of Quebec this month. It is a matter of keeping it under review, the intergovernmental staff that I have have been doing that and the next process is to consult with the Leaders that I have indicated.



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



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: 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.



[1:15 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



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



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is there a speaker to the motion? It was won by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



[Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government honour its 1993 election commitment to create a one-tier social assistance system in Nova Scotia.]



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSIST.: SINGLE-TIER - COMMITMENT HONOUR



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in my place this evening and speak on the motion that was put forward by the honourable member from beautiful Musquodoboit Valley. Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, I am the person who is going to be delivering the debate this evening for our Party.



It is a time for us to reflect a little bit on the winter and spring of 1993. Perhaps you will recall that the Liberals in this province were promising anything and everything to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the Nova Scotia electorate. I want to inform you, Mr. Speaker, as you know, they were successful, because the people of Nova Scotia liked what the government was saying they were going to do when they became government.



If you look at the policy paper on municipal reform, you will see why the people liked it. It said Liberals, ". . . believe the province should serve people - so-called `universal services' (such as social assistance) - and municipalities should service property - in effect, `local services' . . .". So what the Liberal Government said was that the provincial government should provide social services and the municipality local services.



Well, Mr. Speaker, this government has not lived up to the commitment. In fact, they have made the situation worse. Look at what has transpired. Not only did the Government of Nova Scotia not assume a one-tiered social services system throughout Nova Scotia, but they also have slapped two caps upon provincial contributions for social services programs within the municipal units. Now, this was a surprise; this wasn't what people thought in the winter and spring of 1993. This wasn't what the Liberals were saying when they were campaigning, but this is what we got. That is why people got the surprise.



The Minister of Community Services announced a cost-shared rate of 50 per cent to the level of the 1994-95 expenditures for all general assistance and the Canada Assistance Plan shareable administrative expenditures. So we had a freeze. The Department of Community Services placed a cap on expenditures made on behalf of individuals in community-based residential options.



To make matters even worse, if that is imaginable, the measures were carried out after the municipal units set their tax rates. I mean that is hard to believe, Mr. Speaker. However, it seems that we have a government for Cape Breton that tried its best to keep its word, certainly on that, and we have a government for the rest of the province, because in Cape Breton this government did indeed keep its promise and has taken over all the municipal responsibilities for social services costs. But look what happened in Halifax. Hard to believe. The municipality is going to be stuck with paying the bills and the Minister of Community Services said his department would do the administration. That doesn't sound to me like what they were saying in the winter and spring of 1993. It is not the same.



Just recently, in Queens County, the Minister of Municipal Affairs when they were talking with the two municipal units in Queens, prior to their amalgamation, indicated the province was only too happy to take over the entire social services cost. But what happened? I merely have to ask my friend for Queens, and you know what happened, Mr. Speaker, because the debate that ensued in this Legislature became rather riotous and uncontrollable at one time and your stern self had to intervene and eject my colleague for Queens for his rather boisterous behaviour in having his discussion with the minister, because the minister made a commitment that was not lived up to.



Mr. Speaker, we now have three different systems operating in Nova Scotia. There is Cape Breton, Halifax and then there is the rest of us. So instead of making things smoother, better, cheaper and more cost-effective, what they have done is what they have done in health care, education, transportation: confusion, a hodgepodge. I remember the first question I asked the Premier after he became Premier. He said, I have to give you a lecture on verticality. Well we didn't even know what that meant but he told me, he said it means, when you get this department not talking to this department, and this minister not talking to this minister, well, you know, he has fulfilled the definition because . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: A self-fulfilling prophecy.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, a self-fulfilling prophecy because this Premier and this government practice and have almost perfected verticality because, Mr. Speaker, neither one minister knows what the other is doing and certainly Nova Scotians have no idea either. This is the government that says one thing and does another. It is the old saying, do as I say, not as I do.



I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, what the municipal units are saying and I will table the letters if you want to read all of them. Kings County ". . . strongly objects on two fronts to the recent action taken by the Province relating to the approval of Provincial budgets for Municipal General Assistance and Administration programs.". See, Kings County is not happy. I could read more. "To impose these funding changes unilaterally flies in the face of Service Exchange and is totally unacceptable.". That is from Kings County and that is where I am from so I hope that you will mend your ways.



The Town of Windsor, ". . . Council's extreme dismay and concern . . .". You see, Mr. Speaker, the UNSM, the budget announcement places two new caps on provincial contributions. "These actions are totally unacceptable to the UNSM. It is a clear demonstration of provincial downloading and comes after municipal tax rates have been set.". Now the UNSM and the Liberal Party used to have a love-in every time they turned around, but, boy, these actions are unacceptable. Even the UNSM has come to realize that this government will tell you one thing and do something else. They are fed up.



If you read the policy papers from 1993, the Liberal Government, ". . . believe the province should serve people - so-called `universal services' . . . and municipalities should service property - in effect, `local services'. . .". Now, you see, that came right out of the Liberal Municipal Reform Policy. Remember the red book that everybody thought was pretty darn good stuff and 42 out of 52 constituencies bought into the package. But I bet, Mr. Speaker, if we could have a crack at an election today, it would be very different.



MR. SPEAKER: One minute remaining.



MR. ARCHIBALD: "A Liberal Government will not change municipal boundaries and structures before providing full information to the public on the impact of such change, . . .". You see, that is another example of this government saying one thing and doing something else. Little wonder we have people so frustrated and so angry at this government because almost everything that was in the red book has been either ignored, changed, or altered so you would never recognize it.



"A Charter of Rights and Responsibilities to distinguish provincial from municipal responsibilities, and to prevent the province from `downloading' . . .". That was what you had in your paper, Mr. Speaker, during the election and now, what is going on, is not preventing the government downloading and, in fact, this government is downloading at a record clip. They are downloading so fast they have to wear a seatbelt and carry a parachute.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, perhaps it is time for the honourable member to take his seatbelt because the time has expired.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, I could carry on and discuss the acts of sleight-of-hand that have taken place by this government with regard to social services but I will allow another speaker to try to defend, perhaps, what this government is doing.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for the opportunity, again, on the late debate to address the issue of a single-tiered system. The resolution addressed this evening, in particular, I thought was appropriate in that it said that the commitment of this government was to create, and I emphasize the word create, a one-tiered social service system in Nova Scotia.



That honourable member for Kings North, who just did speak on behalf of the Official Opposition, knows quite well the matter of which he speaks relative to capping, of course. He did mention Queens County. I believe, as my recollection would serve, that speaking in terms of downloading, when we took over this government, the province was putting about 6 per cent into the social assistance programs in that particular municipal unit. So, yes, there is a great deal of difficulty at the municipal level in coping. This is why we have a plan, we have made a commitment to move to a one-tiered social service system in this province. Now I won't make any more specific comments relative to the speech of the honourable member. He rises in his place occasionally and he does bring these matters forth and I do appreciate and I am sure he will have something to mail out that will read well.



I did, though, Mr. Speaker, want to address, in the short time that we do have, three particular areas. One is to mention welfare reform. Number two would be to address the challenges relative to the one-tiered system. Number three, I would briefly like to touch on child welfare, which really impacts directly on those more vulnerable, particularly the children of the low socio-economic groups.



The reason I want to approach it this way in the brief time, Mr. Speaker, is because the one-tiered system is not a panacea for all the problems. It is not going to address all the issues relative to the CHST changes and the dissolution of CAP and the changes of cost-sharing at the federal level. The days of open-ended social assistance sharing with the federal level is over with and we have to look at new ways of doing business. We need an infrastructure that is strong and sensitive and that is sustainable.



In our welfare reform initiatives, I am pleased to say that I have listed, just here this evening, at least six, but particularly I want to mention the Compass Program, which is a strategic initiative under that program, cost-sharing with the federal government, that we have initiated - both municipal and provincial working together - to get people off social assistance. We will have a report on that shortly and I have had many positive reports from around the province on the success of that particular program, that is the Compass Program.



The Cape Breton pilot project the honourable member has referred to has moved to a one-tiered system and it is being very proactive in moving people from the passive dependency system into one of active job search, job training and job support and transition period support during the time, moving from social assistance into the labour force. In the metro Halifax project, particularly, there is a project working with the municipal unit and the federal government to do away with duplication and overlap within the social assistance program. This will really be moved out to 11 sites in 1996. That is a very important initiative because we know that duplication and overlap are really of much difficulty within our social assistance programs.



The eligibility review, Mr. Speaker, is a project that was implemented in 1994 by this government and it is being extended province-wide to tighten up the eligibility because when people get on social assistance, particularly in the disabled category, then they are often on for a lifetime and we know that the previous system has been far too dependency-creating in those persons who should be moved out into jobs.



The automated tape matching that we have initiated with the federal government, particularly. We have been able to realize savings of $13 million to $15 million per year just by the matching of tapes and we are able to extend that into unemployment insurance and CPP. It is part of eligibility review and it is being done not in a witch hunt, it is being done in a compassionate and caring way.



[6:15 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, there are other projects in the municipal units having to do with technology. Technology is so important. I mentioned the tape matching, that is one area, but also delivery of the service, the providing of checks, the electronic payments directly to banks.





In summary, Mr. Speaker, our initiatives have been directed toward an infrastructure and the policies and procedures relative to social assistance and the one-tiered system, the development of technology and also the programs, we develop programs like we are doing in Cape Breton, that we will be able to take the best and use it in a most appropriate manner.



I don't want to get into dollars and cents, relative to how the cost-sharing and the municipal service exchange went, other than to say that out of that neutral exchange with the provincial government, that we have put between health and social services, over $50 million into that system. In addition, we have put another $11 million in that you don't seem to hear very much about but that is a fact.



So there is an opportunity for a better system, Mr. Speaker. We must protect the municipal units from unpredictable increases and we can, through the one-tiered system, add some stability when a funding formula is worked out with that.



I want to say in closing, Mr. Speaker, particularly in our commitment to the one-tiered system, that it is an excellent opportunity to integrate and to rationalize our social service programs, both at the municipal and the provincial level. This will give an increased service to clients, a broad range of comprehensive programs and it will be cost-effective, cost-effective in human terms and in dollars and cents.



Currently even in the metro area with the four municipal units, we have three different systems with computers that cannot talk to each other in this short range of distance. Computer systems must be upgraded. We are doing that and working with the municipal units actively.



The challenge, Mr. Speaker, that I would summarize is that we must move to an integrated system. It must be proactive and not allow people to become dependent on the system when they really do want to work. We must offer them those opportunities. We must break that cycle of dependency.



It must be fiscally sustainable, particularly when we know that in 1996-97 we will see a decrease of perhaps as much as $75 million in the CHST transfers from the federal government. We can be a buffer between those type of changes in the transfer payments, the decrease in transfer payments and the municipal units and the taxpayers of this province.



In closing, Mr. Speaker, I did want to say again that I said I would mention a bit on child welfare. I see this as an integral part of this whole infrastructure of social assistance, supporting people over difficult times and those in need, particularly those of single parents. I have a report here that is only one volume of two volumes. It is a report called Matthew's Story. It is an indictment of the social child welfare system in British Columbia. It spells out the grave difficulties where in a province like British Columbia, when we were paying 25 cents to service our debt out of every dollar of revenues in this province, B.C. was paying only 5.1 per cent. Yet money is not the problem, it is the will to do and to change your programs.



In 1992, following that review in British Columbia, it was found that two-thirds of the social workers in British Columbia who were doing child protection had no formal social work training. If they did or didn't, they still had no training programs in place. There was a two week program and then it was usually the youngest and the most inexperienced who were given the safety of children.



We in this province, Mr. Speaker, last year or this current year, have committed to 18 new child protection workers, fully trained, as they have been in this province for the last several years, all new workers in child protection, and for next year we have made a commitment for another 18. That is all part of the safety support network of people and vulnerable families, particularly the children of this province. That is the commitment.



We have a plan, we are moving in that direction. We will phase in a one-tiered system of social assistance, supported by a range of other programs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments on this important topic and that is the government's commitment or lack thereof of moving us toward a single one-tiered social assistance system in the Province of Nova Scotia.



I haven't been in this House for very long. I was here for a brief term under the former administration back in 1992 and I sat in an area not too far from where I am now. I listened to the now Minister of Community Services join me in condemning that administration for allowing a two-tiered welfare system to continue in the Province of Nova Scotia. I heard him and his colleagues rail away at that government about the inequities, the unfairness, the drastic nature of the inequities that existed from one county to another, from one community to another, from one end of this province to the other in terms of the delivery of social services to people in need.



I also heard that minister and his colleagues during the election campaign in the spring of 1993 go out on the hustings and tell Nova Scotians, vote for us and we are going to create a one-tiered social services system in this province. I have also heard them since, in the first year at least of this mandate, talk about how they are going to do it but then they began to back off.



There was a pilot project in Cape Breton but you know what that pilot project is, it is filled with difficulties, it is filled with inequities, it is filled with problems. There are still problems there where people are receiving different levels of social services depending on what program they come under, whether it is family benefits or whether it is other parts of the social service system. In most cases it tends to be the same inequities that existed between municipal and provincial.



Now we have heard that the stated commitment to introduce a one-tiered system in the metro Halifax-Dartmouth area, they have backed off considerably on that. That, of course, doesn't at all address the problems of other communities in the Province of Nova Scotia, communities who have had their social assistance contribution from the province frozen at 1993 levels at the same time that the burden on the welfare roles in communities all across this province are continuing to grow. As a result of that, we are seeing communities that are making changes to the benefits that are provided for people who are on welfare, people who through no fault of their own, are living in poverty, cannot find jobs and have no means to support themselves. We are seeing these people and their benefits being reduced in areas of 20 per cent. This government has failed in its commitment to those people, in its commitment to Nova Scotians to come forward with a comprehensive, one-tiered social service system.



I don't know that we should be particularly surprised at that. I think we have seen this government follow the same kind of strategy that the federal government has and other governments in this country have and that is to cloak themselves in the cloak of deficit fighters. We need to put our financial house in order, is what we hear from this government and many others. How are they going to do that? Well, the first thing they are going to do is make sure that those lazy, no-good people that are on welfare get bumped off, get their benefits further reduced so that they, in fact, can get out there and get a job. The problem is, there are no jobs.



We have just seen the federal government make an announcement in the past couple of months, just before Christmas, of changes to the UI system which will have a devastating effect on people, who through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed here in the Maritimes. We have seen the federal government and this government making the kind of changes that penalize Nova Scotians and Canadians for the fact that there are no jobs out there or for the fact that through no fault of their own, they are unable to earn an income for one reason or another.



So the way that they are solving the financial difficulties facing this province and this country is to not talk to the profitable corporations, not talk to wealthy individuals about the kind of contribution they should be making. They are not talking about cutting back on the Premier's trips abroad or those of the other Ministers of the Crown, Mr. Speaker, instead they talk about further penalizing people who can least afford to pay it. That is an absolutely despicable approach as far as I am concerned. It is preying on those people most vulnerable and that is no way to build an economy.



Here we are in this very Legislature, in this sitting, we have on the order paper two pieces of legislation that will provide professionals who do okay, Mr. Speaker, doctors, physicians, surgeons and lawyers, professions that are in or near the top of earnings in the Province of Nova Scotia as professions, who undoubtedly have their problems, some of them have their share of problems as do the rest of us but what is this government proposing to do at the same time that they are cutting people off welfare, that they are reducing welfare benefits, that they are making municipalities make tough decisions about whether or not people can get eyeglasses, receive dental care or have clothes to put on their backs? They are providing tax breaks for some of the highest paid professionals in the Province of Nova Scotia. Can you imagine?



The Minister of Finance, when we debated the barristers bill, the lawyers inc. bill, at second reading said, oh, well, it is not going to cost very much, maybe $250,000. That $250,000 would go a long way for people in my community that are living in poverty and in communities in Queens and in communities in Shelburne and Yarmouth and in areas of Cape Breton, all across this province, Mr. Speaker, people are suffering as the result of the fact that there no jobs; that the labour force in the Province of Nova Scotia continues to shrink. What do we have? We have the government indicating what their priorities are and their priorities are not dealing with those problems, their priorities are giving tax breaks to doctors and lawyers.



The other issue that we have to deal with, Mr. Speaker, is we have to start to talk a bit about federal plans with respect to the Canada Health and Social Transfer. What is happening there is going to have another devastating impact on this province, millions and millions of dollars are going to be taken out of this province.



In conclusion, as my time is up, I want to say this, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services and to his colleagues, single mothers on welfare did not create the deficit in this province. Disabled people on welfare did not create the deficit in this province. People who are considered unemployable did not create the deficit in this province. People who through no fault of their own have been unable to find work over a long period of time have not created the deficit and they do not deserve to bear the burden that is being asked of them by this provincial government and by the federal government to carry much more responsibility than is their due. I think that this minister has an obligation to Nova Scotians and his government has an obligation to come clean with that commitment at the very least and make sure that the inequities that have existed for so many years in this province don't exist any longer from one community to the other.



Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to debate this issue and will do so again.



MR. SPEAKER: All right, the time allotted has expired.



The House will 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. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



[8:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



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



THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress and begs leave to sit again.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The order of business would be . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Who agreed to that?



MR. MANN: They were bullied into it, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter) The order of business following the daily routine will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills, at least we will start there and conclude Bill No. 55. Following that, we anticipate doing second reading on Bills No. 58 and No. 66 and depending on progress, we would go to third reading on Bill No. 39 following that.



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 8:01 p.m.]





NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)



HOUSE ORDER NO. 71



By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)



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



(1) Total cost of advertising being done by the tourism arm of the Economic Renewal Agency in 1996;



(2) The cost of advertising to the Nova Scotia Government to promote tourism in the United States;



(3) A listing of all provincial, national and international publications with Nova Scotia Government funded tourism ads appearing in them in 1996; and

(4) A list of travel writers who visited Nova Scotia in 1995 or who will be visiting Nova Scotia in 1996 with funding being provided to them by the Nova Scotia Government.