Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 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 and commence the daily routine of business.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the citizens of Hants East, I beg leave to table a petition. The petition is signed by 637 people and it states that, "We the undersigned demand that the Minister of Education honor his written commitment of October 1993 in which he promised the completion of the Hants East Middle school ready for occupancy in September 1996.".



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION





5037

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



RESOLUTION NO. 992



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



Whereas Tuesday's news of the layoff of 1,200 temporary and 800 permanent Devco employees spells disaster for the Cape Breton coal industry and Cape Breton's struggling economy; and



Whereas opening Donkin Mine would help cushion the economic blow to the Island and throw a desperately needed lifeline to Cape Breton's coal industry; and



Whereas according to Natural Resources Minister Don Downe, his federal counterpart has finally relented and indicated her department will study the feasibility of opening the Donkin Mine;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources demand that their federal partners seriously examine the results of the study and that they do not casually cast it aside as they did the ATi study which examined the economic impact of the loss of the winter ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 993



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



Whereas the Acting Premier yesterday in the House advised Nova Scotians to take comfort in the fact that Dave Dingwall is the federal minister for Nova Scotia; and



Whereas under the stewardship of the federal minister for Nova Scotia we have seen the province's economy devastated by the reduction of federal transfer payments, the Canada Health and Social Transfer, severe cuts to Marine Atlantic operations, and the closure of military bases to name but a few; and



Whereas the very viability of the Cape Breton coal industry is now in doubt;



Therefore be it resolved that the Acting Premier and the rest of this government wake up and recognize they were elected to look after the interests of Nova Scotians and that with friends like their federal counterparts, who needs enemies?



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Pictou West.





RESOLUTION NO. 994



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



Whereas the late Florence Wall spent a lifetime dedicated to education and public service; and



Whereas in her lengthy career she taught at St. Patrick's Boys School, served as President of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, and served on the boards of the Canadian Teachers Federation, Dalhousie University and Mount Saint Vincent University; and



Whereas Dr. Wall served as the first President of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women;



Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and pay tribute to the enormous contribution made to our province by Dr. Florence Wall in a long life of selfless dedication.



Mr. Speaker, I would 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 unanimously.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 995



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



Whereas approximately 70 concerned citizens attended a meeting last night in Hants out of their frustration for overcrowding and inadequately equipped schools in Lantz and neighbouring areas; and



Whereas the group plans to boycott classes for one day this spring to show the government just how concerned it is about the welfare of the children and their education;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education recognize the seriousness of the concerns of the area parents, teachers and students, and avoid further delays on what was an election promise of his colleague, the Liberal member for Hants East.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.





RESOLUTION NO. 996



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 Liberal Government forecast that the fall sitting of the Legislature would be short and non-controversial; and



Whereas the Premier's prediction turned out to be as inaccurate as the election promises he and his Liberal colleagues made; and



Whereas the Legislature was delayed because the government's legislation was full of flaws, hidden agendas and outright attacks on Nova Scotians;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government should learn from its mistakes and mismanagement by committing in future to table only legislation that is well developed, through proper consultation, and that is respectful of the best interests of Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 997



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



Whereas the Housing and Consumer Affairs Minister yesterday indicated that the Liberal Government is dedicated to eliminating red tape, to streamlining services and being cost-efficient; and



Whereas the policy regarding granting routine ticket raffle permits and ticket lottery licenses under the previous administration was handled efficiently and effectively by the staff of the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission; and



Whereas the policy has now been changed and approval of all permits, even the routine ones for prizes of $150 or less, now requires the approval of the board, the chairman of which gets $250 per meeting;



Therefore be it resolved that this government show that it is really committed to cost-savings and elimination of red tape and revert back to the former policy which was more cost-effective, efficient and timely.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 998



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



Whereas the 14th Annual "Tiger Mackie" Old Timers Hockey Tournament will take place in the Port Hawkesbury and Richmond Arenas on January 26th, 27th and 28th; and



Whereas teams from Pictou, Antigonish, North Sydney, Richmond, Port Hawkesbury, Louisbourg, Truro, CFB Shearwater and two teams from Sydney will be participating in the tournament representing a cross section of "Old Timers" from across the province; and



Whereas "Tiger Mackie" has been instrumental in the development of organized hockey in the Strait area for many years giving of his time and energy to the development of the sport in a spirit of sportsmanship and service to his community;



Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to "Tiger Mackie" and other organizers of this tournament best wishes for a successful tournament, where all players will participate in a spirit of good sportsmanship, while at the same time developing friendships that will grow over the years.



Mr. Speaker, I request 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, unanimously.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 999



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



Whereas Cape Breton has experienced devastating job losses over recent days; and



Whereas a recent Liberal fund raiser in Sydney had to be cancelled due to a riot; and



Whereas the Liberal executive had planned to hold their annual meeting in Cape Breton and is now trying every avenue possible to move the location of the meeting out of Cape Breton;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal members quit hiding from their constituents and face up to Cape Bretoners by leaving their plans unchanged and by holding their meeting in Cape Breton.



MR. SPEAKER: I have great difficulty with that resolution. I will permit it to be tabled but it appears to me to condone a matter that is under RCMP investigation right now with respect to the possible laying of criminal charges.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 1000



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



Whereas in the last election campaign the Liberals promised to ensure that the Utility and Review Board would have the power to ensure that Nova Scotia Power buys Devco coal at a price that acknowledges the social and economic needs of Cape Breton; and



Whereas the 13 per cent reduction rammed through by NSP in their recent contract with Devco strips some $150 million from Devco; and



Whereas the layoffs announced this week would not have been necessary without this reduction;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to live up to its election promises by ensuring that the contract forced upon Devco by Nova Scotia Power respect the socio-economic role of Devco.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



RESOLUTION NO. 1001



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



Whereas on Tuesday, the workers of Devco were dealt a severe blow, with 1,200 10 week layoffs and 800 permanent layoffs announced; and



Whereas at the same time, the councillors of the new Regional Cape Breton Municipality voted to ignore the recommendations of the citizens' committee set up by council to review the salaries of the new council; and



Whereas the community which these councillors represent is the same group of people shattered by the news from Devco, the Island's largest employer, that these people will soon be paying higher taxes as a result of a deal struck with the Minister of Municipal Affairs;



Therefore be it resolved that members of the new council accept that these are extremely difficult times and that they reconsider their recent decision and accept the recommendations presented to them by their own citizens' committee.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



If there are no further notices of motion, I have a request from the Government House Leader to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table some information on seniors' Pharmacare and registration forms, particularly, concerning credit cards which may be a help to the honourable member for Kings West and the honourable member for Hants West, who posed questions to me, both privately and in the Legislature, regarding credit card acceptance.



[12:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The information is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table returns to House Orders No. 8, No. 25 and No. 26.



MR. SPEAKER: The returns are tabled.



Are there any further reports, regulations or other papers for tabling? If not, that would appear to conclude the daily routine.



Now I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening and the winner today is the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. He has submitted a resolution, six lines long, the essence of which is:



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government, which claims to recognize the provincial face of the Cape Breton coal industry, show its good faith by initiating discussions with Cape Bretoners of responses to the federal government's decision to scale down Devco, including a reinvigoration of the United Mine Workers' plan to reopen the Donkin Mine.



So we will hear discussion of those topics at 6:00 o'clock this evening.



HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of information, Mr. Speaker. I have given a commitment to the Opposition Parties that in the event that the House would conclude its business prior to 6:00 p.m., that we would, in fact, have the late debate at that time and conclude the late debate prior to the arrival of the Lieutenant Governor. So I would make that commitment on the record if that should occur.



MR. SPEAKER: It is certainly most agreeable to the Chair. Most agreeable.



Now we are ready for Orders of the Day. The Oral Question Period today will last for one hour, from 12:17 p.m. until 1:17 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: LAYOFFS - RESPONSE



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Acting Premier. Yesterday when we were asked about when the government was informed of the news of the Devco layoffs, he informed the House that they had been informed at the same time roughly that the Devco officials had been briefing the members of the union in Cape Breton. My question for the Acting Premier is, given that the impact that this announcement had on our provincial economy, given the fact that there are two members on the Devco board appointed by the provincial government, given the fact that the Province of Nova Scotia owns the resource that is being mined by Devco, could the Acting Premier tell us if he is not disappointed and frustrated that your federal counterparts did not see fit to raise this matter with you or the Premier or any senior officials of our government until just moments before this news hit the media?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to criticize the federal government because they didn't let us know until the same time as they talked to the UMW, who represent the miners. I don't know when they came to their decisions. It may have only been at the last minute. I don't know how much time they had. I am not sure, had they told us the day before or two or three days before, a week before, it would have made a lot of difference. All I told the House in response to the question when did I find out, and I told the honourable member I found out in the morning of the day the announcement was formally made.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, the question was, was he frustrated, not what he told us. We know what he told us, we can read Hansard. In the question and answer document that was sent out by the Cape Breton Development Corporation to the Premier's Office and which was tabled in this House by the Speaker, it asks the question, "Has the Corporation, itself, or through Ottawa looked for alternative jobs for affected employees?". In this statement that was released and tabled here in the House by the Speaker, it says, "The Corporation has been working with the local MP's and MLA's to determine alternative opportunities as well as this issue will be dealt with by the Joint Planning Committee established under the Canada Labour Code.".



My question for the Acting Premier is, given that the province just learned of this announcement yesterday morning, when would the local MLAs have had the opportunity to determine alternative opportunities for these employees?



MR. GILLIS: Obviously I can't answer for all of the MLAs. In fact, what I will do, I think I will refer the question to the Minister of Natural Resources because he has been on top of the matter and he has been dealing with the Government of Canada and the Minister of Natural Resources for Canada and he might be able to shed some light on it.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, officially was notified about the situation in a press release that everybody else got when I was in Toronto in meetings. Clearly, I believe that the federal government had committed some $25 million to work in a joint committee, finding ways to help address some of the very serious issues in regard to the employees who will be affected, not only the ones who will be affected in regard to the overall 400 positions that will be dismissed this year. We certainly support any efforts that can be done to help look after those individuals, as security, as the responsibility of looking after people is very much a concern of ours. We are willing to work with the federal government in any way we can to help in the adjustment or help with regard to those people who are going to be so severely affected by this decision.



MR. MACLEOD: Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, again the question hasn't been answered. The question was, were local MLAs and MPs working on alternatives? We have skated around the question. The question is, when and how is this government going to address the fact that there are 1,200 people on temporary layoff, there are 400 who are going to be on permanent layoff? When is this minister going to meet with those people and help set in place an alternative plan?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe there is no question that people are concerned in regard to what is going to happen to the individuals. We, in turn, are equally as concerned for those. The 1,200 is a short-term layoff of 8 to 10 weeks. The 400 that will be affected obviously are of concern. We are prepared to work with the federal government in any way we can. I understand there are efforts afoot already, joint efforts between the federal and provincial governments, departments that possibly will be brought in to determine what the effect could be and what types of alternative programs could be in place, or situations to deal with this very serious problem.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: JOB LOSSES - ALTERNATIVES



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Acting Premier. Two days ago we learned of the plans that Mr. Shannon brought forward for the future of Devco. The government tells us that is when they first learned of those plans to lay off 1,200 miners temporarily, 800 permanently and significantly scale down operations over the next five years. Since that time, we have heard this government say, among other things, that it is up to Devco, that it is up to the Government of Canada, that the feds will put up a pot of money in severance and pensions. Now we are hearing them talk about proposals for importing coal.



Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians, in particular Cape Breton miners, want to know why it is that this government - and I want to ask the Acting Premier to explain - is so willing to play Pontius Pilot on such an important issue, wiping its hands of responsibility instead of standing up shoulder to shoulder with Cape Breton miners and their families, to come up with alternatives to the plan presented by Mr. Shannon on Tuesday?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think as usual the member is rushing to judgment. Two days have elapsed. The ministers have been in touch with the federal ministers. I, as Acting Premier, have been in touch with David Dingwall, the minister for Nova Scotia, the federal Minister of Natural Resources. I have talked to Mr. Shannon. The Minister of Natural Resources has been in touch. We offered any cooperation we can provide, but at the same time, we are not going to let the federal government shirk their duties. It is a federal Crown Corporation; they have to be responsible and try to see to it that there is a viable coal mining industry in Cape Breton. We are not going to let them off the hook.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, maybe part of the problem is the fact that the Premier and two of the most powerful ministers of Cabinet from Cape Breton are not in the province.



My first supplementary is to the Acting Premier. The government seems to be accepting at face value and wholeheartedly the plan as presented by Mr. Shannon that will lead to such a devastating situation in the coal industry in Nova Scotia. I would like to ask the Acting Premier whether they have, and if they haven't, why, the government has not made itself aware of the plan that is reportedly contained in the Boyd study of the mining operations at Devco, a study that was commissioned by the federal government at a cost of over $500,000, which reportedly contains a plan that will lead to the viability of that operation, Devco, without it needing to be scaled back to the levels described by Mr. Shannon in his plan on Tuesday. Has the minister and his colleagues made themselves aware of this alternative?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding, from what Mr. Shannon, the President of Devco, has said, that he, as President of Devco, has not seen or does not have access to the Boyd study. Maybe the way this honourable member should go is to ask his limited-sized federal caucus in the Parliament of Canada to ask the minister responsible for Devco, Ms. McLellan, about that study or request it under a House Order or the equivalent in the Government of Canada. Why should we be expected to have it when Mr. Shannon says he does not have it? That is his responsibility and that is the federal government's responsibility.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, when is this government going to take some responsibility for something? We are talking about an industry that generates $219 million in Cape Breton. How can they, in all good conscience, continue to try to fob off responsibility on somebody else? Why doesn't this government stand up and take some action?



MR. SPEAKER: All right, I have heard three questions so far.



MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask . . .



MR. SPEAKER: You get one.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the Act that established the Cape Breton Development Corporation, under Section 17, it provides that the corporation, Devco, is under responsibility that when they are talking about this type of scaling down, they will provide a plan which shall take into account progress in providing employment outside the coal-producing industry and in broadening the base of the economy of Cape Breton Island.



Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Acting Premier, what has his government done to ensure, in fact, that Devco carries out its responsibility as legislated?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I think it is better if members of this Legislature and this government carry out our responsibilities to the people of Nova Scotia. The Government of Canada has their Cape Breton Development Corporation legislation; they should follow that and, as I have indicated in the two days that have elapsed, we have been in touch with the Government of Canada and Devco to offer any cooperation we can and we will continue to do that to see that there is a viable coal mining industry. It seems to me it is better to have 1,300 people with long-term, secure jobs than continuing to wander on and have the whole thing collapse and have everybody on unemployment.



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: PRIVATIZATION - INVOLVEMENT



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Premier. Sometimes the silence coming from that government is deafening. We have seen CFB Cornwallis close; we have seen CFB Debert close; we have seen the EH-101 helicopter contract cancelled; we see no representation on behalf of federal Bill C-68; and we have seen the Bluenose ferry service stop. My question to the Acting Premier, is the Acting Premier and this government involved in the privatization of Devco?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: This honourable member, too, might like to run operations at another level of government, a federal Crown Corporation. Of course, we are not involved in the privatization of Devco; it is a federal responsibility and let them be responsible for it.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, everything is a federal responsibility today in Nova Scotia. Well, yesterday I asked the honourable minister responsible for mines and energy - and my supplementary goes to him - if he had any contact with the federal minister responsible, Anne McLellan, relative to this work reduction announcement that came from the Cape Breton Development Corporation. The minister told me yesterday that at 11:00 a.m. yesterday, he found fit to phone the federal minister - yesterday at 11:00 a.m. - my question to that minister, is that the first time you made contact with the federal minister relative to the Cape Breton Development Corporation and the work force reduction announcement?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: In regard to the reduction in workers with regard to Devco, Mr. Speaker, yesterday I contacted the minister. I found out the day before, while in Toronto at meetings. I flew back yesterday morning from Toronto. I contacted the honourable minister. We had to wait until we lined up a time when she could take a call and we communicated yesterday specifically on that matter. I have talked to her previously, as minister responsible, obviously about issues relative to Devco, about the concerns, about jobs and the future of Nova Scotia. That was her responsibility.



The member opposite wants me to crystal ball gaze here. The issue is, I was given the press release that everybody else has been given in regard to that on, I believe, Tuesday when the announcement was made and, subsequently, contacted the federal minister. Obviously, I think the Acting Premier is very clear; we have made it very clear to the federal government that they have a responsibility and we expect them to live up to their responsibility. That is the responsibility, certainly, of the provincial government to make sure that the commitments of the federal government are dealt with and dealt with fairly and effectively for the workers of Devco and their families, and also to make sure that we find a long-term viable option for that particular mine and for the miners of that particular region.



[12:30 p.m.]



MR. TAYLOR: Well, I hope the minister responsible for mines and energy keeps his subscription to the provincial newspapers in this province, because that seems to be the only way he knows what is going on in his own province, and he is the minister responsible for mines and energy.



My question to the Acting Premier, by way of final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, and I am referring to this question and answer sheet that was disseminated by the corporation. I would like to ask the Acting Premier whether or not he has any information as to whether the corporation itself, through Ottawa or this province, has looked for alternative jobs for affected employees? The information we have is that the corporation itself, or through Ottawa, has not looked for alternative jobs for affected employees.



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, in two days since the announcement, we have offered every cooperation. I know the office of the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has been in touch and is prepared to do anything he can, and Natural Resources, and we are prepared to do anything we can in terms of alternatives, aside from what is happening in terms of maintaining a viable coal industry.



I think it is important to keep in mind that this government has tried to encourage more people to have jobs and have the environment that there would be more people working. The fact of the matter is, in the last year, the latest statistics, December to December, the unemployment rate is down 8.2 per cent. That is good progress and we would like to see it continue.



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: MINERS - ASSIST. FUND



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again my question is for the Acting Premier. Yesterday, in this House, there was a lot of discussion about a $25 million fund that would be established to help the miners of Cape Breton get through this process. Today we read the acting President of Devco saying that the fund hasn't even been approved yet.



My question to the Acting Premier, and to all the members of the government in the House, what have we done to call and talk to the people responsible for such things, and put this in place so that these people have a little bit of hope?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: An honourable gentleman, the President of Devco, assures the miners, the UMW, the workers of Cape Breton - and I understand he has met with a wide range of people there - the business community, community organizations, the clergy and so on, and he has said that this money will be available at the time the first layoffs begin. So I think we have to accept that that is a responsible approach.



I think we should take it on good faith; he has promised the money will be there. We still have two-plus months before that happens, and I am sure Mr. Shannon will deliver.



MR. MACLEOD: I don't dispute that the Acting Premier is answering questions to the best of his ability, but I quote from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, January 11th, Mr. Joe Shannon, the President, "`If you ask me if the money has been officially approved, the answer is no . . . There is no approval for anything past March 31, 1996,' . . .". I certainly don't mind tabling that; that is a direct quote from the President of Devco.



Again, my question to the Acting Premier, is what has he and his Cabinet done today in their Cabinet meeting to find out what kind of assistance is actually available, and what kind of route can they take to make things happen?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I talked personally to Mr. Dingwall and Ms. McLellan, and both of them told me that there would be money to help early retirement and severance. They assured that money would be available. But since this member seems to want other governments to handle other jurisdictions, maybe he should talk to the telephone booth crew that is in his federal caucus to raise it in the Parliament of Canada.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, if I did mention it to my caucus in Ottawa, at least it would be mentioned and they wouldn't be off on some trip outside the country when things that matter to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia are being discussed.



My final question to the Acting Premier is, are there indeed any concrete plans that the members of this House can work on together to help make an honest and real effort to alleviate the problem in Cape Breton?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, could he repeat his question, please?



MR. SPEAKER: Would you please repeat the final part of your question.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, the question I have for the Acting Premier is, is there any constructive plan that he and his government have developed or are in the process of developing so that all members of this House can actually do something that is constructive and helpful for the people that are being affected by this massive layoff and not just playing partisan games and pointing the finger at the federal government?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I must be in wonderland because the partisan game sounds like it is coming from both sectors across the House. I have indicated as Acting Premier on behalf of the government, all of our departments and ministers are available to work. In the debate the other night led by this honourable member, he talked about people contributing in their own way. I think the MLAs of all Parties should do that and we are doing it in our caucus. Our members are supporting and we have been in touch with our counterparts and will continue to work to alleviate the problem.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



NAT. RES. - NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT: COAL - POLICY



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Yesterday, I asked the minister what percentage of coal royalties were dedicated to clean energy technology and how much this government had expended through those royalties on research in clean energy technology since it took office in 1993. The minister was not able to give us that information yesterday and I wonder if he could provide it today?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I indicated yesterday that I would certainly provide that information. I have asked staff to put the information together to present to the member opposite with regard to that question. That is being put together now.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Natural Resources admitted that while the Liberal Party had an energy policy plank with its 1993 election platform, now, nearly three years later the Liberal Government still does not have an energy policy. Will the minister advise during which quarter in 1996 he anticipates making public the Savage Government's comprehensive energy policy?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, we had put together a committee, a team of individuals led by Mr. Baker, to review a number of activities with regard to the Utility and Review Board and power utilities. That report was submitted to me and in turn, we are now putting together and in the near future will be enunciating a position in this province and with regard to a policy.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, we still don't know which quarter of this year the near future is in, let alone whether it will be this year. We will just have to wait and see, I guess.



My final supplementary to the minister is this. On September 25, 1995, the Minister of Natural Resources was reported in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald as having said, "The prospect of an offshore natural gas industry is the most exciting development in Nova Scotia's energy sector, . . .". Yesterday in the House, the very same minister, and I quote Hansard, said, "We don't even know if a gas project is even going to move forward.". It is quite clear that these two statements are at variance. My question to the minister is this, what information has the Minister of Natural Resources received since September 1995, which has caused him to move from over-optimism to cautious pessimism, respecting offshore natural gas?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, these are born-again nay-sayers across the way in regard to the fact of hyping a process of offshore. Now anybody that sat in this House or any Nova Scotian who has read the paper of individuals holding up vials of oil and all this sort of stuff, the hype has been unbelievable. I think it is about time that this side of the House has tried to deal with this matter in a very professional way, a way for which we are not necessarily putting everybody (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, if I may, a way that takes this into account that it is a business decision, that these individual corporations that are looking at the potential development of the offshore Sable project, and if it does go forward it will be an extremely beneficial benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia and to the region, a $2 billion to $3 billion economic opportunity that will be private sector funded. That is good news, if it goes forward.



The reality is that I don't think Nova Scotians want to be put up and down the proverbial flagpole every other month about the offshore, about whether it is going ahead or it is not going ahead. I think what we need to do is do it the way we have been doing it, that is in a very professional, business-like manner, that is letting the industry meet its guidelines and its agenda and moving this project forward as soon as possible, but they are the ones who are going to be making the decision, not the provincial government because we don't have the money into this project.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



ERA - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY WINTER SERVICE:

PRIVATE SECTOR - DECISION



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Last week the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency last week advised the Legislature that there were ongoing talks with a company to provide a private partnership agreement of some kind to put in place a ship, in other words, to run back and forth between Yarmouth and Maine.



I wonder if the minister would confirm that that company is Secunda Marine Services Limited and are those talks ongoing?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, what the last half of the question was. I think he said is the discussion still ongoing, is that correct? The answer to his question is that the proposal that was placed on the desk of the Minister of Transportation contained a private sector offer. It is, as far as I am concerned, confidential information. The Premier indicated such in his press release and I would continue to take that position.



If the member has information from the company, that is fine, but from my point of view what we have is a private sector proposal that has been worked out in cooperation with a community group that sits on the desk of the Minister of Transportation, awaiting his approval or reaction.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, does that proposal that was put forward by the community group include any funding from either the Department of Transportation or from the Economic Renewal Agency as a subsidy for this proposal to be acceptable?



MR. HARRISON: I think the answer to the question has been asked by the Leader of the Opposition. I am sure that if you checked with his colleague, you will find the same answer today, that is that what we have indicated is that we have a private sector proposal before the Minister of Transport, one that we hope will offer a long-term solution as well as a short-term solution to the people, the exporters of the southwestern Nova Scotia region who must get their goods to market. Until such time as the Honourable Doug Young, the Minister of Transport, has had a chance to respond, then we will, as we have indicated before, maintain confidentiality on the nature of the proposal.



MR. RUSSELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, the difficulty is, if the minister is going for a long-term solution that is fine but the problem is that the problem exists right now. There is nothing that the minister is doing that is going to ensure that there is going to be any winter service this particular winter.



So, Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the minister is, what is he doing about a backup to this proposal that is being put forward by Secunda Marine, in case it falls back, what happens then?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think the record of the Premier on this matter is absolutely crystal clear. The community group, should he care to ask and call, as his colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, did, would find out that the community groups down there know that the Premier is acting on their behalf.



What is a back-up position? There were many letters and many requests for proposals sent out to Canadian shippers. There are other shippers that have expressed interest. Each one is being pursued diligently. We are all hopeful that either short-term or long-term or both solutions can be found by putting proposals before the Minister of Transport, federally, who asked for them, and the Premier has done so.



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: LAYOFFS - INVOLVEMENT



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to the Acting Premier, with respect to the announcement made on Tuesday about the devastating layoffs at Devco. The minister will know and all members know that we had an emergency debate here on Tuesday evening around the impact, the implications, of this plan being brought forward by Devco. It was agreed, I think, by all members who participated in that debate that there was a need for a response from the government, there was a need for a response by this Legislature. We all suggested some type of all-Party approach to respond, to show Cape Bretoners that we are concerned and we are interested in what is happening.



[12:45 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour perhaps was, as usual, the most eloquent in describing the need to establish - and he called it - a Team Nova Scotia committee that would consist of all Parties. In fact, he talked about all MLAs, all MPs, I think he even might have said all municipal councillors. The concept of a Team Nova Scotia representing all Parties, I think is an extremely important one. It was an idea that was put forward by the Minister of Labour on behalf of the government and I think it is something that we should follow up on.



I want to ask the Acting Premier what has his government done in terms of concrete steps to put into place the all-Party concept to act and look at this plan, to look at the impact on the coal industry as described by the Minister of Labour and others on Tuesday night?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the government is taking its responsibility. All MLAs can act in whichever way they can to help the situation but our approach is to involve all government departments, as I had indicated earlier, in an approach that we all work together to offer assistance any way we can in this present situation with Devco and their downsizing and do anything else we can, of course, for the economy of Cape Breton. The government policy at this point is nothing to do with an all-Party committee. Members can work in any way they want but the government has an all-encompassing approach with all government departments involved.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, some of us, from time to time, show a bit of frustration and cynicism when the government talks about responding, when the government talks about action. It is for this very reason, on Tuesday night, the Minister of Labour, he said he was speaking on behalf of the government, on behalf of the Premier and the Premier's ministers, that a Team Nova Scotia concept would be put in place in order to address the concerns of Cape Bretoners to show that all Parties, all MLAs in this province, are concerned about this issue and ready to act.



I want to ask the Acting Premier, the Premier acting in the place of our Premier who is off in India, will he not agree and commit today to act on the recommendations of the Minister of Labour, to put in place some form of all-Party committee of this Legislature to take to the Cape Bretoners, to the coal miners, our commitment to help them respond to the crisis developed as a result of the plan introduced by Mr. Shannon on Tuesday last?



MR. GILLIS: The answer to the first question, the government is not trying to deal matters off to committees. That sounds like the NDP approach. We want to accept our responsibility. We were elected as government. We have the various ministers, there are 16 ministers beside the Premier and we are going to do everything we can as a government to help alleviate this situation and try to build the economy otherwise in Cape Breton.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I guess, once again, that what we did here, in fact, was what I talked about on Tuesday night as a lot of hand-wringing and a lot of rhetoric from this government. They have constantly, and the Acting Premier continues to say today in response to every question, that we are going to let the federal government handle it.



I want to ask the Acting Premier one final question, Mr. Speaker. Is this government prepared to take legal action on the federal government with respect to the Cape Breton Development Act to ensure, in fact, that they fulfil their responsibilities to Cape Bretoners, to all the coal miners and the people affected by the coal industry in Nova Scotia?



MR. GILLIS: The honourable member mentions rhetoric Tuesday night. As I recall the debate, the bulk, the majority of the rhetoric came from that corner, from the MLA for Halifax Atlantic and people should just review the transcript and they will see.



MR. CHISHOLM: I was asking for action, that is what I was asking for. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: I am asking for order, that is what I am asking for. (Interruption) Order!



MR. GILLIS: Some might say that that member is grandstanding, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member asked for legal action. We think there should be political action by the people responsible, the MPs in this country in the federal government and we will do our part at the provincial level.



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



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: LAYOFFS - MEETING (GOV'T. [CAN.])



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Premier. It has been confirmed, I think, by everyone's admission in this House that, yes, the Province of Nova Scotia does have a vested interest in Devco and what happens with the coal industry. Can the Acting Premier advise this House and, more importantly, the miners in Cape Breton, when either the Acting Premier or a Cabinet Minister will have a face to face meeting with the federal government and confirm at the very least, that, yes, $25 million has been set aside for the affected miners?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we have used the technology available to us in terms of telephone and faxes to contact the responsible ministers. The same member who urges face to face discussions would be the first one, and there have been allusions today - not necessarily by this member - by certain members or ministers not being here. As soon as our responsibilities are completed in this House and the session is concluded, I am sure there will be repeated and follow-up meetings with the Government of Canada and we will undertake to do that.



MR. TAYLOR: This is a very serious concern, by everybody's admission. Nobody argues that. I, in fact, commend the Acting Premier for doing the best he can under these very trying circumstances. But may I ask the Acting Premier this question. Can he tell the House and all Nova Scotians, when the Premier comes back for a visit or when he comes back to this province, has the Acting Premier conversed with the Premier about this serious concern and will the Premier of this province, Nova Scotia, be going down to the Cape Breton Development Corporation and holding meaningful discussions about the work force reduction announcement?



MR. GILLIS: I resent personally the comment that the honourable member made when the Premier comes back for a visit. This trip is not a pleasure trip for the Premier. I am sure, if the member would reflect on it, I understand there was a contract signed - I think it was yesterday - by a Nova Scotia company to construct a $6 million facility in India. That is good for Nova Scotia. That will put people to work and that is what we stand for. So this is no pleasure trip.



The other matter, I assure you, I will have briefing material available to the Premier as soon as he comes back, in a week or 10 days, and I am sure that he will do everything possible in this situation.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, I go to the Acting Premier who is trying to do the best he can. Will the Acting Premier confirm that the Premier of this province, before he left on this trip to India or wherever, knew about the work force reduction announcement?



MR. GILLIS: I don't know what the Premier knew before he left on his trip. I told the House, Mr. Speaker, that I became aware Tuesday morning of the work force reduction. I don't know what information the Premier may or may not have had before he left for his trip.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - COMMUN. HEALTH BDS.: ESTABLISHMENT - DATA



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. On January 4th, I asked the Minister of Health about community health boards and the minister promised me some information and he did deliver and I thank him for that. But he also, on January 4th, when I asked about the core services - and I will just read his answer - "Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would 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.".



I would ask the minister, since that didn't come as part of the report that he did give me, would he please make that part available to me, as well?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, that comes from a different section of the department and I will check this afternoon to make sure it is available.



MR. MOODY: I thank the minister, and I hope if we are not here, that will come over, as promised. I also asked the minister on that particular day about the regional management structure with regard to the regional health boards. The minister said there was some discussion and it was being worked on as to who would report to whom. I wonder if the minister could give us a timeframe of when it would be known, especially on the human resources side, where the regional management structure would fit with regard to hospitals in a particular region?



DR. STEWART: I think the honourable member opposite is referring to the regional facilities management structure, in which case the CEOs and the chairs of the regional health boards are in the stages of negotiation, or rather discussion, that would formulate a regional structure and, in fact, may actually proceed within the next month or so to get several in place.



The most, if I could use the term contentious, but actually perhaps complex is the word, the more complex or the most complex would be the central region and that will require further discussions, I think.



MR. MOODY: Given the fact that the others will be in place sooner than the central, I assume by the minister's answer, and given the fact that even in Dartmouth and I know in some other hospitals they are facing some layoffs, would the minister indicate or not, given that all hospitals in the region will soon be under this regional facility management structure, will seniority rights of the hospital workers be on a regional basis or will that still be on an individual hospital basis when that happens?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the question of the honourable member opposite because that is a key issue that is of great importance to the workers in the system as they now are. It is, again, an issue that is not without different opinions within labour and it is a major issue on the plates, if you would, of the regional health boards and continue to be discussed.



The actual negotiations might depend very much on individual collective agreements. That is a key issue in relationship to the structure of the facilities, management structure. I would say that that particular issue will be one of the first things discussed as the structure is developed and announced.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MUN. AFFS.: HFX. REG. MUN. - BUDGET



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs with regard to the merger in Cape Breton. As the merging municipal units came along we saw the cost of the merger escalating pretty near daily in the Legislature, from $4 million to $6 million to $8 million to $15 million. We are now seeing something very similar happening in the metro merger, where the municipal costs are hitting much higher levels than were previously anticipated, some 50 per cent higher than the minister's original estimates.



Since the minister has been the person responsible for the appointment of the coordinator, I am wondering if the minister can explain to taxpayers in the metro region exactly what the final merger budget is going to be?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is aware, as is the whole House aware, that the coordinator, as well as the chief administrative officer, have put together a tentative budget for the amalgamation. They estimated that would be approximately $13.5 million although they did very clearly identify that, depending on the number of individuals who took early retirement and some of the severance packages that were negotiated with the employees, could cause that to go up.



MR. ARCHIBALD: The minister indicated that when the debt situation was coming forward in Cape Breton that it was very unlikely that anything similar would happen in metro. Is the minister prepared to indicate that these cost escalations, since she indicated they would not happen, since they are there, will they become a responsibility of her department?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think I have been very clear on any number of questions and I can't tell how many questions I have answered but it has been significant on this issue, that the municipalities are responsible. The municipalities are a very important level of government, they are looking after their budgets and they are dealing with their budgets in the best way they possibly can.



I would remind the honourable member that the transition costs in the Cape Breton region were $4.5 million, unlike some of the numbers that he would try to throw to that as transition costs, they are approximately $4.5 million.



[1:00 p.m.]



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I am pleased to see that she has indicated she has a figure of $4.5 million. I am sure that she must be the only person in Nova Scotia who has picked that number because certainly, in the municipal unit in Cape Breton, the taxes have been increased to pay a much higher deficit number than that. In metro, the minister has again appointed the coordinator, it was the minister's idea. The entire amalgamation is on the shoulders of the minister and the government. Has the minister been following the amalgamation in metro closely enough to determine how much farther above the 50 per cent that they are already over their estimate, how much farther in their estimate is the metro region going to increase their budget for the amalgamation that this minister has ordered and is directing?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to retell this honourable member how pleased I am to have been the minister who was participating and developing with my government the amalgamation of the metropolitan area. (Applause) I was very pleased to be at the swearing-in ceremony that happened on Tuesday. It was well done and it was a very important, momentous occasions. It was a momentous occasion because unlike those people opposite, we have taken responsibility and we are acting on, what we consider to be, the best interests of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. There is one taxpayer and there is only one taxpayer. It is important that we deal in the regional aspects across our province and with amalgamation on a responsible basis and bringing the four key municipalities in the Province of Nova Scotia together to deal on a regional basis with some of the very serious issues we have. Yes, I am very proud and pleased to say that myself and my government have been able to do that.



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



TRANSPORT.: EASTERN N.S. PROF. DRIVERS ASSOC. - RESPONSE



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Eastern Nova Scotia Professional Drivers Association. They are quite put out at the fact that the minister hasn't personally responded to a registered letter that was sent to his constituency office in Richmond, on February 21, 1994, or to a fax that was sent to his office in the fall of 1994. My question for the minister is simply, can the minister possibly explain why these people feel like he has neglected to respond to their organization?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I got a letter from them one day, a fax, referring to another letter that I had never received. It wasn't a very polite letter, I didn't think and it wasn't, as far as I was concerned factual at all. I have no account of having received a registered letter from them. If they sent it to my office, we can't find it and I have never signed for a registered letter. I guess that is the reason.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer and I am sure that the association would be pleased to supply him with a copy of the letter and also a copy of the documentation showing that it was registered and was received. It is my understanding that the Association of Professional Drivers has been recognized under the Societies Act for the past two years. They would like to be recognized by the Minister of Transportation. Can the minister explain if he has a difficulty in recognizing this group of people?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I really don't know what they are about. When they sent the second letter I referred it off to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to see if we could get some back-up information and to see what, in fact, they were talking about at that time. I haven't had a report forthcoming as yet but if and when I do, I will respond to the people. If I choose to meet with them, I will meet with them. I have asked for a report on that and I have forwarded the information along. When it comes forward, we will see what we can do at that time.





MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I wonder and in the spirit of making this work better for those individuals that are quite concerned about their future and about their profession as professional drivers, if the minister would consider a request to meet with those individuals at the earliest possible convenience, after the House rises?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, when I get some information I will make that decision. I have not refused to meet with very many people who have ever contacted me. I will run my office and if they come forward and they have it in a letter, we will clear up the matter of the first letter and some of the comments first, and then, once we get the information that I am in a position where I have done some research and know what, in fact, this is all about, because at this time I don't, then I will make that determination.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party has a question today.



ERA - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY WINTER SERVICE:

PROPOSAL - ENDORSEMENT



MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, I didn't think it was my turn, but I am happy to be up. I have four or five, Mr. Speaker.



I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. My first question really is for clarification, this is dealing with the MV Bluenose and the proposal that has been provided to the federal Minister of Transport. The minister indicated that it was the government's intention to, of course, facilitate an arrangement between the private sector operator and the local development authority and that, in fact, has been done and that the proposal has been provided to the federal Minister of Transport. What I didn't hear the minister say, and what I would like to receive some clarification on, is whether or not that proposal that was submitted to the federal Minister of Transport has the full support and endorsement of the Province of Nova Scotia?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: The intention and the purpose of the province's role in this is to try and bring together the community and the private sector to look at alternative solutions. Clearly we have sent a proposal to Ottawa for the consideration of the federal minister. We are talking here again about a federal responsibility in terms of marine services and a company that is a Crown Corporation of the federal agency. We have done our best to put what we think is a viable proposal forward for consideration by the federal minister.



MR. HOLM: It may be a federal responsibility, but Nova Scotians are the ones who are being affected; therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest, with the greatest amount of respect to the minister, that there is a Nova Scotia responsibility there as well.



My first supplementary to the minister, who, of course, will be familiar with that proposal, does that proposal see within it a future for CN Marine and for the current MV Bluenose ferry or is the option strictly for a privatization and the elimination of the service that is being currently provided and which is to start up again in the spring by CN Marine?



MR. HARRISON: Well, Mr. Speaker, again without getting into specific details, what we have described is a proposal that looks both short term and long term at what is a fundamental responsibility of the province, and that is to try and ensure that trade links are maintained for goods and products that are produced in southwestern Nova Scotia to get to the very precious markets of New England.



We have done that. We have put proposals together, we have worked with the community and the exporters concerned to try and do so, and we have tried to tap the energies and creativity of the private sector in doing so.



MR. HOLM: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker. So far I am batting zero in terms of getting actual answers to the questions that I have asked. The minister is getting very good at his responses.



My final question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. The workers and the representatives of the workers who work on CN Marine were not aware of and apparently were not involved in the development of that proposal at all. The proposal that has been put forward to the federal Minister of Transport has, or has the potential to have, a major impact on them and their families, and they, of course, are Nova Scotians by and large.



My question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, why is it that the Government of Nova Scotia doesn't think that those workers and their families, who will be very much directly affected by the proposal, or potentially affected by the proposal, have a right to know whether or not the government is endorsing a proposal that would, in effect, put them out of work?



MR. HARRISON: Once again, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party is speculating on the contents of the proposal. As we have indicated, it is a fundamental responsibility of the province to ensure that when trade links are disrupted that we attempt to respond, in this case, to a federal minister who has indicated, by his many speeches and statements, the direction he intends to take Marine Atlantic and other transportation services in this country to try and come up with constructive alternatives. That has been the challenge from both Parties and I believe the Premier and this government have met that challenge.



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



GAMING CONTROL COMM'N. - RAFFLE TICKETS: PROCESSING - TIME



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission. Yesterday, Opposition Day, during debate, the minister indicated that the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission last year processed 2,975 raffle ticket permits, prizes of $150 or less. I wonder if the minister could tell the House and all Nova Scotians how long, approximately, it takes to process one raffle ticket permit?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that under advisement and get back to the member at another time.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible tells us that the government is dedicated to eliminating red tape and it is dedicated and committed to streamlining services. Now many of our volunteer fire departments, service clubs, have found that many of the projects whereby they will sell tickets have been jeopardized because the Gaming Commission must convene and the chairman is paid a salary that commensurates with a judge and the board members receive a per diem of $250 a day to deal with 2,975 raffle ticket permits valued at $150 or less. Does the minister have any intention of changing that regulation and raise the threshold from $150 to say perhaps $1,000?





MRS. NORRIE: I think if the member opposite would have listened yesterday and would read Hansard, he would understand that in the new regulations, that limit has been raised to $500. The Gaming Commission not only authorizes those permits, I gave a list of a number of permits, from bingo licenses to lottery tickets to raffle tickets to licenses to permits. The commission not only approves 2,000 permits, there are a number of issues and if you would read the Hansard you would see the amount of work that the commission does do. If you would read also you would see that the limit is $500 as per the new regulations.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that response but the fact of the matter is, and getting to the question, is that in dealing with these prizes of $150 or less, the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission convened and dealt with those 2,975 raffle ticket permits. In the future, can the minister tell the House and all Nova Scotians, particularly the non-profit volunteer organizations, that when they make application or a request to deal with a raffle permit that is $500 or less, it will be dealt with within 24 hours?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to ask the member opposite, himself, how does he know that the Gaming Commission, themselves, dealt with each of those permits? There is staff in place who deal with permits and the commission is there as well. Yesterday, in a little bit of frustration, I answered all of these questions. They have been answered in the House several times. The issue has been debated several times and the question has been answered several times. We will deal with the Gaming Commission and any regulations that we feel are not appropriate, they will be addressed and they will be addressed when we feel that it is in the best interest of the province. As I mentioned yesterday, we have tightly controlled and we are regulating gaming in this province and we are doing it as we have been legislated to do so and we will continue to do in the best interest of all Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



EMO - EMERGENCY SERV. (911): COLCHESTER CO. - DELAY



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister in charge of the EMO. The headline in the Truro Daily News is, "911 put on hold, again Start date depends on outcome of research". The Page has a copy just for your information, Mr. Minister. Can the minister tell me what research is going to be done so we can find out when it is going to start in the Colchester area.



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell the honourable member in the House that I, as minister, am not aware of any on hold position for 911 in the Truro-Colchester area. My last information was that we were on schedule, that MT&T were in the area working with our people. Beyond that, as far as I know, despite the newspaper report there is no hold, but I will confirm that, Mr. Speaker.



[1:15 p.m.]



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, that is what it says, that it is on hold.



The location of the dispatch centre is also coming under question as to where it is going to be located, whether it is on Prince Street at the RCMP Subdivision Office . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Upper Onslow.



MR. MCINNES: . . . or Upper Onslow, the member says. Could the minister confirm today where that new dispatch centre will be located?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think I answered that question a few weeks ago and the answer is the same. That will be decided toward the end of the installation of the service. I did commit myself at that time, and I will do it again, that we will be announcing to all Nova Scotians the exact dispatch centres for all regions.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, again it is not me that is asking the questions but the Truro town councillors are concerned as to where it is going to be located; 911 is very important and we want to get on with it. I hope the minister will get on with it and find out and let the people of Colchester, Cumberland and East Hants know where that dispatch centre is going to be.



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I did take a fast look at the article in the newspaper. Although there are no quotation marks that quote me, they do certainly say something here that I have never said in my career. They say that I said, ". . . that the exact date of implementation will depend on the outcome of preliminary research . . .". That is research that has been done for some time and we have been on the road for some time. I am satisfied that Nova Scotians will benefit fully from 911 by the end of 1997 for sure.



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



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as requested yesterday by the honourable member for Hants West, I am pleased to table the Interdepartmental Committee Report on Uranium Mining and Exploration in Nova Scotia. This is also in response to requests for the report by the member for Halifax Atlantic. Recommendations of the committee have been excluded from the report because they have not yet been considered by Cabinet. I want to assure the members for Hants West and Halifax Atlantic and, indeed, all members of the House that the moratorium on uranium mining and exploration remain in effect and will remain in effect until such time as Cabinet decides otherwise.



MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



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.



[1:18 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



[1:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



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



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



Bill No. 58 - Medical Professional Corporations Act.



Bill No. 66 - Public Service Superannuation Act.



and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these two bills to the favourable consideration of the House.



MADAM SPEAKER: When shall these bills be read a third time?



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Today.



MADAM SPEAKER: At the end of the business, I will affix Bill No. 58 and Bill No. 66 onto the order paper for third reading for today.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



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



PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 47.



Bill No. 47 - Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre Act.



[2:00 p.m.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Hants West.



The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I don't know if you were in the Chair at the time when we adjourned the debate on Bill No. 47, but I had just started.



MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, you had used one minute.



MR. RUSSELL: I didn't get very far into it. Madam Speaker, Bill No. 47, and I won't bore the members by reading the title over again, but I think we all know what the purpose of the bill is, and it is simply to bring the tertiary care hospitals in the City of Halifax together under a common board and under a common Act. This bill has been quite contentious in its progress through the House in second reading. A number of observations were raised with regard to what were fairly obvious, I think, shortcomings to the bill. The bill went on to the Committee of the Whole House and there were a very large number of witnesses who appeared before the committee to express reservations about the bill. Some amendments were made to the bill in the Committee of the Whole House and the bill came back into the Committee of the Whole House amended.



Now, Madam Speaker, unfortunately during the Committee of the Whole House proceedings on Bill No. 47, there were a number of amendments that the Opposition wished to bring forward to have considered for incorporation into Bill No. 47; however that opportunity was denied because we did not get off the title on Bill No. 47, so there was no debate on clause by clause. I could speak about the fact that I thought that was grossly unfair, but I won't do that either.



The minister and the Government House Leader indicated that there were amendments that they wished to make in Committee of the Whole House, and had been unable to do so simply because the way the proceedings developed in the Committee of the Whole House. So what I am saying is that this bill is reported back to the House for third reading now, and it is reported as it was reported from the Law Amendments Committee, with certain amendments from the minister but, however, still lacking amendments that the government wished to make, evidently in Committee of the Whole House and, certainly, amendments that the Opposition wished to bring forward, in fact, a large number of very important amendments we considered to the bill.



As you know, Madam Speaker, we are in third reading now and the only amendments that we can make - in fact, we can't make any amendments to the bill in reality - we can move motions to do certain dilatory things to the bill but, however, there is no way of making any substantive amendments to the bill. We tried last Wednesday to give up our time in Opposition if the government would agree to take the bill back into the Committee of the Whole House for a fixed period, the period of time that we had for debate, which would be roughly two hours on last Wednesday, to consider in a rapid-fire manner those amendments that the government wanted to make and that the Opposition wanted to make.



Whether or not the Opposition amendments were accepted or not is probably of no great importance to the government, but I would have thought that making the government amendments would have been of supreme importance to the government, and they would have welcomed taking the bill back into Committee of the Whole House to bring forward their amendments.



These amendments that we are seeking to the bill cover a wide range of subject matter within the bill, but the one that is always raised by the government is that we are attempting to make, in Opposition, amendments to the bill and we are complaining about clauses of the bill as they apply to the unions covered by these facilities, and that these problems have all been ironed out, there are now no problems and that we are not to worry about making any amendments to the bill with regard to the worker's dissatisfaction with some of the clauses.



I have a letter, dated January 2nd, from the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, and it is addressed to the Honourable Richard Mann and to myself and to Mr. Robert Chisholm, the three respective Party House Leaders. I won't take up the time of the House by reading the letter in full, but I would point out to you that this letter says, "To say the least, we are disappointed that no amendments were made to Bill 47 during Committee of the Whole debate last week. We find this to be surprising, especially considering that all parties in the House were reportedly prepared to accept amendments during Committee of the Whole.". It goes on to say, "I am writing to ask that the three . . .", House Leaders, ". . . agree to seek the support of your Caucus for further consideration of amendments to Bill 47, possibly by referral back to Committee of the Whole.".



As I said when I started speaking, Madam Speaker, that is the only way that substantive amendments can be made to this bill. What I am going to move is an amendment to - I am not going to debate the bill any more because, as I say, that is just wasting the time of the House at this stage - I am moving that we move an amendment to the bill that will refer it back to the Committee of the Whole House for a time. Now, I am not asking for now until Saturday week or something, I am asking for an hour in which we can consider those amendments that the government has, those amendments that the Opposition has, and then bring it back and we can carry on with third reading of Bill No. 47 today.



So, Madam Speaker, if I can pass out to you and to the House copies of an amendment. I will read the amendment into the record. "I move that the words after `That' be deleted and the following substituted: the subject matter of Bill No. 47, An Act to Amalgamate the Victoria General Hospital at Halifax, the Camp Hill Medical Centre, the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre Corporation and the Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation of Nova Scotia to form the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.".



MADAM SPEAKER: Members have received a copy of the proposed amendment that is being circulated. The honourable member for Hants West in proposing this, you are actually proposing that the bill, you have the subject matter in your amendment but you are actually proposing that the bill?



MR. RUSSELL: Yes.



MADAM SPEAKER: Yes. It is in order.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the efforts of the member for Hants West to refer this matter back, to try to get the agreements that were reached outside of this legislation by the parties that will be affected by this legislation to get those agreements incorporated into the bill. I also appreciate the fact that that would have the effect of giving the government the opportunity to deal with a change that they have made to a provision within the bill that has the effect of contradicting and further confusing the whole issue of the determination of service credits, seniority, in the merging of the collective agreements and of the employees in the four different health institutions into the QE II.



I say, as I rise in support of the amendment, that this government has been given every opportunity, Madam Speaker, to deal with the concerns that have been raised, not just by members of this Opposition, but by many hundreds and thousands of health care workers and other Nova Scotians about the way, in fact, they were treating them, the disrespect and contempt they were showing in the way this bill was devised and in the way this bill itself has been handled.



They have been given every opportunity to address the changes that are necessary in order to incorporate the memoranda that were signed by the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, the Nurses' Union, the Victoria General Hospital, the Province of Nova Scotia. Madam Speaker, they have been given every opportunity to incorporate that agreement in good faith into the bill referenced to that or recognition by changing the bill, recognition of the fact that some of the provisions of that bill have an impact on the parties to it, which the parties do not agree with. In other words, they had an opportunity, many opportunities throughout the process of this bill, to act responsibly, to act in good faith, but they have chosen not to do that.



Madam Speaker, I am not particularly hopeful that the government will recognize this opportunity to do the right thing and to make those changes, so I am not going to waste my breath talking on this amendment. I will have an opportunity to talk on the bill at third reading and I will take that opportunity.



I just want to say that I commend the member for Hants West for his eternal optimism. I don't know if I was here as long as he was that I would have such optimism. I have been here only a fraction of the time and I don't think I have any left, especially when faced with the type of legislative behaviour that we have seen from this government over the past number of weeks and months.



Anyway, Madam Speaker, I do support the amendment. I encourage the government to do the right thing, at the request of the parties to the agreements, to change the legislation, to ensure that it does not affect the parties in ways that are contrary to their wishes. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I want to rise in support of this amendment. We have had a number of requests from the workers to make some changes. I think on this side of the House we realize that a lot of those requests are not going to happen. The government has decided that the workers are not going to, in any way, have any influence on them on the way that this legislation reads.



One of the things that I thought, because in talking with the union leaders and talking with Dave Peters, he was led to believe by the government and by the Minister of Health to believe that the clause that changed seniority would be corrected. He told his workers that the government was doing that, that they had people working on that particular change and, in actual fact, they would see that that error that was made in Law Amendments Committee would be corrected.



Here is an opportunity, Madam Speaker, for the government to keep its word and not again to just echo words to workers that mean nothing and they don't keep their commitments. So that is why we are trying to allow the government one last opportunity to show the health care workers that, in actual fact, they can be trusted and that what they say to them will, in fact, happen. That is why we have said that we would go back for a very short time. Obviously, if the Minister of Health was, in fact, correct when he told Dave Peters that the lawyers were working on an amendment to correct that error, then I am sure that the government could have that amendment in and out in very quick time. Otherwise, what the Minister of Health told Dave Peters, obviously was not correct.



This was an opportunity to actually find out whether the government was serious or again were they misleading the workers at the VG Hospital. So hopefully, other members will support this amendment and they will allow us a few moments back in Committee of the Whole House. We just came from Committee of the Whole House. We didn't unduly hold up the House today in committee and we give our commitment that we won't unduly hold it up with this legislation.



We agree that the only amendment we would have to have would be the one that the government made a commitment on, that is the one recognizing seniority so that workers who work at the VG Hospital and worked for government prior to this legislation would be credited with their time regarding seniority.



Hopefully, the government will agree to this and we will be able to take it back to committee and, hopefully, do what is right for the health care workers of this province so that they are treated fairly by this government. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



MADAM SPEAKER: Are there further speakers? Hearing none, are we ready for the question on the amendment? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary mined, Nay.



The amendment is carried in the negative.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, this is my last chance to have a few words to say about Bill No. 47, which is An Act to Amalgamate the Victoria General Hospital at Halifax, the Camp Hill Medical Centre, the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre Corporation and the Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation of Nova Scotia to form the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre has been for me a disturbing but yet an accurate reflection of this government's actions in dealing with working people in the Province of Nova Scotia and in dealing with the whole question of health care reform in the Province of Nova Scotia.



[2:15 p.m.]



On the first hand, with respect to working people, the bill was crafted in a way which basically completely dismissed out of hand the rights of 2,000 to 3,000 workers, Madam Speaker. The bill takes away many of the rights, many of the entitlements, that the people who work at the Victoria General Hospital have earned over the past number of years, some of them 30 years and more. It is one thing to have a bill which contravenes collective agreements and which tries to take away rights, but the cavalier manner in which it was done, has for me been extremely troubling because at each and every turn when the concerns of working people and the representatives brought to the attention of this government, they dismissed them. They ignored them. They treated them - I would suggest in my estimation -with utter contempt.



Madam Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources went so far as to take out ads in the newspaper which basically said to the people of Nova Scotia that the health care workers at the Victoria General Hospital, and their unions, were fear-mongering, were engaging in hysterical activities, were completely misrepresenting what it was that the government was doing in this bill. At no time in much of this process did the government recognize in any responsible respectful manner the fact that the people most affected by this legislation, that their concerns had any legitimacy whatsoever.



Even after we witnessed the parties that are going to be affected by this agreement, the unions and the employers at these institutions, the employer at the QE II Health Sciences Centre and the government through the Department of Human Resources, signed a host of memoranda that would take away, as much as they were able to, the negative effects of this bill. Even after that which to me and to most Nova Scotians is a clear recognition of the fact that this bill is flawed. Even after that did the government say, well the unions, the workers, might have been right, might have had some point, and we will still agree to disagree perhaps but we recognize the contribution that these thousands of workers have made to the health care system in this province and to these institutions and that the employers and we have agreed to certain language which will mitigate against the effects of this legislation. We, in the spirit of acting in good faith, responsible behaviour of a government, will ensure that that recognition is represented in this legislation. Not once. Not once did we hear from the Minister of Health, the Minister of Human Resources or any other minister of government, any acknowledgement whatsoever that the deep-seated fears of these health care workers might have had some basis. Not once. I think it is that kind of contemptible action that the health care workers affected by this legislation will remember the longest. It was the way they were treated with such utter disrespect by this government.



You will recall that these people were so concerned about the impact of this legislation that they voted overwhelmingly, they voted over 83 per cent to go on strike, to withdraw their labour which they knew at the time they voted was an illegal act under the laws of this province. I spoke to literally hundreds of workers who made those decisions and they felt that they had no choice. They were scared to death about the consequences of making a decision to take an illegal action but at the same time they were scared to death for themselves and for their families and for the people they care for, to changes that are being imposed upon them and their colleagues by this bill and by other changes being introduced that have been introduced by the Minister of Health and his colleagues, change that many have suggested have caused nothing but chaos, consternation and concern within the health care sector in this province. That is the difficulties and the anxiety creating and producing conundrum that those workers were faced with but they made the decision on their own, on the evidence that was provided to them, to go on strike.



Even after having made that gut wrenching decision, a decision that places the very jeopardy of their jobs at risk, that affects the very stability and security of their jobs, after having made that very emotional decision, the Minister of Human Resources, the Minister of Health and his colleagues, through those ads in the newspaper basically called these people lambs, called them dupes. They suggested that they were being misled by their union and by the people that were advising them, by the people that were raising concerns with respect to the impact of this legislation.



I sat through hundreds of presentations at the Law Amendments Committee of those same dupes, sheep, poor misled individuals and I tell you, I didn't see one. What I saw were dedicated, hardworking, committed health care workers, laundry workers, food services workers, nurses, psychiatrists, technologists, people who have worked for six months, for one year, for 15 years, for 20 years, for 30 years, delivering health care in the Province of Nova Scotia, people who had weighed the balance, had weighed the evidence, who had related it to their experience with this government, related it to their experience in delivering health care in this province and said to themselves and in effect, said to the Province of Nova Scotia, we have had enough. We are not going to allow this government to tread on us any more.



Madam Speaker, while the government still ignored, disrespected the rights and the concerns and the interests of these people, they still in the end did participate in these agreements, these memoranda, which take away many of the troubling and disruptive aspects of the legislation. I hope we can believe that some of our efforts in this House along with the considerable efforts of the unions involved in health care in the Province of Nova Scotia, the people that are doing the work themselves, the nearly 300 that came to the Law Amendments Committee and made representations had some effect on the government agreeing to participate in these agreements. If I and my colleague in the New Democratic Party caucus made some small contribution to that, then I think that makes much of our activity here of value.



Nonetheless, I say again here in this House, I put it on the record, Madam Speaker, that this government should be ashamed of the way it behaved and the way it treated these workers, the disrespect which it showed health care workers in the Province of Nova Scotia, the fact that even to this day they are unwilling to recognize the need to make changes to this bill to address the rights and concerns of those people that have been addressed in the side agreements to this bill. Those workers and many other Nova Scotians will not easily forget the way this government has handled this whole issue. That is the one issue, the way that this legislation deals with working people in the Province of Nova Scotia.



The other part of this legislation has to do with health care reform. It has to do with decisions that are being made to change the health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia, decisions that, as the minister himself has said, will lead to the better way. The decision to amalgamate these four tertiary care institutions in the Province of Nova Scotia, the minister has said that this merger will save upwards of $20 million. He has never once given me or any member of this House or any person in Nova Scotia any evidence to suggest that, in fact, that objective will be met, on the basis of any evidence.



I and the staff in our office have done a fair bit of research into this topic and the only evidence we have been able to come up with that relates to the question of mergers and multi-hospital arrangements has to do with the fact that in most cases the decision is made without any evidence, without any basis that it will fulfil the objective, which primarily is to save money. In fact, the evidence that this particular research brought forward was that in many if not most cases the whole process of going to bigger often leads to more expensive delivery of health care as a result, Mr. Speaker.



So we were presented with a very major change in the way the tertiary care services will be delivered in this province without any evidence, without any report that says this is why we are doing it, this is the evidence of what it will do and this is how much it will cost and so on. We are going on the faith, I guess, of the minister and his colleagues that bigger is better. Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, we already have evidence in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality that the costs are too often underestimated and bigger is not better.



[2:30 p.m.]



In fact, Mr. Speaker, the evidence so far, with respect to the costs of this arrangement, after having spent $150 million to build the new Infirmary, the government has had to invest another sum of money that was originally estimated to be $12 million to renovate that new facility, to incorporate the new organization for the delivery of services that is intended; in fact, there have been estimates of the costs for that renovation for this merger to rise to as high as $50 million and then some.



The difficulty is that you will hear people from the QE II say that is not true, what's your evidence? I have no hesitation in saying to them that I don't have any evidence. I am basing my assumptions on the expertise, on the opinion, on the assessment of those people that are involved in delivering health care in those hospitals. I am basing my concern on the fact that, while $12 million was originally estimated as the cost, since we have started to raise our concerns about that cost getting out of hand, the QE II management and representatives of the Department of Health have completely clammed up on the question of what the costs might truly be. It is extremely troubling, I think, and something that we should all be very concerned about.



Again this realignment, this rearrangement of services, has been done in complete opposition to the strategy laid out by the Blueprint Committee, who recommended that no such rearranging be done without their being a health care services audit to identify what the needs are of the community, and to do an audit of what the skills are out there in the professions, to do an audit of the medical services that are provided and that can be provided in the Province of Nova Scotia before you make those significant changes, Mr. Speaker, and that has not been done. It has not been done by this government.



They have not done that, but they have engaged in a reorganization which may cost many millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, instead of saving $20 million, as has been predicted by the Minister of Health, a merger which will see at least 1,000 health care workers laid off here in metro, and a process which does not give us any indication of whether in fact this is going to mean better health care services for the people of Nova Scotia.



It was interesting, as we talked about this bill and the lack of planning, the lack of thought, and the lack of answers that this government had in terms of what its intentions were, what its plans were, we saw during the Committee of the Whole House stage, a stage at which we had the opportunity in this House to address a piece of legislation clause by clause, the only opportunity we have to make specific changes to clauses of Acts of legislation, we saw members of this government rise to their feet in considerable indignation about some of the things that some of us were saying about their plans, in terms of health care reform. They didn't talk about the bill, they didn't talk about the QE II, they didn't talk about the effect on the workers, they didn't talk about the lack of plans, they didn't talk about the costs. They talked about and they tried, I think, in a manner that looked pitiful and was fruitless, to defend all of the health care reform strategies of this government and this minister in a very thinly guised procedure to try to apparently support the Minister of Health in his activities.



In all of that rhetoric none of the answers to any of the questions were provided to the people of Nova Scotia. All that the government managed to do was ensure that the legitimate concerns of many Nova Scotians, many health care workers affected by this legislation, were not able to be dealt with. They chewed up the time, limited to 20 hours, as a result of government action last year to bring in limitations on debate in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, Mr. Speaker. So the government had its way with this Legislature, they had its way with this Opposition. They used their majority in this House not only to ensure that votes went their way but they ensured, as many bullies do, that they had their way all the way along; but they used up the opportunity that has been available for the Opposition Parties since this House came into existence, they used up that time with their considerable clout, as a result of their majority.



Let me say that Nova Scotians were watching, Nova Scotians continue to watch, recognizing, I think, quite clearly the contempt with which this government is showing their concerns, contempt with which this government deals with this Legislature, with traditions that have been established for over 175 years.





In conclusion, I don't know for sure if the amalgamation of these four institutions is going to be a good thing or a bad thing. It troubles me that I don't know that, as a member of this House who has to approve or disapprove of a piece of legislation. It trouble me that a process that may cost us $50 million in this province, is going to lead to the layoff of another 1,000 health care workers, that is going to have an effect potentially on the health care services provided to not only the people of this province but also to the people of this region, that I don't know what the impact is going to be, what the effect is going to be, that troubles me considerably.



What I do know is that this piece of legislation treats with utter contempt the rights of working people, the rights of not only unionized people but also people in positions of management who are not involved in unions. It takes away many hard-fought and earned rights, entitlements and benefits they have developed as a result of their significant, long-term commitment to health care in the Province of Nova Scotia as they have served the Province of Nova Scotia in their respective capacities. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, and for that reason alone, I cannot support this legislation. For that reason alone, and the fact that this government has failed to come forward with any evidence to support the decisions made relative to this decision, I, too, cannot support this legislation. Finally, with the cavalier and contemptuous manner in which this government has dealt with this Legislature, around this piece of legislation, I cannot support Bill No. 47.



Again, as I wrap up let me say that I have seen this legislation as a reflection of the way this government has carried out its responsibilities in this province over the past three years. It is a reflection on the way this bill was dealt with of how many other pieces of legislation were handled in this session. It is a reflection, I think, of the contempt which this government is showing the people of Nova Scotia and it reflects for me my conviction that this government somehow, some way, needs to be stopped, that they cannot continue to bring forward this kind of legislation to perform their duties in this way.



I will continue to try to hold this government accountable and bring these activities and this behaviour to the attention of the people of Nova Scotia and allow them to decide. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Are there further interveners? If not I will call for the question. The motion before the House is for the third reading of Bill No. 47. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 40.



Bill No. 40 - Expropriation Act



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read for a third time.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak on third reading of Bill No. 40, the Expropriation Act, I can't help but feel very disappointed in the Minister of Justice. I would have expected better of him with regard to looking at amendments put forward not only by the Opposition but amendments put forward in the Law Amendments Committee by people who are truly expert in the field of expropriation.



This bill is a travesty. It is a bill which is directed against the small person, the person who is powerless in the face of a government that has the full benefit of the law behind it, has the full benefit of its retinue of its legal staff, has a full retinue of government appraisers behind it in matters of expropriation.



I don't think there is anything more traumatic for a person who owns a piece of land, to have somebody come along who has the power to say, we are taking a chunk of your property. It could be in the front, it could be in the back or it could be right through the middle of your house for that matter. Or a person who has worked for years and years to establish a business in a particular location and to be told, I am sorry, Mr. Businessman, but we are widening the highway here or we are going to put in sidewalks alongside of the street and as a consequence, we are going to have to take over your property and your business premise.



The government will say, yes, but those things have to happen and I agree that they probably do have to happen. However, I think that in every case, if there is any bias at all, it should be biased in favour of the person who is losing his particular property or his business.



The Act that we have had up to the present time was not perfect, by no means was it perfect. You would think that if the Minister of Justice was acting on behalf of the people of this province, he would be improving and amending the Act to make it better for those who are being expropriated against. But in point of fact, unfortunately, this amendment to the Expropriation Act is exactly the opposite. It takes away from the person being expropriated, certain rights and benefits that they had under the old Act and on top of that, it deals a blow to those who suffer from injurious affection.



[2:45 p.m.]



Injurious affection, as you would well know being learned in the law, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, is a claim made for something that you cannot just measure as a part of the actual value of the property or the buildings on that land. I think the case has been made over and over again, by every speaker in the Opposition, in particular about a farmer who has a farm and the Department of Transportation builds a highway across that property and divides the farm in two halves. So you have your house and your barn over here, you have a highway now running across the middle of your property, and to get to the other side of your farm, where perhaps you have pastured your animals or have your orchards or what have you, you now do not have direct access. You may have to drive many miles up a secondary road to come to a connector which will take you across to the other side and then drive back many miles just to get to the back part of your acreage.



In the past, this has happened and it will probably happen in the future. In the past, at least there was allowance made for that kind of an expropriation. In this present bill, Mr. Speaker, in spite of what the minister says, that particular benefit, if you wish to call it a benefit - it is a due, actually, to the person being expropriated - is taken away from the landowner.



The minister has acceded to one amendment, and it was an important one, I grant him that . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Two.



MR. RUSSELL: Well, there was only one of any consequence. It was a fairly major one, I admit. Under the bill introduced by the minister in its first form, the person who was being expropriated would have somebody from the government turn up, knock on the door and say, Mr. Landowner, we are going to expropriate your property because we need it for whatever the reason and we are going to offer you, for that piece of property, $20,000, take it or leave it.



Mr. Speaker, before this bill becomes law, in other words, under the present Expropriation Act that we have, a person who comes to make that initial offer has to produce an appraisal of the worth of the property. The minister was going to take that away from the person being expropriated. At least he had the common sense to leave that clause alone and it remains the same, that is the only substantive amendment made by the minister to his bill. While it is a major one, it certainly does not deal with the other major effects of Bill No. 40.



Bill No. 40 is going to become law probably this afternoon some time, and it becomes effective, I believe, on February 1st of this year, in approximately two weeks' time. I say to anybody in this province who is being expropriated to take a look at the Minister of Justice and say, Mr. Minister of Justice, you are not giving me, the expropriated person, justice.



I will be voting against this bill and I would encourage every other person in this House, particularly those in rural areas, who are most affected by expropriations, to vote against Bill No. 40.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker does not need to give me any encouragement to vote against it - although I appreciate it - because I made up my mind quite some considerable time ago that I would be voting against this bill. What I believe this bill is doing is in fact expropriating the rights of individuals who are having their properties expropriated by an expropriating authority.



Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker talked about the one significant amendment that the minister did agree to, that is indeed important. There is no question about that; that was a very important and significant change to the legislation. That having been said, and despite the fact that the minister did agree to a couple of very minor, modest amendments even on the floor of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills - and I do appreciate the fact that the minister did accept an amendment, albeit modest ones, both one from our caucus and one from the Official Opposition caucus - there were many other more important and significant areas where this bill needed to have major surgery performed upon it and the government was not willing to do that.



I do not place the full blame upon the Minister of Justice and I do not say that all Nova Scotians should just ask the Minister of Justice, where is justice? I would suggest that they should look to all members of the Liberal caucus, of the Liberal Government because this is a government bill. This is a bill that is sponsored by the Minister of Justice but is only going to proceed through this House as a result of the support of all 40 Liberal MLAs.



When a person is having their property expropriated, and when that person looks and sees the battles and the troubles that they are going to have in order to try to receive fair - and we are not talking about exorbitant amounts, but fair - compensation for the injurious losses that they are going to suffer, not only the losses of that actual piece of land, then, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that they ask all members of the government benches, where is the justice and where were they when this bill was being debated? As with other pieces of legislation that are proceeding through this House without the necessary reforms and changes, that could only happen with the support of the government members.



I am not one who ascribes to the view that you hold a minister totally responsible. They are the first because they are the sponsors, but all those who vote in support of that bill, all of those who allow it to pass without having the necessary amendments share in that responsibility and share in that blame.



Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill has, as I said, a number of problems. According to this legislation, and especially those families, individuals and small businesses that do not have deep pockets, that cannot afford to carry huge financial costs, those are the ones who are going to be the most adversely affected because if an individual or a company is to have some of their property expropriated and they have the financial wherewithal, they will be able to afford to carry the costs of having the appraisal done, hiring the expert legal advice and also the other type of expert advice and assistance that they may need. They will be able to carry those costs through to the time when a hearing may be held.



Mr. Speaker, those who do not have the financial resources to carry debts, often of $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, the costs of having - depending upon the size of the property and the complexity of the issue - the detailed appraisal done, the accountant's evaluations of whatever business losses may be incurred, those people will be disadvantaged because now this government does not have to pay for those appraisals and legal services until the end of the process.



So for those individuals who do not have the money, several things will happen. Either (1) they will have to borrow somehow and by whatever means be able to pay it back over time or (2) Mr. Speaker, they may have to hope that they can find some generous appraiser and legal advice that are able to defer their costs for two years, three years or four years before they receive payment. Not many businesses can operate that way and stay in business. Or they will be forced - and this is what I would suggest the government is hoping will happen - to accept what they know is a low offer because they don't have the financial wherewithal to go up against the government because the government had decided that it is going to delay or allow the delaying of payments.



The government in its wisdom, or lack thereof, and I tend to believe it is the latter, has also decided with this legislation that the people who are going to have their property split in half and who are going to have difficulties gaining access to their property in a reasonable way; for example, a farmer who may have his fields split in half by a highway going through it, that if that farmer has an access road built beside the highway, that that farmer, that business person deserves no compensation for the fact that once upon a time they used to just be able to drive the tractor across their field to get to both ends of it. Now they may have to drive 5, 10 or 30 kilometres up and down these access roads to be able to get to the other side of their field which once might have taken them 10 minutes. The government says, well, they have access, tough luck, as the member for Hants West says. That is what the government is saying to them and they deserve no compensation.



The government is even saying that they don't trust the Utility and Review Board in this quasi-judicial body that supposedly can be trusted to determine what are and what are not appropriate power rates for consumers and businesses to pay. But you know that body can't be trusted to determine what are or are not fair fees for services because the Governor in Council wants to have that power, that control, because by having that power and that control then that also gives the government one more tool to use to force those property owners who are going to be harmed by these expropriations, especially those with the least financial means to fight it out of their own pockets, to force them to accept low offers. That is the kind of power that the Governor in Council wants to take unto itself.



Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. This bill is a Finance bill, although the Expropriation Act falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice, this bill could just as easily have been introduced by the Minister of Finance. What this bill is really about is finding ways to reduce the amount of compensation a person can receive and to decrease the ability of those individuals and companies and businesses who are going to be expropriated, to reduce their ability to receive fair compensation. Why? The only reason is so that the province can save money on the backs of those who haven't got the financial wherewithal to fight them.



Mr. Speaker, that is not what I consider to be fair and equitable treatment. That is not what I call good government. It is about as far as you can get from the notion of justice and equity.



Mr. Speaker, if you haven't already concluded from my remarks, I want to make it absolutely clear that our caucus will be opposing this legislation, and I would suggest not only to rural members but I would also say to urban members, as well, look at the impact that this will have upon your constituents. The only people who spoke in support of this bill were solicitors speaking on behalf of two large municipal units who, like the Province of Nova Scotia, are probably the next in line in terms of the greatest number of expropriations that are carried out in this province. Therefore the two who are also most likely to make financial savings for themselves, financial savings at the expense of those who are going to have their properties expropriated.



[3:00 p.m.]



We have seen numerous reports in the media and so on, a number of them where it is pointed out how the offers that were initially made were extremely low. After the facts came out, after proper appraisals, an independent review was done, the property owners who had their lands confiscated by the government had received awards many times greater than that which they were initially offered. This government is obviously intent on ensuring that those initial, low ball offers, hold up. Mr. Speaker, that is something that members of this government are going to have to answer for when they speak to their constituents and those who are involved in businesses within their area who are going to be adversely affected by this legislation. I certainly will be voting against this bill at this stage. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 40. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 48.



Bill No. 48 - Provincial Berry Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.



HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I so move.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, just to indicate that we will be voting in support of this particular bill and if the Minister of Fisheries was here, I was going to ask him a question but I will have to wait for another day.



MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 48. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



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



Bill No. 53 - Marketable Titles Act.



Bill No. 54 - Cosmetology Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.



Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that these bills be engrossed.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 55 and on behalf of the Minister of Education, I so move.



Bill No. 55 - Community Colleges Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on Bill No. 55 and to advise the House that I will be voting against this bill. This is a bill that has been offered to the people of Nova Scotia as a reform bill. It is no more of a reform bill than the bill that the Minister of Finance brings in at the beginning of the year to approve the budget of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a Finance bill, that is what it is and it does nothing whatsoever for the students, it does nothing whatsoever for the teachers, it does nothing whatsoever for those hundreds and hundreds of parents who hope that their children, who can't go on to university for one reason or another, will have access to some type of educational facility that will provide them with the tools and the education which will enable them to get a job. This bill doesn't do that so why do we have this bill here?



The reason we have this bill here is simply because the Minister of Education was told by the Minister of Finance, you have got to find some way to save about $12 million, go ahead and do it. What did he do? He closed five community colleges across this province, he got rid of 800 seats, can you believe it, in a system which did not have enough seats before he started meddling with it. Last year there were 200 students in this province that were unable to get into the community college system because there were no seats available. How is he fixing it? He is getting rid of another 800 seats.



If the demand next year is the same as it was this year, there will be 1,000 of our youth out there that cannot get into a community college. What kind of reform is that? It is destruction of a system that was up and running and working reasonably well. I say reasonably well because I agree with the minister when he said, yes, there are changes that should be made and I say yes, there are changes that should be made but for the love of Heaven, don't make them by destroying the system, the community college training opportunities that are there for students who don't want to go on to university but who do, indeed, want to take that training that is essential to get a job today.



Some of the courses, admittedly, were training too many students for jobs that were not there, agreed. Well, fix it. You don't close schools to do that, you don't get rid of seats to do that. What you do is change the focus of the community college to better react to what the employers of this province want in the way of trained students.



There were other things wrong with the community college system, one of which, quite obviously, was that there were not enough seats available for those who wanted to get into the system and had the qualifications to get into the system. You don't do that by getting rid of 800 seats. What he should have been doing was making more seats available within the system to accommodate the greater number of students that were trying to get in there.



This bill, as I say, is a disgrace and I am absolutely amazed that the Minister of Education can come in here with a straight face and say to this Assembly, I am going to reform the system and the way I am going to reform the community college system is with Bill No. 55. It does not do that, so I will be voting against this bill and I know full well that either next year or the year after, whoever is in this House at that time, and it won't be too many of that crew, will be back in here and we will be rewriting that community college bill and rewriting it in such a way that it will cater to those students, those parents and the industries out there that are looking for people as product from our community college system. Thank you.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I regret to say that the bill that we have before us, again, has very little to do with community colleges in terms of trying to improve the quality of education that is being offered. What the bill that is before us has more to do with is, indeed, it is like the Expropriation Act that I referred to a little earlier, it really is a bill that could be coming forth by the Minister of Finance which is really aimed at trying to cut costs at the expense of the students that are attending or should be able to attend the community college system.



Mr. Speaker, one of the things in this bill, and of course what the bill is supposedly doing is setting up a governance system, a structure whereby there is going to be a board or boards established, one for the community college system and one for the College de l'Acadie, the two community college systems that are to be set up in the province. It is supposedly setting up a structure where the board is going to be overseeing the community colleges from one end of the province to the other. The government would have the people believe that the community college system, therefore, is going to be an independent body of the government so that the government can stand back and say, oh no, we have no responsibility, it is not our fault that this, that or the other thing happened. Yet, of course, the minister and the government are still going to be able to control those community colleges through their boards, to whom they appoint the majority of members, and, of course, it is the province that is controlling the purse strings and will have to control certain kinds of policies.



Yet whenever you ask them, the government is going to be saying, well, it is not our decision and are you suggesting - it is going to sound familiar - that we should interfere with an independent body? In fact, Mr. Speaker, that board can be manipulated and controlled by this government to ensure that it does the government's bidding, only it is going to be acting as a buffer, as a divider from the provincial government.



Mr. Speaker, the community college system in the Province of Nova Scotia is a vitally important part of the education system. It needs to be strengthened, it needs to be enhanced, there is no question about that. I listened to the remarks, I attended the conference that was held on Monday sponsored by SUNS, the Students' Union of Nova Scotia. At that Jack Buckley from the department spoke. He made a great deal of sense, he gave a very fine presentation, the part that I was able to attend and hear, and talked about the importance of having a strong community college system that is able to deliver the programs needed by students so that they will be able to become full and productive members of society in a well-trained work force. He gave a very fine presentation and I congratulate him for that, as one of the presenters at that forum.



This bill does nothing to set up that process. We have this legislation being set up supposedly. Even the minister in his announcement when he was introducing this bill bragged about the fact that we had more students attending community colleges this year than in the previous year. I think it was up 600 students, he said. What he didn't say at the time that he introduced that bill, when he was patting himself and his government so loudly and enthusiastically on the back, was that a couple of weeks earlier that same minister announced that next year they are cutting 800 training seats out of the community college system. So when you say that we have 600 more this year than last year, and next year we are going to have 800 less than this year, that means that next year we will have 200 less than we had two years ago. That is progress, Mr. Speaker, in the eyes of the government. To me, if we have much more progress like that, we will be in real big trouble if we are not already.



Mr. Speaker, in this bill it is obviously quite clear that the government's plan in another way is to be turning the community college system into more of a response to the private sector. There is no question that we have to not only now but in the future be constantly evaluating the programs we are offering. We must remain current, we know that. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever nor is it fair to the students to be offering programs that students will enrol in when the government knows or should know that when they graduate there is no employment in that field. That is not serving anybody in a positive way. So we have to, on a regular basis, be evaluating the programs.



[3:15 p.m.]



One of the principal goals and objectives of this government, of course, according to the statements from the members of the government, is to be serving the private sector needs. There is nothing wrong with that, but they want to be contracting for services so that those businesses that can afford, whether that be the Sheraton that needs to train blackjack dealers or somebody who needs to work in the Sheraton teaching people how to operate the one-armed bandits or to repair them, that they can contract to the community college system to provide those courses, and well they should. But this government's intention is to be switching more and more to that privatized, specialized kind of training and ignoring all of those other students and all of those other needs in business and industry where large blocks, large groups will not be contracted on such a basis.



This bill does absolutely nothing. It does not even refer to ways in which this government is going to try to address the needs of the hundreds - in fact, thousands - of young people who are unable, for a whole host of reasons, to get into the community college system because they do not have the academic background to enter those programs. For a whole host of reasons, many young people are unable to complete high school. Many in the past were not able to complete high school, and even many of those who did are unable to get into the community college system now because the requirements to get in are too high or because even though the requirements may set a certain standard, there are so many others who have completed university degrees or with partial university degrees that they take preference and those with the minimum requirements to enter those programs cannot get in.



Instead of expanding, this government is contracting: 800 fewer seats, 5 campuses, in a time when this government says that it recognizes and wants to elevate the community college system in the Province of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, the two do not seem to go together very well.



Of course, in this legislation, again we have the same as we did in other pieces of legislation introduced by this government, whether dealing with the QE II Bill or the Education Bill, the government has contained in this legislation provisions that override freely negotiated collective agreements. Several of those groups, representatives primarily of the Teachers Union and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, were able to negotiate side deals as a result of delays and pressure put on this government, but the government is still passing legislation here in this House that does not even recognize in that legislation the commitments that it was willing to sign on to in the other agreements. This government here, as in other pieces of legislation, is showing absolute contempt for the workers in the system and also for the entire process and dignity of signed collective agreements.



Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that if the government was true to its commitments, if it truly did believe in the importance of the community college system, it would have come forward with a program outlining programs that will be offered. It would have come out with programs on ways in which they are actually going to be expanding the community college system, not only in the existing facilities but by means of other methods throughout areas of the province where there are no community college structures located. Public schools in many parts of the province could have community college programs integrated into them and so on.



There are all kinds of things that can be done, many of which we spoke about during the Committee of the Whole House stage and on second reading. Unfortunately, even though there were some modest changes made to the bill in the Law Amendments Committee, this bill still is unworthy of support.



The community college system is very much, indeed, worthy of support and, in fact, it deserves much more positive attention from this government, certainly much more positive attention than it is receiving by this piece of legislation. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I find that I am not able to support this particular piece of legislation but that is certainly not a reflection of my views towards the importance of the community college system and the value of it because this bill, quite simply, falls very far short of the mark.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 55.



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



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 57. On behalf of the Minister of Health, I would move third reading.



Bill No. 57 - Medical Society Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 59. On behalf of the Minister of Health I move third reading.



Bill No. 59 - Medical Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, just a few words on the Medical Act. It is a bill that I do support but I was a little disappointed in a couple of areas. The freedom of choice and the inclusion in the bill for complementary medicine was an area where I think a lot of people were disappointed that the change in the Act did not cover that area. Also, that we did not see equal representation of laypeople move in the right direction on the board, itself, or the council, itself. There were a number of people concerned about that. As well, the whole area of prevention.



Even though the minister indicated that the Act obviously wants to encourage physicians to work on prevention, we all agree with that but we are not sure that the Act, itself, may prevent others from, in actual fact, making their livelihood on health prevention. Even though the Medical Act changes are positive, we think that it could have went a little further. Even though we do support the bill, we hope that the minister down the road will be prepared to make additional amendments to this bill. The bill, itself, with regard to peer review and others is a step in the right direction.



The other area of concern is whether or not, in peer review or in the council, itself, when investigations are done that, in actual fact, there will be somebody that is doing that, that has some background in a specialty area in complementary medicine.



I guess, Mr. Speaker, even though we support this bill, as I said, there are a couple of areas that we hope the minister would have addressed. We hope, down the road, the government will take that into consideration, the presentations and those that have commented on this particular Act.



I have to give the minister credit from the point of view that we did get one very important amendment. That is, when there is a hearing people will be duly notified through publication. We thank the government for that amendment. It is an improvement, Mr. Speaker, over what we had before, a Medical Act that obviously was outdated.



With those few words, I will be supporting Bill No. 59 in third reading.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to indicate that I, too, and my colleague, the NDP caucus, will be supporting Bill No. 59.



Bill No. 59, the Medical Act, sets up a new system of administering the medical profession, setting regulations and so on. It establishes for the first time a board, a council where there will be representation to a large part by laypersons; 5 of the 13 people will be laypeople. Mr. Speaker, while this caucus and the Official Opposition recommended increasing that and debated an amendment that would make it equal representation from laypersons, that was not agreed but we certainly do and indicated the same during debate on that amendment that we supported this new set-up that would ensure representation of five laypeople on the board.



The new Medical Act now provides for a system of peer review, of investigation that would, I think, ensure that not only will the process be more accessible to the public but it will ensure that there will be some lay participation and that, perhaps, the whole question of discipline and review will be much more open and transparent. I think that is a good thing, Mr. Speaker, and for those reasons, I have supported this legislation to this point and will continue.



A couple of things that I have been concerned about, one is that initially there had been changes to the definition of the practice of medicine which was felt by many to have an impact on the practice of midwifery in the Province of Nova Scotia. We had, as you will recall, Mr. Speaker, some significant representation by persons either practising or having benefitted from the practice of midwifery in the Province of Nova Scotia.



The minister, in his wisdom, agreed to change to that legislation to ensure that while the practice of midwifery is not yet regulated formally and we are hoping that the minister will bring forward legislation that will provide that, that nonetheless, in the interim period, it is not officially made illegal, which it did until the amendment was made to the Act. I am pleased with that.



The other part of this legislation that I would like to have seen is more recognition of the role of the practice of complementary medicine. I think there is some weakness in the bill for not having done that. At the same time as we talked about this Medical Act, we have encouraged the Minister of Health to come through with the changes that he has talked about in the regulation of health professions. That is a move that needs to be made in the whole process of health care reform, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the multi-disciplinary teams that we talk about of being able to practise health care, or nurse practitioners, people practising complementary medicine, midwives and others, are regulated, have standards and, in fact, will become a more integral part of the delivery of medicine in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would like to have seen that legislation regulating health professions come forward at this time. Unfortunately, the minister did not see fit to do so. Hopefully, and we have encouraged him at every opportunity, he will be able to do so in the spring.



[3:30 p.m.]



Regardless, with those few comments, I indicate that I and my colleague will be supporting Bill No. 59.



MR. SPEAKER: There being no further interventions, we will put the question now. Would all those in favour of third reading of Bill No. 59 please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 65.



Bill No. 65 - Workers' Compensation Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 65.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My coments, Mr. Speaker, are very short. I think that this is a bill well worthy of approval and I am delighted to be able to vote in favour of it.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.





MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to indicate, as the member for Hants West did, our caucus' support for this piece of legislation which makes an appropriate amendment to the Act and, at the same time, would encourage the minister to ensure that the Workers' Compensation Board follows through and implements the rulings of the appeal board before the new Act comes into place before it is proclaimed on February 1, 1996.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 65. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Third Reading.



PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52. On behalf of the member for Timberlea-Prospect, I would move third reading.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I won't take too much of the time of the House but let me say that Bill No. 52 provides for the incorporation of barristers and solicitors in the Province of Nova Scotia. I have said on a number of occasions that I am not philosophically opposed to barristers and solicitors having the opportunity to incorporate, to avail themselves of all the other advantages provided for small businesses, small corporations, in recognition of the risks and challenges facing a small business in this province and in any other province of this country.



My concern primarily at other stages of this bill was that the bill was introduced without any explanation as to the purpose. There was no indication whatsoever given as to the impact of providing a profession, in this case the barristers and solicitors, with the right to incorporate. There was no indication, no evidence given whatsoever to give us an indication of what impact this will have on the provincial Treasury.



Mr. Speaker, I think it is naive of anyone to think that it won't have an effect because it wouldn't be here and it wouldn't be something that is being pushed by the Barristers' Society if, in fact, it was not meant to benefit some significant numbers of lawyers in the Province of Nova Scotia. That being said, I think the timing is wrong for this legislation. I suggested at other stages that if we are going to begin to hand out to groups within our society of Nova Scotia any kind of benefits, then we do it on the basis of need. We do it on the basis of the people who have the least ability to suffer the consequences of a depressed economy in the Province of Nova Scotia.



There are many people that have been asked to share the burden, Mr. Speaker. Many people are suffering significantly hard times in the Province of Nova Scotia. I question whether or not it is time for taxpayers to be expected to hand it out to a profession, some of which have great difficulty in making a living, no question about that, but others do very well, thank you very much. Those earning the greatest income will in fact be the ones that will benefit the most as a result of this legislation. On that basis, I think it is ill timed. I think it is somewhat contemptuous of the people who have sacrificed and are suffering as a result of policies in this government that at the same time we are sucking millions of dollars out of the health and education and social service systems we should be turning around and spending whatever it is, $200,000, $1 million. I do not know what the figures are because we have not been given them, but that we would spend that money in terms of foregone tax revenues for any profession let alone lawyers I think is unwise and ill timed.



I will again, as I have at every stage of debate on this bill, be indicating that I am not supporting it. I will be recommending that my colleague not support it and will ensure, as best I can, that Nova Scotians are aware of the priorities that this government has decided to move forward on, this being one of them.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise, I guess, opposing the bill for third reading. The rationale is that I am not opposed to lawyers being able to incorporate, but I guess it is the timing. I thought the government would have waited until they had their surplus and was able to fund the very needs that are out there in the communities. Weekly and sometimes daily I get calls from individuals who have been affected by the government cuts. The people who have been affected by the government cuts can barely pay their rent, fuel bill and light bill. Many of those people go to food banks. Some of those people have been unable to find employment. Some of those people have had to go without medical needs.



As I watched the government make the cuts in the education system because there is no money, I wondered, Mr. Speaker. Yes, at some point I could see this government allowing lawyers, barristers to incorporate. My question is, is the timing right for such a piece of legislation? I hoped the government would have waited until we had seen the big surplus they are talking about as we come into the next budget. That big surplus may have been able to be passed on to barristers in this province once we know that part of the surplus is passed on to those who are in real need. I am not opposed to incorporations. I am opposed to a government giving away tax dollars at a time that we have people suffering in the province. So for that reason, Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against the legislation.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak against this legislation in third reading. This government preaches and preaches fiscal restraint and financial responsibility. The public sector - seniors, clerks in stores, truck drivers, construction workers, coal miners and waiters and waitresses and so on and so forth - are very much opposed to this legislation. Granted, if the economic climate was better and we were seeing real viable legitimate economic growth, perhaps we could support this legislation.



The corporate tax rate is 18 per cent. Let's take a figure, let's take an income of some $220,000. If we were to apply the corporate tax rate of 18 per cent to $220,000, we would find that the money that would come out of the provincial Treasury as the result of one lawyer incorporating and putting his revenue into an incorporation, it would cost the province $15,000 for one lawyer to do this.



I have had that figure confirmed by Revenue Canada and there hasn't been any member of the government stand up and excuse this inexcusable legislation. The Finance Minister was in the House when we raised similar concerns relative to doctors incorporating. It is just not the time, it is mean and it is greedy to come in with legislation like this when we are asking the public, our constituents and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to tighten their belts. This legislation is insulting to the nth degree.



On one hand, we have told the people in Cape Breton, down at the Two Rivers Wildlife Park and I just use that as one example, that this government just doesn't have the money to operate that park. In fact, the community is being encouraged to privatize the wildlife park down in the Mira.



As I understand it, the reason and rationale that the Minister of Transportation cut the salt haulage rates in this province was because the provincial Treasury, the funds of this province, just couldn't stand the onslaught required by all of the departments. We have seen hospitals close, we have seen benefits and concessions today being pushed toward doctors and lawyers and it is just not fair.



I wonder if this government has ever had an opportunity to go talk to the people that frequent such places such as Loaves and Fishes. Perhaps this government would like to find out what the view is from those people that have to go to Loaves and Fishes to get a bite to eat. We have seen the ferry service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor, Maine cut because this government has no money, this is what we are telling the people, that is what we are telling our constituents and taxpayers.



The public sector has seen their wages rolled back three times. There is no money to keep buses operating in communities . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I must caution the honourable member that Erskine May and Beauchesne both state that on third reading of bills the debate must adhere very strictly to the principle of the bill. I will read from Erskine May, "The purpose of the third reading is to review a bill in its final form after the shaping it has received in the earlier stages.". In the interest of brevity, debate at this stage is limited. "When debate takes place, it is confined strictly to the contents of the bill, and cannot wander afield as it can at second reading.". So I would ask the honourable member please to speak to the bill, the Barristers and Solicitors Bill.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, just in wrapping up my contribution to this piece of legislation, I want to point out at this time that this bill does contravene the government's own policy of fiscal restraint. I don't think this government can defend this legislation and that is why they would just as well sit in their seats and let this legislation come into third reading on the very last day that this House is going to sit. So, at the very least, it is double-talk, it is contradictory and very gainsay and I will be voting against this legislation.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the chance to be able to stand and speak for five or six minutes this afternoon on this particular piece of legislation. What this bill, of course, is intended to do is to enable the barristers and solicitors in the Province of Nova Scotia to incorporate and as a result of that, gain some tax advantages. What that really amounts to, that means that they are able to receive a raise because if you are actually going to pay less in the way of taxes, the amount of money that you will be able to take home in your pocket, in your pay envelope, so to speak, is going to be higher.



The House is, in all likelihood, going to wrap up this afternoon. Maybe it would go on a little bit longer if inspired but chances are that we will end today. We will be back before too long. We will be having a sitting of the spring session of the Legislature, probably in a couple of months . . .



MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Probably in the spring.



MR. HOLM: Yes, probably next spring. The very observant and astute member for Cape Breton South tells us.



At that time, the primary business will, of course, be a budget. During that budget process I expect either during that or during the Throne Speech that the government will announce that it has decided to end its wage freeze and that it is going to reopen and allow the contracts that have been frozen for public sector workers to be reopened. They must be going to do that because, obviously, we have reached the time of milk and honey and money is flowing freely, so that the Province of Nova Scotia can afford to forgo revenue. So the government has decided that the books are so good, our wonderful Minister of Finance has done such a fantastic job, obviously the surplus is going to be so large that they can forgo revenue and they now have money.



[3:45 p.m.]



Now they are going to have money to provide the increases to public sector workers in the Province of Nova Scotia that have had their wages frozen for years and, in fact, rolled back. We must be going to see that happen. Maybe these two bills - this one and the one that we will talk about a little bit later on - are an omen of things to come because I cannot believe that the Savage Government, no, they would never show favouritism; never would they do that. Heavens, no, of course not. They wouldn't allow two professional bodies, two professional groups that not all, certainly by any stretch of the imagination, make high incomes, but where as a percentage and as an average, they make above the average of what most employees and most people in the province make.



So, surely to heavens, oh, I couldn't believe for one minute, that this government, not this progressive Liberal Government, would ever show favouritism so, obviously, we must be going to see, because they have this money to forgo, they know that, of course they have to know that because they are giving these raises to lawyers and doctors who are going to incorporate, so they must be planning to lift their imposed wage roll-back on the public sector workers. Why else would they do it?



We must also be going to see millions of dollars, I guess, roll out as we are moving towards the election campaign and election goodies because, of course, they have so much money. I am sure that the Minister of Community Services is going to be able to announce that the rates for food and shelter allowances that are provided to those who are in greatest need are going to increase, because obviously the province has money. They are able to give raises to lawyers who can incorporate, so obviously the Minister of Community Services is going to be able to get the amount of money that he needs to provide for those who are in greatest need.



There are going to be more small options homes able to be opened up for those children who desperately need community integration in the small options homes for those who are disabled, Mr. Speaker. So obviously that must be in the Throne Speech, and monies provided for in the budget because if not, if those items and many others which are priority, desperate needs for the people in this province are not provided, then I ask the members to look in the mirror and to think very hard about what you are going to say to those who do have those desperate needs, when you try to tell them we can't afford it because we have no money to meet your very basic human needs.



Mr. Speaker, if everything is rosy, if the financial picture of the Province of Nova Scotia has come to the point that we no longer need to worry about the deficit, if we have gotten to the point that we no longer need to worry about the debt, then I will vote in support of this bill. But unless this government is able to show us that they have the money to provide for the urgent human realities, the real human identified needs, then I find myself unable to vote in support of this legislation.



We have yet to have provided to us by the Minister of Finance and had the Minister of Finance been able to be here today one of the questions I wanted to ask was, where are the economic impact studies for the incorporation of the barristers and solicitors? Where is the economic impact study which is going to tell us how many dollars that is going to cost Nova Scotia this year, next year and the year after? We have a right to know and the government has a responsibility to know and to tell us if it is expecting us to be supporting a piece of legislation that is going to give preferred income status to those who are already doing better, in most cases, than the average Nova Scotian.



Mr. Speaker, I invite, I challenge the government to delay this bill until the spring, when you introduce your budget. Let's see how much surplus money you have and let's see how you are going to address the real needs of the vast majority of Nova Scotians. If you can do that, then I would support this bill but I don't believe you can because all your rhetoric and everything that the government is saying all along is, we have no money. Just today I read again about 20 hospital beds closing down at the Dartmouth General.



MR. SPEAKER: And they were occupied by barristers and solicitors, I take it.



MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I note that some of the money that is going to be forgone in the Barristers and Solicitors Act, if we had an economic impact study done we might know how much money is going to be lost to the Province of Nova Scotia and we might find that there is enough money being lost that that money would have been more than sufficient to keep those 11 nurses who are providing top quality health care to their patients, keep them employed. So they are both very directly connected in terms of principle and in terms of practice, Mr. Speaker.



Certainly I hope the government members will take back to your colleague, the Minister of Finance, word that I am anxiously awaiting his budget because I know if the Minister of Finance has this much money available, he surely must also be intending to announce that the wage freeze on employees and the wage roll-back on the public sector employees, those who serve this province, will, of course, be rescinded. Because surely, Mr. Speaker, they would not be supporting their government showing preferred status and preferential treatment to a couple of groups.





Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I want to indicate at this stage that I certainly will be voting against this bill but I look forward to the government actually deciding not to proceed with it at this time. Obviously they were embarrassed because this really is a finance bill, not a Private Member's Bill. If they were not embarrassed, the government would have moved and introduced it as a government bill instead of getting a backbencher to do it on their behalf. I would suggest that the bill not be called for a vote on third reading and that in fact the Minister of Transportation and Communications, as Government House Leader should indicate that they will withdraw the bill at this stage and then do it right if they are to do it all, introduce it in the spring sitting of the Legislature when we see all the tremendous huge buckets of gold that obviously the government has amassed and see where the money is going to be coming from in order to fund this program. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 52. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 58.



Bill No. 58 - Medical Professional Corporations Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 58.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for a few moments on third reading of Bill No. 58, a bill which allows physicians and surgeons in the Province of Nova Scotia to incorporate.



We were told by the Minister of Health and some of his colleagues that they needed to provide physicians and surgeons the opportunity to incorporate, that it would in fact go some distance in retaining and attracting qualified professionals to the Province of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, a process that is all to common with this government, that is all we heard. We did not see or hear any evidence to support that fact, Mr. Speaker.



In fact what we have seen on the other side of incorporation is, not only is there no evidence that it retains or attracts health care professionals, what it importantly does not do is that it does not respond to the crisis faced by many doctors, many physicians and surgeons in the Province of Nova Scotia and that is the burden of not having sufficient support services in place, Mr. Speaker, in order to allow them to carry out their jobs without working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is the reality of the problem. That is why the vast majority of doctors are leaving the Province of Nova Scotia, not because of the fact that this province does not provide them with an opportunity to incorporate.



Mr. Speaker, another problem with this proposal is the fact that where it has been reviewed in Ontario when a similar piece of legislation was brought forward in 1993, the matter was referred to an advisory council on the regulation of health professions, they conducted extensive interviews and research, consulted with experts in the matter and came back with recommendations to the Minister of Health and the government that the government not proceed with the incorporation of physicians.



They did so, Mr. Speaker, on the basis of a number of points. One of them was the fact that in Ontario allowing physicians and surgeons to incorporate would represent forgone tax revenues of $75 million between the federal and provincial governments, $30 million to $35 million of that from the province. They also suggested as a result of representations that the process of allowing doctors who are operating under a fee for service mechanism of compensating them for services, of allowing them to incorporate removes any flexibility that might be there to reform the system, to reform and find alternative methods of compensating physicians in health care, other alternatives being salaries and through the method of capitation of clinics and other forms of providing services.



[4:00 p.m.]



Any analyses, the ones done here in Nova Scotia by the Royal Commission, by task forces, by the Blueprint Committee, have all agreed that in the attempt to control health care costs, one thing that needs to be done is to examine and develop alternatives to the fee for service mechanism of compensating physicians and surgeons. This does not do that at all and it is extremely disappointing, the fact that this government's Minister of Health would be prepared to sponsor a bill that, in fact, would move his reported health care and health reform process in the wrong direction.



One final thing that was recommended by the Minister's Advisory Council on the Regulation of Health Care Professions in Ontario, was that at a time when the economy is reeling as a result of the recession, at a time when governments are cutting back in terms of vast sums of money from health care, education and social service fields, at a time when governments are saying no repeatedly to programs and people who are trying to provide services for battered women and services in the community for more responsive health care delivery, at a time when they are saying no to all of these people, at a time when public servants are having their wages frozen, rolled back, their rights to bargain collectively frozen, that council advised that now was not the time to bring in a piece of legislation which would give financial advantage to a segment of society, a group of professionals that in terms of income earners are at the top of the scale in this province and any other province in the country. Those were the recommendations of the advisory council in Ontario and the bill was not brought forward. We have asked this government to take that same advice because those conditions all exist here in Nova Scotia.



We have seen this government carry forward with policies that have rolled back public sector wages, that have frozen wages, that have seen thousands of public servants laid off, that have seen 2,500 or more health care workers laid off here in metro Halifax. As a result of a bill that just passed, the QE II bill, we are going to see 1,000 health care workers laid off. People in communities like Sydney and other communities around this province are crying out to the government, stop your cutting out of beds, your gouging of hospital budgets until you put services in place in the community. The government responds to them by saying, we don't have the money, we have to get our fiscal house in order. If they are true, in fact, to that word, then now is not the time to bring forward a piece of legislation that would provide very clear financial advantage to physicians and lawyers.



In conclusion, with respect to lawyers, I have suggested that in principle I am not opposed to them being able to incorporate because they do operate as a small business, they do have to hustle for business. It is not guaranteed by the public purse as is the case with physicians and surgeons. I would have to say unless I saw some evidence that would suggest otherwise that not only philosophically is this a bad idea but in terms of any more following any of the many recommendations that we have had on health care reform, to provide flexibility and alternatives to the compensation the way we compensate doctors in this country. This simply goes against that, it flies in the face of those recommendations and I think it is absolutely incomprehensible that the Minister of Health would introduce such a piece of legislation.



Mr. Speaker, let me say in conclusion that Nova Scotians don't miss the contrast of health care workers being told to do without, health care workers being given pink slips, health care workers and other Nova Scotians being told to be patient when they look for increases and try to retain their wages at the present level, they don't miss the fact that at the same time the government is saying that, they are saying to doctors, here you go, here is another few thousand dollars to help you in carrying out your activities. While these other health care workers are going to be asked to continue to pay the price and shoulder the burden, we don't expect you doctors to have to do that. I think that is wrong. I think, not to overstate it, it is despicable in this economic climate. I am firmly and clearly opposed to it and would urge all members to likewise vote against it.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I just want to stand and say that I would very much like to have myself associated with the comments that were made by my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic. I just cannot understand at a time and here today, as I mentioned just a few minutes ago in another debate, we are learning of more hospital beds closing, of more health care workers in the Dartmouth General Hospital, just today, we learn that 11 more of those health care workers are being laid off when we are hearing from patients who are unable to receive the home care services that they need, when we are hearing that this Minister of Municipal Affairs and this government are unwilling to overturn decisions that have been made by their coordinator to allow very modest increases in the envelope that is provided to those in this metropolitan area for food, for those who are in the greatest of need, those who are in receipt of assistance, at a time when the government says they have no money for anything in terms of people services, that this government is prepared at this time to introduce this legislation.



Mr. Speaker, it just doesn't make any sense, none whatsoever and I haven't seen anything either that the government has produced which shows that they have even made a commitment to do this for the medical profession, I just am flabbergasted that this government would be willing to forgo this kind of revenue at this point in time. Of course, they won't even tell us how much revenue that is, but they are prepared to forgo that revenue at a time when there are such urgent and pressing human needs in this province.



I don't believe for one minute that the vast majority in the medical profession, by any stretch of the imagination, would want to put their financial gains ahead of those whom they are committed to serve. Mr. Speaker, I believe, quite clearly, this legislation is wrong. I feel in my heart it is wrong and I cannot, in good conscience, vote in support of this bill at this time. Maybe two years, three years or four years down the road, if, in fact, the economy of Nova Scotia picks up to a point where we have enough money in our coffers to meet essential human needs, then, maybe, this bill would be deserving of support, but certainly not in our current economic climate. I would urge members of the government to think very seriously before you vote for this bill; in fact, I would urge you to vote against it. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 58. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 66 and on behalf of the Minister of Finance, I would move third reading.



Bill No. 66 - Public Service Superannuation Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 66. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move en bloc Bills No. 41, No. 42, No. 45, No. 46, No. 51 and No. 63 for third reading.



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



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



Bill No. 45 - Brookside Cemetery Corporation Act.



Bill No. 46 - Kings County Development Charge Act.



Bill No. 51 - Truro Streets Widths Act.



Bill No. 63 - Halifax Container Terminals Tax Exemption Act.





MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of these bills.



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



The motion is carried.



Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 64.



Bill No. 64 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I so move Bill No. 64 for third reading.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be very brief on this one. I indicate that I will be voting in support of the bill but I did make a number of comments during the Committee of the Whole House stage and none of those comments, of course, are on the public record, in terms of being reported. So I just wanted to be sure on the record that I express my opposition to the process that was followed with this particular bill.



Mr. Speaker, normally when pieces of legislation, especially a private and local bill, is introduced by a member of this House, that bill has, prior to its introduction in this House, been approved by the municipal unit on whose behalf that bill is being introduced.



Unfortunately, in regard to this one, and I am not saying that I am opposed to what the bill is trying to do because what the bill is trying to do is, in fact, put in place what the coordinator had himself said was going to be done in Cape Breton, that is to allow for the setting of different rates; rural, urban and suburban rates.



Mr. Speaker, this bill, like its predecessor, Bill No. 29, which had been introduced but not called, both of those bills were tabled on the floor of this House in first reading, before either one of them had been provided to the Municipal Council of the new Regional Municipality of Cape Breton County. Both have been provided here before they had been provided to those municipal councillors and before there was any opportunity for them to have voted and passed a resolution to ask this House to consider it.



I think it is a wrong practice, a bad practice for this House to get into, that is to be in the practice of introducing legislation here, supposedly on behalf of a municipality, when that municipality hasn't even seen the legislation. Surely one would argue that this bill, although it is a private and local bill, it must truly have been a bill sponsored by the government because the municipal council had not approved it. That is the point I wanted to make and I certainly hope that it was a major slip-up that will never happen again and that if, in fact, we are ever to see other pieces of legislation introduced on behalf of an organization or a municipal government, that that legislation at least first had been approved by that body upon whom or for whom it has been introduced.



I do know that after the fact the bill was provided and although it was a contentious vote and not unanimous by any stretch of the imagination, the bill was supported by the new regional municipal government. Therefore, certainly I will support it, but I have to certainly make sure that I put on the record my opposition to the process that was followed here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



[4:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 64. Would those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business. I would advise members of the House that the Lieutenant Governor will be here shortly after 5:00 p.m. and I would ask that this be considered to be the moment of interruption.



MR. SPEAKER: We will now carry out the half hour moment of interruption debate and then there will be a recess of the House until the Lieutenant Governor arrives. I would take it that would be an acceptable timetable to the House. The moment of interruption will be deemed to be 4:16 p.m.



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government, which claims to recognize the provincial face of the Cape Breton coal industry, show its good faith by initiating discussions with Cape Bretoners of responses to the federal government's decision to scale down Devco, including a reinvigoration of the United Mineworkers' plan to reopen Donkin Mine.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



NAT. RES. - DEVCO: WORK FORCE REDUCTIONS - DISCUSSIONS INITIATE



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased again to have the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments about the devastating news that we received on Tuesday about the plans being presented to the federal government by Devco about the temporary layoff of 1,200 employees at Devco, the permanent layoff of 400 by the end of March and the additional permanent layoff of 400 within the period of three years. Further plans to scale down the operation limit it to production of 375,000 tons out of Prince Mine at Point Aconi, a level of production, my understanding is, that will lead to the disintegration of Prince Mine because it can be done within months and the Prince Mine needs to be maintained on a regular basis in order to keep it going.





In the debate perhaps I have been rightly accused of being somewhat animated, strident perhaps, Mr. Speaker, about the concerns that I have raised in this House with this issue. I do, I think, apologize. I say I think because I do feel very strongly about this issue, but I do apologize to any of those whom I may have offended.



My frustration comes from a belief that the Government of Nova Scotia can do something. No, the coal industry with respect to Devco is not necessarily the jurisdiction of the Province of Nova Scotia. I do not see how that can necessarily preclude the Government of Nova Scotia from being involved in an industry that has such a phenomenal and important impact on the lives of so many Nova Scotians. I am not suggesting that the answers are clear and that the solutions are easy, Mr. Speaker. I and I think the hundreds and thousands of coal miners and their families and other members of communities in Cape Breton who are affected by these decisions would feel much more comfort in knowing that its provincial government and its elected officials would be prepared to not simply accept the plan of Mr. Shannon and of Devco at face value, that they would sit down and talk to the mine workers, sit down and talk to other members of the community who have other opinions about what can be done to ensure that Devco is a viable operation in the future.



Mr. Speaker, part of my frustration comes from the fact that we have not been just talking about this since Tuesday, we have been talking about it for many months and many years, about the realization, and I refer to my debate on Tuesday night, to quotations from a Cape Breton Post article back in 1987 when the MP then, Mr. Dingwall, was very critical of Devco management, very critical of the Tory Governments in both Ottawa and Halifax for lack of action and for incompetence in terms of the management of Devco and the coal industry in Nova Scotia.



The union and others have indicated some real concerns about those very issues right up until today, Mr. Speaker, yet very little has been done to make those changes. We have talked for some time about the need to develop the Donkin Mine. The concerns were that it was going to cost between $400 million and $600 million and the government's hands were tied. The union came out a year ago with a plan that was well researched, thoroughly considered with experts, that suggested that they could develop Donkin for a cost of $60 million. That plan, as far as I know and as far as they know, was given short shrift; in other words, very little if any attention was paid to it.



Here we are today after the announcement of 1,200 layoffs, 800 permanent, a total scaling down of Devco and people are starting to say, let's start working with UMW, let's start talking to them and working hand in hand and looking seriously at the plan at Donkin. Yes, we can still do that and we should do that but my heavens, if we had started working on that a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, we would be in a much better situation now.



The concerns with respect to mismanagement at Devco continue and there has been a study that was commissioned by the federal government, over $500,000, conducted by John Boyd that the federal government has refused to release. It has been reported to me that there is a plan contained within the John Boyd study that refers to the viability of the mining operation that Devco is in charge of. It is a plan that does not, as the Shannon plan does, lead to the creation of a skeleton work force, a skeleton of a proud coal mining operation that once was.



My point in raising this issue again is - I and I think others, are extremely frustrated -not by the fact that we have all of the answers, that we know the way to go but with a feeling that we have to do something, that we have to engage in some discussion of what is being done, what decisions are being made and how they affect the coal industry. Discussion has to happen with coal miners, it has to happen with their union, it has to happen with their families, it has to happen with businesses, community groups and all of the people affected in the communities of Cape Breton. We have to have that discussion and begin to be open with the options that may or may not be available. We have to be open and to encourage the federal government to be open with their plans with respect to Devco.



The burning issue in my mind when I see what they are doing to the coal industry here in Nova Scotia is, why is it that the assistance, these subsidies and so on are being completely cut off from the coal industry of Nova Scotia, when we know that very lucrative tax incentives and tax concessions go to the oil and gas industry in the western provinces and in Hibernia? Why is it that the coal industry is being penalized? Is it because it is a Crown Corporation, is that why there aren't the same kinds of breaks, there aren't the same kinds of assistance provided for our coal industry? I tell you, as far as I am concerned, the coal industry in Nova Scotia and at Devco in particular is as important to this province as Hibernia is, or as the tar sands are in Alberta and many of the oil and gas fields are in Alberta and Saskatchewan.



I think that the federal government has some responsibility here and can't simply walk away, that we need to talk about the solutions before those decisions are made, Mr. Speaker. I again call on the provincial government and call on all members of this Legislature to come together and agree on a joint strategy, agree on putting together a task force or, I don't like the idea of Team Nova Scotia but something of that concept where it is an all-Party with support and recognition from the Legislature, not just the government, because I know our Party is willing to participate in the solutions, but that we go to Cape Breton, that we talk to Cape Bretoners on behalf of the Legislature and we talk with them about the solutions, we talk to them about the possible alternatives to the despair that many people are feeling at the present time and the possibilities that may be available for the economy in Cape Breton, through a viable coal industry.



If that is not in the cards then maybe we can sit down and talk in a real way about what the alternatives are going to be to that, Mr. Speaker, because only by doing that are we going to have a true grasp of the extent of the difficulties that are created by the decision of the federal government to withdraw from its role in the coal industry in Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate. I look forward to hearing from other members.



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



MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the topic is very important. I really want to thank the honourable member for bringing it forward again. Before I start on my part of it, I just want to say that we on this side think it is highly important and in that respect I want to try to share some of the time with the Minister of Natural Resources who has a deep concern for it.



I want to say to the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic that in Tuesday's night debate I thought his exuberance was great. I find that if he thought it was frustrating for him, it is very frustrating for me. Some people say it louder than other people and that is just a style that some people get used to. But that is fair. He has great contact with a lot of the people there and he speaks on their behalf and that is encouraging.



I think that part of the resolution states that we should have discussions with Cape Bretoners, relating to the coal industry. I think what we have to do is, before we have discussions we have to listen to their concerns. Listening is an art. Sometimes we don't have that in this House, by the way, but that is an art all by itself on how to listen.



I think we, as members of the Legislature, when we meet with our constituents, always do that first. I have to tell you, as a person who lives in the constituency which is most affected, I hear it all the time. So I am very appreciative of the idea that we now start trying to find out some solutions. In fact, one of the things that I found most interesting when the crisis came in the Yarmouth ferry prospect, I was asking some of my constituents what they thought of that and possible solutions because they know what crisis means. They were very helpful in any of the suggestions that I passed on to the minister responsible.



The Minister of Labour on Tuesday suggested a Team Nova Scotia approach and I think the member for Halifax Atlantic suggested something similar too. But my opinion on it is that Team Nova Scotia is everyone in this Legislature, everyone in Nova Scotia who wishes to offer a suggestion. I would not want it to be shifted off to a committee because a committee will meet and meet and meet.



I want to tell him that in my opinion, and I am sure on behalf of the government, that the plan that the UMW have presented to the corporation is one that is very positive. I would hope, as he hopes, that it will be looked at with great favour. I would also like to mention that a couple of suggestions have come forth since the crisis. Father Greg MacLeod, who is an innovator, who is a dedicated Cape Bretoner, suggested a plan whereby work and education can go hand in hand. Maybe it is six months working, six months education, so that the younger people may be able to gain work experience, if, God forbid, alternate things have to happen. So it is a very good suggestion. Maybe the one that I heard that Mr. Shannon suggested, that the national gun registry be approached to set up in industrial Cape Breton, that could be another avenue.



[4:30 p.m.]



I know that the Honourable Guy Brown, the Minister of Labour, has been in contact with some members of the UMW about their plan, and he is a great supporter of it. I think what we are saying is that we have to have a stable coal industry. I think what we have to do is make sure that the people who are involved get an opportunity to express that. What is the best way to go? Is it the UMW's plan, which is probably one of the most positive aspects? Is it that one, plus something else?



I guess what we are trying to say here, and I think all members of the House are trying to say, is that together we can make the coal industry viable and that is what we are looking for. That is what I think the honourable member is stating in his resolution for tonight. It is not easy when things happen fast. Some people say that they knew about what was coming. Some others of us didn't know the exact details of it and we're kind of shocked and dismayed that it happened when it did.



What I would like to share with the members of the House, as the termination of the session is coming upon us, is that any suggestions that we have - and I know the member for Cape Breton West on Tuesday when he was speaking so eloquently about it had some good ideas - I think that is what we need and if we had an opportunity for all of those who have some suggestions, if they could relay them to either the federal minister or the president of the corporation or to the minister of the Nova Scotia Government, that is what we would like to see, positive suggestions that could come about.



Not to take up all the time of the House, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to debate this and I would like to pass it on to my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to compliment the member for bringing this late debate issue again to the floor of the Legislative Assembly.



The announcement of January 9th, it was a dark day for many in Cape Breton; it was a dark day for many of the miners of Cape Breton and the uncertainty to what the future will be. It is a regrettable situation that we find ourselves in and I want to make it very clear in this House of Assembly that I, as Minister of the Department of Natural Resources and, obviously, a member of the Cabinet, am deeply concerned with regard to the decision that was made and also for what the future will be.



We as a province, and we as a provincial government, have committed very strongly to members of this House and others that have contacted us, that our provincial government is committed to work with the federal government and industry to help find solutions to the problems that are there. We realize all too well that areas that we consider important, obviously, the fair treatment of the workers of Devco who will be affected - and we understand that 1,200 will be laid off on the short-term basis but that 400 will be let go after that, about 800 will be coming back to work and the 400 that will be affected immediately in job losses - that the $25 million that the federal government has indicated will be available to deal with the transition for those individuals will be fair and just. They and their families who are going to be affected will have some opportunity to provide benefits because of the circumstances that Devco has found itself in.



The $25 million that has been indicated will be there and will be discussed through a joint planning committee of Devco, the workers and other representatives to determine how the individuals affected and their families will be treated fairly and justly, we have made it very clear that we felt that it was very imperative that that is, in fact, the case. We will be watching that situation unfold.



Secondly, the issue of mine safety, clearly a responsibility of the provincial government will be a concern for those miners that continue to mine, the safety of the operation is not in question and that the reduction in numbers will not impede upon the safety issue of the mine operation. That obviously has to be a consideration for us all.

The long-term viability and that is what we are talking about here today, the regrettable determination and fact that the Devco operation, the mine itself, has gone through some very long-term problems, obviously fiscal problems. The federal government has made it very clear that they do not have the ability nor do they want to continue the subsidization of that operation. It is clear the options that they have, Mr. Speaker, would be either to close the mine down immediately or to find some mechanism to maintain long-term viability of that operation. I compliment them for not closing the mine down immediately because that would have been even a further devastating blow to the economy of Cape Breton, the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia and 2,100 workers could have been affected.



What they have tried to do is to find the long-term solution to the very serious problem that they have today and that is to find solutions and plans to make sure that the mining operation will have long-term viability. A self-reliant mine, a mine that can be able to produce coal cost-effectively and maintain the job opportunities for people in the Cape Breton area.



The Province of Nova Scotia and our government are very committed to working with industry and with that of the federal government to make sure, number one, that the federal government does not relinquish their responsibilities, as this is their Crown Corporation and they clearly have responsibilities in order to look after the workers in that particular area. I don't believe they will relinquish on their responsibilities. I believe that they will be forthright in the comments that I have heard to date by that of the federal government that they will do all in their power to make sure that the workers will be adjusted and treated fairly and justly in this transition period.



It is a time of concern and frustration for anybody who is affected with reductions in jobs, with reductions in the corporations and companies that they work for. It is not unique to just Devco. All you do is open the newspaper, whether it is Nova Scotia Power, whether it is MT&T or whether it is Michelin or any other corporation that is going through readjustments. They cause great concern. What we need to make sure is that at the end of the day, we have a viable mine operation continually to create wealth and opportunities for Nova Scotians and, of course, more importantly, the people of Cape Breton.



Mr. Speaker, we are committed as a government and as a province to do all we can to work in parallel and in partnership, to make sure that the federal government lives up to their commitments and responsibilities. We will work in partnership with them and with the industry to make sure that whatever is available and opportunities that come forward will be given fair and just understanding for those people of the Cape Breton area.



So I stand today, as I have stood in this House for the last two days, pointing out what the position of this province and this provincial government and this minister has been. In conjunction with my colleagues from the Cape Breton area showing that we have support for the people who are affected, we have support for the long-term viability of this very important industry in Nova Scotia, the coal industry which is worth some $216 million a year to the economy of this province. We would like and we want to see, the goal obviously, is a long-term viability of an operation that will maintain security of jobs and opportunities for Nova Scotians in the future. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: It looks like the last speaker of the session will be the honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You probably wonder why a member from the South Shore on the Opposition side of the House would choose to accept the opportunity to speak to this this afternoon but I think the answer is very clear. While this is a crisis for Cape Breton, it is indeed also a crisis for Nova Scotia. So each and every one of us, irrespective of where in this wonderful province we live, will hurt as those who are most directly affected will hurt, will hurt as those who live in industrial Cape Breton will hurt as this tragedy unfolds. We know that there are 1,200 people who are being laid off. We know that 400 of those 1,200 will not be returning to work. That, quite apart from the loss of individual income to them and their families, has a tremendously negative impact with respect to the community in which they live. For that loss of 400 immediate jobs, those 400 who will not return to work, means an immediate loss of something in the order of $16 million in the Cape Breton economy and most particularly in the industrial Cape Breton economy.



We also know that not too far down the road, although we do not have a specific timeframe, an additional 400 are going to be laid off and that is another $16 million that will be lost to that Cape Breton economy. A total of $32 million ripped out of that industrial Cape Breton economy. A total of 800 direct jobs with respect to Devco. If that were not bad enough, we have to add to that, as best we can with respect to our figuring, the spinoff effect of the loss of those jobs, the spinoff impact on the Cape Breton economy, the spinoff impact on the men, women and children in industrial Cape Breton who will be negatively affected by this tragedy which is unfolding before us.



This means massive unemployment. There is no other conclusion one can draw. It means tremendous stresses put on families. It means extra costs to the people of this province as they dig into their taxpayers' pockets to provide the kinds of extra services that will be required in order to assist these families as they cope with the loss of employment and clearly in an area that suffers from chronic unemployment, no prospect of new employment, at least not in the immediate or even in the medium term future.



We also face the probability of further out emigration from Cape Breton, particularly of young people, the very people upon whom this community and indeed all of our provincial communities should be building, the youth. The youth in whom we have invested with respect to education, the youth in whom families have invested with respect to their own futures, gone, lost, departed. Departed westward to Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and who knows where else. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have a tragedy unfolding before us today.



Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but be critical of the government and in so doing I want to make it clear that I am not at the same time being critical of those back bench MLAs who sit on the government side of the House. They, after all, are not the decision makers. It is those who sit on the Treasury benches who hold the heavy and sometimes, indeed in this case for sure, very uncomfortable authority which they are required to wield.



Mr. Speaker, what has the government's response been? The Minister of Natural Resources just gave us a peek at that when he spoke of making sure that the $25 million was there to help all of these people who are going to be unemployed. That tells me that this Minister of Natural Resources has already given up. All he is looking for is the $25 million to cope with the job loss instead of standing up and fighting for the men and the women involved in this industry and putting forward a concrete, aggressive, imaginative and realistic plan to prevent these layoffs, to ensure the coal mining continues in Cape Breton at the same level in the future as has been the case up to now. He folds his hands across his chest and he says, we will press the federal government for the $25 million so that these people can cope with their job loss better than they could if it were not there. That is not good enough from this government and it is not good enough for the minister whose immediate responsibility it is to promote mining in this province.



What else do we have from this government, Mr. Speaker? We have surprise, absolute shock and surprise when this government learned of these layoffs. How in heaven's name could this government be surprised when the rumours have been floating around for many weeks now that this is going to happen, when we have known that Mr. Shannon has been here in Halifax to meet, presumably, with government officials? How could they be surprised when their Liberal Party is in power in Ottawa and they are in power here, don't they talk to each other, Mr. Speaker? Don't they talk to Mr. Dingwall? Doesn't Mr. Dingwall talk to them? Don't they talk to Mr. Shannon? Doesn't Mr. Shannon talk to them? Doesn't the Premier talk to the Prime Minister? Don't they communicate with each other? Don't they communicate in time of pending crisis? Or did they sit blithely and blandly by and let the tragedy that we are witnessing unfold in due course.



[4:45 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, we saw a document which was tabled in this very House yesterday that obviously was faxed from Devco. That document stated that meetings had been taking place in advance of this announcement, with MLAs, in order to try to resolve this tragedy.



The interesting thing is that while the government talks about cooperation between all Parties, the government did not provide the opportunity to any of the Opposition MLAs to participate in that exercise. It is not good enough for this government to try to blame this on the federal government. This government has an absolute and direct responsibility to the people of Nova Scotia, to the people of Cape Breton, to the men and women who work for Devco and whose jobs and whose future are on the line. Mr. Speaker, Lord Byng once said that in a crisis a man who does nothing is always wrong. This is a crisis; in this case a government which does nothing is always wrong.



Mr. Speaker, to date in this crisis, as we proceed towards it, we see a government which is doing nothing, a government which has no plan, a government which then, by Lord Byng's definition, is very clearly in the wrong. That is not good enough for Nova Scotia, not good enough for the people of Cape Breton.



We in the Opposition, irrespective of Party, will continue to scourge the government, to drive them into action, to do something to avert this tragedy facing Cape Bretoners.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, on that note, the time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired. The House will now stand recessed and I invite honourable members to come back at five o'clock, in approximately 12 minutes. His Honour the Lieutenant Governor will be here at that time to give Royal Assent to bills. So the House is recessed until 5:00 p.m.



[4:48 p.m. The House recessed.]



[5:01 p.m. The House reconvened.]



SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor is without.



MR. SPEAKER: Let His Honour be admitted.



[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]



[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley, preceded by his escort, and by Mr. Douglas Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.



The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Paul MacEwan; Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur; and Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C. They took up their positions at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]



SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.



MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.



THE CLERK:



Bill No. 24 - Wildlife Act.



Bill No. 25 - Government Records Act.



Bill No. 26 - Motor Vehicle Act.



Bill No. 27 - Railways Act.



Bill No. 28 - Regional Municipalities Act.



Bill No. 30 - Fisheries Organizations Support Act.



Bill No. 31 - Personal Property Security Act.



Bill No. 32 - Insurance Act/Motor Vehicle Act.



Bill No. 33 - Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act.



Bill No. 34 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.



Bill No. 35 - Business Electronic Filing Act.



Bill No. 36 - Arts Council Act.



Bill No. 37 - Revenue Act.



Bill No. 39 - Education Act.



Bill No. 40 - Expropriation Act.



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



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



Bill No. 43 - Interpretation Act.



Bill No. 44 - Motor Vehicle Act.



Bill No. 45 - Brookside Cemetery Corporation Act.



Bill No. 46 - Kings County Development Charge Act.



Bill No. 47 - Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre Act.



Bill No. 48 - Provincial Berry Act.



Bill No. 51 - Truro Street Widths Act.



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



Bill No. 53 - Marketable Titles Act.



Bill No. 54 - Cosmetology Act.



Bill No. 55 - Community Colleges Act.



Bill No. 57 - Medical Society Act.



Bill No. 58 - Medical Professional Corporations Act.



Bill No. 59 - Medical Act.



Bill No. 63 - Halifax Container Terminals Tax Exemption Act.



Bill No. 64 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.



Bill No. 65 - Workers' Compensation Act.



Bill No. 66 - Public Service Superannuation Act.



THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:



In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.



[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]



[The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber.]



[The Speaker took the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.



The honourable Acting Premier.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, I move that this General Assembly be adjourned to meet again at the call of the Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



The House stands adjourned to meet again at the call of the Speaker.



I would like to thank you all for your attendance here and wish you all the very best during the recess.





The House stands adjourned.



[The House adjourned at 5:07 p.m.]



NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on January 10, 1996

(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 175



By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs)



(1) Has the minister had any discussions with her provincial and federal counterparts on the issue of the bank industry's interest in the insurance business as the next review of the Bank Act will take place in just a year's time?



(2) Could the minister outline the Nova Scotia Government's stand on the issue and could the minister provide a copy of any correspondence or communication which has taken place between her department and the federal and/or provincial government?



NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on January 11, 1996

(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 176



By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs)



(1) Could the minister provide a list of any new housing units planned for the fiscal 1996-97 year?



(2) Could the minister also indicate whether there is any program in place which would outline repairs being undertaken for existing units across the province?