Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Thur., Apr. 11, 1996

Fourth Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 163, Justice - Digby: Policing - Downloading Stop,
Mr. T. Donahoe 457
Res. 164, Human. Res. - Public Sector Comp. Restraint Bd.:
Appeal - Withdraw, Mr. R. Chisholm 458
Res. 165, Environ. - Tire Tax: Imposition - Intention Reveal,
Mr. B. Taylor 458
Res. 166, Sydney Tar Ponds Clean-Up Inc.: Action - Urge,
Mr. J. Holm 459
Res. 167, Health - Home Care Prog.: Maritime Noon (10/04/96) -
Transcript Read, Mr. G. Archibald 459
Res. 168, Fin. (Canada) - GST: Abolition - Promise Fulfil,
Mr. J. Leefe 460
Res. 169, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Review - Release,
Mr. G. Moody 460
Res. 170, Sydney (92nd Anniv.) - Congrats, Mr. D. McInnes 461
Vote - Affirmative 461
Res. 171, Gov't. (N.S.) - Reform: Slow - Consequences Determine,
Mr. R. Russell 462
Res. 172, Fin. - Appropriations Add.: Concern (Aud. Gen.) -
Action Urge, Mr. R. Chisholm 462
Res. 173, Chester Vol. Fire Dept.: Life Saving Efforts - Commend,
Mr. J. Leefe 462
Vote - Affirmative 463
Res. 174, Educ. - Special: Resources - Ensure, Mr. J. Holm 463
Res. 175, Justice - Antigonish: Policing - Downloading Discuss,
Mr. B. Taylor 463
Res. 176, Mun. Affs. & Housing - Berwick: Equalization Cuts -
Impact Recognize, Mr. G. Moody 464
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 79, Justice - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Suicides - Public Inquiry,
Mr. T. Donahoe 465
No. 80, Human Res. - Public Sector Comp. Restraint Bd.: Appeal -
Withdraw, Mr. R. Chisholm 467
No. 81, Justice - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Suicides - Public Inquiry,
Mr. T. Donahoe 469
No. 82, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Review - Details, Mr. G. Moody 471
No. 83, Health - VG Hospital: Admission - Delayed, Mr. B. Taylor 472
No. 84, Health: Hants Commun. Hosp. - Emergency Services,
Mr. R. Russell 473
No. 85, Educ. - Special: Funding - Study, Mr. J. Holm 475
No. 86, Health - Home Care Prog.: Shubenacadie - Availability,
Mr. J. Leefe 477
No. 87, Health: Ambulance Operators Assoc. - Contract,
Mr. D. McInnes 478
No. 88, Health - Ambulance: Response Time - Investigation Release,
Mr. G. Moody 479
No. 89, Health: Pharmacare - Applications, Mr. B. Taylor 480
No. 90, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Sale - Intervene, Mr. R. Chisholm 481
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Gerry Godsoe (President and CEO of N.S. Power), Death of: Sympathy -
Extend, The Premier 482
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 2, Securities Act 484
Hon. W. Gillis 484
Mr. T. Donahoe 486
Mr. J. Holm 495
Mr. R. Russell 497
Hon. W. Gillis 498
Vote - Affirmative 500
No. 6, Animal Cruelty Prevention Act 500
Hon. G. Brown 501
Mr. G. Moody 501
Mr. R. Chisholm 504
Mr. B. Taylor 505
Mr. D. McInnes 507
Mr. R. Russell 508
Mr. J. Leefe 509
Mr. R. Carruthers 509
Hon. G. Brown 510
Vote - Affirmative 511
No. 8, Court and Administrative Reform Act 511
Hon. W. Gillis 511
Mr. T. Donahoe 514
Adjourned debate 514
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. W. Gillis 514
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Nat. Res. - Shelburne River: Heritage - Designation:
Mr. J. Leefe 515
Hon. E. Norrie 517
Mr. J. Casey 519
Mr. J. Holm 519
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 12th at 11:00 a.m. 522
[Page 457]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time. Are there any introductions of guests before we begin? If not, the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 163

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

Whereas over 100 concerned residents of the Town of Digby went to a public meeting last evening to hear of the impact which the downloading of RCMP costs, by the Minister of Justice, will have upon them; and

457

[Page 458]

Whereas the Mayor of Digby has stated that the additional downloading upon his town means an additional $132,000 in costs and a substantial tax increase; and

Whereas the Minister of Justice, with his additional downloading, has pushed the Town of Digby to the brink and has resulted in council asking residents to vote in a plebiscite on May 11th as to whether they want to retain the services of the RCMP or take part in a new regional police force;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice stop increasing the administrative burden upon small towns across Nova Scotia, such as Digby and making their life miserable and in the process forcing such towns to increase the tax burden upon ratepayers or eliminate dependable and reliable services such as the RCMP.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 164

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

Whereas when the Liberal wage restraint legislation took effect on November 1, 1994, the Minister of Finance promised it would not touch workers making less than $25,000; and

Whereas the Liberal Government immediately broke this promise and proceeded to roll back the wages of part-time and casual workers earning less than $25,000; and

Whereas in a case brought by the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Liberal Government has unfairly cut the wages of these low paid workers;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of going around professing concern for small, workaday Nova Scotians, the Premier and his government should have some shame and withdraw their recently filed appeal and get on with paying back the wages they have unfairly taken.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not know if that motion is in order. Perhaps the Clerk could have a look at it and give me his legal opinion.

The notice will be tabled. It does not seek to argue the merits of the case. It simply expresses an opinion on the matter.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 165

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

[Page 459]

Whereas the McKenna Government has announced that Manitoba-based Tire Recycling Corporation of North America Incorporated will operate a $3.3 million tire recycling plant in Minto, New Brunswick; and

Whereas consumers will pay for the project with a $3.00 per tire tax; and

Whereas the same Manitoba-based company is negotiating with the Minister of the Environment's Resource Recovery Fund to set up a similar operation here in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment come clean with Nova Scotia taxpayers on how many more taxes he intends to impose and, today, let Nova Scotians know up front whether he will follow in the footsteps of the New Brunswick Liberals by imposing a $3.00 tax on every tire purchased.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 166

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

Whereas in the three years since they were elected, the Liberal Government has passed the buck on responsibility for the Sydney tar ponds to three different ministries; and

Whereas each new minister has pleaded ignorance and deflected questions about the lack of progress in cleaning up this horrific hazardous waste site because a portfolio was new; and

Whereas the only undertaking the new Minister of Transportation and Public Works is now promising the residents of Sydney and the surrounding area is that he will review the file;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Government to stop making excuses and finally commit to a thorough clean-up of the tar ponds that puts public health and environmental considerations first.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 167

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

Whereas the Minister of Health stands in the House, day after day, railing at the Opposition for taking issue with his Home Care Program; and

Whereas the Minister of Health claims his Home Care Program is the best in the country; and

[Page 460]

Whereas the minister claims that only the Opposition has any difficulty with his Home Care Program;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health read every word of the transcript, which I will be tabling shortly, of the heartbreaking stories of Nova Scotians who shared their horrifying experiences with this minister's Home Care Program on yesterday's Maritime Noon radio program.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury on an introduction.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, through you and to the members of the House, I am pleased to introduce the Mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury, Billy Joe MacLean and his son, Charles MacLean. I would ask that they stand and receive the usual warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 168

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

Whereas the Chretien Government is, according to the words of Savage Finance Minister, Bernard Boudreau, going to do away with the GST; and

Whereas the Chretien Government has now found the GST so attractive it is going to help India establish its version of the GST; and

Whereas many Canadians, like Nova Scotia Finance Minister Boudreau, have clearly been bamboozled by the Chretien out-of-power Liberals' promise to do away with the GST;

Therefore be it resolved that the Chretien Liberals keep their promise to do away with the GST, perhaps even exporting it to India and thereby providing relief to Canadians who believed the Liberal pre-election promise, including the gullible if somewhat affable Nova Scotia Minister of Finance.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 169

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

Whereas the number of suicides of people in Cape Breton who were discharged from the Cape Breton Regional Hospital is rising; and

[Page 461]

Whereas the families of these suicide victims are being denied the opportunity of seeing an external review completed on the psychiatric department of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia have no recourse but to speculate on the deficiencies of this and other health care facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health realize that it is his failure to release the details of the psychiatric review which is causing the speculation and that he immediately take steps to restore the public's confidence in the hospital by releasing in full the details of the review.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce in your gallery two Halifax Regional Municipality Councillors who represent seats in Halifax County, Mr. Jack Mitchell and Mr. Reg Rankin. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 170

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

Whereas an Act to Incorporate the City of Sydney was passed in this Legislature in 1904; and

Whereas it was on this date, April 11, 1904 that the official signing ceremonies took place marking the city's incorporation; and

Whereas Sydney is home to many Nova Scotia landmarks and attractions;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature today wish the residents of Sydney a very happy 92nd birthday and every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

I trust the resolution covers their elected representatives as well.

Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 462]

RESOLUTION NO. 171

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 Auditor General has studied the manner in which this government conducts its business; and

Whereas the Auditor General has determined that this government does not appear to have the ability to carry out strategic planning; and

Whereas the Opposition has been pointing out this lack of planning since this government took office;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Government slow its headlong rush toward reform for the sake of change and determine what the consequences of its actions will be.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 172

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 Auditor General's Report for 1995 expresses concern about Cabinet approvals of additional appropriations that are carried out in violation of the Provincial Finance Act; and

Whereas this is the fourth year in a row that these concerns have been raised by the Auditor General; and

Whereas in 1996, we have already witnessed further breaches of the Provincial Finance Act through the unprecedented shuffling of funds from one fiscal year to the next;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to act on the Auditor General's concerns, obey the Provincial Finance Act and stop violating the law for the sake of administrative convenience and/or political gain.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 173

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

Whereas the Chester Volunteer Fire Department was recently recognized by the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada and honoured with a rescue commendation; and

[Page 463]

Whereas the rescue commendation was awarded as the result of a heroic rescue by Chester firefighters last summer of a student clinging to a capsized canoe off Chester; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor recently presented the commendation to Chester Fire Chief Tom Bremner which read, ". . . resourcefulness and courage in performing an act of personal bravery";

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend the Chester Volunteer Fire Department for heroic lifesaving efforts and wish its members every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 174

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has at long last released a policy on special education; and

Whereas the effectiveness of any policy or standards is in large part dependent on the level of resources allocated to implementation; and

Whereas recent reports from across the province show that waiting lists for resource services and speech language therapy have grown dramatically and are getting worse due to cutbacks imposed by this government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls on the Minister of Education to ensure adequate resources are committed to special education so that school boards can adhere to the new policy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 175

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

[Page 464]

Whereas in addressing the recent downloading of RCMP costs by the Minister of Justice, the Mayor of Antigonish said, "We are burdened with services not covered under our federal contract and we are forced to take them. We didn't ask for them, the province forced them on us and we are left paying the bill."; and

Whereas the Minister of Justice has stung his own constituency and taxpayers in the Town of Antigonish with an extra $122,000 in policing costs; and

Whereas this extra $122,000 in policing costs could result in a substantial tax increase for Antigonish taxpayers;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Antigonish and Minister of Justice speak with his Cabinet colleagues about the negative impact of provincial downloading and in turn, save ratepayers of the Town of Antigonish and elsewhere across Nova Scotia an increase in their tax bill for 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 176

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

Whereas the Minister of Municipal Affairs said that equalization payment grants to municipal units would be cut by 15 per cent this fiscal year; and

Whereas small towns depend heavily upon these grants in setting their annual tax rates; and

Whereas the Mayor of Berwick expressed his extreme displeasure yesterday after learning his town is facing a 30 per cent cut to their equalization payment this fiscal year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government recognize the devastating impact their policies are having upon small towns across Nova Scotia and move to prevent any additional measures that will force an escalation of tax rates.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there any additional notices of motion?

If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. and the winner today is the honourable member for Queens. He has submitted for discussion a resolution as follows:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government designate the Shelburne River as a provincial heritage river, protecting this important part of the South Shore's natural beauty.".

We will hear discussion of that proposal at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

That would appear to conclude the daily routine. We will now advance to Orders of the Day. The time now being 2:19 p.m., the Oral Question Period today will run until 3:19 p.m., for one hour.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

[Page 465]

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - C.B. REG. HOSP.: SUICIDES - PUBLIC INQUIRY

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Yesterday, you will recall that in response to my question to the minister relative to what I believe is his responsibility for the establishment of an inquiry into the five suicides that have taken place in the course of the past year in the Cape Breton area, the Minister of Justice gave me some words but not any undertakings or commitments. He talked about awaiting a report from the College of Physicians and Surgeons on this matter. As I placed the question, I might say that the fact of the matter is that at least two of the families whose members have unfortunately died have filed complaints with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. There is absolutely nothing, in my view, about those complaints that in any way, shape or form prevents the Minister of Justice, under the Fatality Inquiries Act, from establishing an inquiry.

This type of inquiry as you, Mr. Speaker, would well know and certainly the minister knows, would have the mandate to look at what we believe must be looked at, the bigger picture: the protocols, the procedures and the processes at the hospitals and the systemic failures which we believe have occurred and have caused the release of five individuals who were suffering enough mental anguish to take their own lives very shortly after being released from the facility.

I ask the Minister of Justice, when will he stop shirking his responsibility, indeed, stop avoiding the authority available to him under Section 10 of the Fatality Inquiries Act and when will he establish an inquiry into these tragic deaths?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday, I have had, and my officials have had discussions with Health. It has been pointed out to me that there is a board that runs the Cape Breton hospitals; they have the responsibility of running that hospital. I am sure the Minister of Health would fill in the honourable member much more clearly than I.

I suppose that honourable member for Halifax Citadel would rather that the Minister of Health and the government run the Cape Breton Hospital from Halifax. They have the responsibility. A study was done by psychiatrists, it has been given to the board, and that is the proper route that should be followed. Maybe the board should try to get to the bottom of it. I understand they are working on the recommendations but, again, I think the Minister of Health could probably fill him in better than I could.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, if you have ever heard a minister running from his responsibility, you just heard it now. Section 10 of the Fatality Inquiries Act says, among other things, Mr. Speaker, that "Notwithstanding that the chief medical examiner has failed to state in his report that in his opinion an inquest is expedient respecting the death of any person, or has stated his opinion that an inquest is not expedient, the Attorney General or the

[Page 466]

prosecuting officer of the county in which the report is filed may direct a judge of the provincial court to hold an inquest.".

Mr. Speaker, I suggest it has nothing at all to do with the referral of the matter to the group to which the Minister of Justice has just now referred. The minister has been around a long time; he knows full well that that College of Physicians and Surgeons has the mandate to respond to complaints from the public and so on. The investigation by that college, by that institution could, in my opinion, take months and months. (Interruptions)

My question to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, is to ask in as plain English as I possibly can of the Minister of Justice, what possible impediment, that makes any sense at all, relative to the authority available to him under Section 10 of the Fatality Inquiries Act, stands in his way of immediately establishing an inquest or an inquiry into these tragic deaths?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, there isn't an impediment and the minister may; it doesn't say the minister "shall". You have to look at all the circumstances. A study was done for the hospital and the hospital has the study. I understand, through the Minister of Health, they are acting on the recommendations. So I don't think that we advocate government by fatality inquiry when there is an unfortunate and a sad death or deaths, that doesn't mean it automatically happens.

I think we should see improvements in the hospital, if improvements are needed but, again, I think the Minister of Health could better explain that to the House.

MR. DONAHOE: You will remember well, Mr. Speaker, as I know the Minister of Justice will, that when there was an unfortunate death here in the City of Halifax some years ago and a gentleman named Mr. Legge unfortunately took his own life, this minister's colleagues, when I was Attorney General at that time, made it clear within hours of Mr. Legge's death that there should be a fatality inquiry. In fact, there was a fatality inquiry ordered by myself. It was undertaken and it resulted in a full examination of the processes which were in place at that time at the Abbie J. Lane Hospital. That minister knows that well.

All of this gobbledegook gives us today, Mr. Speaker, about having to check . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . the Minister of Health and all these other people (Interruption) I note the Minister of Community Services is hollering (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Question, question. Please, question.

MR. DONAHOE: It was he, Mr. Speaker, who was calling on me . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . to have the fatality inquiry in the Legge matter, which was in fact done. Mr. Speaker, there are no impediments constraining the Minister of Justice in this matter. There are no police investigations . . .

MR. SPEAKER: There is no question here.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, there is a question, Mr. Speaker. There are no criminal charges pending. I ask the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is dangerously coming close to being out of order.

[Page 467]

MR. DONAHOE: I ask this Minister of Justice if in fact it is advice from the Minister of Health to whom he has made reference in response to both of my earlier questions? Is it on the basis of advice from the Minister of Health that the Minister of Justice has until this point failed to do what he is, I believe, obligated to do under Section 10 of the Fatality Inquiries Act or is it some other explanation which he might now share with this House?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, this government would not be doing a good job if they followed the disastrous example of the former government over 15 years. (Applause)

For 15 years (Interruption) the member for Halifax Citadel was the senior member in the Buchanan-Cameron Government and if he didn't talk to his colleagues about various important matters then he was derelict, but I say again, there is a board. The province is not being run in terms of hospitals and many other things from Halifax. There is a board there. They have had a study done. They had the report and they should follow it up and I understand that they have been doing it and working on that. But, Mr. Speaker, I think it would be more appropriate for the Minister of Health to talk about the health aspects of that particular matter.

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

HUMAN RES. - PUBLIC SECTOR COMP. RESTRAINT BD.: APPEAL - WITHDRAW

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Human Resources. We learned late yesterday that the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Board had filed a notice of appeal on a decision by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on a case brought before it by the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. That decision by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia was that the Public Sector Compensation Board in fact was not following the legislation, the guidelines that had been set out in the Public Sector Compensation Act by breaking the government's commitment and docking 3 per cent of part-time and casual employees' wages since the budget came down and directed them to do so in November 1994.

We have just received a statement from the government, Mr. Speaker, from that minister, indicating that they will not be joining the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Board in that appeal but, nonetheless, I would like to ask the Minister of Human Resources, will he not, in consideration of the fact that his government made a firm pledge to all public sector workers earning $25,000, that they would not be affected by the 3 per cent roll-back, will he either direct the Compensation Review Board to discontinue its appeal or immediately change the legislation to carry out that same act?

HON. JAY ABBASS: I want to thank the member opposite for his question. This came about largely because I understand an appeal deadline was looming as of late yesterday afternoon and the board, given its responsibilities under the legislation, wanted to reserve unto itself, if you will, its various legal options. So as a legal procedural nicety, I guess, it did file its appeal notice. However, the government wishes to ensure that the original intent of the legislation is respected and that the protected provisions of the legislation, vis-à-vis those

[Page 468]

who make less than $25,000 per annum are respected and therefore the government is very pleased to give firm indication that we will not be joining any appeal and therefore the press release has been made public at this point.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to table a page from the government's 1994 Budget Address in which the following is said. "The wage reduction measure must be tempered with an understanding that some public sector salaries are already low. This wage reduction will not affect anyone who earns $25,000 or less.".

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has ruled, in fact, that the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Board erred in not following through with the commitment of the government in their Budget Address and in following the provisions of the compensation review Act. I want to ask this minister if he will not commit to this House today that his government will ensure that the direction provided by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, in its March 8, 1996 decision to compensate those workers earning $25,000 or less who have been having their wages docked by 3 per cent, that he will move post-haste to see that these people are, in fact, compensated in accordance with that decision?

MR. ABBASS: As the Minister of the Human Resources Department and I suppose the employer, that is government as employer, we wanted to send a very clear signal that, for our part, government wishes to see these protective provisions, regarding those who make less than $25,000 per year, respected. Therefore, we in our capacity, as an entity that is affected by the legislation, have made very clear exactly how we do feel in this regard. So it is as clear as it can be made at this point.

The Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act is clear in giving the board certain leeway or certain powers or certain responsibilities in implementing the legislation. However, again, the filing of a notice of appeal on the part of the board, as far as I can determine, was really an answer to the looming appeal deadline which, as I said, was looming as of late yesterday afternoon. So, simply to preserve their various rights of appeal and other, I guess, legal options, they as a formality did file their notice. But government wants to make it clear exactly where it stands, and that is that we wish to fully respect the Supreme Court's decision, fully respect the original intent of the legislation and fully respect the protective provisions of that legislation, targeted specifically at those employees who do make less than $25,000.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, it appears that there is another decision by this government that is going to be left to somebody else. They are hiding behind the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Board, much as they have tried to wash their hands of important decisions like dealing with the coal industry in Nova Scotia, leaving that up to the federal government.

I want to direct my final supplementary to the Premier, because I recall when the Liberal Party was in Opposition, and they considered themselves the true defenders of part-time workers in the Province of Nova Scotia. Yet, as a result of the actions of the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Board, they have been deducting 3 per cent from some of the lowest paid public sector workers in this province. I want to ask this Premier if he would indicate, here today, that his government will move immediately to see that these people are properly compensated, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and that they will apologize to those public servants for having broken their promise presented in the budget of 1994?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am blessed with very competent ministers and I think the minister in charge of this issue should be allowed to continue his explanation.

MR. ABBASS: Well, I think the honourable member opposite and myself are far more in agreement with each other than he is portraying here. As I stated during the first supplementary, the government is squarely in favour or will fully respect the Supreme Court's ruling with respect to the board's dealing with [Page 469]

the legislation. The reality is that the legislation, the public sector compensation restraint legislation does constitute a board which does, under Schedule A of the regulations thereto, give the board certain responsibilities and powers. Specifically it has the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act. It is essentially a public inquiry.

The board has to be allowed to do its work to a certain extent. The government has made very clear its feelings vis-à-vis the board's treatment of these protective provisions; we have made it very clear exactly where we stand vis-à-vis the Supreme Court's decision dealing with that board's decision and we wish to make it clear that we would only hope that the Public Sector Compensation Restraint Board would see things exactly as the government sees things and would ensure that these protective provisions are extended to the appropriate persons.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - C.B. REG. HOSP.: SUICIDES - PUBLIC INQUIRY

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Minister of Justice. On May 6, 1987, Dr. James Smith, now Minister of Community Services, asked me in my capacity as Attorney General - and I ask the Attorney General to hear these words - the honourable member at that time said these words. "Those of us on this side of the House . . ." - referring to the then Liberal Opposition - ". . . and I am sure all members, have been saddened by the sequence of events in the last while leading to the unescorted departure of a patient from Camp Hill Hospital. We have learned prior to the sitting of the House that there has been a positive identity of that patient's body.".

He asked me in my capacity as Attorney General this. "Could the Minister inform the House, as has been reported in the media, that he will have an inquiry into this unfortunate event, and the time frame and the reporting that we could expect to the House.". He went on later to ask me, "I thank the minister for his remarks on this very tragic and troublesome event. I would, in my final supplementary, ask him, would he assure the House that he will involve the Provincial Medical Board and the board of the hospital in any inquiries that would be forthcoming regarding these circumstances?".

Would the Minister of Justice, agree with me that a public inquiry of the kind which I urge of the Minister of Justice would it not be absolutely possible for that public inquiry to engage the Provincial Medical Board and the board of the hospital and all relevant officials at the hospital to determine what really is going on at that hospital?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, every situation is different. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel knows there are different types of inquiries, there are different types of problems. In this case, we have a board in Cape Breton that is responsible for running this hospital but some members think that it should be run centrally from Halifax. There was a situation at the time, in the circumstances the Attorney General of the day responded in a

[Page 470]

certain way, that was certainly within his rights. That does not mean we automatically have to follow that.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this Minister of Justice doesn't understand at all the issue that we are attempting to address and we are pleading with him to address. We are not asking him or, dare I say, the Minister of Health to run that hospital. We are asking him in light of five tragic suicide deaths to determine what is going on at that hospital and whether or not there are circumstances which need attention.

I would quote, if I may, by way of my first supplementary to the Minister of Justice, and I am sure he is aware of it, if he calls an inquiry under the Fatalities Inquiries Act the judge has this authority under Section 16(3). "The judge may include in his report recommendations, if any, with respect to measures that might prevent a future mishap of a similar nature and may recommend that a further inquiry be held.". We are pleading for some process to investigate what happened. (Interruption) You can plead for anything you want. We are pleading for a process to have a look to see if it is possible to do what the Act says the judge can comment on, to prevent a future mishap.

This authority, as the Minister of Justice knows, is available to the judge that he would appoint. Will he not, in light of the fact that those recommendations are available from such a judge, state in this House today that he will immediately establish a judicial inquiry under the Fatality Inquiries Act?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have never said that it cannot be done but as I said earlier, the circumstances are different. We have five unfortunate deaths. The member refers to them as suicides, that may or may not be so in all of the cases. As I indicated, the Cape Breton Regional Hospital has a board. I understand they are trying to work through the problems that have come forward or the recommendations that have been made by the two psychiatrists that did the study on it and they are working on it. Again, I don't think it is appropriate at this time for the Government of Nova Scotia centrally to intervene to try to run that board because the next time we turn around, we will be asked to run the Yarmouth hospital, the Antigonish hospital or any number of the Halifax and area hospitals.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, it is clear and it is undoubtedly obvious that my frustration level is very high because I simply (Interruption) Well, I hear the honourable member over there saying, so is hers. Well, your frustration level will be real high when the gentleman who sits in the main chair over there has nerve enough to call an election because you will be in big frustration, all of you over there. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Is that the final supplementary question to the Minister of Justice?

MR. DONAHOE: I ask, by way of final supplementary of the Minister of Justice, if he is prepared to acknowledge here this afternoon that the conduct of a judicial inquiry is not an assumption by himself or, indeed, by his colleague, the Minister of Health, of the operations of the hospital in question, but rather the employment and the establishment of a judicial inquiry is to enable a person of competent authority, who has the power to summon witnesses and who has the power to make recommendations with respect to measures that might prevent future mishaps, is an attempt to do that, to prevent future mishaps and not to run the hospital.

[Page 471]

Will the Minister of Justice acknowledge that that is the intent of the judicial inquiry and that, on that basis alone, it is completely justified, regardless of what further meetings are necessary between himself, the Minister of Health, and the hospital board?

MR. GILLIS: There is no question that you could have a fatality inquiry. There have been other types of inquiries over the years. I just simply say that we have a board made up of citizens of the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality that are charged with running that hospital board. They have certain challenges and opportunities and they are trying to do, as I understand, the best they can to do it. I think we should let them have a chance to respond to the recommendation of the study by the two psychiatrists and do the best in a tragic situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - C.B. REG. HOSP.: REVIEW - DETAILS

MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Health. I wonder if the Minister of Health could tell me if the two Dalhousie psychiatrists who did the review of the operations at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, whether they assessed the clinical decisions made by the hospital staff?

If so, I heard the minister say yesterday he now had to wait for the report of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which could be months down the road, so I would ask the minister why, if, in fact, the two psychiatrists did review the operations and assess the clinical decisions made by the staff at the hospital?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that the review was a thorough and complete review of both the clinical decisions and the structure of the mental health services in that region.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the minister says, assumes. I would hope that he would know that if they went down there to do the review that they did exactly that, they did a review of all the procedures. Otherwise, we are in real trouble if he only assumes it.

To the Minister of Health, can the minister assure this House that a shortage of beds at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital for these patients had nothing to do with those people being released, that the bed shortage had nothing to do in the end result of suicide being committed? Can the minister tell from that report that there absolutely was no problem with there being beds available, if ones were needed?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I can state unequivocally that the recommendations did not include an increase in beds in that facility.

MR. MOODY: We now know that the minister did read the report because, first, he didn't know all of the review but now he knows that we don't need beds. He knows that part.

I am wondering what is the problem; obviously there is a problem. I am sure the Minister of Health has heard about the Lunenburg Review where two outside experts were called in to investigate the handling of the child welfare cases. I am sure the minister is familiar with that case. In that case the full report was released, with the exception of a few names being whited out. We understand that.

[Page 472]

I would ask the minister why the government is not taking the same approach here. Why is the general public, who have now a great fear up there and the family members have a great fear, why is it now that no part of that review can be released to the public or the families at all?

[2:45 p.m.]

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, that review was commissioned by the board of the hospital. It was delivered to the hospital board and the board released the recommendations and they were perused publicly and I did the same.

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

HEALTH - VG HOSPITAL: ADMISSION - DELAYED

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health told us on Tuesday that he welcomes every representation and specific case so that he may assure Nova Scotians that they are not denied appropriate care. A citizen from Carroll's Corner, Halifax County, was rediagnosed with AML, which is an acute form of leukaemia. The citizen was diagnosed on March 7th. His doctor advised him that he would try to get him in the Victoria General Hospital within a couple of days. This did not happen.

His wife phoned the hospital after waiting into the second week to check on the availability of a bed and was told that her husband was second on the list. She checked again with the health officials in another week and was informed that they were doing their best. I suggest, based on the challenges and demands that health care workers have, they were doing their best.

Now, the minister will know that acute leukaemia is usually characterized by an abnormal increase in the number of leukaemia cells in one's tissue or blood. It is a very fast moving disease that can kill you within three to six months.

The patient kept waiting and waiting and his wife kept phoning and phoning and finally, Mr. Speaker, on Good Friday, after they waited a month, the patient broke out in a very severe rash. His wife took him to the Emergency Department at the Victoria General Hospital and he was seen by a doctor. Guess what? He was told there was no bed. This individual - I won't use his name on the floor of the Legislature - but he is certainly prepared to talk to the media or at least his family is.

The patient was finally admitted to hospital last Sunday, over one month after being diagnosed. (Interruptions) I might add . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You must come to the point, please. Put the question.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is this, his leukaemia cell count rose from 15 per cent to 30 per cent, in other words it doubled. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: If this is not a question, I will have to sit you down and call on somebody else.

MR. TAYLOR: Could the minister please explain why his health reform initiatives must cause so much havoc for people like this?

[Page 473]

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I will answer simply to say I am neither competent to comment on a haematology question, which he poses to me and particularly the details of a patient's situation, but to say that a clinical decision of admission in an emergency or urgent fashion is a decision of a clinician. If he is calling into question the decision of the clinician, I will refer that on to the clinician so involved.

If he has a particular problem, which he says he has and I would assume that it is a legitimate one, he should forward that to the legitimate channels which are set up to deal with any complaints or problems that may exist. There are beds available in a timely way for people whom clinicians believe require them promptly.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the patient was unable to get a bed in the haematology unit at the Victoria General Hospital. They tried to go the proper channels. Will the minister undertake this afternoon to investigate this long waiting list - and that is what it is, a long waiting list - and provide me with a list of all individuals still without a bed in the haematology unit at the Victoria General Hospital?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable gentleman opposite asks me to provide him with patients' names and diagnoses on the floor of this place. Now, this is most reprehensible. There is no way that the Minister of Health nor a member of this place should reveal on the floor of this Legislature personal medical details that come before - I don't mind being bashed over the head for some particularly perceived or real problem that we have, and I will take my bumps - but to reveal on the floor of this place diagnoses and personal and medical details of a particular patient is, I believe, reprehensible and out of order.

I might say, if he has a particular problem to which he alludes, then there are ways to persue that, to have this particular patient problem answered. I would welcome those and refer them to the proper channels. That is the process and that is a reliable process.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this isn't some fairy tale, this is a real life story and it is happening in Nova Scotia today. It is happening and the Minister of Health has a responsibility to ensure . . .

MR. SPEAKER: We need a question here. I am not going to tolerate another speech.

MR. TAYLOR: . . . that there are proper checks and balances in place where people can get the care that they deserve and they are not getting it.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't detect any question there at all.

The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH: HANTS COMMUN. HOSP. - EMERGENCY SERVICES

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat reluctant to enter into this fray, but my question is for the Minister of Health. I think one of the problems we have is that the Department of Health is being run more by the Minister of Finance than it is by the Minister of Health. A case in point is, last evening, around about 10:30 p.m., a person collapsed in Windsor and was escorted down to the Hants Community Hospital and got there, as I said, around about 10:30 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. to go into emergency and could not get in because the doors were locked. They had to beat on the door for some considerable time before they could finally alert the nursing staff in there, who were being rushed off their feet

[Page 474]

by the normal duties that they carry out in the hospital. The problem is that they have no custodian there any more to look after the front door of the emergency wing of the Hants Community Hospital.

Would the minister assure the House and assure the people the Hants Community Hospital will have a custodian there to open the door to allow people to gain admittance to the emergency wing of the hospital 24 hours a day?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to convey the concern of the honourable member opposite to the Hants board and to the administration. I am sure they would have an answer to his question.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if that was the only case that I had, I suppose I would not have much of a case, but I would also like to draw to the attention of the minister that at the present time the Hants Community Hospital, at nights, is underpersoned - I guess the word is these days, not undermanned but underpersoned - a gentleman was in the hospital requiring attention 24 hours a day and the parents of that gentleman were asked to provide a person to sit with that gentleman at night, every night in the hospital. They were unable, themselves, to be at his side 24 hours a day, so they had to hire somebody at $94 per night to sit with this gentleman in the Hants Community Hospital, not because of any shortcomings with the staff but simply because there is not enough staff to adequately provide the nursing services required for the patients within the hospital.

Would the minister ensure that not only the Hants Community Hospital but all community hospitals receive sufficient staffing so that people do not have to go out and hire an individual to come in and look after patients while they are actually in hospital?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I, again, will convey this problem that the honourable gentleman opposite raises with the administration of that hospital. I am sure that they would be as concerned as he is in respect to this particular problem. I might say that these problems in hospitals are not new, they are not since 1993. I have personal knowledge. I, myself, hired particular staff to sit with my own father frequently over the period from 1986 to 1992.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the minister is out there talking to nursing staff and other staff within hospitals, he must be surely aware that they are over-taxed and overworked and just simply do not have the staff and the funding to keep up the services that are required.

So, in conclusion, I just simply ask the minister, would he look into the manning - I am sorry, I should not use that word - the personnel problems encountered by all the community hospitals because I am told that it is just not the Hants Community Hospital, it is all the community hospitals across this province who just do not have sufficient staff?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, this certainly goes beyond, I should say, the issue of appropriate use of beds and facilities. It goes into the community and it goes into the fact that we have put in place in this province one of the best Home Care Programs in the country that, in fact, home hospital, and the question is, is that going to be used appropriately? I would say, well, that is what we need to ask. Is home care going to be used appropriately by particular individuals and facilities? That is the issue here; it is not focusing in on whether or not care can be delivered only in a facility. In fact, we have broadened the base of home care. We have put home hospital in place in this province for a year and it is beginning to work, but it needs to be used by facilities properly.

[Page 475]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

EDUC. - SPECIAL: FUNDING - STUDY

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Minister of Education. Mr. Tom Rich who is the Executive Director of Student Services is quoted in the press as saying that the department is reviewing the special needs funding for school boards. Of course, that is done each and every year as part of the funding formula review process. The minister, however, just the other day released the special education policy manual and we are very pleased to see that that report has finally come out.

My question, however, to the minister is quite simply this. Has the department conducted a study to determine the level of increased financial assistance that is going to be necessary to provide to the boards in order for his policy that he introduced to be implemented for next year, and if so, how much more resources do they need?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I can tell him that the Funding Formula Review Committee was meeting as late as this morning to discuss funding to boards over the next year. This is one of the considerations that comes under their auspices and I am sure that they will be reviewing that. I think the honourable member knows that there is school board representation on that committee and they are exploring not only this area of funding but all areas of funding to the school boards. I trust, based on the record that they have brought to decision-making, that they will be making wise decisions relative to that and taking special attention to those students who have special needs as indicated by the policy.

MR. HOLM: The minister didn't indicate however whether or not his department had conducted a study to determine what the additional levels are going to be or what is needed. We have seen over the last number of years as a result of funding cuts a decrease in the level of specialist services and resources available to school children in the Province of Nova Scotia. The minister, I am sure, is aware of the study that was done in the Dartmouth District School Board which talks about the huge waiting list for students who are in need of extra assistance. The minister, of course, will know that we even have fewer speech therapists within the education system than we had at the time when he and I both were on the special education group that was touring the province. So the needs are growing, they aren't dropping.

Although the Funding Formula Review Committee makes recommendations, the province determines how much funding is going to be made available. My question to the minister is, will school boards be provided with a net increase in the amount of money that will be made available to them to meet the special education needs as are clearly identified so that they can start to begin to fulfil the policies as laid out by the minister's own policy?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all I can tell through you, the honourable member and all members of the House that if you were to go back five years ago, there are more resources, more special services now than there were then. We have had some boards that five years ago had no services for students with special needs, none. But now the special education report that he has in front of him is indicating that all boards are turning their attention to providing for those students with special needs.

[Page 476]

I will go further in terms of some of the reform that we have carried out in the Department of Education. The Strait Area Board which involved the amalgamation of Guysborough, Antigonish, Richmond and Inverness school boards had very few resources just one year ago. In the discussion with the CEO of that board, we find out now that they are able to step in to provide more resources to schools. This is something that they can see down the road, they see there are possibilities they didn't have two years ago, not with new money, but by reassigning the money that is presently there. If the honourable member would like to call the people involved in the Strait area, and most particularly those involved in special education, he will discover that for the first time that area can see the possibility of providing more and better services to the students in the Strait area.

That also will be the experience of the other boards as they reassign administrative dollars to services for students. That is the aim of the whole policy of the reform in the Department of Education and if we can take what is happening in the Strait area as an example, Mr. Speaker, we can see more and better services being provided over the next period of time. I remind the honourable member that his gentle view of what was provided many years ago, that have been lost due to cuts, I think, is a bit jaundiced if you don't mind my expression, by his looking backwards and his dogmatic view of the world. Very few resources, when we travelled with the select committee on special education, very few. All boards now have their attention on providing more services and those services are growing, not shrinking, as the honourable member seems to be implying. He should review the report itself to see, in fact, what it says about that.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: The other day I was patronizing, now I am dogmatic. (Interruption) Excuse me, I was pompous. I was probably accused of being the others as well, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is telling us that there are far more resources provided across the Province of Nova Scotia. Maybe the minister would like to go and tell that to all of the families with children in this province who are desperately waiting for their children to receive the kind of educational services that they need and deserve.

Yes, indeed, in some parts of the province there have been improvements and in many other areas they have dropped. The minister would have us believe that as a result of these administrative changes, that money is going to be solving all the problems when this government is still planning to reduce the amount of money this year that it is providing for education.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, will the minister guarantee that the school boards will have sufficient funds next school year to implement his policy to ensure that all children with special needs in the Province of Nova Scotia receive access to those services that they need, deserve and that this government has a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that they receive?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has some kind of idea that any government can solve all the problems of all of the people right away. I want to suggest to you that such fantasy and such vision of the world is what causes many of our difficulties. We have to accept the world as it presently sits out there and, as the honourable member said, some boards along the way are far in advance of other boards. We are working and each board is working with us (Interruptions) We have each of the boards looking at how

[Page 477]

they can address, in an inclusive manner, each and every student that is out there. It can't happen all at once and nobody can guarantee that tomorrow this will all be provided.

The honourable member would know that but he is standing up in this House of Assembly and imagining these fantasies, this wonderland, that somehow Bob Rae imagined some years ago; he came into power in Ontario driven by a fantasy, and we all know what happened to him, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

HEALTH - HOME CARE PROG.: SHUBENACADIE - AVAILABILITY

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for my colleague, the Minister of Health. Just a few moments ago the Minister of Health remarked that the Home Care Program in Nova Scotia is the finest in Canada. Yesterday I happened to pick up part of the CBC program Maritime Noon and I can assure the minister that there are many people in Nova Scotia who would not share his view. Has he not had an opportunity to review that program and, knowing he would want to make corrections where corrections should be made, I would urge him to get the tape and have a listen.

In any event, there was one gentleman who called into that program, his father is dying of cancer. The father lives in the Shubenacadie area. The man tried to access home care and was told that home care was not available in the Shubenacadie area, it did not fall in any catchment area.

I wonder if the minister could confirm that, in fact, Shubenacadie does not have home care services available to it and if there are other communities in Nova Scotia which, because of geographic location, are not eligible for home care?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I can state unequivocally that home care is available to every citizen in the province, regardless of age or income level. I don't know the specifics of the case to which he refers. It may well be that there is an extenuating circumstance or the individual who called may not have called the correct number. I am not certain of that, of course, but I can tell you that Home Care Nova Scotia operates in all areas and in all jurisdictions.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, from the minister's response I hope then that he will take the opportunity to at least listen to that part of the program on tape and try to get to the bottom of this very serious shortcoming, if, in fact, it exists. If it does not exist, I know that the minister will want to make sure that the person who did call in has the right information available to him and is able to access the system.

My second question, again revolves around home care. The minister has informed this House on a number of occasions that he is working on an evaluation of home care, an assessment of home care. I wonder if the minister could confirm that this assessment includes a critical evaluation, an audit - if one wants to use that term - which identifies and measures specific outcomes against program objectives, not a client survey, but makes a specific measurement of outcomes so that we can know whether or not the Home Care Program is in fact meeting the demand which results from the reduced number of hospital beds available?

DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question by the honourable member opposite and certainly will give attention to the previous question, or first question, that he asked.

In respect to the outcome measurements and the evaluation quality of care, very clearly in the design of the Home Care Nova Scotia Program we were very concerned about this. This was one of the chief issues in which we wanted to ensure standards and ensure a proper program by continuing contracts, particularly with the VON and those who were providing nursing care in the province. In addition to that, we very early on hired on a quality assurance officer, a quality assurance person, whose job it is, totally, to design a continuous quality improvement program that would go on with Home Care Nova Scotia as it progresses [Page 478]

throughout the province in its various forms. The audits and the standards have been developed and this person is employed wholly for that purpose.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister for his response. Mr. Speaker, the promotional material which the minister has provided to Nova Scotians with respect to Home Care Nova Scotia says, in part, that it is a care plan matched to your needs; your, of course, being the potential clientele. We are hearing stories - well, they are not stories - I have heard complaints from constituents with respect to home care access. So, there are people out there who believe that the home care system as it is currently functioning is not meeting their needs. Certainly, there will be those who believe that it is meeting their needs, and we must keep a proper balance.

My question to the minister is this. As the Blueprint Committee recommended, and I think it is on Page 37, that assessments should be conducted by a multidisciplinary team that takes a case management approach to care, will the minister advise whether, in fact, that this is the process which currently is in place?

DR. STEWART: I am not quite sure of the honourable gentleman's question in terms of whether or not it is an immediate assessment of need. In that case, care coordinators assess the need on a request from family or the patient or, in some cases, neighbours, and that assessment is done by Home Care Nova Scotia care assessors or care coordinators and then the management of the case can be, and in fact is, multidisciplinary and those cases are reviewed on a regular basis, whether it be chronic home care or home hospital care. So that is in place in that regard, in terms of the structure.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

HEALTH: AMBULANCE OPERATORS ASSOC. - CONTRACT

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday I asked him a question with regard to problem gambling and I must say thank you to the minister for providing me most of the details on that question yesterday.

Today, we are in a new fiscal year and I was wondering if the department has worked out a new contract with the Ambulance Operators Association and, if not, when does the minister expect that that would be finalized?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable gentleman opposite for his question. We are in ongoing discussions with the Ambulance Operators Association of Nova Scotia in terms of a different form of contract and the type of contract that would be

[Page 479]

placed out, either for tender or for a common business solution, and we continue with those discussions and that will be ongoing over the next months.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. Mike Murphy, the new Commissioner of Emergency Health Services, did appear at the Public Accounts Committee last week, or two weeks ago, and in response to a question about the cost of training and equipment for first responders, volunteer firefighters, he did say that he did not believe the costs should be borne by the municipalities because it is a provincial responsibility. Will the minister indicate whether he shares Dr. Murphy's views that these costs should not be passed on to the municipalities?

DR. STEWART: In fact, Mr. Speaker, in the overall plan for emergency health services, training for first responders, whether it would be volunteer fire or police or other citizens, would be part and parcel of the emergency health services provision of care.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, would the minister confirm that the costs alone of administering the new emergency health services system, exclusive of the ambulance subsidy program, is in excess of $2.5 million, and why are these costs so high?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly check and take that under advisement in respect to what that entails. It certainly has not been that high in the year, that seems excessive. Certainly if one is speaking about the actual organizational structure, the organizational structure may well include the current personnel who are working in the ambulance subsidy section of the Department of Health. But I could certainly take that under advisement and report back to him.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, before my question, I would like to make an introduction. I would like to introduce to you and to all members of the House, in the east gallery a group of Victorian Order Nurses, a group that is visiting us today, Margaret MacDonald, Kelly McNamara, Yvonne Rushton, Nicole Kersey, Margaret MacInnis, Jean Kirby and Bethany Bishop. I would ask the VONs to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE: RESPONSE TIME - INVESTIGATION RELEASE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Despite the minister's high-priced help, there has been a number of recent complaints about ambulance response time. Unfortunately, in one public case a man died after waiting a half an hour for an ambulance to arrive. My question to the minister, my understanding is that his department was doing an investigation and it was my understanding the investigation would be completed by the end of March; that was my understanding. Is the investigation finished and if it is finished, will it be released so that the public will have a full understanding of what happened in that particular case?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, my information from staff is that the report is actually being written at the moment and will be released, I believe, within the next several weeks.

[Page 480]

MR. MOODY: I hope it doesn't take several weeks, but I can understand a few weeks. I hope the minister was sincere when he said it will be released.

My first supplementary, the government recently announced that Metro & District Ambulance Service, which provided advanced life support service to the residents of Musquodoboit and Sheet Harbour, as I understand it they are now replaced by Crowell's Ambulance Service, which provide basic life support. Given that this seems to be moving in the opposite direction of providing more sophisticated ambulance service to Nova Scotians, can the minister indicate why the change was made from Metro & District Ambulance Service to Crowell's Ambulance Service? Was it tendered, or what was the process that took place?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I certainly could be detailed in a response, either written or perhaps oral, to the honourable gentleman opposite in respect to the specific incident of ambulance services. It is my understanding that there was a process put in place. It was a process that was approved and open. I could be more detailed if he wishes and take it under advisement.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased if the minister would take it under advisement and provide me with those details, I would appreciate that. I hope the minister is sincere when he makes that offer so that I will actually see it.

My final supplementary is, would the minister undertake to table in the House the number of complaints that he has received over the past year with respect to ambulance service and if his department did any other investigations or if there were any recommendations coming out of other investigations that may have occurred? I don't need names, just the number and if, in fact, there were investigations and, again, if there were any problems identified in those investigations. Would the minister undertake to do that?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I certainly could undertake that and along with the previous question, submit to the honourable member opposite a written confirmation of those numbers. I believe in briefing quite recently, we have reviewed several incidents in which dispatching was a question, for example. There were several that were investigated culminating in this report and I can report on that to the honourable member opposite.

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

HEALTH: PHARMACARE - APPLICATIONS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. There is a large number of seniors who aren't sure if they will automatically receive a bill for this year's 1996-97 Pharmacare Program or if they should contact Pharmacare and reapply. Could the minister indicate if seniors who participated in last year's program will automatically be sent applications to participate in this year's program and if that is the case, when will they be sent out or is it up to the senior citizen to contact Pharmacare and reapply?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, if the senior has enrolled in the program it will be automatic and it will be done over a period of months, staggered in that regard. If there are any questions we would certainly welcome a call from the senior to the 1-800 line.

[Page 481]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, would the Minister of Health inform the seniors when he will be sending out the Pharmacare applications? As I understand it, the premiums expired on April 1st and the seniors don't want to be penalized. They haven't received the renewals as of yet.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, just to clarify, any senior who is enrolled in the program and has a number, that number continues until the senior will either withdraw from the program, or after the premium is sent out, they have 30 days to send the premium back in. The senior merely waits for the premium notice to come and that is automatic and done by mail out.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary to the Minister of Health, a number of seniors have advised me that when they contact the Pharmacare Program, the information they are receiving is that the application has been substantially revised. My question for the minister is, will his department guarantee that no senior will be forced to pay a late registration charge as a result of the delays in Pharmacare mailing out the applications?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, if the senior has a number, is registered under the plan, that will continue until the senior either withdraws for some reason from the plan, by letter, or until the premium is sent out as a premium notice. The senior has 30 days to reply to that premium notice, that is to send in their premium. There will be no need for seniors to be concerned, as long as they are registered within the program.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe we can take one very quick question from the New Democratic Party. Is there one?

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

ERA - IMP PLANT (C.B.): SALE - INTERVENE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Earlier this week the minister told the House that with respect to the IMP plant, things had not worked out at the plant in North Sydney. I would like to ask the minister, in view of the fact that the owner of that plant, Mr. Ken Rowe, three years ago bought that facility for $5 million, including the equipment, and has offered to sell the plant to the workers' joint venture company for $7 million, how can he square the fact that they are asking $2 million more for that facility, including the equipment? How can he suggest that it hasn't worked out and why will he not intervene to help those workers retain that facility in the community?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is a lot in that question and we have very little time. Suffice it to say that this is a relationship between a private sector company and their employees and any and all private sector arrangements are a matter for those employees and their employer.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I regret that the time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 482]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise to inform the House that this afternoon, Gerry Godsoe, the President and CEO of Nova Scotia Power died. Gerry was a Rhodes Scholar, a graduate of Dalhousie Law School, and as some will know, the Secretary of the Macdonald Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada. He also served the federal government on many constitutional issues. Prior to his appointment to Nova Scotia Power, he was a senior partner at Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales and was also a Q.C.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, we have just received the news and I have informed the other Parties so that they may make a short statement if they wish. All I can say is that I am devastated by the loss of a good friend and I say with a sense of humour, I guess, that he was an intelligent, dedicated Liberal, but his friends came from all Parties. He was a man with a droll and, at times, very funny sense of humour. He was a dedicated husband to his wife Dale and a dedicated father to his three daughters. Obviously time does not allow us to say a great deal more than this except that I know that I express to the family the great sense of shock and sadness that a person who had just entered upon a new phase in his career should be so suddenly and so sadly taken from us.

I think we all share in that sense of loss and I know that we will have an opportunity perhaps to say things at another date. I think we wish to extend our sympathy to Dale and the three girls and I know that people who knew Gerry, people who respected his intellect, his ability to cut to the quick on many issues and his gift of friendship, will miss him very much. I will express to the family the sympathy of this House and I would suggest that after the other Leaders may wish to say a word, we have a moment of silence for a very dedicated and very important Nova Scotian who gave a lot to this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty at all in endorsing and underscoring the suggestion which the Premier just makes, that we might observe a moment of silence in Gerry's memory. I was absolutely shocked when the Premier came to the Leader of the New Democratic Party and to myself, in the absence of our Leader, to advise of Gerry's tragic and untimely death. Gerry was 54 years old and that is too young, as I am sure we would all agree, for anybody to die but too young for such a dominant personality and such a prodigious contributor to our city, our province and our country to be taken from us at that age.

Gerry was, as the Premier mentioned, a brilliant man and I intentionally use the word brilliant. He wasn't just smart, he was a brilliant person. I wondered often and joked with him often - as the Premier also alluded, he had included among his friends lowlife like myself and joked on occasion with Gerry - as to how it was that he could be so brilliant and yet be so blindly dedicated to the Liberal Party but we never really did resolve that discussion. He was a good friend of mine and a good friend of my wife Lynn and his wife Dale is a very close friend of Lynn's and mine as well. His daughter Stacy comes to my mind as I learned this

[Page 483]

tragic news today. Stacy is a gorgeous, wonderful little gal who was a classmate and a playmate of my own daughter Moira.

Gerry's involvement, Mr. Speaker, as I know you know and all members of our place here of this House, in the practice of law and in the pursuit of business at the highest level in the province and across the country is extremely well known. It is very highly respected and, most important perhaps, is lasting in its effect.

His important work, and again the Premier alluded to it and it is worthy of reference for sure, Gerry's important work with the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, the Macdonald Commission, from 1982 to 1985, very much comes to mind. He and I had interesting discussions during his time, as he pursued those responsibilities.

I was very pleased a few weeks ago to applaud Gerry's selection as President of Nova Scotia Power Inc. I must say that I was, if I may say this on this occasion, frustrated too, at the same time because I received a couple of telephone calls from people in the media about Gerry's selection as president. It was clear within three sentences of that discussion opening that the media was interested in having me make a comment to the effect that this was somehow a tainted, patronage, political appointment that Gerry Godsoe would end up as President of the Nova Scotia Power Inc.

I, knowing Gerry for many years, took great relish in becoming as abusive as I possibly could with the media callers on that occasion, to indicate my view that what was being recognized in that appointment was ability and competence and vision and not politics because, indeed, that is, in fact, what was seen by those at Nova Scotia Power who made the selection of Gerry as president.

I am deeply saddened to learn of his death today. Dale has lost a loving husband; his daughters, Suzanne and Stacy and Laura, have lost a wonderful dad. All of us who knew him well, and many in this place knew him very well, have lost a brilliant and a very genial and humorous friend.

So, Mr. Speaker, sadly I extend deepest condolences, if I may be personal, from myself and from my wife Lynn and my daughter Moira, to Dale and her girls. I extend, too, sincere best wishes to them at this very difficult time, from Dr. Hamm, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative caucus of the Province of Nova Scotia and from all of my caucus colleagues. You will sadly missed, Gerry, but your wonderful life will be celebrated by many of us for a very long time to come. Our prayers are with you. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say at this time that Mr. Godsoe certainly had a very distinguished career. He made a very important contribution to his community, to this province and to this country. I would offer, on behalf of the New Democratic Party and the New Democratic caucus, my deepest sympathy and condolences to Mr. Godsoe's family for their loss and wish all his family and friends the best and the greatest support in this trying time, where they are trying to respond to this tragic loss. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: We will observe one minute's silence in honour of the memory of the late Mr. Godsoe.

[A minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Business.

[Page 484]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.

Bill No. 2 - Securities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise on this occasion to speak on Bill No. 2, An Act to Amend Chapter 418 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Securities Act. In so doing, I move that this bill be now read a second time.

Mr. Speaker, it has been several years since amendments have been made to the Securities Act, as all honourable members would probably remember. In the meantime, the securities industry and the securities law enforcement regime have undergone a number of changes. In essence, the amendments we are proposing to this bill fall into three categories and I would like to give a brief run through.

The first category, and most important, are those amendments that will provide the statutory framework to integrate in a clearer manner than is now possible, the goals of investor protection and easier, less costly capital formation by small business users. For example, Clause 1 of the bill adds a statement of purpose to the Act that recognizes investor protection as the first principle of the Act. In addition, Clause 1 also expressly recognizes capital formation in the province as an objective of the Act, when it would not be inconsistent with an adequate level of investor protection.

Another example of this is found in Clause 13 that expands on the commission's jurisdiction of the Securities Commission to provide exemptive relief from requirements under the Act. Although this would be useful for capital formation, it only would be done where it is not prejudicial to the public interest.

The second and almost equally important category of amendments is designed to reduce overlap and duplication among the provinces that regulate securities trading in Canada. In the past, much of what has been securities regulation has been found in various mandatory

[Page 485]

policies put forward by the Ontario Securities Commission. In turn, these regulations have been adopted throughout most of the country by Securities Commissions in other provinces.

Several years ago - and some honourable members would know, and I know there are members in the House here, one of whom brought forward a very complex securities bill not that long ago - an Ontario court held that the Ontario Securities Commission did not have the jurisdiction to require compliance with these policies. As a result, the underlying basis for providing uniform requirements across Canada was brought into doubt. Subsequently, a Royal Commission was appointed in Ontario to hold hearings, receive submissions and make recommendations for an alternative basis by which the former policies would have the force of law. That Royal Commission recommended that the Ontario Securities Commission be granted rule-making authority.

The recommendation of the Royal Commission was incorporated in amendments to the Securities Act of Ontario. Since then, British Columbia and Alberta have enacted similar provisions. In addition, Saskatchewan is in the process of doing so. Other provinces are currently pursuing similar initiatives. In other words, this is why most provinces have moved or are moving to confer rule-making authority on their commissions.

To allow Nova Scotia to join this movement to be a harmonized security regime for the benefit of investors and issuers in Nova Scotia, the government is recommending that this province also adopt a framework for rule-making by the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, under the oversight of the Governor in Council.

Under this framework, the rules of the commission can be vetoed by the Governor in Council. On the other hand, the rules of the commission cannot overrule regulations made by the Governor in Council.

Other examples of provisions that would reduce overlap and duplication are to be found in some of the new heads of regulation and rule-making authorities. For example, the regulation that gives the commission authority to approve, by rule, an arrangement with another securities and financial regulatory authority. That is an example. Under this mechanism, Mr. Speaker, it may be possible for the provinces to agree on such things as a centralized electronic clearing house for securities offerings throughout the country.

I mentioned there were three categories of amendments. The third category can be categorized as general administrative changes. For the greater part, they are intended to correct past oversights and to address specific problems that have come to light either as a result of litigation or through the administration of the Act. An example would be Clause 5(4). This change responds to a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada striking down a search warrant provision in the Income Tax Act that was expressed to be mandatory rather than discretionary. The definition changes, other than the ones pertaining to regulations and rules, also fall into this category.

In drawing my remarks to a close, I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that these amendments are designed to allow the Nova Scotia Securities Commission to continue to function effectively and in concert with securities organizations across Canada. I think it has functioned relatively efficiently, but there is always time for some updates. It is important that Nova Scotia keep pace, however, with other jurisdictions in order for business development to continue and so that - and this is important, of course - investors be protected.

[Page 486]

Accordingly, and in closing, I urge all honourable members to lend their support to this important piece of legislation. I would like to have, after full debate - whatever debate there might be in second reading at this approval in principle level - to have the bill go on to the Law Amendments Committee and I would, certainly as Chairman of that committee, welcome any and all groups, individuals or bodies to come forward and present any concerns or suggestions to the committee at that time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I do have some comments which I would like to address relative to Bill No. 2 and relative to the Securities Act and the Securities Commission. As I begin, I think I would say that I was struck, certainly, by everything that the Minister of Justice has just now said but, as he closed, the Minister of Justice talked a little bit about the commission and how he thinks it has been pretty efficient and we need updates periodically to make sure that it is current and the like, and I agree. But I find his remarks a little bit interesting against the backdrop of the reality of what really is going on at the commission these days.

Unless my information is inaccurate, Mr. Speaker, I begin my remarks on this particular bill, on Bill No. 2, perhaps by first asking the Minister of Justice, when he closes, if he might indicate to this House why it is that the government has allowed the Nova Scotia Securities Commission to be decimated as far as its membership is concerned. First of all, I should say that Section 4 of the existing legislation, which is not a section which we propose to have amended by way of Bill No. 2. Section 4 says:

"(1) The Governor in Council may appoint not more than six persons who shall constitute the Nova Scotia Securities Commission.

(2) The Governor in Council shall designate one of the members of the Commission to be the Chairman, and another member to be the Vice-chairman.

(3) The members before entering office shall take an oath or affirmation as prescribed by the regulations.".

So, "The Governor in Council may appoint not more than six persons . . .", well, as the minister has just said as he opened debate on Bill No. 2, this is pretty important stuff, our Securities Commission and the administration of the issuance, sale and trade of securities in the Province of Nova Scotia, the relationship of the Securities Commission here in Nova Scotia with similar commissions across the country and the like.

Against the backdrop of Section 4, which affords the Governor in Council the authority to appoint up to six members, it is, in fact - again, as I say, if my information is correct - astounding that this government has allowed the membership of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission to fall to one. There is one member of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission today. That one member is also chair, a man well known to me and if memory serves me correctly, perhaps an appointment during my time as Attorney General. That man is Mr. Bob MacLellan. Now Mr. Bob MacLellan, who is the one member of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission is, as I think you may know, Mr. Speaker, and certainly others in this place will know, very highly regarded in the securities law and regulation field not only in this province but across this country.

[Page 487]

As an example, to give a flavour of what we are dealing with here, before I make certain remarks about the substantive policy issues proffered by Bill No. 2, I understand that the appointment of another member of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, that appointment being a person again known to many in this room, Professor Les O'Brien, who teaches securities law at Dalhousie Law School and he is a renowned expert in the field and a very highly regarded expert and professor in securities law and regulation, his term came to an end, if my information is correct, sometime around November of last year, not so many months ago. For reasons known best to the Minister of Justice and to his Cabinet colleagues and to the Premier, Professor O'Brien was not continued as a member of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission.

I repeat, I do not know why that decision was taken but it was. In my view, if I may express it here, the abilities of a very fine and able person were lost to the Securities Commission and to the commercial life of the Province of Nova Scotia. Professor O'Brien is still up at the law school and a quick telephone call to him, I am sure, from the Minister of Justice or the Premier would prompt Professor O'Brien, if he were invited, to consider an opportunity to make a further contribution to the work of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission.

The Minister of Justice might be good enough, if he would, when he closes debate, to perhaps offer some explanation as to why it might have been the case that he and his colleagues felt it not appropriate to continue Professor O'Brien when his term finished in November. I am aware and I have personal knowledge that Professor O'Brien made a most significant contribution to the work of the Securities Commission. Interestingly enough, one of his significant contributions was a tremendous amount of very great work, along with Chairman MacLellan and some others, to flesh out some of the policies and principles which are reflected in Bill No. 2 which the Minister of Justice brings to us here in this place today. I am not here saying that the world comes to an end if Professor O'Brien is not invited to undertake an additional term of membership on the Securities Commission, but I really do find it passing strange that he would be let go in the fashion that he was.

At some point, and I do not have all the dates, the government felt the Securities Commission was sufficiently important that they wanted to make another appointment to it, so they appointed Ms. Susan MacLean, and Ms. Susan MacLean was made vice-chair of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission. As you, Mr. Speaker, and others will be aware, Ms. MacLean has since left the Securities Commission and she has, I understand, replaced Ms. Heather Robertson in the Premier's Office upon Ms. Robertson's appointment as Chair of the Utility and Review Board.

[3:45 p.m.]

So forgive the little bit of history lesson, but the net result of all of that is we now here today are being invited by the Minister of Justice to deal with what he suggests are very important and significant amendments to the Nova Scotia Securities Act against the backdrop of the knowledge that the government, at the same time, thinks that the Securities Commission is so important that they are allowing it to be run by one member - I repeat and I want to make sure that it is clearly understood - by one of the ablest people in securities law and administration in the country.

It is strange and particularly strange in light of some of the things that this legislation, this Bill No. 2 does, that the government could allow that situation to pertain, that there would be but one member of this commission, because there are some provisions in this bill of a policy nature in talking about the certain discretionary authorities available to the commission that are appropriate but, if I may say so, are certainly questionable when we realize that the discretion will be exercised of necessity, and I am sure, although I have not spoken to Mr. MacLellan, not by his desire but those discretions will be exercised by him alone.

So we deal with amendments to one of the most significant pieces of legislation. It governs the work of our province's Securities Commission and, as I say, we are talking about a one person commission. That, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is simply not good enough. It is indicative of a lack of care and attention on the part [Page 488]

of the government and, if my information is wrong, then I will certainly eat the words that I have uttered to this point. But as I say, the information was provided to me and I understand it to be the case.

Well, if that is the case, and I think it is, how then in the context of us being asked to look at Bill No. 2, amendments to the Securities Act, how does that square with the principle enunciated in Clause 1, a clause to which the Minister of Justice, when he opened debate on the bill, to which he made specific reference. There is a very substantial public policy principle enunciated in Clause 1 and it is exceedingly important.

I know that at this stage of proceedings it is not a desirable or indeed an acceptable practice to read extensively from legislation at the second reading stage, but if I can be permitted with your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, read only five lines, and the minister made reference to this when he opened and he is right on the money. This is fundamental to this piece of legislation.

What it does is, as we have been told by the Minister of Justice, it imports into the securities legislation a so-called purpose clause. Clause 1, Section (1A)(1) says, "The purpose of this Act is to provide investors with protection from practices and activities that tend to undermine investor confidence in the fairness and efficiency of capital markets and, where it would not be inconsistent with an adequate level of investor protection, to foster the process of capital formation.".

So we have investor confidence on the one hand and procedures and administrative processes to ensure investor confidence on the one hand and a desire and an attitude at the Securities Commission which is intended, where appropriate, to foster the process of capital formation. It goes on to say that when the commission pursues that purpose that, Clause 1, Section (1A)(2), " . . . the Commission shall have regard to such factors as may be viewed by the Commission as appropriate in the circumstances, including any principles enunciated in the regulations.".

The point I attempt to make here is I think it is important, I think it is helpful and I think it is going to, in the longer term, provide to those who have occasion to use on a regular basis the securities industry and the legal community and the financial industries generally, those who have occasion to use this legislation on a regular basis and those, particularly Nova Scotian entrepreneurs, who are attempting to foster the process of capital formation, venture capital and otherwise, it is a very important statement in the legislation as to what the purpose of the Act really is. But I come back to where I was a few moments ago.

This Minister of Justice is now saying, let us put a purpose clause in the Securities Act so that the commission will know what it is about. In the course of doing that - and I don't say this critically because he acknowledged it to be the case, it is the case and it is probably necessary that it be that way - the purpose has within it conflicting considerations or conflicting aspirations or conflicting attitudes. One, as I have said, is investor protection and

[Page 489]

the other is the fostering of the process of capital formation. So you will have attitudes pulling and tugging against each other which might run counter to each other as each of the two elements of the purpose of the legislation are being pursued.

It goes on to say that the commission, when they are trying to decide which side of the equation, which part of the purpose of the Act should, in any given situation, be given greater weight than the other, the bill the minister brings to us says that, Clause 1, Section (1A)(2), ". . . the Commission shall have regard to such factors as may be viewed by the Commission as appropriate in the circumstances . . .". The problem is we have got one person over there as the commission. This is a pretty significant piece of business. This is a very important piece of business, to ensure that the commission - not one person but the commission - is going to make these judgments and is going to have regard to such factors as may be viewed by that person as appropriate.

I have tremendous faith in Bob MacLellan and his ability. I want to say and hopefully will not come back to it again because clearly I have made the reference frequently enough to this point. I trust that if my information is correct, that Mr. MacLellan is the only member and is the chair, alone at the commission at the present time, that I would plead with the Minister of Justice that not later than next week's Cabinet meeting he would go to Cabinet with a document; well, no, I guess I wouldn't suggest that because I guess what I would suggest is that he produce some documentation that would go to the Human Resources Committee to come forward with some people of ability for appointment or consideration at least of appointment to the Securities Commission. Without being unkind, it really isn't good enough in 1996, in light of the volatility of the financial world and securities law and administration, for the Province of Nova Scotia to have a Securities Commission of one person.

One can't help but have one's mind go back to the First Investors debacle a few years ago. I am not suggesting that that situation is upon us and God forbid it ever will be again but as able as any one person is, it is far more likely that a commission populated by three or four, not to say five or six men or women of ability and talent would provide us with a far more credible Securities Commission than we have at the present time.

Now the minister has pointed out as well that his bill addresses the question of the rule-making authority of the commission. He is absolutely right, of course, a definition of rules is provided in the legislation. His explanation, on the basis of the investigation which I have been able to make, is absolutely accurate, that as a result of litigation in Ontario, as the minister pointed out, rules so-called, made by the Ontario Securities Commission, were challenged and, lo and behold, the challengers were successful by reason of the fact that the legislation did not provide clearly and precisely and specifically enough the fact or did not provide the legal basis and justification to ensure that the rules made by the commission had the force and effect of law. So that knowledge spreading across the securities industry and governmental industry and agencies across the country, it became apparent that there has to be a mechanism that if our Securities Commission or any Securities Commission across the country is going to make "rules", commission rules, that those rules clearly have to have the force and effect of law.

In that regard, our Securities Commission and the Securities Commission in Ontario and other Securities Commissions elsewhere have historically published policy statements and interpretation notes to assist participants in the market to understand how the relevant Securities Commission views the securities legislation in that particular province and that jurisdiction.

[Page 490]

This recent Ontario court case, which did call into question the enforceability of the rules made by the Ontario Securities Commission and the policy statements and the so-called interpretation notes published by that commission, the decision was taken to make an amendment and, presumably - well, not presumably, the minister here today has indicated that that Ontario experience and difficulty is the motivation behind the rule-making authority proposed in the bill which we have before us today.

I might make an observation in that regard, if I may, with respect to the rule-making power to be granted to the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, that is that while the Nova Scotia commission, under the bill that we now have before us, would be required to publish a proposed rule in advance of its effective date, except in urgent cases - there is a provision for emergencies or urgent cases - and a proposed rule would be subject to the approval of the minister, unlike Ontario; perhaps when the minister closes he might be kind enough to address himself to this issue, unlike Ontario, the bill which the minister puts before us here today does not contain a provision which does appear in the Ontario legislation. Here there is no provision that establishes any kind of consultation mechanism with the general public regarding a proposed rule. That provision and that clause is found in the Ontario legislation.

If I can just find the reference that I would like, because the commission, under the bill that we look at today, Mr. Speaker, has to give notice to the Governor in Council of every rule which the commission has made or approved. They send a copy to the minister within seven days of their approval, for consideration by the Governor in Council. There is publication in the Royal Gazette and so on.

[4:00 p.m.]

Clause 12, Section 150A(3), "A rule is effective in accordance with its terms, but, subject to subsection (4), is not effective prior to the expiration of seventy-five days after the Commission approves the rule and, if, within sixty days after the Commission approves the rule, the Governor in Council notifies the Commission through the Minister that it has disapproved the rule or if the Governor in Council returns the rule to the Commission for further consideration, the rule is not effective until approved by the Governor in Council.".

We go on about all kinds of things about approvals from Governor in Council, but the difficulty and the point I try to make is that unlike the legislation in Ontario, there is no reference here at all to a public consultation process and it was, clearly, from what I can gather, considered in the Ontario experience, appropriate and important that there be a public consultation mechanism injected into the rule-making authority of the commission in the Province of Ontario and, again, perhaps the minister might be kind enough to address that particular issue when he closes.

There is a very significant public policy change or a legal change, but it is, I suppose, able to be referred to as a public policy change as well. It is found in Bill No. 2. It is occasioned by virtue of the fact, with which you would be familiar, that there is a constitutional flaw in the current legislation. Our present legislation has provisions in it and they are found in Section 27 and I won't again read them in their entirety, but just to give members the flavour, Section 27 talks about the issuance of warrants by a judge in appropriate circumstances and it provides, at present, the existing law which this bill would change, that, Section 27(7), "A judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court shall issue the warrant referred to in subsection . . .", so and so, if the judge has reasonable grounds to believe that certain things exist.

[Page 491]

Well, you will be aware, Mr. Speaker, that the legal life of the country has changed rather considerably since the enactment of our Constitution and our Charter of Rights. Argument has been made and issue has been taken with legislative pronouncements which purport to have legislators telling judges when they shall or shall not issue warrants, because the issuance of a warrant is a matter of discretion by a judge and he or she has to be satisfied that certain conditions prevail and pertain so as to justify that.

I understand and I support the change made by Clause 5(4) of the bill which is before us, which looks pretty simple and innocuous. It simply expunges the word shall and replaces it with the word may, but it is in reference to what a judge shall or may do relative to the issuance of warrants and it is an important change and one which I am pleased that the minister and his officials have caught.

It is clearly just simply a situation where the judge has to have an unfettered discretion to make the determination as to whether or not the warrant should issue and the concern was that our legislation purported to be peremptory or mandatory or imposed a direction on the judge when, in fact, that was was not really possible or appropriate.

The bill goes on to address an issue, which I know from discussions with commissioners and others in the industry that is quite important and we find it in Clause 9 of the minister's bill, Bill No. 2 and it deals with the powers and authorities which the commission may exercise after a hearing in regard to ordering a person or companies convicted of certain offences or against whom orders under certain sections of the legislation have been made to pay costs in connection with the investigation and prosecution of the investigation and so on. The commission, by virtue of the proposed change which will become Section 135(A) of the new Act, the commission will have a clearer and a more effective and efficient process to recover costs. It gives the commission that power and over the years my information is that the commission has, not always certainly, but have had a few cases where they have been required to go to expense ranging or handy to $50,000 in costs and expenses to pursue by way of experts and others the investigation necessary. Under the present legislation and this amendment, which I support, that will change dramatically and make far more effective and efficient the process whereby the commission can effect the execution, the imposition of an order and the collection of the costs relative to that order.

The present Act in this connection provides for the possibility that a person convicted of an offence under our present legislation becomes liable for cost of the investigation, but the director of securities is required to apply to a taxing master to obtain a certificate which is then filed with the court and it is very cumbersome and time consuming and, indeed, expensive, again, for the commission to undertake. So that procedure would be eliminated and, in addition, I think it is important to note that the proposed new provision expands the existing legislation so that costs could be recovered, not only in situations where persons are convinced of an offence, but also in situations in which persons are subject to an order issued pursuant to certain provisions of the Act. That, again is an important clarification and efficiency being injected into the legislation.

The minister made reference in his opening remarks to the legislation having considerable number of provisions that relate or really establish the framework within which a new regime can be established whereby electronic filing of documentation will be possible. My information, in fact, in that connection is that the process is really less than a year away where that kind of system might well be in place country wide. My understanding further in that regard is that very substantial steps have been taken to move in the direction of national legislation relative to securities, administration and legislation.

[Page 492]

There is talk and there have been considerable meetings and discussions involving officials across the country and, if I am not mistaken, I think the federal Minister of Finance has made some suggestions about the possibility of establishing a national securities regulation regime. I am not sure whether I am 100 per cent in favour of that approach without seeing the detail, because I am a little bit concerned that we get too big and some of the decisions taken relative to the issues which are so vitally important to entrepreneurs here in Nova Scotia, attempting to generate new capital being handled through a national system, I am a little bit uncertain of that.

The fact is, there is now talk of one securities' regulator in Canada to reduce the costs of doing business. The argument goes, why should business people have to go to 10 different regulators and pay 10 different fees and jump through 10 different hoops? So therefore, say the proponents of a national securities system let us do a system which would replace the individual securities commissions country-wide. Well I repeat, I am not certain that I am real comfortable there. However, I guess I would ask the minister, if he would be kind enough upon closing, if he could offer any observations to us as to what he knows about initiatives to this point to move in the direction of the development of securities regulations Canada-wide and if, in fact, we are moving in that direction, whether or not some of the legislation, or some of the elements of the legislation which we have before us here in Bill No. 2, are really essential if, in fact, we are moving in that direction?

Mr. Speaker, the last clause of Bill No. 2 leads us into an area of discretionary authority for the commission. It is Clause 13 and it is extremely important, I think, and a very significant public policy issue. Maybe the best way is to read the explanatory note. The explanatory note we are provided for Clause 13, says, ". . . that the Commission may, on its own motion or on the application of an interested person or company, exempt any person or company or any trade or distribution from any or all of the provisions of the Act or the regulations.".

So that, as you can immediately see, Mr. Speaker - and all members will be aware - is a very significant discretionary authority available to the commission. I just can't help myself, I guess I am a creature of - well, leave it at that; I am just some kind of a creature - I can't help but go back to where I was a few minutes ago and offer the concern that if my information about the current membership of the commission is accurate, then that concern is relevant again, in the context of the discretion which is set out here.

What will happen if we pass Clause 13 of Bill No. 2, is that that clause, what would then become Section 151A of the new Act, that grants to the Nova Scotia Securities Commission powers to, ". . . on its own motion or on the application of an interested person or company, . . . exempt any person, company trade, . . . or distribution from particular provision of this Act or the regulations.".

That is a very fundamental, broad and sweeping authority. So an order granted pursuant to this clause, if this were to pass, may be made by the commission, Mr. Speaker, ". . . on such terms and conditions as the Commission considers necessary or appropriate.", provided that the commission is of the opinion that it is not prejudicial to the public interest to so order. This is, as I have said, and as the minister will be well aware, a very broad discretionary authority to be placed in the hands of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission.

[Page 493]

[4:15 p.m.]

The commission already has a discretionary exempting authority under the existing legislation but there is a very important distinction. Under the present exempting authority available to the Securities Commission, that discretion is restricted to particular provisions of the Act or regulations only. But hear what this says. Clause 13, Section 151A(1) says that the commission could exempt (a) any person or company of category or persons or companies; (b) any trade or distribution or category of trade or distribution, from any or all of the provisions of this Act or the regulations.".

So, I am not sophisticated in the world of securities trading to be able to conjure up too many examples of what this might mean but it occurs to me - I don't expect it would happen with Mr. MacLellan there - that at least it sets out a discretionary authority whereby a future commission could say that certain people who want to travel the highways and byways of the Province of Nova Scotia, peddling what they call securities and commercial paper, could, if they could convince the commission that they were a person or company or category of persons and so on and they could make an argument that they somehow would not be prejudicial to the public interest, they could be exempted from all the provisions of the Securities Act of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Again, I note, that we are dealing - if we pass this legislation and it becomes law within not so many days - it will be the responsibility of but one commissioner to deal with this, but even if we had a full complement, even if we had the six members of the commission as are permitted by Clause 4 of the legislation, even if we had that full complement, there is no reference here at all that I have seen, or no provision making the suggestion, or imposing the obligation that there be anything close to public consultation in relation to this sort of thing.

So I am really not sure whether I am very comfortable, Mr. Speaker, with the width and the breadth of the exempting authority which is set out in Clause 13. It is very broad. I just simply ask the question. Should the Nova Scotia Securities Commission have such a broad and a wide power and it is an issue which I sincerely hope will be the subject of discussion when Bill No. 2 goes to the Law Amendments Committee as it will immediately upon passage of second reading here.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this legislation is, as I said a few minutes ago, and the provisions of Bill No. 2, are in very large measure patterned on things which have happened in Ontario but when you read what has been done in Ontario and take a look at this bill, you find that there is much more discretion given to the Nova Scotia Securities Commission without consultation with the business community being required and, as I said a moment ago, the Ontario Securities Commission has the right and the power to make rules but only after that kind of consultation. I really would ask the minister to give some consideration as he makes remarks to close second reading, and as he makes his way down the hall in the coming days for Law Amendments purposes, to the question of whether or not in the context of a rule-making authority by our commission, would we not be advisable to have a public consultation element built in?

This legislation, Mr. Speaker, is an appeal to investors. It says that they are trying to protect investors. On the other hand, it is an appeal to the business community who are trying to raise venture capital. So the commission has some very wide powers to exempt any transaction from the rules.

[Page 494]

So the question I think I would ask is, what are the guidelines going to be? Are they to be subjective? What controls are likely to be there as that discretion is exercised?

I am not suggesting that we fetter unreasonably, or unduly, the discretionary authority available to the commission, but it surely does occur to me, Mr. Speaker, that it is not inappropriate that our legislation rather than our regulations - and I repeat, our legislation rather than our regulations - might set out some parameters within which that discretion could be exercised.

I might in passing also, Mr. Speaker, make note that our Premier has talked a great deal about cooperation with the Atlantic Provinces, as has the Minister of Finance - although I get the impression that the Minister of Finance might be backing away from it a little bit these days - but the Premier has talked a great deal in the last little while about cooperation or the potential of cooperation with the Atlantic Provinces regarding harmonization of GST and PST. That being the case, it almost makes one wonder why, in an area such as securities administration and regulation, there might not be some discussion with our Atlantic neighbours to promote investment in capital-starved Atlantic Canada, and see whether or not there are complementary changes which might be made to the securities legislation in all four of the Atlantic Provinces which might have that effect.

Having said the various things I have said, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the bill is an important one. If my information about the size and configuration of the commission is correct, I plead with the minister - if that is the case - that he address that immediately. I express the concern, as I have said, that there are discretionary authorities being made available to the commission here which seem to me to be awfully wide. I, frankly, wonder if we should not, presumably at the Law Amendment stage or perhaps in Committee of the Whole House, we could come back, and the minister might be able to take some advice and guidance from Mr. MacLellan and others, to see if we couldn't come back with some language which might tighten up some of the discretionary authorities which are made available.

The whole issue of the electronic filing is important, but it occurs to me that so much of that is available by way of rule and policy notes produced by the commission itself and approved by the Governor in Council. I am a little bit concerned about the fact that, again, those authorities and discretions are as wide as they are.

So with many of these proposed amendments, Mr. Speaker, I think we have the classic struggle: protect the investor on the one hand, trust the regulator on the other. I don't know if I know the answer, but I express the concern and ask all members and the minister proposing, on presenting the legislation particularly, to have a look at whether or not, as we are looking at the trust the regulators side of the equation, if we haven't gotten to the point where the discretionary authorities are perhaps just a little bit broader than is safe or appropriate when we consider the public interest, which must be taken into account and protected in such a fundamental area of our life, particularly our commercial life, as securities regulations.

On balance, I applaud the minister for coming forward with changes which I do believe, in some senses and to some extent, improve the existing legislation. I do raise the few concerns to which I have alluded in these remarks seriously not with any fixed notion that the concerns are absolutely 100 per cent valid and that they just absolutely must be acted upon, because I may have less of a grasp of the way in which some of the discretions which are exercised, are exercised and are controlled. I acknowledge the fact that perhaps my sense of things relative to this legislation is less complete than it should be.

[Page 495]

I do know, as a final comment, and I am comforted in the knowledge, that before introduction of Bill No. 2 there was consultation with the commission. Mr. MacLellan was, as I understand it, very much a part of certainly putting together the policy principles which were to be enshrined in this legislation, the crafting of the language and the drafting of the language left to others. In the main, the legislation does reflect fairly faithfully the provisions and policies suggested by Mr. MacLellan. As I say, having the regard for him that I do, I am comforted in that knowledge. I do, however, have the concerns which I have raised and I would hope that the minister would have an opportunity when he closes debate on second reading to, perhaps, respond to a few of those. I look forward to the opportunity at the Law Amendments Committee stage to, hopefully, have some men and women who are more knowledgable than I of the securities world come to the Law Amendments Committee to help us get a better handle on the issue of the discretionary authorities which would be imported into the Securities Act if Bill No. 2 were to pass.

With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I thank you and all members for indulging me the time to offer those thoughts relative to Bill No. 2. I will support Bill No. 2 certainly for the purposes of having it go forward to the Law Amendments Committee and look forward to further debate, both at that stage and back here in Committee of the Whole. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my comments will be much briefer than the previous speaker's, mainly because I do not profess to know that much about securities. It is not a world in which I have had much or any experience. Looking at my bank account, it is not one that I will probably have much involvement in in the near future, as well.

That having been said, I also do indeed recognize very much the importance of the legislation that is before us and the needs that we have first of all, as the purpose clause lays out, to protect investors and to ensure that they have a knowledge and a confidence that the investments that they are going to be making are done in accordance with the best practices to ensure safety and security. If that is, of course, not done, then the willingness for investors to invest in the economy here in the province is going to be dampened and that will have a negative impact on all of us as it will help to dampen the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs.

[4:30 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have gone through the bill and I profess I don't claim to be totally knowledgable, but picking up, quite honestly, on a remark made by the previous speaker, I went out a few minutes ago and called the Securities Commission to verify that, in fact, there is, at the present time, but one commissioner. The information that I received, maybe 10 minutes ago, is, in fact, that that information is correct. We have but one, the Chair.

I think that that is very important. When I realize that and when I take a look at what the bill is doing and the authorities and the powers that are contained within it, I have no knowledge of the Chair, I have no reason to question the integrity, the capabilities of the Chair at all but, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that when one looks at the very heavy responsibilities and obligations that the commission has, that it is inappropriate and it is extremely unfair to have a situation where one person, and one person alone, is left to make all of these kinds of decisions.

One of the amendments, and I just throw this out as a suggestion to the minister, would be that from a total layman's point of view, but to suggest that maybe there needs to be an amendment to the bill that is before us that would amend the Securities Act, that would require that there be a minimum number of commissioners who must be there. The maximum number at the present time is six. I am not saying that the commission cannot function without the full complement of six members. But, surely, there should, as a minimum, be a requirement that there be at least three members on that commission, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 496]

I would just throw that out at this stage. I am not, obviously, making an amendment, but maybe the minister would (Interruption) The minister indicates that he is going to explain the membership afterwards and I appreciate that and I look forward to hearing the answers to those questions. Because when I go through the bill and when one takes a look at the additional powers that are being provided here, for example, "Clause 7 enables the Commission to rule that a company is not subject to . . .", other sections of the Act, ". . . where the Commission is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so.". One person, as it sits right now.

I have no reason to suggest, whatsoever, and I am not implying - and please don't anybody take that from my words - at all that there have been any decisions made or any exemptions in this regard that are not, indeed, in the public interest. I don't even know, quite honestly, if, in fact, the commission has done that. But the power is being provided by this bill and under the current make up of the commission, one person can make that decision. I just think that that is not totally appropriate.

Under the present situation, one person, a very capable, competent individual, but one person can make a decision, ". . . after a hearing, order a person or company convicted of an offence or against whom an order has been made to pay costs . . .", for that, can impose administrative sanctions against a company or a person, can make rules with respect to any matter, Mr. Speaker, providing, of course, matters that the Governor in Council deals with by regulation. So government can make the regulations, but right now that one individual can make all the rules in determining how they are going to be adhered to.

For example, Clause 11, can prescribe the ". . . standards of practice and conduct of registrants and directors, partners, officers and employees . . . extending the application of . . .", well, I won't go through that one, Madam Speaker. I have concerns as well, as were also pointed out by the previous speaker that Clause 13 gives the commission, on its own, or on the basis of an application that is made to it by an interested person or company, to exempt that individual or company of any trade or distribution from any and all of the provisions of the Act or the regulations.

I am not suggesting or I am not saying that there cannot, in the public interest, be situations where that is not appropriate, because there can be. I think that it is extremely unwise and unfair to leave that kind of heavy responsibility in the hands of but one individual. I also believe, based on my limited knowledge - and I welcome and look forward to having input at the Law Amendments Committee from those who are knowledgable about these things, not somebody who is as green on the securities issues as I, but hearing from expert witnesses - it would seem reasonable that there should be some kind of an appeal process and some kind of a public consultation where this is being done.

It would strike me, as very much of a layman and somebody from the outside, that if one company and/or individual is to be provided an exemption from the Act and the regulations, not only is there a potential that that could leave some of those investors possibly

[Page 497]

at risk, not providing the protections that are intended under Clause 1, but it might conceivably also provide some competitive advantage over existing Nova Scotia businesses that could put those existing Nova Scotia businesses at risk.

So, I am not going to go on at greater length because you may say the longer I talk, maybe the more I will show how little I know about the securities issues. I am not claiming that I am in any way an expert. However, there are, I believe, some very legitimate concerns and I would, in all truth, have greater confidence if there was a provision that there had to be a minimum number of persons serving on that commission who would have the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to carry out the very heavy responsibilities that that commission has. Millions and millions of dollars are invested on a regular basis and those whose money is being invested and those whose livelihoods and those communities whose livelihoods are going to depend on the successful ventures in those communities to create employment in those areas, they also have a right to know that there are the adequate protections in place.

So, with those brief remarks, I look forward to hearing the minister's response when he does make it, and answers not only the questions that I raised but the numerous questions and concerns that were raised, very eloquently, I might say, by the member for Halifax Citadel. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, in rising to speak on Bill No. 2, I, too, am not an expert, I can assure you, in securities administration, or know a heck of a lot about the securities industry. But there are some matters which I would just like to comment on that have been raised by others with regard to this piece of legislation.

As I understand it, when the Ministers of Justice, I think it was at their last meeting or at the meeting before last, the matter of a nation-wide piece of legislation with regard to securities administration was discussed. Now I don't know if it went any further than that but I did hear that it was discussed and that at some time in the future we may be looking at a piece of legislation which may be very similar to this legislation we have in front of us. However, it would be (Interruption) The minister says he will touch on that later and that is fine because I think that is important, Madam Speaker, particularly today when companies move across provincial borders with great ease, that they have the same piece of legislation governing their actions, no matter which province they are in.

Certainly it would seem to me, Madam Speaker, that in this Atlantic area that a commonality of legislation would be very worthwhile to consider. I was wondering if the minister in his remarks in which he is going to touch on the national scene would touch on whether or not the Atlantic Provinces, through the Council of Maritime Premiers, have discussed mirror legislation with regard to the administration of securities.

The bill itself starts off, Madam Speaker, by telling us what the purpose of the bill is. I think it is quite important what that is. I would just like to read it, if I may, it is very short. Clause 1, Section 1A(1) "The purpose of this Act is to provide investors with protection from practices and activities that tend to undermine investor confidence in the fairness and efficiency of capital markets and, where it would not be inconsistent with an adequate level of investor protection, to foster the process of capital formation.".

[Page 498]

As I understand it, the change in that overview of the legislation from what was in the Act heretofore is simply that it does provide for the acquisition of capital formation. I think that is something that the industry has been looking for for some considerable time.

The other comment I would like to touch on has already been touched on by both the previous speakers. That is the fact that the commission at the present time is a one-member commission. However, and I understand that quite possibly that is going to change in the near future, the powers of that commission, Madam Speaker, we are told that this legislation to some extent is based on Ontario legislation and it does provide for some exemptions from the legislation if the Securities Commission so decides.

However, as I understand it, Madam Speaker, the power of this commission to exempt a business under this Act is very wide and much wider than in any other legislation in Canada. My question to the minister is simply whether or not that is a wise move, whether or not that power should reside entirely with the commission, without any public consultation?

So with those few remarks, Madam Speaker, I will take my place and wait with interest for the response of the minister to the comments that have been raised by the previous speakers. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If there are no further speakers, I will recognize the honourable minister to close the debate.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I want to thank members who took the time to participate in this debate. Sometimes it is a bit dull. I know the last Securities Act we amended, I believe it was the member for Halifax Citadel who brought it forward, it was a huge volume, it was 75 or 90 pages of great detail. There is enough detail in the one that I brought forward today and I thank honourable members for their contributions to the debate.

What I hope to do is to try to touch on all the points but I am not going to duplicate, so I will just touch on some of the individual points and then try to sum it up. I am going to talk about the number of members on the commission and maybe I will leave that to the last. One of the points that the speaker who just concluded mentioned, and this was mentioned by the others, too, Clause 13 where there is additional power, the broader authority to grant exemptive relief from the Act by the commission. I know it is a problem at the moment since we really have one, although as the honourable members have said, it is a very competent person who is in that job.

What is happening there is consistent with the present legislative scheme. I have had consultation with Mr. MacLellan and what is being done here is to grant relief from the present provisions of the Act. So it is an extension. We are not starting something new. It is presently contained, but it does expand it somewhat under Clause 13. I will come to the matter of the membership before I conclude, but I just want to say that it is nothing new. According to Mr. MacLellan, it is an extension.

[4:45 p.m.]

The member for Hants West mentioned the purpose clause. I think that explains what we are trying to do, the balance between investor protection and encouraging investment on the other hand. So those points were made. The honourable member for Hants West mentioned the Atlantic Province and the national outlook on this. Again, as I said, I will come to that before I conclude because there is some overlap in the comments.

[Page 499]

The member for Sackville-Cobequid mentioned particularly Clause 7 of the bill. From the notes I have, and, again, I am trying to learn as I go along, Clause 7 simply corrects a drafting error. It looks like it might be ominous, but it really doesn't give any additional powers. It simply was an error in the former Act and, according to the chairman, this corrects that. So that is what is happening there.

Clause 9, several members raised this, the payment of costs. It is an extension here. The point that the commission had raised with me is that the amendment will ensure that a person or company will not avoid liability for costs simply because the decision is taken not to prosecute an offence but rather to deal with the matter in an administrative hearing. If there is an administrative hearing and an order is made, the person cannot avoid the cost, but there has to be a hearing into this. So it is, I think, a pretty regularized approach to it. Again, when we get to the Law Amendments Committee, there may be some people that could shed some further light there. To have an official there might help us all, including the minister responsible.

The member for Sackville-Cobequid also mentioned the exemption, as did the member for Hants West. As I indicated, that is the present powers, it simply is an extension of the power. To give them more power is what I mean.

The member for Halifax Citadel covered a number of points. One was in Clause 54. He talked about the warrant by a judge. He agreed with making it discretionary rather than mandatory that the judge had to make a certain ruling. It gives the judge the discretion to do that and I agree with that. I think it is an improvement. Again, that honourable member raised Clause 9 and I tried to explain that Clause 9 gives the power to enforce.

Now, several members raised the matter of common legislation or legislation in the Atlantic Provinces or national legislation. My understanding from the most recent discussions I have had on this matter is that the Ministers of Justice have not, as such, been involved in this. We have plenty of controversial matters to deal with. I understand we are meeting next month. I am sure there will be a number more. The agenda seems twice as long as the time allotted always. In any event, the Premiers in the Atlantic Provinces have discussed it, the Council of Maritime Premiers, and there have been discussions by the provincial Premiers, if not the First Ministers. To my knowledge, there is no decision for national legislation. There are always different approaches by some provinces. For example, Quebec takes a little different view than some others.

What is brought before us now is legislation that will enable our commission, according to the chairman, to operate better and safely. This doesn't mean we are into national legislation. When that time comes, we will certainly know, but I am glad the point came up. Cooperation is certainly important and there have been changes made in other legislation in interprovincial cooperation in the Atlantic Provinces, especially the Maritimes, but in this case, although there are discussions going on for the time being, we are going to stick with our Nova Scotia Securities Commission headed by Bob MacLellan.

Now, I think I have touched on most of them but I just want to spend a few minutes on the membership. All honourable members brought this up and spoke on it and I apologize to the House for the situation we are in. It is fortunate that we have a person with the experience of Bob MacLellan as Chair. But what has happened, we normally had, although it lost six people, the last number of years and going back before I became the minister responsible, there were three people on the board. Late in 1995 the appointment of Mr. O'Brien ran out, it wasn't renewed. That happens. There are changes and different approaches

[Page 500]

and Mr. O'Brien wasn't renewed. That brought us down to two and it seemed that we could get along and my hope was to get approval by the Governor in Council to add to bring us back to the three. In the meantime, two months ago, Ms. MacLean, who is now Principal Assistant to the Premier, resigned so we are at one.

I realize that there is a problem here, and like I say, we are very fortunate that we have Mr. MacLellan. I would predict that by the time this session concludes we will have a little time but I am going to work hard with my colleagues to see if we can get at least one appointment in the near future and certainly before this bill is proclaimed, and then bring it up to the traditional strength of three in the relatively near future because I think the point that is raised by the members who spoke is an important point. I agree with the point. I take the responsibility; the buck stops here because this comes under me, but what you have done for me as the minister responsible, is to give me more ammunition as I talk to my colleagues about the importance of bringing this commission up to strength and I will make sure that my colleagues are well aware of the point and we will try to act as soon as possible.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Would the minister entertain a brief question, Mr. Speaker? I very much appreciate the minister's candour. My question to the minister is just simply this, does the minister see any value in the suggestion that I made a little bit earlier, that possibly another amendment would be appropriate to require that there be a minimum number of persons to serve on the commission so that he and future ministers would not find themselves in the situation - and I appreciate the fact that the minister apologized for the situation they are in at the present time - with only one, but given the importance of this legislation to require that there be a minimum of let's say, of three so that these heavy responsibilities can in fact be shared?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to have discussions with Legislative Counsel and see what problems it might create in some other boards. It may be that this is generally not done. I don't think it is. I know that it is in some but in others it isn't, and I know there are quorum provisions in some. But I will undertake to check to just see what the general rule is. I have also made the commitment that as soon as possible and hopefully for sure before this bill becomes law, we will be back to two people and hopefully to the general three. (Interruption) Well, in any event, I have undertaken to do it. I believe I moved second reading and I thank all honourable members for listening.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 2. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6.

Bill No. 6 - Animal Cruelty Prevention Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 501]

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House, I want to say that I am pleased today, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture - who most people know is away on business - to begin the debate on this legislation to provide a new Act to Prevent Cruelty to Animals and to Aid Animals that are in Distress. Of course, I will move second reading of this bill.

The Animal Cruelty Prevention Act will replace the existing legislation that has been in place since 1877, 120 years ago. Nova Scotians have asked for strong and improved legislation by sending countless letters and a 6,000 name petition. Nova Scotia wants to see laws in place so the animal abuse situation, the animal abusers are dealt with appropriately. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty began a process to develop improved legislation some time ago. Last spring the SPC came to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing with the draft legislation and asked for the department's assistance and, of course, the assistance of the members of the House of Assembly.

Since that time we have been working with the SPC and other departments of government on legislation. The Animal Cruelty Prevention Act clearly defines an animal in distress as one that needs adequate care, food, water or shelter or is injured, sick or in pain or suffering. No person or owner shall permit an animal to be in distress.

This bill provides for the continuation of a provincial structure for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty with control over the branch societies. Authority for the SPC to carry out its activities including the investigation of cases, the inspection and monitoring of facilities, education on prevention and humane treatment, recovery expenses incurred in the treatment from the owners, the appropriate and immediate action to relieve an animal that is in distress. I know that some members may not want me to go through each clause, but I tell you I can, Clause 2 and right through the bill. Anyway, just a few more remarks.

In addition, the bill provides the appointment of peace officers under the Police Act for the effective carrying out of this Act. Fines or imprisonment upon convictions with the fines increasing with the number of offences for anyone that contravenes this Act. The important thing is, the judges can also restrain people from owning animals for a period of time. Regulation make an authority for animal care and housing standards, defining expenses. The legislation will enable the SPC to be able to deal with animal abuse situations and the judges will have greater power to convict people of animal cruelty. Under the current Act, the only way the people could be charged would be under the Criminal Code of Canada and it is almost next to impossible to get a conviction under that Act.

All of us in this House recognize the importance of having an up-to-date legislation for the prevention of cruelty to animals in Nova Scotia. The SPC have worked hard with regard to this bill. Many Nova Scotians want to see this improved legislation in place and have asked the members of this House to proceed.

I am pleased to show the government's commitment and the government's response to the voices towards animal cruelty and prevention in this legislation. I can go through each clause, Clause 2 and so on. The department's staff has been very good and made it available to me. With my remarks, I now move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I will be also be supporting this very important piece of legislation that may not draw a lot of attention, but I think it is very important.

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[5:00 p.m.]

I think it is very appropriate that the Minister of Labour introduced second reading of this bill. He is probably one of the few ministers over there that really has compassion. It shows that he is not only compassionate for people, but he has compassion for animals. I am pleased that he is the one who is moving second reading of this legislation.

I don't think there is one us, as an MLA or as a member of the community, who are not aware of situations that have taken place in the past where we know that animals have been abused. Many times, cases were reported and, as the Minister of Labour indicated, it was very hard to get a conviction.

I want to also congratulate the SPC for their work in bringing this legislation forward. I think, as the minister indicated, it has been in excess of 100 years since we have had new legislation.

I haven't had anyone not support this legislation in all of the letters and requests that I have had, but one of the areas that keeps coming up, or that I get from people - and I think there has been in excess of 100 that have come into the office - is that people have a concern about electrocution as a means of killing unwanted animals in animal shelters.

Now, they talk about lethal injections and, as we probably know, many people have their pets put down with lethal injections today. We know that we have moved in execution of humans from the electric chair to lethal injection, which is a much more humane way of putting an animal to rest.

As I was reading the legislation, it talks about doing away with these animals in a humane way, being destroyed in a humane way. I was wondering, when the minister summarizes, if he could say whether or not that has been something that has been drawn to his attention or to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture that maybe there could be some changes in the way that animals are put to rest. All of these people are suggesting that this might be done.

I am told that it may be a bit more expensive - not a lot, but a bit more expensive - with the lethal injection. I think the minister would admit that many of us who have had animals as pets or friends, or whatever you want to call them, and they have been both, I think, to many of us, that when the time comes to put our animal away and, in many cases, animals are very much a part of our family and we almost think that animals are human but I think that in some ways they can be very human and can be very touching in a family. In those cases, animals are dealt with in a very humane way and are given a lethal injection.

I would like to see this legislation go that one step further, to make sure we understand when we have animals destroyed in a humane way what we mean by that. I like the idea of the police officers and officers being able to go in, when the owners cannot be found, if there is reason to believe that animals are in distress, before they had to make sure of warrants and all of those things, even though they were there and knew that there were animals in distress, that action can be taken, not delayed, like I think it has been delayed in the past. The government is right in bringing this legislation forward, allowing those officers that kind of authority, where they have reasonable grounds to believe that the animal is in distress, to enter those premises or private dwellings or any vehicle or thing.

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I think the biggest thing is that people do not look after their animals. There are times when cruelty is involved because of a lack of food, water or shelter. I know that this legislation, when people go on holidays, and I think it is very important that we understand that most people who go on holidays make sure that their pets are looked after. I think it is so important that animals are not left to fend for themselves because as domestic animals, they become very dependent on the family to make sure they are fed and taken care of. They are not in any way like wild animals.

I am not talking solely about pets. I have known people who have had cattle or horses who have not properly cared for those animals. I could never understand, in many cases, people keeping animals and watching them die, starving them to death. They are there, I suppose, as an income in many cases, but to watch them die, I have always felt there are other people who would be willing to take care of those animals and to feed them properly and make sure they didn't suffer.

I know also there is a change when stray animals are found that unless they have a special marking, it is a shorter period of time when the animal can be referred or the society may sell or give the animal to a person to look after. I think that people who lose animals and who really care for those animals will make that search immediately. Obviously it should not be the onus on the society to care for them week after week, waiting for someone to come forward. I am sure that a reasonable amount of time that they can give those animals to somebody to give them the kind of home that they need.

I think every one of us know that if we have an animal that is missing, the first place we try would be the SPC to see if, in actual fact, somebody turned in that animal. Over a period of time we have watched, and I like the idea where now even a veterinarian can make referrals.

I was interested in Clause 16, when it talks about where "16(1) For the purpose of enforcing this Act and the regulations, a peace officer may, subject to the regulations at all reasonable times, inspect any premises, other than a private dwelling house . . ." I notice, "(a) slaughter; (b) sale; (c) hire; (d) exhibition; (e) transportation; (f) boarding; (g) breeding; (h) training; or (i) research.". Being a horse owner, I didn't see for racing there. I thought to myself, they should be able to go into horses that are kept for racing. I don't know if training makes them come under that or whether racing is a component by itself, and I would hope it would apply to racing as well as these other areas.

The minister might tell me whether it is covered under one of the other clauses or whether it should be an add-on at the end, to make sure that those horses are covered since they are the only animal we have in the province that I am aware of that are used for racing at the present time. In some other parts of the world dogs are used and what not but in this province it is only horses. As a horse owner, I would welcome that being added to the list because I feel very strongly that even though horses are kept for racing that they be treated in a manner that shows kindness and in a way that they should be. So I would hope that they would fall under that as well.

The minister is correct when he talks about the increase in the fines. I think that if you are going to have legislation that you have to have some teeth in that legislation. Otherwise it is the sort of legislation that is motherhood and once you get a conviction, unless there is the kind of fine that stops people from committing this offence again, then the legislation doesn't stand much of a chance of being successful.

I commend the government in bringing in this legislation. Having read through the bill, as I say, I agree with the direction the government is going. I think it is about time and I think that this legislation does have some teeth in it. I would hope that all members would support the legislation and that the government will, in the end, make sure that the Governor in Council does not take a long time to proclaim this bill. We have had bills go through the Legislature in the past and proclaimed almost a year later. So, I am wondering when it is going to be proclaimed. I know the minister might tell me that it takes time to draw up regulations, but I hope that we are not a year or two away from having this type of bill proclaimed. It will not make a lot media. It may not make a lot of noise, but it is one that I think is timely, one that is very much worth supporting and one that I hope the government will give that kind of attention so that it will not take a long [Page 504]

time to proclaim this bill, that we will see it in place, Madam Speaker, a short time after we give Royal Assent in this Legislature. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am, as well, pleased to rise and speak in support of Bill No. 6, the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act. It is important that we recognize the fact that this new bill replaces a piece of legislation that has been in existence since 1877. It brings animal rights, basically, one step closer to entering the 20th Century. I think it is something that we all should applaud.

We have heard of the spectacular and tragic circumstances of the puppy farms and the cases where pets are locked in cars under very difficult circumstances, whether that be the heat of the day in summer or in cold temperatures, where they suffer desperately, Madam Speaker. We have heard about those, but I think we also must recognize the fact that the inattention to pets and the abuse of animals in this province takes place, unfortunately, on a too frequent basis. We now have ads appearing at Christmas time, sponsored by the SPC, which try to alert people to the effect. In other words, when they go out to buy a cute kitten or cute dog for their children, that they think about the fact that they have some responsibility when they do that. What the shelters find is that following Christmas, too often, if people have not thought through that decision, the family will not receive the animal well, is not prepared to take care of it and, a few days later, they find further cats and dogs and other pets are left on their doorstep or are left wandering the streets and that is a serious problem.

For example, the Bide Awhile shelter in Dartmouth, a non-profit organization that provides support to animals, has, apparently, 50 animals in their care at the present time, but they still turn away approximately 30 animals every day, seven days a week. That is one shelter in one location in this province, Madam Speaker. I think it is important that we all recognize that these incidents that we see reported in the newspapers and on the television are not isolated incidents. Too frequently it happens that the pets are being abandoned.

This bill will certainly do something about that. I think that as a result of effective action by the SPC, it will ensure, in fact, that people get the message that they have to start taking some responsibility when they begin to look after animals, whether they be pets or, as has been said, farm animals - cows, horses and others - Madam Speaker.

Certainly, there are a few crucial enforcement issues contained within this bill: the special constables for the SPC and other peace officers being able to take any action deemed necessary to relieve a pet in distress, if the owner refuses to do so or cannot be located, using force if necessary to enter a vehicle or premises other than a private dwelling where a pet is believed to be in distress. As has been mentioned previously, obtaining a warrant to enter a

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private dwelling where an animal is believed to be in distress. Finally, humanely destroying a pet determined to be in critical distress by a veterinary or peace officer.

[5:15 p.m.]

Further, the bill provides that pet owners would be expected to reimburse the SPC for the expense that has been incurred as a result of either rescuing a pet or animal or treating them or simply holding them while the pet owner recovers them, for food, shelter and medical treatment or, for that matter, humane destruction. There are powers in that after 72 hours, three days, when the SPC may move to destroy the animal, sell the animal, give it away. Hopefully, three days is sufficient time for anyone who is truly concerned with the state of their animal would ensure that they make some attempt to locate them.

It is important to recognize that the animal rights people in Nova Scotia and the SPC, the Bide Awhile shelter and other shelters in the Province of Nova Scotia have worked with the provincial government. The SPC has attempted to encourage the government over the past number of years to deal with this antiquated Act. I believe in speaking with the provincial office of the SPC that they were received favourably last fall when they approached the government again. They have been working with the Minister of Agriculture and his department in coming up with this new bill and I think not only should the SPC be commended, so too should the minister and his staff.

Again, I say on behalf of the NDP caucus that we do support these changes. As was mentioned by the previous speaker, we hope that the government will move quickly to proclaim the Act, get it into effect and bring the whole question of animal rights into the 20th Century.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I, too, am extremely pleased to rise this afternoon in support of this bill. I believe this legislation is most urgently needed and I will perhaps echo some of the comments made by previous speakers, but some, perhaps, should be repeated.

One concern I have is that the proclamation relative to this legislation be done as soon as is possible. I believe that most people in this House would support this legislation and I see it as law that is most urgently needed. The Act to Prevent Cruelty to Animals and to Aid Animals that are in Distress, this new legislation, certainly does replace current law that is very much outdated. The Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty will continue as a body corporate and, I think, that in itself is very supportable and we certainly appreciate and support that continued objective.

The society is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals and, I think, when we look at the composition of the society, we all realize that society is made up of members of the general public and in a lot of cases, the society is, in fact, composed of people who give a lot of their time and they volunteer many hours and they really are concerned about the well-being of animals. I do have a concern and I don't feel that it is very profound, Madam Speaker, that is the distinction between an animal in distress and an animal in critical distress. The legislation tries, if you will, to make that distinction, but I have some difficulty in essentially making that distinction.

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Now, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the SPC, Madam Speaker, does have a process, if you will, where members can become involved and become part of the society by paying dues, and they respect patrons of the society. The composition, or the criteria, so to speak, to get into the society is established and, after looking at the legislation, I have no difficulty with that part of the legislation.

I think the power that is going to be conferred on the peace officers appears to be very appropriate, because it will enable the peace officer to deal with animals that are found to be in distress. Now, animals that are in critical distress, Madam Speaker - and in the legislation it talks about an animal being in critical distress where immediate veterinary treatment cannot prolong the animal's life - the peace officer may humanely, and I think the operative word is humanely, destroy the animal or he can have the animal humanely destroyed. I know that there will be a lot of consideration and a lot of time and a lot of thought given by the peace officer before he takes such action.

The legislation also tells us that where the animal bears identification, such as a brand mark or tattoo or things of that nature, that the time period whereby the owner has to be notified is extended from 72 hours to 10 days. So if you have a pet and you have an animal that has a particular habit of getting loose, you might want to consider putting a brand name or a tattoo on that animal.

Now, many people have a lot of time for animals. A lot of people have time for pets and some families become very attached to their animals and very connected to their pets. Some people, and I don't have to go too far to find somebody that, when they call their dog, for example, to come in for the evening, if they are any more than two or three minutes, they get really upset and really worried and go outside and try to round up their pet and just find out where it is. A lot of us do care about our pets, and this legislation not only addresses domestic animals, it talks about agriculture livestock too.

Madam Speaker, you know on occasion, not too often as a county councillor than perhaps as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I had to call in the SPC officer and I received very good service. The concern was that agriculture livestock was roaming and was not well fed, was not getting water and did not have appropriate shelter. But the by-law officer, or the enforcement officer with the SPC, informed me that shelter - and, again, this could be subject to argument and one would have to review the regulations - but shelter, apparently, a tree in a field can constitute shelter, one tree. I found that extremely hard to support and understand but, when the SPC officer went out, he said those cattle did have adequate shelter. I said, well, there is only one tree and maybe a bush in the field. He said, that is all that is required. I am not sure that that is enough, but that is a different issue and perhaps another day we can talk about that.

In fact, I have had some informal conversations with the Minister of Agriculture, the minister who brought this legislation forward. I commend the Minister of Agriculture for making the changes that he has to the old legislation and, in fact, coming in with this new Act. I really think that the minister is doing a great service to Nova Scotians, and, of course, he is preventing cruelty to animals, Madam Speaker.

Now further along in the legislation, in Clause 16(2), we find "Where a peace officer is of the opinion that an offence pursuant to this Act is being committed with regard to an agricultural animal, the peace officer shall consult . . .", provided he is ". . . accompanied by a veterinarian and either a livestock specialist or an agriculture representative appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing before taking any further action.".

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We all know that some of the cattle, be it beef or dairy cattle, are worth a fair amount of money so it is important that the peace officer, before he takes any action to humanely destroy the animal or sell the animal or do whatever to the animal, must first confer and meet with a veterinarian and he must also meet with a representative appointed by the Minister of Agriculture. I don't have any difficulty whatsoever with that because some of these dairy cattle and maybe now, more so than ever, beef cattle because of the mad cow disease, are going to be worth a fair dollar, Madam Speaker. Some already are. So we have horses, cattle and a lot of agricultural livestock. Of course, we could go on and on about agricultural livestock. I dare say that hogs would fit in that category.

Anyway, we generally are in support of the bill and we commend the minister, although the minister is unable to be with us today. He is a very busy man and we all appreciate that. I think we can support the provincial organization, the SPC and it is nice to see that they will continue as an organization that does have branch societies and of course they have animal shelters across this province. The SPC, has been providing a darn good service to this province for a number of years without a whole lot of glitter and a whole lot of glamour. But it is really time that the current Act that has been in existence since 1877 was updated.

The Minister of Labour when he moved this legislation for second reading pointed out how difficult it is to get a conviction because the Criminal Code of Canada is used to charge people under this Act. So it is very difficult to get anyone convicted. People who commit atrocities against animals certainly should, in my opinion, pay. I think they should pay for violations and with this legislation, Madam Speaker, we have a mechanism that will be in place, that will provide the needed protection for animals in this province. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I just want to make a few comments on Bill No. 6, An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Animals and to Aid Animals that are in Distress. I know the Department of Agriculture has been asked on various occasions to bring this bill forward and I do congratulate the minister for having this bill put together and being introduced for second reading here today.

The Minister of Labour outlined the purposes and various clauses in the bill. We all have societies in our own areas and I think they have, over the years, done a good job. I know we all get calls from time to time about animals that they think are being abused. I had a call as a matter of fact last Sunday at 11:00 o'clock at night, telling me this chap was abusing his animals. As some of you know, I used to have a farm and we had an open-faced barn and the cattle would run outside. Actually this fellow who called me was talking about cattle that were running outside. We had a cement pad and a good area where they could go in and lie down and I know that unless it was raining those animals would be basically outside. They are put there early in November, their hair is growing and they are well-protected but some people get the opinion that because these animals are outside, that they are suffering. That is not correct. You see a lot of livestock with good, open-faced barns that have shelter and they have been there all winter, beef cattle. In our case it was Holstein heifers that were running. They certainly were not suffering. I certainly am an animal lover and hate to see any cruelty, or people not looking after animals.

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[5:30 p.m.]

Other than that, I congratulate the minister whose bill was introduced this afternoon by the Minister of Labour. I congratulate him for bringing it forth. I am sure that over time this bill will prove to be helpful to the animals of our province. We all love animals. So I just say I am pleased to be able to support this bill on second reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I, too, am pleased to rise in support of Bill No. 6, particularly as it is a bill that supplants a bill 128 years of age. Certainly it is time that the bill was brought into at least the 20th Century.

The SCP has a long and glorious history of protection of animals. It is a society that I believe originated in the U.K. and spread all across the Commonwealth and has done an excellent job, I think, of not only protecting animals but also educating the public as to the proper treatment of animals, both domestic and livestock.

I think politicians and postmen probably know more about pets than most people. Before I ran for the Provincial Legislature I ran as a municipal politician for a number of elections. I think this is the fifth or sixth time I have run provincially. I have always been very lucky with dogs, in particular. I have always had a dog of my own so I really don't have any fear of dogs. But in the last election, I don't know if it had something to do with the change of government or what was coming along, but I got bitten five times in my last campaign. I think the dogs were telling me something before the voters went to the polls to also deliver a message.

Madam Speaker, as I said, I think the SPC does a tremendous job, insofar as protection and providing facilities for the protection of animals. However, I think the public still isn't fully aware of what they are undertaking when they take on a pet, particularly if they are buying a pet for a child; the child sees a cuddly little puppy or a rabbit or a kitten, takes it home. Quite frankly, a child is going to use that or at least treat that pet more as a toy than as a living creature. It is up to parents to show children that they do accept a certain responsibility when they have an animal. I think if that starts at an early age, then during life you come to regard pets as being part of the family, in truth. In fact, sometimes you begin to think they are a greater impediment on the family than children. At least you can send children home with their grandmother or somebody else, to look after when you go on vacation. But sometimes the pets are an entirely different story.

So, Madam Speaker, I think that this bill, whereas it does bring out very clearly the penalties that will be accorded to a person who breaks the intent of the bill, I think also that perhaps it should be obligatory reading for those who are going to undertake, perhaps for the first time, the ownership of a pet.

My friend from Pictou just a moment ago was speaking about livestock and I too, have some experience with that in that I use to have a few head of cattle which I used to leave out in a field all winter. By the time you came around to spring . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Were there any trees there?

[Page 509]

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, there were trees there. They had a coat on them and they looked more like buffalo than cattle. But the cattle were perfectly happy out there, in fact, I too, have a lean-to but they wouldn't go into it unless there was a driving rain and that was the only occasion when the cattle used it and they would huddle under the lean-to.

I know that my neighbours across the street, who were city people who had just moved out to the Windsor area to live, were quite horrified that these cattle were out in quite severe weather but the cattle were perfectly happy. They had all the food and water that they wanted and they had a shelter, and that was all that it was, to get out of the rain.

I applaud this bill and I hope that it is proclaimed very shortly. I wish the SPC every success in the future because they are a society that, I think, deserves the support not only of all members but of all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, so much has been said that there is not a great deal to be added, except to say that in my own constituency of Queens, we have and I believe been well served by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty. At no time has that been more readily apparent than at the present.

I want to take this opportunity to pay particular tribute to Loretta Cook of Liverpool, who has paid a tremendously prominent role in not only aiding animals in distress by removing them from distressful situations but also with domestic animals, dogs, cats, finding homes for them. My wife, Nancy and I, are the recipients of an SPC cat, a cat that had it not been for the SPC and more particularly for Loretta bringing it to us to see if we would give it a home, it would have been destroyed. It is a lovely animal and as is the case with any other member or indeed, any Nova Scotian who has a pet, it has become a much loved member of the family.

The SPC not only provides tremendous service to the dumb beasts of our communities, it also provides tremendous service to our families because it gives us opportunity through our human nature, to provide loving homes for these animals and to give them an opportunity to grow up in our households. It also provides us an opportunity, of course, through acquiring these pets, to teach our children the whole nature of kindness and of treating animals with care and making sure that as they grow up and take their place in the world, they go out and we hope, emulate the good works of people who are associated with the SPC, people like Loretta Cook.

I am certainly pleased to speak in support of this bill and I will be pleased to vote for it at the close of second reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, I didn't want the important second reading of Bill No. 6 with regard to the prevention of cruelty of animals go by without making a few brief comments on the bill and indicating to the House and to all Nova Scotians how much I support this concept.

Having grown up in a family where health of animals was also of great concern, my father being a country veterinarian, I have always been concerned about the well-being of animals. This is a very important concept in a rural area, such as Hants East. I am happy to see that the minister came forward with this bill at this time, it is important. I know that all members of the House have seen, relatively recently, indications in the media where there have been serious neglect situations come forward. I also realize that when dealing with the Criminal Code, it is a very difficult thing many times to prosecute successfully in a situation of cruelty to animals under the Criminal Code mainly because there is a necessity to show an intention of wilfulness on the part of a person. In many cases, we are dealing with neglect or negligence and it has been very difficult to try to enforce a proper morality in the treatment of our animal friends through [Page 510]

the Criminal Code system. I am pleased to see an enforcement mechanism come forward, I am pleased to see the involvement of registered veterinarians in this process and I want to compliment the minister and this government for bringing forward this bill. It is of very great importance to the people of Hants East.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: A lot of people said a lot of nice things about the employees with the department and I totally agree; in fact, it has been recognized for years that is likely one of the better departments of government from previous governments to the present government because the staff there have always been so committed. I am pleased to have Ms. Susan Horne in the gallery today who is sending the messages from up above because I have to tell you, I do need a little bit of help on some of the technical questions.

I want to personally thank the honourable member for Kings West and I do appreciate his comments and I think he made a couple of really good points - the proclamation of the Act. I say through you Madam Speaker to the honourable member, which will flow up above, that we want these regulations then right away and we want this Act proclaimed as soon as possible.

The other point I would like to make is with regard to horse racing. The honourable member is a great owner of some great race horses in this province and really helps the economy in Nova Scotia. They cannot say it is a conflict of interest and I am always pleased when members get up and he has asked us to look at regulating them under the Act. Well, the message that I received from up above, they think that is now under the Harness Racing Act, but, however, they are prepared to look at it and check it out. I would say to the members in the Law Amendments Committee that we should look at that because the department has no great problem with regard to that suggestion.

Also, which I knew would come up, electrocution, and there was a memo the department gave to me. The shelter in Sydney, Nova Scotia uses that now and the department staff is presently looking at other avenues which the honourable member for Kings West raised here earlier today. I want to tell you that according to the information that I have and I know I had a note before they even started that, in fact, if that question came up that they are seriously looking at it.

I want to thank the Leader of the NDP for his comments and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, as well as that great retired dairy farmer who knows a lot of live stock from Pictou West and I appreciate his comments. I want to say one thing because the honourable member for Colchester North one of the great beef farmers in this province was sitting there and he said, what the honourable member said was true, that often these people that are involved in farming, their cattle stay out, their cattle love it. Then they started getting phone calls that the animals are not being used right, which is really not true. All

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members of this House, and all of society should realize how much livestock, dairy cattle, beef cattle, appreciate that weather outside sometimes, because it is not hard on them. They enjoy it very much.

[5:45 p.m.]

The only message I have for the member for Hants West is that I would say that dogs in Hants County are getting smarter by the year, based on the number of bites. He better not run again.

I also want to thank the member for Queens who takes part in a lot of debates and talked about the support for the SPC. The honourable member for Hants East, I will thank him, although I was supposed to have an appointment at 5:30 p.m., and I thought I might get done here by then. Anyway, I appreciate his kind comments.

I thank, Madam Speaker, all members of this House. I believe the bill is important and I am honoured that the Minister of Agriculture, who is not here today, has asked me to put this bill through second reading and I thank the staff with the Department of Agriculture.

I now move second reading of Bill No. 6.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 6. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Court and Administrative Reform Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill No. 8. In so doing, I move that the bill be now read a second time.

I am going to try to give some explanation to the bill to make it more intelligible to all honourable members. It covers quite a wide range of administrative reform in the justice system. The bill speaks for itself, but I think an outline will help members, I hope.

Clauses 2 through 4 of the bill are designed to reduce the number of routine matters that clutter the Cabinet table and take up time that could be better spent on other matters. I know that those person who have sat around the Cabinet table would appreciate what I am saying and I will be explaining that more fully.

Clause 5 of the bill is designed to put in place a mechanism that will help in the enforcement of orders of government appointed tribunals. I think this will help clarify under Clause 5.

To reduce the number of minor matters that must be dealt with by Cabinet, Clauses 2 to 4 of the bill put in place procedures whereby Cabinet can delegate authority to a minister to acquire or to dispose of land interests, or to make certain minor appointments. I will explain, again, more fully. Again, former Executive Council members will understand.

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Clause 2(a) allows Cabinet to delegate the power to acquire or dispose land interest under an Act or regulation to a minister, the bill proposed. Cabinet would, and this is where the control would be, by regulation set out guidelines under a specific enactment that normally requires Cabinet approval for land transactions. Then, Madam Speaker, so long as the transaction falls within the policies and procedures set out in the regulations, the minister could approve the transactions. They would include not just the Minister of Justice, obviously, but the Minister of Natural Resources and others.

Each set of regulations would have to contain the minimum requirements established in Clause 3 of the bill, so there would be close control. Some of the requirements in Clause 3 would apply to every transaction. For example, Madam Speaker, land could not be sold by a minister for less than the market value. Other provisions allow Cabinet the flexibility to make the requirements appropriate to the enactment.

For example, the maximum value or acreage the minister could approve would have to be appropriate for the type of land in question. For example, whether it was rural land or urban land. There is quite a vast difference in value in many cases. Cabinet would decide on the appropriate level for the minister to handle, based on the type of transaction normally handled under that enactment. Any transactions that fall outside the guidelines would still have to go to Cabinet. Also, the regulations would have to contain a provision for notice to the public, even though the minister would have the power to do the transaction, there would have to be notice to the public. This would ensure that there would be no question that the matter was open to public scrutiny in a way similar to the public access that is currently enjoyed by Orders in Council. I think that is important, there would still have to be notice to the public.

Clause 2(b) would allow Cabinet to delegate the power to make appointments under the Fatality Inquiries Act, except the Chief Medical Examiner, which would remain with the Cabinet or the Executive Council, the Notaries and Commissioners Act, the Solemnization of Marriages Act or the Vital Statistics Act to a minister. So certain delegations could occur there.

Cabinet would consider the delegation and, if satisfied that it is appropriate, could make the delegation by regulation to the minister, who would make the appointment from then on, freeing Cabinet to use its time on other matters.

Clause 5 is designed to give teeth to the orders issued by public tribunals where these bodies do not already have enforcement provisions in the Statutes establishing them. This is to address the problem of persons who openly flaunt the orders made against them by the public bodies in the discharge of their duties. The Governor in Council will be able to make regulations providing that an order of a board or tribunal may be filed and enforced as an order of the Supreme Court.

Madam Speaker, the amendments in Clauses 7 to Clause 51 of the bill fall into three general categories, to help simplify. The first category are those amendments that provide legislative authority for the current restructuring and reorganization of the public offices, which provide administrative support to all the courts. As a result of the restructuring, which

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is virtually complete, there will be 11 justice centres throughout the province in which court offices and court officials providing support for all courts will be located in the 11 centres.

Although, Madam Speaker, there will still be sittings of Provincial Court, Family Court and Small Claims Court in each county, the court office providing the administrative support will be located in one of the 11 justice centres.

Examples of amendments required to provide legislative authority for the restructuring process include Clause 11 of the bill. This clause amends the Judicature Act, in order to provide for the establishment of justice centres within each judicial district. In addition, Clause 12 amends the Juries Act in order to provide that there will be a jury district for each judicial centre, in contrast to the present.

The second category of amendments includes those that will make coordination of the delivery of court services easier and help staff handle the workloads without additional personnel. It is intended, for example, that court staff will not be restricted to performing one function. For example, and I think this is in the interest of good staff coordination, a court clerk may perform a court reporter's duties and vice versa. Court staff could also be required to work in more than one justice centre in certain situations, including, for example, in the event of illness or retirement.

In order to effect these changes, the Court Reporters Act, the Prothonotaries Act and the Clerks of the Crown Act and the Sheriffs Act have been repealed by Clauses 8, 24 and 36. In addition, Clause 28 moves the necessary provisions from those pieces of legislation, including those provisions for appointments, into the Public Offices and Officers Act, the short title of which has also been amended to Court Officials Act. It makes sense. The result is that unnecessary and redundant provisions are repealed and all the appointment provisions are in one Act.

The Public Offices and Officers Act provides that the appointment of court officials is province-wide. Moreover, one court official can be provided with the power and authority to perform the duties of another.

The third category of amendments contains those amending various provisions regarding courts and public offices that are necessary for general administrative purposes. For example, the Judicature Act is amended to make judges of the Supreme Court ex officio judges of the Appeal Court. It has been requested by the judiciary. Supreme Court judges will be able to sit as Appeal Court judges when the need arises.

Amendments to the Solemnization of Marriage Act permit Justices of the Peace designated by the Department of Justice, and all judges, to perform civil marriages if they so choose. Moreover - and I am sure members of the House will be interested in this - the bill changes references to clergyman and clergymen to cleric and clerics throughout the bill, gender-friendly.

In drawing my remarks to a close, I want to point our that this bill does a good deal to bring together the initiatives that we have undertaken to increase the efficiency with which court services are delivered to the public. It also makes changes to a number of justice-related Statutes, to modernize them and do away with outdated provisions.

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The bill also contains new provisions designed to reduce the number of less significant matters that go to the Governor in Council for approval, but which would be more appropriately dealt with by the responsible minister, as I said earlier, where the Governor in Council delegates the responsibility by regulation.

Finally, Madam Speaker, in drawing my remarks to a close, the bill contains provisions to make enforceable the orders of provincial boards, tribunals and commissions where those bodies do not have enforcement powers and the Governor in Council determines it is necessary. In order that these important changes can be made to benefit the people of Nova Scotia, I urge all honourable members to join me in supporting this bill. I think it is an advance form of something that started under the previous administration; there was considerable consultation under my predecessor as Attorney General. A lot of consultation has occurred, reports have been prepared, travels have been to all parts of the province in this regard.

Having said this, I take my place and commend this bill to all honourable members. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I do have some things that I would like to say about Bill No. 8, some positive and some perhaps not so positive. In light of the hour, and at the urging of the distinguished Government House Leader, I think that I would like to move adjournment of debate of Bill No. 8.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion to adjourn the debate is in order.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 1 - Interprovincial Subpoena Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I would advise members of the House that tomorrow we will be sitting from the hours of 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and the order of business, following the daily routine, will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills and then it is anticipated we will revert to Government Motions and continue the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech From the Throne.

I move that we adjourn until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

We have reached the moment of interruption and we do have a resolution for debate this evening, submitted by the honourable member for Queens, who wishes to debate the matter:

[Therefore be it resolved that the government designate the Shelburne River as a provincial heritage river, protecting this important part of the South Shore natural beauty.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

NAT. RES. - SHELBURNE RIVER: HERITAGE - DESIGNATION

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, as members may recall from a question I put to the Minister of Natural Resources the other day, like many Nova Scotians, I am very interested, indeed, vitally interested in ensuring that we move forward from nomination of Heritage Rivers in Nova Scotia as Canadian Heritage Rivers to the point of designation of those rivers.

The Margaree River is due to be designated later on this year. The Shelburne River which, in part, flows through my constituency was due to be designated in February 1996; that date has slipped by. I am encouraged by the new minister that she is going to pay some significant attention to moving toward designation as quickly as possible.

My intention this evening, in this short time allowed me, is to share with members my experience of Shelburne River, an experience that I would recommend to each and every one of them, an experience which I suspect seldom in this Chamber have had.

[6:00 p.m.]

Shelburne River is a modest waterway of golden-strewn lakes and streams, tannin-stained foaming runs and dark still waters. It flows through 52 kilometres of western Nova Scotia emptying into the reservoir at Lake Rossignol. To the east is Kejimkujik National Park, to the south is the Tobeatic Game Management area, and to the west is a tremendous area which is strewn with barriers, greatly glaciated and gives all kinds of evidence of the tremendous forces that were associated with the last Great Ice Age. The barrens in western Nova Scotia and, of course, here we find the vestiges of what we could call the Nova Scotia forest primeval.

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Within the basin of Shelburne River, there are great stands of old growth white pine and red spruce. They attend the river as it flows east, their canopies murmur in the prevailing westerly winds. There are spectacular groves of majestic eastern hemlock, some of these may well date back to the very founding of European settlement here in 1604. Shelburne has certainly suffered the woodman's axe although not so much in the past 100 years. There is ample evidence of the ravages of forest fires though and so there is very little virgin timber left in this area. But still, by contemporary standards, the forests are relatively old and relatively untouched.

Shelburne continues to serve the contemporary traveller as it did travellers at previous times. Micmac, Acadian, British and more recently, of course, Nova Scotians and those who are pursuing the newest of tourism delights in this province, eco-tourism. It is very easy to move to the Sissiboo system, the Tusket River and the Roseway River from Shelburne and, of course, on into Kejimkujik National Park, up the Pebbleloggitch-Stillwater Lake and down the Mersey River via the Rossignol reservoir.

There are no permanent inhabitants of our species in this area, but rather it is an area which is relatively abundant in wildlife. It is one of those few areas in Nova Scotia where we can find a significant population of moose. There is a herd of something in excess of 300 in that area and that herd of 300 provides us with the most significant gene pool of native Nova Scotian moose. While there is a fairly large moose population in Cape Breton, what is not generally known is that most of that moose population is the result of moose imported to Nova Scotia from Alberta many years ago.

This is an area of softwood and mixed forest. It provides habitat for all kinds of larger animals: black bear, bobcat, anybody who happened to see Land and Sea the other evening will have seen the very fine program on the healthy bobcat population in Nova Scotia, and of course, associated with bobcat, its favourite dining item, snowshoe hare. More recently we have the coyote arriving and its plaintive wail can be heard on a pretty regular basis in that very wild part of Nova Scotia.

Here, too, in this last vestige of Nova Scotia wilderness, may well be the final habitat which hosts the eastern cougar. It is on the endangered species list here in Nova Scotia and, indeed, we now know and are all delighted to know that at least in New Brunswick a positive sighting has been identified so that we can only hope that in fact this part of Nova Scotia will indeed prove to be host to this magnificent and once fairly prolific animal in our province.

The river itself provides habitat for beaver, otter, muskrat, and ducks are there seasonally. One can also not only see but hear the white-throated loon. Of course, the white-throated loon provides us with that magical and haunting call that we all understand to be the signal call of the North American and particularly the Canadian wilderness.

It is a wonderful place, it is a place of complete solace, it really is. It is just a fantastic experience to make that little portage from Peskawa Lake into Pebbleloggitch Lake, maybe only a few hundred feet and slip through that small Pebbleloggitch Lake and down the Pebbleloggitch Stillwater, one of those dark deep stillwaters that we find in western Nova Scotia, stained that tarry, tarry brown by the tannin that has leached from the bogs in that area, then to slip down into Shelburne River. One can go upstream a short way to the end of the stillwater on that part of the Shelburne and find those tremendous erratics, those huge boulders that have been dumped by the glaciers in western Nova Scotia are big or bigger than a house or to slip downstream first to Irving Lake and then to Sand Lake.

This is a wonderful part of our province. It is very special, not only to those of us who live there, but indeed to any who have visited it. It is very special to those Canadians who serve on the board of the heritage river system and who have chosen the nomination which I had the honour to put forward when I held the portfolio, currently held by the present minister and I can only hope that this minister will move quickly towards nomination. It is a very important act, one which will not cost much money, one which is relatively easy because there are only three principal land owners in the Shelburne - the provincial Crown, the federal Crown of Kejimkujik National Park and Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited. Bowater has given every [Page 517]

indication that it very much wants to be a partner in making this happen and Bowater has demonstrated clearly through much more than a decade now that it is prepared to be a full partner in this very kind of thing.

In 1907, two American sports, Albert Bigelow Paine and Edward Breck made a trip into this part of Nova Scotia. Paine wrote a book about it afterwards, he entitled it, The Tent Dwellers. I want to read one short passage and I think I have just about enough time to do that. I want to share it with you because what they saw in 1907 in that fishing trip is exactly the same thing that we can see today if we chose to go there. What I want to make sure happens through designation of this river and through proper management of it is that 100 years hence, the men and the women who live in Nova Scotia will have the self-same opportunity we have today.

Here is the quotation, "We were nearing the edge of the unknown now....At the end of it...lay the Shelburne River.... We paddled...considerably impressed with the thought that we were entering a land to us unknown - that for far and far in every direction, beyond the white mist that shut us in and half obliterated the world, it was likely that there was no human soul that was not of our party and we were quieted by the silence and the loneliness on every hand.".

We have it within our power to make sure that future generations can share that self-same experience. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: I do take pleasure in standing this evening to speak to this resolution as Minister of Natural Resources, the minister responsible for the well-being of the lands, the forests, the rivers and the natural habitat of the Province of Nova Scotia. I appreciate the words of the member opposite in bringing this to the floor of the House of Assembly and I know it is important to him as a previous minister, it was important to my preceding minister, just preceding me and I think it is also something that is important to all Nova Scotians.

I took the time to look up in Webster's Dictionary the meaning of the word heritage. I think that is important when we talk about whether it is rivers or whether it is buildings or whatever areas of the province that we are considering making heritage properties. Heritage means ". . . property that descends to an heir . . . something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor", something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth or their birthright.

I would say that all of the rivers in Nova Scotia are part of our heritage and they have been passed on to us from our ancestors and are a major part of our birthright, as is all the natural land, all the natural beauty, the landscape and the seascape that is here in Nova Scotia

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that we, as Nova Scotians, are all very proud to herald across the world whenever we have the opportunity to do so.

The comment that he just read from that was written in 1907. Hopefully, what they saw in 1907 was the same thing they saw in 1807 and the same thing that we will see for many years to come, the untouched beauty and the wilderness that we have here in this province.

Now, the Canadian Heritage River Board is made up of, I believe, provincial representatives from right across the country. It is not an insignificance that this board has seen fit to look at Nova Scotia's rivers and recommend them as heritage rivers to be designated by them. I think it is something that this province can consider quite an honour. The two rivers that have been chosen here in Nova Scotia out of 45 that have been studied across this system, and I think 7 were studied in detail, 2 were chosen, 1 from Inverness County that is so proudly represented by the MLA for Inverness, the Margaree River, I think is also a beautiful river that has a lot of sport fishing and a lot of natural beauty, as well. Then, of course, in Queens and Digby Counties, I think the Shelburne River runs down through the two counties.

It is a very great honour, I think, for the province to have two rivers nominated by the Canadian River Heritage Board. Before we can officially designate a river here in the province, we are expected to forward to the board a management plan on how the river would be managed after it has been officially designated. It has to be prepared by the committee that has been formed. It has to be approved by the province and submitted to the board. That board is made up of a number of people including staff of the Department of Natural Resources.

In my short time there, I have learned that the staff of the Department of Natural Resources hold Nova Scotia dear to their hearts. They are very dedicated employees of the province. They are very dedicated to their jobs. They hold the interest of the province, I think, as well or better than anybody in the province does. Also, they are concerned about the interests of and the betterment of the people here in this province. So having them sitting on that committee to develop a management plan, I think, is very important.

Also, we have representatives from industry in the area, Bowater Mersey. About one-third of the river flows through property owned by Bowater Mersey and they also have an interest in protecting that river as well. Members from Parks Canada sit on the committee, I think mainly because they are neighbours through Kejimkujik Park and they have an interest in this as well.

Once the agreement has been reached within the management committee, it is anticipated that a plan would come forward and be made available for review by interest groups and by the public. One that I think is very important, and I think it has been discovered in Inverness County, is that we want to make sure that people in the area understand and have an opportunity, they are consulted, to speak to the fact that the river would be made a heritage property. I think it is very important that that input be asked for. We would ask for submissions and make sure that we have a good consensus in the area.

I know the member for Queens, as he has spoken, is very dedicated to this and has put forward his opinion on the fact that the river would be a designated property. I would think that we would pay attention, also, to the other people in the area.

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I think also in the resolution it mentions that the river be recognized as a provincial heritage river. I won't support the resolution with that in there. I don't know if it was a mistake by the member opposite but I think if we have a river that is designated a Canadian heritage river, part of that national system, that is a much more prestigious area to look at. So once it is recognized and designated, the provincial would be merely a formality.

With that, I want to give the opportunity to the member for Digby-Annapolis to stand and speak to this as well.

[6:15 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate. As the resolution states, the Shelburne River is an important part of the South Shore's natural beauty. It is the most remote wilderness river in Nova Scotia. A tributary of the Mersey River, the Shelburne River flows through the heart of western Nova Scotia. It starts at Buckshot Lake in Digby County and flows in an arc to the northeast, then south to Lake Rossignol in Queens County. Ironically, it does not enter Shelburne County, although it has the name of Shelburne. I think the honourable member probably knows that.

The Shelburne River forms an important part of the transportation network of lakes and rivers. The network allows Nova Scotia's first inhabitants, the Mi'Kmaq, to travel through the western region. To this day it remains very popular with canoeists. Approximately two-thirds of the Shelburne River is located within the Tobeatic wilderness area. That is a very important and historic site. The remainder lies within lands owned by the Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited. As members of the House may know, Bowater has done an excellent job of protecting the river corridor on this property. I commend Bowater for their good work and good land stewardship in this regard.

Truly a wilderness river, the most practical access to the Shelburne is via canoe from Kejimkujik National Park or from Lake Rossignol. Because of its remoteness, natural beauty and historic role as part of a transportation network, the Shelburne River should be recognized as a heritage river. As the honourable member for Queens should know, the Shelburne River has been nominated for the Canadian Heritage Rivers Program. A management plan is currently being prepared for the Shelburne River. The plan will probably be presented to the Canadian Heritage River Board sometime next year. After that the river would then be officially designated as a heritage river, under the national program.

In other words, work to designate the Shelburne River as a heritage river is well under way. Therefore, there seems to be no need for the government to designate it as a provincial heritage river. I agree with the honourable member that the Shelburne River is an important river and deserves recognition as a heritage river. I know the honourable member is a great historian and he understands the beauty and so on. However, I do not think that it is necessary to nominate it twice. That is my only objection to it. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak for just a few minutes on this. I might actually touch on a couple of other topics related to the general theme as well.

Madam Speaker, I certainly do not have the detailed knowledge of the river of the previous two speakers, the member for Queens who introduced the resolution or the member for Digby-Annapolis, but I am very familiar with the area. As I say, not as familiar. It is, indeed, a beautiful river, a beautiful part of our province. It is an area that we should all be proud of. It is an area that we all should be doing all we can to protect.

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Madam Speaker, I sincerely hope, not only for our sake and our generation but for all of the generations to come, that this river will receive, not just because of the name and the prestige that goes with it as a Canadian heritage river designation going on it but, more importantly, because of the management that will be going along with that, the management process and plan to ensure that that beautiful river, the pristine river and the hinterland through which it flows and the rivers and so on, are going to be protected and preserved for future generations and future inhabitants of that area. I am referring here, of course, to the wildlife and game and so on. So I sincerely hope that it is successful.

I just want to add, however, that we have, in this province, and we are still blessed and that we have many areas. We have heard about the Margaree, as well, but we have many areas and certainly, Madam Speaker, through part of your constituency flows a river, as it does through mine, the Sackville River, which also has, through its hinterland, through its course that it runs, many areas that have not yet been spoiled by human habitation and have not yet been destroyed.

I believe very strongly that this government, even though many areas may not end up being designated as heritage rivers, we need to do a very careful inventory and we need to be doing careful planning. The province had, through the provincial Planning Act, the ability to put management plans in place to protect and preserve those areas for present and future generations.

The Sackville River is having a rebirth. I am sure, Madam Speaker, that you, like I, are very grateful to those residents of our communities, the broader communities, those who have worked so hard on the committee, the Sackville Rivers Association - do not just come from one community, but - have worked so hard in their efforts as individuals and as businesses that have contributed and governments have made donations, as well, to the restocking of that river, to the restoration of the habitat, so that that river can, in fact, return to, as much as possible, the condition it was in in 1907 and 1807.

We have, as a responsibility, I would suggest, in this House and this government, to ensure that those areas, as much as possible, not only are protected, but that we work towards restoring the proper balance in nature that nature was smart enough to have put there in the first place.

As I am talking about the Sackville River and Sackville Rivers Association, I cannot help but mention Second Lake, which is another area that, of course, the Minister of Natural Resources, if she isn't fully versed in it now, I hope she will very soon become fully versed in it. It is an area where the land is largely controlled and owned by the government. It is a beautiful and pristine lake in the centre of our large and growing urban area.

As you travel that area, and I say, Madam Speaker, to you, that I had the pleasure to canoe that lake with, in fact, the member for Queens when he was in a former life as the Minister of Natural Resources. I had the pleasure as did the former minister, of being canoed around that lake. The minister was not canoed around it, maybe she has toured around it. (Interruption) Oh, I am sure if the minister would like to canoe around Second Lake, I can

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guarantee that that invitation will be extended to her very quickly so that she can also have the pleasure of seeing the sections of old growth forest that still exist around this, in the heart of our urban area, to see the wildlife that lives there, and to know that this is an area that can be protected and preserved, not just for the residents of Sackville, but for the enjoyment of this now growing and expanding super-city which is growing out and around it.

We can find new areas to build apartment buildings and to build houses. But we cannot recreate a natural environment, a natural hinterland, a pristine lake, which largely receives its water from springs, Madam Speaker. I could not help but take the opportunity here, while we are talking and I appreciate, and I did not raise this topic in any way to detract from the importance of having the Shelburne River designated as a Canadian Heritage River, because I support that totally. But I have to, as well as that, that is vitally important and I support it totally, I think that government and this minister, who spoke eloquently a little while ago, have some very heavy responsibilities that we cannot pass off and say that it will depend on a committee and a national committee and a national designation.

We here in this province and the provincial government have, through the Planning Act and through the lands that it owns, the ability to protect these areas and to have them, maybe developed in modest ways, in ways that will ensure their protection and ensure their use in the surrounding areas for the kinds of passive recreational uses that will not be harming those natural habitats.

In this city, we all have enjoyed Point Pleasant Park. I am sure that many have - I know I have - had the pleasure of enjoying Victoria Park in Truro. We have many areas in different communities around this province. I would suggest that here, for the broader community, the province has a perfect opportunity to ensure that residents living 100 years from now will be able to look back and give credit to this government for having provided the protection for such a beautiful area, whose value you can't just put a few dollars on. We cannot and we should not just be looking at things in terms of the immediate cash return we can get for selling that parcel of land; we have to think in greater terms than that.

So, I urge the minister to use her good offices to find out about this area and the tremendous opportunities that exist here. If the minister would like to go canoeing, I have a canoe sitting there that is quite willing to enter the waters. I also know, I would have no hesitation saying, for example, Shane O'Neil, who has worked so very hard as the Chair of the Second Lake Sub-Committee of the Sackville Rivers Association, would be only too pleased, with people like Walter Regan and others on that committee, to take the minister on a personal, guided tour to show the minister all of the wonderful things and areas around this lake and all of the reasons why it should be protected. In fact, all Cabinet Ministers or all members of this House who might like to go to visit it, we can always arrange enough canoes for everybody, if they would be willing to attend.

With those brief remarks, I congratulate and thank the member for Queens for bringing his resolution forward for debate this evening. I think that it is a very important topic that was raised and the cause that he is championing is very worthy of support. I thank the members for giving me the latitude also to talk about some issues that are extremely important, I know, in your community and in my community of Sackville as well. Thank you.

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MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. We have reached the hour of adjournment and we stand adjourned until 11 o'clock tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]