Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., May 10, 1996

Fourth Session

FRIDAY, MAY 10, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 27, Acadia Trust Company Dissolution Act, Hon. E. Norrie 1609
No. 28, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. R. Mann 1609
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 514, Justice - Eastern Shore: Crime Prevention - Action,
Mr. D. McInnes 1610
Res. 515, ERA - Companies (Ex-Prov.): Handouts - Stop,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1610
Res. 516, Clare Community - Captain J. Adrien Blinn (Church Pt.):
Volunteer of the Year - Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 1610
Vote - Affirmative 1611
Res. 517, Health - Doctors: Shortage - Responsibility Take,
Mr. G. Moody 1611
Res. 518, Educ. - Dartmouth HS: We Can Do Anything Day -
Completion Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 1612
Vote - Affirmative 1612
Res. 519, Nat. Res. - Forestry: Sustainability -
Mgt. Standards Develop, Mr. A. MacLeod 1612
Res. 520, Sports - Summer Active Campaign: Success - Wish,
Hon. J. Abbass 1613
Vote - Affirmative 1613
Res. 521, Fin. (Can.): Tax Reform - Urge, Mr. J. Holm 1613
Res. 522, Sports - Basketball: Dalhousie Tigers -
Atlantic Univ. Conference Winners Congrats., Hon. J. Abbass 1614
Vote - Affirmative 1614
Res. 523, Justice - Personal Safety: Enforcement Officials -
Meet, Mr. A. MacLeod 1614
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Commun. Serv. - Royal Week (10-18/05/96), Hon. J. Smith 1615
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 8:18 A.M. 1616
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 12:18 P.M. 1616
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 3, Lower River Hebert Cemetery Company Act 1617
No. 5, Stella Maris Residence Dissolution Act 1617
No. 7, Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Grant Act 1617
No. 15, Anglican Church Lands (Tidnish) Act 1617
No. 22, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act 1617
No. 23, Dartmouth Pollution Control Account Act 1617
No. 24, Bridgewater Parks and Recreation Commission Act 1617
No. 26, Bridgewater Waterfront Development Corporation Act 1617
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 13, Occupational Health and Safety Act 1617
Mr. R. Chisholm 1618
Mr. G. Archibald 1623
Mr. G. Moody 1628
Mr. B. Taylor 1632
Adjourned debate 1635
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. (Can.) - RRSPs: Community Investments - Eligible,
Hon. B. Boudreau 1635
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health - Community Health Boards: Development - Status,
Hon. R. Stewart 1636
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 29, Executive Council Act/Public Service Act, Hon. B. Boudreau 1636
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., May 13th at 2:00 p.m. 1637
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 524, Educ. - Université Sainte-Anne: Argyle Graduates - Congrats.,
Mr. A. Surette 1638
[Page 1609]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 10, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

8:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time to commence the daily routine of business.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Dissolution of the Acadia Trust Company. (Hon. Eleanor Norrie as a private member.)

Bill No. 28 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Richard Mann)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

1609

[Page 1610]

RESOLUTION NO. 514

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

Whereas in light of the recent in-home attacks and robberies of seniors, residents of the Eastern Shore are now patrolling their communities at night; and

Whereas this effort is intended to complement the hard work of a justice system without sufficient resources to fight crime; and

Whereas last month the Minister of Justice stated in the House that he would meet with the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP of Nova Scotia to address crime prevention concerns and has yet to report back to Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice act with the same haste, resolve and courage of Eastern Shore residents and work with police and prosecutors to ensure that Nova Scotians have an effective and fair justice system that all Nova Scotians can have faith in.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 515

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 Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency defends Nova Scotia's investment in Dynatek Automation Systems by saying it has been used to leverage private investment in the enterprise; and

Whereas $20 million in public investment so far seems to have leveraged only $5 million in private investment in Dynatek; and

Whereas this 4:1 public-to-private ratio is far more generous than what is available to community economic development entities in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government carry out its election promise to stop Tory-style handouts to companies from away and, instead, truly make community economic development the cornerstone of its economic policies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 516

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1611]

Whereas the Clare community is very proud of its dedicated volunteers; and

Whereas this year, the Clare community has selected one of its outstanding citizens as volunteer of the year; and

Whereas this individual has shown energy and devotion towards many people and organizations despite a challenging health condition; and

Whereas this individual is widely known for allowing loved ones to communicate via ham radio, when it would otherwise be difficult, for this he received a plaque from the Canadian Armed Forces in Damascus;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its best wishes and congratulations to Captain J. Adrien Blinn, of Church Point, a truly fine gentleman with a heart of gold who was chosen to represent all Clare volunteers.

Mr. Speaker, I would request for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 517

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

Whereas, as of April 1, 1996, Nova Scotia was down to the 1987 level of physicians; and

Whereas at the end of 1995, there were 28 fewer specialists than at the same time the year previously; and

Whereas there remain 12 areas in the province that are under-serviced and now vacation time is quickly approaching;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take full responsibility for this doctor shortage due to their cuts of Nova Scotia's health care system, and making it unattractive for doctors to remain here.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 1612]

RESOLUTION NO. 518

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

Whereas yesterday, Dartmouth High School students celebrated We Can Do Anything Day to foster the ideals of positive self-esteem, cooperation, leadership and participation among the school community; and

Whereas, as part of the activities, students demonstrated their concern for and commitment to those in need by collecting large quantities of food for donation to the Metro Food Bank; and

Whereas, in a demonstration of cooperation and teamwork, over 800 students formed a human food chain and passed the food, item by item, from Dartmouth High School to the Victoria Road Baptist Church;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the Dartmouth High School community on their successful completion of We Can Do Anything Day.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 519

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

Whereas the Canadian Institute of Forestry is one of the leading professional forestry associations in Canada; and

Whereas the Canadian Institute of Forestry is concerned that the high timber volume being harvested is greater than what is sustainable; and

Whereas the Canadian Institute of Forestry also feels that Nova Scotia needs a comprehensive and secure long-term forest management program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join the Canadian Institute of Forestry, and encourage the Minister of Natural Resources to develop forest management standards that will effectively guarantee the long-term sustainability of our forest resources.

[Page 1613]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 520

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Summer Active campaign for healthy and active living will kick off on May 11th and run until July 28th of this year, promoting healthy and active living across the country; and

Whereas approximately 2 million people nation-wide are expected to participate in the Summer Active programs presented by Health Canada, provincial governments, ParticipACTION and corporate sponsors; and

Whereas more than 100 Summer Active events are registered at schools, recreation departments, businesses, and other organizations across the province to promote physical and mental health among all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the activities of Summer Active, and wish the organizers success in promoting healthy and active living in Nova Scotia.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 521

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 federal Auditor General has expressed serious concern about a Revenue Canada ruling by the Mulroney Tories which allowed at least $2 billion in assets held by family trusts to be moved out of Canada; and

Whereas the Auditor General's annual report expresses concern that this ruling may erode by millions of dollars the tax base that Nova Scotians and all Canadians rely on to finance necessary public services and programs; and

Whereas Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin has failed to take effective action against tax loopholes which benefit family trusts;

[Page 1614]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the federal government to begin a process of comprehensive tax reform to ensure both the security and fairness of this country's tax system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 522

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, this one is quite a bit overdue.

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

Whereas the Dalhousie Tigers Men's Basketball Team played the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers in the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association Championship game on Sunday, March 10, 1996; and

Whereas the Tigers defeated UPEI, 98 to 95, in double-overtime to win their first ever AUAA men's basketball title;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the Dalhousie men's basketball team for their excellent performance and congratulate them on winning the Atlantic Universities Men's Basketball Conference Title.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House, or do I hear dissent in the far corner?

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 523

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

Whereas in the past month there have been several attempted child abductions in the metro area; and

[Page 1615]

Whereas the police have yet to apprehend a suspect; and

Whereas on April 10th, the Minister of Justice said in this House that he would discuss crime and personal safety issues with the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP for Nova Scotia and the appropriate municipal police chiefs;

Therefore be it resolved that with Nova Scotians who are increasingly fearful for their safety, especially the safety of loved ones, that the minister should report on his promised meetings with law enforcement officials to this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there further notices of motion? If not, I have a request from the honourable Minister of Community Services to revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate you reverting to this order of business, because I did want to read a proclamation into Hansard today. It reads:

"Whereas, the Nova Scotia Branch of the Monarchist League of Canada is planning a celebration of ROYAL WEEK; and

Whereas, this special observance is in honour of Her Majesty The Queen's official Canadian birthday, with special emphasis on increasing public awareness of her important place as Queen of Canada; and

Whereas, Nova Scotia has a proud and loyal history with the monarchy;

Therefore, I, Jim Smith, Minister of Community Services of the Province of Nova Scotia, do hereby proclaim May 10 - May 18, 1996 to be ROYAL WEEK throughout the Province.

Signed at Halifax, Nova Scotia, this 10th day of May, 1996.".

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I just want to remind honourable members that at 11:00 o'clock this morning, if I happen not to be doing estimates on my budget - which I may be, in which case one of my colleagues will substitute - I would invite you all to join us outside at the flag-raising ceremony. That is at 11:00 a.m. outside. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there responses to the ministerial statement from respective critics? No.

Now are there any further items to come up under the heading of the daily routine before we advance to Orders of the Day? If not, I will recognize the honourable Government House Leader.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

[Page 1616]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[8:18 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[12:18 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

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

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I request that we just wait a moment on two, the Leader of the New Democratic Party was on his feet and I think he had a little bit more to say and he may be caught in the Subcommittee on Supply. The honourable member for Hants West has gone to check. So, perhaps, we could just wait for a moment or two. (Interruption)

[Page 1617]

Madam Speaker, we indicated last evening that we would be doing Private and Local Bills. So, perhaps we could call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 3.

Bill No. 3 - Lower River Hebert Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 5 - Stella Maris Residence Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 7 - Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Grant Act.

Bill No. 15 - Anglican Church Lands (Tidnish) Act.

Bill No. 22 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 23 - Dartmouth Pollution Control Account Act.

Bill No. 24 - Bridgewater Parks and Recreation Commission Act.

Bill No. 26 - Bridgewater Waterfront Development Corporation Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: When the debate adjourned, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party was holding the floor and you have approximately 35 minutes remaining.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 1618]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I want to continue with a few comments, again speaking in favour of this legislation. I gave a bit of the history of the development of this legislation and I tried to outline why I thought it was so important and why I was so clearly in favour of it. Now, I am in the process of just sort of going through and highlighting some of those reasons why I think the bill is such as improvement in those areas that I believe will make a difference in ensuring that our workplaces in Nova Scotia are more safe and more healthy.

The next item after the whole question of an occupational health and safety program was the issue of a joint occupational health and safety committee or committees, Madam Speaker. The bill now provides that all workplaces of 20 or more employees, Clause 29(1), ". . . shall establish and maintain one joint occupational health and safety committee or, at the discretion of the employer, more than one such committee and, where twenty or more persons are regularly employed by one or more constructors at a project, a constructor shall establish and maintain a joint occupational health and safety committee for the project.".

I think it is important that the word shall is in there, that those committees will be established. Without question they will be established and if it is determined that they haven't been established, then under the bill the inspectors have the authority to enforce the establishment of those committees, Madam Speaker.

In the case where there are fewer than 20 persons regularly employed, there is some discretion here, it is up to the director, it says may. I know that there was some discussion on the advisory council about the fact that that should be a will or it should be more of a definitive statement, but it requires that a director with a workplace where fewer than 20 persons are regularly employed, Clause 29(2)(a), "consult with the employer and employees at the workplace regarding whether a committee should be formed . . .". It may be that the director may order that a committee be established, given circumstances that, I think, would be in the best interests of workplace safety and health.

While I respect the concerns that have been raised by some smaller employers as articulated by the member for Hants West last evening, I would say that it is a permissive clause. It provides the director, when there is a circumstance where obvious and apparent problems exist, the establishment of a committee would ensure for the interests of both the employer and the employees, that safer health and safety practices would be facilitated by a joint health and safety committee. I think that is positive, Madam Speaker, and I feel that is quite sufficient, that permissive clause there.

The other part of that is, Clause 29(3), "Where an order respecting establishment of a committee is given . . . the employer shall ensure that the committee is chosen and functioning in accordance with this Act within fifteen days of receipt of the order.". In other words, I don't know if you will recall, Madam Speaker, but I was talking last night about how we need to change. I think there is a change in that philosophy of, almost, three strikes and you are out. The employers were given again and again chances to correct their actions. Many months often went by before any corrective action was taken. I think if we are to enforce it, at least, this is an indication of how the Act will provide the direction and provide the authority for the inspectors to ensure that such a committee is in fact established or such an order that is directed will be followed through.

The composition of that committee. Now as it stands, in some workplaces where it says in the current Act that there shall be a joint health and safety committee, it doesn't talk about the composition of that committee other than it should be half and half: half employees and half management. But in far too many workplaces in this province, you find that if there is a joint health and safety committee, many of the appointments to that committee were made by the employer. That simply has been shown not to work. It doesn't have the credibility of the workers, of the employees. We saw, in fact, that there was some sort of a health and safety committee existing at Westray but the appointments from the employee side were not by the employees but by management. Madam Speaker, it did not have any authority or any credibility from the employees and therefore its effectiveness was significantly affected.

[12:30 p.m.]

[Page 1619]

The bill goes on to talk about how the committee should properly be established, the composition of that committee, a question of rules of procedure, minutes, how that will all work. Where there is lack of agreement the director will step in and, Clause 30(10), ". . . shall determine the matter.". I say that's good.

Clause 31 lays out the function of the committee, Madam Speaker, and ensures in fact that such a committee will operate in an effective manner. I say that that is good.

Health and Safety Representatives is another important section, Madam Speaker, Claude 33(3), "At a workplace where fewer than five persons are employed, the Director may (a) consult with the employer and employees at the workplace regarding whether a representative should be selected at the workplace; and (b) order that a representative be selected by the employees from among the employees at the workplace who are not connected with the management of the workplace.".

Again, it is just simply permissive to allow the authority for the director to involve herself or himself in a workplace situation where safety and health are at issue or are a problem, and it be done in a way that is not overly burdensome on the employer but, most important, perhaps, it is to ensure that, in fact, it be done.

Again, it talks about how the role of the representative, as with the joint health and safety committee, how they will participate in the event of inspections or of accidents. I think the detail there is quite encouraging.

The section, Communication of Information is a positive one. There is one I think, one weakness perhaps under the section where the employer gets an order - it is Clause 39 - "Where (a) an officer makes an order . . . the employer shall, . . . post the order, compliance notice, notice of appeal or decision; and (e) deliver a copy of the order, compliance notice, notice of appeal or decision to the committee or representative, if any.".

The one point there that maybe would be helpful is that the order or the notice be posted in an area where everyone will see it. In other words, because we know with some workplaces, when minutes of a joint health and safety committee are to be posted or where various information with respect to WHMIS has to be posted, sometimes it gets jammed in behind other items on a bulletin board or it gets stuck in a way that is inconspicuous and, therefore, the information is not brought to the employees' attention. But, nonetheless, this is a very important point and I think there is some significant onus on the part of the employer to ensure that that information is conveyed to workers in that workplace.

The whole question here, under the section Communication of Information, deals as well with the role of the committee, it deals with the whole question of inspections, accidents, training, anything else that takes place within that workplace, information which would

[Page 1620]

benefit the employees, benefit the employer, is information that must be shared. In every case in this section the word, shall, is used. As an example, Clause 34(1), "An employer who receives written recommendations from a committee or representative and a request in writing to respond to the recommendations, shall respond in writing . . . ", within a certain period of time. An employer shall notify committee members or representatives with respect to reports on workplace, occupational health and safety inspections and so on. The employer shall make available to an employee and on and on it goes.

In other words, there is a real attempt in this section to ensure that committee members or health and safety representatives or others, including the employees who are concerned about health and safety and what is happening in the workplace, understand and are made aware of any communications from the department, any communications from any outside body. That can only lead to an increase in awareness and, therefore, an increase in participation in safe and healthy workplaces.

Workplace monitoring measurements and tests, it is the recognition in there that the employer must comply with requests by a committee, by an employee, or by the Department of Labour to ensure that that kind of work is conducted. I spoke last night and I won't cover this ground again, the whole issue of the right to refuse work, I think, has been significantly beefed up here.

One area that I would like to make note of again is under Clause 44, and this is extremely important to the whole credibility of the right to refuse section and where it was severely lacking in the past, "Where an employee exercises the employee's right to refuse to work pursuant to subsection 43(1), no employee shall be assigned to do that work until the matter has been dealt with under that subsection, unless the employee to be so assigned . . .". In other words, what happened in the past was that if an employee were to refuse unsafe work and stood aside or left work until the matter was dealt with, what too often happened was that the employer would just get another employee, or another group of employees to come and do the work. What this does is it ensures that the employee to be so assigned, in other words, a replacement employee, be advised of the following: "(a) the refusal by another employee; (b) the reason for the refusal; and (c) the employee's rights pursuant to Section 43.", the right to refuse.

That is extremely important, the idea of a right to refuse provision in the former Act was extremely important. It was one of only a few Acts in the country that had it but it just simply didn't have the teeth. I know, as an educator trying to inform employees on how to take advantage of this provision, we would say, you have the right to refuse but then sometimes when people would take advantage of that right, all of these other problems, including the fact that another employee would be assigned to do that work without understanding at all that there was a refusal or what the hazards were and that they, themselves, have the right to refuse. I applaud that section significantly.

Again last night I talked briefly about the discriminatory action section and the whole question of an employee exercising their rights under this bill, the right to refuse or anything else, that they would be protected from discriminatory action, in other words, being reassigned to different tasks, being promoted, dismissed, laid off or whatever as a result of rights that they took advantage of under this bill, Mr. Speaker, and it clarifies the problems that can arise and the rights and the remedies there under that clause.

[Page 1621]

There is a section in here called Officers, Inspections and Orders and I think that that deals, in large part, with the concerns that I raised last night when I reminded members of the House of the policy that came out of the Occupational Health and Safety Division following the Westray disaster which was brought to our attention, which contributed to a philosophy of, give the employer as many opportunities as they can to correct the problem, regardless of the potential dangers for employees. I think what this does is it ensures, in fact, that that philosophy will no longer exist and (Interruption) From Clause 47 on, on Page 26. It also provides the officers, again, with the authority, under this bill, to ensure compliance of the bill and the regulations.

There is one interesting thing that hit me right off the top, and I can understand why this is in there, I guess, and certainly employers would have wanted this in there but just the first one, it says, Clause 47, ". . . an officer may (a) at a reasonable hour of the day or night enter and inspect a workplace, conduct tests and make such examinations as the officer considers necessary or advisable;". What is a reasonable hour of the day or night, Mr. Speaker? I don't think that that will get in the way of an officer carrying out their function but I thought it was an interesting drafting exercise nonetheless.

It lays out what the employer can do, may do, in order to ensure compliance and then what they can do with respect to enforcing orders, to correcting problems when there have been infractions and it is good to see it all laid out, Mr. Speaker, where it is here and I say that that is good.

There was one other thing that I wanted to raise. There appears to be much more of a commitment in this bill to work closely with the Workers' Compensation Board in terms of the sharing of information and I think that is a good idea. The other issue I wanted to raise was the question of appeals, Mr. Speaker. I am glad to see this section in here. I think that that is good. It talks about an appeal panel which will be representative of workers and employers and I think that is a good development.

Enforcement, as we have heard before, the fine has now reached a level that I think will cause employers to pay attention to the orders of the inspectors and that is what we want. We don't necessarily want to go around and be hammering employers with fines and harassing them with orders and so on. What we want to do is try to enforce safe and healthy workplaces in the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. I think everybody would agree that that is our ultimate goal through this bill.

Now, as I wrap up my intervention on this bill, let me say that there are a few things missing and they are not necessarily to come with this bill but there are a few things missing. There has been a lot of work carried out on regulations, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you understand, as do some other members of this House, that while this is important, the regulations are often kind of like the fine print of much of this workplace safety stuff. There are issues with respect to violence in the workplace, there are regulations that have already been drawn up, I believe, and agreed to by the Advisory Council. There are regulations on air quality, I believe, that are in the final stages, if not completed. There are also regulations with respect to fall arrest, and scaffolding. I know the construction industry, the Construction Safety Association has been pestering the minister to release those so that we all know what is coming down.

[Page 1622]

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, those regulations have to come forward and I would really appreciate hearing the minister address the issue of regulations and whether we can expect to see those coming into force in the near future because they are extremely important as we go about trying to carry out these inspections. I would also like to hear from the minister, as he wraps up debate, on the whole issue of enforcement and staffing. We all know, and I said this last night, that it wasn't that our old Act was all that bad. It had a lot of holes in it but it didn't have the regulations, number one; the biggest problem was that it didn't have a lot of regulations to fill in the holes and number two, it didn't have the staff.

You have heard time and time again inspectors working with caseloads that are in the hundreds, trying to cover the whole province, responding to accidents, fatalities for Heavens sakes, a month after it happened. Those kinds of things can't be allowed to happen, Mr. Speaker. When an inspector goes into a workplace and orders that some changes be made, then they must be able to return to that workplace within days, if not weeks, perhaps within hours, given the circumstances. They are not going to be able to do that if they have a critical situation here, they have a critical situation in Yarmouth, they have a critical situation in Pictou that they have to respond to, what are they to do? They are only human beings and I think we have to recognize that the only way to properly enforce this, the requirement under this Act now that all workplaces will have to be inspected, that there will have to be a standard, a baseline upon which this Act will be enforced. That is going to take a huge infusion of resources. I think we have to recognize that.

The other issue is that if, in fact, we are going to ensure that we go so far as to get the inspections done, we go so far as to be able to enforce the orders, if we get infractions and we have to lay charges, then what we need to be able to do is to prosecute. Mr. Speaker, we have the talent, we have the experience in the prosecution services but they are under the gun and have been under the gun for a number of years now and they can't keep up with their caseloads either. So we have to not only beef up the resources in the minister's own department for inspectors and for officers and for trainers - it is a tall list, a big order - but we also have to ensure that the Prosecution Services have the capacity to carry out the orders and to carry through with prosecution, where employers have contravened the law.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a whole host of issues here that I know the minister will respond to when he has an opportunity. A couple of things with respect to staff is that we have seen some, what to me are alarming indications that the minister may be prepared to contract out inspection services. I must say that I am quite concerned about that. I have read some literature from the United States where private firms have been used to do inspections and there is not enough break between the employers and those inspection firms. There is a real problem there in terms of independence, in terms of bias on the part of the inspection firms. They are private firms, they are for-profit firms, they are out there trying to make a buck. The province, as we have seen, could be a pretty lucrative market if they were to get it, but at the same time, they don't want to offend too many employers. I just think that what we need to have are dedicated inspectors, dedicated to enforcing this Act with one master and one master only, and that is the Act, that is the legislation. That is what we need for our inspection force, not for-profit operators out there that are doing this with other competing demands on their decisions.

That goes to, I think, the whole question of training, Mr. Speaker. I don't see why we can't develop within our own Public Service, within the minister's own department to build on the kind of experienced, qualified, education and training staff that he has now. I think

[Page 1623]

that we should keep control of that, keep it within the division, within the Act itself and not farm it out to private interests. I think in the long run, it will end up being more costly. The most recent case or example of where this was shown was, in the whole question of legal aid services. It was confirmed by that committee that had both private practice lawyers, as well as legal aid lawyers, judges and others on the committee, that it was far more cost-effective for legal aid to have staff lawyers, than it was to farm the work out to private practice lawyers.

I think that is just further evidence to the fact that it is far better for these purposes for us to keep the skills in-house, to beef up the capacity of the department and the division, to be able to carry out its duties and not get into this purchase of private services, Mr. Speaker, which inevitably ends up being more expensive.

So with those few comments, I will take my seat and indicate that the intention of this caucus is to support the bill. Undoubtedly there will be presentations at the Law Amendments Committee, trying to fine-tune it in various places and we will certainly consider those submissions and maybe we will bring some of those forward in committee if we have to, Mr. Speaker. In terms of the principle, in terms of the bill itself, we are very much in favour of it. We very much feel that the bill is a result of a consensus reached through a very positive process. It took too long, mind you, I would say, but nonetheless, they have done their job. I think they have done a good job. They sawed off on some key issues or had to saw off on some key issues, but they have come up with what I would consider a good product. I wholeheartedly support it. We may, as I say, support some minor amendments to it, but I think it is a good piece of legislation and I thank the minister and perhaps as importantly, because he has only been there for one year, himself, thank the staff.

Anyway, I would like to thank and commend the staff at the Department of Labour, Mr. Speaker, who have spent a considerable amount of time working on this project and have done a fabulous job in drafting what is clearly a good piece of legislation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I think everybody in Nova Scotia wants our workplaces to be safe for the health and the long life of all employees. There is no doubt, no argument with that. However, we have to be very cautious to make sure there is a balance and that old-fashioned common sense prevails.

I have spoken to many people in the agricultural industry (Interruption) What did you say?

AN HON. MEMBER: I said, your common sense is overrated.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The NDP says, common sense is overrated.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am talking about the Tory benches.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Listening to the debate from that section of the House, I tend to agree from time to time.

Now, in talking with some farm people and in talking with some small self-employed Nova Scotians, they have great concern over this bill, the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Some of the concerns may be through ignorance and lack of understanding and not having had

[Page 1624]

the opportunity to fully understand exactly what the bill wants to do. For instance, two weeks ago - and this is serious - a self-employed Nova Scotian who has been working for himself for 23 years came to see me, this gentleman owns outright, without a bank loan, a large tandem axle truck, he owns a trackhoe, a backhoe and a small dozer. He doesn't employ anybody but himself and he, fortunately, hasn't had an accident where he has harmed himself or anybody else in the 23 years since he operated it. On many occasions he came and did work on my property and work on my farm from time to time and I can attest to the high quality of his work.

He came to see me and he said, look, I may not be in business when this bill is proclaimed because I may not be able to get any more work from the Department of Transportation or any other government bodies or some individuals and some companies who are specifying that in order to carry on my working conditions with my backhoe or trackhoe and my dozer and my truck, I have to take a course. Now, for instance . . .

HON. GUY BROWN: Would the honourable member permit a question? I wonder if the honourable member could tell me and all members of this House what section in this bill covers the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association certification program, which you are talking about? Can you tell me what section in this bill covers the point that you are raising now, I would love to know?

AN HON. MEMBER: Because we'll fix it, won't we, Guy?

MR. BROWN: Yes.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I am pleased that the minister is listening so intently, because that minister works with and knows the same sort of individuals that I know in rural Nova Scotia. But it gets right back to my very point that I began with, of the fear that many small business people in Nova Scotia have with this bill. I said it was a fear through lack of understanding and, perhaps, through ignorance. We have an obligation to somehow communicate with all people in Nova Scotia.

But he has been told or he has heard by the grapevine or some other way that I don't know anything about, but he is very concerned about his future employment because he said, look, in order to work for the Department of Transportation, I am going to have to take the safety course with my truck. I am not a member of the truckers' association, they put on a course and the course, I think, was $50. If you are a non-member of the truckers' association to take the course it is about $250. So he will have to pay the $250 and he said, look, I haven't got two things, the $250 and I haven't got time, but he said, I could find the time and the $50 to take the course but I can't take it. Similarly, he has to take the course for the dozer and the trackhoe and the backhoe. This gentleman, and I know the minister would agree, could probably offer the course from his years of experience.

It doesn't make that much difference to the individual, to the small businessman in Nova Scotia if he feels that this is going to be something that is going to exclude him because he does not have the safety course but the Department of Transportation, Province of Nova Scotia requires you to take the course as a prerequisite for doing work on the highway.

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Labour objects to the points that the honourable member makes that are not in the Act, if they are not in the Act then the remarks of the honourable member are out of order, because second reading is about what is in the bill, not about what isn't in the bill.

[Page 1625]

HON. GUY BROWN: On a point of order. What the honourable member for Kings North is saying is a concern out there, but there is not one line, or one sentence, or one paragraph in this bill that applies to the Construction Safety Association course that the honourable member is talking about. That is a course the private sector in this province develop themselves, not the government. That was a volunteer thing that the Construction Safety Association developed in this province and it has absolutely nothing to do with this legislation.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Well, on the point of order, I must rule that second reading debate on a bill can only cover what is in the bill. If this bill does not deal with the points that are being raised, then those comments do not apply to Bill No. 13. I am quite prepared to hear the honourable member on Bill No. 13, if he has comments on that bill.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As usual, you are very helpful and very much to the point. I appreciate what the minister has indicated, however, the whole point is that we have to do a better job with information and communications. What I am telling you is exactly what the small businessmen in Nova Scotia are telling me. Now if they are telling me - and what you are telling me and I agree with you, by the way - but the point is the message is not getting out, and it is not your fault because you communicate in this House very well and very distinctly, but people within your department that are out because last week, this gentleman who came to see me met with people from your department and he is still very concerned.

For the last many months, farmers in Nova Scotia have been meeting with the Department of Labour to discuss this topic of occupational health and safety. There is a concern from the agricultural sector as well. One of the things they are concerned about is, of course, the seasonal employment and the number of employees, the appointing of safety committees and so on. We have been meeting and we have been talking with the agricultural community and their concern is with the formation of committees and the formation of safety on the farm, with the number of employees that are arriving on a seasonal basis. Many of these employees are seasonal for two or three weeks, perhaps a month at a time.

The responsibility for these employees rests clearly with the farmer, but in all cases, we have to also assume that the responsibility, and in this bill it does indicate there is a responsibility placed upon the employee's position as well, so that he or she carries out their activities in a safe manner.

The farmers in the province are concerned and one example that one of them used, and again it gets back to this business of education and what really are we trying to do, but the farmer said, look, I get about 12 people to 15 people and they are all working in the field together and I send two or three more off into another field to do another project. Who is to supervise and who is to make sure of the safety when those people are working on their own? This is one of the things that the farmers are having difficulty with. One of the farmers indicated that with this bill and with all the requirements that this bill is bringing in, I am not sure that I am going to hire anybody to work on my farm this summer because it is just too much hassle. This is what people are saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what they are saying in the real world.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Now the minister is shaking his head. Well, the difficulty I have is the only people I can speak to about this are the people who come to visit me. It is not my duty, as an MLA, to do the work of the Department of Labour. The minister has the ability to inform farmers better than they are presently being informed, with some of the misconceptions that are being spread quite widely through the industry.

[Page 1626]

If this is going to work, and it should work because we do have to have a higher degree of concern for employees throughout Nova Scotia, if this bill is going to work properly, then each and every person who is in the position of employing a person to work around their property or their facility absolutely must understand what the bill is trying to do and what it is not trying to do. At the present time, there are more suspicions of what it is trying to do than what it actually is doing. When you get down to Clause 3(ac), "`regularly employed' includes seasonal employment with a predictably recurring . . . unless otherwise established . . .".

You see, the farmers and the seasonal employees are concerned. I think they have reason to be concerned because there are so many misconceptions. This bill supersedes any other Act that is in business at the present time. That is usually the practice so that is not a new adventure for this bill to take over and supersede.

The duties and precautions that an employer must take to ensure the health and safety of persons, we have to make sure, Mr. Speaker, when you get down to the duties and the responsibilities of the employee, that that person is also well-schooled because so often we see the results after a tragedy. We can all say, well, that should not have happened if . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Hindsight is 20/20.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, that is right, hindsight is 20/20. So we have to have a very high obligation of caution upon the employee as well as the employer. The employee is duty-bound to make sure - and there is a list in here of responsibilities for the employee. The employee must take a very serious role. It is not good enough after an accident or a tragedy for the employee to say, well, look, I knew better, I knew the shield wasn't on the power takeoff shaft because I didn't put it on, I was in a hurry. All farm machinery comes equipped with shields and shaft covers and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Old equipment doesn't.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, old equipment doesn't but it is not hard to re-cover them. So, the employee must make sure that equipment is functioning properly and I think his obligation to report it to the owner/operator is very serious.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would mind if I left the House for just one minute, two minutes?

MR. ARCHIBALD: You may leave for half an hour, if you would like. Take your time. Have a nice day. Hurry back.

So the employer, while at work, shall take every reasonable precaution to cooperate with the employer; this is the kind of language that we must have in legislation, so that the employee has an equal obligation to the employer to make sure that things are going in a safe way. Cooperate with the person performing the duty; these are the kinds of words that we

[Page 1627]

must put forward, so that the employer and the employee are working together and not at cross-purposes, to make sure and to make certain that each task is performed safely.

You know there is even a section for self-employed people, and they must comply with this bill. All of us must make sure for the health and safety of our employees, whether they are working for us or whether we hire them to have some work done around our properties, because that is just as serious as the person who is going to work every day in the same place.

The training provisions; we met with the private sector training officer who is busy and rushed off his feet providing training, because health and safety has become an issue like they have never been an issue before. It is a real growth industry in Nova Scotia.

We have to make sure there are committees, and this is where some of the employees are having difficulty. A workplace with fewer than 20 persons, they have an obligation as well to make sure they have a safety committee.

Now when you are thinking about that, you say well, gee, if I have only two or three people working, we have to have a committee? We have to strike up a committee and have regular committee meetings? This is where we are having some difficulty with this bill, from the general public's point of view. They are saying, look, there are only two of us working here and we have to form a committee? We have to have regular meetings? So there has to be a bigger emphasis placed on education by this government and this minister and this department if this is going to be successful, because the committee will meet at least once a month.

Now all of us know that we are supposed to do things once a month and perhaps some months we might forget. Well, if an employee, an employer, if a meeting doesn't happen for about six months and there is an accident, is the accident a result of them not having had their regular monthly meeting? Is the employer then liable for a greater share of the burden of the accident than he would be if he had had a regular monthly meeting but safety was being totally disregarded? So there are still difficulties, and mostly through education and information that is lacking.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we all agree that there has to be identification of the hazards and there have to be explanations of the safety equipment and the individual protective devices that are available at a workplace. Certainly you have to have this Act on hand at all times. I think what would be just as handy as having this Act somewhere is - because nailing this on your bulletin board isn't going to do a whole lot for safety in the workplace - a decent summary and visits by inspectors from the government.

Now I would be very concerned if the inspection service that is going to be part of this Occupational Health and Safety Act, if they become private sector. I am a great believer in private sector and private enterprise, but I truly believe that the government is the organization that should be in the forefront in doing the inspections and making sure that we are complying with this Act.

[1:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are many things in this bill that will cause great discussion in the Committee of the Whole House and will be more wide-ranging because we will have an opportunity to hear from some of the groups and some of the self-employed people perhaps in Nova Scotia who do have concerns. Perhaps they will come and share them with the minister and perhaps we can have discussions, with input, after the Law Amendments Committee from the individuals who are most concerned.

We do have briefs from several union organizations. We have the brief submitted by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and briefs from several other organizations, but the briefs that are submitted at the Law Amendments Committee will be most helpful for the minister. Perhaps the minister will be able to take on more of a proactive role so that individuals who are concerned at the present time about the ramifications [Page 1628]

of this bill, and individuals who have said that they are just not going to bother employing anybody anymore because it is not worth the hassle. They say it is not worth the hassle to do it, due to the new regulations and the paperwork that is going to be involved.

I think it is up to the minister to make sure that people understand that there isn't going to be an undue amount of paperwork involved in following this new bill. So I think the minister and his department have a chore ahead of them if this bill is going to be adopted and made into law for the people of Nova Scotia. I think the minister and his communications director have a very tall order, so that Nova Scotians understand exactly what this bill means to each and every one of them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on second reading of Bill No. 13, An Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety. I don't think there is anyone in this province who wouldn't agree that any time we can enhance health and safety in this province, it is to everyone's benefit. I don't believe whether you are a worker or you are a business entrepreneur, it is to everyone's benefit to run a safe operation, not only for the well-being of the employees, the employer will obviously benefit if there is not down time for accidents. It will be less cost to government, less cost to business and also will assist those people who may have gotten injured at work.

So, I want to say from the beginning that I think the minister has done a good job putting this bill together. I know that he is very sincere in trying to improve health and safety across this province. I believe that the minister also, not only will use the common sense approach when we get into trying to apply this bill to whether you are big or small across the province, because we all know that for some companies it is going to be easier than other companies. There is no question about that. I think we have to make sure that the bill has enough flexibility so that smaller individuals who will have to comply with the bill, some self-employed, that they can do so without any great hardship.

I want to say that the bill itself, looking at some internal responsibility, allowing people in their workplace to have some say about the rules of how that workplace should be run, is so important. So often we think - or whether it is department officials who think - that they know what is best for a particular workplace. You have to be there; you have to understand what the problems are in that particular workplace so that you as an individual who work there, probably will come up with better rules than we could impose on individuals in a given workplace. The principle of this legislation allows that to happen. We will, hopefully, see as occupational health and safety committees or individuals that come under this bill and this bill will strengthen what we already have because I think all members know that we have health and safety committees already in place but we need to enhance the legislation that we have. I hope this legislation when it is done will enhance and make more effective the health and safety committees that we have around the province in the various

[Page 1629]

industries. We also know that some industries are more dangerous than others in the workplace. In some areas there are probably very minimal hazards and in other areas, obviously, there are a great deal more.

I want to say that this bill is going to provide information to various groups. The government is going to be more proactive than it has been in the past, to try to make sure whether you are small or large, they are going to give some help to these people. The minister knows, we have health and safety committees out there now but they don't see a lot of help or support from the minister's department, no offence to the minister, but the support isn't there. They need some assistance to help make their place more safe.

I know there is a part of this legislation that deals with helping to educate some people before they actually get to the workplace. We have not spent enough time - they are known as community colleges now but in vocational schools - we trained individuals but we didn't have enough emphasis on the safety aspect of when they actually got out in the workplace. So many of these people ended up with a job with very little background in training on the health and safety side of whatever career they had chosen. They ended up going to work with the skills to do their job but no assistance in trying to make a safe environment where they work.

In going through the legislation and I am sure the minister will address this, is the plan of how we are going to do this, how we are going to educate those people when they are taking their training, of how we are going to effectively train these people better than we presently do before they go out and to see that they get the information that they are going to need. That is something that I am sure will come out but I am not sure at this particular time that I fully understand how that is going to happen. I think the minister probably can indicate that at a later time when he summarizes.

We also know and I think the former speaker talked about the construction association, the health and safety committees and the enforcement of courses that are imposed upon farmers and small entrepreneurs out there. I know that this legislation isn't what is governing those particular courses, I understand that. But there is, as the former member who spoke said, a bit of confusion out there as to what is driving some of these courses. There is some concern from individuals because they have called me and said that this summer they wouldn't be hiring people because, some of these people that are entrepreneurs, unfortunately, didn't have a lot of formal education, they don't have a lot of formal education. I think the thought of having to do all of these things overwhelms them with paperwork and they get shy and say look, for all of that paperwork, I might as well not hire people and then I don't have to worry about all of this additional paperwork. I think that what we and the government have to do is to try to get to these people.

I don't mind giving the minister some names of people who contacted me who are confused about what is happening. If his department can convince those people that it isn't that difficult to continue your business and hire people for the summer, I am all for it. I want to see as many people working in this province as possible. I want to see as many people in my area working this summer as possible. I don't want just big industry or big construction companies or big businesses to do all of the work. I want there to be room for the small entrepreneur or the people who hire one or two people in that they also can compete out there. So I want that to happen.

[Page 1630]

The bill itself will talk about that his department will work with the employers and employees to identify health and safety hazards. I guess as you look at that, you would wonder, and the minister may know, are there standards that will be identified for various industries across the province? In other words, even though the employers and employees on their health and safety committee will work to identify for themselves what they see as the kinds of standards they should have for their particular business, I suspect there will be standards that will apply to farming, there will be standards that will apply to retail, there will be standards that will apply to other various individual businesses across the province. The employees and employers may be able to go beyond those standards but I suspect there will be standards for all of them, or I would assume. I am not sure if that is the case. I know there is an opportunity for employees and employers to develop these standards but I am not sure how much is coming from the department on standards that they have to follow and how much flexibility they have. I am not quite clear.

I wonder also when we talk about audits and policing. That is going to be a big job by the department, to audit and police the various businesses across the province that have set up these committees, and to make sure that not only do these people who are appointed to these committees understand what their roles and their responsibilities are but to make sure that these committees are functioning in a way that they should function.

We all know that for employees in the farming community, in my area, to know what their rights are and to give them a copy of Bill No. 13 would be very difficult for them to comprehend what it is that they would have to do and be responsible for, as a committee for safety. So I know that the minister intends, I think, to hire additional people. I will be interested to know the approach these people will take in dealing with small business and the farming community across the province.

He may have a plan and I would be interested to know what that plan is. I think the biggest thing you get with people in business is the unknown. It is not that they are against improving occupational health and safety, it is for them to know what it is they have to do and how they can do it and will somebody be there to assist them to do it? Then, once they know how it all works, how is it going to be monitored and how is it going to be policed, so that there are no surprises.

We are not there to send out a group of people to spy on people. It is to work with people to try to make sure that they do improve the working conditions in whatever industry they may work in.

I know that this legislation allows, when we have five or more, for employees to have a part in written policies for workplace health and safety. I think that is going to be of a lot of interest in that. There are some who will take that and go further with it than others. I think some of them are going to need some assistance. For big businesses that is probably not a problem. Those that are unionized, the unions will help them write policies. But for non-union and small business companies, it is going to be more difficult when they don't have the kind of assistance that those other groups would have.

I hope that there will be some assistance for these people in putting these policies together, in that these policies would have to be reviewed on an annual basis, and there will be some mechanism for these policies to be reviewed on an annual basis.

[Page 1631]

[1:30 p.m.]

I know also that this legislation will cover individuals who are self-employed and many of these people, again, are going to have to know how they can respond to this legislation.

I would be interested to know the kind of mechanism, once this legislation is put in place - because I do support this legislation, I will be supporting it, but I am wondering if the minister can tell me the kind of mechanism that will be put in place - and the things that will be done to make sure that employers and employees across the province know what is expected of them after the legislation passes. So often, once legislation is passed, if we don't communicate and communicate effectively, this legislation won't be as effective as I know the minister wants it to be. I would be interested to know how he is going to make sure that his department communicates with the hundreds and thousands of workers and businesses across the province, to make sure that the legislation is followed in a manner that he would want to see it followed and then, obviously, as I talked about before, he is going to audit and monitor to know how effective this legislation is going to be after it is up and working.

I would be interested, I think it is the advisory council that is allowed for in the legislation, in how these people will have access to this advisory council. I guess the advisory council will make recommendations but how are workers, employees and employers, going to have access to this advisory council? How is that mechanism going to work? There may be a way that I am not aware of but I would be interested in what the minister has to say on how we are going to make sure that that is going to work.

I know that there is a section on the right to refuse unsafe work. I believe that has to have teeth, obviously. I think sometimes it is recognized by employees that they may be asked to do things from time to time that they feel are unsafe. There has to be a fair way, obviously, to address that.

Whether we talk about chemical safety and I have heard some individuals talking about that all gasoline containers are marked and I don't know when we get into all of that, where that is coming from but I have heard some farmers talking about that and that they find that even though, they know and they mark it in a certain way, it may now have to be labelled in a way that it wasn't labelled before.

There is no question, when we talk about trade secrets and medical information, because we know how important that is, if people are injured or become ill on the job, that we can quickly identify what problem exists.

I know there has to be a balance for employees and employers. I really believe that the minister has done a fair job in trying to find that balance. There will be obviously, I assume, a number of people who may appear before the Law Amendments Committee who will tell us that we didn't go far enough, and there will probably be some people who will say maybe we went a bit too far. I happen to think that this legislation is a good start. What I liked about it is that he introduced this legislation last fall and he has had time to hear from a number of people. Not everybody will totally agree with everything that is in the bill, but I haven't heard anybody say that they generally don't agree with the thrust of the bill, what the minister is trying to do. I think everyone does.

[Page 1632]

There may be, as I said, a little disagreement between some of the small businesses and some of the unions on whether or not the minister actually went far enough but, I think, overall, this bill is obviously a step in the right direction. It is an improvement from where we are; it is an improvement from an enforcement point of view; and it is an improvement from where the workers themselves are going to have an opportunity to be more involved and safety conscious. I believe there are a number of areas where the minister has improved where we are presently.

So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting this bill. I agree that anything we can do, in a reasonable fashion and with a reasonable approach, to improve the health and safety of our workers in this province, we are all going to benefit from. I know how sincere the minister is in protecting workers, but yet he is being reasonable with employers. I know he is sincere. If anyone has concerns about any aspect, he will take the time to consider those concerns and I know the same thing applies when we get to the Law Amendments Committee, that that minister will take into consideration those issues that are raised and I believe he will come back to this House with any reasonable amendments that people put forward, because that is the kind of individual that he is. I think that ends up making for better legislation.

No legislation is ever drafted perfectly, as I don't think this one is, but it is certainly right in principle and most of it, obviously, as drafted, I can support. There will be a few areas where we will be asking the minister, I am sure, to take a look at and consider how we might actually make it better for everyone who is going to be affected by this legislation when it actually becomes law. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased also to rise and speak on Bill No. 13, the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

AN HON. MEMBER: Coming up to speed.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Flash is certainly going to give us lots of assistance.

Making the workplace safer is commendable and I certainly would congratulate the minister in coming forward with different provisions in this Occupational Health and Safety Bill. I think we all have a responsibility, and perhaps more especially as legislators, to protect our workers. By protecting our workers and our employees, we are also protecting our employers. So this legislation, if you will, is certainly a two-edged sword. While it may be a two-edged sword, I think that employers and employees, in the long run, will find that the legislation will provide a less dangerous type of work environment. That is important.

The legislation is going to provide more safeguards, Mr. Speaker. I know we can't dwell on clauses and I certainly don't intend to do that, but the foundation of the bill, as described in the bill, is the internal responsibility system and I like that terminology; the internal responsibility system. The engineers of that terminology certainly are to be congratulated because it does put the onus, obligation and responsibility on not only the employer, the employer does have a very profound responsibility here, but the employees have to comply, too.

Mr. Speaker, employers, contractors, construction employees, everybody has to adhere to this legislation. Now we probably all . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North is seeking the floor to make an introduction. Could we arrange that?

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I would like to thank my colleague for allowing me to introduce to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the members of the House the Radio and Broadcasting Class from Kingstec [Page 1633]

Community College located in Kentville. Kingstec is a pioneer in the field of radio and television broadcasting and it is a great deal of pleasure for me that they have come down to see the operation of the Legislature. With the students is their teacher, Dave Bannerman. I would ask them to rise and we will give them the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to welcome our guests to the House. I certainly hope that you enjoy the goings-on in this historic Chamber.

We probably all know someone, or perhaps we know more than someone, people who have had to refuse work because they found the work environment to be unsafe. When an individual refuses to work, and it has happened in the past, they sometimes get a termination slip, if you will, from their employer that indicates that they quit.

Now with this legislation, if you quit because you refuse to work in an unsafe environment, that will be determined to be just cause. I think that is important.

Now very seldom, Mr. Speaker, do I take issue with comments made by the Third Party but relative to this bill, and speaking of this legislation, the Leader of the Third Party was concerned that in Clause 10, and the Minister of Labour was very busy yesterday and perhaps didn't hear the contribution from the Leader of the Third Party, but it states that the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, ". . . and costs of education and research . . . shall be paid out of the Accident Fund by the Workers' Compensation Board as determined by the Governor in Council.".

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party indicated last night that the benefits and grants and the unfunded liability that is going out to the recipients are somewhat attributable to the unfunded liability. I know I don't have to express this to the Leader of the Third Party but when one looks at the Supplement to the Public Accounts, one finds that grants and assistance and benefits are only a percentage of the costs that the Workers' Compensation Board incurs. We all support making the workplace safer, and I know the honourable Leader supports that but grants and assistance and benefits going out to the workers is not the major percentage portion of the costs that the Workers' Compensation Board incurs.

I think it is very important that we don't lay, we can't lay all the blame on the workers in this province for the unfunded liability. Employers and lawyers have to take some responsibility. All you have to do is look at the Public Accounts. Clause 10 clearly states that the funds will come out of the Workers' Compensation Board and, more especially, the Accident Fund. Mr. Speaker, I certainly did want to take a little issue with what the Leader of the Third Party had to say. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the agricultural community does have some concerns. The Minister of Labour asked the honourable member for Kings North whether or not he had some concerns, had heard concerns and whether this legislation applied to the concern that the member for

[Page 1634]

Kings North raised. Now Mr. Peter Stokdijk out in Old Barns runs a greenhouse operation. He told me that these changes in the Occupational Health and Safety Act will mean that when he changes the polyethylene on his greenhouses, he will be required to get in a harness and be suspended. Now the minister can correct me if I am wrong or if Mr. Stokdijk is wrong because he probably got a copy of the letter and Mr. Stokdijk indicated he would have to be suspended from some type of boom and in a harness and he said that probably would be more dangerous than the present system, where he changes the plastic or polyethylene on the greenhouses by just a matter of going up between the bows and over to the next bow and so on. I am not sure if the Minister of Labour addressed the concerns that Mr. Peter Stokdijk has but that is a concern that just one employer has and that employer comes from the agricultural community.

[1:45 p.m.]

When we look at the legislation a little further on we find that the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labour, which was established by the former Act will continue, it will carry on. I think it is important that we have continuity, so to speak, relative to the Occupational Health and Safety Division. The people, I am sure, are very competent and it is important that those people continue to work in the occupational health and safety field.

When we go a little further in the legislation, we also find that the minister, provided he is in accordance with the Civil Service Act, can appoint additional safety inspectors or people of that nature. As I understand it, the minister does have plans to appoint, in the near future if he hasn't already, four safety inspectors and down the road sometime, five more, that is nine new safety inspectors. While I certainly believe that with this legislation there certainly is need to appoint safety inspectors to support, maintain and effect this legislation, I am not sure that nine additional inspectors will be enough. The changes to this legislation are so substantive when compared to the old Act, I am not sure that nine will be enough. The task will be very onerous and a great deal of work will be required by those safety inspectors. We do need and we understand that there are reasonable standards at the present time in place, relative to the workplace and safety standards and things of that nature.

Back to the agricultural community, an individual who has a tractor without a cab on it, an open tractor, especially when he is spreading manure, it is going to be extremely difficult to keep an emergency health related type first-aid kit or whatever on his tractor and his concerns focus on the sanitary element of having a first-aid box on an open tractor, stuck on the fender. He felt that it would create, perhaps, additional problems. This legislation may very well be supportable in a workplace where you have one building but the farm is spread out over several acres and in some cases, spread out over several miles.

There must be a balance between the employer's responsibility and the employee's responsibility. When we are talking about safety, there will be some people when it is time to make presentation in the Law Amendments Committee, there will be employers and employees, I would suspect, that will come in and say that this legislation is good, Mr. Minister, but it doesn't go far enough. There will be others who will come in and say, you know, that legislation is not too bad but I think in certain areas and in certain provisions the minister and his staff went too far. So, it is hard to strike a balance.

I do want to say that if the Minister of Labour, the very experienced Minister of Labour . . .

[Page 1635]

AN HON. MEMBER: A good minister.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, the member for Shelburne suggests that he is a good minister and I would not say that he is not, especially when I look at this legislation, but I would say if the Minister of Labour and his staff have erred on the side of caution, on the side of safety, then so be it. One only has to look at the Workers' Compensation Board's expenditures to realize that it is costing, and continuing to cost, and will cost this province a lot of money to provide the type of financing that the Workers' Compensation Board needs to support itself. So, Mr. Speaker, the minister has attempted, I believe, to strike a balance between the employer and the employee and, for that measure, we do commend the minister.

Now, I understand that these inspection safety officers, Mr. Speaker, will monitor the standards that are set out in Bill No. 13. These individuals, I am not quite sure what type of training and what type of standards that they will have to meet to qualify, and I know the minister has to appoint these individuals, as I said before, respecting the Civil Service Act, so I certainly hope that the minister will provide us in the Opposition with perhaps just a thumbnail sketch of what type of training the inspection safety officers will take.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Kings North, mentioned some concerns that he had. Perhaps on a future day, I will again be able to continue on in debate. With your approbation, I would be pleased at this time to adjourn debate on second reading of Bill No. 13.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 13.

The debate is adjourned.

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 Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as members will recall, this year's budget contained the following statement: "The province is seeking agreement from the Federal Government for RRSP contributions to be eligible for investment in community economic development initiatives.". This feature was an important part of what our government has described as the most attractive Community Investment Program in the country. I am pleased to announce that the federal government has today confirmed, in writing, that RRSP contributions, Registered Retirement Income Funds and deferred profit-sharing plans will be eligible for such investment. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, seeing as how it is Friday, about five minutes to closing time, I expected that the Minister of Finance would have some kind of a ministerial statement today. I thought the Premier might have one, too, but I guess that will be forthcoming next Friday.

[Page 1636]

Mr. Speaker, in all truth, this is a welcome announcement and I am sure it is one that will indeed spur investment in this province. I am delighted that the federal government has approved the process. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to entertain the statement by the minister and I support it. I am also pleased that, here we are, three weeks after the budget was brought down - maybe two weeks - and we are still seeking clarification of the budget, and, in another six months time, we will begin to understand the whole thing as bits and pieces of it get clarified and information gets released and so on. This is good (Applause) This is two days in a row that we have had parts of the budget clarified and I think all Nova Scotians appreciate the efforts of the minister to seek that clarification.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, during the estimates debate the honourable member for Halifax Citadel requested information on the status of the development of community health boards. I am pleased to table the answer to the question. I am taking the liberty of asking that this be provided to the Leader of the New Democratic Party as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The return is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 155 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Executive Council Act, and Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Public Service Act. (Hon. Bernard Boudreau)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes government business for today. We will be sitting from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Monday. Following the daily routine, we will resolve into Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty. Following that, we will spend some time on Bill No. 13 on second reading and then move into Committee of the Whole House on Bills on the Financial Measures Act.

I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

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MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise, to meet again on Monday at 2:00 p.m.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 1:57 p.m.]

[Page 1638]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 524

By: Mr. Allister Surette (Argyle)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on May 4, 1996, 58 graduates received their degrees and diplomas from Ste. Anne's University in Church Point; and

Whereas nine of those graduates are residents of the Municipality of Argyle; and

Whereas these students have spent many dedicated hours of work over the past number of years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Nicole Albright, Kendrick LeBlanc, Colleen d'Entremont, Fernand d'Entremont, Holly d'Entremont, Daphne d'Eon, Nicole Muise, Shaunda Muise and Lynne Surette for their success and best wishes as they pursue their goal in the workforce.