Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., May 15, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Environ. - Fort Ellis: Soil Recycling Facility - Oppose,
Mr. B. Taylor 1705
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Committee on Private and Local Bills, Mr. R. Carruthers 1705
Committee on Law Amendments, Hon. W. Gillis 1706
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Fisheries, Hon. J. Barkhouse 1706
Nova Scotia Aquaculture Development Strategy, Hon. J. Barkhouse 1707
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 33, Fair Treatment Regardless of Status Act, Mr. R. Chisholm 1707
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 561, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Oil. Cos. Pricing:
Bureau of Competition Policy (Can.) - Contact, Dr. J. Hamm 1707
Res. 562, Women's March Against Poverty: Aims - Support,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1707
Vote - Affirmative 1708
Res. 563, Health - Twin Oaks Mem. Hosp.: Mrs. C. Keizer -
Contribution Recognize, Mr. K. Colwell 1708
Vote - Affirmative 1709
Res. 564, Culture - Liverpool International Theatre Festival (3rd):
Best Wishes - Extend, Mr. J. Leefe 1709
Vote - Affirmative 1709
Res. 565, Health - IWK Auxiliary: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Stewart 1709
Vote - Affirmative 1710
Res. 566, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Equipment - Retain, Mr. A. MacLeod 1710
Res. 567, Educ. - Internat. Sc. & Eng. Fair: Charina Cameron
(Wolfville) & Nishi Perera (Cole Hbr.) - Congrats.,
Hon. G. O'Malley 1711
Vote - Affirmative 1711
Res. 568, Fin. - Budget: Brochure (Advantage N.S.) -
Trust Funds (Lib. Party [N.S.]) Pay, Mr. J. Holm 1711
Res. 569, Educ. - French Comps. (Dart. HS): Success (Sydney Area) -
Applaud, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1712
Vote - Affirmative 1712
Res. 570, Tim Horton Children's Fdn. - Camp Day: Organizers -
Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 1712
Vote - Affirmative 1713
Res. 571, Educ. - Cole Hbr. DHS Bands: Comps. (Toronto) -
Success Congrats., Mr. D. Richards 1713
Vote - Affirmative 1713
Res. 572, Fin. - Budget: Opp'n. Parties Aversion - Deplore,
Mr. R. Carruthers 1714
Res. 573, Culture - Symphony N.S.: Vitality - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 1714
Vote - Affirmative 1714
Res. 574, Sports - Cabot Trail Relay Race (Baddeck): Teams -
Welcome, Mr. K. MacAskill 1715
Vote - Affirmative 1715
Res. 575, ERA - Junior Achievers (Eastern Shore): Success -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 1715
Vote - Affirmative 1716
Res. 576, Educ. - French Comps. (Dart. HS): Success
(Chester-St. Margaret's) - Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 1716
Vote - Affirmative 1717
Res. 577, Environ. - Internat. Conf. (Holland): St. Mary's HS
(Sherbrooke) - Success Wish, Mr. R. White 1717
Vote - Affirmative 1717
Res. 578, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald HS Band: Comp. (Toronto) -
Success Congrats., Mr. B. Holland 1717
Vote - Affirmative 1718
Res. 579, Salvation Army - Yarmouth Citadel: Rededication -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hubbard 1718
Vote - Affirmative 1719
Res. 580, Environ. - Digby East Fish & Game Assoc.: Acacia Valley
River Restoration - Congrats., Mr. J. Casey 1719
Vote - Affirmative 1719
Res. 581, RCMP (N. Vancouver) - Constable Kim Ashford (Lr. Sackville):
Medal of Bravery - Congrats., Mr. William MacDonald 1719
Vote - Affirmative 1720
Res. 582, Sydney Tar Ponds Clean-Up Inc.: New Plan - Devise,
Mr. J. Holm 1720
Res. 583, Educ. - Internat. Sc. & Eng. Fair: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. A. Mitchell 1720
Vote - Affirmative 1721
Res. 584, Health: Palliative Care Awareness Week (12-19/05/96) -
Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 1721
Vote - Affirmative 1721
Res. 585, Educ. - French Comps. (Dart. HS): Success (Lr. Sackville) -
Congrats., Mr. William MacDonald 1722
Vote - Affirmative 1722
Res. 586, Fin. - Budget: Balanced - Congrats., Mr. R. White 1722
Res. 587, Health - Medicare: Protection - Legislate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1723
Res. 588, Agric. - 4-H Weekend (10-11/05/96): Participants -
Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 1723
Vote - Affirmative 1724
Res. 589, Educ. - French Comps. (Dart. H.S.): Success (Dart. East) -
Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 1724
Vote - Affirmative 1724
Res. 590, ERA - Tourism: Schooner Racing Heritage - Promote,
Mr. J. Casey 1724
Vote - Affirmative 1725
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 280, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gasoline Prices: Escalation -
Protection, Dr. J. Hamm 1725
No. 281, Health - QE II Health Sciences Centre: Merger - Costs,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1727
No. 282, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): ITT Sheraton - Construction Contract,
Mr. G. Moody 1728
No. 283, ERA - N.S. Film Dev. Corp.: Sound Stage - Refusal,
Mr. T. Donahoe 1729
No. 284, ERA: N.S. Film Dev. Corp. - Sound Stage, Mr. T. Donahoe 1730
No. 285, Mun. Affs. - Amalgamation (Mun.): Approach - Future,
Mr. B. Taylor 1732
No. 286, Fin. - Casinos: ITT Sheraton - Benefits Update,
Mr. J. Holm 1734
No. 287, ERA - Yarmouth-Bar Harbor Ferry: Summer Service -
Resumption, Dr. J. Hamm 1735
No. 288, ERA: IMP Plant (C.B.) - Status, Mr. A. MacLeod 1737
No. 289, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Workers - Assist, Mr. A. MacLeod 1739
No. 290, Public Tenders Office - Procurement: Policy - Current,
Mr. G. Archibald 1741
No. 291, Health - Blood Collection Firms: Regs. - Necessity,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1742
No. 292, ERA - Bluenose II Preservation Trust: Logo - Policy,
Mr. J. Leefe 1744
No. 293, Nat. Res. - Resource Enterprises: Drilling - Results,
Dr. J. Hamm 1745
No. 294, Agric. - Hfx. Reg. Mun.: Livestock Fencing - Action,
Mr. B. Taylor 1746
No. 295, Justice - Police (RCMP/Hfx. Reg. Mun.): Radios -
Compatibility, Mr. T. Donahoe 1747
No. 296, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): ITT Sheraton -
Construction Proposal, Mr. J. Holm 1748
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 16, Health Care Act 1749
Mr. R. Chisholm 1749
Hon. R. Stewart 1752
Mr. G. Moody 1755
Mr. J. Holm 1758
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 442, ERA - Dev. Strategy: Job Creation - Produce,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1761
Mr. R. Chisholm 1761
Hon. R. Harrison 1763
Mr. A. MacLeod 1766
Mr. J. Holm 1768
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric. - Beef Industry: Importance - Recognize:
Mr. E. Lorraine 1771
Mr. G. Archibald 1774
Mr. G. Moody 1775
Hon. G. Brown 1776
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 16th at 12:00 p.m. 1778
[Page 1705]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 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 visitors? If not, we will go through the items on the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the citizens of the Fort Ellis and Stewiacke area of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. "We the undersigned are hereby decidely opposed to the locating of the bio-remedial soil recycling facility on Old Commo Rd. Fort Ellis, N.S. . . .". They list the following reasons, air quality, they are concerned about the potential for pollution to their groundwater, they are concerned about additional commercial vehicle traffic and some other reasons that they have listed in their petition. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

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

1705

[Page 1706]

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. 17 - Halifax Regional Water Commission 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. 25 - Halifax Trust Funds Transfer (1996) Act.

Bill No. 26 - Bridgewater Waterfront Development Corporation Act.

and that the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bills No. 12 - Adoption Information Act.

Bill No. 27 - Acadia Trust Company Dissolution Act.

and that the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report, for the fiscal year ended, March 31, 1995, for the Department of Fisheries.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

[Page 1707]

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Development Strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 33 - Entitled an Act to Provide for Equal Tax Treatment for all Professions. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 561

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are justifiably angry with the rapid escalation in gasoline prices over the past month; and

Whereas these exorbitant price hikes by oil companies is in stark contrast to the benefits of competitive pricing enjoyed by Nova Scotians since gasoline pricing was deregulated in this province in 1991; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians believe inordinate gasoline price increases are a direct result of oil company gouging and even price fixing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services immediately contact the federal Bureau of Competition Policy to ensure the bureau's investigation of pricing practices by major oil companies in Canada fully includes Nova Scotia in its investigation.

I seek waiver, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There isn't unanimous consent.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 562

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

[Page 1708]

Whereas the Women's March Against Poverty began yesterday in Vancouver and will continue in all parts of Canada over the next 30 days; and

Whereas the Women's March Against Poverty represents an historic joining of forces between the women's movement and the labour movement in this country; and

Whereas the purpose of the march that will involve women from coast to coast is to resist the narrow right-wing agenda being pursued by many governments in this country;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the aims of the Women's March Against Poverty and the alliance that has been forged between labour and the women's movement to fight for jobs, justice and the end of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 563

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

Whereas Mrs. Cynthia (Peggy) Keizer, an officer and nurse with the British forces during the Second World War, emigrated to Canada in 1945 and helped found the Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital in Musquodoboit Harbour, where she worked as a nurse for many years; and

Whereas some 30 years ago, Mrs. Keizer found the Twin Oaks Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, and is currently President of the Auxiliary's Chezzetcook Branch, which continues to provide valuable community support to patients and staff alike; and

Whereas at a recent ceremony to name the four wings of the Twin Oaks/Birches Continuing Care Centre, Mrs. Keizer represented auxiliary workers, volunteers, staff and community, to officially open The Twin Oaks War Memorial Hospital Wing, a living monument to area residents who sacrificed their lives in the Second World War;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the significant contribution made by Mrs. Cynthia Keizer to health care and community service at the Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital, and salute the service given by all auxiliary workers, volunteers and staff of the Twin Oaks/Birches Continuing Care Centre in Musquodoboit Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 1709]

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 564

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 third biennial Liverpool International Theatre Festival will take place May 16 to May 19th in Liverpool; and

Whereas Liverpool's Astor Theatre will be home for 14 theatre companies from Sweden, Norway, the United States, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Japan and seven Nova Scotia theatrical companies; and

Whereas adjudicated performances, cabarets, workshops and coffee critiques will give patrons from far and wide opportunity to participate in the joy of theatre;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend best wishes to all those who make the Liverpool International Theatre Festival successful, from actors to organizers to benefactors, and commend the festival to theatre lovers everywhere.

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 565

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

Whereas the IWK Auxiliary is celebrating its 50th Anniversary today; and

Whereas this auxiliary has provided a remarkable service to children and families of the Maritimes since 1946 when 22 members were appointed by the board of management at the original Halifax Children's Hospital; and

[Page 1710]

Whereas the auxiliary has contributed approximately $5 million towards capital, medical equipment and special projects, including the Volunteer and Child Life Department, the Dialysis Unit and Care-by-Parent Unit as well as successfully orchestrating fund-raising events such as the Kermesse;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the IWK Auxiliary on its 50th Anniversary and commend its members, past and present, for their commitment to providing services to the children and families across the Maritimes.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[2:15 p.m.]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 566

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

Whereas there have been no workers allowed in the IMP plant in North Sydney since last Friday, May 10th; and

Whereas the windows have been papered over to prevent people from seeing the activity going on inside; and

Whereas this morning a flatbed trailer, loaded with machinery and equipment, was escorted from the plant by police;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency take responsibility and ask the owner of IMP not to remove any more equipment from North Sydney until all possible avenues open to the workers are fully explored.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

[Page 1711]

RESOLUTION NO. 567

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

Whereas 20 Canadian students, including two Nova Scotia students, distinguished themselves last week at the 47th Annual International Science and Engineering Fair in Tuscon, Arizona, where 1,100 students representing more than 40 countries competed for educational awards worth nearly $1 million; and

Whereas Charina Cameron, a young student from Wolfville, earned first prize in the Physics category; and

Whereas Nishi Perera, a 16 year old Grade 11 student at Auburn Drive High School, Cole Harbour, won third prize in the Engineering category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend its congratulations to Charina Cameron and Nishi Perera for their excellent showing at the 47th Annual International Science and Engineering Fair.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 568

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 Finance's multi-media campaign to sell his so-called balanced budget and BST to Nova Scotians has spawned a new election-style brochure; and

Whereas the Advantage Nova Scotia brochure is one part information and nine parts partisan propaganda; and

Whereas the brochure is either the first Liberal leaflet of a general election campaign or the second of the Fairview by-election campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to dip into its Party's fat trust funds to pay for the information, rather than sticking the taxpayers of this province with the bill.

[Page 1712]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 569

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

Whereas French language education in Nova Scotia provides young people with quality learning which was best displayed by French oral competitions at Dartmouth High School on Saturday, May 4, 1996; and

Whereas several industrial Cape Breton area students placed in their respective categories including: Paul Sampson of Sydney River for second place, Grades 11-12 Late Immersion, and the Canadian Parents for French Bursary, Mr. Colin McCready of Sydney River for first place Extended Core; and

Whereas Emilie Poule of Sydney won second place for Grades 5-6 Early Immersion and Pascalia Gaillardetz of Sydney won first place in the Grades 5-6 Francophone section;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud all participants in the French oral competitions at Dartmouth High School, especially Paul Sampson, Colin McCready, Emilie Poule and Pascalia Gaillardetz.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 570

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

Whereas at Tim Horton outlets today is celebrated as Camp Day when the entire proceeds from coffee sales are donated by outlet owners to the Tim Horton Children's Foundation for the operation of four camps like the one in Tatamagouche; and

Whereas from its start in Atlantic Canada in 1987, Tim Horton Camp Day became today's annual national fund-raising project by which Tim Horton store owners and staff hope to raise more than $1.2 million on this one day; and

[Page 1713]

Whereas this summer, the four privately-funded camps across Canada will host 2,000 deserving children, ages 9 to 12, for a 10 day, all-expense paid camp experience and an additional 2,500 children for an overnight camp;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the store owners and workers for their caring and enthusiastic effort which will help so many deserving children across Canada this summer and encourage the success of Camp Day Canada '96.

MR. SPEAKER: Are you requesting waiver of notice? Yes.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 571

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

Whereas last week, the only Canadian bands participating in the Festival of Music competitions in Toronto were the highly-acclaimed Cole Harbour District High School Concert and Symphonic Bands; and

Whereas the concert band took 2nd place, achieving a rating of excellent; and

Whereas the symphonic band took 1st place, also achieving a rating of excellent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to teacher/bandleader Melanie Baillie for her outstanding direction and the very talented 52 members of the Cole Harbour District High School Concert and Symphonic Bands.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 1714]

RESOLUTION NO. 572

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

Whereas the Conservatives and the NDP have both gone on record as being against a well-reasoned, balanced budget; and

Whereas it has been many years of financial mismanagement of this province by the Conservative Party that nearly brought Nova Scotia to financial ruin; and

Whereas the only alternatives offered by the NDP are a bigger government with increased spending;

Therefore be it resolved that this House deplore the actions of the Conservatives and the NDP, while commending the determination and wisdom of this government to put Nova Scotia's financial house in order.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 573

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

Whereas last year it seemed that Symphony Nova Scotia was on its last legs, in the midst of a massive debt; and

Whereas this week Symphony Nova Scotia has arisen like a Phoenix to announce a spectacular new concert season under the baton of a new Music Director, Dr. Leslie B. Dunner; and

Whereas the rebirth of Symphony Nova Scotia is a result of the tremendous efforts, energy, imagination and determination of the members of Symphony Nova Scotia, its board and the many community supporters who have helped Symphony Nova Scotia address its financial problems;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Symphony Nova Scotia for its renewed vitality and promise of an exciting and creative season of symphonic music for Nova Scotians.

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 574

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

[Page 1715]

Whereas once again, the Village of Baddeck will begin a new season by hosting over 1,000 people on the weekend of May 24th during the annual Cabot Trail Relay Race; and

Whereas the race provides a significant boost to the local economy in that hotel rooms and eating establishments are run at full capacity during the weekend of the relay race; and

Whereas voted the best road race by Run Canada, the 50 teams of 17 participants will run over 27 hours and encompass 276 kilometres of the beautiful Cabot Trail, including a leisurely climb up the 345 metre North Mountain;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia welcome all teams participating in the Cabot Trail Relay Race in hopes of another successful race, while congratulating the organizers for their initiative and dedication to this great Cape Breton event.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 575

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

Whereas 36 keen and eager Junior Achievers from the Sheet Harbour area, together with their five business advisors, had an outstanding year of business achievements; and

Whereas their company called Bright Ideas swept 14 of 27 awards at the Junior Achievement of Mainland Nova Scotia 27th Annual Company Program Awards and Recognition Night, held on April 27th at the World Trade and Convention Centre, which include: the Highest Net Profit Award; the Esso Teamwork Award; Laura Norcott, Chanda Coady and Jennifer Myers received the Company Executive Award; Shelley Brown received the Company Merit Award; Eric Turner was one of two winners of the Salesman of the Year Award; Laura Norcott won the Save Easy Presidential Award which included a $500 scholarship. She also won a $500 Catherine Elizabeth Coson Memorial Scholarship and she was nominated for CANJAC Award of the Year; Jennifer Myers won a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency, based on a written and oral

[Page 1716]

presentation of a business plan; Joanne Richardson was nominated for Outstanding First Year Achiever; the advisors were awarded the Advisor Team of the Year Award; and five of six executives were nominated for the position of the year award and all five won. They were as follows: VP of Administration of the Year, Chanda Coady; VP of Finance of the Year, Nadine Smith; VP of Marketing of the Year, Tara Hawes; VP of Production of the Year, Jennifer Myers; President of the Year, Laura Norcott; and

Whereas the team has also been nominated Nova Scotia Company of the Year and has provided these young people of the Eastern Shore with an excellent opportunity to learn valuable entrepreneurial skills;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate 36 Junior Achievers and their leaders from the Sheet Harbour area for their outstanding year of business success and encourage more and more young people and business leaders to expand Junior Achievers Programs throughout Nova Scotia.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 576

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

Whereas the Canadian Parents for French Competition was held May 4, 1996, at Dartmouth High School; and

Whereas Mr. Ben MacLean of Hubbards, Nova Scotia, took first places in the Grades 11 and Grade 12 Late Immersion category and was awarded the Canadian Parents for French Bursary; and

Whereas Mr. Daniel Majaess of Chester earned second place in the Grade 7 and Grade 8 Late Immersion category;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate these students for their hard work and proficiency in speaking French and for their outstanding performance at the recent competitions in Dartmouth.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

[Page 1717]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 577

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

Whereas this June four students from St. Mary's High School in Sherbrooke, Becky Reid, Kelci Archibald, Heather Joe and Ryan MacGrath, with their leader, Pam Harrison, will travel to Kirkrade, Holland, to participate in the 10th Caretakers of the Environment International Conference; and

Whereas these students raised their own funds to attend this conference which brings together high school students from over 50 nations of the world to discuss global environmental concerns, such as the impact of industrial and energy development, the role of education, art in the environment, global neighbourhoods and outdoor recreation; and

Whereas these students, along with fellow classmates at St. Mary's High School, are committed to a sustainable environment, having self-initiated a recycling program several years ago, and upon their return from the conference, will be actively involved in environmental concerns with fellow students and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature applaud the initiatives of these students and their leaders for their significant role to protect and enhance the quality of the environment in Nova Scotia and wish them every success as they journey to Holland to participate in the 10th Caretakers of the Environment International Conference.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 578

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

Whereas music education among Halifax County schools is second to none, including that of Sir John A. Macdonald High School band program; and

[Page 1718]

Whereas 70 students participated in the Sir John A. Macdonald High School band program in Grades 10 through 12; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald High School Music Director Barb Coates led 36 senior band members through weeks and months of lunch hour and music class rehearsals, all the way to a silver medal at the Toronto International Band Festival;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia congratulate the 36 senior band members of Sir John A. Macdonald High School and their Music Director, Barb Coates, on their silver medal prize at the Toronto International Band Festival.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 579

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

Whereas on Friday, June 21st at 7:00 p.m. the Salvation Army in Yarmouth will be holding an evening of celebration and praise in connection with the rededication of their citadel; and

Whereas the Salvation Army has served the spiritual and material needs of the people of Yarmouth for 110 years; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Citadel of the Salvation Army is undergoing a significant renovation in anticipation of the rededication;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia offer our best wishes and congratulations to the Salvation Army on the occasion of the rededication of their citadel on Friday, June 21, 1996.

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.

[Page 1719]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 580

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

Whereas the Adopt-a-Stream Project is a joint federal-provincial program which encourages volunteer community involvement in the protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Digby East Fish and Game Association is sponsoring a project under this program to rejuvenate the Acacia Valley River; and

Whereas aquatic habitat specialists Steven Theriault, Martin Kaye and Lennie Outhouse, former groundfishermen who were trained at the Nova Scotia School of Fisheries in Pictou under the sponsorship of the TAGS Program, will be carrying out the rejuvenation program;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Digby East Fish and Game Association and the aquatic habitat specialists assigned to this project for their willingness to undertake the long-term task of restoring this river to its original natural state.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank. (Applause)

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: It wasn't easy but we got there.

MR. SPEAKER: We never overlook Sackville-Beaverbank.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 581

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

Whereas on May 17, 1996, the Governor General at Rideau Hall in Ottawa will be presenting the Medal of Bravery to two members of the North Vancouver detachment of the RCMP; and

[Page 1720]

Whereas one of the constables to receive the Medal of Bravery is Kim Ashford of Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, daughter of Marg and Jack Ashford; and

Whereas Kim risked her life to rescue the driver of a burning vehicle just prior to the vehicle being totally engulfed in flames;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend to Kim Ashford their congratulations on being awarded the Medal of Bravery and wish her continued success in her career as a member of the RCMP.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 582

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 quantities of PCBs found in the Sydney tar ponds rise daily and have now reached 45,000 tons; and

Whereas every new discovery of PCBs represents further evidence that the Sydney tar ponds clean-up has been an environmental, political, administrative and financial debacle; and

Whereas despite the evidence of past failures this government continues to operate in secret, keeping people guessing about plans for the tar ponds clean-up;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes that the processes used in the past to devise clean-up plans for the tar ponds have not worked, and that a new plan should be devised through a full-fledged environmental assessment and review with intervenor funding.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 583

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

Whereas 1,100 students from 40 countries vied for educational awards worth nearly $1 million at the 47th Annual International Science and Engineering Fair; and

[Page 1721]

Whereas among these energetic young people were 20 Canadians, including Nishi Perera; and

Whereas Ms. Nishi Perera, a Grade 11 student from Auburn Drive High School, won third prize in the Engineering category;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to all the participants who can take pride in this significant competition with the world's best, and commend the teachers, parents and this province's education system for their generous preparations of Nova Scotia's youth.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 584

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

Whereas palliative care services, which provide care to the terminally ill, make a significant contribution to the quality of life for both patients and families in our society; and

Whereas the delivery of palliative care services is a coordinated effort of health care staff and community volunteers; and

Whereas it is in the interest of individuals and communities to support and be aware of palliative care services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize May 12, 1996 to May 19, 1996 as Palliative Care Awareness Week and commend all those who provide support to both the patients and their families.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

[Page 1722]

RESOLUTION NO. 585

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

Whereas on Saturday, May 4, 1996, the Canadian Parents for French (Nova Scotia branch) held their annual oral competition; and

Whereas students from all parts of Nova Scotia took part in this competition which was held at Dartmouth High School; and

Whereas Mr. Eric Lafontaine, 4 Sami Drive, Lower Sackville, won first place in the Francophone category for Grades 11 and 12, and as a result of his first place win he also is the recipient of the Canadian Parents for French Bursary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their best wishes and congratulations to Eric for his outstanding accomplishment.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 586

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

Whereas last night this Assembly passed an historic budget as presented by this government; and

Whereas this budget was the first balanced budget presented by a government of this province in 25 years; and

Whereas during the intervening years that the Conservative Government held power in this province, they were unwilling to make the necessary decisions to balance the budget;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Liberal Government, under the leadership of John Savage, for achieving a balanced budget while increasing spending on important social programs of benefit to all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver. (Interruptions)

[Page 1723]

MR. SPEAKER: I hear one No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 587

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

Whereas private companies and individuals are rubbing their hands in anticipation of the profits to be made in the health care sector; and

Whereas an increase in for-profit health care will lead inevitably to a two-tiered and/or an Americanized health care system; and

Whereas members from all sides of this House have vowed to fight to save our health care system from two-tiered, American-style health care;

Therefore be it resolved that as part of the battle to protect Medicare, this House support measures to enshrine the principles of the Canada Health Act in Nova Scotia's health care legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 588

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

Whereas 4-H winners were selected from the Public Speaking and Demonstration competitions held at the 4-H Weekend, May 10, 1996 to May 11, 1996; and

Whereas 4-H members and leaders winning national and international award trips in recognition of their work in 4-H were announced; and

Whereas Steven Russell from Kentville, Kings County and Mary Delorey from Saint Andrews, Antigonish County were chosen as the provincial host and hostess because of their leadership skills to represent 4-H at special events during the year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates all Nova Scotian 4-H members and in particular, the 4-H members and volunteer leaders who were recognized for their achievement and leadership skills of the Nova Scotia 4-H Weekend on May 10, 1996 to May 11, 1996.

[Page 1724]

Mr. Speaker, a complete list of all the 4-H Weekend results is also being tabled.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 589

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

Whereas on May 4, 1996, French oral competitions sponsored by the Canadian Parents for French were held at Dartmouth High School; and

Whereas Dartmouth East students, Paul Clement and Sebastien Allard obtained first place standing in each of their respective categories; and

Whereas this honour represents the strength and quality of French language education in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Paul Clement and Sebastien Allard for their first place showing in the French oral competitions held on May 4, 1996.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 590

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

Whereas in this, the year of the wooden boat, Nova Scotia is paying tribute to the many wooden sailing vessels built in the shipyards of this province; and

[Page 1725]

Whereas the first race ever held between two large wooden sailing schooners took place in the Annapolis Basin off Digby in 1911 between the Albert J. Lutz and the Dorothy M. Smart, both Shelburne built schooners; and

Whereas the Dorothy M. Smart won the 1911 race, the Albert J. Lutz won subsequent races from 1912 to 1915 with its Captain, John Apt, earning permanent possession of the Brittain trophy which is now on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic;

Therefore be it resolved that, in this the year of the wooden boat, members of this House, when promoting tourist attractions of this province, remind visitors of the rich schooner racing heritage that began with the unprecedented victories of the Albert J. Lutz.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I wish to advise the House that the Clerk conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. and the winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Colchester North. He has submitted a very significant resolution for debate:

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians understand the importance of the beef industry and its cost factors.

We will hear discussion on that at 6:00 p.m.

The Oral Question Period today will last for 90 minutes from 2:44 p.m. until 4:14 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - GASOLINE PRICES: ESCALATION - PROTECTION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. The minister will remember two months ago when we had gasoline prices, certainly in the metro area, of some 43 cents per litre. A check of today's prices and this is for regular self-serve; Irving price, 61.9 cents, Esso, 61.9 cents; Ultramar, 61.9 cents; and Wilsons, 61.9 cents. That represents an increase - and I am sure the minister is very interested in this - of over 20 per cent in a two month period. It leaves one to wonder just what is going on. I wonder if the minister would mind relaying to the House what measures he is taking to protect the interests of Nova Scotians, particularly in the matter of the rapid escalation in gas prices?

[Page 1726]

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I concur that prices have gone up, not only in Nova Scotia, but in fact right across Canada and North America. In regard to the concern with Business and Consumer Services, we have endeavoured to contact the federal representatives in regard to the concerns about the increase, because of the competition tribunal. It is my understanding that they are undertaking a process now to review the whole issue of practices in the area of pricing and that they are going forward with setting up a competition practice tribunal to review exactly what is happening in regard to the gas price increases throughout Canada and that of the United States, as well. I concur they have gone up very quickly.

DR. HAMM: The interesting thing is, Mr. Speaker, and I know that you have followed this, that since deregulation came in 1991, it has been saving Nova Scotians about $10 million a year in lower prices. This is a situation that is an aberration of what has been happening with a good result from deregulation and with the similarity of pricing with all the companies. It makes one very suspicious that something is happening here in the province. While the minister made reference to the increase across the country, would the minister indicate is he planning to speak with representatives of the oil company in Nova Scotia, to explain why there is that tremendous similarity down to the tenth of 1 per cent of pricing of gas at the pumps. Why is the price so very close when it doesn't seem to do that with other commodities?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to discuss this matter with the downstream activity players in the gas and oil business, but realizing we only have one refinery in the Province of Nova Scotia, is probably a prime example of that. In fact, about 5 per cent of the market is supplied by private retailers, other than those that are part of the overall conglomerate of the multinational corporations. I would certainly like to see that opportunity expand for the private individual to have more competition in the market place because competition is obviously the best way of dealing with consumers, as well as providing quality service.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister's remarks allow me to say that had the government been successful in saving Ultramar, there would, in fact, be two refineries in the province right now and the competition to which he referred would in fact be in place. By way of final supplementary, the minister made reference - and I think correctly so - that he is contacting the federal Bureau of Competition Policy to indicate the problem in Nova Scotia. Has he made a specific request of the federal bureau, that when they are looking at gas prices across the country, that they focus very clearly on what is happening here in Nova Scotia because the rise here is most dramatic and, I understand, one of the most dramatic rises anywhere in the country? Has he made that specific request to look at Nova Scotia in particular because of that very dramatic rise in the price, over two months?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the member opposite that the tribunal, as I understand, is a quasi-judicial process. It has just been established by the federal government. If we feel that it is imperative for us to have the opportunity to present concerns in regard to Nova Scotia, but also the general public have opportunities, as well as private individuals, to make presentations to that.

I would like to point out very clearly to this House that, I believe a little over a year ago, Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Finance changed the tax regime so that it would be a pegged pricing tax instead of having it floated to the price of gas - and I remember the Opposition members then at the time were critical of that measure - that particular measure at this point in time means that the tax provision for the Province of Nova Scotia is fixed per litre of gas and it is not increasing the tax revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia because of the escalation. If we hadn't changed that, and listened to the Opposition members, there would have been even a higher percentage take for the province but also an increased cost to the taxpayers of this province.

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

HEALTH - QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE.: MERGER - COSTS

[Page 1727]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me indicate how pleased I am that the Official Opposition has joined with us in this battle to try to bring reasonable gas prices to the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. It has to do with the QE II, not the ship, not the cruise liner, but in fact the proposed merger of the tertiary care hospitals in Halifax. You will remember back in the summer of 1994, the Minister of Health announced the merger of the Victoria General Hospital, Camp Hill and the Infirmary into the Queen Elizabeth II. He also has indicated and confirmed for us, over the ensuing two years, that there were no cost-benefit analyses done, no studies done in terms of the implication, the cost, none of those were done ahead of time. (Interruption)

I am getting to my question, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who seems in such a hurry.

MR. SPEAKER: Now, I thought you were questioning the Minister of Health; you can question the Minister of Municipal Affairs later.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we have learned in the last day or so that in fact the renovation costs to effect the minister's forced merger have in fact hit $30 million. I would like to ask the minister, would he in fact confirm that the costs for effecting that forced merger have hit $30 million, and will he provide confirmation here in this House of those costs?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement. I will present after consultation with the facility and with my officials concerning that particular issue.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I also understand that there is a business plan that is being presented to the Cabinet by the QE II to try to respond to these costs because direction has been given by the government that this money has to come out of operating costs for the QE II hospital; in other words, it will come out of the budget that that hospital will have to deliver services to Nova Scotians that will be in their care. I would like the minister to assure Nova Scotians that the cost for effecting his forced merger will not, in fact, come out of the budget for operating the QE II; in other words, will not affect the delivery of patient services and support services at the Queen Elizabeth II?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I can, without reservation, assert that the costs incurred in respect to the merger would not in fact impede patient care; it will improve it. We see it, in fact, as the business plan goes along, as the clinical plan goes along, it is very, very impressive the way that the staff and officials of the QE II have come together and developed

[Page 1728]

a very far-reaching and far-sighted plan. It will, in fact, improve patient services in that regard.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I note that the minister hasn't answered that question, but I will give him a second opportunity to do so by suggesting that the secret business plan that is coming before Cabinet for their approval from the QE II, in fact, includes plans for very significant outsourcing of services at the QE II in order to compensate for the fact that they have to pick up $30 million for the renovation cost in their operating budget.

I go back to the minister, Mr. Speaker, and ask him to assure Nova Scotians that the cost for the forced merger, the renovation cost to the QE II will, in fact, not come out of the operating budget, thereby preventing the outsourcing that is being intended for services at the Queen Elizabeth II?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to respond to this question on the part of the Leader of the NDP. He has rather selective information that he is dealing with here; he selects particular issues to comment on. I might say that his concern about the preservation and improvement of patient services is most heartening to see, but I would remind him, as he has ignored in the past in debates in this place, that patient care services will, indeed, be protected by mergers because as the honourable gentleman would know if he perused the issue, we were facing costs of $60 million to $80 million in respect to renovation and maintenance and further construction at the Victoria General site. That will not happen now, because of the merger.

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

FIN. - CASINO (HFX.): ITT SHERATON - CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. I understand that the Halifax Casino construction contract, they have until May 24th to resubmit their proposal. As I understand it, both ITT Sheraton and Mr. Fiske have agreed that the proposal they resubmitted on May 1st, a very large proposal now, is not realistic given the revenues that the casinos are getting.

I would ask the minister, will the minister confirm that one thing that hasn't changed -we understand that this has changed - but the scheduled completion date of September 30, 1998, for a new casino is and will be still intact and that won't change?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I was approached outside of the Assembly coming here today and asked the question with respect to that. I have not had a report from the corporation so as far as the government is concerned, the situation remains the same but it could well be that that report is correct.

MR. MOODY: Well, given the fact that I asked the minister, correct or incorrect - I assume it is correct, too - will the minister confirm that, no matter whether or not that extension is granted for a scaled-down casino? I understand it may even be now renovations to the existing one. In other words, we may not even see a whole new structure.

I would ask the minister, regardless of what proposal now is resubmitted, will his government stand firm on its completion date of September 30, 1998? If not, will the penalty clause be invoked?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is asking me to speculate on something of which I am really not informed. The last official contact we have had with ITT Sheraton, as a government, was the situation whereby a plan had been submitted. I understand it resembled the original plan and that as far as we know is the one that is going ahead. We have not agreed to anything different.

[Page 1729]

I have always maintained, and I continue to maintain, that if there is a proposal that makes sense that comes to us and involves some changes from a business point of view, sure, we would be certain to consider it, but we have not done so to this date.

MR. MOODY: The minister has indicated that if a proposal came forward that made better business sense than the one that is on the table, the government would consider it. Will the government consider a proposal that is scaled down, maybe an addition to the present casino, that would mean less jobs, less revenue for the City of Halifax, less revenue for everyone? Is the minister saying then that his government recognizes the initial proposal because of the revenues, that his government will accept a scaled-down version which means less jobs?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. BOUDREAU: No, Mr. Speaker, I don't know that I am interested in making any statements to that effect in the House. We have had ongoing discussions. I think Mr. Fiske has had ongoing discussions with the Sheraton, what we are prepared to accept and not accept we will have to see and that may depend upon what is submitted. It is a question of balance. We have to act in the public interest and we will very strongly be mindful of that but at this stage nothing has changed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ERA - N.S. FILM DEV. CORP.: SOUND STAGE - REFUSAL

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The minister will be aware, as will you, Mr. Speaker, that three months ago to the day, today, February 15th, Premier Savage said, "Last year the film industry contributed $36 million to the Nova Scotia economy. That is a three-fold increase from the previous year. Sound stages in Vancouver, Toronto and elsewhere are working at capacity and I believe that will be the case here.". The Premier went on to say further, "The provincial government decided to invest in a sound stage up to the extent of $500,000 as part of a long-term strategy for developing the Nova Scotia film industry.". I repeat those words, ". . . as part of a long-term strategy for developing the Nova Scotia film industry.".

My question to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency is whether or not the minister will confirm that industrial development, job creation, creation of new wealth and the long-term strategy for developing the Nova Scotia film industry is, in fact, still, as far as he is concerned, the mandate of the provincial government and the mandate of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Very much so, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, in light of that response, then, I ask, by way of supplementary, that if, in fact, the minister very quickly assures me and all taxpayers that that is the mandate of the government and of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, can

[Page 1730]

the minister tell the House, then, if the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation Board has changed the mandate on its own in the course of saying no to the sound stage proposal as they did?

MR. HARRISON: Not at all, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, if the mandate is the same, the government supports that mandate, the minister has us believe that the board of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation supports that mandate, the Premier still supports the mandate, if the mandate is the same, can the minister, then, explain the rationale of the decision of the Film Development Corporation Board to turn their back on that mandate and refuse to approve the recently reviewed sound stage proposal which was supported by the Government of Nova Scotia, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, the officials in the Economic Renewal Agency, the officials in ACOA and the City of Halifax which had committed $100,000 and every player, individual, organization and institution save and except the board of the Film Development Corporation supported the sound stage proposal.

I ask again, if the minister tries to tell us today that the board of the Film Development Corporation supported that mandate, would he please explain the rationale on which they based their refusal of the sound stage proposal supported by every other player?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the board of the Film Development Corporation has a track record - in fact it was established in the previous government - of success at growing an industry. The concept or the logic of the honourable member's comments would lead us to believe that that mandate has changed as a result of a business decision. Placed before the board were the prospects, the business case for a sound stage based on a single project that had come through a process of determining a site location. It was in the board's wisdom that at this time that particular proposal did not bear fidelity to their mandate and in fact was not substantiated by the business arguments that were placed before the board. We support the wisdom shown by that board in this case.

MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ERA: N.S. FILM DEV. CORP. - SOUND STAGE

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the minister on the one hand now says he supports the wisdom of the board and a moment ago didn't take any issue with me when I indicated that he and his department supported the wisdom of the business plan and, in fact, were supportive of the business plan. So, presumably, it was the board of the Film Development Corporation left, as the lawyers might say, on a frolic of their own. They came to their conclusion, despite the minister, that they didn't like the business plan in exchange for or in replacement for the view of the minister and the government itself.

By way of a new question, Mr. Speaker, if I may to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency; recently the Nova Scotia Government committed something in the order of $10 million to an out-of-province company, expecting that company to generate all of 50 jobs. However, my information is that the minister has not met with the film industry, relative to the decision not to go with the sound stage and the firing of the President of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation.

[Page 1731]

I ask the minister if he is prepared to make a commitment here today that he will meet, in the shortest time possible, with representatives of the Nova Scotia film industry, to determine what process can be followed to reopen the sound stage proposal and to result in the development of a business plan which can be supported and, more important, to result in a plan that will have the effect of having a sound stage facility here in the metropolitan Halifax Regional Municipality?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the board's mandate is to examine - there has been no conflict between the mandate and the remarks by the Opposition - the mandate is to grow an industry. The fundamental question is, is this the right proposal at this time, based on a business case analysis, to grow an industry. The board determined no.

Is the door open for a future sound stage discussion or other proposals? Absolutely, they indicated that in their press release. I am sure that the board would welcome proposals to put before it and the government, opportunities for the development of infrastructure that is crucial to the film growth of this province.

MR. DONAHOE: This minister who gets off all kinds of rhetoric all the time about creation of new wealth and job creation (Interruption) Excuse me, do you have something to say?

MR. SPEAKER: No, you have something to say right now.

MR. DONAHOE: Does the Premier have something to say?

MR. SPEAKER: His turn will come later, if you ask him a question.

MR. DONAHOE: This minister, by way of supplementary, Mr. Speaker, gets off wonderful rhetoric and just closes his last remarks by saying, much-needed infrastructure. This minister knows that the fundamental piece of infrastructure to make sure that we have a decades-long growth in the film industry in Nova Scotia is the establishment of a sound stage here in the metropolitan region. He knows that from dealing with the Film Development Corporation and the representatives of the film industry of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Since the decision by the Film Development Corporation not to go, presumably against the better judgment of this minister, since the decision not to go with the sound stage, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which has been tremendously important to film development in this region, Mr. Speaker, has cancelled its plans to produce a major film entitled Burden of Desire, worth something like $15 million of film activity, a company called Nelvana Corporation of Toronto has indicated that it is changing its plans, having earlier wanted to come to Nova Scotia to film and it is not now going to do so.

I ask if the minister has investigated the losses to the Nova Scotia business economy and business generally, resulting from the devastating message which has been sent by this decision by the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, to the national, the North American and the international film industry. If so, with whom has the minister had those discussions, in an effort to begin the much-needed rehabilitative process to restore the credibility and integrity of the Nova Scotia film industry?

MR. HARRISON: You know, Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. The member opposite talks about rhetoric. In a few minutes we will be able to debate the resolution before the House today. I would like to compare the numbers, in terms of job creation during the last four years of his government, and the years that we have been in government in this province. We will do that in a few moments and that will eliminate the rhetoric.

The question here is (Interruptions) We will wait until the debate. We will table the numbers here in the House, Mr. Speaker. The fundamental question that the member asserts is that he has knowledge that that particular sound stage proposal is fundamental to the industry and is related to losses by the industry. [Page 1732]

I would ask him to table any connection whatsoever between the decision of the board for that particular project and what he is talking about. We have left the door open. The film development corporation has indicated their willingness to look at sound stage proposals. That particular proposal with those amounts, did not have an established business case. We support that decision.

MR. DONAHOE: Perhaps by way of final supplementary, I might ask the minister if he is so sure in his position, he has all the information and all the bureaucrats who can prepare the reports, will he table here today in this House the analysis of the business plan which shows that in his opinion and in the opinion of those who looked at it, it wasn't a supportable business plan? He knows perfectly well that the development and the establishment of a sound stage facility is fundamental infrastructure necessary for the long-term development of the film industry. Is the minister prepared, rather than simply sit in his office and wait for somebody to come to him, to do two things: table the analysis of the one which he said didn't work; and indicate to us today that he will meet with the leaders of the film industry of Nova Scotia immediately to start putting together a proposal which will result in the development of a sound stage here in metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth? Will he do those two things?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have already agreed in estimates that the Film Development Corporation would provide the details of the rejection in terms of the business plan. The issue that he raises is, it is fundamental to the film industry. We have a board of people whose mandate and whose track record is impeccable in the growth of an industry. The member opposite is suggesting that he knows better than that board. He knows better than the individuals on that board who had to make a decision with information that he is not party to at the moment, and that we have already agreed in estimates that through the Film Development Corporation, he can have.

The Film Development Corporation meets with the industry constantly. I have met with the industry constantly throughout my term of office. Would we be happy to entertain proposals? They have already indicated as a film development corporation that they would be interested in receiving proposals. The fundamental issue, if the member is prepared to stand on his feet in this House and indicate that that proposal was an essential piece of infrastructure, then he is challenging the wisdom of the board and he is challenging the government's support of that wisdom of the board. Is sound stage capability important for film development? Absolutely. Have we had film development in this province? Yes. Were they able to use temporary facilities? Yes. Is it sufficient? Maybe not. Is there a business proposal for a sound stage coming forward? The Film Development Corporation has said they are willing to hear at any time any proposal from anyone.

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

MUN. AFFS. - AMALGAMATION (MUN.): APPROACH - FUTURE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question would be for the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It is well known and understood that the minister and the Savage Government forced municipal amalgamation upon Cape Breton and forced it

[Page 1733]

upon the metro area. Subsequently, the minister and her government, of course, have received considerable opposition to the approach of the talked-about amalgamations. The approach was known as the shotgun wedding approach.

The minister brought in legislation during the last session of the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, that, at the very least, would require the majority of municipal units in any given county to give consent to amalgamation. Now, we are reading and hearing in the newspaper where the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is saying, I can't say we will never force another municipal amalgamation. The status quo is not an option. So my question to the minister is merely this, will the minister tell this House, and more importantly, the other municipalities across Nova Scotia, just what she is talking about?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to respond to that question. I think the honourable member, the same as myself, we have to look at the future to see what may be opportunities that we have to take advantage of. Can the honourable member say he will never be a member of the Liberal Party again? (Interruptions)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is a good job that this is Question Period because it certainly is not answering period. Will the minister tell this House and all Nova Scotians, if her department is considering introducing further legislation that will enable her, will she amend the current legislation so that she will be able to force some more shotgun weddings upon the municipalities?

[3:15 p.m.]

MS. JOLLY: If the honourable member's question is, am I looking to introduce legislation in the near future to force amalgamations, the answer is no.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, will the minister tell us her department's current projections relative to the start-up costs for the Halifax Regional Municipality's merger?

MS. JOLLY: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if he could repeat the question. I missed part of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Estimated start-up costs for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

MS. JOLLY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think we have gone through any number of times in Question Period with regard to the costs of putting together a number of units. I think it is sufficient to say, as we have said all along, that the people in the Opposition are focusing totally on the negative. They can't seem to get beyond the negative or what hasn't happened or what they don't like, and they are having a very difficult time because there is very little, as we see in the press in the last couple of days, how difficult it is for them to focus or to be able to object to the very positive things this government has done.

I would count in them the amalgamation in Cape Breton, the amalgamation in metro and the amalgamation in Queens. They are some of the very positive steps that this government has taken. And do you know why, Mr. Speaker? Because we have regional governments dealing with regional issues. We have the waste management being dealt with on a regional basis. We now have discussion on the harbour clean-up on a regional basis. Those are extremely important. We have the business partnership coming forward on a regional basis.

[Page 1734]

Mr. Speaker, I think I can sum it up, when you look at amalgamations and the benefits of it, I was at the Metro Chamber of Commerce dinner on Wednesday night of last week, and 1,010 people attended that dinner, because that community has their act together, which is the same as what will happen in metro Halifax.

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

FIN. - CASINOS: ITT SHERATON - BENEFITS UPDATE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, sir, to the Minister of Finance, wearing his hat responsible for the Gaming Corporation. It turns out that the loony tune the minister was singing when he was trying to sell his monopoly to his gambling partner, ITT Sheraton, has turned out to be out of tune when it comes to reality. At that time, the minister was selling us with the fact that there were, supposedly, going to be over 1,000 full-time jobs in the permanent casinos, 1,500 indirect jobs, 759 employment years of work, plus 800 jobs in the interim casinos. He talked about the fact that we were going to have over $15 million in revenue, and on and on.

After an extension, the Sheraton did, in fact, resubmit their original proposal. That proposal was rejected by the corporation on Friday, and now the Sheraton is rejecting the government's rejection of the original proposal. So, my question to the minister is quite simply this. He made all kinds of promises at the start; what are the government's new and reduced targets for employment, for investment, for revenue to the province, that you are now seeking from the Sheraton?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the revenue to the province, as the honourable member knows, we do four year projections for our budget - that is something that we introduced two years ago - and in that four year projection we have indicated publicly, here in the House and outside the House, that we have used the figure of $25 million a year, which is the Sheraton guarantee. That is the amount we budgeted, that is the amount we got. That is the amount we will get next year and the year after and the year after, unless there is more. But, certainly, we will reach that level.

As to any new arrangement, I can simply say to the honourable member what I have said in reply to an earlier question, and that is that until there is an agreement by this government to change the legal commitment that Sheraton has, then one can only assume we are proceeding with the original proposal.

MR. HOLM: It is sort of hard to imagine that the minister responsible for the corporation is not aware - and we have checked this with the corporation - that the proposal that was submitted which was the original proposal and the minister, of course, is saying that he is going to play hard ball but that original proposal was rejected by the corporation on Friday. That was rejected, their original proposal. The minister's figures at the time said that they were anticipating $50 million annually in the way of revenues to the province. My question to the minister, has the minister and his government colleagues, or through the corporation, conveyed to ITT Sheraton, your private-for-profit gambling partner, how much in the way of reduced benefits to Nova Scotians you are prepared to accept in return for getting them to agree to back away from the original proposal that you agreed to and accepted and have now rejected?

[Page 1735]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat once again to the honourable member that this government has not agreed to any amendment to the legally binding commitment that Sheraton has to proceed with their original proposal. We have not done so, we have not received, as a government, a submission that we do so, so the commitment is still in place.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hope that the minister goes out and calls Mr. Fiske because the information that we have received as recently as today, again, confirming that they have rejected the Sheraton's proposal which was the original one. It hasn't worked. The promises, the pie-in-the-sky predictions of the Minister of Finance and his government colleagues have not come true. We are going to be left with a residue. We are going to be left with the social problems and all of the other problems that go along with it.

My final question to the minister is simply this. Those monies, the minister knows, are going to be running out in a few years in terms of the commitment, but that the problems will continue, and given the fact that it has failed, the minister was again wrong. I would like to ask the minister, is he prepared to go back and to suggest to his Cabinet colleagues and to the ITT Sheraton that you start to sing a new tune and that the new tune would be, let's call the whole deal off?

MR. BOUDREAU: Let me indicate to the honourable member that the figures which we budgeted on, the figures which we included in our four year plan and which in this year have assisted us in balancing the budget of this province, $25 million of that came from that operation. What is interesting is, does anyone remember the comments, the scenarios that were coming from that side of the floor about a year ago or so? Just unbelievable scenes of mayhem, crime running rampant, all sorts of horrible scenarios, none of them developed. So now, a year or so later, we are faced (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, the member is yelling from the other side. He had three opportunities to ask me the question. I will just wait for a moment until . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think we had all best wait for a moment, until the din quiets down.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, now we have the ludicrous situation where, after all of these terrible scenes of mayhem and horror did not materialize, now we have them in the situation they are not sure, and I am not sure, are they now arguing that we should proceed with the bigger casino or that we shouldn't proceed with the bigger casino? Just what is the point? I can't understand it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ERA - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY: SUMMER SERVICE - RESUMPTION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency has indicated on many occasions that he is intensely interested in the ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor.

I visited Yarmouth a couple of times recently and saw the MV Bluenose tied up there and the lights were on at night and it was undergoing some winter refurbishing. Then the ferry started its spring service, after we haven't had a service since the end of last year and, lo and behold, it gets over to Bar Harbor and it has to stay there. I wonder if the minister could indicate to the House, bearing in mind that the minister was very supportive of the ATi Consulting report which clearly indicated the economic benefit of the MV Bluenose service to southwestern Nova Scotia and in fact, to Nova Scotia in general, has the minister made an inquiry as to when the MV Bluenose will be able to resume service?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite full well knows, the tourism numbers of the MV Bluenose summer run have been increasing steadily over the number of years. They have done exceptionally fine in their marketing efforts and the tourists they bring to this province are of strategic importance.

[Page 1736]

Our staff is in contact with Marine Atlantic to determine just what level of concern there is with the U.S. Coast Guard. The preliminary indications are a safety plan and some equipment. We hope it is minor but we are in touch with them. But the most important thing here is that Marine Atlantic has made a commitment to bring tourists to Nova Scotia, they are doing a good job at that. The numbers are increasing. They are cooperative in terms of the marketing opportunities that exist between the province and Marine Atlantic. They are a vital, vital tourism link to that part of the province.

DR. HAMM: The minister did indicate that he has finally been in touch with Marine Atlantic. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that last year after months of negotiation, it appeared as the government was participating in setting up a replacement winter service, there had been absolutely no contact by this minister or any member on the government side with Marine Atlantic to discuss the proposal for a winter service.

I wonder if the minister would indicate to the House, in his conversations with officials from Marine Atlantic, was he able to ascertain why after months of refit that the MV Bluenose could, in fact, go to Bar Harbor and, in fact, be refused a certificate to allow them to carry American passengers back to Yarmouth? Has he investigated that or inquired of that in detail from Marine Atlantic?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member phrases his question in such a way that we get an opportunity to set the record straight. A press release was issued in Yarmouth that was not published by the Vanguard because it was absolutely ludicrous, the idea that this government and these ministers had had no - issued by the member opposite - that our government had had no contact with Marine Atlantic throughout this and that the saviour of Marine Atlantic was coming along in the eleventh hour to have contact. Finally in touch; apparently no contact; absolutely no contact; they refused to print it because it was so ludicrous, so fictitious, given the fact that there have been unending meetings with Marine Atlantic, with the ministers involved, with the minister who is quoted in the paper today as saying that this trade link is important.

Have I inquired as to how long the vessel will be out of commission in terms of being able to ply the waters and meet the Coast Guard standards? That is precisely the question we are asking, the reason being that this vessel is extremely important to that region of the province in the tourism season. It is a vital link, they are bringing more and more tourists every year and we trust that within a few days the problem will be resolved, no thanks necessarily to the member opposite. It is wonderful to be able to correct the record. Finally in touch; the real press release is in touch from day one and throughout the process.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I remember very clearly calling Marine Atlantic and talking to Mr. Morrison late last fall who indicated to me in no uncertain terms that he had never been contacted by any member of this government regarding the facilities at either Yarmouth

[Page 1737]

or Bar Harbor and the ferry service. Now, I would suggest that the minister should contact Mr. Morrison himself if he wants to set the record straight. (Interruption) I have already contacted him. (Interruption) Well, I don't know that Mr. Morrison appreciated being called that. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

DR. HAMM: Let's try to do something constructive, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't want to have to stand up. Order!

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I wonder if the minister is prepared to indicate what petitions he has made to his federal counterparts in support of a study to look at a privatization plan for the Bluenose ferry. Has the minister been involved in that endeavour and would he indicate to the House what exactly he has done to support that initiative?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I can hardly believe what I am hearing from across the House. I think it went something like this; I spoke with Mr. Morrison and he said that he had had no contact from any member of the government. This is the same gentleman who is the head of Marine Atlantic, who is trashed continuously by the members opposite for not respecting the ATi, again criticized today for faulty inspection and, based on his statement which was later retracted by the President of Marine Atlantic, this honourable member issues a press release, after months of consultation, after months of meeting, after tabling in the House the very meetings with the minister, with Mr. Morrison, and here he is today asking me to repudiate, in a sense, what Mr. Morrison has had to say.

[3:30 p.m.]

I can assure the member opposite that we have met with Mr. Morrison, we have had letters with Mr. Morrison, he has met with the community. It was one of his staff (Interruptions) I would be happy, Mr. Speaker, to table the chronology of meetings. I think we have already done it once in the House but we will do it again. The Yarmouth Vanguard had the list, that is why they didn't print his press release, Mr. Speaker.

The question is, what contact have we had with the minister. The member opposite may notice that in today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald the report is such that the federal minister is interested in privatization, commercialization, of maintaining both trade and tourism links as a result of the submissions by the Minister of Transportation, the Minister for the ERA, and, most importantly, by the Premier himself, to the ministers and to the Prime Minister. (Applause)

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

ERA: IMP PLANT (C.B.) - STATUS

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I would hope that the minister is aware that at quarter to seven this morning a tractor trailer left the IMP plant in North Sydney, carrying some equipment. There were police present. I hope that the minister is not going to get up and tell us that he has consulted with these employees the same way he did with CN Marine because that would be very scary indeed.

Mr. Speaker, these people, these gentlemen were here on Friday, looking for help from this minister. They had the opportunity to talk to him, to ask him questions. I would like to know what, indeed, the Minister for the ERA has done for those employees since they were here last week and if he knows anything at all about what is happening with IMP in North Sydney?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think the record again is fairly clear here. With the agreement of both the company and the workers, we intervened early on, to provide an extension of time. [Page 1738]

We have intervened with our partners ECBC and the consultant hired by the group, to try and put together a private sector partner in a proposal for purchasing the plant. We are in touch with the people on the ground in North Sydney and at the IMP plant, to determine what is happening today.

The workers were informed on Friday that certain equipment would be moved early in the week, that in addition, the subject of union negotiations, that additional equipment may be moved to another site on the mainland. That is the best of our information to date.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, the minister would know that this is a grave problem. This government already provided $5 million to IMP to help purchase the plants originally. Now the employees have come up with a plan to help save jobs on Cape Breton Island. These employees are serious about trying to keep their jobs there. This minister wouldn't even talk to them Friday when they were here because I asked him on Thursday if he would go out and meet with them and he wouldn't meet with them.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we want to know, the workers want to know, if there has been any contact with his department and the outside buyer who has been reported to be interested in this plant?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, again it is important to state that the honourable member asked whether or not a meeting could be arranged on Friday and my answer was in the affirmative, that we had staff involved. I was never asked for a meeting on Friday, I knew full well that the workers were meeting with Ken Rowe and that my staff was available to them.

The second question is, what are we (Interruptions) They met with their MLAs, they met with Mr. Boudreau, they met with Dr. Stewart for breakfast, they had a meeting with Ken Rowe. I was never asked for a meeting on Friday by these people and the member opposite was here all day Friday and never once did he ask me to come out and meet with workers. So the issue here is that with help of the workers, we have tried to provide support for a partnership proposal to solve that problem. We have tried from day one to be involved in the facilitation, in terms of the transition of work from there to other plants. The workers in their meeting with Ken Rowe were informed that certain pieces of equipment would be moved early in the week. I have the understanding from the information I have that that has been happening today.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it really is truly amazing how this minister skips around the issue that is involved here. We are talking about people's lives and jobs; real people, not the small people of Nova Scotia but real people. This minister keeps on going around and giving answers that are half-hearted and he is not sincere, nor is this government sincere about helping these individuals. If the minister is truly sincere about helping these workers, will he move, right now, today, to ask IMP, demand that IMP stop taking equipment

[Page 1739]

out of there until every avenue open to these workers has been investigated, and give them a real chance for a change?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this government's job creation record speaks for itself, and the member opposite . . .

MR. MACLEOD: Are these guys important, or aren't they important? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the numbers - I choose not to introduce them now because there is a resolution on the floor for debate later, but I can assure that the numbers -speak for themselves. The issue here, though, is far more important. We have people in a plant in North Sydney whose company has run out of time in terms of the ability to solve a problem. The workers themselves have attempted to put together a plan to purchase that plant, and have been unsuccessful in finding a national partner to do so.

The aerospace industry in this province is a vital industry. We have supported that industry as a government, Mr. Speaker, and the results are increased employment throughout the province. Any time a Nova Scotian is displaced by forces that are international or national, or even at the provincial level, that is something of concern to this government. We have, throughout, been committed both to those workers and to the industry, and I trust that if there is an opportunity, an agreement between the workers and the company, that we might facilitate a meeting to resolve a problem, we would be happy to do that and have been in a position to do that ever since day one.

The issue here though, from my point of view, is that those workers need to know and that member opposite needs to know that this government has been there from day one with an attempt to find international or national partners to try to preserve those jobs in North Sydney. If that is not possible, then we will continue to work with those workers, in support of an association, in support of an industry that is growing jobs by the hundreds in this province.

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

ERA - IMP PLANT (C.B.): WORKERS - ASSIST

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I have one question to ask the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Just how many people's lives have to be affected before he decides to get off his duff and do something?

MR. SPEAKER: That is unparliamentary. That is unparliamentary and I call on the honourable member to withdraw the words about his duff. Please withdraw them.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister for the ERA, how many things . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I asked you to withdraw the words about his duff. Will you withdraw them now, please?

[Page 1740]

MR. MACLEOD: His backside, sir, his backside. How many people's lives have to be affected, how many jobs have to be affected, before the Minister for the ERA will get off his backside and do something for those people?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the minister wish to respond? (Interruptions)

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Every single unemployed Nova Scotian is of concern to this government. When we have a chance in debate, Mr. Speaker, the numbers and the record of the Tory Government in terms of creating unemployment in this province will speak for themselves. The numbers of employed and jobs created since we took government will also speak for themselves. The issue of which government has more concern for the unemployed of this province, when we had 15 years of the trustees of this province spending someone else's money, sending people off to New York to borrow more, putting this province in debt; the greatest single ball and chain to the economic progress of this province has been debt and deficit, the legacy of the Tory Government for 15 years. (Applause)

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, not once in that tirade did I hear IMP or the employees there mentioned. I would like to read something out of Hansard, on May 9, 1996, and it is a question put forward by me. It says, "I wonder if the minister would be in agreement to meet those the people at a time later on this afternoon, after Question Period . . .". I believe that is a question that I put forward to the minister. He just stood in this House and said he wasn't asked to meet with those people and in Hansard it says he was. He is not being fair to the people, to IMP. He is not being fair.

MR. SPEAKER: The Question Period was not on Friday. It was on Thursday.

MR. MACLEOD: Thursday is what I said, Mr. Speaker, May 9th. Now the question is simple and the question is easy. Unfortunately he won't be able to come up with an easy answer because he has to go on and on. But the question is, when will this minister sit down and talk to those employees on a one to one basis, because they are the real people who are being affected by this?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the issue of Hansard speaks for itself. At no time was I asked after Question Period to come out and meet with anyone. Had the honourable member wanted me to go out and meet with people, I would have gladly gone out into the hall and met with them. At no time did a note come to me, did somebody say there are people in the hall. I would be delighted to meet with those people. My staff is working with them. We have worked with them from day one. Our record of support for those workers in trying to find a solution to the problem they face has been, I think, clear. I think we have been in support of them. We have worked diligently to try and find a solution. I have already indicated that we would be glad to facilitate a meeting between the company and the workers if it was agreed by both sides to sit down. We would be delighted to meet.

MR. MACLEOD: Again we have some gobbledegook. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, the Premier would give an idea of when he is going to direct the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to actually take part in solving this problem. These workers are not looking for anything except real work. I would ask the Premier, when is he going to direct his Minister for the ERA to become personally involved in this situation?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am glad that I don't have to direct ministers to get involved because they are involved in all the problems in this province and we do not run a government by issuing directives to ministers.

[Page 1741]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

PUBLIC TENDERS OFFICE - PROCUREMENT: POLICY - CURRENT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Tenders Office. On January 1, 1996, the provincial procurement policy was introduced. The news release stated among other things that it was introduced to ensure that the procurement system helped taxpayers receive the best value for their dollars, that the system was fair and open, and to ensure that every business would have an opportunity to do business.

MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, honourable member. I believe this question is directed to a minister who is not here in the House at the moment. It is the honourable Minister of Finance, is it not?

MR. ARCHIBALD: The minister responsible for the Public Tenders Office? That's gone to Finance?

MR. SPEAKER: I believe so. Here is the honourable Minister of Finance now. Start again.

MR. ARCHIBALD: With all of the changes, I assumed it was over in Transportation and Public Works. Then we thought it might have gone to Business and Consumer Services, and, my soul, lo and behold, right to the Minister of Finance. Well, Mr. Speaker, let me commence again, halfway through the question. I won't go through all the rhetoric. (Laughter)

I want to remind the minister that on January 1, 1996, the former minister indicated that we had a new procurement system that would help the taxpayers receive the best value for their dollars. Would the minister advise whether this policy is still in effect or whether the policy has been changed since January 1st of this year?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The short answer, Mr. Speaker, is yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now that's how you give an answer, Robbie.

MR. ARCHIBALD: That's right. You don't fool around; it is yes and no.

Well, Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Question Period, the Minister of Health admitted with regard to the air ambulance that this tendering policy was not followed. In effect, what the minister said (Interruption) You weren't here, Mr. Premier, you wouldn't know.

I will quote what the minister said yesterday in Hansard, "The process was fair, it was independently audited by people who are of good character and who are not in any way associated with the government or with any of the companies.". Now, could the minister indicate who were these people that the Minister of Health was referring to yesterday? He is in charge of the Public Tenders Office; who are these people of good character who are not associated with this government and are making multimillion dollar tender decisions?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would be tempted to take the question on notice and provide it but perhaps the Minister of Health could answer that question right now, if I referred it to him.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, I will be happy to answer that, Mr. Speaker. As I stated yesterday in this House, the process was followed and I reflected that our process, in place as of January, is fair, open and above-board. The selection process was indeed followed scrupulously by the board that was put in place to receive and examine the tenders. We had an independent small group looking at the process [Page 1742]

by which we set up the tenders and the RFP that was composed. That is the group to which the honourable gentleman opposite refers.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I think I would like to go to the Minister of Health, because the Public Tenders Office where these tenders usually go have people that are employed by the government working on behalf of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. My question to the Minister of Health is directly, who are these people who he indicated to all and sundry yesterday that they were of good character and they are not in any way associated with the government? Could the Minister of Health tell us where he finds these people? Do you stop a bus and take the first four off the bus that look like they have good character to you, or do you get them from friends and associates, or do you meet them at a cocktail party or a restaurant? Where are you finding these people of good character, not associated with the government, who are making decisions of over a $1 million purchase for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia? Will you tell us their names and how you picked them?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I have just answered that. The process for selection of the tender and examining the tender is, as the honourable member suggests, a function of government and the Public Tenders Office. In order to prepare the RFP there was a group of medical people who are part and parcel of the air medical ambulance service and consultation. We have prepared the RFP in consultation with them, and they followed the process that we put in place and the policy of selection and opening the tender and examining the tender is as the procurement policy states. The preparation of the tender, the medical aspects of this and the process by which we came to issue the tender was followed by a group, which was our advice regarding the particular issue. That is all. Let's not have the honourable member opposite mix up the two processes.

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

HEALTH - BLOOD COLLECTION FIRMS: REGS. - NECESSITY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go through you to the Minister of Health. It is with respect to the issue of private blood collection firms. Increasingly, if you enter a drugstore in the Province of Nova Scotia, you will run into mounds of pamphlets advertising for private blood collection firms. I think that the reality is that, increasingly, clinics and hospitals and under extreme pressure and the waiting lines or whatever continue to grow. There are a lot of demands on people to get blood work done and so there seems to be some kind of demand for this blood collection business. My concern is, of course, that there are no licensing requirements and this industry appears to be unregulated. I would like to ask the minister, could he explain whether he has any concerns with respect to the apparent proliferation of these private blood collection firms?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the interest which, I might say, is rather sudden of the honourable member opposite in this development which he describes as a proliferation. We have had private blood collecting and blood pressure taking people in the province for years, five to eight years, who have set up some kind of operation. It has occurred that a recent one has evoked some interest, particularly in Cape Breton. As I have

[Page 1743]

said publicly, these are not part of the public system, they are not covered by any of the public purse, and they are not reimbursed. The issue here is one of quality assurance and I have made the public statement that I have concerns, as the honourable member suggests, with respect to regulations; I still do and we are looking very closely at this development.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it may be the case that private firms like this have been involved in the provision of medical services in the province for some time. It is just like home care services, for example. Back in 1990, there were three private firms registered in the Yellow Pages. But now if you go to the Yellow Pages and look under home care, for example, there are dozens and dozens of companies, for-profit agencies, companies making profit off the delivery of health services, and that includes the provision of blood collection services.

My concern and my understanding, I am not a medical physician, but the supply of blood and blood products is undergoing serious review in this country and it is a matter of some significant concern. The fact that we have this trade going on with no licensing requirements, unregulated in the Province of Nova Scotia, I would like to ask the minister what he is planning to do. Is he planning to move on this with some sense of urgency to ensure that blood collection services are, in fact, regulated and that the firms involved, if they are to be involved, are in fact licensed, that there is some quality assurance provided by the Government of Nova Scotia?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would want to caution the honourable members to be attentive to the question of the honourable member opposite who suggests that we have some sort of blood collection, i.e., blood donation private services. This is not true. These are phlebotomy clinics. They take a vial of blood from you to ship it to the lab. There is a big difference between that and collection as in a donation for transfusion. We need to make that very carefully evident.

However, having said that, I share the honourable member opposite's concern about quality control measures that might be in place and the fact that these independent operations do not come under the purview of any regulation at the moment. We have concerns which we are pursuing in that regard.

MR. CHISHOLM: Again, we talk about the proliferation of home care companies, for-profit companies providing home care services in the Province of Nova Scotia. I bring up a specific example of private firms providing blood collection services for profit and I am asking and raising the concern and asking the Minister of Health whether or not he agrees with me that this a matter of concern, which he does.

My final supplementary, how long is he prepared to wait, as these private-for-profit firms continue to enter the health care system in this province, how long is he prepared to wait before he moves as a government to ensure that there is some quality control, some guarantee of standards and regulation before this situation is allowed to continue? How long is he prepared to wait before he acts?

DR. STEWART: We have not waited, in fact, we have acted in terms of standards that have been defined and circulated for issues in terms of home care. Having said that, there are areas in which we have to look very carefully and that is the issue of private companies or programs, or individuals even, and I want to refer back to the fact that these are phlebotomy clinics to which he refers and not blood donation collection agencies, but rather that they are phlebotomy or blood-drawing clinics.

[Page 1744]

That happens to be the concern that I have in terms of quality controls, as I have said. We are looking very closely at this, we have other issues, but in respect to a home service agency, Home Care Nova Scotia has standards in place and will continue to pursue those. All of those agencies to which the honourable member opposite refers are outside the public arena and do not come under the purview of public funds. We are, in fact, concerned not only in respect to standards but we also are concerned in respect to the escalating costs of the community in that regard. So we share this concern and we are investigating and looking at that very closely, quickly, too.

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

ERA - BLUENOSE II PRESERVATION TRUST: LOGO - POLICY

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I wonder if the minister could advise the House if it is the policy of his department that images of Bluenose, of Bluenose II and Bluenose-like vessels, including, for example, the famous MacAskill photographs, should be used entirely at the discretion of Willie Moore's Bluenose II Preservation Trust?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: If I understand it correctly, is he talking about registered logos of the Tourism Department? Two years ago we registered a logo, an image that was not unlike the word mark for the province, a registered logo. Maybe I could get some clarification.

MR. LEEFE: I will repeat the question. Is it the government's policy that images of Bluenose and Bluenose II, including, for example, the famous MacAskill photographs of Bluenose, should be used entirely at the discretion of Willie Moore's Bluenose II Preservation Trust? Yes or no?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the image of the Bluenose II and the Preservation Trust, I think I explained yesterday. The understanding is that there are companies within this province that are prepared to help that vessel by contributing to a fund dedicated to the kind of maintenance work that is needed to keep the vessel in fine and proper sailing condition and we support those companies.

MR. LEEFE: So the minister isn't sure. Mr. Speaker, on January 9th Carol A. Nauss, of C.A. Nauss, Presentations, E-mailed Willie Moore and asked permission to use a few images of Bluenose II on a CD-ROM, on small wooden boats. On January 31st, and I will table this series of letters, Mr. Moore wrote back; ". . . we will send to you a Product License Application.". That was January 31, 1996.

On April 6, 1996, Ms. Nauss again contacted Bluenose II Preservation Trust; "I had made contact with Mr. Moore and he assured me that he would forward the contract but that is now almost two months ago and I have yet to receive it. This is the third contact by email, another by phone, and a personal conversation with Mr. Moore. Would you please respond.".

My question to the minister, is it his view that the response time made available to C.A. Nauss, Presentations, by Bluenose II Preservation Trust reflects sound business practice?

[Page 1745]

MR. HARRISON: Again, Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate seeing copies of the correspondence. The issue here has to do with permission and she obviously believed, this business person, that she had some obligation to the trust, in terms of the use of an image, and was prepared to work with the trust. I can't comment on the length of time but I think it is commendable that any business in this province is prepared to put funds towards the preservation of the Bluenose II vessel. We have many companies that are lined up to do that. They are in support of the work of the trust and they are in support of that vessel. Again, we commend them for that.

Somebody is going to bring me copies of the correspondence and I will take the matter under advisement.

MR. LEEFE: Again, Mr. Speaker, clearly the minister has no answer. On April 23, 1996, C.A. Nauss, Presentations, wrote to Willie Moore, Chairman of the Bluenose II Preservation Trust, in an attempt to negotiate a product license fee. On April 29th an E-mail was forwarded to C.A. Nauss, Presentations, by Wilfred Moore, Chairman, Bluenose II Preservation Trust. Mr. Moore does not make reference to the application except to say, "We do not feel that it is appropriate for `Bluenose' and `Bluenose II' to be included in a CD-ROM on small wooden boats. We regret the delay in responding to your request, . . . " It had only been initiated in January, Mr. Minister, in the event that you had forgotten that.

My question to the minister is, if Bluenose and Bluenose II do not belong in Nova Scotian productions which highlight wooden vessels, small, medium or large, where then do images of Bluenose and Bluenose II belong?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think we have made it clear that the understanding between the government and the trust is that those companies that are willing to work with the trust, that are prepared to make contributions to the maintenance of the vessel are supported not only by this government but by the people of Nova Scotia, I would contend. The issue here that he is presenting on the floor of the House today about whether in a CD-ROM about small wooden boats, the Bluenose belongs and the issue of an opinion of one person versus another, a company that was interested in helping out the Bluenose - I have indicated that I will take the letters, we will deal with it. But let's make it perfectly clear that those companies that are willing to work with the trust are supported by this government, by the trust and by the people. What we will attempt to do is clarify the issues raised in the letter for the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - RESOURCE ENTERPRISES: DRILLING - RESULTS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. In September 1994, the then minister signed a contract for a special licence with Resource Enterprises to do some exploratory drilling for methane in the Pictou coalfield. As part of that announcement and in association with that special licence, there was a commitment by Resource Enterprises to spend some $4.5 million on this particular endeavour. Would the minister give an update of the results of the drilling to this date?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I do not have that with me here today. I will take it under advisement and return a response to the member opposite as soon as it is available, if it is not under a confidential memorandum.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister and I wonder, when she is formulating her reply, if she would indicate the number of wells that have been drilled to date, how many wells will be drilled this summer and how many wells will be drilled next year? Just give a summary update of the success of this enterprise in Pictou County.

[Page 1746]

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, yes.

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

AGRIC. - HFX. REG. MUN.: LIVESTOCK FENCING - ACTION

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing a question. I brought it to the minister's attention, several months ago, to his department at least, that we have a concern with a herd of wayward cattle out in the Musquodoboit Valley area. I have just been advised that the situation has become very serious and I am wondering what the Department of Agriculture and Marketing is doing to alleviate this situation?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I have previously advised the member that the Halifax Regional Municipality continues to be designated under the Fences and Detention of Stray Livestock Act. A letter has gone to the municipal clerk to provide them with the information asking them to appoint a chairman of the Halifax County Fence Arbitration Board. Also, we ourselves have contacted and we have also requested the municipal clerk to contact the Federation of Agriculture in that county for their appointment. Also, our department is presently working to have a Governor in Council appointment in place as quickly as possible for the committee to meet and certainly look at this particular problem that the member brings to the floor today.

As I pointed out, we are trying to get this resolved as quickly as possible. I understand from the individual from his home riding how urgent this matter is and we are going to pursue this through the system.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's response but the wheels of progress are not even turning. The fact of the matter is, I am very concerned that there may be a personal, physical type confrontation take place. While I respect that is not in the minister's jurisdiction, I would ask that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing become more actively involved in this matter. I have been talking to the Saunders family and some neighbours who also have been affected by the transgressions of these cattle, and they are becoming quite serious. These cattle from time to time can be wayward and commit some misdeeds and, in fact, strike fear into some individuals. The Saunders have four children who attend school. They travel up and down their driveway. Again, I implore the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing to become more involved in this matter before something happens that we may all regret?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out to the honourable member earlier, following our budget estimates, that I would personally get involved in this matter to see a solution to this problem. As I pointed out earlier to the House, there is ongoing progress to resolve this issue. Again, I will point out to the member that we will not stop until this

[Page 1747]

problem is resolved to the individual's satisfaction. I understand there is, however, a time factor involved in finding the solution but I will certainly - again to the honourable member -promise that we will see if we cannot make things move a little faster as he is requesting here today.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the sincerity of the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. I am hesitant to get forceful with the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing because he is such an obliging minister, when - no I shouldn't go on any more - I just want to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Quite so.

MR. TAYLOR: I am not going to make comparisons between the Minister of Agriculture and some of his colleagues. I do want to ask the minister by way of a final supplementary, as the provisions in the Fences and Livestock Detention Act enable, has he received a submission from the Federation of Agriculture respecting an appointee? Has he a name at this point, as we are speaking, an appointee to be put on the fences arbitration committee?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I don't have that information here with me, but I will certainly undertake to provide the honourable member with an update the first thing tomorrow morning.

MR. SPEAKER: Six minutes remaining.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - POLICE (RCMP/HFX. REG. MUN.): RADIOS - COMPATIBILITY

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice will be aware that yesterday and last evening there was a most unfortunate occurrence in Preston. Quite a number of police vehicles were damaged and personal injury was done and it was a very unfortunate scene, to say the least. Part of the difficulty, allegedly, in terms of the Halifax Regional Municipal Police Force being able to maintain communication with the RCMP - again I repeat allegedly - is reported to me to be on the basis that the radio systems in place as between the Halifax Regional Municipal Police Force and the RCMP are in some way, or to some extent, not compatible and that while now the municipal police force is suggesting that they were abandoned by the RCMP, the RCMP response is that there was a communications problem. I wonder if the Minister of Justice would indicate to us first of all whether or not he knows if the radio systems employed by the RCMP are, in fact, compatible with those employed by the Halifax Regional Municipal Police Force?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know, but I would be happy to undertake to find that out through the Policing Services Division of my department.

MR. DONAHOE: I thank the minister for that response, that he will check that out. I wonder if, by way of supplementary, I might ask the Minister of Justice if he would be prepared to make an undertaking to this House that he would table some detail, once his officials have had a chance to do a report, and determine whether or not there is a lack of communication capacity between the RCMP and the regional municipal police force. Would he be prepared to table such a finding or a report?

[Page 1748]

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly check into it and table anything that would not create any problems in terms of security for one force or the other. Any information to which the public is entitled, and the members of this House, I would certainly be glad to provide that information.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, just to follow up on a turn of phrase employed by the Minister of Justice, I would suggest to the Minister of Justice, and I doubt he would take issue with it, that what I think the public is entitled to is the safe and secure knowledge that the communication capacity between, in this instance, in this region of the province, the municipal force and the RCMP, is in fact compatible, that their safety and the safety of their families and children simply cries out for us ensuring that it is possible, without hitch or without glitch, for the RCMP force and the local police forces - the regional police forces - to have full, uninterrupted capacity to communicate, each with the other.

Will the minister make the undertaking to this House that if the analysis done by his officials determines that there is a communications problem and that there is a deficiency in the ability of the RCMP, on the one hand, and the regional municipal police force, on the other hand, to communicate without incident, without glitch, without interruption, if he finds that, will he give a commitment to this House that he will embark upon immediate steps to ensure that those shortcomings in that communication system will be overcome?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, in terms of the first part of the honourable member's question, I said I would table the information. Just so there is no misunderstanding, I am concerned about the security and safety of the police officers in both cases, and I will table everything except something that would put the actions of the police in protecting the citizens at risk or in jeopardy. I am making that clear just in case there was seen to be any reluctance. I will provide every information to which the public is entitled, except we are not going to jeopardize public safety.

On the other matter, I will certainly check out the compatibility of communications and I will certainly work with both police forces, but again respect the jurisdiction of both police forces and not maybe push myself in where I shouldn't be. Within those limits, I will certainly do everything I can to see that we can help to facilitate cooperation and coordination if that is necessary.

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

FIN. - CASINO (HFX.): ITT SHERATON - CONSTRUCTION PROPOSAL

MR. JOHN HOLM: Time is very brief, so I am just going to make my questions very brief to the Minister of Finance, the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation. Could the minister advise us if he was aware and is aware that the corporation has rejected the proposal submitted by the ITT Sheraton for its new grandiose waterfront casino, which was in fact the original one presented on Friday?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am aware, through the chairman, that the submission was not found acceptable by them. I don't know why, I don't know what the details of it were, but that is the full extent of my knowledge at the moment.

MR. HOLM: Could the minister agree that the proposal rejected was the same one that had been accepted in the first place, and will he find out and table the reasons why it was rejected?

[Page 1749]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member knows that the original proposal was accepted by the Casino Project Committee. A different group was selected among competing bids and indicated that that bid would be the successful one. I have no idea, at this stage, precisely why it was found unacceptable, whether it was a minor matter, whether it was a major matter. So I simply would want to be informed by the chairman in more detail than I am at the moment.

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

We are now going to move on to Opposition Members' Business.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: Today is the New Democratic Party Opposition Day and I call on the House Leader of the New Democratic Party to call the first item of business.

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 16.

Bill No. 16 - Health Care Act.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce and to speak in second reading on Bill No. 16, the Health Care Act. This bill enshrines in provincial legislation the principles contained in the Canada Health Act. With federal and provincial cutbacks in funding, these principles are being imperiled, particularly the principles of public administration, comprehensiveness and accessibility. Of course I refer to the change in the way health care will be funded, the fact that it now is part of block funding, together with funding for post-secondary education and social services.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, prior to this, when equalization payments were directed to the provinces, were earmarked for each one of those categories, then the federal government always had the recourse to withhold some of the money, for example, directed at health care in the provinces if, in fact, the provinces were abusing or were staying away from the principles of the Canada Health Act that they were trying to maintain. It is clear now that they will not be able to have that same influence, that same stick because if they were to withhold funding, it would affect not only health care but also social services and education.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that Nova Scotians are witnessing the dramatic effects of this government's assault on essential principles, on those essential principles. They are endangering comprehensiveness and accessibility by failing to ensure that home care, for example, is properly in place before closing hospital beds. They are threatening public administration by then privatizing the home care system. I will elaborate on that a little bit. They have also dismantled the Provincial Health Council, the only independent body mandated to monitor health care in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 1750]

We have, in the past, presented back in October in this House, Resolution No. 446 on October 30, 1995, which supported the 10 goals for improving health care for Canadians. It was supported unanimously. The resolved on that said:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House supports the Canadian Health Coalition's Ten Goals for Health Care as an example of the fundamental principles needed to keep a national, public health care system and urge federal action to ensure there will always be federal cash transfers to back up such principles.".

Mr. Speaker, I believe, and I am suggesting this to all members of the House, that if, in fact, the support given to that resolution back in October, 1995, was real, then all members should be in favour of supporting the entrenchment of the principles of the Canada Health Act and those further principles of improving the 10 health goals for improving health care in this country, and they will, in fact, support this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I indicated earlier today that we are seeing a significant increase in privatized for-profit health care services. I mean if you look at the Yellow Pages, for example, under home care services, for the years 1990 and 1996, it shows a significant increase in the number of private-for-profit companies providing home care and nursing services. In 1990 there were three companies and now there are six pages in the Yellow Pages of companies that are providing those services, for profit. We Care Home Health Services has been running ads in this province now, for at least the last six months, is luring people to start a We Care franchise as an ideal way, and this is what the ad says, an ideal way to enter the rapidly expanding private health market.

I indicated today a brochure for Blood Test Collection Services that are appearing in drug stores around this province. We are seeing them in Halifax. We have seen them now in Sydney.

The province is about to award a contract for non-professional home care services. We know, Mr. Speaker, that in terms of the list of those that have applied to win that tender, that all but one are for-profit firms. So our concern there is the proliferation, again, of for-profit services. The province is considering whether it will call for tenders the provision of professional nursing home care services. We have had that debate fairly extensively in this House and the VON branch here in Halifax felt so under pressure by those for-profit nursing service firms, that they demanded excessive concessions from their nursing staff in order to try to hang on to that contract. That matter has not yet been resolved.

There are reports also that MDS Laboratories, Mr. Speaker, are actively marketing their services in Nova Scotia. MDS Health Group Limited is a Toronto-based company that specializes in health care products and services such as laboratory testing. We know that using the model that they have begun in other parts of this country, they are now negotiating, as reported in the Globe and Mail in the last month, with officials in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as well as at several U.S. hospital chains to set up regional labs serving several hospitals.

The 1-900 ask-a-nurse telephone service being advertised in Nova Scotia, charging $3.99 a minute. Those services, Mr. Speaker, are being directly marketed at senior citizens. The get-well motels in Antigonish and Halifax here, at the Holiday Inn and other facilities, are lobbying to get in on some of that revenue. The minister, in terms of the provision of emergency health services for the Province of Nova Scotia, is dealing with Baltimore-based Jack Stout for assistance with the new ambulance services, reports of participation in terms of a consulting contract in the amount of $350,000 for those services, either that or Mr. Stout will be part of a consortium that will take over responsibility for those services.

On and on it goes, Mr. Speaker, and, in the meantime, the quality of care according to many is decreasing. The waiting list for services and diagnosis is increasing. We have had correspondence from Nova Scotians who have explained to us how, in fact, diagnosis and treatment of their family members, in one case a father who died because he was not able to get access to the health system, and one individual made what [Page 1751]

I think was a good point. He said he is not even slightly interested in having a few hundred dollars extra in his pocket - he was referring to Finance Minister Boudreau's tax cut announcement - if it means that loved ones are going without proper health care.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that there are many Nova Scotians who feel likewise. They believe that their health and the lives and health of their family members and their children and their children's children are going to be put in jeopardy as a result of these cuts. There is no palliative home care still in the Province of Nova Scotia. We know of examples of people that have had to purchase palliative home care services and have been left with bills of $10,000 and more as a result. Now, of course, we just heard this week where the emergency department is closing in Springhill, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the health care system in this province is under threat as a result of a lack of commitment to the principles that I have enunciated and that are enunciated in this particular bill. I believe it would give Nova Scotians some considerable solace if, in fact, members were to agree to entrench in legislation these principles. Because what we have seen this government do in response to the cries of Nova Scotians that they are affecting in such a negative way, a disastrous way their health care system, what have we seen them do?

We have seen them pass legislation in this House to allow doctors to incorporate. We know as a result of freedom of information that they have foregone in excess of $2 million already in revenue, or they expect to forego in this year $2 million in revenue. We refer to material from the Medical Society itself where they suggested that doctors earning $200,000 would realize savings in excess of $50,000 as a result of this right to incorporate.

My question is, at the time when health care workers are being laid off, at the time when hospitals are having to close emergency wards and other services that are providing health services to Nova Scotians, now is not the time for us to be giving people in the health care system who are certainly benefiting the most from any monies that might be there, now is not the time for us to be giving those higher income earners that kind of benefit. Let's work at trying to beef up the support for doctors in many parts of this province so that they are not driven out of here as a result of workloads, as a result of the lack of support, as a result of an inadequate services and equipment in many of our facilities.

There has been no action to increase the use and role of health care practitioners other than doctors in the health care system. What has happened with the promises, with the commitment, supposedly, to develop multidisciplinary health teams that are going to practise and deliver health care in our communities. We need legislation and we have needed legislation in order to ensure that those additional practitioners are recognized or registered and the standards are provided to ensure that they are able to be put in place.

The minister has also in the past promised a greater role for nurses in the health care system and he has promised the toll-free number called, ask-a-nurse, and he has failed to come forward with that and as a result, of course, we now have a privatized one. The

[Page 1752]

government, finally, has withdrawn $141 million from hospital funding, they have closed 25 per cent of hospital beds in the province.

While I have said before that beds do not equate with quality care, what it does equate with, and this has been proven through a bevy of reports, that you do not start tearing the system down until you put something in place in the communities. That is exactly what this government has not done. They have been sucking money out of the system and they have not put it in place in the communities. Three years later, we still have a problem with the fact that there are inadequate, if any, services in many communities in this province.

The problems continue, the legislation is not in place, the direction is not place and I ask all members of this House to give serious consideration to supporting this bill, Bill No. 16, the Health Care Act, to allow us to send Nova Scotians a message and to give this government a reminder of the fact that if it going to support these principles, that it needs to do more than just mouth the words. It needs to put money into place, it needs to ensure that money is redirected from one pot to the other, not taken out of the system completely. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I am trying my best to be charitable here in discussing this piece of legislation. I was going to be even more charitable until I heard the oration of the honourable Leader of the NDP who, without regard to accuracy or fact, lists a long litany of abuses and of various problems that he sees that have apparently suddenly sprung up.

I suspect that he is doing that in order to suggest that this piece of legislation is the answer to the problems. Well, let us examine that. Let me say, again, that I do so much want to believe that the intent of this Bill No. 16, so-called, has as the main intent to preserve a single-tiered, publicly administered, accessible and comprehensive system in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I want to believe that so badly because I was struggling to weave that belief through the reading of this legislation and then we hear that the honourable member opposite comes with a long list of supposed deficiencies and deficits which, of course, have all suddenly sprung up over the last three years, and he maintains that this piece of legislation is the answer to those deficiencies that he, with his rhetoric, outlines.

[4:30 p.m.]

Let me examine for the record what this legislation really would do. If this is the best that we can get out of the Third Party, well, Heaven help us all. This is an attempt to, in fact this legislation would burn down the house to get rid of the rodents, completely dismantling what we have, which has been testified to by the honourable member opposite and his colleague as to a system that deserves preservation; that is, preservation with respect to our system, it dismantles the system. We now have, on record, in this piece of legislation, that the honourable members opposite for the NDP want to get rid of all private clinics and so on, which includes the Morgentaler Clinic. We have that on record now here in this House, a clinic that provides service to the people and, in fact, has plenty of other ramifications that I want to address very forthrightly in this legislation.

For example, it outlaws any kind of private-for-profit or not-for-profit operations with provisions; in other words, what it does, in essence, is to remove a third of our nursing homes and make them illegal overnight. In fact, two-thirds if we include private-not-for-profit enterprises which are known to be governed by communities in this province, which I say with great respect, do a find job. He makes some reference to emergency medical services. Well we didn't design the emergency medical service that exists in this province, that we inherited. We are correcting the deficiencies and the problems that we have inherited, and it so happens that 92-plus per cent of the ambulances operated in this province are privately owned, operated [Page 1753]

and administered. We have said if we are going to do this, we have to do it with standards. Surely, the honourable members opposite would agree with this.

He talks about the proliferation of home health care companies. That begs the question, of course, for standards. We have talked about this and canvassed it in this place previously that, yes, indeed, we do need standards. For the last year, the Home Care Nova Scotia staff have worked very hard on those standards in cooperation and collaboration with the VON. They have produced this and they are very proud of the record that they have in terms of producing standards for home care and Home Care Nova Scotia. The very lists of agencies to which he refers, who are giving care in those, who are employed with those agencies, nurses, the very nurses that we have in our system are employed with those agencies, in this piece of legislation, this honourable member would have them wiped out overnight and put them on the unemployment lines with one fell swoop of Bill No. 16. Not a good idea, I would say.

What the principle is here is public administration accountability and we adhere to this. We give tribute to it not only in legislation called the Canada Health Act, but in this House and in this place where we continually redefine and restate the position of the government to adhere to the Canada Health Act as much as we possibly can, with what the honourable member recognizes as forces afoot that would try and defeat that Canada Health Act. We recognize there are forces afoot, whether they be in the Medical Society or whether they be in this very place. We will resist the tendency that is afoot to develop private-for-profit agencies that do not come under our public system.

I might say, too, Mr. Speaker, that the honourable member opposite refers to the issue of public accountability in a way that is most interesting. First of all, he talks of redefining the Provincial Health Council. Now, we have canvassed this issue in this place in this past. He calls it the only independent body for monitoring the health system. The Provincial Health Council, by Statute, never had that responsibility. It never was legislated to do that and it never was independent. (Interruption) A ministerial appointed committee cannot, indeed, provide for independent opinion on anything.

The fact that the Provincial Health Council helped create, in large measure, the Blueprint Report and the follow-up of the Blueprint Report, and the fact that its staff continues to work diligently to provide for the continued changes in the system that we need, that fact is recognized and we have continued its legacy and will build on that legacy into what we believe is truly a publicly accountable element within our system, to, by the way, expand on the mandate as it was given, which was to comment on issues relative to the minister's interest and we will do that.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that the democracy, the democratic structure advocated by the Blueprint Report, to which the honourable member opposite gives great rhetorical pledges of loyalty and support, actually when it comes to walk the walk, he is nowhere to be seen. He stands up and he produces a piece of legislation here that, in fact, restricts the Provincial

[Page 1754]

Health Council from doing other roles other than receiving complaints and receiving complaints only.

It mentions nothing about judging trends in the system and applying the government's record and the government's role in health care against the very solid Nova Scotia health goals. It says nothing about Nova Scotia health goals in this so-called piece of legislation. It is very deficient in that regard, because Nova Scotian health goals takes a much broader view of health.

This is dealing with health care delivery. It is not dealing with health. It is simplistic in the extreme. It deals only with the delivery of health services. Now, that is an important element, of course. But surely, this piece of legislation could do nothing except completely dismantle our system and we are not about to do that. We are not about to agree to do that. We think we have approached the changes and the reform in terms of health care in a gradual and a very cautious way, but a very appropriate way and we will rest on that.

The elements of this bill, particularly in respect to disenfranchising all of those which would, in fact, have played a role in our system and will continue to play a role in our system, I think speaks for itself in respect, particularly, Mr. Speaker, to the implied intent, the stated intent, to protect the Canada Health Act. We as a government, as a ministry, are committed to the Canada Health Act. We have stated that. We live it. We, in fact, have, time and again, given testimony to that in what legislation we bring forward and how we carry on as a ministry.

The issue here is public accountability and public administration of our health system. We will continue, Mr. Speaker, to be able to carry forward the reform of our system based on the Canada Health Act. The principles that, in fact, are illustrated here in the Canada Health Act remain the bedrock of our system. There is no question about that. I would give as much charity towards this bill as I could, in assuming that that is, in fact, the basis of introducing a piece of legislation such as this. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if we were to enact such a piece of legislation, our system would collapse overnight. We are not about to do that, the Canada Health Act certainly would not be well served by that.

Mr. Speaker, I might say as we go forward with our comments on this, that this particular piece of legislation, if this is, in fact, the plan that the honourable member and his Party recommend as the correction of the so-called deficits that he lists with great rhetoric, if this is the plan for addressing those so-called deficiencies, then surely we are in deep trouble if we would enact this kind of almost cynical legislation.

We have, for example, the suggestion that the Health Minister should engage in broad consultation on every de-insured service, everything that changes and so on. We are in agreement that changes in the health system, whether it be changes in insured services or whether it be changes in regard to what is covered, what is not covered or even the structure, must be canvassed publicly and so on. We have done that in the past, we continue to do that almost on a daily basis, in terms of how our changes are coming about.

Certainly the bill, as it is written, talks about ensuring that other practitioners provide care. Other practitioners already provide care in the health service; physiotherapists, we have dental assistants, we have examples throughout our system in which those other than physicians or dentists provide that service. We have, as I have mentioned in this place before, a commitment to a multi-centred approach to the provision of health service. We have multiple entry points that will come about through the provision of primary care teams.

[Page 1755]

The honourable member opposite asks, how in the world are we going to do that. Where did we do it and why didn't we do it? The fact is that we were working through the contracts that we have inherited, both with the Medical Society and others, and we are bringing about change. It is change which will in fact ensure that the Canada Health Act is preserved in this province and we adhere to that.

I might say that the greatest risk to our health system, which is not mentioned nor addressed in any way in this bill, by the way, the greatest risk is debt and deficit and until we create more, our ability to fund our programs, until we ensure that, then, in fact, we will be much the less. In fact it would not matter a hill of beans what kind of legislation we proposed to protect the Canada Health Act if, through debt and deficit, we did a very grave disservice to our citizens and to our children. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in debate on Bill No. 16. The minister, who is now leaving, indicated there was a great threat with regard to finances, with regard to our system. Absolutely the greatest threat in Nova Scotia is his lack of making sure that his programs receive (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Kings West has the floor.

MR. MOODY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am surprised that the only time I hear from that honourable member is when he is interrupting.

The greatest threat to our health care system is the kind of cuts that this Minister of Health has brought to this province. This minister is the greatest threat to Nova Scotians in having a health care system. This minister talked about, when he was speaking, the Health Council not being at arm's length from government. I know members that were on that Health Council were from all three political Parties and some of them had no affiliation. But the minister stands up and says, it is all right.

[4:45 p.m.]

We have appointed arm's length regional health boards who, according to the Premier and the minister, have to be Liberals. Well, now, I don't understand how at one point you can say that the Health Council wasn't at arm's length, but you can say the regional health boards are at arm's length and they are all known Liberals. The Premier said they can't be appointed unless they are a Liberal. So the Minister of Health, who completely demolished the Health Council, completely let it go, says we didn't allow the Health Council to continue, as it did, going around the province to hear concerns of Nova Scotians and the minister has trouble about the consultation aspect of it all.

He is afraid now to go around the province and consult, I can tell you that. There wouldn't be a meeting in this province that wouldn't get large numbers of people out to meet the Minister of Health, to talk about what is wrong in the system. You can go down to the Valley, to Cumberland County, to Cape Breton and I'll bet you, if the Minister of Health held public meetings on process today. (Interruption) Yes, he went around and made commitments and he never lived up to those commitments and that is why you would see the crowds that would come out today, that weren't out then because he made the commitment.

[Page 1756]

Mr. Speaker, we have had in this country and in this province a great health care system. Yes, some people will say, we only looked after those that were ill and we needed to spend more on the preventive side. We all agree with that. But what has happened is, now you daren't get sick because the system isn't there like it was before, to look after you from the time you enter the system, if you can get in the system to the time you could get cured and get out. I have had people call me day after day and tell me about a family member who is waiting and waiting for tests, whether it is for a CAT scan, some other test, or for an operation that is very crucial. I even had a gentleman from Kings West who went to Ontario because he was diagnosed with cancer, to have the operation in Ontario where he could get it within a week and he had to wait six months here. That is what is happening in Nova Scotia. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I am giving you a fact and if that gentleman wants the floor, he can get up and take the floor. (Interruption) Well, the truth hurts and if the truth hurts, let them complain.

Obviously I support this bill. The minister talks about why he doesn't support this bill. He doesn't support a Health Council. He supports the two-tiered system. He supports the system where people in this province - if you have money in your pocket and you can take it out - you can get your blood tested immediately, but if you don't have money in your pocket, you have to wait. That is a two-tiered system. That is not the kind of system that I want in this province. What I want in this province and what everyone wants in this province is equal opportunity to have access to the system; equal opportunity, not dependent upon how much money I have in my hip pocket, of how soon I can get treated or how soon I can get a test.

What we have in this province - and I talk to the health care workers - is a lot of workers in health care who are extremely stressed out, extremely upset, with the programs that this Minister of Health put in place. You can go anywhere in the province. I was talking with someone in Yarmouth today, who is very concerned about the lack of physicians in that area and worried about what is happening to their facility in Yarmouth and about people having to travel from Yarmouth to have all these procedures. They have a regional hospital, but yet aren't going to have all the things that go with a regional hospital.

We look at the regional health boards and how they are set up in the province. It was said that they, obviously, would be close to the community. They are so close to the community, you can't even go to an open meeting. They are so close that nobody from the community can get to meet with them. If that is moving things closer to the community, then something in that whole process has to change, because people have no access to these people who are making decisions that affect them.

What this bill does, it talks about the health care system being portable. We have four regions of the province that are independently funded. I will tell you, it is going to be a real problem for people moving from one region to another and having tests. The Minister of Health says, no, no, it's no problem, but already there have been people who have had difficulty accessing in another region for tests and those sorts of things. What we are going to set up is four regions of the province that will have their own funding and you, as an individual obviously, if you live in a certain area, will probably be required to have your tests and whatever else you have to have within that region, eventually.

[Page 1757]

The minister talks about de-insuring, that there has to be public consultation. Well, the doctors of this province said that this Minister of Health committed to de-insuring $5 million of items in this province in this fiscal year. Obviously, the government knew that before an election they weren't about to de-insure $5 million worth of programs. The Medical Society says they had their list in to the Minister of Health; they had an agreement with the Minister of Health, which doesn't seem to mean anything anymore.

They had an agreement with the Minister of Health, and that they had on the table the items that would be de-insured as part of the agreement with the Provincial Health Department. The doctors say that this government has not lived up to that agreement, the Minister of Health hasn't lived up to that agreement, so the $5 million that was to be de-insured has not been done yet. I can assure you that, as soon as the election is over, the people of this province will find out what is de-insured. It will happen almost immediately after the election.

I can understand why in this piece of legislation in Clause 6 that the person that put in this bill would want public consultation on what is to be de-insured. Now there is no process, all we know is that the Medical Society and the government is talking about what is to be de-insured and we know that we are going to get $5 million worth of things de-insured, and we have no way of having any input of what it is that is going to be de-insured.

You know, the minister talked about supporting the Canada Health Act and all of its principles. Well as I see this government move, it is rhetoric, because it is not supporting all of the principles of the Canada Health Act. I can see in this province, very clearly, that we are moving to a two-tiered system faster than we realize, as I even realize, as I find out in this province time after time that if you have the money you can certainly have access in a way that if you don't have the money.

I think one of the principles that we have always been proud of as Canadians all across this country is we had a health care system. The reason we liked it so much better than the American system - which this Minister of Health keeps trying to Americanize our system - is that I was always much prouder (Interruption) No question, most of his advice is coming from Americans. We have had a system in this country that no matter how poor or how wealthy you were, you had access to the system. No matter what ailment you had and what specialty you needed, it didn't matter how much money you had, you had access to the system. It didn't matter about the waiting time, everybody was treated the same. If you had an ailment, everybody was treated the same, it was based on medical information and people had access to the system.

Now that is beginning to change and, as that changes, that upsets me because I think, as a Canadian, the reason that I have supported the system, we have good professional medical people in this province. If we are going to keep them here we have to make sure they have the resources to treat the people that require treatment.

You know, Mr. Speaker, as I talk to the medical profession some of them are leaving because they do not feel that they can adequately practice good medicine. We know that a number of physicians have left this province and I suspect that at the annual meeting last weekend of the Medical Society I expect a number of others are looking at the option of moving from this province. That is not good for anyone who we represent in this province. It is not good for Nova Scotians and the area I worry about is obviously in speciality areas, but I worry about general practitioners in rural areas where actually people do not have a family doctor. It used to be it was not difficult to have a family doctor and if you do not have

[Page 1758]

a family doctor today, if your doctor happens to move away and someone does not come in to take that person's practice then you end up without a family physician. So, if you got sick, maybe you put off going to out-patients, maybe you put off seeing a doctor and we all know that early detection and early treatment is the best cure, no matter what your ailment might be if you require medical attention.

That is becoming a real problem for a lot of people in this province. I think there is no question, I heard the minister talk about physiotherapists and I know that physiotherapists of this province would like to pass legislation and they have been meeting with the Minister of Health, so that people do not have to be referred. If you have a recurring back injury, you do not have to go to your family physician who then refers you for physiotherapy, that you can go back on your own and reduce the cost which they say makes a lot of sense.

There is no question that if this government had taken the recommendations of the Blueprint Committee and they had followed the recommendations of the Blueprint Committee, not cherry-picked, but followed all the recommendations of the Blueprint Committee then we would have the kind of reform in this province that would not have the kind of gaps in it that we are seeing and people would not be falling through the cracks in this province. I just hope that this government will take time to talk to health professionals and family members who have experienced this system in the last two years so that they fully understand the problems of Nova Scotians who become ill, the problems those people and their families are being faced with. If they do that they will have a better understanding of the kind of things that have to be done to give us, once again, an incredible health care system and one that we all can be proud of and one that everyone in the province will have access to.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand in the amount of time that I have this afternoon to speak in support of the bill. Also, to say to the government hecklers across the way, who over the last period of time when others were speaking, were hurling their comments, hurling their insults across the floor and saying that people on this side do not know anything about what we are talking about.

[5:00 p.m.]

Apparently, the red benches over here, they are good. According to the red benches, everybody on the Opposition side are bad. You know all that is good over there. We know over here nothing that is good. We are all bad, Mr. Speaker. Those are the messages that we get from those who hurl the insults, the comments, like the Minister of Education and others, across the floor.

I say to those members that we are not as arrogant as you are in that we recognize and we acknowledge that, yes, we may have some ideas and that some ideas may make sense and may be good ideas, but we do not have them all. Mr. Speaker, I say to those members on the government benches, unless you are so arrogant that you don't think that anybody else has anything to contribute, send the bill on to the Law Amendments process and enable Nova Scotians to come into that forum to talk about the bill and to talk about health care and to talk about what they support and what they do not support.

[Page 1759]

I am proud to be a Canadian. I am extremely grateful, on a personal basis, for the top-notch, excellent quality of health care that I and my family, when they were in need, received. I thank my lucky stars, over and over again, that I live in Nova Scotia and I live in Canada and that when I and my family members needed to have life-saving procedures, that the ability to receive care did not depend upon the thickness of my wallet.

You know, Mr. Speaker, what we see happening in Nova Scotia is a deterioration in the health care that is being provided and we have increasing pressures all the time. This government is buying into it, to have many of those health care services privatized. As that privatization is being done, that increasingly means that we are moving ever more rapidly to an American kind, an American-style health care system where, if you do not have the money, as is being done and they are moving towards in the United Kingdom as well, then you do not receive the same top quality of care at the same pace.

I will provide the minister, or any member of this House, with copies of the Yellow Pages from 1996 versus 1990 and have the minister and the members take a look down the short memory path - that is only six years - and see the growth in the number of companies that are offering medical services for a fee, health care services for a fee. Is it the intention to make the waits and the service so long in the hospitals, the chance to get the diagnosis done, that people will have no choice? Is this how the government plans to save money and to reduce the strain on the health care system, cut back to the extent so that those who have the money will say, we are not going to wait six months to find out if we have a life-threatening disease or illness? We will go and we will pay our big bucks down on the table to ensure that we get our service.

Mr. Speaker, we have many very capable, very qualified, very concerned health care providers in this province. They deserve the support of all Nova Scotians. Yes indeed, we have had for years, differing degrees of private-for-profit health care being delivered. What we are saying, however, Mr. Speaker, is that we have to call a stop to the proliferation and the growth of this industry and to bring it under public control to ensure that we have proper standards, to ensure that the primary concern, the primary responsibility of those who are treating the sick and the ill, the infirm, whether they be children or seniors or anybody in between, is for the health of that individual and not for the health of the bank accounts that they are going to have as a result of the profits they are going to take out of the health care system.

Is there anybody in this House - if there is, stand and take your place on the floor and tell us - who believes the profits are more important than the health of Nova Scotians? Is there anybody in this House who believes that the profits that would be taken out of here and shipped off to some American company that is coming in to bid, whether it is on home care, lab testing, you name it, is there anybody on the red team who believes for one minute, in their heart, that the health of those bank accounts, those shareholders is more important than the health of Nova Scotians? I say, Mr. Speaker, without any hesitation, I put the health of our citizens ahead, by far, of the profits of the friends of the government.

Mr. Speaker, the health care system does, yes, indeed, always need to be reviewed; it has to have programs and service delivery re-evaluated to ensure that the level and the type and the manner of delivering of the service is as effective, efficient and cost-effective as it can be. Then if there are cost-efficiencies made through a good, publicly controlled and operated system, those monies saved can be used to provide badly needed additional health care services, like the ultrasound unit that is desperately needed at the Cobequid Multi-

[Page 1760]

Service Centre that services the area of Sackville-Bedford and surrounding areas. The one that is in place is worn out, outdated and no longer can begin to meet the needs.

You know, Mr. Speaker, instead of having profits shipped out of the province and reducing the quality of service, the food, the wages, the benefits of those who are working to care for those we love, it makes more sense to have that profit re-invested in Nova Scotians by enhancing rather than slashing the quality of health care we provide to our citizens and to provide for the equipment and basic needs of our people.

The members of the government benches opposite, you know, if one really wanted to pay attention to them and if you really believed some of the kinds of comments and heckles, you would actually be a little bit disturbed. (Interruption) I am hearing members opposite, some of them saying that profit is bad, in a mocking way, Mr. Speaker. Well, you know, I would suggest that maybe some of those who are making their little silly comments across the floor should actually read the bill. It is, indeed, a pretty sad state.

I would like Nova Scotians, and I don't imagine too many are watching but those who are watching may want to ask their MLA what they consider to be more important, the quality and the health care and the preventive health care measures that can be put in place to keep and to make Nova Scotians healthy or the profits that I am being heckled about across the floor, the profits to be made and shipped off to these larger companies that are trying to come in to deliver the services so that they can make the big bucks for the shareholders back in New York and elsewhere.

We have Dial a Nurse now where you call in and you pay on a 1-900 number for health care advice. You have companies that are advertising here for people to come and invest their money and to get into the growing, ever expanding, private-for-profit companies. You know, nobody is opposing, at least not on this side, and suggesting that those very dedicated capable qualified and conscientious private non-profit groups would be affected.

I look forward to the government introducing a bill (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. HOLM: I am glad to see, Mr. Speaker, that government members take this so seriously. I am glad to see that. I am sure that those who are concerned and who are seeing, for example, the emergency service being eliminated in the Springhill Hospital, I am sure that those in Cape Breton who cannot find the medical treatment and care because the doctors are all leaving, I am sure those who are on the waiting lists for hospitals, I am sure that they will be very pleased to know that the government takes this issue or the Liberal members take this issue so seriously.

I look forward to the government introducing their plan. Their plan so far has been to cut, to slash, to eliminate. The government supposedly is pretending to support this Blueprint Committee Report which talked about health care reform and which involved a very broad spectrum of people with skills and talents, dedicated consumers, health care providers and so on. Of course, the government ignores the recommendation and we had as one of those a recommendation that the Provincial Health Council remain an independent body to be monitoring and to be watching the health care reform.

[Page 1761]

You know one of the first things that this government cut as part of their cut and slash to save money at the expense of health care and anything else, the first thing they cut was the Provincial Health Council so that nobody would be there to watch over what they are doing to Nova Scotians. If the government has any guts and if they have any commitment to the principles of, in fact, improving quality health care, they want to hear Nova Scotians, then send this bill on to Law Amendments Committee and let Nova Scotians come in and cast their verdict by way of presentations before that committee.

MR. SPEAKER: That concludes the debate on Bill No. 16.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 442.

Res. No. 442, re ERA - Dev. Strategy: Job Creation - Produce - notice given May 3/96 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me indicate first of all Resolution No. 442 says:

"Therefore be it resolved, that . . . the government to finally produce a comprehensive economic development strategy that recognizes the role that a healthy government sector plays in the maintenance and creation of jobs in both public and private sectors.".

The problem with this government's approach to economic development is that it focuses exclusively on the private sector. It has embraced free-market ideology in place of a balanced approach to economic development. I suggest to you that only a government that is firmly in the grip of a neo-conservative dogma could sit in the bunker admiring its budget figures while the services that public money is supposed to provide are crumbling around it. Only a Premier and Minister of Finance who have lost touch with reality would justify his government's short-sighted policies by trotting out the old saw about getting your financial house in order and investment will follow.

[5:15 p.m.]

There are two problems with the Premier's prescription. First, getting your financial house in order on his terms means cutbacks in public spending and the loss of thousands of public sector jobs. The second problem is that investment has not followed, neither has employment. When the Premier was repeating his mantra in the House back in early April, the computers at Statistics Canada were crunching up the numbers for the monthly labour force report. When the numbers came out a few days later, the news was not pretty for Nova Scotia; 8,000 jobs were lost in the month of March. Just a few hours after the Premier boasted that in Nova Scotia we were on the move because 26,000 jobs had been created under the Liberals, 8,000 of those jobs had just, in a moment, disappeared.

The job picture was a little better in April. Seasonally adjusted, the number of jobs increased by 2,000. But it is important to note the labour force also increased by 7,000, meaning that last month there were an extra 5,000 Nova Scotians looking for work. We now have 60,000 officially unemployed, up 6,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis from a year ago. Twelve thousand jobs have been lost in this province since the beginning of 1996, yet the government has the gall to put out a flyer bragging about more jobs.

When you combine the 60,000 unemployed, which is seasonally adjusted, with the 30,000 to 40,000 Nova Scotians who are working part-time but would prefer full-time employment, you get a scary picture, nearly 100,000 Nova Scotians who are either unemployed or under-employed, yet this government continues [Page 1762]

in its dogged mistaken belief that the way to grow the economy and to create jobs is to destroy jobs. They continue in the dogmatic and mistaken belief that the way to create jobs is to give more and more tax breaks to business.

As this government shrinks the public sector, it also proposes to hand Newbridge Networks, a company with over $300 million in the bank, $10 million to create up to 50 jobs some time. If Newbridge fulfils its commitment - and based on past practice with other such deals, that is a huge if - that is $200,000 a job. On the same day the Newbridge deal is announced, we find out that they have laid off 38 community college teachers who maybe make $40,000 a year, 38 jobs cut to save money, money that was then handed out to create jobs some time in the future. You tell me what kind of job strategy that is.

Dynatek Automation Systems of Toronto, London, Israel and Bedford got $15 million from the previous government over three years ago. In return, the company was supposed to create 200 jobs by the end of March. Instead, they created 60 jobs, tops. As a reward, of course, this government, as a reward for falling 140 jobs short, this government gives them another $4 million in terms of a loan guarantee and gives them an extra five years to meet their job creation targets. Again I ask you, what kind of a job strategy is that?

The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency says, we shouldn't ask questions because Dynatek is part of the IT sector, a growing sector with a great future. The IT sector may be a growing sector but Dynatek isn't part of that growth because while Dynatek's competitors are, in fact, thriving and the industry overall is growing at a good clip, Dynatek can't meet its job creation targets. It misses them by a mile. That is okay, according to this government, Dynatek is a private company, even though it would be lost, clearly, without public money.

So according to this government's approach, private industry can do no wrong, especially if it is from away, Mr. Speaker. It is only public companies and enterprises that need to feel the lash of restraint. Over 700 jobs were lost at Devco and the government does not lift a finger. There is no money to maintain jobs at Devco; no money to help the IMP workers on the Northside; and no money to prevent further lay-offs at school boards and hospitals. In Cape Breton, the unemployment rate is nearly 23 per cent. I will say that again for the member for Cape Breton South, because he still does not get it, 23 per cent. Some 9,000 jobs have been lost since the beginning of the year in Cape Breton. Despite these numbers, the government continues with the same old attitude towards the workers and the people of Cape Breton.

When the Devco workers come to this government seeking their help for keeping their jobs and their industries alive, what do they get? They get excuses and the claim that the coal resources of Cape Breton are a federal responsibility. The coal resources of Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, belong to the people of Cape Breton and to the people of Nova Scotia. They were turned over to Ottawa on the condition that the federal government revive the economy of Cape Breton. The federal government does not live up to that undertaking and this

[Page 1763]

government should be prepared to take back control of the coal resources on behalf of Nova Scotians and Cape Bretoners.

Mr. Speaker, when the workers at IMP, in North Sydney, sought government support for their efforts to negotiate a takeover of the plant from Ken Rowe, this government again washed its hands. The Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency trots out another mantra, a tired, old mantra, one about global competition, to explain why he will not do anything to help those workers, even though his government and the previous one did plenty to help Ken Rowe.

Mr. Speaker, what is needed? What we need in this province is a better balance. What this government lacks is a balanced approach to managing the economy of this province and its finances. Job creation, and not job destruction as this government is practising, is the real key to fighting deficits and debts while preserving and enhancing our health services, our social services and our educational services. Get people working and you reduce social program costs, you increase government revenues, you give people a sense of security and well-being and you give them a sense of hope for the future.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know that job creation is the key. That is why they listened to this Party, back in 1993, when they talked about jobs in the election campaign. That is why many Nova Scotians are angry and disgusted with this government, because they think and they know that they were lied to on the whole issue of jobs. It is time that we began to take hold of this economy, began to work instead of giving up.

Think about it for a second. Three years after this government was elected, they are projecting economic growth in the Province of Nova Scotia for this year of a little over 1 per cent, the worst in the country. Why does the Minister of Education shout and feel so confident? Why does the Minister of Finance feel so confident about that? They are talking, they are hoping that less than 1 per cent growth in job creation. Why should they be confident about that? My colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, will deal with some specifics in terms of our advice for this government, instead of it continuing to spout its own rhetoric.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, the honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I agree totally with the member opposite in terms of one comment that he made, and that is that this government, all governments have to be committed to a balanced approach for job creation throughout Nova Scotia; there is no question about that.

The issues that we are dealing with today, and he made reference to a particular group of workers who are encountering considerable difficulty in their daily lives and in their families as they deal with a plant decision, one that was made prior to Christmas. We had an extension. We looked for a national partner to try and preserve jobs within the aerospace sector in North Sydney. It would appear, as a result of Friday's meeting and a decision made to move some equipment, that that partner has not been found. It has not been for lack of trying, it has not been for lack of support with those workers, it is not lack of consideration for the job force in this province.

[Page 1764]

When he talks about Devco and a sustainable plan, if he doesn't think for one moment, Mr. Speaker, that the federal people who have put together the $79 million Devco plant, aren't concerned about sustainable coal mining in Cape Breton, then he is totally mistaken. I can't image what his thinking is.

Let's look at the record of, say, 1989 to 1993, because what he talks about is balance and I couldn't agree more. What he talks about, in a sense, is partnership and I couldn't agree more. But let's look at the strategy of the previous government; in 1989 to 1993 we ran up deficits year after year. It was an attempt to spend funds to create jobs. In fact, the Leader of the left has indicated that is his solution. He tells us that when his colleague gets up to speak that we will get some details of his plan. So far what we have heard from the left is that we would send someone off to New York again to borrow some money to solve the problems of the Province of Nova Scotia.

In 1989 to 1993, Mr. Speaker, what we saw was a drop in the (Interruptions) While the previous government, following the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, to borrow money to solve problems, here is how it worked for the Tory Government; in 1989 to 1993, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can we have some order.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the NDP suggested that the solution to the problem of employment in Nova Scotia is to go out and borrow money. Here is how it worked from 1989 to 1993; we had a participation rate in the province drop by 2.4 per cent, we had a labour force drop of 2,000 workers in Nova Scotia from 1989 to 1993 and there is no question that the strategy of the government of the day was to borrow money. We had 18,000 jobs lost between 1989 and 1993 by a government committed to borrowing its way out of problems.

What has happened in Nova Scotia since April 1993, Mr. Speaker? In terms of balance, employment since April 1993 to 1996 has increased by 17,000 jobs, by a government that isn't borrowing money to solve the problems. Is that enough? Is 17,000 enough? No, Mr. Speaker, it is not enough. Is it creating the climate for business growth in this province? Have we seen in the last eight months commitments from Stora of $650 million, from Bayer and the Red Cross of $300 million, from Volvo of $9 million, from Michelin of $40 million, from Minas Basin, $30 million - a Nova Scotia company in Hantsport recycling cardboard, $30 million invested in the Province of Nova Scotia - and on it goes. The grand total is $1.2 billion of investment committed to this province.

Did we go out and borrow money to create that climate, Mr. Speaker? No. Were those 17,000 jobs created, Mr. Speaker, by borrowing money from April 1993 to 1996? Did we create jobs by borrowing money? In fact, if you consider what has happened in the Province of Nova Scotia, the participation rate has increased, the jobs have been created, all at a time when the federal government and the provincial governments are attempting, unlike the Opposition members, in fact we have both Parties trying the same strategy. We won't play with a 52 card deck, we will send someone off to Zurich to borrow the 53rd card, the 54th -the first time in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia that the trustees of this province didn't pay their own way. The legacy, $9 billion of debt, a smothering interest rate payment of $1 billion a year, for which we get absolutely nothing in return, $1 billion of the taxpayers' money.

[Page 1765]

I think the Minister of Finance indicated that we could eliminate all taxes. Either the Third Party or the former Tory Government, could they imagine the impact of eliminating all taxes? Could they imagine that? Could we take that $1 billion and grow jobs in the economy? Surely the answer from the Leader of the left to borrow money has been tried and failed miserably by the Leaders of the right. I think neither the left nor the right have the answer to this problem, other than the fact that the Leader of the left suggests that we have a balanced approach.

So what are the strategies? What are the elements? The communities of Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, have spoken loudly and clearly. They have indicated a strategic plan for job growth in their area, based on the strengths of their area.

[5:30 p.m.]

The provincial government has committed to a strategy that supports both community development and the federal government in terms of bringing to this province a new economic diversification agreement: one that stretches out five years; one that is based on certain key principles; one that involves the private sector in consultation; one that strengthens our ability to work with associations of companies that are trying to grow this economy; one that truly creates a competitive climate because ultimately, whether the Leader of the left likes to admit this or not, we are in a fairly competitive world. (Interruptions) He doesn't like the idea of competition because what we would really like to do is just borrow the money and surely the jobs will come.

Well, the Tory Government proved that borrowing money is the worst thing you can do for creating jobs, absolutely the worst. The private sector expects certain infrastructure, that there is a common good of taxation that is brought together for private sector development. What are the key focuses? What are the things we have to focus on in this province in order to create jobs? Well, first of all, we have to build on our strengths. We have great capabilities in the workforce in this province, in manufacturing. We have seen examples in Pictou County, examples in the aerospace industry. We know about the Northside IMP workers. They have great skills, Mr. Speaker. In the growing industry of aerospace, they have great skills. Those people are part of an industry base of talent and workforce that we are literally marketing around the world.

We have great natural strengths, Mr. Speaker. We have great tourism capability. We have skills in ocean industries. We have skills in aquaculture. The wonderful brochure that the Minister of Fisheries introduced today, the plan to create jobs in aquaculture by working with the communities, with the federal government, with the provincial government. We listen to the Opposition members.

Can you imagine that this is introduced into the House and we hear catcalls from the Opposition, as if it is propaganda or something? This is a plan for aquaculture development. It clearly sets out the plan. It involves the communities. It is going to grow an industry. (Interruptions) It is an area of this province that we can concentrate on. It is a gold medal opportunity. We have the second highest concentration of oceanographic research capability in the world, Mr. Speaker, and we need to market that capability. We need to take that intellectual capability, turn it into commercialized products and sell them to the world.

A second principle is to develop simply the most competitive business climate in the nation. We have worked with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to look back on government for the first time. The Tory Government never did this. The Leader of the left

[Page 1766]

would never think to do this. We asked business, tell us what - he wouldn't want to, he says. He wouldn't want to ask business, how can we make them more competitive and tell us what the maze is of dealing with government. How can we make you more competitive? The Leader of the left says, I wouldn't want to talk to business about that.

Well, this government does. This government believes in listening to business. This government believes in creating a competitive climate and we will simply grow jobs; 17,000 since the election without borrowing money to do so, Mr. Speaker, making sure we have all the competitive advantage in the world right here in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to get up today and speak on Resolution No. 442. With all due respect to the honourable Leader of the NDP, I can't support this resolution because of his reference to the creation of jobs in both the public and private sectors. Progressive Conservatives do not believe that the solution of employment woes will be found in expanding the public sector. (Applause) (Interruption)

Government, Mr. Speaker, does have a role. The role is to help create a climate which is friendly for business. But what this minister has done, he has put in climate control and the climate hasn't improved in this province one bit since he became a member of the government. Overall, business is not creating jobs and that is not a surprise to anybody. The government can't afford to create jobs. The facts released by the Nova Scotia Department of Finance last week will speak for themselves.

The actual number of employed Nova Scotians in June 1993 was 373,000 people. For April 1996, that number stands at 369,000, a net loss of 4,000 jobs since the Liberals came to power. The honourable minister was talking about the time between 1989 and 1993 when there were jobs lost when there was a major recession right around the world, and in the time since they came to power, there has been a surge everywhere but in Nova Scotia because there are 4,000 more people out of work now.

Mr. Speaker, on Cape Breton Island, the news is no better. In June 1993, we had 47,000 Cape Bretoners without a job. In April of this year, we have 47,000 people without a job. That is three years after we have had Bernie Boudreau, Richie Mann, John MacEachern, Ron Stewart and Mannie MacDonald here in the House and they still have not been able to deliver a job. Zero.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member should not refer to members by their names but by their constituency.

MR. MACLEOD: Zero, Mr. Speaker, net gain in jobs on Cape Breton Island.

HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the honourable member opposite, since he is throwing around these facts and figures so glibly, could tell about the net increase or decrease of jobs in Richmond County. I wonder if he knows what constituency Stora Forest Industries is in.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is asking a question. It is up to the honourable member whether he wishes to answer or not.

MR. MACLEOD: Question Period, as I understand it, is tomorrow, Mr. Speaker. This government likes to ask questions because they don't know the answers to them either. They have created enough heartaches for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and they certainly have not helped a lot of people on the Island of Cape Breton. It is one of the hardest hit areas in all of the province, and not only the province but in the Country of Canada. We have areas like Devco with problems, Sysco with problems. The fishing industry had a downturn. Then we have, of course, what is happening with IMP.

[Page 1767]

This government, in their platform, their policy paper on employment, said, "As a matter of urgency, review with labour and industry cost-shared programs such as matching funds, tax incentives, and wage subsidies to encourage qualified businesses to provide work experience, building apprenticeship programs, and providing continual worker training programs.". Yet they do not have the time to sit down with some workers that are trying to find a real solution to a real problem.

What a failure after promising so much, Mr. Speaker. The people of Cape Breton were betrayed by this government, by the Liberal MLAs and by the Premier. When he was campaigning in the spring of 1993 on Cape Breton Island he said, I will not turn my back on Cape Breton. Well, I will tell you right now, he cannot even show his face in Cape Breton. The unemployment rate is still above 20 per cent. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, now I know and you know and everybody in this House knows that a number of Cape Breton Liberals will jump up and say that the unemployment rate for Cape Breton has decreased by 4.1 per cent, that the number of unemployed Cape Bretoners has dropped by 3,000 people. Well, let's get real here for a second. The decrease in the unemployment comes from the fact that 5 per cent of the workforce of Cape Breton has dropped out. They have given up. There is no hope for them. They are discouraged. They are displeased.

This government kills jobs and that is no exaggeration. The tolls on the Highway No. 104 extension are going to put other Nova Scotians out of work. The toll highways will only bring some short-time work. Once the highway is built, those jobs will be gone and businesses and individual Nova Scotians will be paying more taxes.

This government kills jobs through municipal downloading, Mr. Speaker. The Liberals cut funding and pass along services to the municipalities. But the one thing that all levels of government should remember is that there is only one taxpayer, and even though you have downloaded off your books, the same individual ends up paying at the end of the day.

When the government gets bad statistics from one agency, they like to quote another. The Liberals, no doubt, will dispute their own Finance Department figures that I have used here today, so I will go to another source that proves the obvious: that the Liberals have failed and failed miserably in their economic strategy. Statistics Canada puts Nova Scotia's economic growth in 1994 and 1995 at 0.5 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was that number again?

MR. MACLEOD: It is 0.5 per cent. In 1994, this was the worst provincial rate in Canada. By 1995, we have had the big accomplishment of jumping ahead of Newfoundland, the second worst. Let there be no doubt that Nova Scotia's most important economic indicator is jobs. We are, after three years of this Liberal Government, in worse shape than we have

[Page 1768]

been in a long time. For this session to close as Nova Scotians look for any prospect for better jobs is shameful; this is not a good news session for 64,000 unemployed Nova Scotians.

I do agree with the NDP resolution calling for a comprehensive economic strategy. That strategy must be a real strategy for making our private sector grow, because this province and those provinces that are growing in Canada are doing so through the private sector.

Government should promote Nova Scotia to its natural trading partners, New England. Instead, the Liberals sit on their hands while the feds gut Nova Scotia's closest link to New England. Government should promote dialogue between business, labour and community groups, instead of calling out the riot squad and refusing to meet with the workers of this province. Government should invest in community-based projects, not give $10 million to a company that already has $800 million in the bank. Part of the government's own plan in 1993, under Business Development, "A Liberal Government will not throw money at business on the vague promise of job creation or for political gain.". Yet they gave $10 million to a company that has $800 million in the bank, and they couldn't find the time to sit down with 35 workers who were struggling to save a job.

Nova Scotians want to be part of the progress. They want their ideas listened to and they want a government to be a broker for jobs. Help when asked and, also, get out of the way when asked, and this government can do neither. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I begin my remarks, I am pleased to hear the member for Cape Breton West clearly articulate, at the outset of his remarks, that the Conservative caucus does not support a balanced approach, a balance between the public and the private. That fits in, in fact, with what his Leader had said even as early as first assuming the mantle of Leader of the Opposition, that is that the PC caucus and he support basically the policies of the government because they are, after all, Donald Cameron's policies and all that government is doing is putting them into effect.

I know that the PC caucus has made many commitments to public sector workers in the Province of Nova Scotia and I don't know if this then is the statement that is going to be taken back to those public sector workers, saying that all of those commitments that have been made no longer have any force and effect. I certainly hope that the commitments to those public sector workers, who have served us extremely well, mean more than what it would appear by the previous comments.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out a couple of other things and let us acknowledge something, that we all can play numbers with numbers. It depends what you are talking about in terms of month to month, seasonally adjusted or non-seasonally adjusted. You know, that is reality if we are talking about what the unemployment is in February and if you compare that to August or whatever, if you have different combinations you are not really comparing apples to apples. You have to look at the appropriate season and you have to take a look at numbers that are adjusted and those that are not.

[Page 1769]

The truth of the matter is that in 1996, I have the most recent one, in 1996 the unemployment rate according to the adjusted rate is lower than it was in March 1993. That is a fact. When you take a look at those numbers and you take a look at them through the span and you see what was happening in 1993, there was a start of the rebound in the economy across the country and the unemployment rate from March 1993 to March 1994 declined by about five per cent in Nova Scotia. When you take a look at what has happened since 1994 to the current, then you see that actually that trend had stopped and that the numbers of the unemployed and the participation rate is going down.

There are a few items, if my voice holds up, I want to talk about. First of all, harmonization. The back room plot to harmonize the GST and the PST is one more example of what this government believes and it is a mistaken belief that more tax breaks to businesses will mean more job creation. The GST shifts taxes from businesses onto consumers. Harmonization will accelerate that shift. Ordinary Nova Scotians, those workaday Nova Scotians that the government says they are concerned about, will be paying much higher taxes on many items, including a 15 per cent tax on things like home heating fuel, children's clothing and footwear. At the same time, businesses will be getting a tax break of approximately $300 million. The government calls the BST a $120 million tax break for Nova Scotians. In reality, it is not, it is a $300 million tax break for businesses and consumers are going to end up picking up the majority of that tab.

Now, the Premier of New Brunswick has been a little bit more candid and he admits that businesses there will be the main beneficiaries of the blended sales tax. But, of course, here in Nova Scotia where the red team is hoping that the polls will be positive for them, as I am sure the pollsters are out there doing their business and spending some of the trust fund money, they are hoping that Nova Scotians will not find that out.

The Tory Premier of Manitoba says that his province will not buy into the blended sales tax because it will shift hundreds of millions of dollars in taxation from businesses on to consumers. This government, alone amongst governments in this country, insists that this harmonization deal is a tax break for Nova Scotians, one that will create jobs. This government is the only one that is brave enough to float that fallacy out there. If lower taxes for corporations create jobs this country and this province would be booming, but it is not. Nova Scotia has the lowest corporate tax rate in the country and is looking at one of the lowest economic growth rates in the country for the upcoming year.

What is needed and I just have to throw this in, as well, that supposedly this fictitious $120 million tax saving is going to be creating 3,000 jobs, so it is good, the government says. Yet, when the oil companies are ripping off Nova Scotians and taking literally tens of millions of dollars out of the province, the government denies that it is going to be harming employment in this province. They want to have it both ways.

I suggest what we need is a better balance. What this government lacks is a balanced approach to managing this province, its finances and its economy; job creation - and not as this government is practicing, job destruction - is the real key to fighting the debt and deficit while preserving and enhancing our health services, our social services, our educational services. Get people working and you reduce social program costs and you increase government revenues. People out there know that, Mr. Speaker. You give people a sense of security and well-being, you give them a sense of hope for the future.

[Page 1770]

Nova Scotians know that job creation is key. That is why they listened to the Liberal Party when they talked about jobs in the election campaign three years ago. Many are now wishing they hadn't. That is why many Nova Scotians are angry at this government, because they think they were lied to on those jobs.

Since 1993 the government has talked about community economic development as the cornerstone of their plans to turn this province around. Finally they get around to doing something about it in this session, with the extension of the equity tax credit to community economic development investments. It remains to be seen whether that approach will create jobs in communities beyond the metropolitan Halifax area. Community economic development, even done properly, is only part of the answer for our rural and coastal communities. There also needs to be a critical mass of economic activity in those communities.

Employment in resource industries must be maximized through greater secondary processing of natural products here in Nova Scotia. Government services must be maintained in those communities and there has to be a commitment to decentralizing of government jobs, something again that they once promised and then reneged upon.

The government must fight to preserve the jobs and the incomes of rural Nova Scotians. This government has failed in its duty in this regard by quietly accepting the gutting of the UI program. The federal cutbacks will hurt not just the seasonal workers but also businesses in those communities as well. The government efforts in community economic development pale to insignificance beside the removal of tens of millions of dollars from the economy of rural Nova Scotia through those UI cuts.

As a province, we need to guarantee the viability of our public health care system and our educational system. As a province, we must provide the resources to ensure that our health care system is universal, accessible, comprehensive, affordable and publicly administered. Wholesale job reduction in the public health care field, in the public education field and in the community college field will not help us to achieve that goal.

Instead of balanced budget legislation, if we were in government, we would have been bringing forward legislation that would have forced the government to set and to stick to job creation targets. We would recognize the need and the value of investments in our future; we would recognize the need and value of restoring funding for our childrens' education. We would invest in healthy individuals and healthy communities. We would assist the most vulnerable in a way that would enable them to contribute to their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I see that you are telling me that my time has just about expired.

MR. SPEAKER: You have 15 seconds.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I suggest that Nova Scotians recognize and know that the job strategy of the Liberal Government has failed miserably and it was nothing more than an election ploy. What they are desperately looking for is for the government, head-to-head, to sit down, to listen, to work with the communities to preserve rural Nova Scotia, so that there is a strong economic base amassed there and that the kinds of community developments can not only be started but they can be maintained, thrive and create the healthy Nova Scotian economy that we all so desperately want for our children.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired.

[Page 1771]

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: That, Mr. Speaker, concludes our business for this afternoon. We will give the Government House Leader our remaining five minutes and 13 seconds.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. Following Question Period we will do Public Bills in Committee of the Whole House. I would expect we will complete Bill No. 18, which is presently being debated, and then move on to other bills. The House Leaders of the Opposition Parties have lists of those bills and we will be doing them in the order they are on the order paper, the ones that have been given to them.

I move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

The motion is carried.

We now move on to the late debate. The late debate tonight is:

"Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians understand the importance of the beef industry and its cost factors.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North. (Applause)

AGRIC. - BEEF INDUSTRY: IMPORTANCE - RECOGNIZE

MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: A standing ovation, that's great. I certainly feel it is the opportune time to speak on the importance of the beef industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. I know that you will be interested in what I am going to say because I am going to be touching on the federal Feed Freight Assistance Program. I know you would be interested because, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, you have a lot of beef producers in the constituency that you represent. In fact, quite a few of them have contacted me and I know they have you, too, wanting us to bring this issue before the House. This is really the only opportunity.

I want to recognize, too, the member for Cumberland South, who has been working with the beef producers in Cumberland County, as well as having met with some beef producers from Colchester County concerning this very topic.

Mr. Speaker, the beef industry in the Province of Nova Scotia has gone through some very - I would say - rough financial times in the past pretty near two years now, in fact, to the tune of beef now running from 40 cents to 50 cents a pound less than it was 10 years ago. That is when you are selling the animals on the retail market for consumption. If you understand the beef business, which I am sure you do, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker; being a lawyer, you no doubt have had a lot of experience.

MR. [DEPUTY] SPEAKER: The member should remember my father was a veterinarian, now.

MR. LORRAINE: Yes, I knew that, and a good veterinarian, too, because he used to service our area when he was with the federal Health of Animals Branch. That is going back many more years than I want to remember.

[Page 1772]

AN HON. MEMBER: He was?

MR. LORRAINE: No, his father.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the point I want to make, if you are talking 40 cents to 50 cents a pound, on a 600 pound animal you are talking $240, $300. That really doesn't matter whether it is a 10 unit herd or a 400 to 500 unit herd; it still relates to the same thing to that producer, depending on the size. The only thing is, the larger operator is more likely to go out of business than the smaller fellow is, but it still affects them in the same manner.

Then along with that great reduction in the price of beef, we are reading now and see where the grant in lieu of taxes to the rural municipalities is going to be eliminated. I am not debating that issue, but that relates to about 40 per cent of that grant going to beef farmers. So along with the big reduction they have had in the finished product, and this extra tax if the municipalities charge it to them, I am sure it is going to drive a lot of beef producers out of business in the Province of Nova Scotia and that is why I wanted to talk on the importance of the beef industry to the economy of this province.

Now what I want to talk about is, you are aware and many are aware that when the Feed Freight Assistance Program was eliminated by the federal government, there was a block of money, and I believe it was $85 million. There was $9.5 million of that allotted to the agriculture industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. It was turned over, as I understand it, by the Department of Agriculture to the Federation of Agriculture to divvy that money out to the various commodities on a fair and equal basis. Well that is my contention. This has not been dealt out by the Federation of Agriculture on a fair and equal basis whatsoever.

[6:00 p.m.]

When the committee was struck, that would deal with this money, they decided they would base the pay-out to all other commodity groups, whether it be dairy, pork or poultry, whatever, they would base the pay-out on gross sales, whatever their previous year's growth sales were, but in the case of the beef producer, it was based on grain purchased. That is where I say the unfair part comes into the picture.

If I had time, I would certainly want to read the beef producers report that was put together by a group of beef producers in Cumberland County. If my colleague, the Minister of Labour, gets a chance to speak, where he has met with the beef producers, he will elaborate more on their report. But in the report, there was a study - and I have a copy of it here - by Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd. When this committee met to divvy up these funds, there were representatives of the beef producers on that committee, but they did not have the figures, they did not have the facts. Here is a study done by Gardner Pinfold Consulting Economists Ltd. In their study, they are suggesting that the beef producer should get 13.11 per cent of that $9.5 million. Instead of that, the Federation of Agriculture first negotiated 1.6 per cent the beef producer was going to get; then they upped that to around 3

[Page 1773]

per cent; and then they negotiated it up to 5 per cent; and it is still 5.1 per cent, I think, that the beef producers are going to get.

I say - and I have been a supporter of the Federation of Agriculture - but I think they are unable to deal fairly with the different commodity groups in agriculture in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would suggest that the Minister of Agriculture should revisit and take a look at this to assure that the beef producers get that 13.11 per cent that, according to this report, they are entitled to. That is the problem that I have got. I was not there when the negotiations took place, but I cannot understand, for the life of me, how in the world a beef producer could have sat on that committee and allowed that type of an agreement to be made, hurting his own industry; it is only because he did not have the facts and figures to back him up at the time that this agreement was made.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am going to touch a little bit on this study, because I think that this study that was produced by the Cattlemen's Association is, bang, right on. I have already indicated the figures from the consulting firm. The reason that I did ask the Minister of Labour to speak on this, that when I read the Farm Focus - and it is right here and I will table it for anybody to read, because it is an excellent report in regard to this very topic that we are discussing - that is when I really got interested and I saw how unfair this was to the beef producers in the Province of Nova Scotia. People would say that I am only trying to feather my own hat. Well, I am out of the business, so I am not trying to feather my own hat. It is immaterial to me, other than I want to see everybody treated fairly.

I see an article here in the papers - "Notice of Appreciation - Honourable Guy Brown" - that the Cattlemen's Association of Cumberland County sent to me. I know that the minister has met with the people in Cumberland County to discuss this issue about beef production and about the way the federation has fed out this money to the various commodity groups. That is the reason I wanted the minister to follow up, because I know he has met with the beef producers, not only up there, but he has met with some beef producers in my area, as well, throughout Colchester County.

I have talked to a lot of beef producers, as I know you have in your area, and I have got to drive home that we have got to make sure that those people are treated fair. We are not asking for anything for those beef producers other than what the report says they should get, which is 13.11 per cent, and that is a heck of a long way from 5.1 per cent.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I think my time is pretty near up. I would love to spend some time reading this. Do I have another minute?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, you do, about one and one-half minute.

MR. LORRAINE: I am going to read just what their report says. I am not talking now about the Gardner Pinfold Report, I am talking about the beef producers in Cumberland County, "It is fundamentally unfair and unjust that beef producers have to prove FFA grain `input' by receipt when the vast majority of the funds are being paid on the basis of a theoretical grain use per unit of `output', ie. quota holdings or hogs shipped.". In other words, that sums the whole thing up.

Every other commodity group, including the Minister of Business and Consumer Services or whatever my minister in front of me is, I know he is a poultry producer but he is going to get that assistance based on what his gross sales were. All I am asking is let the beef

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producers have the same deal and the beef producers will be happy as hell in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is for me to be able to follow the honourable member for Colchester North, probably one of the longest serving members of this House, a great farmer and a great friend to agriculture and to rural Nova Scotia. I know the beef producers in Nova Scotia appreciate his point of view because the beef industry is probably one of the most difficult areas of agriculture to make a good living for yourself and your family. He is one of the people in this province that has spent his lifetime in the beef industry and he has made a decent living and he doesn't owe anybody any money, thank you very much, he is a fine upstanding citizen and he has done very well. When you understand that, then you understand he is a gentleman of some great substance.

There may be an inequity in the FFA but let's back up a little bit, let's back up and put the nail where it belongs, right in the federal government. It was the federal government in Ottawa that said to Nova Scotia, you don't need feed freight assistance any more, forget it. Just because it has been enshrined in legislation since the 1940's, don't worry about it, you are not going to get it any more. But we are going to give you a little program, a few million dollars now to tide you over and then you are on your own. Let's put the blame where it belongs, at the root of the problem, the federal government and their lack of concern and interest in Eastern Canadian agriculture.

If you go back to the 1930's and 1940's, Nova Scotia was a tremendous grain producing province. We were exporting grain to Boston and New England to feed the horses that they had. Horses were everywhere and we used to grow the grain and the hay and send it down by ship to Boston and by rail to Boston. In the 1940's, the government in Ottawa decided we have got to do something to help the Western grain producer and they struck upon the idea of subsidizing the eastern shipment of grain. So they subsidized it low enough, they put the grain producers in Nova Scotia out of business and made a whole industry dependent on Western Canadian grain production. Then lo and behold, what do they do 50 years later? They say you are on your own, we fooled you for 50 years, you guys down East, you are not too bright. Look at the mess and look at the unfairness.

The province can't escape either. The Minister of Agriculture the other day announced a $400,000 a year beef industry development program. Then much to his surprise and that of all members of government, all members of caucus and the Liberal Party, except for two - the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Municipal Affairs were the only two who knew what he had done to agriculture - the beef industry now is obligated to pay $400,000 in municipal taxes which they never had to pay before. So, on the one hand the government giveth and on the other hand the government taketh away. Is it fair? Is it reasonable? Is it what you would expect? There are beef producers in every corner of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

I do want to say thank you to the member opposite for bringing this to the floor of the Legislature. My colleague from Kings West would like to have a word or two in the time remaining in my allotment. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I know I have only a few moments. I want to commend the member for Colchester North for bringing this topic to the late show. I think he understands better than anybody in this province how important the beef industry is and the difficulties that the beef industry has had in the last number of years. I think if you want to plan ahead and want to have a vision on how things can happen to improve the beef industry, you have to involve somebody like the member for Colchester North. He didn't gain all that experience and not come away with something that he couldn't share with others to help them be successful. (Interruption) Well, he spreads that around a little bit.

I know that this is an issue that has been around for a long time. I know the beef industry in my particular riding is having a difficult time, and we have some good beef farmers in my area. To bring in the beef, and we obviously import much of the beef that is consumed in this province, you know, Mr. Speaker, I think it costs about 7 cents a pound to bring this all the way from the west and land it here in the grocery store. So you would say, well now, do we have a 7 cent advantage? Obviously we don't because of our grain, our feed costs. We are not producing on an equal footing to begin with because of our grain costs.

I know there is a move afoot in the grocery business. Through O.H. Armstrong Ltd. we at Moody Brothers I know have been trying to support the local beef industry. The problem has been that you have to buy it in volume, Mr. Speaker. I know in some cases we had to wait two weeks to get the number of hips. We needed 64 cattle to get the number of hips we wanted to run an ad for the week. The problem is if you can't get 64 hips, you have to buy some somewhere else, when you would like to sell Nova Scotia beef.

I think that a lot of people in the industry, other than maybe the large stores, have no difficulty with trying to promote this local beef, as long as it is competitive. The consumer nowadays doesn't have a lot of loyalty. In other words, you have to be competitive or the consumer buys whatever is competitive.

I think we have beef producers, like the member for Colchester North who says he is retired but I am sure still gives advice to family, that can produce every bit as good beef as you can get out West, every bit as good. The quality can be there, but in order to reach that quality you are going to have to pay a fair amount of money on feed, obviously. I am not as familiar as is the honourable member with the agreement that he talked about, but I hope that this government and any government will use resources like the member for Colchester North in making any changes or any plans that affect the beef farmers of this province. If you use him as a resource and the farmers themselves as a resource - they know best what is needed -I know that we can compete on a national basis and we can again have a vibrant beef industry. The farmers will tell you their feed costs are way up and they are receiving now for their beef the same price they received 20 years or 25 years ago. The economics say that it is tough for them to compete.

[6:15 p.m.]

I commend the member for raising this very important issue and I hope all Parties, the two that are here debating this issue tonight, can in some way make sure that our beef producers in this province continue and have the opportunity to expand because they do contribute a whole lot to the economy of this province and a whole lot to this province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would to thank the honourable member for Colchester North for putting his resolution in for debate, and I know under the Rules of the House we only get about 10 minutes each. I really want to thank him on behalf of the people of Cumberland County, as well. I also want to thank the members for Kings North and Kings West with regard to their efforts and understanding of this important issue.

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I have spoken in this House many times, since I have come here, with regard to the potential in this industry. Hants County, down through the Valley, Cumberland, Colchester, Antigonish, some of Pictou, great grasslands, great areas to raise beef. We only grow here about 15 per cent, 20 per cent - some say as low as 12 per cent, but I will pick the 15 per cent to 20 per cent - of what we use. Now can you imagine the potential for new jobs, for growth in the Province of Nova Scotia with regard to this important industry, but government cannot do it alone. We are not debating tonight anything that the government has done. We are debating what the Federation of Agriculture itself has done to the beef industry and that is why I have had problems with that organization over the years.

We serve in this province over 100,000 meals a day that are paid for in part or in total by the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia. Some people say, how is that? Well, we have, for instance, all of our hospitals, all of our nursing homes that are operated, all the universities, government itself, hospitals, military bases and the whole package. That is the potential and what I think should happen is that somehow the agriculture sector, or get the government involved, should call a meeting. We should have a meeting, you have to pick the right time of year, when farmers are not in the field, but we should have a meeting called of all the purchasing agents that are associated with tax dollars. I am talking about the one at the local hospital, the local nursing home and we should have a conference and talk about the impact that those people have if they buy Nova Scotia, locally produced, not only beef but all vegetables. We could create in this province 8,000, 10,000, 12,000 new jobs by doing that and that is the type of thing that we should be doing in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Colchester North raised a couple items and I just want to follow up on them. This is a statement that is put out by the Cumberland County cattlemen directors that has gone out, they have worked on and they say it is so unfair and so unjust that beef producers have to prove the FFA grain input by receipt. Now every one of us should understand that the Federation of Agriculture, for the beef producers only, said hey boys and girls, you have to have a receipt to prove what assistance you will get. The poultry industry does not, the dairy industry, they all get their awards based on their sales or the production that they had. But they have come to the beef industry that needs help now more than any other time in our history, the Federation of Agriculture has done this and they have said, hey you have to have a receipt.

We like fairness and justice and everybody to be treated equally. The beef producers under this set-up, in my opinion, and in many people's opinion, is not being treated on a level playing field with the commodity groups with regard to agriculture. Each member of this House should understand that and lobby their Federation of Agriculture people.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing is that when this first came up, this sharing was first suggested, it was 1.6 per cent for the beef producers, who wouldn't accept it. Then there were negotiations, and they got it up to 4 per cent. There were more negotiations on and they got it up to 5.1 per cent. But, let me tell you, under the study that the honourable member for Colchester North mentioned, and these are facts under Statistics Canada, "Estimated Total

[Page 1777]

FFA Benefits by Commodity and Province". Nova Scotia, what they say through this study, should have gotten 13.11 per cent. What did they give them? It was 5.1 per cent, devastating to an industry that is suffering right now.

What about New Brunswick? It was 8.95 per cent; I think they ended up getting around 10 per cent in the Province of New Brunswick, higher than they recommended. P.E.I., they recommended 16.59 per cent, and they ended up with around 17 per cent. So here is what the Federation of Agriculture, in my opinion, has done to Nova Scotia. This beef industry is so important in this province with the type of land we have, the pastureland, because we can produce beef in Nova Scotia as good or better than anywhere else in Canada, but what has the Federation done to the beef producers? They have said, well New Brunswick, you are going to get twice as much in assistance, and they said to P.E.I., you are going to get three times as much as what we are going to give the beef farmers in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, that is unfair and it is unjust. We should be bringing our commodity groups together, to work together on purchasing things, like I have mentioned, the 100,000 meals a day, instead of driving a wedge between them. That is exactly what is happening. The beef people I have talked to, and I met with the executive from Cumberland County and I know what they told me - and I have talked to other ones in Cumberland and Colchester, as the honourable member for Colchester North has stated - these people need help now. The honourable member for Kings West mentioned their costs of production and the input costs over the last 10 to 15 years. We also look at the cost of what they get at the gate with regard to beef prices.

The other thing I want to mention is that they tell me that the beef industry today, their capital or their assets - if I can use that term - are 30 per cent to 40 per cent less than a few years ago. Here is an industry that is suffering. Yes, I am critical of the Federation of Agriculture for setting such a low rate of 5 per cent, when New Brunswick producers are getting twice as much and P.E.I. three times as much. I think it is unfair and I hope somebody makes sure that the Federation of Agriculture is made aware of some of the things that I have stated and said here this evening with regard to this debate.

I think it's unfair the way the beef industry is being treated. The aim of the FFA program is to give a capital payment to producers who were former beneficiaries of the FFA program. It does not specify the users. It doesn't deal with names. It talks about commodity groups. But why receipts? If you were a beef farmer, Mr. Speaker, and you get a letter or somebody comes to your door and says you have to have a receipt and your buddy, your brother or your next door neighbour is producing poultry, they don't need a receipt. Or the second door down from your place is a dairy farmer, or the third door a sheep farmer, the fourth door a hog farmer, and I can go on and on, none of those groups need receipts. Only the beef industry has had that demand put on them by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

I think it is unfair; I think it is unjust. I would ask the Federation of Agriculture to meet again tomorrow and look at this in a manner that is fair and just, not a manner that is driving wedges in the commodity groups of this province.

I realize my time is up. Once again, I want to thank the honourable members. I appreciate the time, sir.

[Page 1778]

MR. SPEAKER: That concludes the late debate tonight.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]