Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

La Chambre s'est ajournée le
26 octobre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 20, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Children's Dental Program: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 2081
Merchant Navy - Seamen: Benefits - Extend, Mr. K. Colwell 2082
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 700, Commun. Serv.: National Child Day (20/11/96) [United Nations] -
Endorse, Hon. J. MacEachern 2082
Vote - Affirmative 2083
Res. 701, MLAs' (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage & Dartmouth-Cole Harbour)
Newsletters: Kim Blanchette (Constituency Assistant) -
Hill Times Recognition, The Premier 2083
Vote - Affirmative 2084
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Earle Rayfuse - MLA for Annapolis: Best Wishes - Extend, The Premier 2084
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 38, Lunenburg Street Closing and Location Act, 1996,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 2085
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 702, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Listening Selective -
Acknowledge, Mr. R. Russell 2085
Res. 703, Health - Children's Dental Prog.: Decision - Reverse,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2086
Res. 704, Educ. - South-West Reg. School Bd.-Advisory Councils:
Links - Congrats.,Mrs. L. O'Connor 2087
Vote - Affirmative 2087
Res. 705, Health - Children's Dental Prog.: Cuts - Image Decay,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2088
Res. 706, Educ. - PST & GST Harmonization: School Boards -
Costs Stability Ensure, Mr. T. Donahoe 2088
Res. 707, Eastern Shore: Marine Drive Yard Sale (50 km) - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 2089
Vote - Affirmative 2090
Res. 708, Health - Neil's Harbour: Care Facility - Fundraising Recognize,
Mr. K. MacAskill 2090
Res. 709, Sports - CHEEMA Aquatic Club: Success
(Canadian Championships) - Congrats., Mrs. F. Cosman 2090
Vote - Affirmative 2091
Res. 710, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Agreement Implementation -
Legislative Approval Ensure, Mr. B. Taylor 2091
Res. 711, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Meech Lake Secrecy -
Study, Mr. J. Holm 2092
Res. 712, Boy Scouts (N.S.) - Ken Margeson (Kinsac): Service (75 yrs.) -
Congrats., Mr. William MacDonald 2092
Vote - Affirmative 2093
Res. 713, Sports - Soccer: Breton Education Bears (Boys' Team) -
Champs. Congrats., Mr. R. MacNeil 2093
Vote - Affirmative 2093
Res. 714, Agric.: Taste of Nova Scotia Quality Food Prog. -
Work Recognize, Hon. G. Brown 2094
Vote - Affirmative 2094
Res. 715, Sports - Soccer: Forest Heights Commun. School
Achievements (1996) - Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 2094
Vote - Affirmative 2095
Res. 716, Environ.: Solar Aquatics Sewage Treatment Plant (Bear River) -
Award, Mr. J. Casey 2095
Vote - Affirmative 2096
Res. 717, Eastern Shore - Marine Drive: Seaside Christmas Open House -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 2096
Vote - Affirmative 2096
Res. 718, Educ. - YMCA (Greater Hfx./Dart.) Peace Medal:
Hetty Adams - Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 2097
Vote - Affirmative 2097
Res. 719, Sports - Equestrian: Samantha Covert (Dart. East) -
Successes Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 2097
Vote - Affirmative 2098
Res. 720, Fin. - Debt: Decrease - Recognize, Mr. R. Carruthers 2098
Res. 721, ERA - Businesses: Attraction - Premier's Efforts Applaud,
Mrs. F. Cosman 2099
Res. 722, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Questions - Answer,
Mr. R. Russell 2099
Res. 723, Commun. Serv./Educ./Health - Children: Benefit -
Importance, Mr. T. Donahoe 2100
Res. 724, Transport. & Pub. Wks: Hwy. 101 (Digby-Weymouth) -
Complete, Mr. J. Casey 2100
Vote - Affirmative 2101
Res. 725, PC Party (N.S.) - Record (1978-1993): Penance - Incomplete,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2101
Res. 726, Nat. Res. "Hunter's Challenge" Game: Mr. Paul Hennebury
(Hfx. Reg.) - Initiative Recognize, Mr. D. Richards 2102
Vote - Affirmative 2102
Res. 727, Premier - Role: Change - Electorate Anxious, Mr. J. Leefe 2102
Res. 728, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization -
Legislative Approval Required, Mr. R. Chisholm 2103
Res. 729, Royal Canadian Legion (Chester Basin-Everett Branch 88):
Anniv. (50th) - Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 2104
Vote - Affirmative 2104
Res. 730, Sherbrooke Village - Old Fashioned Christmas: Organizers -
Congrats., Mr. R. White 2105
Vote - Affirmative 2105
Res. 731, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: BS Tax - Future Name,
Mr. J. Holm 2105
Res. 732, ERA - Shelburne Marine: Re-Opening - Encourage,
Mr. C. Huskilson 2106
Vote - Affirmative 2106
Res. 733, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway Priorities: File Colours -
Abolition Appreciate, Mr. P. MacEwan 2107
Res. 734, Educ. - McGill Univ. Debate Tournament:
Rushmi Malaviarachchi & Fiona Talbot-Strong (Queen Elizabeth HS) -
Winners Congrats., Hon. J. Abbass 2107
Vote - Affirmative 2108
Res. 735, Sport - Athletics (Cross Country): Prince Edward HS Girls -
Success Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 2108
Vote - Affirmative 2108
Res. 736, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Pictou West MLA -
Lead Follow, Mr. R. Carruthers 2109
Res. 737, ERA - APENS: Mr. Ed Kinley (Lunenburg) -
Young Engineer Award Congrats., Mrs. L. O'Connor 2109
Vote - Affirmative 2110
Res. 738, Commun. Serv.: Child Poverty - Fight, Ms. E. O'Connell 2110
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 319, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Business Environment,
Dr. J. Hamm 2111
No. 320, Health - Children's Dental Prog.: Cuts - Reverse,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2113
No. 321, Fin.: Tax Reform - Mandate, Dr. J. Hamm 2116
No. 322, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Underground Economy -
Effect, Mr. T. Donahoe 2117
No. 323, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: MMG - Job Losses,
Mr. R. Russell 2120
No. 324, Justice - Institutions: Abuse - Compensation, Mr. J. Holm 2122
No. 325, Health: Regional Boards - Remuneration, Mr. G. Moody 2125
No. 326, Health: Home Oxygen Prog. - MLA Intervention, Mr. G. Moody 2126
No. 327, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Mr. Robert MacKay - Payment,
Mr. G. Archibald 2128
No. 328, Fish. - Inshore: Quotas (DFO) - Position, Mr. J. Leefe 2130
No. 329, Commun. Serv. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Low Income - Impact, Ms. E. O'Connell 2131
No. 330, Agric.: Agri-Focus 2000 Prog. - Status, Mr. G. Archibald 2133
No. 331, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Yarmouth-Bar Harbor Ferry Service:
Feasibility Study - Cancellation, Dr. J. Hamm 2134
No. 332, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys: Infrastructure -
Funding (Gov't. [Can.]), Mr. B. Taylor 2136
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 36, Health Council Act 2138
Dr. J. Hamm 2138
Hon. B. Boudreau 2141
Mr. R. Chisholm 2144
Mr. G. Moody 2148
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 648, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Tax Grab -
Acknowledge, Dr. J. Hamm 2151
Dr. J. Hamm 2151
Hon. W. Gillis 2154
Mr. R. Chisholm 2157
Mr. R. Russell 2159
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
ERA - Tourism: C.B. - Cabot Meeting '97:
Mr. K. MacAskill 2162
Mr. A. MacLeod 2164
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 21st at 2:00 p.m. 2166

[Page 2081]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the proceedings at this time.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and proud to have the opportunity to table here in the House of Assembly petitions signed by over 5,000 Nova Scotians, 5,106. Represented in that are over 100 dentists, a number of associations, unions, and individuals. If I may, I will read the operative clause, here. "We, the undersigned oppose the recent cuts to the Nova Scotia Children's Dental Program. The two-tier system is a personal affront, and changes within the program are not based on sound clinical experience. We the voters and tax payers of this province insist that the Government not make any more cuts to this entirely cost efficient program.". I have the privilege of having affixed my name to the top of these petitions and I duly table.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

2081

[Page 2082]

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of the Merchant Navy. I will just read the petition, with your permission.

"We, the undersigned residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following:

THAT the wartime Merchant Navy was the Fourth Arm of the Armed Services,

THAT veterans of the wartime Merchant Navy are under The Civilian War Related Benefits Act,

THAT one in ten Canadian merchant seamen lost their lives, the highest proportional rate of all services; and Merchant Navy prisoners of war spent fifty (50) months on average in imprisonment but only thirty (30) months are recognized,

THAT veterans of the wartime Merchant Navy are excluded from the War Veterans' Allowance Act, from pensionable benefits, from veterans' post-World War II free university education, housing and land grant benefits, small business financial aid and veterans' health care benefits.

THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon Parliament to consider the advisability of extending benefits or compensation to veterans of the wartime Merchant Navy equal to that enjoyed by veterans of the Canada's World War II armed services.".

Mr. Speaker, there are 25 signatures on this and I have affixed my name to the petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 700

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

Whereas the United Nations declared November 20th to be National Child Day, understanding that Nova Scotians believe that our children are an investment in the future and warrant special care and attention, and recognizing that our children are people with rights

[Page 2083]

who deserve our appreciation for who they are and for what they bring to our lives, acknowledging that we need to respect and nurture all children;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia endorses and supports the goals and objectives of the United Nations' declaration and invites all Nova Scotians to celebrate National Child Day.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

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 Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 701

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall I move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas each year, the Hill Times, a weekly Ottawa journal that covers events on Parliament Hill issues awards for publications distributed to constituents by MPs; and

Whereas in its November 10th edition, the Hill Times departed from tradition by giving honourable mention to newsletters published by provincial MLAs; and

Whereas the newspapers that received this unprecedented attention were the newsletters of Dennis Richards, MLA Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, and Alan Mitchell, MLA, Dartmouth-Cole Harbour;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to these honourable members, as well as to Ms. Kim Blanchette, the constituency assistant to the honourable members who was instrumental in the design and publication of these newsletters.

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

[Page 2084]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think I should ask you to revert to the order of business, Statements By Ministers. In the absence of the House Leader, I have a statement on a colleague, Mr. Earle Rayfuse, and I would appreciate if I could just say it.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to advise the House that a friend and colleague, Mr. Earle Rayfuse, will be absent from this Assembly for some time due to a recurring illness. Mr. Rayfuse has sat as a member for the riding of Annapolis since 1988 and serves the people of Annapolis and Nova Scotia conscientiously and thoughtfully both in caucus and on the floor of this House.

Being of different political philosophies, most of us in this Chamber find ourselves at odds from time to time. Despite that, we understand the demands that our profession places upon us as individuals and we respect one another.

Earle is currently a patient at the Victoria General Hospital and I know that all of the members of this House will join me in extending to Mr. Rayfuse, his wife Babe and their family our sincerest wishes for his full and speedy recovery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in view of the Premier's recent words I would only wish to say that this caucus will miss Mr. Rayfuse's presence during the sitting of the House. He is a gentleman politician of integrity and this place is a better place when he is in it. (Applause)

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

[Page 2085]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me echo those sentiments and say that I have had the opportunity to know and work with Earle for the past five and one-half years in this political arena. While we are from different political sides of the House, let me say that I have always found Earle to be an extremely generous and competent individual. I know he is well respected by the constituents whom he serves.

I wish him well and I am sad to hear that he is having difficulty with his health. On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I wish him well. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 38 - Entitled an Act to Close a Portion of Creighton Street in the Town of Lunenburg and to Confirm the Location of a Portion of Kissing Bridge Road in the Town of Lunenburg. (Mrs. Lila O'Connor)

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

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on this special day, the National Day of Children, as the Minister of Community Services has indicated, to introduce to you some children and their teachers who took part in a ceremony that we just had in the Red Room.

These are the children of Saint Joseph's Children's Centre, the Mi'Kmaq Child Development Centre and the Sacred Heart School of Halifax Choir. Their leaders and teachers are: Anne Smith, Debbie McDonald, Pat MacDonald, Jean Decker-Sampson, Nicole Ferguson and Nina Sunderam.

I would ask that the children and their teachers rise and that this House give them the traditional warm welcome. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 702

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

[Page 2086]

Whereas the Government of Prince Edward Island held public consultations to receive feedback on the harmonization deal, only to reject it on the grounds that the negative effects would outweigh any potential benefits; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas this Liberal Government, which campaigned on the slogan, Leadership Starts with Listening, denied Nova Scotians a similar opportunity to express their views relative to this new tax; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are sick and tire of this government's arrogant and dismissive attitude and their autocratic, down your throats approach to governing;

Therefore be it resolved that this government acknowledge it selectively listens and does not give two hoots about what Nova Scotians think, that it apologize to the people of Nova Scotia for deliberately misleading them and that it immediately undertake open, public consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would also, at this time, like to make an introduction. You will recall that earlier I tabled a petition in this House. It was a petition signed by over 5,000 Nova Scotians concerned about the decision to cut the children's dental program. That initiative to start the petition was taken by Dr. Errol Gaum and Dr. Gaum, along with other people who are supporting his efforts, are in the gallery today and I would like Dr. Gaum to please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House of Assembly. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 703

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

Whereas this month marks the 5th Anniversary of Nova Scotia's signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child; and

Whereas by signing this Convention, the Province of Nova Scotia solemnly agreed to protect the rights of children and ensure that all actions of government are in the best interests of children; and

[Page 2087]

Whereas despite public outcry and concern, consecutive Liberal and Tory Governments in Nova Scotia have chosen to cut back dental coverage for children from the age of 16 to 10 years and have imposed financial eligibility criteria which will prevent children from receiving dental care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Government to reverse their decision to further cut the children's dental program and instead live up to their election promise to protect the program from further erosion.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 704

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

Whereas school advisory councils are being established in school boards throughout our province to support and improve education programs and policies; and

Whereas school advisory councils are made up of students, parents, teachers, support staff, principals, and other community members who use their valuable time to promote student success; and

Whereas 12 new advisory councils have recently signed official agreements with the Southwest Regional School Board;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the new 37 advisory councils in the southwest region and commend the board's chair, Ken Woodman, and the Minister of Education, the Honourable Robert Harrison, for formalizing the links to promote academic excellence.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2088]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 705

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

Whereas this government, which constantly preaches prevention, recently announced cuts to the Children's Dental Care Program; and

Whereas at the same time this government claims it cannot afford $3 million to maintain this program, it has millions to pass along to fired bureaucrats and an unlimited pot of money to fund its growing public relations industry; and

Whereas, it is estimated that cuts to the children's dental program will negatively affect 20,000 Nova Scotia children;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize that its public image is decaying badly as it trumpets prevention programs as a key element of health reform on the one hand, while slashing prevention programs on the other.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I here several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 706

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

Whereas the former Minister of Education said his government's Expenditure Control Program would have no effect on the students of Nova Scotia and that school board amalgamation would save $11 million that would be redirected into the classrooms of Nova Scotia's school; and

[Page 2089]

Whereas Nova Scotia's school boards were vindicated in their prediction that both the expenditure control plan and the amalgamation would take a heavy toll on their ability to provide quality education and hit the classroom hardest; and

Whereas the present Minister of Education yesterday had the nerve to question the Nova Scotia school board's projections relative to the negative impact of the BST, sounding off the tired, old, Liberal refrain that it would have little or no effect on Nova Scotia's students;

Therefore be it resolved that the former Minister of Education and the present Minister of Education take a lesson in basic math and that the Minister of Education give an undertaking to the school boards of Nova Scotia that they will not face increased costs as a consequence of the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 707

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

Whereas this fall, the first annual Highway No. 207 Marine Drive, 50 Kilometre Yard Sale took place on the Eastern Shore; and

Whereas hundreds of people from across the province enjoyed a weekend of bargains at the giant 50 kilometre yard sale, with all proceeds going to support MacDonald House at Lawrencetown Beach; and

Whereas as the MLA for the Eastern Shore, it was a pleasure to work with the volunteer organizers, which included Evelyn Hebb, event coordinator; Adrianna Speelman; Terry Choyce; Claudia LaPierre; Lena Ferguson; and Etta Duxbury;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the organizers and supporters of the Eastern Shore's first annual 50 kilometre yard sale along Marine Drive.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

It is agreed.

[Page 2090]

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. 708

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

Whereas since 1953, Buchanan Memorial Hospital in Neil's Harbour served the people of northern Cape Breton well; and

Whereas the people of the catchment area recognized the need to replace this out-of-date and unsafe wooden structure; and

Whereas this Liberal Government made good on its commitment to build a new health care facility in Neil's Harbour in partnership with the community and the Eastern Regional Health Board;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize these communities for their outstanding fund-raising efforts and commend this government for addressing the health care needs of rural communities.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 709

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

Whereas the CHEEMA Aquatic Club in Waverley won 47 individual medals and accumulated 323 team points to win its third consecutive Canadian Sprint Canoe Championship in Dartmouth; and

[Page 2091]

Whereas three members of the CHEEMA Aquatic Club won the Paul Hilchey Memorial Award, recognizing acts of fair play, at the national championships; and

Whereas the CHEEMA Aquatic Club continues to provide beneficial recreational activities to many people of all ages, as well as top quality aquatic training for our young athletes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the CHEEMA Aquatic Club, its coaches, its members, and its volunteers on their third consecutive Canadian Sprint Canoe Championship and wish them continued success in future competitions.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver please.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 710

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are sick and tired with a Savage Liberal Government that rules and not governs; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance signed the BS Tax without any open, public consultation on the deal; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance refuses to introduce blended sales tax legislation this fall, and the Government House Leader refuses to allow MLAs to debate the BS Tax, and the Premier gallivants off to Toronto to avoid questions on the BS Tax, yet according to every Liberal: "there is plenty of time to debate the BST";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance commit the government to not implementing the BS Tax on April 1st without prior approval by the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 2092]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 711

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 shrugs off criticism of the government's high-handed railroading of the BST bill by comparing it with other routine budget measures that come into effect before legislation is passed; and

Whereas this is a phoney comparison since the BST deal is, in fact, a complex intergovernmental arrangement that ties the hands of the legislators of this province for years and cedes provincial jurisdiction to bureaucratic committees and agencies; and

Whereas such a surrender of provincial jurisdiction and power should never be negotiated behind closed doors and then rammed through the Legislative Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this government study and read some recent history so that they may learn the lessons of Meech Lake, namely that people will no longer tolerate and meekly accept secret backroom deals like the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 712

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

Whereas Mr. Ken Margeson of Kinsac, a former member of Halifax County Council, has recently celebrated 75 years as a member of the provincial Boy Scouts; and

Whereas Mr. Margeson first became involved in the scouting movement at the age of six; and

Whereas Mr. Margeson's involvement with the scouting movement has instilled in him a strong sense of civic duty and exceptional involvement in community affairs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend to Mr. Margeson sincere congratulations on his 75 years of dedication to and involvement with the scouting movement, with the wish that he may enjoy many more years of active participation.

[Page 2093]

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 713

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

Whereas the Breton Education Centre Bears soccer team of New Waterford recently made their fifth consecutive appearance at the Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation Division 1 championships; and

Whereas the Breton Education Centre Bears recently captured their third consecutive Division 1 boys' soccer provincial championship; and

Whereas the Breton Education Centre Bears are the first team to win three consecutive Division 1 championships;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join in congratulating the Breton Education Centre Bears boys' soccer team on this unprecedented string of championships and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

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 Agriculture and Marketing.

[Page 2094]

RESOLUTION NO. 714

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

Whereas the Taste of Nova Scotia Quality Food Program is an association of Nova Scotia food and beverage companies committed to giving you the finest and the freshest of local produce products as possible; and

Whereas this is a private sector management program involving industry, both at the wholesale and retail level; and

Whereas the Taste of Nova Scotia is now on display in the lobby of Province House, I encourage each member to review this display and consider the Taste of Nova Scotia gift packages for special occasions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly recognize the work of the Taste of Nova Scotia and the quality of their products.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

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. 715

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

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Forest Heights Community School recently hosted the Nova Scotia Athletic Federation's Soccer Championship on their home field; and

Whereas the boys' team successfully defended their title as Provincial AA champions; and

[Page 2095]

Whereas the girls' team fought valiantly and finished fourth in Division II;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate all team members and their coaches, Messrs. Mitchell and Fraughton, for their hard work and achievements through the 1996 soccer season.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 716

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

Whereas last week the Waterfront Centre, a research group based in Washington, D.C., awarded the Municipality of the County of Annapolis and EDM Design and Management Limited one of its prestigious environment awards; and

Whereas this award was for the world renown innovative Solar Aquatics Sewage Treatment Plant in Bear River; and

Whereas this sewage treatment plant is an example of what can be accomplished when citizens work cooperatively to solve a pressing community need;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations and best wishes to the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, EDM Design and Management Limited and the citizens of Bear River on receiving this prestigious award.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

It is agreed.

[Page 2096]

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. 717

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

Whereas the weekend of November 22nd to 24th, the 7th Annual Seaside Christmas Open House along the Marine Drive is set to welcome you and your family to enjoy old fashioned country hospitality on the Eastern Shore; and

Whereas the Marine Drive will be in festive array for the Seaside Christmas Open House as the participating businesses stretch from West Chezzetcook all the way to Ship Harbour; and

Whereas with 16 businesses taking part in this year's event, the 1996 Seaside Christmas Open House will be the biggest Seaside Christmas to date, offering a wide variety of goods and services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the organizers and the 16 businesses taking part in the Seaside Christmas Open House and encourage many Nova Scotians to take part in this very popular and enjoyable weekend which highlights the hospitality and warmth of the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

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 Fairview.

[Page 2097]

RESOLUTION NO. 718

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

Whereas Hetty Adams, Principal of William King Elementary School, has been a pioneer in the introduction and development of conflict resolution and peer mediation in schools; and

Whereas the introduction of her program Peaceful Classrooms is an important strategy in the vital campaign to reduce violence in our society; and

Whereas Hetty Adams has been recognized for her work by being awarded the Peace Medal by the YMCA of greater Halifax-Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join in saluting the important work that is being done by Hetty Adams.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

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 Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 719

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

Whereas Samantha Covert of Dartmouth East recently won the Junior Amateur Jumper Stake Class at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto; and

Whereas other recent successes for Samantha include a third place finish in the Canadian Equestrian Federation Medal Class and seventh place in the Canadian Federation Team Medal Final; and

[Page 2098]

Whereas Samantha has consistently improved in her sport while attending Grade 12 classes at Prince Andrew High School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Samantha Covert for her recent successes in equestrian competition and wish her well in all of her future endeavours.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 720

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 Leader of the Opposition yesterday stated that this government had given away the Nova Scotia farm to the Government of Canada; and

Whereas as a result of the reckless policies of previous Conservative Governments, this government faced a $600 million bill from international bankers collecting interest, as well as a mind-boggling debt of more than $7 billion; and

Whereas as a result of the ineptitude of Conservative Governments, Nova Scotians have been shelling out billions of dollars to international bankers, money which could have been used here at home to support vital programs and services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that while this government could not possibly have sold the Nova Scotia farm, because it was already mortgaged by the Opposition Party to international bankers; this government is in the process of buying it back for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

[Page 2099]

RESOLUTION NO. 721

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

Whereas the Leaders and members of both Opposition Parties have criticized the Premier and this government for not doing enough to attract businesses and jobs to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Premier has personally gone to the heartland of Canada's business community to promote business opportunities in Nova Scotia and the significant Atlantic Advantage which is being created through the harmonized sales tax; and

Whereas even though in the past four years, Nova Scotia has created 19,000 of the 24,000 jobs created in the region, the Premier, in his desire to cultivate even more jobs for Nova Scotians is collaborating with other Premiers in the Atlantic region to stimulate job creation;

Therefore be it resolved that both Opposition Parties put all partisan politics aside and unite with members of the government to applaud the notable efforts of Premier John Savage in attracting new businesses to this province, which will mean even more jobs for Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 722

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance didn't directly answer one direct question put to him yesterday regarding the BST; and

Whereas his refusal and or inability to answer questions asked of him during Question Period indicates he doesn't have a clue what's going on or simply doesn't care; and

[Page 2100]

Whereas the questions asked related to critical issues such as the impact the BST would have on the underground economy and the province's ability to fund essential programs and services in the future;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance give or at the very least attempt to get the answers to critical and relevant questions instead of merely spouting unsupportable rhetoric that is entirely consistent with his latest tax grab being referred to as the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 723

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

Whereas November 20, 1996, marks National Child Day, a reminder of the importance of children; and

Whereas in preparation for National Child Day, the Savage Liberal Government made such child-friendly moves as slashing provincial funding for child welfare agencies, gutting our province's education system and slicing the children's dental health plan; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's children and their families will be directly affected by an underfunded child protection system, overcrowded classrooms and an inaccessible dental health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop spewing nice phrases about the importance of children and families and start making changes within our education, community services and health systems to the benefit of Nova Scotia's children.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 724

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

Whereas there is still a distance of 25 kilometres left on Highway No. 101 to bring Highway No. 101 up to the 100-Series standard; and

[Page 2101]

Whereas this link which runs from Digby to Weymouth is located in the constituency of Digby-Annapolis; and

Whereas this portion of the highway is heavily travelled by school buses which have to start and stop, loading and unloading school children who must then walk along the side of the highway to get home amid heavily laden lumber trucks, creating a traffic hazard for (Interruptions) school children;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately instruct his officials to complete the planning process and construction in order to bring this portion of the highway brought up to 100-Series standard as soon as possible.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 725

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

Whereas this government has, with considerable difficulty, rescued Nova Scotia from the brink of financial ruin and the general breakdown of all public services that bankruptcy or default would have triggered; and

Whereas those who consider themselves the alternative stood at the last election on the platform of more of the same as epitomized by uncontrolled and runaway deficit financing occasioned during year after year of a mentality of don't worry, be happy pervading the government; and

Whereas this Tory approach to government was disastrous for Nova Scotia, and if it had carried forward to the present, this province would now be in the most dire straits of her entire history;

[Page 2102]

Therefore be it resolved that those who brought Nova Scotia to the very brink have much penance to do yet, in sackcloth and ashes, I might add, before they can make any legitimate claim to resume the responsibilities of government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 726

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

Whereas there are over 250 hunters in Nova Scotia that could benefit from a creative educational opportunity; and

Whereas Paul Henneberry has designed, Hunter's Challenge, a new and unique board game to challenge people's knowledge of hunting with educational facts; and

Whereas the game teaches hunter safety, survival and first aid tips in the hopes of preventing hunter accidents at the same time providing entertainment for individuals who enjoy the sport;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly commend Mr. Henneberry for his efforts as a member of the Halifax Regional Search and Rescue Team and recognize his individual initiative in creating, Hunter's Challenge.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

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. 727

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

[Page 2103]

Whereas Premier John Savage on Monday expressed "surprise" by the PC victory in P.E.I.; and

Whereas Premier Savage took the P.E.I. Liberal defeat as an opportunity to remind Nova Scotia Liberals would be leaders-in-waiting "that changing leaders doesn't always produce a winner"; and

Whereas Premier Savage has welcomed P.E.I. Tory Leader Pat Binns to "the club of premiers";

Therefore be it resolved that Premier Savage acknowledge that the people of Nova Scotia anxiously await the opportunity to surprise him as he continues in a leadership with the most modest support by introducing him to another kind of club, one with which the electorate will angrily beat him from office.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 728

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

Whereas the Premier flew to Toronto at public expense yesterday to regale business journalists with tales of what life will be like in Nova Scotia after the BS Tax is passed; and

Whereas respect for democracy and the people of Nova Scotia would dictate that these sales pitches would wait until the Legislature of this province has passed judgment on the BST package; and

Whereas the Premier's actions yesterday write one more sad chapter in the history of deception, misleading statements and disrespect for the democracy that have marred the BST exercise from the beginning;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier apologize to the members of this House and the people of this province and promise that from now on he will try to remember that a law is not a law until it has been passed by the people's representatives.

[Page 2104]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 729

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 Chester Basin Legion, Everett Branch 88, celebrated its 50th Anniversary on November 9th; and

Whereas this occasion also commemorates the sacrifices of many brave men and women who have given their lives and service to their country; and

Whereas the members of the Everett Branch 88 continue to honour their memory through active community service;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly commend the Chester Basin Legion, Everett Branch 88, for working so hard to remind us that Canada, a country devoted to peace and democracy, is indeed a very special place to live.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to draw to your attention that we are having a great deal of difficulty hearing some of the speakers - the member for Halifax Fairview, the Minister of Fisheries - it is very difficult to pick up their voice. Perhaps the people upstairs might turn the system up a little bit. We have no difficulty hearing some of the people opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 2105]

RESOLUTION NO. 730

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

Whereas the St. Mary's Tourism Coordination Committee, in conjunction with Sherbrooke Village, is pleased to present An Old Fashioned Christmas on the weekends of November 23rd, November 30th and December 7th; and

Whereas the Sherbrooke Village Old Fashioned Christmas is a festival of exciting workshops, entertainment and events, with a broad variety of activities sure to delight the whole family; and

Whereas the following organizations have played a critical role in the development of this festival, the Nova Scotia Marketing Agency, Nova Scotia Power Corporation, Guysborough Business Development Centre, Sherbrooke Village Restoration Commission, Guysborough Regional Development Authority, local businesses and individuals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those who are organizing the Sherbrooke Village Old Fashioned Christmas and encourage citizens from all across Nova Scotia to attend one or more of the festival's three weekend events.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

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. 731

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

Whereas by agreeing to the BST, the government has sold out the people of this province in return for a $250 million federal bribe; and

[Page 2106]

Whereas the Minister of Finance has confirmed that there are no restrictions on how the government can spend its $250 million BST bribe; and

Whereas such a big bag of money will no doubt come in handy as a source of goodies in an election year;

Therefore be it resolved that in future, the BS Tax may also be known as the Buy Some Treats tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 732

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

Whereas Shelburne Marine has played an important role in the economic well-being of Shelburne County, employing over 100 men and women; and

Whereas Shelburne Marine's recent closure has government members of Team South West and the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and the Economic Renewal Agency working diligently to restore employment at Shelburne Marine; and

Whereas earlier today, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and I met with a delegation from Shelburne including David Butler, President of the Union for Shelburne Marine; Shelburne's Mayor Comeau and Warden Janet Lyon;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage all persons involved to continue their efforts to see Shelburne Marine re-open and provide valuable jobs in Shelburne County.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 2107]

RESOLUTION NO. 733

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

Whereas lest we forget under Tory Government, a colour-coded filing system was used in the Department of Transportation, with blue, red and green files to identify the various constituencies politically; and

Whereas the essence of Tory Government, as practised in Nova Scotia, was to hue to the blue and see as little as possible being done for the red or for the green; and

Whereas the same architects who masterminded this system of institutionalized political discrimination now thunder at the gates in the hopes of re-imposing blue ruin once again on the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House expresses its thanks to this government for having abolished the colour-coded file system used to categorize highways priorities and trust that this system may never again return to this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 734

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

Whereas Rushmi Malaviarachchi and Fiona Talbot-Strong of Queen Elizabeth High School won the McGill University High School Debate Tournament in Montreal, November 8th to November 10th; and

Whereas this tournament is the largest high school competition in North America, featuring 120 teams from across Canada and the United States; and

Whereas Malaviarachchi and Talbot-Strong went undefeated through the regular rounds of debate and defeated St. John's Ravenscourt School of Winnipeg in the final round;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations and best wishes to Rushmi Malaviarachchi and Fiona Talbot-Strong on their outstanding accomplishment at the McGill University High School Debate Tournament.

[Page 2108]

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

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 Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 735

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

Whereas the Prince Andrew High School Girls Cross-Country Team recently won the Nova Scotia Athletic Federation Championship; and

Whereas this same cross-country team also won the Capital Region Senior Girls as well as the Metro High School Senior Girls Cross-Country Championship; and

Whereas this sport requires dedication, endurance and a high level of personal training;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Coach Ken Peet, Lisa Borin, Michelle Bishop, Julie Thorpe, Denise Kay, Johanna Hoehne, Laurie Legere and Vicki Barrie for their individual as well as collective team success.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

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 2109]

RESOLUTION NO. 736

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 Minister of Finance, during Question Period yesterday, referred to a letter written by the honourable member for Pictou West; and

Whereas the honourable member for Pictou West, in his Letter to the Editor, published on July 27, 1995, extolled the virtues of a harmonized sales tax; and

Whereas the honourable member for Pictou West, in his letter, asked our provincial Leader "to move from rhetoric to concrete action by bringing harmonization to the top of the political agenda";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage members of the Official Opposition to follow the lead of the honourable member for Pictou West and vote for a harmonized sales tax when this bill comes before the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 737

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

Whereas the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia is the authorized organization for professional engineers registered to practice in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Young Engineer Award is given by the association to an engineer who has made significant contributions to the profession; and

Whereas Ed Kinley of Lunenburg received this award from APENS during its annual meeting for his significant role and leadership with the association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Mr. Kinley for receiving this outstanding achievement with the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2110]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 738

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas November 20, 1996, marks National Child Day in Canada; and

Whereas 1996 has been declared the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty; and

Whereas more than 1 in 5 children in Nova Scotia are living in poverty;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to live up to its international commitments and begin to take concrete steps to fight child poverty in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is an honour to have in our midst today a former member of the Halifax County Bedford District School Board, a current member of the Halifax Regional School Board and the Chair of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Mrs. Pat Smith. I would ask all members to join me in warmly welcoming Pat to the Legislature. (Applause)

[Page 2111]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to introduce to the House of Assembly, in the east gallery, some 21 students from the paralegal course, the two year course at the Nova Scotia Community College, Akerley Campus, with their leader/instructor, Kevin MacLean. So I would ask them to stand and ask the House to give the usual warm welcome to these students from Akerley Campus. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time now being 2:58 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run for one and one-half hours, until 4:28 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I can express through you, Mr. Speaker, that we missed the Premier yesterday. It is public knowledge that the Premier visited Toronto on a political junket with his colleagues from Newfoundland and New Brunswick. My understanding from what I have read in the press is that the purpose of that trip was to present to the people of the rest of Canada, and the business world in particular, an improved business environment created by the blended sales tax.

I wonder if the Premier would bring forward some of the information that he was able to provide about an improved business environment here in Nova Scotia, the kind of information that he gave to the people of the rest of Canada?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me say first of all that I did inform the members of the Opposition that I would be away on business. I can tell you this, I would go back again to Toronto tomorrow if I thought that we could encourage business to this province. (Applause) The creation of jobs seems to be of little significance to the people on the other side and, therefore, one cannot expect that they would understand the motives and directions that we took.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, much of what we said and asked for was in the newspaper; you have seen the various papers. What we had put before them was a case unequalled in this province's history of attracting industry and business. What we did yesterday was to speak to some of the shakers and movers who live in Toronto. We went there - the three Premiers - in an

[Page 2112]

unprecedented group, asking the people who make business investment decisions that they consider Atlantic Canada when they make them. We were very pleased with the reception that we got. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I do acknowledge that the Premier gave me some prior information that he would be absent from the House tomorrow, and the Premier made reference that he spoke to the movers and shakers. Well, I don't know who he spoke to, but I know he shook one shaker up.

I have something here that came over the news wire this morning. It is dateline Pointe Claire, Quebec. "A chain of discount stores is blaming the blended sales tax for its decision to close five discount stores in New Brunswick and lay off 79 people. And, M-M-G Management Group says, . . .", 19 stores in Nova Scotia and 7 in Newfoundland, ". . . may shut down as well. The Quebec-based chain operates discount stores under names like Red Apple, Greenberg and MetMart.". We have a Greenberg, Mr. Speaker, in my community.

"The company says the blended sales tax will force it to change catalogues, cash registers, and millions of price stickers . . . He also says the tax drives up the cost of most clothing items and other goods.". (Interruptions) Daniel Langevin, the company spokesman . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor.

DR. HAMM: The company spokesman goes on to say, ". . . the company has not finished reviewing what cuts will come at its 19 stores in Nova Scotia and seven in Newfoundland. The company says the B-S-T changes will cost 695-thousand dollars in one shot, and another 563-thousand dollars every year.".

My question to the Premier, was this the kind of information that you gave to the business community on your trip yesterday to Toronto?

THE PREMIER: No, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: You are driving business away, you are closing jobs, and you won't talk to Nova Scotians. Come clean, Mr. Premier!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: By way of final supplementary, if the Premier is so convinced that the blended sales tax is such a great win/win for Nova Scotians, let the Premier and I, this very moment, link arms, walk down the street to visit the Lieutenant Governor, and let's call an election and let the people of Nova Scotia decide about the BST. (Applause)

[Page 2113]

AN HON. MEMBER: Call an election, John. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: I don't believe there was a question there.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to extend to my good friend opposite many thanks for that wonderful offer; to walk arm in arm down Hollis Street with him might be an experience that I might regret. But I can tell him and his bunch from the other side, and people who have sat through many years of Tory misrule, that we will call this election when we decide, not when an errant Leader of the Opposition meanders down Hollis Street.

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

HEALTH - CHILDREN'S DENTAL PROG.: CUTS - REVERSE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Premier. Earlier today I had the privilege of tabling over 5,000 signatures, in the form of signatures on petitions and in the form of letters, from Nova Scotians who were extremely concerned about the cuts to the Children's Dental Program and who are urging this provincial government and this Premier to reverse those cuts.

Mr. Speaker, I remind you and the Premier that this is a program that was cut by the Tories back in 1992 where the eligibility was cut from 16 to 12 and this Party, when they were in Opposition, pledged, they assailed that government for having attacked that program, and this Premier pledged in 1993 that he, in fact, would protect the Children's Dental Program.

My question to the Premier is, will he listen to those 500-plus Nova Scotians who are concerned about the effect on children's dental care in the Province of Nova Scotia and restore those cuts?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a question for the Minister of Health since the dental program falls under him. As far as I understand - this may have escaped the attention of the Leader of the New Democratic Party - this is an enhanced earlier program that the Minister of Health may wish to expand on, so I pass the question to him.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the opportunity to respond to his question. The Department of Health embarked approximately two years ago on a program with respect to the dental health and the dental care program involving children in Nova Scotia. It was a consultation that we embarked on with the interest groups in the area, including specifically the dental society and the dental school.

[Page 2114]

Perhaps I can ask one of those people who were involved in that, and quote his comments in a letter to the Editor of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, which I will table for the information of all members. I think it is a real good summary of the issue. He says, "As an independent participant . . ." - this is, by the way, Dr. Amid Ismail, who is the Chair of the Department of Dental Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, Dalhousie University - ". . . in the review committee that spent two years investigating all possible avenues for providing dental care for children of this province . . . The Health Department proceeded in the review of the old dental program with prudence, thoroughness and consultation.". Now those are his words, Mr. Speaker, not mine.

The program has been restructured, there is no question about that, and there is less money in the program than there was; let's be clear about that as well. But in point of fact, Mr. Speaker, that is a program that needed refocusing and there are new services attached to that restructuring which were not available in the past as insured services and the emphasis, quite clearly, will be on prevention.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that there have been changes to this program. As I have said, $3 million has been cut out and the estimates are that 20,000 children in the Province of Nova Scotia will not receive the care that they need as a result of these changes.

Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Premier because this is a choice; it is like all choices that governments are faced with. It is about politics; it is about making choices. The decision to save $3 million by this government to cut this program that delivers preventive dental health services to children, that is a choice. At the same time, the decision to go to Toronto at taxpayers' expense and throw $110,000 at any corporation that will buy computers here in Nova Scotia is a choice, and the decision to change the tax system and give businesses a $240 million tax break and shift the burden onto Nova Scotians are choices.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why, when faced with difficult choices, are children the first people under attack?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think once again, because this is an issue of dental health, we have a very competent Minister of Health and I am going to ask him to answer the question.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, once again, putting the political rhetoric aside for a moment, let me go once again to the comments of Dr. Ismail, the Chair of Dental Clinical Sciences at Dal because I think he says it very succinctly. He says, "The real issue, perhaps, is not the cut of coverage from 12 to 10 years, or the cut of $3 million, but rather the challenges the new program poses to some members of the dental profession.". Let me read on, it will just be another line or two, "The success of the new program requires the shedding of the old method of dental practice, where patients are routinely recalled every six months

[Page 2115]

or a year for a checkup examination, rubber cup polishing, and a fluoride application (total cost of these services in the old program is $4.5 million). This model of practice is not supported by recent recommendations of the Canadian Dental Association or the American Dental Association.".

The honourable member and his Party would have us believe there are no choices we have to make here, there is no refocusing we have to do. Well, that is not the real world, we have refocused resources and will continue to refocus resources and we have done it in a responsible way in cooperation with the people in the profession who know what they are talking about. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me also add to the Minister of Health because I am going back to the Premier to try to encourage him to answer this line of questioning but let me say before I leave the Minister of Health that they also have said that waiting lists for surgery don't matter and are not a reflection of good health care. They have also trotted out experts to say that doesn't matter and there are just as many on the other side that say that it does matter. The concern is those Nova Scotians, the 5,000 Nova Scotians that are concerned about what is happening to this program.

My final supplementary to the Premier is, the Province of Nova Scotia is a signatory to the UN declaration on the rights of the child wherein Nova Scotia agreed that children deserved the first call on our resources. I am going to ask the Premier and I urge him to try to answer this question, why is the Premier giving corporations in Toronto and beyond first call on the province's resources and giving children the last call?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question in itself, incoherent and badly posed, puts the dilemma of the New Democratic Party; who do they encourage to employ people, the public sector? Obviously not. If you want to look at what this government has done for children then I suggest you look at the 36 new children's workers that have been employed by this government, the 150 subsidized spaces in day care centres, they gave none in five years.

I would suggest that if I can get a word in in response to this somewhat incoherent question that this government demonstrates its concerns for children in everything that it does and will continue to do so as long as we are here, which will be for another 10 years. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 2116]

FIN.: TAX REFORM - MANDATE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again I have a question for the Premier. My question is simply this, does this Premier believe that he has a mandate from Nova Scotians to introduce tax reform and increase taxes?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that the Leader of the Opposition is talking about the harmonization process and the HST. I believe we have a job to create jobs in this province and to create conditions, including, and I would urge the House to look at this, the first reduction in provincial sales tax since the introduction of the provincial income tax, since income tax was introduced in 1917. That is not increasing taxes, that is reduction of taxes and I think the people of this province know that. (Applause)

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier, I was watching my television prior to the election of May 1993, when the candidates to be Premier were being interviewed by the press. They were making their commitments to the people of Nova Scotia. I have here a document that I will table, but it is a transcript of the debate that went on that night. I would just like to bring some of it forward to the members. This is a quote from the Premier, prior to the election of 1993, "There is no way that we would view increased taxes as being a measure that we would apply.". Then, when he was questioned by Mr. Nunn, "Did you just say, no new taxes?", and the now Premier replied, "We are saying, no new taxes.". Mr. Nunn said, "You are saying, no new taxes? You are saying, no new taxes? Are you saying no new taxes? Then he was asked, "We now have a clear pronouncement that there will be no tax reform for at least five years.", and our now Premier answered, "No, not tax reform.".

Is the Premier now prepared to stand up and tell Nova Scotians that he believes that they gave him a mandate to implement what he himself calls the single biggest restructuring initiative in the province, a change that will see them paying millions more in consumer taxes? Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier would he please explain to the people of Nova Scotia what he was talking about before the election and what it is he just said to me in answer to a direct question about new taxes?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I suggest he gets a new scriptwriter. I will tell you this, I have said this today and I have said it on many occasions before, it took us, as a new government, four to six months to realize the incredible mess that was left, most of it by those people on the opposite benches, in 1993.

Mr. Speaker, nobody understood a deficit of $610 million the year before. May I put it in perspective for you. The perspective is that between 1867 and 1978, the total debt of this province was somewhere around $420 million. By the time they left, that debt was somewhere around $8 billion. Even though this current Leader cannot be incriminated for

[Page 2117]

some of this because he is, as one might say, a johnny-come-lately. The responsibility, quite clearly, for making decisions rests with us. Nobody, I don't think, in this province understood the incredible mess that was left by the previous Conservative Government.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would hope, as time goes on, that you will insist that members on the government benches address the questions that are asked.

By way of final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, the Premier has just come back from Toronto and he was able to explain the business environment that he is creating here in Nova Scotia. That business environment, we learned today, one day after that junket, will result in the loss of 79 jobs in New Brunswick. How many jobs will be lost in Nova Scotia when this firm closes its 19 stores here in Nova Scotia? How many jobs will be lost here in Nova Scotia and I am asking that to the Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, a thought occurred to me that I might mention. That if the previous government had stopped digging the hole halfway through when they were, we could have given Nova Scotia a complete year off in tax, no taxes at all if they had not dug us that great big pit. What we are talking about is the advantage of the Atlantic investment that these companies will make. We have explained it. He understands that and all I am saying is that the jobs that will be created will far outnumber any that are lost.

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

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

UNDERGROUND ECONOMY - EFFECT

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition asked the Minister of Finance if his department had done any studies to determine the impact of the BST on the underground economy and, as the minister will know and all members will know, an increasing number of writers are now starting to express concern about the potential explosion of the underground economy as a consequence of the BST. The Minister of Finance was asked if any such studies were done and if so, would he table such studies. The minister's answers were completely unclear and inconclusive.

So my question to the minister today is simply this, would he please respond here in this place clearly and precisely, did he or his government or did he or his government not conduct studies prior to the execution of the agreements with the federal government to determine what loss, if any, there would be to the revenues of the Province of Nova Scotia as a result of the explosion or expansion of the underground economy upon the implementation of the BST?

[Page 2118]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Along with many other studies that were carried out, there was general research done on the underground economy and many other things, but I think more positively, we are now actively working with the Government of Canada and specifically Revenue Canada to come up with a program that would include additional auditors to see that there was a level playing field and to combat the underground economy.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, it appears, then, that the actual answer - the right answer - is that as of this point the Minister of Finance of the Province of Nova Scotia has not got the foggiest idea of what the potential in the growth of the underground economy in this province might be - I underline might - upon the implementation of BST and more importantly, has no idea what the impact is potentially for lost revenues for the Province of Nova Scotia, if that underground economy should expand as many observers and economists and others suggest that it will.

I would like to ask the Minister of Finance, in the event that the underground economy - and I trust it will not - but in the event that it does, expand and expand to the extent of some hundreds of millions of dollars potentially, what impact does that have on the Minister of Finance in light of the legislation passed here in this House requiring this government to bring forth a balanced budget? Because if it is 100 or more millions of dollars of lost revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia, that is revenue which in light of the legislation requiring balanced budget is either going to have to be either made up by this minister imposing new taxes or dramatically and drastically cutting services to Nova Scotians. Which course of action is the minister proposing to follow in the event that there is an explosion of the underground economy and a loss of revenues to the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. GILLIS: As I said, we are working with the Government of Canada to see that there is a level playing field for those who pay tax when they provide goods and services and those who may not. We are working on that. Of course, as the honourable member would know, as an experienced parliamentarian, there is no impact between now and March 31, 1997, because we have a budget. Harmonization does not come into effect until the new fiscal year. I want to tell that honourable member and all honourable members of the House, that we have a revenue guarantee of $723 million for the 1997-98 fiscal year so we have room to keep working with Revenue Canada to provide that level playing field.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think we have come to a sad and sorry day in the history of Nova Scotian finance when we have the minister (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, if you could . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: If you could help me calm down the peanut gallery for a moment, I would make my statement which I think (Interruptions)

[Page 2119]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: Stop looking in the rear-view mirror. We are looking ahead to try to protect the people of Nova Scotia and these guys are looking behind. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor.

MR. DONAHOE: You go get your potholes fixed. That is what you want to worry about.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has just now said to the poor, beleaguered taxpayers of Nova Scotia, who are scared to death what the potential impacts of the implementation of the BST will be on them and their families, that he is not worried at all, and I think every Nova Scotia taxpayer should shiver tonight. This Minister of Finance has said that he is not worried at all. If there is an explosion in the underground economy, there is a tremendous loss of revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia, which will result in a reduction of service to the people of Nova Scotia. It has to, by law, because his old buddy Paul Martin is sending down a big bunch of money.

My question is, has this minister had face-to-face consultation with the federal Minister of Finance, Mr. Martin, to address the question of the potential impact of the loss of revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia by reason of an expansion of the underground economy and consequent loss of revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia? Has he had that face-to-face conversation with Mr. Martin? If so, what commitment does he have from the Government of Canada in that connection?

MR. GILLIS: I hope the honourable House and the Speaker will allow me a little latitude because that was a fairly long question. Yes, the answer is that there have been face-to-face discussions on the concern with the underground economy, not only with Finance Minister Martin but also with Revenue Minister Jane Stewart, both. So we are working on that and we will get the new auditors.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think that people are shivering with the Department of Finance, with my predecessor; I think they had great confidence in my predecessor. Even now, when I am there, I think with the staff that I have we are getting along okay. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The minister has the floor.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, that honourable member mentioned that it is a sad and sorry day today in Nova Scotia with finances. I think we should cast our minds back a little bit. Just a couple of comparisons, it won't take long. The net debt, when the group opposite, of which that member (Interruptions)

[Page 2120]

AN HON. MEMBER: The people of Nova Scotia want to know what is happening tomorrow.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: We will be paying for your debt tomorrow. That is what we will be doing.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Years and years and years.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The minister has the floor.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Citadel who posed this question was a senior minister for 15 years in the Buchanan/Cameron Governments. The fiscal record shows that the net debt in 1978 was $600 million, in 1993 it was $6 billion, a ten-fold increase, believe it or not. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GILLIS: Moreover, charges when that honourable member became a minister in the Buchanan Government, the total interest charges on an annual basis in 1978 were $120 million, when he left in 1993 it was $700 million. I want to say, just as I close, just imagine, Mr. Speaker, how much we can do to offset any concerns with the underground economy if we had that extra $500 million or $600 million.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: MMG - JOB LOSSES

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. MMG is a large national retailer. They have about 600 to 800 stores across this country under various names. In fact, the CEO, at the present time, of MMG is an ex-Nova Scotian. The present CEO of MMG visited Finance Minister Boudreau, he visited the Finance Minister in New Brunswick and the Finance Minister in Newfoundland and he told them about the ramifications of the BST on national retailers. He said that in the Atlantic Provinces you are just small potatoes as far as the rest of the market of Canada is concerned and we cannot abandon the rest of Canada just to satisfy what this government and the federal government is doing with regard to the BST. He said there would be loss of jobs.

I want to ask the Premier, if the BST, with just this one chain, were to cost this province approximately 600 to 800 jobs, how many jobs is he going to have to create under the blended sales tax to accommodate the losses he is going to incur from the implementation of the BST?

[Page 2121]

THE PREMIER: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like some clarification. Do I understand BST as a term that the Opposition is using for some form of tax, I don't quite understand what they are talking about. (Interruption) It has a name you know.

MR. RUSSELL: The Premier can call it anything he likes, in fact, his Cabinet likes to call taxes fees and deposits and Lord knows what. Well, this is a tax and it is a blended sales tax, it is a BST. Now, if he wants to call it an HST or a GST or a TST, that's his business. But the people of this province, Mr. Speaker, are the ones that are going to suffer from the implementation of that tax.

The blended sales tax, the BST, is going to cost the economy, it is going to cost the poor beleaguered taxpayer of Nova Scotia millions and millions of dollars, in fact, hundreds of millions of dollars when you take into effect what is going to happen as far as municipal taxes as well as provincial taxes are concerned and it is going to cost jobs.

I would like the Premier to assure the House today that there will be no losses in any sector by the implementation of the BST?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is customary for the Opposition to ask us questions about documentation. I would dearly love to know where are all of these thousands of jobs that are going to be lost. Do you have information that perhaps you can share with us that indicate that, Mr. Speaker. It really would help us. Do we have studies of some kind that they have done? It really would help us because what we have done in our 80 meetings with everybody from seniors to auto dealers, in our 500 (Interruption) Yes, we met with the municipalities. We have met with a lot of people. We have no studies upon which this rather spurious question seems to be based.

The answer, Mr. Speaker, is that we have every belief that this will produce jobs, that it will produce, probably, over the long term, 3,000 new jobs in this province. (Interruption) That's the projection. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

Order, please. The Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to do is perhaps send them over APEC's conclusions, the recommendations that came from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, which are strongly supporting this because it is job creation. I think it is time that a few of the questions that they asked were based upon logic and sense rather than upon major, major difficulties. Perhaps I can give you the Atlantic report from APEC, a wonderful document that says that there will be increased, and I would like to put that forward and file it.

[Page 2122]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it boggles my mind that he can produce a document and say, read this glowing report, because I will read into the record exactly what it says. "The Atlantic provinces are by far the most vulnerable to any changes in the consumption tax system . . . Consumption taxes form a much larger portion of provincial own-source revenues . . .", et cetera. The Premier has tabled it so I won't table mine, but this document indicts this government for attempting to impose the BST, as does the Investment Property Owners' Association. I have letters from municipalities by the score, all objecting to the BST.

Will the Premier today say, okay, I will either call an election or I will go to the people with a referendum and ask them, do you want the BST?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there were the usual couple of questions and I will attempt to answer at least one of them.

One of the issue that is very important to remember is that the goods and services tax was introduced by a federal Tory Government. The Tory Government introduced the goods and services tax and what we have seen, in the Atlantic Provinces in particular, is about $3 billion siphoned out of the Atlantic Provinces as a result of the GST. Why are we so badly hit by the GST? Because we have a low, small manufacturing base and a high consuming base. All provinces that have this imbalance have suffered quite dramatically from the GST. What we are proposing, Mr. Speaker, based upon the support that we have from many organizations, including APEC, is that there will be a harmonized sales tax which will reduce the cost of business and will reduce, when taken into consideration also (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I really must ask you to ask them to stop chattering. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about is an instrument that will produce jobs and, ultimately, will be of major benefit to the people of this province.

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

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMPENSATION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a question through you, sir, to the Minister of Justice, and it has to do with the alternate dispute resolution process for survivors of abuse at the provincial institutions.

Following Justice Strattan's report, the government announced that it would establish an alternate dispute resolution process to provide for fair compensation and counselling for survivors, so that the healing process could begin. Seven meetings were held between the lawyers and representatives of the survivors, following which a Memorandum of

[Page 2123]

Understanding was agreed to and signed by both parties governing how the alternate dispute resolution process would work. Under that process, over 250 claims had already been settled using that process before the minister announced that he was suspending it on November 1st.

My first question to the minister is, quite simply, is the government still bound by the full terms and processes that are contained in the Memorandum of Understanding regarding compensation for survivors of institutional abuse? Is the government still going to be bound by the full terms and processes contained in this memorandum that it signed, without trying to alter them unilaterally? In other words, will the government follow it?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, the ADR process, the alternative to the rigours of the common law courts, was the right idea in the first place; I believe it is still the right idea. It is still the right method by which those with legitimate claims of having been abused at any of the three institutions, which the member opposite mentions, should be compensated. We are still committed to pursuing an ADR process. The question the member is asking is whether we are going to adhere to the Memorandum of Understanding, which was struck sometime around June 17th, 1996, I believe. I can only say that my wish, my preference would be that we pursue an ADR process just as soon as possible. I look forward to being able to clarify our thinking, that is my thinking and the department's thinking in this regard, just as soon as possible.

MR. HOLM: I note that the minister did not say that the government was bound by the Memorandum of Understanding for the ADR process that they had signed. It is interesting that the Memorandum of Understanding that they had for the harmonization of the taxes, the government said that they are cast in stone and cannot really be changed. But this one, now the government does not seem to be prepared that they are going to honour.

My first supplementary question to the minister is, quite simply, in this Memorandum of Understanding process, there is a process for file review. Now the majority of claims, I understand, that were settled prior to the minister unilaterally cancelling the program, or suspending the program, are settled without going to file review. But many had to go to file review and they then, by this independent person to whom the file was sent from the list that the government approved, had their awards go up.

What I want to know from the minister, is the minister prepared to guarantee that that independent file review process will remain in place, intact, without the government sticking its fingers in and trying to alter what it has already agreed to?

MR. ABBASS: The file review process is one very important aspect of the Memorandum of Understanding, along with the requirement, for instance, that staff turn around demands for compensation within 45 days of those demands. Of course, there are two things that people can bear in mind. One is that there is always the option of resorting to those rigours of the traditional common law courts. But, also, under the current Memorandum of

[Page 2124]

Understanding, there is that file review avenue which is prescribed under the memorandum. So the member is correct in describing that review process.

MR. HOLM: I note that I, again, did not get an answer. The minister also knows that this ADR process was put in place so that those who were survivors of this abuse, those who had been the victims of this abuse, would not have to, again, go through a public process in a court system where they would end up being abused again. This was to replace that to provide fair compensation and counselling and a healing process.

I would like to ask the minister, quite simply as a final question, is a decision to waffle, as you and your government are now doing, based on the fact that you are afraid that the bottom line is going to come in higher than that which you had originally predicted and so that you are again now putting these survivors at risk, because the government is more concerned about protecting its bottom line than meeting the intentions as stated when you signed this Memorandum of Understanding? In other words, when the government gave its word.

MR. ABBASS: The member opposite is asking whether the bottom line is dollars. For me, the bottom line is not dollars and cents in this case, although it certainly is one of the considerations that has been raised by staff and others with me. I have explained, as best I can - to the media, at least - that we start with the number of claims and we move forward from there. The dollars flow from legitimate claims, not backwards from some, I shouldn't say arbitrary, but some imposed maximum amount of, in this case, $33.5 million. There is no sign on the boardroom wall saying, staff member, you must come in at or under $33.5 million in total compensation. So, again, we start with the number of legitimate claims and the budget will follow. That is as best as I can explain things.

As for the reasons for the stepping back or the taking stock period, it is, I suppose, comprised of at least two main reasons. The sheer volume of claims. We are at an estimated 1,250 claims and probably counting. Meanwhile, new and, I think, helpful information - helpful to both those who are studying or reviewing the claims and those who are making the claims, the victims themselves - information that is helpful to all has been found: in total, 900 paper files dating back to 1977 and then microfiche files dating back to 1951.

[3:45 p.m.]

This is pertinent information and each file, I understand, has a picture of the resident. If applicable, the internal investigation unit investigators would find things like probation records, family court records, possibly incident reports, and reports of visits for instance to the nurse or to hospital. This is pertinent information and it must be taken stock of, and there is such a huge volume of that information and such a huge volume of claims that the 45 day turnaround requirement prescribed by the Memorandum of Understanding certainly is in

[Page 2125]

jeopardy, there is no question about that, as are other parts of the process, indeed, and I fear the whole process itself.

Those are compelling reasons for requesting this taking stock period, calling a time-out, if you will, and moving as quickly as we can, however, to very clearly indicating where we stand in this regard and giving a signal of exactly how we can move forward as quickly as possible with a renewed ADR process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH: REGIONAL BOARDS - REMUNERATION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health will recall that when the regional health boards were set up I asked the Minister of Health at the time if people were being paid, or if there was any remuneration, or if it was voluntary. The Premier assured us that all Liberals would be appointed to the regional health boards so that they could implement the government policy. We have regional health boards that are unaccountable today, there are no public meetings, meetings are closed and you can't get the minutes. I would ask the minister - given the fact that the former minister indicated to me that people volunteered and were only going to receive expenses for being on the health boards - is that still the case today?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I am not going to bother with the political preamble that he engaged in, but let me say simply, to answer the question directly, there are no honorariums paid. There are two types of expenses which are charged by boards across the province: one is direct reimbursable expenses with receipts; and there is at least one board and perhaps a second which involves an amount designated for indirect expenses which they pay to the members of the board.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I heard the minister say there are no honorariums. Well, I put in a freedom of information request sometime around June and I got a reply back in July which indicated that some people, like in the central board we had a Mr. Hayward who received $5,000, and many of the other board members received zero - and he also received travel expenses - there were many other members who received zero remuneration but yet some for travel, which I expected. There were a few people who received $2,700. I noticed in the eastern board in Cape Breton, nobody got an honorarium; we have nothing but travel expenses listed. In the northern region we had 12 people, but nobody with $5,000. I would ask the minister, how come people serving on all of these boards across the province are not treated the same?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, as I said in my first response, there are two categories of expense remuneration. One specifically is on receipts covering travel, meals and accommodation, and receipts are submitted. There is a secondary remuneration for indirect

[Page 2126]

expenses, the cost of babysitting, for example, or other such costs. But the policy of whether or not there is a $2,500 - and that's the amount - a $2,500 payment to cover these indirect expenses without receipts, that decision is made by the regional health boards. If we don't allow regional health boards to decide that, what do you suspect we would allow them to decide?

MR. MOODY: I am not sure what the regional health boards can decide but I would ask the minister why a Mr. Hayward, in 1994, why was he the only one who received $2,500 and also received expenses? I would ask him why there was just a small group in 1995-96.

I can understand if the minister is saying that if that board gives everybody $2,500, plus their other expenses, if that is their decision, but how come certain individuals get it and all individuals don't? That is what I am asking the minister to explain, not a matter of $2,500. If Mr. Hayward had babysitting to the tune of $5,000, it was fairly extensive, then maybe I am beginning to wonder if he is not paid for his present job.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member references a freedom of information application which he sent. I don't think he sent it to the department. (Interruption) Well, in any event, the response wasn't from the department. (Interruption) Exactly. The response came from the regional health boards, where the information was, where the decision was made and that is where the information came from.

If the honourable member wants to know why, with respect to a particular member, certain expenses were paid, I would suggest that as he is now well informed where the information is, I would suggest that he ask the regional health boards.

Let me point out to the honourable members, these regional health boards are going to assume responsibility for the administration of hospitals, of public health, of drug dependency in this province. Those are programs worth hundreds of millions of dollars. If we are going to trust them with hundreds of millions of dollars, I suggest that it is only consistent that we trust them with the expense claims.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West on a new question.

HEALTH: HOME OXYGEN PROG. - MLA INTERVENTION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, on a new question and to the Minister of Health. He is aware that I have been making some inquiries through the freedom of information, it seems to be the only way that I can get information. I did make an inquiry with regard to the Home Oxygen Program. Again I will table some of the information that I got back.

[Page 2127]

Unfortunately, I was granted only a partial request of the information that I required. But curiously, as I looked over that information that came back through the freedom of information, there was an indication by the Department of Health, and, by the way, this did come from the department, has approved from time to time the purchase of home oxygen concentrators for some Nova Scotians outside of metro.

We all know that there was a pilot project in metro. When I started inquiring further, it was suggested to me by a health professional, who said, and I believe that person was in a position to know, that the province would fund home oxygen concentrators for people outside of the pilot area in this province when a Liberal MLA intervenes.

Can the minister confirm that he has any knowledge of funding being provided, as a result of a presentation of a MLA member calling up, indicating that this person should have home oxygen free, provided by government?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, the quality of the question really astounds me at the moment. He heard from a person who heard from a person that there was an MLA who might have called me and, as a result, we instituted a province-wide program.

You see the honourable member is hurting a little today because earlier in the day we announced a province-wide home oxygen program which will be available for the first time in Nova Scotia. That announcement was made by the Department of Health. He is hurting a little bit on that one.

I am sure that over the years that MLAs from all sides of the House have made representations on home oxygen and I am happy to say that we have responded, as a government.

MR. MOODY: I am not smarting, I was very pleased with the announcement today. I will have some questions but I am very pleased about the announcement today.

What the minister is saying now, Mr. Speaker, is that this government had provided home oxygen when Liberal MLAs intervened for some individuals. The rest of Nova Scotians could not get it but when they did, the minister is now admitting that some people got home oxygen by that intervention. Is that what he is saying?

MR. BOUDREAU: No, not at all, Mr. Speaker, and he knows that. This program was developed and implemented over long months, in consultation with various people involved, direct stakeholders, many of whom, by the way, were here today as part of the announcement, whether those be professionals in the health care field, the Nova Scotia Lung Association and others. They are very happy that this program is now in effect.

[Page 2128]

One of them said to me, you know we went after the other government for years and years and despite the way they were spending money on everything else, we could not get this program established.

Well, it is established now, Mr. Speaker, by this government, in tough times. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I believe why this program is being started is because of the investigation I was starting and finding out from the freedom of information. I can tell you right now because it was going to come to light. I want to know from this minister why some people got funding when representation was made and others across this province during the past couple of years did not, why?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, there you have it. It was the honourable member that was responsible for this. It is amazing in 15 years on the other side, including years when he was Minister of Health, he could not do it, but today he did it. That is amazing.

This program was established, not on any representation from MLA. This was established because there was a real need out there that was ignored by that particular member when he was Minister of Health. Why didn't you spend some of the money on it then when you were throwing it away. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with some fishermen in Cape Breton and they raised some questions with me which I promised at the first opportunity I would raise with the Minister of Fisheries who, I think, is without.

We will wait for the Minister of Fisheries to come back and perhaps my colleague from Kings North can ask his question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NSRL: MR. ROBERT MACKAY - PAYMENT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. You will recall, perhaps Madam Minister, last spring when the House was in session, I inquired to you about a cheque for $10,000 that was written to the Deputy Minister, Bob MacKay, from Nova Scotia Resources, NSRL, last February issued a cheque on the chairman's instructions for $10,000 to Mr. MacKay. I was wondering whether the minister could confirm this and indicate to me today what the minister found out about that cheque over the summer. She indicated last April that she would look into it and get back to me.

[Page 2129]

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the accounts of Natural Resources were doing some catch-up from the year previous and money owing to anybody that was there prior to the changeover in Nova Scotia Resources Limited was a catch-up year and they paid money owing to the members that had served the year previous.

MR. ARCHIBALD: It was the indication that people who were in the Civil Service or being paid by the government and serving on boards and commissions would not be receiving any remuneration. The argument that this was for back-pay does not wash because there were several months, in fact, in which the money could have been paid and it came as a complete shock to other directors of NSRL when they started receiving these anonymous cheques after they were no longer on the board.

Could the minister indicate that she will look into this issuing of a cheque that should not have been issued to a civil servant because this is contrary to the guidelines put forth by the very government that you are there to uphold.

MRS. NORRIE: The member opposite is really drawing a long bow and making accusations here. Nova Scotia Resources Limited is now served by civil servants and they do not receive any remuneration. Monies paid in the spring of 1995 was money that was owing from a previous year.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Would the minister please do an investigation? This money was paid to a person contrary to the guidelines of the Province of Nova Scotia that you put forward yourself. The chairman of the board was a civil servant at the time. It does not wash. To you $10,000 may be insignificant, but there are an awful lot of Nova Scotians who would like to be able to have a $10,000 cheque written by the Government of Nova Scotia just on a whim or a say-so when they are not entitled to it. Would you please investigate because I am sure you will find that there was some impropriety involved in the issuing of a cheque to a civil servant?

MRS. NORRIE: What the member opposite is saying is true; there are lots of people who would like to have $10,000. If Nova Scotia Resources Limited had not built up a debt of $450 million while it was under the leadership of the members opposite, perhaps that could happen. The monies paid to the members of that board were monies that were owing for the previous year and there is no member of that board now receiving any remuneration for their services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 2130]

FISH. - INSHORE: QUOTAS (DFO) - POSITION

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries. Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a number of fishermen and processors in Cape Breton and they placed a number of questions before me which I promised at the first opportunity to place before the Minister of Fisheries for his response.

Concern was expressed by those who are fishermen - that is, from the harvesting sector rather than the processing sector in Cape Breton - that implementation of individual transferable quotas, if established by DFO, will result in corporate concentrations of access to fish stocks, to the detriment of both small boat fishermen and to the smaller independent fish plant owners. I wonder if the minister could tell those fishermen through the members of the House what his position and the position of his government is respecting the imposition of ITQs within the inshore sector?

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings up a very good issue because it is a question that is being raised throughout Nova Scotia, not just in the groundfish sector but in the scallop and shrimp industry. It is a question that was raised in the Montreal round table of a year ago. A decision was brought forth and a consensus from the people who participated that if 60 per cent of a group of fishermen in a given sector so wished to have ITQs, DFO has made that a process in which they accept that as guidance and have also delivered on that.

We feel, and I feel personally, Mr. Speaker, that this issue needs more discussion. The people who make a decision like that should be well informed of the consequences of the outcome of a decision and the information should be laid fair on the table before a vote or a position is taken by the fishermen. We noticed recently that in the scallop industry in the Digby region of 99 licensed fishermen in that region, prior to going to the information meeting, many of them had put their name on the list as requesting ITQs, but after the information had been laid on the table many of them withdrew their desire to be in an ITQ fishery. That is the same throughout, whether it be in Cape Breton or the other regions, and we feel that the people should go very slowly and they should be well informed of all consequences about an ITQ fishery.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, again with respect to particularly the Cape Breton interests, has the province provided assistance to those fishermen given access to snow crab stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and if so, what has been the nature of that assistance?

MR. BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I may have to take that question under advisement. We do work with fishermen in various regions in developing new fisheries but in the Gulf area where the snow crab fishery has been developed for many years - that is a well established fishery - I am not aware of any assistance being provided. Possibly in other regions of the

[Page 2131]

province where new fisheries are being developed that assistance can be provided to develop the new technologies required, for lack of experience and knowledge of a specific region.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, if the minister would confirm that to me upon his research, as I would be pleased to forward it to those who have raised the question with me.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister announced the proclamation of the Fisheries Organizations Support Act. Clause 7(1)(b) of the Act states that "Where there is an affirmative vote pursuant to Sections 5 and 6 in a region, the Minister shall invite organizations that meet the criteria prescribed by regulation to apply to the Minister . . .", et cetera.

As of today at noon hour, the regulations are not yet available. But one of the fishermen with whom I met in Cape Breton was Mr. Albert Capstick. Mr. Capstick told me that, I believe it was on the day of concern expressed by fishermen here in Halifax last winter, he, along with others, met with the minister and the Premier downstairs in the Cabinet Room. At that time, the Minister of Fisheries gave him an undertaking and gave him his hand to secure the bargain that there would be no floor of a minimum 100 members in order to qualify under Clause 7(1)(b).

In the absence of the regulations being available to us, I wonder if the minister would be prepared to confirm today that he is meeting the obligation that he made to Mr. Capstick in the winter of 1996?

MR. BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, actually I will table a set of the regulations. The request that the gentleman, Mr. Capstick, made last year, I believe in the process which has developed and the consultations that have taken place since that meeting, that many of the organizations will be well in excess of 100 members, that the base was requested by the industry at 100 to make reasonable organizations.

At a more recent meeting I had with Mr. Capstick, I believe the other eight fishermen that were with him had very convincing stories to tell Mr. Capstick why there is strength in organization. I believe that at that time he felt very supportive of the regulation and the implementation of the organizations Act. I will table these regulations but I had an amendment, which was made when it went to Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. (Applause)

COMMUN. SERV. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

LOW INCOME - IMPACT

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question had originally been for the Minister of Community Services. In his absence, I am going to ask my question of the

[Page 2132]

Premier. Every study we have seen says that low income Nova Scotians will suffer the most under the BST deal. What is the Premier doing to reduce the impact of this tax on low income Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue is best directed to the Acting Minister of Community Services, the Honourable Jim Smith.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is at least one program of an $8 million targeted program to address those particular issues. This is outside of the Family Benefits Program and there are initiatives within the Department of Community Services to address the special needs of those that are on family benefits. So there is a low income working family program that is targeted and there are other initiatives within the department relative to those in receipt of family benefits.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, we know that social assistance recipients and others will not qualify for the low income tax reduction. Will they get any of the $8 million set aside for those Nova Scotians most in need? I will direct my question again to the Acting Minister of Community Services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I got the question clear or not, but I think the question had to do with those families that have low incomes, that there are working persons within that family and how that might be targeted or would those be targeted. I did try to mention in my previous answer that that is the particular group that will be targeted for the $8 million program. So if there is something I misunderstood, perhaps I could have the question rephrased.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my final question to the Premier. It is clear that there are winners and losers with this tax deal. What guarantees is the Premier prepared to make to ensure that downloading on the disadvantaged will not continue?

THE PREMIER: I think we have indicated, in various ways in the last little while, the way in which we will protect those people who are the least fortunate in our society. The $8 million scheme that we discussed and which has been discussed but not fully discussed here (Interruption). Mr. Speaker, the $8 million that is being set aside will provide more than that. I am not prepared to answer questions if he is not prepared to allow me to.

The issue that I am raising is that in addition to that there will be other measures - the Minister of Finance is looking at them now - and we will have these out in due course and I think they will satisfy most of the people concerned about the plight of children.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 2133]

AGRIC.: AGRI-FOCUS 2000 PROG. - STATUS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. If you don't mind, being the former minister, I will bypass right through you. As you know, agriculture in Nova Scotia is a $1 billion a year industry with over 16,000 jobs created by that industry but there has been something very dramatic that happened since 1993, something that you know very well; spending has been reduced each year in the agricultural budget for farm programs. The Agri-Focus 2000 Program was a five year program that was to last for five years. After one year and five months the program announced to the agricultural community that the minister would no longer be able to receive applicants for the Agri-Focus 2000 Program.

My question to the minister is, why did your government announce a five year program that has ceased to operate after one year and five months?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell all Nova Scotians that there are a lot of things happening that are positive in agriculture. I want to talk about 1993 to 1994, when that group was there, when we had the increase now in cattle; I want to talk about calves, from 1992, 8,000 and now up to 9,000 in 1995. I want to talk about the growth in the hogs; 1992-93, 202,000; 213,000 last year and we hope to exceed 220,000 this year. (Applause)

I want to talk about the major increases in apples that used to do 9 million pounds a year at one time in this province and, under their leadership, it got down to about 2 million pounds. This year we hope to be back to 2.8 million pounds in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we have not cancelled any programs. You know we can't spend like the previous government did, that put our children in debt so far that we will never get out maybe. We have a budget and live within that budget. The budget this year and the program was so exciting that we committed $14 million and the producers committed their share, for a total of $54 million.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, through you to him and to all Nova Scotians, that agriculture is growing. It is not a $1 billion business at the retail level, it is a $2 billion business in Nova Scotia.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, there has been a $7.9 million reduction in the agricultural program budget since 1993. Your government is spending less than 1 per cent of the annual budget on agriculture for the first time. You are abandoning rural Nova Scotia. Will you ask the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance if they will adequately fund your department so you could carry out the commitments that you have made to the farmers of Nova Scotia?

[Page 2134]

MR. BROWN: We will live within our budget this year and the budget for next year will be introduced by the Minister of Finance in this House and will be handled in a responsible manner for our children and grandchildren, so that we don't do what that group did to the economy in Nova Scotia.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The minister can talk but he certainly cannot deliver the programs that he has promised to deliver. We know how important agriculture is and by listening to the minister he seems to know too but he has let down the very people that he is supposed to be representing. In fact, the very first year of the Agri-Focus 2000 Program, a five year program, out of money in 15 months if you can believe it. Talk about poor planning on behalf of this government. That branch of the government reduced the budget of the Agri-Focus 2000 Program by $800,000. In its very first year of operation, he couldn't live up to the commitment that he made. When will agriculture receive the respect from this government that it truly deserves?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I find it so hard to believe what that honourable member, who was the former Minister of Agriculture is saying. When their Party was in power, 30 days after the budget was tabled in the House, they would be out of money, no more spending for capital projects in this province. That honourable former minister knows that to be a fact.

We are trying to manage this province in a proper manner. Agriculture in Nova Scotia is a growing industry and I am pleased and proud of the partnership that we have with that group of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - YARMOUTH-BAR HARBOR FERRY SERVICE:

FEASIBILITY STUDY - CANCELLATION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier will remember that earlier this year a $100,000 study was ordered and it was to be cost-shared three ways. It was a feasibility study to look at the private sector operating the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor ferry service. That study was cancelled in June. My question, was the Premier consulted before the study was cancelled?

THE PREMIER: Could you give me a date again, Mr. Leader of the Opposition?

DR. HAMM: Yes, it was cancelled in June.

THE PREMIER: I am sorry, I will have to research that, I don't recall.

[Page 2135]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question, by way of supplementary to the Premier. The Premier is aware that proposals went out to the private sector to operate the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor service and those proposals went out on July 31st. Government was strangely silent from that time until the announcement of November 6th when it was announced that the proposals only involved the May to October season. The Premier then with righteous outrage said that he was concerned that the winter service was not part of the proposal. Would the Premier be prepared to table any input by himself or any member of the government between July 31st and November 6th that would influence the federal government and its request for proposals and its initiation with the private sector of a service for Yarmouth to Bar Harbor?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I can table it, but I can tell him that on October 24th, I think, but I would have to check, it was the biannual conference in Ottawa. I had an hour and one-half discussion with the Minister of Transport and I have to repeat that I am very disappointed with Mr. Anderson's attitude. I have said it in public, I have stated it. This government has gone beyond the call of duty in providing part of the money for a service between this province and the U.S. A responsibility that is a federal responsibility, not a provincial one.

I have expressed to the minister my concerns over this and I am still hopeful that we may be able to speak to the Northumberland Ferries, who we understand have won this contract, to see if there is a way for a limited winter service based, for instance, on the same kind of service that we did this year when we volunteered at the last minute to help the federal government to pay for the service from the middle of October to the middle of January.

We have appreciated the need for this service. We have repeatedly indicated to the minister how disappointed we are and we think that this a very callous attitude at a time when the whole community in southwest is in very much need of support.

DR. HAMM: The Premier has very correctly identified that he should be disappointed with the response of the federal minister. Many Nova Scotians really are so disappointed at the response by all federal ministers to petitions from this government. This government has gone unheard in Ottawa for some three and one-half years.

However, the Premier has indicated that he appreciates the value of a winter service and the consultant's report indicated the very serious economic ramifications of the loss of a winter service from Yarmouth to Bar Harbor. My specific question to the Premier, what specific measures is the Premier going to take to ensure that the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor service is not only this year, but years after this will be continued beyond May to October?

THE PREMIER: I can but repeat what we have done was innovative. We have offered this year to further the extension between November and January which will enable much of the lobster and some of the timber and Christmas trees to be carried. This province has

[Page 2136]

demonstrated its willingness to work with the southwest, in particular, and also with the federal Minister of Transport. We believe that there are other negotiations which are possible and we are proceeding and the minister will be proceeding to discuss with the federal Minister of Transport the options that we may be following.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWYS:

INFRASTRUCTURE - FUNDING (GOV'T. [CAN.])

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation. The minister just returned, empty-handed, by the way, from Ottawa after begging for $1.5 billion from his federal cousins. The federal Minister of Transport appears less than sympathetic.

This minister says we do not have the money. The Minister of Transportation for this province says we do not have the money to bring our highway system up to a national standard. Given the federal government's lack of interest in Nova Scotia and given their lack of interest in the minister's presentation to Ottawa yesterday, what steps is the Minister of Transportation going to take to bring our deteriorating highway system up to an acceptable standard?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I find it interesting that the member has read the article in the paper about the lobbying effect yesterday and presenting the position on behalf of the province in regard to the Transportation Commission that is an all-Party committee. We will endeavour to continue that process and I have undertaken to deal with the federal Minister of Transport on this matter and other matters related to transportation over the last two or three months. We have had meetings on it already and we are very anxious to find creative ways to have funding come forward, whether it is through infrastructure or whatever.

Getting back to the issue of the previous question with regard to the ferry, that was another issue that we brought forward to the Standing Committee on Transportation yesterday, the importance of that particular ferry. Is it wrong to stand up and fight on behalf of Nova Scotians with our federal counterparts to bring forward the issues of concern that are legitimate and need to be addressed? I don't think so and I will continue to do that. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that response because I think Nova Scotians clearly remember the minister's efforts when he was trying to secure a cooperative agreement with the federal government relative to forestry in this province. I think Nova Scotians remember how successful he was at doing that endeavour.

[Page 2137]

The Government of Nova Scotia has kowtowed to Ottawa on the MV Bluenose, Cornwallis, Debert, the EH-101 helicopters, on the forestry agreement, on the BST and the list goes on and one. Their Liberal cousins, by the way, on P.E.I. learned the hard way that kowtowing to Ottawa doesn't always work. According to the Minister of Transportation, and I agree, we have a substandard highway system in this province. Will he table all correspondence, reports, briefs and other representations that he has made to Ottawa on behalf of this province?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, kowtow, listen to him talking about kowtowing. The reality on the issue is that we will deal with this matter as a government, we will deal with this matter as a government with the other governments that we are dealing with, federal and municipal. I don't see any reason to present any report to the member opposite. Is he going to do something about it? No, it is going to be up to this government and this government dealing with the federal government to find and secure the dollars to be able to put the highway system in place that requires it be done.

We talked about it all day long. If you hadn't wasted, abused, ruined the opportunities for expansion of this province because of your mismanagement as Tories in the Province of Nova Scotia, we wouldn't be in this mess. What we are doing is managing the affairs of this province in an effective, proper management way. I will continue to fight on behalf of this province whether it is forestry or agriculture or mining or the natural resource industries or rural Nova Scotia or all of Nova Scotia with the federal government for the benefits that are required to do what we need to do in Nova Scotia. I am quite capable of doing that job. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, there certainly are a lot of Nova Scotians, particularly in southwestern Nova Scotia, that question the ability of the MLAs from southwestern Nova Scotia and the ability of the Members of Parliament from southwestern Nova Scotia. Did he take those MPs with him? The Minister of Transportation is quoted as saying that he suggests that Ottawa might funnel back more of the money it takes out of the provinces from fuel taxes. In 1995, he stated, the federal Chretien Liberal Government collected $125 million in gas and diesel tax. I ask the Minister of Transportation when is he going to funnel back into the roads of Nova Scotia the money this province is taking in through motor fuel tax and the Registry of Motor Vehicles receipts?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where this member has been for the last little while. I will show the member that the fact is that the tax collection in the Province of Nova Scotia is being all spent in Transportation from the Registry of Motor Vehicles already. If they want to see the numbers I would be happy to show the numbers to the member opposite because he doesn't understand the facts when I try to explain them to him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Oral Question Period has expired.

[Page 2138]

I recognize the honourable member for Inverness on an introduction.

MR. CHARLES MACARTHUR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you three members of the Cheticamp Development Association who are here to meet with the Premier and a number of ministers on a mining development in the northern end of Inverness County. They are Mr. Rene Aucoin, Mr. Alfred LeBlanc and Mr. Bill Crawford. I would ask them to stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I call Bill No. 36 I would like to bring to your attention the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate. The honourable member for Victoria will debate the following resolution:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend the people of Cape Breton who are leading the Cabot Meeting 97 Celebrations, together with the provincial and federal governments, to proudly blend our proud heritage and our economic future.

[4:30 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Chairman, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

Bill No. 36 - Health Council Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am very pleased to rise and address An Act to Amend Chapter 13 of the Acts of 1990, the Health Council Act. In 1990 the Health Council Act was introduced in the House of Assembly. At that time it was billed as being one

[Page 2139]

of the major pieces of legislation to be brought into that session of the Legislature and it was meant to set a new direction and tone for health care and health delivery in the Province of Nova Scotia. The council was established in response to one of the major recommendations of the Royal Commission Report on Health. It was announced that the duties of the council would be to advise the Governor in Council, through the minister, in the development of a comprehensive health policy, comprising health goals and objectives and in setting the overall direction of the health care system in the province. The council would also have an ability to deal with particular issues and particular areas of concern. The council would be able to carry out very special studies.

Now the focus is set out in the legislation itself in Section 6. I turn to that portion of the legislation because I think it has real meaning, in terms of what this council could do to stop the erosion of health care delivery in this province.

I will read a few excerpts, under the section called Manner of performing duties. It says, "In carrying out its duties, the Council shall (a) invite community organizations, health care providers, consumers and individual members of the general public to provide advice on health issues under review by the Council through methods including public symposia, hearings and distribution of briefs and discussion papers;".

This would be most appropriate, in view of the fact that the current minister has said that he is going to put community input into health care on hold for 18 months.

The council would "(b) provide to the Governor in Council a balanced and informed view of the health care system;". Well, we certainly haven't had a balanced or informed view of the health care system in three and a half years.

"(d) increase public awareness and knowledge of health issues, including population health status, the cost of the health care system and personal responsibility to improve health;". And, finally, "(e) enhance the awareness of Government of emerging health issues from the public viewpoint.". How refreshing it would be to have the public viewpoint in health care reform at this time.

Now the Task Force on Primary Health Care recommended in its final report, entitled Leading the Way - this report came out in January 1994 - that the Health Minister should introduce legislation regarding the council to, in part, amend its mandate to include monitoring interdepartmental support for and progress towards the achievement of Nova Scotia's health goals.

Now let's see what the Blueprint Committee has to say on this particular point. The Blueprint Committee Report of April 1994, recommended that, "In its capacity as the 'watchdog' of the health system, the Provincial Health Council should monitor and publicly report on the progress being made by government in achieving reform, keeping at the fore the

[Page 2140]

principles for reform as outlined by the Blueprint.". What a great service this would be to the minister at this time.

The council has played an extremely important and vital role that must be maintained. The council has played an extremely important and vital role for all of us in protecting a health care delivery system that has been eroded over the past three and one-half years and has caused a lack of trust to build up in what was previously, perhaps one of the finest health care deliveries in Canada. The Provincial Health Council was valued for the important role it played as both a watchdog over public health issues and as a source of reliable and timely information.

The health council is essential. That is why we have felt it necessary to present this bill today. This bill provides a vehicle through which a member - yes, any member - of this House of Assembly may nominate persons for appointment to the Provincial Health Council. These nominations would go to a standing committee of the House of Assembly that is responsible for normally assigned or within the purview of the Department of Health, or any other such committee as the House orders. This committee will recommend persons for appointment to the Provincial Health Council where the Governor in Council has failed to fill the vacancies as they occur.

For those of us who occupy the building one block to our south, we know that if you go up to the offices of the Provincial Health Council today, you will see that there is a lock on the door. This government has seen fit to allow the Provincial Health Council to simply wither on the vine and no longer is it able to be as it is designed to be, a watchdog of health care reform.

This bill would require the Governor in Council to make the recommended appointments and this process commences within three months of this Act coming into force. The question is, why is the bill necessary? Well, the Health Minister dismantled the council and very effectively muzzled the watchdog.

For example, the minister on Monday, in an attempt to gain a little momentum going into the House, presented a study about waiting lists. I recall on a number of occasions in this House asking his predecessor, the previous Minister of Health, what about waiting lists? Because, from all over Nova Scotia we are having the concerns of Nova Scotians who are having trouble accessing hospitals; waiting prolonged periods of time for back surgery and joint replacements; unable to enter a hospital because on that particular night beds are filled; spending a night in an outpatient department or, failing that, being sent home inappropriately. What does the minister come up with? Simply an analysis of MSI claim forms. No real analysis of waiting lists, no going around the province asking hospitals and speaking with health care providers, but simply a bureaucratic exercise looking at claim cards. That methodology is fraught with inaccuracy and the minister fully realizes that what I am saying is so.

[Page 2141]

It prompted a prominent orthopaedic surgeon, who is a senior surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, to come forward and say that he has 248 patients waiting for surgery, that he works nights and weekends just to keep up with the patient load, and his analysis of the waiting time for orthopaedic surgery is at great variance with that provided by the minister. That orthopaedic surgeon says - and he has said so publicly - that the Health Department report is "fallacious, quite frankly. It's bogus.".

Now, the previous Health Minister proposed that the Provincial Health Council's activities would be assumed by a health research foundation; in other words, let's relax, we are going to get rid of the health council. Well we are not really going to get rid of it, we are just not going to make reappointments and, finally, will not give them any money and the lock will go on the door. These activities would be assumed by the Health Research Foundation. I challenge the minister to tell me who is on the foundation. What is the foundation's mandate? What has the foundation done since the folding of the council months ago? Where is the foundation's budget?

It is interesting that when the Provincial Health Council bill was introduced in 1990, it received some favourable reports and commendations from members who now serve on the government benches. I am very pleased to see with us today the Minister of Municipal Affairs because he participated in the debate prior to the health council legislation. I will quote what the now Minister of Municipal Affairs said on May 17, 1990, and this is recorded in Hansard, "It could . . .,", and "it" being the Provincial Health Council, ". . . with the right people and the right commitment from this government, truly set a new course for health care in this province, guided by reasonable and achievable health goals.".

That minister, on that occasion, supported the concept of a Provincial Health Council. I know that it is not only members of the Opposition who are receiving critiques of the health care reform system, of the health care reform and the health care system that we now have. Members on the government benches receive the same kind of information that we on the Opposition benches receive.

You have no ability to make your government accountable on health care reform. You have no input into health care reform. You are not a part of the decision-making process of this government. This is your opportunity to re-establish the watchdog, the Provincial Health Council. I urge each and every government member to look at this bill to amend The Provincial Health Council Act to ensure that the watchdog of health care reform and health care delivery is re-established in this province. I urge the government members to look at the legislation that I have put before you today and vote in favour of the legislation. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and participate on this debate on a piece of legislation brought forward by

[Page 2142]

the Official Opposition. The essence of the legislation is really to revive, in effect, the Provincial Health Council by allowing, presumably, the Opposition members to make appointments through the House.

Before I spend a few moments, Madam Speaker, talking about that issue, the honourable Leader of the Opposition wandered into another area, attacking the wait time study that was released this week. So I feel obliged to take a moment or two to respond to that attack. In point of fact, never before in this province was there any attempt to measure such things in any kind of a scientific way, such things as wait times. This was done professionally by people in the Department of Health who are trained in this field, who adopted a certain methodology, who came publicly before members of the media, members of the Opposition, explained their methodology, explained the study on which they made their conclusions. The conclusions, very simply, were that wait times, for most procedures were down. Now that is not a happy result for the Opposition because the Opposition has been going around like Chicken Little yelling, the sky is falling, and the statistics don't bear it up.

What the Opposition Leader says is that, well, I am not sure about the methodology. I must say he refers to Dr. Petrie, who takes some issue with the methodology. He says, I am not sure if the methodology is right. In point of fact, we measure the time from the contact with the specialist to when the actual procedure is done. The Opposition Leader did not take issue with that specifically, but Dr. Petrie did and I presume by his comments he is supporting that approach.

[4:45 p.m.]

The fact of the matter is, over 75 per cent of the procedures that are done involve only one contact with the specialist before that referral period takes place. But whether that is a legitimate methodology or not to determine exactly what the wait time is, it is the same methodology that was used three years ago. So you are comparing apples with apples and the value of this is to indicate which way the waiting times are trending. Quite frankly, even if you take some small issue with the current methodology, as long as it is the same one that was done three years ago you get a legitimate comparison.

It is interesting, with the doctor who made his comments - Dr. Petrie - I am informed after some inquiries by departmental staff that that particular doctor has done more procedures in each one of the four succeeding years, the four years including this one, he has done more procedures every year than he did the year before. Quite frankly, that is true of others as well. I might add, his income does not appear to have suffered. So, Madam Speaker, we do not object to people being critical of wait time studies, particularly when it does not support their political agenda. We do not object to that. We only ask people when they are judging these comments to be fair and judge them from the people who bring them forward.

[Page 2143]

Now, with respect to the bill, the Health Council Act. The honourable Leader of the Opposition would have you believe that this health council was a group of citizens that his government - not his, of course, he was not around then, but his predecessor government - named from among impartial Nova Scotia citizens who somehow rose up in a democratic way from the people all across the province. Well, simply, that was not true. They were all appointed by the (Interruption) a little annoyed now, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: They were all appointed by the former government, the Cabinet, and in the way they carried on these appointments, all very valuable members of their Party. Madam Speaker, there was even, I believe, the chair - I am not sure if I have this exactly right, but I am sure if I do not, someone will correct me - I think the chair of this council went directly from the position as chair to the provincial Cabinet. Not even with a provincial election intervening in the meantime. I think that is what happened. (Interruptions) If it was not direct, there may have been a little hiatus there. I am not sure.

They are objecting that we do not have these people in place and the honourable Leader of the Opposition says, yes, you have the regional health boards now and they are appointed. Yes, we have the regional health boards now and they are appointed, something like 78 or 80 people from all around the province who have been appointed - sure. Same way the Health Council was - and these people are far more representative geographically, if for no other reason than that there are 78 of them. They went through the process here - in committee, publicly aired, all of those things - and they will bring the type of mandated contribution to the health care system that was done by the health council and much more.

Then there are the community health boards. The honourable Leader of the Opposition may want us to believe that they do not exist out there. They are all gone. The last time I looked, Madam Speaker, there were 12 functioning community health boards across Nova Scotia. Now I do not know how many people there would be on a community health board, probably 20. Twelve functioning, 15 more in the planning stage. Do a little multiplication there. And not one of those people on those boards - not one of them - was appointed by the Cabinet, not one of them appointed by the Governor in Council. So, they were elected in a democratic process, contrary to the practice that existed with the Provincial Health Council.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Do you have their number?

MR. BOUDREAU: The honourable Leader of the Opposition wants their number. What is that, the telephone number? (Interruption) We will be certainly happy to supply the names, but I would suggest that the honourable Leader of the Opposition do what I did, attend one of these community health board meetings before you dismiss them, before you say that they are of no value, they are of no use, as your colleagues would like to do. Go to a community health board meeting and listen to the kind of contribution that they make.

[Page 2144]

I would suggest that when you add up the 78 to 80 regional health board members, the 500 or 600 who are either now in place or soon will be in the community health boards, none of those people having been appointed, you will see that community input now exists in the system such as it never did formerly under the governments of Premier Buchanan and Premier Cameron.

We are about some very significant and serious business here in the province. We have literally hundreds of people dedicating incredible amounts of time to the process. I do not know; quite frankly, sometimes I wonder why they do it. They put in hours and hours, whether they are on a regional health board or a community health board. The issues that they deal with are pretty controversial. Everybody is pretty emotional about this health business, I have noticed. They really encounter some serious and emotional issues, spend tremendous amounts of time and ask for virtually nothing in return. Yet today in Question Period, we saw some expense claims questioned by one of the Opposition members. I understand why an Opposition member might want to make some political points on it, but I think he should make his political points attacking the minister and the government, not attacking some people who are giving of their time in the regional health boards and, indeed, in the community health boards across the province.

We are very lucky that in spite of all of the difficulties, in spite of all of the great challenges, in spite of the type of sniping and carping and doomsday scenarios daily trotted out by the Opposition, in spite of all that, we still have people who are willing to step forward to the line in the hundreds, all across Nova Scotia, and take up the cause of health care reform. You know why? Because they know it is right and they know it is one of the most important things in Nova Scotia, far too important to be involved in the kind of political chicanery that sometimes takes place on this subject.

There are people involved. There are people who are making a contribution, and the contribution that they make, I would suggest to you, far outweighs any contribution that was made by the former committee of political appointments put in place by the former government. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, let me say, as I rise to intervene in the debate on this bill and a bill - which I support, let me say at the outset - how discouraging it is to listen time and time again to our Minister of Health respond to any concerns and any criticism from the Opposition or anybody out there, a group, an organization or whatever, that is at all critical of what his government is doing as having an ulterior motive.

He challenges them and criticizes them for being simply out for political gain and having special motives. He refers to these people with disdain as representatives of special interest groups. That is what it has come to in the Province Nova Scotia right now. At a time when

[Page 2145]

hundreds and thousands of Nova Scotians are truly and deeply concerned about the quality of health care that is available to them in their communities, they have the Minister of Health stand here, in front of the cameras, report by any means he can about how their concerns are not legitimate, about how they are somehow anecdotal and they are misrepresenting what is actually happening out there.

You have the minister bring in some research on Monday on waiting lists and suggest that this is an indication of what great shape health care is in the Province of Nova Scotia. I remember questioning the minister, raising concerns with the former Minister of Health about waiting lists that in some hospitals and for some procedures seemed to be getting so long they were causing some hardships. The former minister said to me, the length of the waiting list is not a problem, it is not a concern, it is not an indicator of the health of Nova Scotians and the ability of the system to deliver health care.

But the bottom line is that we have people raising concerns on one side - seniors, representatives of health care workers, health care workers themselves, individual citizens, doctors, other health care providers - raising concerns because what they are seeing in front of them in terms of the care that they or their families are receiving, their neighbours are receiving, or that they are being forced to deliver, are inadequate, are not good enough. Nobody is saying that the sky is going to fall. Everybody agrees that we still have, no thanks to this government and the federal government, clearly a superior health care system than the one in the United States, for example.

What people are saying is that what is going on is not good. They are asking the government to pay attention to what is happening in their communities, whether it be in Granville Ferry, or whether it be in Glace Bay, whether it be in Antigonish, or whether it be in Springhill. People are concerned.

I believe fundamentally that they have the right to be listened to by this government and not dismissed as having some kind of ulterior motive and some kind of hidden agenda. I think that is the utmost disrespect and it discourages me to the utmost as a member of this Legislature to hear that kind of stuff from the Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I never made such an allegation about the people that he suggests. I made a specific allegation about him and his Party, not about the people that he is referring to now. If he can produce anything either in this House or outside to substantiate his comments, let him do so, table it.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. I would rule that that was a point of clarification or information but not a point of order.

MR. CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I sat in the press conference on Monday when people sat in the audience and they were incredulous when the minister was talking about

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special interests, when he was talking about those people who are talking about the system being in crisis. Yes, he talked about me and the Opposition Parties but he talked about others. I have sat in meetings also and I have heard enough of this and so have other Nova Scotians. He may try to deny it but people have heard it and people are fed up with it.

Let me talk to you about the Provincial Health Council because in this climate it is so important to have a body operating like the Provincial Health Council, a body that is mandated with the responsibility to have an independent and balanced view of what is happening in health care across this province and to report and to advise the Governor in Council and the minister. I remind this minister that in the legislation that set up the Health Council, in Section 6(b) it says the following: ". . . the Council shall provide to the Governor in Council a balanced and informed view of the health care system;". Section 6(e) says: ". . . the Council shall enhance the awareness of Government of emerging health issues from the public viewpoint.". That is exactly what the former Provincial Health Council was trying to do.

I am just sickened by this minister trying to suggest that these people were political hacks or in some way that their effort wasn't genuine. Because I know some of those people on there and they come from all political persuasions. I know that those people were committed to moving health reform forward in a positive way in the Province of Nova Scotia and I cannot believe the minister has the audacity to question the hard commitment that was made by those people.

[5:00 p.m.]

The commitment, Madam Speaker, and the role of the Provincial Health Council was talked about by the Royal Commission on Health Care. It talked about the council's role being ". . . to monitor, assess, and report on the performance of the health system.". The Health Strategy for the Nineties Report talked about the council reporting on a regular basis in an annual report and the progress made in achieving health goals and objectives.

The monitoring role of the council was further reaffirmed in the report and the recommendations of the Strengthening Community Health Partnership's Making it Work Institute Report, the Task Force on Primary Health Care and the Blueprint Report itself. The problem here is that this government made a commitment to Nova Scotians in 1993 to move the system from one based on acute care in institutions to one based on primary care where decisions are being made in the community by elected community health boards. That, Madam Speaker, was the promise that was made, to realign the resources in the system, not to cut and slash and take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the system.

Hospital beds in this province, since this government took office, have been reduced by 31 per cent. Now, the first response is, hospital beds are not an indication of the ability of the system to provide health care and I agree with that. Every time I have raised this issue,

[Page 2147]

I have said, we accept that. But the question is, if you do not have hospital beds in a community like Glace Bay for people when they are sick, for people who need care, and if they do not have anybody at home to look after them, if they do not have a doctor, then what exactly are they supposed to do?

That is the whole issue and that is why we need an independent body, responsible to the Governor in Council, that can report to the government on these issues. If the government is not happy with those reports, they send them back out or they reappoint people to the council. They don't just dismantle the council. That is simply not good enough and that is why I support this bill. That is why I believe it is so important for there, in fact, to be a council because right now the average Nova Scotian out there is sitting back and saying, what in the name of Heaven are we supposed to believe? We see our mother, our son, our brother go into the hospital and be told, I am sorry, you cannot get care right now.

I hate to bring up examples because they are dismissed as anecdotal. But you know when you have a single mother go into the emergency room of a hospital with a broken arm and there is no orthopaedic surgeon available in order to set that arm, you have them put a cast on that arm and send her home - a single mother with two young children who has got an arm that is completely incapacitated - and she is told, well, you just hang tough and we will try to get somebody to look after you. What is that person supposed to do? Home care is not there to help her. Is that good enough? Would anybody in this House be happy if their sister or if their mother or if their daughter was subjected to that kind of treatment. That is just not good enough. Surely we recognize that.

When people see that and they talk to their friends and they talk to the organizations they are involved with and they read what is going on in other parts of the province and they talk to people and they see these things and they say, I am not alone. There are problems with the system. But then they see either their organization or themselves or maybe an MLA like me raise the concerns that they have to the government and the government just pooh-poohs them. The government says, you are fear-mongering. You are trying to gain political advantage here. You are trying to stir up the population of Nova Scotia, Madam Speaker.

That is why we need a Provincial Health Council, a group that is independent, that is separate, that is still within the control of the government, but is there to produce the report and to listen to what the public has to say about so many concerns that people have in the province with regard to the health care system. I tell you what, the way it stands right now, Madam Speaker - even though the minister tries to deny it - to Nova Scotians, in their minds health care and the lack thereof is number one. Until this government starts to recognize that and respect and deal with some of the concerns, they are going to learn a lesson that they are not going to forget for a long time.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 2148]

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I rise to support Bill No. 36. and I was kind of interested in the minister starting off with waiting lists before he got into the health council legislation itself, and I guess it depends on who you talk to. He mentioned Dr. Petrie, but also Dr. Cynthia Forbes, who is the President of the Medical Society and criticized the report for failing to account for referral times between family doctors and specialists. I believe, from the calls I get and the doctors that I talk to, that that is a real problem.

You can take stats and you can do all kinds of things with stats. I think if you did some polling or you asked people in this province if they have any concerns about the health care system, I think you would find that that would be pretty high. The people I talk to have a lot of concern about this health care system in this province and the way that this government is dealing with it. Not only is the public upset, but the health providers are upset. Whether you are talking to nurses, whether you are talking to technicians, whether you are talking to physicians, they will all tell you that the path that this government has gone is destroying a system that we used to depend upon and that provided such great care for many Nova Scotians.

The minister talked about the initial make-up of the Provincial Health Council. Well the Provincial Health Council did have Tories, did have known Liberals and it did have known NDPs. What I find amusing about the regional health boards is that there are no NDPs or Tories, they are all known Liberals. So if you say, well, what is fair, sure, you are going to have a mix on any board, you are going to have people who have political beliefs, but as long as you have that mix and all those people you talk about qualified to contribute, then we have to understand.

I will tell you why this government did away with the Provincial Health Council. The former minister and this government does away with anyone who criticizes them. Anyone who criticizes them is either fired, let go or found a reason. I have had nurses tell me that they can't criticize anymore; if they criticize, they have to go and they are talked to by the superiors because they say this government doesn't want people speaking out, they do not want criticism. (Interruption) Yes, I have a pretty good pipeline and that minister from Dartmouth East, he said about the Provincial Health Council Bill, that it is a bill in which one can find few flaws. He supported the Provincial Health Council Bill. Now he is over there, part of a government that destroyed it. I wonder, what changed his mind?

Of course what changed his mind was the former Minister of Health was criticized, and rightly so, by the Provincial Health Council, and the minute he was criticized, this government found a way to get rid of them. That is what this government does. You talk about fear-mongering. This government does more fear-mongering with workers and others than anyone else could ever imagine, because they say if you criticize us, you are gone, you are not part of this, we are going to make sure that you are not heard.

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I will tell you, this minister brags about community health boards; how the other government did nothing; those hospital boards and others that were community minded, they were nothing, they were absolutely nothing. He pooh-poohed all the work that was done by those volunteer boards before he came aboard.

Right now community health boards are the way to go, they have no authority. This government is allowing them to organize with no authority whatsoever. They can't even have or go to the regional health board meetings because they are closed. They can't get the minutes of the regional health board meetings because they won't distribute them. So, what we have in this province, the people tell me in my area, it is not the community that is making decisions anymore, it is a centralized board and what we have in this province is four mini-Departments of Health.

Now, I was interested today when the minister made a positive announcement about home oxygen. What I cannot find out is what core programs his department is going to provide and what programs each regional board is going to decide of what is going to be provided in a region. I believe he is making it up as he goes along. If it is convenient for him to have a say, then it is great news, he will say it. If it is something wrong, like honoraria, he is hiding behind another group who he says has to make that decision.

What he is using them for is to hide behind and when he says that the Opposition is fear-mongering and my colleague to my left talks about concerns of people, real people. I bet there is not a MLA in this Legislature who has not had people talk to them about health care issues, has not had someone come to them and relate an experience that has not been too good or has not had a family member or friend who have had difficulty accessing the system or having to wait. All of us have experienced that and for a minister to say you cannot repeat them because you are fear-mongering or you are of an interest group, then that does not count. In other words, what those people are saying does not count, it is what I am saying and the government is saying. It is almost like never mind what the public has to say, I know what is best for you. That is what John Savage and this government have done since they came to power - dictatorial. I know what is best, never mind having input because the minute we have input, then we cannot do as we want to do because we know best.

This legislation that the Leader of the Opposition brought in is something that I have not been able to find anyone who says they don't support a health council. Now the previous minister said, I am going to do away with the health council, but I am going to make up a new council that has research capacity. In other words, we have to have a council with a broader mandate than the council we presently have. Well, now I hear the new Minister of Health says, oh no, that is pooh-pooh, we are not going to have any council with research capabilities that has a broader mandate than the previous one. That has all changed. I guess what he is saying is that no matter what the former minister said would happen, it is not going to happen by this government, that we are not going to see a new Provincial Health Council with broader mandates for research capability. He is going to keep that capability within his

[Page 2150]

department so he can manipulate the numbers, so he can bring out the numbers to tell people what he wants them to hear.

If he was really sincere on allowing the numbers and allowing an independent group to assess the numbers and do it like the former minister said it should be done, there would be an independent health council set up. That health council would have the research capability of bringing forward the kind of statistics that he is talking about so Nova Scotians could trust that those figures were not done in a way to make this government just look good, but we would actually get the truth for a change and get the facts of exactly the kind of research that we are actually getting.

I cannot imagine a government would not support a piece of legislation. You can smirk over there and call shame. I will tell you, next election you will not smirking, but there is a lot of people in my area and a lot of people in Kings County that will not be smirking because, the member for Kings South, of what has happened in health care. I will tell you, if you think health care is not an issue, when we go to the polls, I will guarantee it will be an issue and I will guarantee you the kind of research and proganda that this minister is spreading is not going to wash with Nova Scotians. We are going to put back into a system where Nova Scotians have an opportunity to have some say in the kind of health care system that we have in this province. That is the kind of system that we are going to put back in place when we change.

I will let the people decide. Ultimately, we are all going to do that. We can shout back and forth in here all we like, but all of us have to go to the polls, thank Heavens for that. We will all go to the polls and then we will come back in here and we will talk about whether people were listening or not listening. I look forward to that opportunity.

There was an opportunity, there is still an opportunity for this government to show some faith and show faith in setting up a health council with research capabilities. That still could be done. They can decide as the Health Council was doing before it was closed down. They were bringing the names forward, not the Minister of Health. They were bringing forward the names of those that applied, did some research on individuals who were qualified and put their names forward to the Minister of Health. Then someone from those groups could be chosen to sit on that council.

[5:15 p.m.]

No matter what you draw up, I suppose, there will be some criticism. If the Minister of Health or, say, special interest groups are not watchdogs, the Opposition Parties are not watchdogs, then why is it that we do not have the kind of independent watchdog that this legislation would set up? What is the argument that would compel someone to say that this is not what we need, we do not need an independent group to watch over? The Royal Commission said it should happen. This government says, well, we had a Royal Commission

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and nothing happened. One of the recommendations of that Royal Commission was that we have a provincial health council. That group over there voted for that kind of legislation when it was introduced. It was unanimous in 1990. They supported that kind of legislation that the Royal Commission recommended. Now because they may be criticized, they are now saying no, never mind all the millions of dollars spent on the Royal Commission and all the things that were recommended that were adopted across this country, we are deciding in this province that we do not need any Royal Commission or anyone else to tell us that we need an independent group.

I know my time is coming to an end, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: You have one more minute.

MR. MOODY: I would hope that I could convince a number of people that we could pass this kind of legislation whereby we would have an independent provincial health council. If you want it elected, if you want to come up with a method you think is fair and independent, I will support it. So bring in legislation to assure Nova Scotians that there is an independent watchdog that can comment, be well informed, have the capability to do the research and a place where Nova Scotians can go and trust when they have a problem. Then I think Nova Scotians will restore some faith in our system and restore faith in the democratic process. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The time for debate on Bill No. 36 has expired.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 648.

Res. No. 648, re Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Tax Grab - Acknowledge - notice given Nov. 18/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, Resolution No. 648. "Therefore be it resolved that this government acknowledge that it has no mandate to introduce the BST thereby initiating the single biggest tax grab in the history of the province and put the question to Nova Scotian consumers by way of a general election.".

Remember 1993, Madam Speaker? I am sure you do.

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, I do actually.

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DR. HAMM: I am sure we all do, for various reasons.

AN HON. MEMBER: Some of us more fondly than others.

DR. HAMM: Well, yes, I think perhaps members on the government side are remembering 1993 very fondly, but I think most average Nova Scotians today are looking rather less fondly at that period of history than they were back in 1993 because that was the time when this Liberal Government was saying to the people of Nova Scotia, elect us and part of our mandate, part of our platform is no new taxes, no tax reform. Remember that commitment on television by the Premier as he was responding to questioning by Jim Nunn? No new taxes, no tax reform. Remember they said, we are going to put unemployed Nova Scotians back to work; we are going to create jobs and everybody is going to go back to work.

There was another promise that I would like to remind members of the House about today and that is the federal Liberal promise of 1993, because all of this really comes together in this debate, Madam Speaker. That federal Liberal promise was, we have got to get rid of the GST. Well, that was a pretty big jump in faith, if anyone thought that promise was going to be kept.

We are getting very close to another election, Madam Speaker. It will occur in 1997, perhaps in 1998. I would suggest very strongly that next spring, shortly after April 1st, the federal government will say that it is time for us to go to the polls because they have a very strong public acceptance and there is not much question that it is encouraging them to go to the polls. They have to get one thing out of the way. They have to convince the people of Canada that they truly tried to get rid of the GST. So what did they do? They decided they would come east to Atlantic Canada, which is solidly red, and they would say to their Liberal friends, look, we have a problem. We want to go to the polls and we want to make some face-saving gesture that would indicate to the people of Canada that we have tried to get rid of the GST. So the federal Minister of Finance summoned to Ottawa the four provincial Finance Ministers, but only three really took the bait. Unfortunately, one of those was our Finance Minister. He bought into the federal timetable. He didn't seem to mind that we will transfer to Ottawa control over our provincial sales tax for four years. We will do something that we said we would not do in 1993. We will reform that tax system and we will introduce new taxes.

I can remember weeks in this Legislature this past spring when each of us, by the then Minister of Finance, was reassured time after time that this did not represent a new tax. I would take out my pencil and I would figure out a budget and I would say to myself, it has got to mean more new taxes. Then finally, on the last day of the sitting, remember the document that was tabled and all of a sudden when you opened up that document and you realized that $84 million in new consumer taxes were involved and there was a shocked look on the faces of the members on the Opposition benches, only to be equalled by the shocked

[Page 2153]

look of the members on the government benches, because there was only one person in the Chamber at that time that understood that $84 million of new taxes was involved.

I remember looking at the face of the then Minister of Transportation on that particular day, because I do take some note of what is going on in the minds and the emotions of the members of government as they drop the ball time after time, but I looked at the face of the now Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, whose job has been made extremely difficult by this new blended sales tax, and the look of surprise on his face when it became painfully evident that $84 million was involved in new consumer taxes with this blended sales tax.

We have bought into the federal timetable. Imagine. Why didn't our Minister of Finance go up and say to the federal minister, look, we are not buying into this. We are not going to accept in this province anything other than an arrangement that benefits Nova Scotians, that helps the consumer tax load, that really does something for the business environment, not like we have heard today when already major retailers are threatening to pull out of this province. We had a promise in 1993 of leadership that listens. The only leader that listened, as far as I am concerned, would be the Liberal Leader in Prince Edward Island who said that he is not going to take his province into the blended sales tax. We have selective listening.

So what did we get in 1993? We got $79 million of new taxes. We have got downloading onto the municipalities that transfers and means increased property and business tax. We have a bottle tax, we have a tire tax, higher fees, higher licenses, higher permits and now the frosting on the cake, $84 million of new consumer taxes.

Nova Scotians are sick and tired of down-your-throat kind of government, a like it or lump it government. Can anyone on the government benches, can the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, can the Minister of Finance provide any documentation, in an elementary book of economics that says, an increase in taxes creates jobs? Can anybody provide that kind of information? No one, because an increase in taxes destroys jobs.

Well, where are the 3,000 jobs going to come from? They are not going to come from the Red Apple or Greenberg because they are going to close.

Well, let's look at what is going to happen. What is going to happen to Nova Scotians? What is going to happen to apartment dwellers? Their rent is going to go up because the landlord is going to have to pass on these new costs to the tenants. Let's say, well, I am going to get out of this apartment because it is getting too costly and then I am going to build a new house. Well, you know a new house, even with the adjustments that the Minister of Finance has arranged, is going to have an increase in a $100,000 house of $4,500. One of the great advantages of living in Nova Scotia is the ultimate dream of owing your own home. That dreaming is becoming far more far-fetched for so many Nova Scotians.

[Page 2154]

Transportation costs are going to go up, gasoline will go up, it will cost more to heat your home. Children's clothing, the cost will go up. The impact on business. Madam Speaker, this is a terrible thing for Nova Scotia, this will depress our economy. Our retail economy will simply be brought to its knees. This is the most regressive tax that Nova Scotians have seen in decades.

Let's get together, members on the backbenches hear what I hear; let's get together, send the Minister of Finance back to Ottawa and tell Paul Martin that we don't want this tax. It is wrong for Nova Scotia, it is all over, cancel the deal.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, the resolution in large measure deals with taxes, so in the 9 or 10 minutes available to me, and I may not be able to cover all the matters but I think a little review is in order and I am going to try to do that. I am going to try to put taxes and the finances of Nova Scotia in perspective and I am going to do that from the point of view of pre- and post-June 1993, when the government of Premier Savage was elected. The situation in 1993 was that we did not have a budget, the House had not sat for at least 12, I think it was something like 16 or more months. We had a deficit, in comparable terms of today, of over $600 million. That is just on the total budget of the province for the day and it is a terrible way to run up our debt. That is more than all of the debt that accumulated in Nova Scotia from Confederation to 1978. Imagine, well over 100 years, run up in one year, the last year of the Tory Government.

We had huge deficits projected by our auditors for the next fiscal year. The consequences of no quick action would be horrendous. Premier Cameron at the time said that we were virtually bankrupt. Our net debt had grown, I mentioned this earlier today, from $500 million to $600 million in 1978 to almost $7 billion in 1993. We had to take action, our government had to take action to restore stability.

The Auditor General reviewed the estimates, we saw the situation. We were required, in an emergency, to raise taxes. I am being forthright here, sales tax went up by one point because we had to staunch the flow of red ink. It was survival, Mr. Speaker. Also, in full disclosure there was a temporary raise in income taxes in the 1994 tax year. We had an income surtax which stayed for one year, but we had to do it. We froze spending, we put on the brakes. The capital budgets were scaled back to 95 per cent or to the 1992-93 levels.

[5:30 p.m.]

We developed a long-term plan. We had to get spending under control. We were attempting to reduce our interest payments by stopping building up our debt which was crippling us all and taking away from education and health care and community services and housing and roads and all the rest. Our goal was to reduce tax rates. (Interruption)

[Page 2155]

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, the minister has the floor. I call you to order. Thank you.

MR. GILLIS: The honourable member for Kings North should have ample time to debate, it is Opposition Day, they call the time. Maybe one of the Tory members will yield some time so we can hear from that honourable member.

We tried to deliver responsible government, not rainbow government such as we had in the past. We should simply compare 1978 with 1993, I think it is very important that we do that. Just look at the current accounts to go back and to recast them back in 1977-78. With the late Peter Nicholson as Finance Minister, the Liberal Government had an operating surplus of over $40 million. The last year under the Bu-Cameron Governments the comparable operating loss was almost $500 million. That is how we went downhill.

This resolution is about taxation and the members in this House should be reminded what happened under the former Tory Government. The income tax rate in Nova Scotia as a percentage of the federal rate in 1978 when Peter Nicholson left the job was 52.5 per cent. When this bunch were kicked out in 1993, it was 59.5 per cent. That is the level it had come to. We increased the sales tax by 1 per cent, but during their time it went up from 8 per cent to 10 per cent. Of course, the corporate tax rate, they pushed it up which discourages business, from 12 per cent to 16 per cent on the corporate tax rate and the 5 per cent small business rate.

Just to review quickly, Madam Speaker, 1993 was an emergency year and so we moved to take action. As a result and it is a little summary that is worth keeping in mind and I will hope to repeat it at the end, the total deficit, all in, including everything in 1992-93 was over $600 million, that was the last year under the Tories. The first full year under the Government of John Savage, the deficit was reduced to $546 million. The next year it went down to $235 million and in 1995-96 the total deficit was $200 million and the year we are in, my predecessor, Minister of Finance Boudreau brought in a balanced budget, back from the grave of $600 million under that bunch who were formerly over here. (Applause) (Interruptions)

How we traced it through, in 1994 we were still trying to stem the flow of red ink, but notwithstanding that, there were low income tax reductions, $200 for individuals, $105 for each child. Those helped the low income taxpayers and they are still in effect and they have been added to by my predecessor in his last budget. We also provided, in terms of taxes, an HST rebate in call centres to promote jobs, especially for young people. CIBC are employing 200 to 300 people in Nova Scotia. Getting people a pay cheque is what we want. We want our people in all parts of Nova Scotia working, not the approach they had in the past.

We also helped the music and the film industry. There was a film industry incentive program, we extended the home ownership savings plan. To move on into 1995, we had the equity tax credit increased, we extended the PST rebate on home construction, which was

[Page 2156]

important. Conventions were exempt from sale taxes because of our important tourism industry, almost $1 billion. Non-profit performing arts were exempt from amusement tax.

In the budget last spring we had more tax reductions; so that the whole thing is put into perspective, we had a further tax reduction measure for low income persons, an extra $100 for individuals and an extra $60 tax reduction for each child. For every person who pays personal income tax in Nova Scotia, in contrast to the increase from 52.5 per cent to 59.5 per cent under the Tories, we are dropping it by 3.4 per cent down to 57.5 per cent as of next July and that is law for everybody now. More than that, we found money for an $8 million assistance program which will assist low income persons, persons who do not pay tax and do not have that other benefit.

We have, of course, a new HST tax as of April 1, 1997. It will create 3,000 new jobs, increase our GDP and get Nova Scotia working, that is what we want, we want more jobs and a simpler system. These people should have faith and they should look at the support it has received by those who have studied the program that we are bringing forward.

We have an excellent summary in terms of a tax record, it is mainly decreases. Only in an emergency did we increase our tax and then since then it has been decreasing. My time will be up shortly and I just want to give a quick summary of the financial picture under the people that were formerly on the Treasury benches, the colleagues of the Leader of the Opposition and some of them are still in this House. A picture is worth a thousand words; numbers too, when they are preseated can explain a situation. I want to summarize the financial stewardship of Premier Savage and my predecessor, the Honourable Bernard Boudreau. We took a deficit of over $600 million in the last Tory year, the 1992-93 fiscal year, down to a surplus in the year we are in. We projected a surplus of $2.8 million and I think it is over $1 million as we reported at the end of the first quarter. We are giving financial reports, we are accountable to the people. I think it is time to reject the rhetoric from across the floor. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: I would ask if the honourable member would yield the floor for an introduction?

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: As long as it doesn't come out of my time.

MADAM SPEAKER: I will make sure of that.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Madam Speaker, thank you to the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic for yielding the floor. It is an honour to introduce to you a constituent, a friend, a colleague, an advisor, Mr. Bernie Driscoll in the gallery. I would you ask you all to warmly welcome him please. (Applause)

[Page 2157]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to intervene in this debate on a topic that has received some considerable and clearly appropriate attention over the past couple of days. I think it is somewhat ironic, although I am sure my friend, the Minister of Finance intended to do this and that is to provide me with a bit of a link from what he had to say to what I am going to say when he finished off by raising the spectre of accountability and how accountable his government has been. That has been one of the focuses of my concerns and of the concerns of many people in this province. Not only is this a bad deal, but this government has done a lot of things that we think are bad, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Most importantly, the question is you are making a phenomenal one of the most significant in the tax regime in this province, something that is going to have a tremendous impact on the economy and yet, you are doing it without talking to Nova Scotians about it. There have been no public hearings, there have been no public meetings.

I don't know if people realize this but let's look back for a second at the infamous GST which started all of this BS in the first place. What happened with the GST was that it was a national tax that was only being introduced through one House, through one Legislative Assembly. That, the process to implement the GST or to foist that down the throats of Canadians, it went through a process that took approximately 18 to 24 months to complete. There were legislative committee hearings, Commons Finance Committee, I believe, took the issue of the GST across the country, held hearings in this province and in every other province in this country to talk to Canadians about the GST and what the impact was going to be. There was full and exhaustive debate in the House of Commons and then - let's not forget, Mr. Speaker - there was also an election held around the whole issue of the GST. So, in other words, there was a lot of debate and discussion. Canadians knew what was coming down, or at least what the government's position was vis-à-vis the GST and those of us who were opposed to the GST had our opportunity to argue the contrary.

I think what Canadians are recognizing is that they were sold a bill of goods by the Tories on the GST. In fact, recent figures show clearly that the shift from the manufacturing sales tax to the GST, the shift from manufacturers to consumers has kicked the living stuffing out of the Atlantic Provinces. We are paying - I forget what the last figure was - something like $100 million more than we were paying before through the manufacturing sales tax. Why? Because we have less manufacturing in the Atlantic Provinces, less tax was being taken out of this region. The bulk of it was coming from Quebec and Ontario. So who benefited from the GST? Quebec and Ontario. Quebec and Ontario, as jurisdictions, are paying a lot less now in tax under the GST than they were. So regionally we have been significantly disadvantaged by the GST.

Anyway, that is an aside. The point is that the GST, before it was introduced, before it became law, there was extensive discussion across the country, Mr. Speaker. What is

[Page 2158]

happening in this province? Let's cast our minds back to the spring, to April, when we found out as a result of some hard-working reporter who found the former Minister of Finance or somebody sneaking out of a back room at the Airport Hotel, and he said, aha, something is going on. We pestered the Minister of Finance with questions for the next few days about what was going on. We did not find very much out from him, but we found out there was a deal being negotiated called the BST. They were quite comfortable with calling it the BST back then. It was called the blended sales tax. They were okay with that back then and I will get to that point in a second.

You know, the Minister of Finance, under questioning, when we said, don't bind us to a deal that is so significant without talking to us at least here in the Legislature, for Heaven's sake, if not throughout the province, talk to the representatives of the people of Nova Scotia but, oh, no, in fact the Minister of Finance even misled this House about when he signed the deal and if he even signed the deal, Madam Speaker.

That was bad enough, but then what happens? The minister introduced this deal as being the biggest tax break that Nova Scotians have ever seen and probably ever will see. Then what happened? On the last day of the session, somebody got a little bit over-anxious, got a little too-cute and they released a document out there - not in here - and we happened to get our hands on it in time to be able to raise some of the issues it presented in the House. What was presented? Well, we found out as a result of the document that consumers were not going to get a huge tax break - surprise, surprise - they were, in fact, going to shoulder an $84 million burden as a result of the blended sales tax, of the BS Tax, Mr. Speaker. You know what happened at that point? All heck broke lose. The headlines read, Consumers in for a soaking or $84 million bombshell. And then, you know what happened next? We had the Fairview by-election where we talked about the blended sales tax. You recall, in fact, that there was a poll taken in metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth about what people thought about the idea of harmonizing sales taxes. Do you know what they said? Over 70 per cent said they did not want any part of a harmonized sales tax and then of course we had the Halifax Fairview by-election where 65 per cent of voters voted for the party who was clearly committed against this blended sales tax. Did the summer see a whole flurry of activity by this government of these MLAs going out and holding public meetings and talking about the blended sales tax? No, they did not. What they did was - you saw the information released in there - they had a bunch of meetings with groups in Nova Scotia about this issue.

[5:45 p.m.]

Anyway, they finally went ahead and they signed the deal. They committed us Nova Scotians to a deal which gives businesses a $240 million break. They shifted that on to the backs of consumers. Low income people living in poverty; middle income earners; small businesses are the people who are going to pay for this boondoggle. Are going to pay for these great savings to the business community. And here we had last week, they have not had the courage to bring this legislation into the House of Assembly and the Premier had his mug

[Page 2159]

on the TV and in the papers yesterday promising the moon, promising the sun and the moon to corporations in Ontario, Mr. Speaker, and he did that on the backs of the children's dental program; on the backs of people living in poverty; on the backs of middle income consumers; on people who have to spend money on children's clothing, on home heating fuel, on wood to heat their homes. That is what is going on here and not once has this government talked about bringing legislation in this session before they move any further.

As far as I am concerned this government has forgot what accountability meant and what it means and that is a real problem that this Minister of Finance and his colleagues are going to face when they have the courage to face the voters of Nova Scotia, is the fact that they have not been accountable. They have been hiding behind the mismanagement and the mistakes of the past and they have continued to put the boots to low and middle income Nova Scotians. I tell you what, from what I can tell, they have had enough.

As I wrap up here, let me say in conclusion, I agree with the Opposition Leader that we must link together and put pressure - one and all - on this Finance Minister and the federal Finance Minister. On that and with that hope, I am going to give the Leader of the Official Opposition a copy of our petition that thousands of Nova Scotians are going to sign and we are going to put pressure on this government and the federal Finance Minister and I hope he and his colleagues join with me. Sign this petition and we will use it to put more pressure on the government. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, back to the BST. I listened to the Minister of Finance a few moments ago when he was responding to the resolution I do not think at any time during that debate or those remarks of the Minister of Finance that he spoke about the blended sales tax. He was looking back. In fact we went back as far as 1967, I think. Well, this is 1996, going on 1997.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't wake him up, he is still asleep.

MR. RUSSELL: Well I know, he is Rip Van Winkle for Heaven's sake and he is still living in the past.

AN HON. MEMBER: So are you.

MR. RUSSELL: We are not living in the past, we are living in the future because we are looking at a scheme, being brought forward by this bunch opposite, Mr. Speaker, which they are going to foist on the people of Nova Scotia, that is going to have catastrophic consequences for the people of this province.

[Page 2160]

Obviously the minister never got quite as far in his remarks, and got into 1993 even because when this government came to power, Mr. Speaker - as I think every speaker on the BST has said and will say over and over again, I guess, for the next few weeks - they came to power with a promise and that promise was, no new taxes. They were going to create jobs and do a few other things, but, also, along with those no new taxes and the jobs they were going to create, they said that leadership starts with listening.

Now the minister has been asked on numerous occasions about getting out and talking to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and determining what their views are on the BST. The minister says, well, I have consulted. Just the other day he tabled a list, and he tells me there are 80 different organizations and individuals on this list that he tabled and these were the people he consulted with.

Yesterday we queried the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Brown, et cetera, were not on this list; there were no town hall meetings listed on this list; there were not even any service clubs listed on this list. Even ignoring that, Mr. Speaker, when he consulted with these 80 different organizations, I think he consulted, he listened to what they had to say and then promptly forgot it because this government has demonstrated over and over again they are not paying attention, they are not listening to the people and reacting to what the people are telling them.

Mr. Speaker, I will come back to taxes in a moment, but I would like to stay with this business of consulting and why I believe that the minister was not listening. For instance, I have a number of documents here, and I have a bunch more back in my office, from various organizations that were consulted but are not happy with the BST; they were not listened to.

Now the minister today spoke about the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia, which was one of the groups that he consulted with. They put out a document, which I am sure the minister has read and I presume that most members of this House got a copy of this document, and what does IPOANS say about the harmonized tax?

Well, line 1 in their report: The Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia is convinced that harmonization will hurt both tenants and landlords of Nova Scotia. It goes on, Mr. Speaker, and provides a substantive case as to why this BST is going to impact negatively on landlords and on tenants; in fact, it is going to increase rents, according to this document - and they have, as I say, substantive evidence there - by 4 per cent, and it is going to affect landlords by 3 per cent of their incomes on one side and the rental that is paid.

I have a document here, the Canadian Society of Association Executives, and the Canadian Society of Association Executives says it feels it must lend its voice to those in industry who oppose the loss of competitive positions for local businesses as a result of a blended sales tax. Now I also have another document from them outlining how they came to

[Page 2161]

that conclusion. Did the minister listen to that group? Well, if he listened to them, he certainly didn't react to what they were telling him.

The minister tells us that he consulted with the housing industry. Well, maybe he consulted with the housing industry, but he did not listen to them, Mr. Speaker. I have a document here from the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association. This is what they say about the BST. "It is the position of the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association that the resulting tax burden will increase the price of new home construction, as well as renovation projects, by 4.5 per cent.". Is that going to encourage house building? Is that going to encourage renovations? Is that going to encourage jobs? Of course it is not. Any person who has got an ounce of common sense is not going to stand up and say that to rip the dollars out of the taxpayers' pockets and put them into the coffers of government is going to create jobs.

I have another one here. I have got thousands of them, but this one is from the Retail Council of Canada, another body that the minister consulted with, but did not listen to. What does the Retail Council of Canada have to say? Well, let's go to, once again, the first paragraph: "Higher costs, lower employment, lower quality, less selection and higher prices will result as retailers struggle with the blended sales tax in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.". Did he listen to the Retail Council of Canada? Obviously he hasn't.

I cannot possibly get through the number of documents that I have here, Mr. Speaker - I have got another bunch I am going to bring over tomorrow - from the very people who this minister is supposedly listening to and taking advice from and they were all telling him to scrap the BST. Well, if the government is not prepared to scrap the BST, I can assure you that when John Hamm becomes Premier of this province, the BST will be scrapped. It will go. Thank you. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: We are in shock. You said what he would not. Congratulations. A new aide-de-camp. Did they tell you they were going to do that?

Mr. Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and, following Question Period, we will begin debate on Resolution No. 643, submitted Monday by the Minister of Finance. If we complete that tomorrow, we will go back to bills for second reading. I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The Adjournment debate has been chosen as announced earlier, and won by the honourable member for Victoria who will debate:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend the people of Cape Breton who are leading the Cabot Meeting '97 celebrations together with the

[Page 2162]

provincial and federal governments, to proudly blend our proud heritage and our economic future.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria. (Applause)

ERA - TOURISM: C.B. - CABOT MEETING '97

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I hope for the next 10 minutes I can slow the tempo down a little bit. Our resolution tonight is as you read it off, where we expect to see visitors and residents throughout Cape Breton. We will soon have one more reason to enjoy our Cabot Trail next year.

I am proud to report to the House and all members present that throughout Cape Breton in 1997, we will commemorate John Cabot's European expedition to the New World. Our Premier, John Savage, and the federal Health Minister, David Dingwall, have also recognized the importance of this celebration by committing funding assistance for activities and festivals marking the 500th Anniversary of the arrival of John Cabot to North America.

Mr. Speaker, as the MLA for Victoria County, I am pleased to have this opportunity to convey my admiration and I would like to commend the people living along the Cabot Trail and beyond who are making this celebration possible. Known as the Cabot Meeting '97, it began as a community-based initiative and remains community driven, headed by the John Cabot Quincentenary Committee made up of people living along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. Made up of people living in communities in the Cape Breton Highlands, they see 1997 as an opportunity to increase tourism throughout the entire year, including our winter season.

[6:00 p.m.]

They realize the Cabot Meeting '97 has many long-term economic benefits, both in the area of job creation and the development of networking among Cabot Trail communities. Yes, Mr. Speaker, in celebration of the Quincentenary of John Cabot's arrival to North America, the people living in communities along the Cabot Trail also realize the development of new partnerships will ensure the long-term cultural and economic survival of our island's communities.

The activities and events that are being developed for 1997 are solidly anchored in the communities that sponsor them throughout Cape Breton Island. One highlight during the Cabot Meeting '97 is the enactment of this historic first meeting between the Europeans and

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the Mi'kmaq people. Another entertaining event will be the inspiring flotilla of tall ships that, we hope, will call on several Cape Breton ports throughout the summer. Among these many beautiful ships will be the replica of John Cabot's sailing vessel, the Matthew. After leaving Bristol, England in May 1997, she plans to sail for her first North American port of call. The Matthew will also take time to cruise the Nova Scotian coastline before she sails off to New England.

The people of Cape Breton possess a real sense of stewardship to their communities along the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Meeting '97 has brought those people together with the provincial and federal governments to blend our proud heritage and our economic future, the tourism industry.

When John Cabot, our first tourist landed in what is presumed to be the northernmost tip of Cape Breton in 1497, he stimulated an age of exploration and discovery by Europeans which has brought the Island of Cape Breton to the attention of the entire world. Many years later, the creation of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the completion of the Cabot Trail in the 1930's brought nature conservancy and tourism together in northern Cape Breton. In fact, some have said that history will reveal that the Cabot Trail actually began tourism in Nova Scotia.

In the years leading up to Canada's Centennial celebrations in 1967, Tourism became an economic lifeline for the Cape Breton economy. In 1995, Tourism figures for Nova Scotia indicate an overall dollar expenditure of $183 million for the Cape Breton region, an increase of $9 million over 1994. Today, the metropolitan area of Halifax-Dartmouth surpasses Cape Breton in terms of overall tourism dollar expenditures. It is further shown that the number of jobs related to the Tourism industry on Cape Breton is close to 5,700 with a payroll of approximately $72 million. An estimated 410,000 tourists visited Cape Breton Island in 1995. Although it is difficult to estimate the impact of the John Cabot celebrations, the intent is to promote festivals and activities throughout the winter months and therefore any such winter tourism efforts will result in new dollars to our economy.

Recent Statistics Canada figures indicate that the unemployment rate for many communities in northern Cape Breton is between 22 per cent and 25 per cent. The John Cabot celebrations could be a step in the right direction. With an additional 30,000 new visitors to the island, this will represent a 7 per cent increase in the number of visitors. This translates into an additional tourism industry payroll of $15 million, representing an additional 125 seasonal tourism jobs. Of course that does not take into account any of the indoor economic spinoffs into the larger Cape Breton region.

Mr. Speaker, the Cabot Meeting '97 will give residents of Cape Breton the opportunity to boast our rich culture and our proud heritage and, by inviting visitors to experience our culture and enjoy our festivities, the Cabot Meeting '97 will also strengthen our vibrant tourism industry.

[Page 2164]

Mr. Speaker, travelling along the Cabot Trail, meeting the people and enjoying the landscape can reveal a story of unique economic challenge, often in areas of social isolation. A centuries old story of efforts by native Mi'Kmaq, as well as French, English, Gaelic and other European settlers have struggled to endure in often harsh conditions. The natural and cultural heritage of northern Cape Breton has been both celebrated and threatened but that heritage has survived to support the local economy and to provide access to exceptional resources.

Travelling the Cabot Trail and through the National Park is a journey towards environmental awareness and heritage appreciation. The Cabot Trail which was formally opened on October 15, 1932, opens up an interesting and historic journey. The route begins just east of Baddeck and traverses the picturesque north shore of Victoria County. The road used to run through Englishtown, noted as the first permanent settlement by Europeans in Cape Breton.

The Cabot Trail skirts charming St. Ann's Bay, with its high bluffs and its exquisite seascapes and proceeds over Cape Smoky, an altitude of 1,200 feet, with magnificent views to the Ingonish district, which for many years has attracted visitors because of its striking scenery.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, I have to mention Aspy Bay, the established site of where John Cabot landed. If one were to travel on to Bay St. Lawrence and Meat Cove, an offshoot of the Cabot Trail, the scenery can only be described as breathtaking.

The Cabot Trail journeys on through Cheticamp and of course on to Margaree and back to Baddeck, the complete circuit of the entire northern part of Cape Breton Island is a distance of approximately 180 miles.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity of allowing me to somewhat wander verbally along the Cabot Trail this evening. But, as a lifelong resident, it is such a pleasure to do so that I hope the members here in this House have somewhat enjoyed this little journey as well. The Cabot Trail remains a visible sign of the beauty and majesty found in northern Cape Breton, awaiting us to explore. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, first and foremost I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the member for Victoria for bringing forth this resolution to be debated here tonight. I think it is important that we all realize the values of Cape Breton Island and its heritage. I think that the people who have seen the potential of the Cabot Meeting 1997 should be congratulated on having that vision, the vision of planning ahead and attracting more people to our fair island.

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The member for Victoria and I differ in our political thoughts but there is one thing we do agree on, that is our love for Cape Breton Island. The vision that the people of this committee had to put forward such an ambitious program is something that they should all be congratulated on. But vision is only one thing, Mr. Speaker, it is the hard work that has gone into putting this whole program together that these people have to be congratulated for. These things do not just happen, it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort by a lot of volunteers. I am sure that I will join with the member for Victoria in congratulating all the people who took the effort to put this program together.

Cape Breton is the home of a vibrant, multicultural community and it is rich in its traditions. Still, by being rich in its traditions, it still maintains a heritage of hospitality. Cape Breton Island is referred to by many as Nova Scotia's masterpiece and it certainly is that.

In 1995, we had a celebration similar to this in my constituency in the Town of Louisbourg, the Louisbourg '95 Celebrations. There were thousands of people that came to Cape Breton Island and they flowed to other parts of the island from that celebration. It is hoped that this celebration that we are talking about tonight will do the same thing for the Island of Cape Breton.

It is hard to believe, even I was amazed, at the number of people that turned out for such a celebration. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be in Catalone in a traffic jam, I would have thought they were crazy but that is what happened and that was because of the vision of many, many people in Louisbourg, many people that had the same vision as they do for the Cabot Meeting '97.

I also understand that there is a very lengthy list of activities taking place, from square dances to flotillas to many different types of community affairs so people will see the culture. I understand that the square dances are personally going to be quality controlled by the member for Inverness. He is going to each and every one to make sure that the music is up to par and that everybody is willing and able to get up on the floor and do at least one figure and I congratulate him on that.

On a more serious note, the Cabot Meeting has the potential to draw a number of people to Cape Breton Island, a large number of people and that will be good for Cape Breton Island. Tourism is good for Cape Breton Island and what is good for Cape Breton Island is good for all of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I congratulate the member for Victoria for bringing this effort forward in the House and bringing it to the light of each and every member. I would put out a challenge to all of the other members to come to Cape Breton Island, not only to see the Cabot Meeting '97 but to see the other parts, such as Louisbourg and the Glace Bay Miners Museum, the Bell Museum and all of the other beauties that are around there besides the Cabot Trail, which is also very beautiful. Again, I want to send my congratulations to the people who had the foresight and

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thought to put together and organize this great meeting and I thank you for the opportunity to say a few words.

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank the honourable members for an excellent debate. The motion for adjournment has been made.

The House will now rise and sit again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:13 p.m.]