Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., Nov. 29, 1996

Fourth Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Joseph Howe Manor (Halifax): Smoking Ban - Oppose,
Hon. G. O'Malley 2591
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. - Accounts (N.S.) Report (Quarter [2nd] to 30/09/96), Hon. W. Gillis 2592
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 902, Health - Reform: Bureaucracy - Increase, Dr. J. Hamm 2594
Res. 903, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Inquiry Independent - Ensure,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2595
Res. 904, Health - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Inquiry Public - Call,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2596
Vote - Affirmative 2596
Res. 905, Health: Reg. Bds. - Abolish, Dr. J. Hamm 2596
Res. 906, ERA - Gasoline Market: Fair Competition - Ensure, Mr. J. Holm 2597
Res. 907, Leader of the Official Opposition - PST & GST Harmonization:
Public Input - Response Congrats., Mr. R. Russell 2597
Res. 908, Nat. Res. - Mobil Oil: Royalty Agreement - Release,
Mr. G. Archibald 2598
Res. 909, ERA - Taxes Payroll: Reduction - Encourage, Mr. J. Leefe 2599
Res. 910, Health - Home Care: Costs (1988-89) - Re-Total,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2599
Res. 911, Exco: Accountability - Ensure, Mr. R. Russell 2600
Res. 912, Educ. - PST & GST Harmonization: School Bds. Effect -
Warnings Heed, Mr. T. Donahoe 2601
Res. 913, Health - Home Care: Seniors (Housing & Soc. Serv.) Needs -
Importance, Mr. R. Chisholm 2601
Res. 914, Health - Care: Solutions - Seek, Mr. G. Moody 2602
Res. 915, MLA Sackville-Beaverbank - Exco Censure: Res. Introduction -
Urge, Mr. J. Holm 2603
Res. 916, ERA - Unemployment (C.B.): Address - NSGEU Applaud,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2603
Res. 917, ERA - Crossley Carpet (Truro): ISO 9002 Cert. - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 2604
Vote - Affirmative 2604
Res. 918, ERA - Tourism: Upper Clements Theme Park Marketing
Proposal - Time Frame Extend, Mr. G. Archibald 2604
Res. 919, Health AIDS: Strategy (Can.) - Support Renew,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2605
Res. 920, Health - Reg. Bd. (Central) Care Delivery Plans -
Consultation Allow, Mr. B. Taylor 2606
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Sports - Trans Canada Trail, Hon. J. Abbass 2606
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 35, Université Sainte-Anne Act/Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne 2610
Mr. T. Donahoe 2611
Mr. J. Holm 2611
Vote - Affirmative 2612
No. 37, River John Voluntary Fire Department Dissolution Act 2612
No. 38, Lunenburg Street Closing and Location Act, 1996 2612
No. 39, Bridgewater Curling Club Act 2613
Hon. R. Mann 2613
Mr. J. Leefe 2613
Vote - Affirmative 2613
No. 40, Yarmouth County Historical Society
Financial Assistance Act 2613
No. 42, Victorian Order of Nurses Act 2613
No. 46, Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church Corporation Act 2613
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 9:57 A.M. 2614
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 10:38 A.M. 2614
CWH ON BILLS REPORTS 2614
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 44, Dalhousie-Technical University Amalgamation Act 2614
Hon. R. Harrison 2614
Mr. T. Donahoe 2617
Ms. E. O'Connell 2623
Mr. J. Leefe 2625
Mr. J. Holm 2627
Hon. R. Harrison 2633
Vote - Affirmative 2635
No. 43, Condominium Act 2635
Hon. S. Jolly 2635
Mr. R. Russell 2636
Mr. J. Holm 2638
Mr. R. Chisholm 2639
Hon. S. Jolly 2639
Vote - Affirmative 2640
No. 41, Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act 2640
Hon. J. Barkhouse 2641
Mr. J. Leefe 2642
Mr. R. Chisholm 2649
Mr. J. Casey 2653
Hon. J. Barkhouse 2655
Vote - Affirmative 2659
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:33 P.M. 2659
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 1:36 P.M. 2659
CWH ON BILLS REPORTS 2659
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 921, Rules of the House (Amendment - Extended Sitting Hours),
Hon. R. Mann 2659
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Dec. 2nd at 2:00 p.m. 2660

[Page 2591]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will now commence the daily sitting of the House.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of Joseph Howe Manor in Halifax. As a non-smoker, I present the petition. "Some residents of Joseph Howe Manor in Halifax, smokers and non-smokers, strongly disagree with the proposed closure of their smoking room on January 1, 1997. Unquestionably smoking must be prohibited in public areas in, BUT designated smoking areas, properly equipped and maintained, pose no danger to those who choose not to use them. In making this policy decision, apparently no consideration was given to how important it is to seniors to have a comfortable place in their building where they can meet, talk to others, drink coffee AND smoke if they wish.". There is more to the clause but that is sufficient. It is signed by some 36 persons and I have appropriately affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

2591

[Page 2592]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am rising in my place today to report to this House on the state of the province's finances at the mid-point of our fiscal year. This report is the second in our renewed effort to make the government's handling of the financial affairs of the province more accountable. We are meeting a legislated requirement for regular financial reporting. For the first time, the people and the members of this House are seeing how the government meets the financial challenges, as we go.

This report gives an account of the province's financial situation as of September 30, 1996. But, in fact, it represents the government's most current thinking on where the budget stands now. For instance, although the cut-off is at the end of September, we are using numbers received only a few weeks ago from the federal government on expected income tax revenues. I am pleased to report, Mr. Speaker, that this revenue is now projected to be $18.6 million higher than anticipated in our budget last spring. This increase helps offset a decrease in equalization payments from Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, this reduction in equalization represents a good sign for the Nova Scotia economy. More Nova Scotians are working, making more money and thus able to pay more income taxes. A drop in the expected equalization payments means that the Nova Scotia economy is performing better relative to the rest of the country. Although the two events may largely cancel each other out as far as government revenues are concerned, I am sure that all Nova Scotians support the trend toward more self-sufficiency.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to report that government program spending is unchanged from our last quarterly report. Honourable members will remember that our first quarter report reflected the government's intention to increase spending on health care in the amount of $64 million. Funds to meet that commitment were found without affecting our overall goal of achieving a surplus for the year.

That goal was set in the budget, confirmed in our first quarter report and remains intact at the mid-point. Out latest forecast shows a modest surplus of $1.2 million. (Applause) That is a true surplus after all government's operating and capital expenditures have been accounted for.

[Page 2593]

Mr. Speaker, I wish to also report that we are continuing to receive some breathing room from general economic conditions. Unlike revenues, or even some expenditures, interest costs can be calculated daily. We know that our interest costs on our floating debt rate are lower than projected. We are comfortable in projecting interest savings that now add up to nearly $56 million more than originally forecast and $19.4 million more than forecast in the first quarter. (Applause) These increased savings act to offset the reduction in revenues since our first quarter report, leaving the budget surplus virtually the same. In fact, it is a few pennies up from the end of the first quarter. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions) No, it is not lucky Bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: Lucky Nova Scotia.

MR. RUSSELL: It is lucky Nova Scotia actually, yes, you are quite right. It is a somewhat confusing report card, Mr. Speaker. When you note that, in point of fact, the report card shows that the economy of Nova Scotia is not performing up to scratch; when you notice that, indeed, the Minister of Finance is to be able to make his year-end surplus solely because of the decrease in interest rates to the tune of $55 million on the net debt servicing cost.

The fact that revenues are down, Mr. Speaker, is primarily because of equalization and I find it difficult, quite honestly, to believe that equalization will be down this year, because equalization, I believe, is based on the previous year's performance, and the previous year's performance was dismal in this province, whereas the Provinces of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, all had very healthy economies. So, I would suggest that perhaps the figure shown for equalization as being down by $13 million will not, indeed, materialize at year-end.

The fact that personal income taxes are up, well, Mr. Speaker, personal income taxes, I would suggest to you are not always a measure of how well the government is doing, but is simply a measure of how well the government is able to extract dollars from the individual taxpayers. There is no change in corporate income taxes which, I think, is also an indicator that investment by business in this province is not particularly robust.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will look forward to looking at this in greater detail today and I will comment probably further during Question Period on Tuesday of next week. Thank you.

[Page 2594]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say, first of all, that it has clearly been a positive change, a positive effect, on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia, as we have been suggesting for some number of years, with a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate policy in the country, unfortunately, seems like it has come about too little, too late almost, and that the idea has been to lower interest rates and, therefore, generate some more consumer spending and borrowing by the corporate sector, but that in fact has not happened, and the economy continues to be sluggish, regardless of the lowest interest rates for some 40 years. It obviously has made a difference on this government's books with respect to its debt and debt servicing charges with respect to the international markets.

Mr. Speaker, this, I think, highlights the question of corporate income tax, the contribution, the health services taxes, and the equalization, I think reflects some of the dangers that are lurking just off the bow, when we examine what is happening with the planned blended sales tax and how that is going to further kick the stuffing out of the economy, the tax revenues for the Province of Nova Scotia.

The whole question of equalization, I think it is interesting that the minister's department seemed to have a bit of a handle on equalization when it comes to what is coming down, but yet they are not in a position to explain exactly what the effect on equalization is going to be of the offshore natural gas revenues. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, the minister has directed his staff to provide members of this House with some of those answers.

Mr. Speaker, there clearly are some unanswered questions in this report which we will have an opportunity to examine in more detail in the following hours and days. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 902

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

[Page 2595]

Whereas the implementation of regional health boards was not a concept of, but was given to, the Blueprint Committee; and

Whereas regional health boards have slowed down decision making and are an excuse for ministerial accountability; and

Whereas regional health boards are creating increased administrative costs in a health delivery system that is stretched for funding of medical services;

Therefore be it resolved that the government realize that to date health reform has resulted in a burgeoning bureaucracy within the health care system, resulting in increased administrative and operating costs, and begin to spend health care dollars where it counts, on patient care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 903

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

Whereas a report on the suicides of three patients who received psychiatric care at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital raises significant concerns regarding mental health services within the hospital and its satellite clinics; and

Whereas two psychiatrists who investigated the suicides called for "a comprehensive and in-depth external review" of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital's entire mental health program; and

Whereas families of the suicide victims have called for an independent public inquiry into the deaths and the state of mental health services in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to ensure that an independent inquiry is established so that confidence in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and its mental health program may be re-established.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 2596]

RESOLUTION NO. 904

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

Whereas the Cape Breton families received an edited version of the review of psychiatric services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital; and

Whereas these families have yet to receive full answers to their questions from this edited report on the role played by the Cape Breton Regional Hospital; and

Whereas the families need to put troubling questions about the deaths of their loved ones to rest;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately call a public inquiry into psychiatric services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 905

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

Whereas the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre's Board of Directors will lose all decision-making authority to the Central Regional Health Board as of January 1996; and

Whereas the success of the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre as a model in community-based health care is largely attributable to community participation in the centre's management; and

[Page 2597]

Whereas residents of Sackville, Bedford, Beaverbank, Fall River, Windsor Junction and other communities are sick and tired of the Liberal Government paying lip-service to community-based health care while at the same time centralizing all major responsibilities in the hands of a top-heavy, out-of-touch regional health board;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government abolish its bureaucratic regional health boards and return decision making to community health boards.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 906

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 big oil companies, spurred on by Ultramar's attempt to regain market share lost due to the Ultramar boycott, slashed their prices in a campaign to drive independents out of business; and

Whereas the major oil companies are charging independents more for their products than they charge their flag stations; and

Whereas such practices if carried out in the United States would be illegal;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take advantage of investigative work already carried out by the New Brunswick Legislature's Select Committee on Gasoline Pricing and begin immediate steps to ensure fair competition in the gasoline market.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 907

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

[Page 2598]

Whereas Nova Scotians are sick and tired of the government's refusal to debate the BST or even answer questions on the $84 million tax grab; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday asked Nova Scotians, through an advertisement in the Chronicle-Herald, to tell Premier Savage to scrap the BST or call an election and let Nova Scotians decide; and

Whereas due to a constant barrage of faxes, phone calls and mail from Nova Scotians opposed to the BST, staff at the Progressive Conservative caucus office is working extended hours this weekend to ensure an accurate tabulation;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the many Nova Scotians who have joined the Leader of the Opposition's fight against the BST and encourage other Nova Scotians to keep those cards, letters, faxes, phone calls and e-mails coming, despite staff difficulty in keeping up with the high volume of anti-BST responses.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 908

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

Whereas the former Minister of Natural Resources missed the boat and let a $50 million asset in the form of tax pools go down the drain; and

Whereas the current Minister of Natural Resources has an opportunity to show Nova Scotians that she has regained the captaincy of the ship and everything is being done to protect Nova Scotians' interests through a strong royalty agreement with Mobil Oil; and

Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources will not provide the information to the public so that they can make the decisions for themselves whether or not the royalty deal is good for Nova Scotia;

[Page 2599]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government immediately release the royalty agreement to assure Nova Scotians that the Liberal Government and the Minister of Natural Resources have not missed the boat again and sunk the royalty deal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 909

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

Whereas 5,000 Nova Scotians dropped off private sector payrolls in the most recent figures available from the Nova Scotia Department of Finance; and

Whereas this is consistent with the 11,000 Nova Scotians who have lost jobs in 1996 according to the Nova Scotia Department of Finance; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's inept job-creation schemes range from the wasteful and unproductive 30-60-90 to the BS Tax grab;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency follow the suggestion of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and encourage a major reduction in payroll taxes to encourage private sector job growth.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 910

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 the Minister of Health, the former Minister of Finance, tries to cover up Home Care Nova Scotia's dismantling of the long-established in-home support aspects of home care in this province by saying the that Health Department spent only $805,000 on home care in 1988-89 compared with $60 million today; and

Whereas the minister is comparing apples and oranges because the figure from 1988-89 does not include $5.95 million spent by the Department of Community Services and many millions more spent by municipalities; and

[Page 2600]

Whereas the minister also conveniently fails to mention that the $60 million Home Care Program is a band-aid placed on wounds caused by cuts of more than $170 million from hospitals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the former Minister of Finance to fire up his calculator and retotal the estimates for 1988-89 lest his statements mislead members about the real state of affairs regarding home care.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Waive notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The member is requesting waiver of notice.

Is it agreed that notice be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 911

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

Whereas this Liberal Government said in their Accountability and Accessibility in Government Policy Paper released during the 1993 election campaign, "that government in a democracy derives its powers through the consent of the governed"; and

Whereas it is also said in the same policy paper, "that to honour the responsibility government has to the people, it must open its activities to scrutiny by the public and the opposition:; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has gone out of its way to ensure the proceedings of the fall sitting of this Legislature are not televised throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his government stand up and be accountable to the people of Nova Scotia on issues such as the tire recycling deal instead of attempting to hide their actions in a cloak of secrecy.

[Page 2601]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[9:30 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 912

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 Minister of Education and Culture said last week that the BST may benefit classroom education and that Nova Scotia School Boards Association's figures pointing to the contrary were inaccurate; and

Whereas the minister's predecessor once claimed that classrooms would receive an $11 million windfall from school board amalgamation - and that never happened - and that a $79 million cut would not affect the quality of classroom education - and that is happening; and

Whereas new regional school boards are reeling from increased administrative costs and, in the case of the Halifax Regional School Board, suffering from a shortfall in the millions of dollars due primarily to provincial cutbacks;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and Culture open his ears a little wider and heed the warnings of Nova Scotia's school boards on the BST and provincial cuts so that Nova Scotia's children do not suffer once again from Liberal arrogance in education.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 913

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

Whereas in June 1995 the Liberal Government announced a new comprehensive Home Care Program designed to provide an array of home support, nursing and personal care services to help Nova Scotians of all ages to remain at home instead of going to hospital or a nursing home; and

[Page 2602]

Whereas the Health Department has recently restricted eligibility guidelines resulting in hundreds of Nova Scotians having their care reduced and terminated, particularly in-home support and non-medical services which had been available for many years prior to the advent of Home Care Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Health continues to deny that anyone is adversely affected by the restricted guidelines despite the fact that agencies across the province are reporting that clients are receiving a level of services that is less than they would have received before the Liberal Home Care Program was introduced;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Health Minister that the housing and social services needs of seniors and others requiring in-home support are key determinants of health and urge the minister to ensure that they will be an integral part of Home Care Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 914

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

Whereas instead of accepting responsibility, the Premier and Minister of Health are lashing out at doctors and nurses in an attempt to find scapegoats for the deplorable condition of health care in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has criticized regional health board members for resigning in frustration; and

Whereas a recent Amherst Daily News editorial said, "concerns over the declining quality of health care in Nova Scotia being voiced by members of the province's medical community are well founded";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health begin looking for solutions to the present state of health care rather than attempting to downplay them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 2603]

RESOLUTION NO. 915

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

Whereas on November 28th the member for Sackville-Beaverbank sought waiver of notice on a resolution censuring the Leader of the Opposition for advocating something he says most Nova Scotians support; and

Whereas the Liberal Government, of which he is a member, imposed casinos upon Nova Scotians against the clear wishes of the majority of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the same Liberal Government intends to impose its oppressive BS Tax upon consumers in Nova Scotia against their wishes and without full public consultation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the member for Sackville-Beaverbank to introduce and request waiver of notice on a resolution to censure the Premier and his Liberal colleagues for time after time disregarding the wishes of the vast majority of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 916

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

Whereas the most recent unemployment rate on Cape Breton Island is 23.1 per cent, a full 15 percentage points above the unemployment rate in metro Halifax; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services recently stated that the unemployment rate in his riding of Cape Breton East stood at 50 per cent; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, along with many community groups in industrial Cape Breton, are holding a media conference this morning on the weakness in the Cape Breton economy as a result of across-the-board public sector cutbacks;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and the other community groups scheduled to attend this morning for addressing one of the causes of Cape Breton's high unemployment rates.

Mr. Speaker, I request of notice.

[Page 2604]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 917

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

Whereas Crossley Carpet Mills of Truro is the first carpet maker in the country and only the second in North America to become ISO 9002 certified; and

Whereas ISO 9002 certification is the world's highest standard for quality; and

Whereas Crossley's and its 400 employees are using this international recognition to aggressively pursue markets in the United States and Europe;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Crossley's Carpet Mills, their employees and management on this important achievement and their important contribution to the economy of Nova Scotia.

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 member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 918

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

[Page 2605]

Whereas this week, we have seen how the government conducts business with the BS Tax, its handling of Nova Scotia Resources Limited, and the handling of the tire tendering process; and

Whereas this government continues its dismal track record by giving potential operators of the Upper Clements Theme Park less than two weeks to submit a proposal to operate the park; and

Whereas through Resolution No. 817, introduced by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis in this House, acknowledged that Upper Clements Theme Park directly affects the lives of the people and businesses along the Evangeline Trail;

Therefore be it resolved that the government follow through on the resolution, demonstrate some basic common sense, and open the Upper Clements Theme Park bid to a reasonable time-frame to permit all eligible bidders to submit a detailed marketing proposal that will benefit the people in the area.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 919

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 December 1st is marked around the world as World AIDS Day, a day to focus attention on people living with HIV/AIDS as well as a day of remembrance for those who have died; and

Whereas this year's theme is, One World, One Hope, reflecting the fact that HIV/AIDS is a global issue affecting every country; and

Whereas virtually every community in the Province of Nova Scotia and every country in the world has been affected by HIV/AIDS;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with community-based AIDS organizations in Nova Scotia in calling on the federal government to renew support for the National AIDS Strategy in Canada and to step up support in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2606]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 920

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

Whereas the communities of Eastern Shore, Musquodoboit Valley and Musquodoboit Harbour have proven themselves as proactive and fiscally responsible managers of their region's health care delivery; and

Whereas the residents of said communities fear that designation of the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital and Musquodoboit Valley Home for Special Care will eliminate local participation in the planning and implementation of the region's health care delivery; and

Whereas in August of this year, the Minister of Health reiterated his commitment to community-based health care;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health put his words into action by allowing the area's community health board to develop a health care delivery plan for Musquodoboit Harbour, Sheet Harbour and the Musquodoboit Valley to be presented to the Central Regional Health Board for consideration, and that any changes to the plan made by the Central Regional Health Board will be done with full consultation of the affected communities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, today I rise to challenge the members of the House to become trailblazers. Now, many members may already put themselves in that category and today, I am asking you to put your money where your mouth is. Many of you may be aware

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of the Trans Canada Trail, it is a trail that will run from coast to coast and will promote activities like walking, cycling, horseback riding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

It started as a national dream, became a provincial concept and now we have an opportunity to make this important initiative a local reality throughout this province. That is how the members of this House and, indeed, all Nova Scotians can become involved.

We have over one million out-of-province visitors each year. We can expand our tourism potential with the expansion of these trails. We can give visitors yet another reason to visit a new and unique part of this beautiful province.

The land used for the trail will come from existing trails, where possible, federal and provincial parks, existing and abandoned railway lines and on private landholdings granting rights-of-way.

I am also pleased to advise members of the House that the Government of Nova Scotia has committed $82,500 to examine the feasibility of developing abandoned rail lines into recreational trails.

When completed, the Trans Canada Trail will be a national trail spanning more than 15,000 kilometres for the enjoyment of all Canadians. It will be financed by symbolically selling metres, showing here, of the trail to the public. (Interruption) Showing here. It is Friday, Mr. Speaker.

A donation of just $36 will make a metre of the trail happen. As a donor your name becomes a permanent part of this historic project in the area of your choosing. Funds will be raised to aid local communities with the trail's construction. The work has already begun here at home, of course.

On June 1, 1996, the first section of the trail was officially opened in Guysborough. Our trail will link with Newfoundland by the CN Ferry and will wind its way through the breathtaking beauty of Cape Breton Island before connecting with Guysborough County. The trail then flows to Colchester, where work is underway by the Salmon River Trail Committee in developing the trail between Tatamagouche through Truro along the scenic Musquodoboit Valley and into Halifax County. The provincial rail trail will then link the South Shore and the beautiful Annapolis Valley. Our trail will connect with New Brunswick's over the world's largest marshland, Tantramar Marsh in Cumberland County.

In my view, every member of this House has an obligation to help this trail wind its way through our respective constituencies. Volunteers have already been working extremely hard here at home to make this project a success. We can bolster their efforts by buying a metre, showing there, or more if you are so inclined. Brochures are now being distributed by the Pages so that you will have all the information you need to donate to this dream and to

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purchase your piece of this very important project. Brochures are also being distributed to the Press Gallery, when they arrive, because we know that the members of the media are always on the leading edge here in Nova Scotia.

In closing, I want to remind you that we have a chance to rise to the challenge and blaze this trail, constituency by constituency. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, if I may, I would like to do a very brief introduction of Mr. Jack Carruthers, who is the Chair of the Board of the Trans Canada Trail and a leader in this province of this project. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of this excellent initiative and I cannot help but observe that the minister who introduces the bill, in his capacity as the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission, certainly finds himself far more voluble this morning than he did yesterday as the Minister of Justice when he was not quite so excited with respect to speaking to the Opposition.

At any rate, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Trans Canada Trail, it is a concept which is tried and true in the United States, through the creation of the Appalachian Trail which some members of the House may have had the opportunity to travel. It also reflects the experience of the United Kingdom of a very sophisticated trail system throughout that country. On a smaller scale, we can see in both the United States and, in fact, in Bermuda, opportunities seized by local people with respect to turning former railroad lines into trails and here more recently in Nova Scotia, and I am pleased to remind the House, if indeed it needs reminding, that the very first rail line to be turned into a hiking-cycling trail was a rail line in my own constituency now known as Rails to Trails in Queens and any members who have not had the opportunity to enjoy it, I would welcome them to the constituency to participate in that.

I think it is appropriate that Canadians who have an interest in this kind of activity are invited to participate in funding the trail but I also believe that there is a role for government to play with respect to such a trail, particularly regarding regulatory regimes which are always necessary in order to protect the public and indeed to protect the natural environment through which the trails run. I would encourage all members and all Nova Scotians to give consideration to making a donation to the Trans Canada Trail. It is, I am sure, tax deductible and I hope that the government will be very aggressive in pursuing this opportunity in conjunction with the Trans Canada Trail organization and all Nova Scotian organizations as we endeavour to bring these new opportunities to Nova Scotians and to those who come to visit us. One must assume that the access to this trail will be toll free and that all Nova Scotians and all others will be able to visit and use it at no immediate cost to themselves. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is not always that we get the opportunity to stand up and respond so positively to an announcement that is being made in this Chamber. I certainly want to indicate through you, sir, to all members of the House, certainly to those who have worked very hard over many years, those who had the vision, those who had the dream, those who had the foresight, to work tirelessly over these many years to make sure that this announcement of today is, in fact, coming to fruition.

I do believe this is extremely positive and we certainly will be supporting it. You might call it the new Trans Canada Highway of a different sort. It is ironic in one sense, Mr. Speaker, that one of the consequences of the abandonment of the rail lines which hurt so many of the communities in Nova Scotia, businesses, as well as individuals across Nova Scotia are now going to be benefitting and I am pleased to see that those abandoned rail lines are going to be put to a very healthy and a very useful public use in these trails. I certainly would like to see the rail line still in operation in most cases but I am pleased that if they are not, that those lines are going to be used in this manner.

I cannot also help but compare this, Mr. Speaker, with, for example, the casinos that we had foisted upon the Province of Nova Scotia. Certainly we know and all kinds of studies that have been done have shown that one of the strengths of Nova Scotia, one of the primary reasons why people visit our beautiful province is because of what we have to offer in terms of scenery, what we have to offer in terms of the friendly people and so on around this province. Eco-tourism is one area that is on the rise, it is growing and I think that by offering this as well as, and my primary concern, I must confess right up front, is to have these trails available for Nova Scotians, because Nova Scotians are becoming, and we are encouraging people all the time to have more active lifestyles. One of the difficulties is often, where do people go to have those active lifestyles. Where can you go for those long walks by yourself or with your family or with your friends? Where can you go cross-country skiing? Where can you go cycling and so on? This is going to provide an excellent opportunity, but that is also the kind of thing that will attract people to our province; to come to see what we have to offer.

[9:45 a.m.]

So, I think, and I think that the records will show in time, that this will have far more of a positive impact in attracting people to come to our province, to visit us, than the casinos have which certainly were a flop in that regard, Mr. Speaker, as we know, that they certainly instead of being a healthy lifestyle enhancement for us, instead of them really being doing anything to attract people, that certainly failed to come to fruition. I have every confidence that the Trails for Canada will have a far more positive impact here in Nova Scotia.

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So, again, I thank the minister for making his announcement here today. I especially, on behalf of my caucus, want to extend our great appreciation and thanks to those who have worked, and there have been many, over the years to make sure that their vision actually came to fruition and they deserve the thanks and the accolades from all Nova Scotians for all of their tireless work over these years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It has been the practice in this place, for ministers in advance of making statements in this House, to provide a copy of the statement to the Opposition benches. This morning, the minister provided a folder that is published by the Trans Canada Trail Organization. It was after he made a statement that he managed to come across to the Opposition benches and provide us with a copy of it.

I would ask the Government House Leader if he would be kind enough to ensure that the ministers, who he directs in these affairs, provide such copies in advance of the statement being made and not after the fact.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 35, and on your behalf I would be pleased to move second reading of that bill.

Bill No. 35 - Université Sainte-Anne Act/Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

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MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I just simply want to rise, as an alumnus of this distinguished university, to say that I very much support the (Interruptions) substance of Bill No. 35. Upon it being it introduced by yourself, back on May 17, 1996, you will be aware from communications between the two of us and my communications with senior university officials, I wanted to be sure that each of the changes being made to the legislation which governs the life and the activity of that extremely important and increasingly important university was, in fact, or that the proposed changes, had been reviewed by appropriate student organizations, alumni organizations, board and senate, and you and they were able to assure me that they were.

My reading of the legislation is that the changes made strengthen the administration and the board composition, and the board structure, and augur well for even more effective work by l'Université Sainte-Anne. I simply want to, for the record, let it be known that I very much support the changes and wish the university continued growth and success for many years to come. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I envy the former speaker for having been an alumnus of Université Sainte-Anne. I say that and, really, I rise to indicate that certainly we are in support of the amendments that are contained in the legislation before us and we certainly are in full support of that going on to the Private and Local Bills Committee.

Another reason I rise at this time is to put a plug in through you, Mr. Speaker, because there was a time when there was an opportunity and there used to be programs that were sponsored where members - of course, did pay, but - were sponsored at Université Sainte-Anne so that members of this House could go down and receive some French immersion training. The reason I am standing, as well, is to put a plug in for maybe it would be time and that there might be interest among members of the House who did not have an opportunity to do that before or who maybe need a refresher course, to have such a program in the future. I know that those who are the alumnus, like the former speaker, who attended, benefited a great deal from that and I just wanted to take the opportunity, publicly, to put in a plug that if such a course could be arranged in the future, maybe many members of this House would not only participate but would also find it extremely beneficial.

I think that anything we can do to try to improve some of our rusty - if you could ever have called some of it skills, but our - knowledge, to improve that so that we could converse and better understand the two languages (Interruption) I have enough trouble, the minister says, in one and I often agree with him. But I just wanted to say, Mr. Speaker, that I had to get that plug in and we will definitely be supporting this bill. It is an excellent university and those who have been managing the board and the staff have a lot to be proud of, as do the graduates who have gone through that excellent university. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 35. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 37.

Bill No. 37 - River John Voluntary Fire Department Dissolution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the River John Fire Department which have asked me to table this bill, I am very pleased to move second reading. The bill is quite straightforward; they want to come under the Societies Act. As I say, at their request, I am pleased to move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 37. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 38, and in the absence of the member I so move second reading.

Bill No. 38 - Lunenburg Street Closing and Location Act, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 38. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 39, and I would move second reading.

Bill No. 39 - Bridgewater Curling Club Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill. I had promised my colleague, the member for Lunenburg West, that I would use whatever small influence I might have with our caucus to ensure its speedy passage. I know that he has undertaken in-depth research with respect to this bill; he is fully knowledgeable of its entire content and that he has the full support of the Bridgewater Curling Club which had available to it very considerable expertise with respect to its solicitor. I urge all members to give speedy approval to this measure.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 39. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 40, and I would move second reading.

Bill No. 40 - Yarmouth County Historical Society Financial Assistance Act.

Bill No. 42 - Victorian Order of Nurses Act.

Bill No. 46 - Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church Corporation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[9:57 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[10:38 a.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 14 - Occupiers' Liability Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment; and also begs leave to sit again.

MADAM SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read for a third time on a future day.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 44.

Bill No. 44 - Dalhousie-Technical University Amalgamation Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and address an Act to Amalgamate The Governors of Dalhousie College and University and the Technical University of Nova Scotia as Dalhousie University.

Madam Speaker, while I have the honour of bringing this bill forward, I would ask members of this House to join in congratulating the Premier for making this historic partnership a public policy priority. (Applause) It was the actions and leadership of the

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Premier, working with my colleague the former Minister of Education and Culture, President Traves and President Rhodes that resulted in this historic bill.

When the Premier announced these plans in April he said, "Advanced and technical education in research and a strong institute of applied science and technology are fundamental cornerstones of the economy and the future of the Province of Nova Scotia.". The Premier's vision, shared by the presidents, is to build a centre of excellence with these cornerstones as the foundation to propel the economy and our province into the 21st Century. This really speaks to the heart of the legislation and is reflected in the preamble, and the principles of the bill support this central purpose.

Building on the strength of two great institutions, first this legislation is about bringing together the strengths of what are already two great institutions and creating something even better. Both Dalhousie and TUNS have so much for which to be proud in their individual histories. So much success to build on that the amalgamated university will be second to none in Canada and we believe, Madam Speaker, second to none in the world.

The universities have already been closely involved with the province in helping to attract new industry to Nova Scotia, including Newbridge Networks, Keane Software and Cisco Systems. Bringing the resources, research and expertise of these two great institutions together will act as a magnet for even more business and industry. This means new jobs, new wealth and greater economic activity here in Nova Scotia.

If I can borrow words from President Traves, he said we are already seeing the strategic value of this amalgamation. Together we are more competitive in advanced education and research and can enhance opportunities for students and for the citizens of this province.

Dr. Rhodes similarly shared words of optimism two days ago when the bill was tabled. He said this amalgamation will enable us to better serve current and future generations of students who wish to pursue advanced technical education in Nova Scotia. TUNS looks forward to an exciting future within the amalgamated university.

Dr. Rhodes' words reinforce another important principle in this legislation. The legislation will make TUNS a constituent part of Dalhousie as a college with faculties of computer science, engineering and architecture. So TUNS will very much live on as a college, building on its tremendous history with a very exciting future. Its students will be served by even better programs and educational experiences and services. They will be trained and educated in areas that will lead to jobs and they will help to support the economic growth of our province.

While the benefits to the institution and the province are critical, students are at the very heart of every university and the benefits for students for present and future generations are great. First, Dal and TUNS want to build enrolments to allow more students to take

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advantage of learning activities at this new centre of excellence. Computer science and education will be greatly strengthened as a result of the amalgamation. All students will have access to a wider range of academic offerings.

Then there are the practical benefits, Madam Speaker. For example, in engineering students will now be able to complete their degrees in four years instead of five. This brings the engineering program in line with other engineering faculties in North America, while allowing students to save a year's worth of tuition and enter the workplace and begin earning their livings a year sooner.

Most significantly, this legislation is guided by a shared vision and a vision based on partnership. As one partner the province will be investing new funding in the future of this institution and thereby in the future of this province. Money alone will not mean success for this institution. The answer is leadership and hard work. First and foremost, I want to publicly commend and thank Dr. Ted Rhodes and Dr. Tom Traves for leading this partnership. Through their vision and commitment they will make the rest of the country and the world take notice of what an amalgamated university - this amalgamated university - is about to accomplish.

I also want to thank the students, the faculty, the administration for working together to help shape the future. While there is an excitement on the campuses about the unlimited potential of this amalgamation, transitions, even for the best of reasons, bring about change, questions and concerns. Everyone at both campuses is to be congratulated for their patience and commitment to finding solutions together, Madam Speaker.

Another principle of the legislation supports this. To ensure that employees are treated fairly the labour relations provisions in the bill are consistent with previous amalgamation legislation. As of April 1, 1997, people working both at Dalhousie and TUNS will become employees of the amalgamated university. The legislation also includes protection of seniority, continuity of service, successor rights and other benefits to ensure that employees are treated fairly.

[10:45 a.m.]

As well, TUNS employees who now participate in the Public Service Superannuation Plan will be able to continue in that plan or have the option to join the Dalhousie plan for future service after April 1998. It will be their choice, Madam Speaker.

Most importantly, however, Dalhousie and TUNS are consulting with union and employee group representatives and they will continue to do so. This commitment to partnership, this commitment to working together within the institutions, while reaching out to community partners, returns us to the central purpose of the legislation. Again, we have

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a shared vision to build the best computer science information technology and engineering centre anywhere in the world.

Madam Speaker, with that I beg leave to move second reading of the Dalhousie- Technical University Amalgamation Act and an historic bill that will help achieve these benefits for students, for the institution, and for the economy and the future of Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to offer remarks here on second reading relative to Bill No. 44. I was struck by the language used by the Minister of Education and Culture. It is clear from the words that he used that he believes a new day is dawning and great things are ahead as a result of this amalgamation and I don't have any hesitation in saying that I hope everything he said is absolutely accurate and comes to pass.

The question of an amalgamation, as between Dalhousie University and the Technical University of Nova Scotia, has been the subject of discussion for a very considerable time. I remember as far back as maybe even 20 years, even before I was (Interruption) Well, even before 1982 I can remember discussions about the possibility of some kind of even a sharing of programming, let alone amalgamations and mergers, and there was practically riot and insurrection in the streets at that time because the alumni association particularly, if I recall correctly, the alumni association at TUNS just simply said we are not having anything to do with this deal.

So it has come a long way and it is representative of an attitudinal change. The fact that we are here debating this bill is representative as much of an attitudinal change on the part of the men and women who are the alumni and the institutional leaders at the two institutions as it represents any particular expert activity or action on the part of anybody connected with the government.

The legislation is interesting. It says in Clause 3(4)(a), "the amalgamated university is not an agent of Her Majesty . . .", and that is relevant in the context of the employment circumstances at present of people at TUNS. It says further, there is a principle established, Mr. Speaker, in Clause 3(4)(b), "a person employed or engaged by the amalgamated university is not an officer, servant or agent of Her Majesty in right of the Province.". Then, interestingly enough, and perhaps when he closes the minister might just walk us through this, it goes on to say - and maybe I am in the wrong section here now; I do make mistakes - the bill establishes the principle in Clause 9, ". . . the Labour Standards Code does not apply to a period of employment that an employee was credited with as an employee of Dalhousie or the Technical University immediately before April 1, 1997.".

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In Clause 10 they then talked about the Dalhousie Plan, meaning the Dalhousie University Staff Pension Plan; an "'employee' means an employee of the Technical University who immediately before April 1, 1997, was an employee within the meaning of the Public Service Superannuation Act;". The employees at TUNS are, in effect, in the Civil Service Plan.

In Clause 10(2) on Page 4, what I am not really comfortable that I understand is that it appears that until March 31, 1988, each employee, and I think the reference there is a reference to an employee who today is employed at TUNS, Clause 10(2)(a) ". . . is deemed to continue to be a person employed in the public service of the Province for all purposes of the Public Service Superannuation Act and service in the employment of the University . . .". If I may say so, just by way of editorial comment for the minister's future benefit, when we go to Law Amendments Committee, I think the word amalgamated should probably appear in front of "University" there. I may be mistaken but I think it should, then, ". . . is deemed to be service in the public service of the Province;".

So for a year, this is all supposed to happen April 1, 1997, but then up until including March 31, 1998, Mr. Speaker, the employees who are at present, or through that period of time employees at TUNS, still in the Public Service Superannuation Fund, the amalgamated university is going to deduct from their salaries the amount required by the Governor in Council to be deducted from the salary of that employee and pay that to the Minister of Finance.

At the same time, and in relation to the same employee, in Clause 10(2)(c), ". . . where by the Public Service Superannuation Act a matching payment is directed to be made into the Fund by the Government or the Minister of Finance or where by that Act a superannuation allowance or other sum is directed to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund . . .", the amalgamated university, through that period up until March 1998, is going to have to write that cheque and not the Province of Nova Scotia.

I am a little bit uncertain as to the logic there, as to why the deduction made by the amalgamated university from the employee is going to the Minister of Finance and the matching contribution is the obligation of the amalgamated university up to and including March 1998. There may be a very reasonable and sensible explanation which will indicate that I have missed an important point here and that might well be possible.

I note that while the participation is still in the Public Service Superannuation Fund, the deduction, the employer's side of the contribution is coming through that time-frame from the university and not from the government. I wonder if the minister might just walk me through that when he closes, as to just how and why that arrangement is in place?

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The effect, from an administrative academic program offering environment or point of view, in relation to this legislation, Mr. Speaker, appears to result in the following; that the two universities amalgamate and they amalgamate in a manner whereby they agree, through the terms and provisions of this legislation, that they will create a College of Applied Science and Technology, devoted to the advancement of technical education and research. I should have mentioned that the real estate and right, title and interest of both Dalhousie and TUNS in any real estate or personal property is vested in the amalgamated university. The newly designed board of the amalgamated university has control of the real estate which prior to amalgamation was owned by both of the institutions and each inherits the other's obligations and liabilities so that there is truly the one university entity.

Once amalgamated, the new amalgamated university is intended and mandated by this legislation to Clause 5(1), ". . . create a College of applied science and technology devoted to the advancement of technical education and research.". Clause 5(2), it ". . . shall be an academic unit of the amalgamated university, bearing a unique name, having a College Board and an Academic Council, and headed by a Principal.". I would ask if the minister when he closes might let me and others know whether or not it is intended that the academic council is, in fact, or in effect, to function as a senate in relation to the college which is to be established?

I note that, Clause 5(4), "The Board of Governors of the amalgamated university shall prescribe the terms of reference of the College Board and the Principal. (5) Subject to the approval of the Board of Governors of the amalgamated university, the Senate of the amalgamated university shall prescribe the terms of reference of the Academic Council.". I guess on one point I read the legislation and I say all right, we have a college, it has a college board, it has an academic council, and it has a principal. Then I thought to myself, fine, the academic council of that college shall then function not unlike the way in which a university senate functions. Then I go over and find there is a further principle established whereby Clause 5(5), ". . . the Senate of the amalgamated university shall prescribe the terms of reference of the Academic Council.".

So I take it from that and would appreciate if the minister when he closes might either clarify that I am right or indicate the way in which perhaps I am wrong, that the academic council of this new college to be established as a result of this legislation will, in terms of academic issues, be beholden to approvals from the senate of the amalgamated university and the direction and orders and edicts which can be issued by the senate of the amalgamated university are, in turn, subject to the approval of the board of governors of the amalgamated university. Just so I clearly have the pecking orders and the lines of authority clear, I would appreciate it if when the minister closes he might clarify that for me?

I note that the bill purports to espouse the principle that effective the operative date of its inception, namely April 1, 1997, ". . . every employee of Dalhousie and the Technical University becomes an employee of the amalgamated university, the employment and seniority

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of each employee . . ." of the two universities shall be ". . . deemed to be employment and seniority with the amalgamated university, and the continuity of employment and seniority is not broken.". I wonder when he closes, again, if the minister might advise as to whether or not he has any reason to believe that there are trade union or labour union difficulties still outstanding?

I have had conflicting information reach me, some of it, frankly, saying no, all of the discussions have been held and effectively so, and there are very few if any hitches or glitches in regard to the labour relations-trade union side of this whole issue. But I have had others communicate with me in recent days who have left me with a little bit of concern that those issues are not fully addressed. We have the Law Amendments Committee process ahead of us in the next few days which will help us address those issues and enable those who have views in relation to them to put them forward, but if the minister could help in that regard, I would appreciate that clarification from him?

[11:00 a.m.]

I note that current employees of the amalgamated university have the right to make an election; more to the point, those who are members of the Public Service Superannuation Pension have the right to make an election. I guess I am reading it correctly that the principle is that they have to make that election on or before March 31, 1998 and if they do not make an election to become members of the Dalhousie Plan, they will continue to function and carry their rights and obligations under the Nova Scotia Public Service Superannuation Plan. In the discussion that I have had with others, it appears that opportunity for that election is a popular provision as far as the employees of the institutions are concerned and a helpful one.

Having said those things, there are some technical, logistical, drafting, legal language questions and I have raised a few of those and I would appreciate some help from the minister in that regard. I think I could, without any hesitation, share his view that there is very, very real potential - very, very real potential - not only for world-class academic work to be done here as a result of this amalgamation but there is, I trust, and I see language which seems to allude to it but I don't know that I really see it as forcefully in the document as I might hope and that is, when I read the mission statement, "WHEREAS the mission of the Technical University of Nova Scotia is to contribute to the development of Nova Scotia by providing high quality education, research and community and industry collaboration . . .; AND WHEREAS the strengthening of computer science . . .", and the like, ". . . and research and a strong college or institute of applied science . . . are fundamental to and cornerstones of the economy and the future of Nova Scotia; AND WHEREAS the public benefits of advanced technical education and research, as well as provincial economic renewal, can be advanced by an amalgamation . . . AND WHEREAS with a view to accomplishing these objects . . .". Bingo, here we have this legislation.

[Page 2621]

I would have hoped, honestly, that there would be a stronger and a more precise statement that forces the work of the college to be established as a result of this piece of legislation to have as its - well, I was almost going to say, its principal preoccupation - but to state in even stronger words than are stated here in the mission statement that with the support of the government of the Province of Nova Scotia and the private sector of the Province of Nova Scotia, that the underlying fundamental, day-to-day work ethic activity and sentiment around this new college is, how do we translate into dollars and cents, how do we translate into jobs and the creation of new wealth the things we do here at this new college? I think that is what the preamble in those recitals, the Whereas and And Whereases is intended to do but I know that the minister is a pretty good wordsmith and I am sure that he could find even stronger language to say to the world that if you want to deal with a place that has world-class architecture, computer science, and engineering activity and you want to engage in those sophisticated disciplines with a view to commercializing the activity at the end of the day, I would like to urge the minister to consider some perhaps even stronger language which says that.

Now my final comment, Mr. Speaker, is simply this. The minister alluded to it in his remarks as he moved second reading and he said that the province will be investing new funding and I wonder if the minister will, when he closes debate, give us a little bit of a sense of the way in which that funding will be made available and indeed perhaps even the nature and extent of that funding because there is a reference here - and typical of me, I have lost it again - in the legislation which I read the other day which prompted me to wonder on exactly that question.

We have seen, and I am not going to say these things by way of criticism, I believe them to be true, I believe that they are areas in which the government can and should be criticized and I have and some others have, but we have seen that the amalgamation of the school boards of the Province of Nova Scotia has resulted in greater administrative costs and it has been at the expense of the young people in the classrooms. The Minister of Education and Culture may dismiss that and not agree with that and his predecessor may not agree with that but I am standing in front of them both saying that I believe it to be true. (Interruption) I believe it to be true, yes I do. (Interruptions) I believe it to be true and I am greatly . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: . . . comforted, Mr. Speaker, in the knowledge that my belief that it is true is supported by the school boards association, by the individual school boards of the Province of Nova Scotia and 99.9 per cent of the poor beleaguered classroom teachers to whom I have spoken over the last many months who, frankly, are having an increasingly difficult time doing what we ask them to do, namely encourage an interest in learning in the young people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2622]

So these two ministers can pooh-pooh by comments if they wish and suggest that they don't hold water and are not true. It is true. The amalgamation of the school boards perpetrated by the previous Minister of Education has resulted in less effective work in the classrooms of the Province of Nova Scotia, in hundreds of those classrooms and far greater administrative expense at the school board levels.

My question here, in the context of the post-secondary education system, dealing with two of the province's most significant post-secondary education institutions, both of which sit in my riding, I want to ask this minister - and I expect an answer and I expect that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia want an answer and more to the point, I and the taxpayers deserve an answer - I want to know, and they want to know, what kind of new Nova Scotia Government, more to the point, what kind of new taxpayers' money is going to be required to be dedicated to this amalgamated university to make it possible for all of the flowery words which were spoken by the Minister of Education and Culture when he opened up debate on second reading here, to actually come to pass? If there is not sufficient commitment of the taxpayers' money - it is not the government's money, it is the taxpayers' money - to make happen what is intended to happen by Bill No. 44, there is only one other place from which it can come and that is out of the back pocket of the already poor, beleaguered student whose tuition is at far too high a level at the present time.

So I ask those questions not in any way, shape or form to be argumentative but simply to say that any responsible Minister of Education and Culture would and should gladly and fully and precisely outline to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia what will the new cost be to the provincial Treasury in making it possible for the objects to be met by Bill No. 44, actually to be met and pursued in an appropriate fashion.

So I would hope and I would plead with the Minister of Education and Culture that when he closes debate here at second reading on Bill No. 44, he would say to us with some degree of precision, Mr. Speaker, just what kind of new money and new funding is required to make this happen.

In light of the yawns that I hear from the other side, it appears that the attention span of some has just about been exhausted. My thoughts on the issue for the moment have just about been exhausted, so we are coming to a mutually convenient time for me to resume my place. So I leave it at the moment on that basis.

Those are some of my concerns about Bill No. 44. I sincerely hope that the minister who, in the past, has been cooperative in an attempt to respond to certain issues raised on second reading, will, in fact, do so when he closes debate here on this bill a little bit later. So I will leave it at that and take my place and afford the opportunity for others to offer views on second reading. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2623]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill to amalgamate TUNS and Dalhousie. I understand, as most Nova Scotians do, that there has been an effort by the government to build and consolidate, and make more effective, universities in this province.

The first thing that I want to say about the bill is that our Party has not heard, to this point, any concerns about Clause 7 and Clause 8. Clause 7 addresses the employees of the amalgamated university and says that ". . . the employment and seniority of each employee with Dalhousie and the Technical University is deemed to be employment and seniority with the amalgamated university, . . .". Mr. Speaker, as I said, our Party has not, to date, heard any expressions of concern.

Again, with Clause 8, which addresses the Trade Union Act and successor rights and points out that ". . . the amalgamated university and persons previously employed by Dalhousie or the Technical University Nova Scotia who are covered by collective agreements, are bound by the collective agreements as if the amalgamated university were a party to them.".

I do say, though, that along with the member for Halifax Citadel, I agree that if there are parties with concerns that there is an opportunity for people to come forward, when the bill gets to Law Amendments Committee, in order to point out any concerns that employees and workers may have with the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I was glad to see in the bill provision for five years of reporting on the amalgamation. I know the member for Halifax Citadel registered concerns about the cost of an amalgamation; amalgamations do seem to cost money in this province. I was glad to see that the bill does contain a provision for five years of reporting, five years of annual implementation reports on the costs and other aspects of the amalgamation of the Technical University of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie University. I think it is fair to the taxpayers to know whether, in the end, this amalgamation among others is a costly one to the taxpayers.

[11:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to also say something in support of a clause which is perhaps more symbolic than anything else. The current students at the Technical University of Nova Scotia will be allowed to graduate in the name of the university at which they registered. I think this may sound like a minor thing, but to those students who go there and have identified themselves with their university and who definitely are looking forward to receiving what I understand are their iron rings, those students will want to be a part of the university at which they started. It sounds like a small thing but I think it is an important clause for those students

[Page 2624]

who are in attendance at the university and who have feelings of attachment and loyalty to the university that they attended when they began their studies there.

There is one thing I want to talk about, though, that I think perhaps is a little bit more serious, a little bit more reflective of this government's approach to education. I want to just read from the minister's statement, Mr. Speaker. The minister said this morning when he introduced the bill, "Bringing the resources, research and expertise of these two great institutions together will act as a magnet for even more business and industry. This means new jobs, new wealth and greater economic activity here in Nova Scotia.". Mr. Speaker, it would be foolish not to hope along with the government that this is true and I do sincerely hope that it is true. It moves our focus, perhaps, from the nature of this amalgamation between TUNS and Dalhousie.

What we have here, Mr. Speaker, is a university of applied science, I think it is fair to say, amalgamating with a university of what might have been in the old days called a liberal education. A university which has many departments, all of which whether in the arts or the sciences, attempt to do what might be called pure research. Pure research is research that you do before you know the value of it. Research over history, over the past 500 years, has often made discoveries that are of no immediate significant value to the society or business or industry at that particular moment. Pure science is about that. That is what pure science is about. It is about discovering things that are not immediately useful. Universities, whether in the arts or the sciences do attempt, and they are probably the only place in society where this goes on. Universities explore, experiment, read, study, discuss and write the results of research that is not instantly, or even immediately or even in the short term useful to society. It often remains for society after a period of time to evolve to the point where the pure research that has been discovered or explored can become useful to business or industry or consumers or to people generally in their homes, in their workplaces and in their lives.

So, Mr. Speaker, I guess what I am trying to say here is that we have here the amalgamation of an institution of applied research. We have a joining hands with, if you like, an institution of pure research and we have a focus in this government and a tendency in this government to 'businessize', if you like, 'and short-termize' and generally look for the instant political value of things and I don't think that this applies in the case of universities. What I am saying is this, I think this is a good marriage, it is a joining of institutions that will continue to serve Nova Scotians in this province.

I think it is fair to remember and we should remember when we support this bill, the characterization of what it is we are joining together here and to keep in mind the value, not just of computer sciences or technological research that is of immediate impact to some industry whether it is Newbridge Networks, Keane Software or Cisco Systems but to recall the true value of a university historically and, perhaps even more importantly, in the present day.

[Page 2625]

I hope that this amalgamation will not blind people on the government side or anywhere else to the true value of an historical institution like Dalhousie and like so many institutions in this province, most of which I have attended in my youth, whether it be Acadia, Saint Francis Xavier, whatever university it may be in Nova Scotia which has contributed to the philosophical capacity, the social science capacity, the ethical capacity, the economic capacity of Nova Scotians to understand and interpret their lives in this particular corner of the world. I speak passionately and strongly in favour of our memories about what it is that Dalhousie and other universities have brought to us. I hope we don't become short-sighted and obsessed when we speak about universities as if there were only one goal for a university and that goal is to gallop off into quick partnerships with business in order to raise a few quick dollars here or there.

Mr. Speaker, I support this bill as far as the workers and employees of Dalhousie and TUNS appear to support it. I support its sensitivity to the current students of the Technical University of Nova Scotia. I support the intelligent notion of implementation reports so that the people of this province can look and see what the fine details of the costs and anything else related to it were. I also urge this caution about this kind of 'businessizing' tendency of government so that we don't lose sight of the value to the whole population, not just to the economic bottom line.

Nova Scotians are not widgets or consumer indicators and if you come from northeastern Nova Scotia as I did, you have an almost instinctive and a gut level understanding of the enrichment and the value of education or all sorts. I heard on the radio this morning that the students from the Coady Institute were down in Margaree Forks and they were touring the home of Moses Coady, the home he grew up in. When I grew up in Antigonish and knew people who went regularly out into the communities as some distance from my home to carry on the goals of this kind of movement, it became clear to me that the goal of education, Mr. Speaker, was not simply to make profits, but to enrich our lives in philosophical, ethical, scientific, historical and many other ways.

So I would take this opportunity when talking on this bill to urge the government to tone down its rhetoric, if it is rhetoric, about business and universities when it is appropriate to do that, and to look realistically and sincerely at the value of the university, not just to the bottom line, but to the social, cultural and economic fabric of each and every person in this province. With that point, Mr. Speaker, I think I will sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I promise that I shan't detain the House long. This is an interesting piece of legislation when one looks at it from an historical perspective. Dalhousie has, again, a reputation over the past century and one-half of a kind of academic imperialism, seeking from time to time, from the middle of the 1800's forward to very recent

[Page 2626]

times, to gobble up other academic institutions in Nova Scotia. The historical record will bear me out on that.

In the beginning of this century, the University of King's College, which then was based in Windsor, opened a mining school in Cape Breton. Dalhousie, in exercising its usual highly competitive nature, decided that it, too, would open a mining school. So the two mining schools were in competition for resources that were at least as scarce then as resources are to academic institutions today. The consequence was that both institutions finally were prevailed upon to understand that there was only room for one such institution in Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Technical College was born out of those two early institutions. The Nova Scotia Technical College, of course, is now known to us as the Technical University of Nova Scotia.

Dalhousie now is involved by this bill, if it passes, in a merger of the Technical University of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie. We will all be watching very carefully to try to determine whether in fact this is a marriage of two equal partners who will share the matrimonial property each of them brings with them on an equal basis, to see if TUNS is an equal partner with Dalhousie in this new arrangement, or if, as one would hope would not be the case, TUNS comes to be swallowed up in what some would call the black hole of Dalhousie.

So we find here, at the end of the century, Dalhousie appears to be accomplishing what it set out to do at the beginning of the century, and that is to absorb, totally within itself, the provision of professional engineering education in Nova Scotia. One can only wish both institutions well as they move forward into this marriage. One can only hope that it will be more than a marriage of convenience and, indeed, that it will be a marriage which will ensure that the interests, which have been so well attended by the Technical University of Nova Scotia, will continue to be well attended in the new arrangement which will see these two enter into this final and ultimate agreement.

We will be interested to see what the reaction to this is as time passes by and, indeed, I am sure that other institutions in Nova Scotia, in particular, will watch this merger to determine what the relationship is between those who enter into it and to determine how, at a future date, mergers are suggested between the now larger Dalhousie and those other universities, just whether or not such mergers do, in fact, result in partnerships, or something less than that, which would not, in the view of many, be desirable for post-secondary education here in Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2627]

[11:30 a.m.]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't really intended to speak on this bill until I listened to the fluff of the Minister of Education when he introduced the bill. That prompted me to at least decide that I wanted to get up and make a few remarks.

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate, as my colleague did beforehand, that certainly I believe a great deal of credit goes to the chief and principal architects in bringing together the legislation. If one listened to the remarks from the Minister of Education, one might almost assume that there was like a bolt of lightening, a spray of light around the Premier and, all of a sudden, all of the insights and all of the processes came to fruition as a result of that great and wise wisdom. Well, I don't happen to share that creative view of history, as put forward by the Minister of Education.

I do say that there has been, and I can remember even while I was back, it seems like another life ago, but when I was enjoying some of my most enjoyable days, a few years ago (Interruptions) More than five. (Interruptions) Well, I don't know that they won the Vanier Cup back then, but back in the university days, even while I was a student attending Dalhousie University and I look back - as I am sure some others who have graduated through this great university, as well as TUNS, look back - very fondly at my years spent at that university. One certainly looks back very fondly not only at what one gained in terms of knowledge and education in the classroom and the discussions in the classrooms, but also certainly there were other things as well.

The social aspects of university were a great deal of fun, I can assure members, but I won't get into those here today, but also all of the other informal discussions that go on in such a learning environment, the times when you are sitting, whether that be in the Student Building or when you are just out in some other venue or whatever, having those kinds of discussions where you get those with a whole host of different perspectives. (Interruption) I am glad we have a serious Minister of Education. But bringing those together, in terms of the discussions that go on, and the learning experiences that are going to be with you and enrich your life for so long.

You know, Mr. Speaker, I am raising this, in part, again because of, and my colleague made reference to this, that has to do with the preamble that is at the front of the bill. I don't question for a moment, for one second, the importance of strengthening our computer sciences, our information technologies, our engineering, advanced technical education and research. I don't question that at all; that is vital, that is crucial, it is important. Those kinds of skills, those kinds of knowledge are going to be very important not only in some of what we think are the so-called high-tech businesses or trades, but that is now spreading the technology into many aspects of our life. We have laptops going in here at the present time.

[Page 2628]

Well, that is more than knowing what a program is, that means if you are going to be using things efficiently, you have to know what advantages, how this technology can be used. It is not just the program.

Technology is getting into our lives all over the place. That is important, we have to build on that. We already have at TUNS an excellent reputation and we have many excellent programs. We also have many excellent programs at Dalhousie that are involved in this areas. It makes some sense. As I started before, talking about back in the Dark Ages when I was at university, even then there was quite considerable cooperation between these two very formidable institutions. So the marriage, the melding, the amalgamation of the two makes significant sense.

What I am getting at here is in the preamble and I say this in an attempt not to be confrontational but to be helpful, hopefully, to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. Maybe the minister would like to consider, and I am not going to try here on the floor of the House to write it, but another whereas clause, something that would be acknowledging the other aspects of the learning environments that go on in the universities. Universities are not just simply, have not been in the past and I hope people in this House would not believe that the universities' sole job is to turn out those widgets for use by industry. Yes, we have to provide the skills and the training but there are all kinds of social sciences and training that go on in those universities as well. I would not like to think that we are going to lose sight of the importance of those social sciences. They are extremely important.

I don't know that the minister's educational background and training, but I know the minister has experience in the public school system and university. I don't think that the minister has an engineering or technical background, I think the minister's training - and I could be wrong - is in the area of social sciences. If I am right in that, which I think I am, the minister himself will know that is also an important part of the educational activities of a university and it is a very vitally important part that we maintain and recognize and acknowledge.

That kind of knowledge also spreads out into the community. It may not be as useful in designing a computer program or saying how you are going to be transforming the natural gas offshore into some kind of a value-added finished product, but it can have significant effects on the lives of Nova Scotians, if people are being trained in learning in sociology, psychology, in the arts and literature, so that they can be enriching the lives and social experiences, cultural understanding, cultural awarenesses, so that we can better understand each other and live in better harmony together. Those are also crucially important parts of the kinds of discussions and kinds of training that go on within our post-secondary educational institutions. I think the minister would agree with that.

[Page 2629]

So all I am saying here is that I would like the minister to give some kind of consideration to an acknowledgement of that as also an important part to remain in the universities. This is my own personal bent, my own personal opinion. I tend to be of the view that even those who are taking a very specialized type of education, I am one of those who believes still in some of the generalist types of training, I believe that those who are taking engineering, those who are taking applied sciences, those who are taking computer sciences should also have exposure. I am not talking about many courses, but I think that they should have some kind of exposure required for course selection in the social science area as well. That helps them to understand the greater society and that then can have very positive impacts I would suggest as well for whatever businesses or industries they may be working for in the future. That was one of the major things that I wanted to bring up.

The second one is in way of a question really more than anything else to the minister. There is right now a union between Dalhousie University and Kings College. Maybe when the minister is wrapping up he could indicate how or if at all this will have any kind of an impact upon the balance or relationship in the agreement between Dalhousie-Kings in the arrangement with the Technical University of Nova Scotia or if the kind of thing that is being talked about here for TUNS would really make that, I don't want to say the same as, but if it is the kind of a parallel-type of merger or arrangement as you have with Dalhousie-Kings.

Kings College, of course, still does maintain its name and those who graduate from Kings College receive a degree which I believe states it is a Dalhousie University degree but they are considered to be and they are registered at Kings College. I am wondering if that same kind of an arrangement is anticipated with TUNS.

The other area that I want to talk about briefly has to do with the whole idea of savings. One of the unfortunate realities here in Nova Scotia is that we have some of the highest, if not the highest, tuition rates in the country. Students who are attending our universities have the highest tuition rates in the country. That means that accessibility is restricted for many of those and is becoming increasingly restricted for those who are not fortunate enough to come from the economic background or an economic situation where they can get the degree of financial support from their family to enable them to go.

People say that students can get student loans. Well, they can't always get students loans and sometimes, and I know I have had this situation before, where some families are told if your child is to go to university they are expected to contribute x numbers of dollars towards that child's university education on the basis of the family income. That is fine to say that but some families because of the debt load that they have don't feel they are able to contribute that amount of money to their children's education or in some cases and I have had experiences of this, the family says no, I helped that child until they were 19 years of age and I am not going to contribute towards university, if they want to go they can pay for it themselves.

[Page 2630]

We have had situations where students want to go on, they have a dream, they have aspirations as to what they want to do with their life that requires post-secondary education but are unable to go because they were unable to get the student loans and the families were unwilling, in some cases to contribute towards their education. I am not saying that is a general rule by any stretch of the imagination but I have come across that situation.

Tuition fees, every time they are ratcheted up, every time they increase, and they have been going up rapidly, that means it is less and less accessible for many countless Nova Scotians and increasingly so if you take a look at the average wage in Nova Scotia and under the Liberal Government we are increasingly turning into a low wage economy. Many of the industries and businesses being attracted by this government or coming in here are paying low wages. The lower the wages the less ability for the children of those who are employed in these low wage jobs the less ability they have to be able to go to university.

[11:45 a.m.]

So when we are talking about amalgamation, I want to have a very clear indication from the government in terms of what the actual savings really are going to be. The have not been very successful in their predictions to date. I have, maybe, a little more confidence in this one in that this one seems to be driven by the universities who have done the work, rather than being imposed upon them directly from the government, Mr. Speaker.

We saw the amalgamation of the municipalities in Cape Breton. We saw the amalgamation of the metropolitan area. We were told about the great savings that were going to occur, the tens of millions of dollars that were to be saved. We were told what the costs of these amalgamations were going to turn out to be and then we saw the reality; the reality was a flip. The reality was that the cost to bring the amalgamations about was over double what had been predicted, for example, here in metro, and the savings, that supposedly were to occur, evaporated.

We were told that when this government imposed amalgamation on the public school system across this province, that there were to be millions upon millions of dollars saved as a result of those amalgamations. The boards were to be more efficient; there was to be smaller administration; and millions of dollars were to flow back into the classrooms. So were the great predictions from the wise ones on the Liberal benches.

Mr. Speaker, despite what this government likes to pretend or to hide from, if you check reality, if you go out and you talk to the people who are working on the front lines, you talk to the educators, you talk to the teachers, you will find out that the class sizes have increased. You will find out the course selection has decreased. You will find that the specialist resources to assist those children with special needs have, in fact, shrunk. You will find that the cost for administrations have either stayed equal or increased. The government's batting record in terms of being able to predict and, unfortunately, therefore the ability of

[Page 2631]

Nova Scotians to put any stock in the prediction of the government in terms of what the savings will be, is very strained.

Here, as I said, I have got more confidence, because there seems to have been a very good and strong attempt by the senior staff of the university, presidents on down, working with the boards of government and working with the staff associations and the worker's associations at those institutions to try to come up with the best, balanced approach. By first blush at this legislation, it would appear as if there has been a good attempt to resolve, for example, those issues that are important to protect the rights of the workers at those institutions, because I don't care where you sit at those universities, whether you are the president, a professor, a lecturer, librarian, one of the grounds persons, somebody who works in the heating plants, it is a team.

It has got to be a team. Each and every person, when you are working at one of the educational facilities, each and every one is important and what they contribute is important. They have contributed many years of their own life to the service, not only of the school, but more importantly - and what it is all about - to the service of the young people, and the not too young, who are going and receiving the educational training that they need, either for their business life or for their personal growth and aspirations at these universities.

Remember, of course, the universities have changed somewhat. If you were to go and look at them now, the people who are attending universities, there are some quite considerable differences in terms of the demographics of those who are going now, versus when we were there, in that now you certainly have many more mature individuals who are going back to upgrade their learning experience, to upgrade their education and training.

Mr. Speaker, what we have to be very concerned about, given the fact that the federal government now through the changes where they are going to be ripping tens and tens of millions of dollars out of Nova Scotia by changing the manner in which they are funding programs - shared programs - from the agreements that we had before now to this new CHST, which as I say is ripping tens of millions of dollars out, it is crucially important that we try, if there is to be this amalgamation, that there are genuine savings, not being made at the expense of the workers who have contributed so much, but if there are savings that can be made by greater efficiencies, that those savings are not going to be negated by this government ripping even more money back from the universities.

If there is to be $2 million, $5 million, $10 million - it does not matter how much - worth of savings, if for every dollar they are able to save by their efforts and their hard work, if this government then turns around and says, well, you were able to reduce your costs by $1 million so we are going to fund you $1 million less, then there is going to be absolutely zero benefit to the students who are going to have to pay the bills and who are right now under a great strain because of the horrendously high tuition fees that they have to pay.

[Page 2632]

I certainly have every intention of voting in support of this bill. I have every intention of supporting it going on not only from here but to the Law Amendments Committee. Unless something completely unexpected comes up that I am now unaware of, I will be supporting the bill, or it is my intention to be supporting the bill, all the way through.

I do indeed congratulate, again, all of those at the university field in particular, all of those from the presidents, the boards, senior staff in the universities, for their foresight and hard work to bring the legislation forward. I will leave it to the Minister of Education to write his version of history, his fantasy world about who is responsible for this. I am sure that the minister in his press releases and his statements will be doing his fairy tale stories about who and what is responsible for everything, but that is for another issue. That is politics. If the government wants to play that kind of politics, they can do that.

The ones who really deserve the credit, though, are all of those who have worked together in such a cooperative way to bring this together, unlike what the Minister of Education is trying to imply across the floor which is that it should just be the Premier, I guess. Mr. Speaker, I will acknowledge that maybe the Premier had this much to do with it; I think that probably means, I do not know, maybe the Premier signed a letter that somebody had written for him or whatever. But certainly the real credit for the cooperation, this is really like the next step - on top of the cooperation between these two great learning institutions that make Nova Scotians proud - in terms of building upon that cooperation that has been in existence between them for many years.

With those few brief remarks I will conclude at this point in time. I hope that in wrapping up the minister will address the issues that were raised, first of all, by my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview in her excellent remarks, talking about the fact that universities are more than simply turning out people just aimed at, although important, the technical aspects but acknowledging the other aspects of the university. Maybe the minister wants to consider including something along that line in the legislation in terms of the preamble.

Also, just for my interest more than anything else, I think I know the answer but just the question that I raised about how this compares to the kinds of arrangements that Kings and Dalhousie have at the present time, what kind of an analogy or comparison there is. If that information is not available right off the top of the minister's head, I would be happy if, at some other time, the minister could maybe give that kind of information to me, just for my own interest more than anything else.

With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, again I indicate that I will be voting in support of the bill.

[Page 2633]

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

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all I appreciate the comments of the members opposite. I will try to address the substantive ones. Let me begin by recognizing that there are, indeed, pressures on students in this province and throughout this country and pressures on students with whom we meet that relate to the amount of loans required for the total costs of education, not just tuition and, as Ministers of Education in this country, we are committed to finding solutions to that problem for those students.

The issue of savings, whether it is through the metro consortium, whether it is through amalgamation of schools or universities, our system has to be committed to finding savings such that they can be passed on to quality of learning, that they can be passed on to programs and research that will allow our institutions to maintain their competitive advantage in an ever-increasingly competitive world. When we add the point that students are paying more, they are, therefore, also much more conscious of what they are getting in terms of the value for money spent.

The issue to which both members of the Third Party alluded was somehow that this bill to amalgamate has forgotten quality of learning. I would just refer them to the very first statement in the first whereas, that high quality education is the primary purpose for this exercise. Suffice it to say that the total focus, although with some side benefits in terms of industrial and economic benefits, has to be on high quality education which comes from high quality research, both pure and applied, and that that is the public good of this country, that is a public good in this province, that this province, forever, in my opinion, should be expending public dollars to achieve.

In the last few days we have experienced a few anecdotes, from births of children to hospital anecdotes. The member for Halifax Fairview, I believe, spoke about the issue of whether we had understood our role in applied liberal arts and applied science education. I could tell hundreds of these stories about the success of Nova Scotia graduates but I will tell you one that exists over in Pratt & Whitney, a world-class aerospace manufacturing plant. In the far northern corner of the plant sit three machines that are off-the-shelf technology, from Germany, from Japan and from England as they happen to be. There are seven TUNS graduates who have reconfigured those machines in such a way that Pratt & Whitney has captured 80 per cent of the world's airfoil replacement market. They spent a year doing it. They are Nova Scotia graduates from a Nova Scotia institution who beat the competition world-wide, in Israel, in South Carolina, for a market share.

Now when we talk about quality of learning and some of the conversations that take place at student union buildings and so on, all of that is part of the ambience and the wonderful quality of an existence of a university. When we talk about the cold, hard facts of

[Page 2634]

international global competitiveness, to be able to stand up and talk about the success of seven TUNS graduates and to tell that story in South Carolina, to tell that story in Frankfurt, to tell that story in Taipei, that is precisely what a magnet to business and investment in this province is all about. It is a partnership. Quality of learning, quality of research. Newbridge arrives, Pratt & Whitney stays here and they become more and more competitive, using the talents of Nova Scotia students educated in the finest institutions in the world. That is what this is all about. It is not a mad dash to privatization. It is not a mad dash to assume that business, the other institution of society, has all the answers. The answers are found in partnership and those partnerships, as the member opposite, without wanting to credit the Premier but for a small amount of a contributing factor here, not wanting to credit the former Minister of Education, but talking about a team effort, I can assure you whether small or large, the beginning step is the most important step, Mr. Speaker.

[12:00 p.m.]

Let me address, just briefly, some of the substantive questions from one of the members opposite when it comes to issue of matching contributions. Clause 10(2)(c), although we are not debating, at this point, clause by clause, but the principle here is one that needs to be understood, applies to early retirement incentive programs. So what seems to be a slight discrepancy as to who pays what, is really based in the context of early retirement. I hope that answers the questions of the member opposite.

The other issue had to do with the relationship between the faculty council at TUNS and the Senate of an amalgamated Dalhousie University. I think the legislation speaks quite clearly to the relationship and the interplay. There is an example found in the Faculty of Medicine and their academic council at Dalhousie already. The terms of reference for the academic council of the TUNS college are still being developed, in a sense, as part of this amalgamation process, but there is an example already on the campus of a similar council with responsibilities for aspects of academic program, clearly external creditation by, international in some cases, accrediting agencies, plays a role in the degree to which faculty councils do some of the work of senates. But those arrangements, Mr. Speaker, are being worked out as we speak and will, undoubtedly, be worked out through a period of time leading up to the amalgamation.

The issue of whether there are conflicting reports of employee groups as the consultation has taken place was raised, again, by a member of the Opposition. I am hearing from the Third Party that what they are hearing is that most of those discussions are going well. Those discussions are still going on. We are attempting to reach full agreement with all labour groups within this amalgamated group. I praise, once again, both those groups and their leaders, both presidents and others, who are working on the human resource issues of amalgamation. Clearly, we are making progress and most of the reports we are hearing are positive, but those are still ongoing.

[Page 2635]

The question of whether Dalhousie-Kings and their relationship is similar to the Dalhousie-TUNS relationship, the straight answer is no. These are different relationships with different outcomes and, clearly, different governing structures that are in place.

Once again, I think I will wrap up with what I believe were the essential elements here by saying that whenever you can take the capabilities and history of two institutions and put them together for greater purpose, it benefits, primarily, students. It also benefits research and all of those things benefit the Province of Nova Scotia, economically, socially, in ways that we really must be focused on in this province, not just to survive in the next century, but to thrive on it.

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I would move this bill for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 44. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 43.

Bill No. 43 - Condominium Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and introduce this bill for second reading. It is a very small section in the Condominium Act to bring forward an opportunity for some very key business people who are already looking at establishing the development of condominiums on a sectional basis. My understanding is that, in the current legislation, in order to put up a condominium, you have to have the complete set of property and a complete set of building plans for that property and all the condominiums have to built at once.

What we have introduced here is an opportunity for condominium buildings to be done in sections so that you could have a large piece of property and do a piece of that property in condominiums and sell those and deal with those and then do additional condominiums next door to that and have the opportunity to do it in sections. I think it is important to note in the legislation, anybody who is currently in a condominium will not have to worry about this affecting their condominium project and land. This was only available for new projects and new development. Anyone who was to buy a condominium under this new legislation would

[Page 2636]

know whether they were all going to be done at once or whether it is going to be done in sections.

Mr. Speaker, I understand there are some business people in the province who are actually looking for this to be passed in order for them to go forward with some development and plans so therefore I am pleased to support the bill. I would note, as I am sure the Opposition members will note, that I have an Act out there for review, the complete Act and am looking for comments on that. What we are doing here is one small section to allow some construction and development to come in ahead of what the overall Act might look like. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill No. 43, the Condominium Act. The reason that I say I am pleased to speak on this particular amendment to the Condominium Act is because it is indeed a step along the way.

I had thought that the legislation that might be coming forward would have been a bigger step rather than the one that the minister has chosen to take. The minister has already explained why this bill is necessary and I can vouch for that knowing of one particular project that is indeed awaiting the passage of this bill to go ahead. This does provide for something that we do not really have in Nova Scotia and that is retirement condominiums.

Most provinces across this country - when I say most that's a lie, there are three of them already, that - have legislation in place which permits phased condominium development but also permits condominiums to be restricted by age. In other words, you can have what is commonly known as retirement villages, sunset villages, all those kinds of words but simply what it means is that the developer and the owners of the condominium, that is the joint condominium property, can set up in place an age restriction for ownership of those condominiums.

There are lots of people, of course, who do not agree with that kind of a concept however, I can assure the minister that there is a demand by certain seniors who do not want to go into some area where there are a younger group of people with children, et cetera. That may or may not be a socially popular thing to say but nevertheless there are people of the age, I think 55 is now considered to be a senior citizen and these people retire and they want peace and quiet and they don't want kids around, maybe they don't even want dogs or anything else in the condos so they restrict the ownership to that age group. I would like to see the ability, not that I agree with it, but I would like to see the ability for those kinds of people to have that kind of development.

[Page 2637]

Within my riding, in fact, it is in the boundaries of the Town of Windsor, I have a retirement village except that it is not really a village yet, all that it is is an apartment building, like a condominium building but in reality I think it is just an apartment building and it was put there by the Baptist Church. What the Baptist Church had in mind was that they would start this community, they have about 130-odd acres and they were going to build apartments and condominiums, they were going to build town houses and individual houses, they were going to have a community centre, maybe a small golf course and swimming pools and those kinds of things. They were going to also build a nursing home and there was going to be a common restaurant; all these facilities for people who are seniors to move into and as they gradually age, I suppose, they step from apartments and condos into units with meals on wheels or whatever and so on until they finally end up in the nursing home if they go that route.

I see nothing wrong with that, personally I wouldn't like to look forward to it but I know that there are people there because people phone me and say, where can I get that kind of a retirement kind of program. At the present time you cannot do it, because under our present legislation - and not necessarily the Condominium Act, I think it comes under the Human Rights Act - you cannot have that kind of property. It would have to be a notwithstanding clause in the Condominium Act, that a condominium can be established with this kind of age restriction. It is something that I think we probably need, to satisfy some people. There was a lot of talk, as the minister may well be aware, in Cape Breton, of setting up retirement villages. There are thousands and thousands of Cape Bretoners living in North America who, to make a pilgrimage back to Cape Breton is like it is for people who want to go to Mecca, I guess. It is . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Same thing.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, same thing. Right.

I suppose you could actually form an industry based on retirement, because a couple who is retired comes in and settles in an area, Mr. Speaker. They have a retirement income, they have pensions, et cetera. They come in; they do not use the school system; they are buying a house; they are buying local produce and what have you; they are supporting the economy without being a drain on the economy of an area. It is not a bad deal; maybe it is something that we should be looking at.

Insofar as this legislation is concerned, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to vote for it. I see absolutely no downside to this legislation. It is positive for those who wish to develop a condominium complex by the methodology of doing it in phases. I will be voting in favour of the legislation and thank the minister for bringing it forward.

[Page 2638]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, there is really just the one key point that I would like to talk about. I believe the government has said there are some phased developments that are looking to get going and I think one of those was in the Valley area, if I am not mistaken. I am wondering if the minister could give - because I am not aware of which ones they are or where they are or if that is public - I was wondering if that might be tied in with Cornwallis at all?

If there is anything in that, I have no difficulty in terms of what is being proposed on the basis of what I understand. It really just seems to be like a housekeeping - not quite a housekeeping - but is allowing developments, so that you do not have to develop it all at once. That would, of course, sometimes require greater cost outlays at the initial stages, and carrying costs when some of the units are not being developed, and will really enable then, I think, add-ons hopefully that would have been involved in the planning process at the initial stages; add-ons as the market demand for those kinds of developments becomes available, but without the requirements of carrying the tremendous capital outlay costs along with it, so that you would reduce costs in the long term. I think at the present time, you would have to have a separate condominium association if you are doing an add-on and that does not make sense so long as there is a contractual and well understood agreement with the original members in the first condominium association that the add-ons are going to become part of it. There would not necessarily then need to be a separate one set up.

[12:15 p.m.]

I don't know how large, by regulation, these condominium associations can end up getting in terms of the numbers of members in such a unit. I don't know if there is a limit that a condominium association would be limited to, let's say, 100 or 200 or whatever the numbers might be. I just raise that on the basis that one developer or somebody could end up, as a means of developing, have them being developed all over the place for example, one maybe in Halifax, one in Dartmouth, one in Wolfville, one in Antigonish and another one in Cape Breton and say that they are all part of the same condominium association under a phase development, if that is possible, which I don't think would be very practical, to put it mildly.

With those few brief questions, I certainly think that I understand the rationale behind it. I think, if my understanding is halfway correct, that it should lead to lower costs, particularly in the carrying costs, not only for the developer, but, more importantly, for the purchasers or people that are going to be buying those condominiums and then living in them for the years to come. So, on the basis of that, it would appear to make good sense. I, therefore, Madam Speaker, indicate that I certainly intend to be voting in support of this bill going on to the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 2639]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I just have really one question, I think, and that is the question that deals with phase development condominiums and we have a discussion paper out, currently, to review changes to the Condominium Act, this very Act we are going to change today, or proposing to change. Going through that discussion paper, there is no mention of the issue of phase development, the need for changes to the Act to deal with the phase development condominiums. I wonder if the minister could, maybe, offer some explanation as to whether that was overlooked or whether this issue has been brought before that committee and maybe she could also indicate that the committee was set up in September 1994, I believe, and does it still operate? Is this report something that was pulled together after, effectively, two years of meetings and discussions and consultations.

I must say then, if so, it causes me some concern that this would come through, I understand, in a somewhat hurried fashion, has been introduced to deal with a specific problem, but, it certainly causes some concern, I think, that if we are having discussions about issues affecting the development of condominiums and the operation and administration of condominiums, that this would not have been picked up. I know that the project in Wolfville, for example, is not new. A similar type of project has been started down in Chester. These issues are normally on the drawing boards for a long time before they are finally introduced.

So I am a bit curious as to why this issue did not get in the discussion paper and maybe the minister, as she moves the bill on to the Law Amendments Committee, could give me some explanation.

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

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to address the few questions on this. The honourable member is quite right. There was a committee established in 1994 and they did a lot of work and had a lot of consultation and discussion. There was a white paper report, or kind of like of a draft piece of legislation that actually had been done last spring. That was written and there were a few changes made over the summer. With the ministerial change, it kind of had three ministerial changes if you go from Consumer Affairs into Business and Consumer Services and then into a Cabinet shift in Business and Consumer Services. So I would just tell the honourable member that, in actual fact, there have been a number of changes going on and a lot of that work had been done in the spring and it was a matter of getting it to a position where we were all comfortable with it with the new minister to send it out.

[Page 2640]

When I came to the department in, I guess, late July or early August, I had an individual come forward and say that they wanted to do a certain construction and development, citing the Wolfville example where there is a development agreement between this company and the Town of Wolfville. So they had done some work. We felt that this was important enough to take it forward on its own and to put it into the report that had been done. I felt that we would have to go back and it would slow up that whole piece for coming out. I felt that, through my discussions with people, that that needed to go and this needed to go and I did not want to hold both of them up for another extended time period. (Interruption)

This aspect, yes. It is my understanding that it has been discussed on an ongoing basis because it is, as the honourable member said, in three other provinces it was a part of the discussion. He may say well then, if it was part of the discussion, why wasn't it in the report and I guess it was simply because it hadn't been identified to me that there was a specific need at that time. So I would have to say, my understanding is, and I cannot speak for the other two ministers who had been involved in this for maybe some time, where the need was very clearly identified to us, we decided to put it forward at this time. I hope that that answers the member's questions.

The other member's comments with regard to age and age restriction, I will check back and see that the committee that had been talking about this, whether they specifically talked about that and what their recommendations were on it. I would suggest, as we have heard, it is under the human rights legislation and it is as much a difficulty there as it is here. So I would not suggest, at this time, I would be looking at adding it to this piece, but I will give him the undertaking that I will discuss it with the staff and the department to see where that proponent lies in regard to the draft white paper that we have out at the moment.

So, Madam Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of this bill.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 43. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 41.

Bill No. 41 - Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

[Page 2641]

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Madam Speaker, I am very honoured today to rise to begin the debate on Bill No. 41 - Fishery and Coastal Resources Act. It is a bill which consolidates and updates the existing provincial legislation governing the fishing and aquaculture industries of Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 41 is in keeping with the government's agenda to review and update existing legislation and to streamline the process. This Act is the result of a year-long process of extensive consultation with the fishing industry and coastal Nova Scotians, fishery harvesters, plant operators, aquaculturalists, sports fishing groups, sea plant operators and community groups. Through this partnership we have produced a piece of legislation that will support and guide our fishing industry as it moves into the 21st Century.

The seafood industry has experienced significant changes over the past two decades and presently we are in a transition mode. One interesting thing is that the name of the department will change to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture to reflect the changing needs and the new trends both in the traditional fishery and in the growing aquaculture sector.

Job creation is a priority of this government and this new legislation will foster an economic climate that will enable the coastal communities to build on the strength and create new opportunities for long-term jobs. A strong economy equals jobs.

We have a good foundation to build on and Nova Scotians can feel optimistic about the future of the fishing industry despite the sluggish groundfish sector which is now showing signs of recovery. Looking at the facts in the fishing industry, we have a billion dollar industry in Nova Scotia and it drives the economy of our coastal communities.

The province is working with the harvesters to develop new commercial fisheries from non-traditional species. Take sea urchins, for example, five years ago they were worthless to most people and a pest. Today they are over a $4 million industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. Rock crab, another untapped resource has created 250 jobs in the Northumberland Strait. The billfish industry is a new industry in the Gulf of Nova Scotia and the inshore shrimp industry in the Canso region is developing very strongly. These are reasons to feel good about the future of the industry and to support that we need good legislation.

We are working with the processors also to add value to the seafood products. Nova Scotia's seafood products are exported to over 60 countries in the world. In fact, seafood exports continue to grow and exceeded $800 million last year. We are also working with aquaculturalists to grow the industry and are working with communities to help them take advantage of the exciting opportunities of this section. Eco-tourism, sports fishing, are other areas that remain untapped in terms of the full potential available to the people in Nova Scotia's coastal communities. Finally, we are training Nova Scotians to help prepare them to meet the challenges in the traditional fishery and to take advantage of new economic opportunities.

[Page 2642]

This legislation recognizes the importance of balancing economic development with resource protection. The economic future of this province and the livelihood of thousands of Nova Scotians depend on a healthy coastal resource. This piece of legislation, I believe, through extensive consultation, is a very useful piece of legislation. We have introduced an appeals process. We have provided significant changes in the prosecution process for enforcement. Madam Speaker, I would invite other members in the Opposition to take part in this debate. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to respond to the Fisheries Act, Bill No. 41. The minister should be commended for distributing a draft Act in February 1996. I know it was widely distributed throughout the province and I commend him for that. I think that is a good way to provide legislation to the community to which it is addressed, to give them opportunity to respond to it.

I do notice that there is very little, if any, difference between the bill which is now before us for second reading and the discussion draft, so my assumption is that the minister either had no responses or only positive responses to the draft. I am sure he will address that in closing.

Also, I note that there is an introductory section to the draft. My one criticism of the draft document is that the introduction does not go into depth in a few areas that I think require some explanation by the minister. I will look to the minister to do that for the fishing community at which this bill is aimed, when he closes this afternoon.

The industry continues to face difficulties. Although stocks in southwestern Nova Scotia are improving, the overall situation with respect to groundfish stocks is not healthy. Additionally, in southwestern Nova Scotia with the threat of the moratorium being lifted, as a consequence of the public hearings which will be held by the tripartite committee, we have another element of uncertainty introduced into the groundfish fishery and, indeed, other fisheries that are associated with Georges Bank.

There are many difficulties facing fishermen, processors, people working in plants, not the least of which is increased global competition. As a combination of reduced stocks and global competition, we have, as a result, suffered some market loss and, as a consequence, some diminution of influence within the market place, particularly in New England. Fishermen and processors are facing increases in fees; fees levied by the federal government as high as 6,000 per cent.

I noticed in this bill, and I will be dealing with it a little later on, there also is a provision for the minister to levy fees, some new ones, which require some significant explanation.

[Page 2643]

[12:30 p.m.]

There continues to be an erosion of public facilities available to the fishermen and processors in the province and a shift of responsibility for those facilities from the federal government to communities and to the private sector. One must assume that the province will not be putting itself in the position to have those costs downloaded on it, nor, indeed, should the province, in my view and in the view of many in the fishing industry, that is a responsibility which is being sloughed off by the federal government, which should continue to be met by the federal government.

There is, of course, some short-term funding made available by the feds for bridging, as these facilities are moved from federal responsibility and ownership to the community. But it is just that, it is short term and there is a real question whether, in the long term, these communities will be able to sustain the funding which is required to keep wharfage and associated facilities in good, safe working condition.

There are other difficulties facing the industry; the high cost of various forms of insurance, workers' compensation, for example; and in the harvesting sector, employment insurance. We see the federal government collecting, I think, $5 billion more in premiums from both workers and employers than is being spent out. That must have a negative impact as a payroll tax on the industry. We have the phenomenon of reduced employment insurance availability to the fishery community. We know that that will have a negative effect in Nova Scotia; all of that being done without public debate in Parliament as a consequence of the failure of the Liberal Members of Parliament to support a request by the Progressive Conservative member for Saint John, Elsie Wayne, to provide an opportunity for public debate in the most public of public forums - the Parliament of Canada.

We also see our industry here suffering from the conversion of a common property resource into what to all intents and purposes is a private property resource. Here of course I speak of the various species that are caught and marketed commercially. There also seems to be a growing corporate concentration of the ownership of the fish and a growing corporate concentration with respect to processing. All those of us who take an interest in the fishing community in our province, I am sure, will be agreed that this is a phenomenon that we have seen increasingly in Nova Scotia and particularly in western Nova Scotia. This puts continuing pressure on the smaller operators both in the harvesting sector and in the processing sector.

If we see, particularly in the processing sector, the number of plants reduced significantly as a result of corporate concentration being made more possible, particularly by DFO policies, then we see the real prospect of a reduced competition for raw material. That will impact on market pricing in Nova Scotia and almost assuredly will result in lower prices to the fishermen for their product at the wharf.

[Page 2644]

The social costs to our communities and our families are extensive as we continue to go through this difficult period in the industry. We see increasing pockets of poverty. We see family breakdown. We see the violence that is associated with family breakdown. We see the alcoholism and other forms of drug abuse which all too frequently result from the kind of economic chaos that we see from time to time in our fishery.

I say this simply by way of observation and as a consequence of having spoken with many people in all sectors of the industry. There is a continuing prospect of a long term burden on the taxpayer as we pick up those social costs. Also there is the possibility, if not the probability, that our fishing communities will experience a depopulation with the brightest and best, the youngest and the best trained and best educated leaving their communities to seek their fortune elsewhere.

What we have in this bill are some good things and some things I am not so sure are good. It may well result in being more in-your-face government. That will depend very much on the way in which the bill is implemented by the ministry and by the government. I notice that in Clause 6(j) there is a provision for new and increased fees. I am sure the industry would be interested to know from the minister just exactly what he has in mind there with respect to the this legislation. There is a provision for a public registry. I see here more paperwork in an industry which is already overburdened with paperwork. I hope that the minister will be able to alleviate concerns in the industry that more and more time, which means more and more money, has to be devoted to filling out forms instead of doing what people in the industry do best and that is to pursue the business of harvesting and processing our product and getting it to market to create new wealth in our communities and new wealth for Canadians.

There seems here to be more provision for inspection. I know that there has been a problem in the past with respect to the law not being sufficient to allow provincial inspectors to carry out their duties. One would hope that the consequence of the passage of this bill will result not in more inspectors being all over the fishermen and the plants in the province but rather will result in a more efficient and more judicious use of inspection services by the department.

There are more user charges and those are laid out in Section 22 and they really bear some significant scrutiny. Here we have the minister, in Section 22, making reference to the ". . . development and use of economic instruments and market-based approaches for the management of the fishery and coastal zone aquatic resources . . .". I think it is incumbent upon the minister to give us a full definition of precisely what that means. What is he talking about when he references these economic instruments? What does he intend that they should do? How does he intend to implement them? To what extent has there been discussion within the industry with respect to their identification and their implementation? There are references to user charges. User charges for what? There are references to resource pricing and physical resource accounts. What does that mean? Does it mean that there will be an opportunity

[Page 2645]

provided through the provincial Department of Fisheries to insinuate itself into port market pricing? What exactly does the minister intend by this?

There is reference made to deposit refund systems. Well, we have a deposit refund system implemented by the Department of the Environment on beverage containers. Is the minister contemplating the creation of some kind of a deposit refund system which would use the Minister of the Environment's model and if so, what are the deposits going to be placed upon and how will the refund system work?

The product charges. What do we mean by product charges? It is very clear that this is going to authorize the minister to impose charges on the industry but what segments of the industry? Who in the industry will pay these charges? What will the extent of the charges be and why are they necessary?

Charges on inputs or materials.That again is not defined in the draft paper. One wonders just exactly what those charges are. What are inputs? What are materials? What is the difference between them? Will a charge on one be greater than the charge on the other? What kind of additional burden will this impose on the industry? There is a reference to tax incentives and tax differentiation. I think we would have a broad understanding of tax incentives, but what is tax differentiation? How will that affect the industry? How will this be done, through the Nova Scotia Department of Finance? Will there be a need to develop an administrative agreement with the federal government with respect to incentives and tax differentiation? What kind of taxes are we talking about here? These are all questions that I think are pertinent and that I look to the minister to answer.

With respect to licensing and inspection, I note that the amount of money that is made available to the section in the provincial Department of Fisheries that deals with this has declined significantly over the last three years. In fact, there are now something like $1.6 million less available to the department overall in 1996-97 than was available in 1994-95. There are marginally fewer personnel. But within the technology and inspections section, there is a reduction of $154,000 from 1994-95 to 1996-97. So here it would seem that we have more duties being imposed upon the men and the women who work in this section, but that there is less and less money to undertake that work.

Time and time again, we have heard ministers opposite say, well, we are going to do more with less. Well, I think after three and one-half years, all Nova Scotians have come to understand that not only is it impossible to do more with less, but it is also virtually impossible to do the same with less. Less funding dedicated to drive legislation means that the legislation cannot be driven as efficiently as is intended by government. Financial resources must be made available to match the commitment and philosophy that is made in legislation.

[Page 2646]

So I am wondering if as a consequence of these changes the minister is intending to seek more money for his department's budget, and particularly for this section and, also, whether the minister is intending to employ more persons in his department as inspectors. I think it is a fair question to ask the minister now how many people in his department are employed as inspectors for all of the plants across the province.

Also, I notice in Clause 12(b), Clause 108(c), Clause 108(d) and Clause 15(2) that there is reference to the minister having the ability to delegate inspection and enforcement responsibilities to persons who are not servants of the Crown, either provincially or federally. This causes me to wonder if the minister may possibly be giving consideration to using private sector agencies to assist the department in enforcement. In other words, is he privatizing a function involving the administration of the law which, to the best of my knowledge, to date has always been carried out by officials of the Crown? If this is so, I think he has a responsibility to tell us and, if this is not so, I think he will want to seize this opportunity to confirm to us that these inspection services and enforcement will be carried out by officers of the Crown, and not by persons working for private companies to whom contracts may be let by government.

We also have a clause in here which, I think, all members who have an interest in the fishery would welcome and that is the clause which references the Fisheries Loan Board. This is a loan board which I think can stand comparison with any government and, indeed, any private sector lending agency right across this country. It has an excellent record. It serves its clientele well. It is essential to, particularly, meet the needs of the inshore fishery and of the growing aquaculture sector here in Nova Scotia. It also is one which has operated in the best interests of the taxpayers. It has a default rate which I think any commercial bank would look upon jealously. So it would seem to ensure that the Fisheries Loan Board is going to be continuing in operation in Nova Scotia. I hope that this will quash those rumours that we have heard from time to time that the Fisheries Loan Board was going to be scrapped or amalgamated with another, or other loan boards that fall under the aegis of the provincial government.

[12:45 p.m.]

There is also a section under Aquaculture which references the decision-making process. There are provisions in the legislation, in Clause 47(b), which reference various sectors of the fishing community which may be called upon for advice. I note that the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia is not specifically noted; it seems to me that that is a shortcoming. This is a very fine organization which represents aquaculturists throughout Nova Scotia. It has been very much in the forefront of developing this economic sector and I know that through the years it has worked very closely with the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries, and I wonder why it is not mentioned in particular in this legislation.

[Page 2647]

Also, I note that with respect to competing applications that there are decision-making powers extended to the minister as, indeed, should be the case; however, I don't think it goes quite far enough. The minister is required to make a decision with respect to competing applications, but the minister is not required to provide his reasons in writing.

There is currently a court case under way, and we can't discuss it, but I think that respecting aquaculture and the Department of Fisheries, and I believe we may be able to avoid having the Department of Fisheries getting itself into this kind of a mess in the future if, in fact, written reasons are required of the minister when he makes a decision respecting competing applications for the same site.

I am also interested to know from the minister what role the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia played with respect to drafting this clause. Finally, with respect to aquaculture, it is, indeed, appropriate that the department expand its name to include aquaculture as a readily visible part of the department's title and clear evidence that the focus continues to broaden to include it.

Recreational fishing, I know that the department has had an excellent relationship with the recreational fishing associations, with the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation with its various membership groups. I believe that this clause generally reflects that very positive relationship. I am sure that the minister, in wrapping up, will want to confirm to the House and to all Nova Scotians, though the House, that this section was drafted with not only the concurrence but with the full participation of all those private sector organizations which play a very positive role with respect to the recreational fishery in Nova Scotia. The minister has pointed out that that recreational fishery is worth something in the vicinity of $80 million to the Nova Scotian community, which makes what appears to be a very small business a very large business, indeed. I think there is something like $10 million to $12 million, which comes as a consequence of the salmon fishery.

I know that Nova Scotia has not had responsibility, the province has not had the responsibility for the salmon fishery, excepting with respect to licensing salmon fishermen and collecting the revenues associated with that. The minister will know that the federal government is endeavouring to move away from what many of us believe is a direct responsibility, that is the responsibility for maintaining the salmon hatcheries in Atlantic Canada. This minister will know, as do I and as do all who have watched this regrettable decision by the federal government unfold, that this puts at great risk the salmon stocks that have been maintained for those rivers particularly in western Nova Scotia which have suffered as a consequence of acid precipitation which are not able to sustain those rivers' specific stocks.

We should stop and reflect on the fact that those rivers' specific stocks once gone are gone forever. So, by the federal government threatening to more away from salmon hatchery responsibility and for the continuing sustenance of these rivers' specific stocks, the federal

[Page 2648]

government is playing a very direct and irresponsible role in the loss of wildlife species on this planet.

When one looks at the cost associated with operating the hatcheries in Nova Scotia, it is $0.5 million. When one looks at the $80 million that is picked up in the recreational fishery by way of economic consideration, it is a very, very small investment for the federal government to make. I wonder if in this legislation if the minister is contemplating the possibility of the province taking over that responsibility from the federal government in the event that they walk away entirely from that responsibility? I am thinking particularly with respect to maintaining those rivers' specific stocks.

With respect to Enforcement, Investigations and Penalties, while seizures will be necessary as an ordinary part of enforcement, there is nothing in the legislation which requires the enforcement authority to ensure that the product seized is maintained in such a way that its condition is not allowed to deteriorate from that which it had exhibited at the time of seizure. I think this is a shortcoming of the legislation and I would look forward to the minister repairing that shortcoming.

There also is whistle-blower protection in the legislation in Clause 99. While I welcome this innovation I think too that there has to be some protection against those who may vexatiously blow the whistle on persons in the industry. There should be some kind of penalty for those who cause disruption for reasons that are not legitimate. I am not thinking of somebody who does this on one occasion but if there should be a recurrence of whistle blowing by one person and that recurrence be clearly demonstrated as being nothing more than vexatious.

There is an assumption here in this section that seizures can take place if the enforcement officer believes that something may happen. I think this reflects a section that is in the Environment Act. I think there is a substantial difference between a seizure of product in the fishery and the activity of the Department of the Environment which takes an action to prevent an action occurring which may cause pollution of the natural environment. I am very uncomfortable with this section and it strikes me that the enforcement officers in the Department of Fisheries should not be allowed to surmise that something may happen and thereby trigger a seizure. I believe that it should be after-the-fact action by the enforcement authorities.

There also is a reverse onus in this section whereby one is deemed to be guilty until proven innocent. I wonder if the minister could explain for me why that is necessary? That is toward the end of the bill, it would be Clause 113, " . . . unless the accused establishes that the offence was committed without the knowledge or consent of the accused.". Why is reverse onus appropriate in this section?

[Page 2649]

There are very substantial penalties in the bill and it is appropriate that they be there. We now move to a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 90 days in jail or a combination of the two for a first offence and for subsequent offences a fine of not less that $10,000 and up to $25,000.00 and six months in jail or a combination of the two.

This, of course will be heard in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. These are very extensive penalties. I think when one is talking about penalties which have a monetary impact such as this, an understanding that each day that an infraction occurs it is deemed to be a new penalty, so in fact one processor or one fisherman might get the $25,000 several times over. Then it strikes me that there should be an appeal beyond a decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. This legislation denies, in Clause 119(2), that right of appeal from a decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to the Appeal Court of Nova Scotia. I think that is wrong, I really do and I hope we may be able to convince the minister to remedy that.

Certainly there is some good in this bill. The concept of consolidation is a worthy concept. The renaming of the department reflects the change in the fishery. It sets out laudable purposes in the beginning. It sets forward a process of conflict resolution which I think is certainly worthy of pursuit and we all must hope will work.

I am concerned with the new fees that the minister is given the power to impose, especially as we do not have any definition with respect to what those fees might be. The enforcement section has some sections that are undesirable; that there are insufficient human resources to drive this legislation; and that the bill will clearly have some negative ramifications unless this cleaning up is done in the Law Amendments Committee.

In closing, I again want to commend the minister for circulating the draft. I hope that other ministers will take his action as an example of how best to go about introducing legislation. I do seek from the minister a definition of those new fees that are referred to in the bill. Also, I seek from the minister a commitment to give reconsideration to the failure of the legislation to allow for an appeal to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal from the Supreme Court in the event a person is found guilty of an infraction of this Act.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on this bill and indicate my support for it, for the principle of it, which is clearly to try to streamline the regulatory aspects of this legislation as it pertains to the fishery, to consolidate the laws of the province respecting the fishery. Also, it brings in here the whole aspect of aquaculture and other parts of the fisheries industry. I think it is something that gives the minister and his department and his officials some more flexibility and authority to encourage and promote various aspects of that industry. I am very much supportive of that intent.

[Page 2650]

There have been a number of changes in the industry in this province over the past number of years and therefore it is extremely appropriate that we would have this revision, this updating. The pressures on the industry now, I do not think it would be an overstatement to say that they are considerable. They have been in the past as well but today with the economy in Nova Scotia slugging along at a very slow rate, with the dependence of many communities within this province, the dependence on any income that can be achieved from the fishery, in fact many communities in this province are hanging on by their very fingertips as a result of the downturn in the fishery, difficulties in forestry and in other industries, traditional industries that have kept many communities going, the pressure is extreme on many of those communities and the pressure, therefore, on the industry is considerable.

[1:00 p.m.]

The competition among people within the industry itself for what quota is available, for licenses, for swordfish and tuna tags, for any possibility, any opportunity to go out into the waters and fish and to raise an income, Madam Speaker, you and I and members of this House undoubtedly know how considerable the pressure is within the industry.

We have increasing difficulties in some parts of the province between what is called the traditional fishery and the native fishery. Those are problems that have to be dealt with. There are continuing problems between the changes in the relationship between the province and the federal government over responsibility and jurisdiction. There are continuing problems as a result of changes by the federal government in who is going to fund a lot of the services that they normally provided, both in terms of search and rescue, in terms of wharf/dock maintenance, in terms of coastal zone management, and in terms of coastguard/harbour maintenance for that matter.

The pressures on the fishery and on people who fish and their families is considerable, Madam Speaker. It is appropriate that one step of dealing with that, on helping the industry deal with that, is to update the legislation that affects it.

The issue with respect to the province and the relationship between the province and the federal government is one that I am extremely interested in, Madam Speaker. I think that as the federal government continues to try to devolve responsibility and the costs for many of these programs, it is incumbent on the province to step up and maybe be more assertive in negotiations with the federal government on how, in fact, the rules are going to be set in terms of who is in charge.

This whole question of co-management is a nice concept, but what we found is that in too many cases the federal government decides that they want the people in the fishery to pay more of the costs but they haven't necessarily turned over more of the decisions, except maybe to basically leave the industry with some very difficult decisions and no support in

[Page 2651]

order to help those being made. I think there is room there for the Province of Nova Scotia to assert itself.

There is no question that in the Atlantic Region you can't draw lines between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and Newfoundland and New Brunswick and say that this is where Nova Scotians will fish, this is where Prince Edward Islanders will fish, and so on. Historically. fishers from Nova Scotia - from the community that I represent in Sambro - have a long history of fishing along the south coast of Newfoundland and have gone far up the eastern coast as well. So you can't get into that, but I still think in terms of responsibility, in terms of decisions with respect to regulations, and in this whole issue of co-management, the province could perhaps be playing a much more assertive role.

I think the province has to, not only the Department of Fisheries, but other departments in the government itself, have to get themselves involved, have to assert themselves in some way in the whole issue of the ongoing dispute with the native fishery. I think that we have to resolve that. It is not good enough, I don't think, to sit back and wait for it to be resolved in the courts. Because there are some areas, St. Mary's Bay, for one, in the lobster fishery where emotions are building to a point where there may be very serious problems result. There is no way, I don't believe, that we can allow that to happen. It is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to try to ensure that this matter is resolved in a way that is satisfactory.

The role that the government is taking with respect to the handling of aquaculture, I think, is extremely important. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to participate on some standing committees of the Legislature, where we have looked into the whole issue of aquaculture and how the government can best play a role in the development of aquaculture and the regulation of aquaculture development in the Province of Nova Scotia. I am glad to see the government bringing aquaculture and the operation of that fishery within the legislation, within the department. I think it is a step forward to include it in the name of the department.

The issue of, and I will have to have an opportunity to go through in a bit more detail and, perhaps, this will also be dealt with in the regulations, but the question of how to deal with aquaculture applications in communities and how to resolve potential disputes between competing interests when an aquaculture application is approved, I think, Madam Speaker, is extremely important. We need to be very clear and lay out what the rules are for applying for aquaculture licenses and how the approval process is going to be handled and granted and the conditions upon which that licence will be maintained. I think that is an extremely important one and an important role for the government to play on that.

In terms of process, and I saw with interest under Clause 75, and that dealt with the minister's authority to refuse to issue a licence to process. It has to do with whether it is in the public interest to issue a licence, having regarded the supply of fish available, the presence

[Page 2652]

of existing underutilized processing capacity, or any other factor that, in the opinion of the minister, is relevant to determine the public interest.

Madam Speaker, you and other members may be aware that over the past number of years there has been a moratorium on the issuing of processing licenses in the province as a result of what some have suggested is an overcapacity of processing in the province. I would like, maybe, the minister to give me an update of what the status is of that moratorium and whether he has any plans or his department has any plans in changing the rules that exist at the current time with respect to affecting that very capacity and the granting of licenses.

The member for Queens who spoke earlier talked about the Fisheries Loan Board and the importance of that board and how pleased he was to see it remaining in existence within the legislation and hoping that that meant that the rumours that it was going to be folded together with the Farm Loan Board and even going a step further and sending the responsibilities of the Farm Loan Board out to the private sector, has, in fact, gone by the board. I, too, hope he is right. I think the Fisheries Loan Board plays an important role in the industry monitoring the demands and needs of individual fishers whether that be in terms of the purchase of boats or equipment and now, I believe the responsibility of the Fisheries Loan Board has been expanded and I think that is extremely important.

I have had the opportunity to make appeals on behalf of constituents to that loan board and I have always found their capacity to deal with individual cases to be very reasonable. I am glad to see that those roles and responsibilities have been maintained.

There are other issues in here. The question of enforcement, investigation and penalties has been discussed, which I think is good. I think it is important to clarify some of these issues. The penalties, as has been said, are extremely serious. I will wait with interest for the minister's response to an earlier question about the business of an appeal not being allowed to the Appeal Division of the Supreme Court. I also don't understand why that would be in there.

The role of the recreational fishery, of course, is a significant one to the Province of Nova Scotia and it is important that that fishery be adequately and properly regulated.

Madam Speaker, I won't take the time of the House any longer to go into any more detail about this bill except to say that the minister and his department have engaged in a fairly extensive consultation on the consolidation of the different Acts. This draft bill has been in existence for about 10 months now. It has been widely disseminated and there has been a fair bit of input.

My sense in speaking with different people within the industry is that this bill is being well received. I applaud that process and commend the minister and his staff for having done the work and gone to the trouble to pull this together. I look forward to this bill going on to

[Page 2653]

the Law Amendments Committee and hearing any possible presentations at that particular time about some of the details contained therein. I also look forward to the minister as he wraps up here at second reading commenting on some of the issues that I have raised and certainly some of the specific questions asked by my colleague, the member for Queens. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Madam Speaker, I didn't intend to speak on this bill and I am not prepared. I just want to say a few things.

I want to compliment the minister on bringing in this bill and making the changes and Heaven knows some of these changes are well out of date and it will bring it up to scratch, no doubt about that. I also want to say while I am standing here that over the years in the provincial Department of Fisheries, I have had a lot of relations with them back and forth on different issues and so on. They have been very polite, they have been very efficient and they have always used us well, it doesn't really matter under which government it was and I am looking at some of the ex-ministers and so on. I think that is continuing, they are speeding the thing up so that it will work more efficiently and so on.

A very precarious position to be in is to be the Minister of Fisheries in Nova Scotia. He has to work in conjunction with the federal minister or the federal department. It is almost like driving your car and somebody else holding the wheel and sometimes the brakes but usually the throttle is the hard part to get seen to. I can understand why Ottawa has to have more authority over the whole situation because Nova Scotia doesn't have a fishing area with a fence around it. They are all overlapping between the three or four provinces on the East Coast and somebody has to be the mediator and so on. Sometimes we have some pretty rough sessions with them, I know that.

New species are being used, rock crab, sea urchins, et cetera. I have been associated with a lot of those different things and they are filling the slack. In our area the fisheries has had a very rough time over the last few years. The scallop fisheries in particular, the inshore scallop fisheries or the Bay or Fundy fisheries or the Digby fleet, whichever you want to speak of, there are 99 vessels fishing out of Digby, and I get so tired of hearing that these - I may be straying from the bill, Madam Speaker, if so, you just tell me - I get a little bit incensed from time to time because the Digby scallop fleet used to be able to fish all the way from Digby, because my father did it and my son fished in these areas, all the way from Digby, out of the Bay of Fundy, on Browns Bank and Georges Bank and German Bank and all the way up to Newfoundland, they had the freedom to go there.

[Page 2654]

[1:15 p.m.]

They were pushed out of the offshore, and they finally wound up in the Bay of Fundy. Then they gave out - what - 50 or 200 licenses on half of the Bay of Fundy and that took that away from them. They gave extra licenses at the head of the Bay and now they have the audacity, a lot of people, to say that these people are overfishing. It isn't a matter of overfishing, they were given an area that isn't an area for them to fish in anymore.

They have had rough times. I know this for a fact because I have taken the pay sheets from three draggers that I know the owner and I know that he is telling the truth. Some of these fishermen are making $1.00 an hour. They are fishing, they are getting their regular share, boat share, and they are making $1.00 an hour. As I have said before, you can do a little bit better than that in Bangladesh. So they have to be given some extra consideration as time goes on.

The two previous speakers mentioned the Fisheries Loan Board. I must say that over the years they have been a very useful tool in the industry. When times are good and you are fishing, anybody will loan you money. It is like Mark Twain said about his banker: he is like a man who will loan you an umbrella when the sun is shining and when it starts to rain he takes it away. I have seen this happen over and over again.

I know that the loan board is handling taxpayers' money and they do have to be strict with it and so on but they have to use a little judgment to get us over the rough spots, because these happen every so often. The fishing industry fluctuates. I have seen it when there were no haddock in the Bay of Fundy, almost none. My mother and father ran a hotel and we had 40 boats fishing off Victoria Beach, open boats fishing haddock in the Bay of Fundy. I have seen the time when you couldn't get enough haddock out of those 40 boats to feed 40 people in the dining room.

At that time we lived in Victoria Beach, and you sat there and starved to death. We didn't have television as we have today; the nearest thing we had to watching television was looking at the T. Eaton Co. catalogue. At that time nobody knew it; we sat there and starved to death and nobody did anything about it. I have seen this happen probably several times in my lifetime; it will happen again. The fish have vanished, but they will come back again; they have already started. I understand that the federal Minister of Fisheries said they are going to increase the quota this year by 10 per cent or 12 per cent or 15 per cent, so we are on the road back.

Aquaculture is a bright spot. It is not easy; it is risky. It takes a big investment and you can lose your shirt. I have said all the way along that the fishing industry is not for the weak at heart, nor I can tell you, the faint-hearted. It is a gamble, but this will pick up a lot of the slack in our area, especially in the Bay of Fundy, and I understand that it is also working in

[Page 2655]

other places, like Cape Breton and Shelburne and so on. So if that is taken care of regularly, it will help.

The lobster fishery in the Bay of Fundy has been very good in the last two years, especially in the Annapolis Basin.

I just saw this in the paper, and I know this is federal, more or less, but I am so happy to see that money is going to be spent for search and rescue helicopters. This is very important. I have seen the good work of these people. In fact, just yesterday, three men were washed overboard, out of the boat, by a rogue wave. Now, this is something else that is awfully aggravating to people from the fishing industry and the fishermen themselves; the minute they go out and have two or three bad accidents, people will say, the press is intimating that they are greedy. It isn't a matter of being greedy; if you go out in a boat and a rogue wave hits you, you are just doing your job. It is like being in a mine with an explosion. This will happen, I don't care what kind of equipment they have.

I have seen a man washed overboard - I didn't see him washed overboard but he was washed back by the next sea - out of a rowboat, right in Annapolis Basin in the winter. These things can happen and I can tell you a lot of other ones like that.

I said I was only going to speak a minute or two and that is what I am going to do. I want to thank the honourable minister again, his department and all who work with him. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Madam Speaker, first I want to thank members opposite and my colleague from Digby-Annapolis for bringing some important matters into the debate. The member for Digby-Annapolis spoke of the recent mishaps that have occurred. Certainly we had one tragedy and we almost had three more tragedies at sea. The fishing industry does provide a lot of hazardous operations.

In the Department of Fisheries, as described by members opposite, training is one very important aspect of our department. Safety afloat is critical for the people who work in the industry and I want to compliment those members of the fishing industry who have taken the courses and continue to upgrade their knowledge about safety. Our school at Pictou and our mobile facilities provide the safety training throughout Nova Scotia as and when required. I think it is very important, as the member for Digby-Annapolis said; one must have tremendous respect for the ocean and all the hazards that exist.

[Page 2656]

The member for Queens raised some very important questions in his debate on second reading. I will try to answer those items, on which I made some hasty notes. There were many very important comments made about the separation of federal and provincial responsibilities and the roles which each province plays with respect to each other. Certainly I want to comment about the devolution of some of the infrastructure that exists in Canada that has been used by the fishing industries in Nova Scotia and elsewhere.

It is of grave concern to Nova Scotia. We have made very strong representations to the federal minister and his officials many times on behalf of Nova Scotian fishermen, the recreational industry, the aquaculture industry, that particularly the wharves, the harbours, that type of infrastructure, must be maintained so that the local communities can maintain operations. Again, for safety, the ability to have a harbour and a safe wharf to come to in times of need is critical. This infrastructure must be maintained.

The federal government has a very important responsibility to maintain that, with responsibilities also going further as the federal government now tried to devolve their responsibilities in the fish hatcheries. We have met numerous times, both staff and I as minister. I have met with other provincial ministers from Atlantic Canada and with the federal ministers expressing our very serious concern because the salmon industry is a very important industry in Nova Scotia. It is very important to our recreational industry, tourism. It is a stock that has been native to this province. The federal government has requested expressions of interest which shall be received by December 12th. We will await the outcome of the expressions that may be forthcoming. Our department and our staff have met and continue to meet with representatives from the other provinces, the Native Council and the non-status native groups to deal with the DFO in this particular important matter and with the Nova Scotia advisory groups, both the Salmon Association and community groups. This is very important and I cannot underestimate the impact that it will have on the future of Nova Scotia's rivers and recreational industry.

The member opposite asked about fees. Throughout each section of this bill there is a provision for the regulations to be drafted to impose fees for certain areas. In the one clause, particularly Clause 9, which the member opposite mentioned, it is also the clause in which the training school for Pictou is operated and it is very important to note that the Fisheries School in Pictou is on a cost-recovery basis as much as possible. We are negotiating with other countries. We provide services to private industry, whether it be small fishing companies or large fishing companies and we need the ability to set the regulations in which we can invoice these other agencies for providing the training which is so important for safety, particularly, but also for navigation and for aquaculture now. We are working with community groups. So the regulations must be available to the department so we can impose a cost-recovery fee which will enable the school to continue.

[Page 2657]

May I suggest, this year, I congratulate all staff members of the school for 50 years of continuous service to the fishing industry of Nova Scotia and our mobile school which has delivered services into the many communities. The existing legislation, I think, is important, but the continued operation is most important to me and the continuity of the fishing industry in the province. The programs have been enlarged to deal with the new aquaculture industry and provide skilled training and diving - much of the harvesting is done by diving in Nova Scotia - and we must prevent accidents that may cause the loss of life. So programs like that are on a cost-recovery basis as much as possible to assist the industry in its new developments.

The other concerns about the inspectors, the inspectors are employees of the department. We do not plan to hire private security or private sector people to help us do that inspection service because the inspectors must be very well trained, particularly on the health end of inspecting the food, fish being a very important food source. The fish that is sold retail or in the restaurants, our inspectors are there on a regular basis, either as a result of a complaint or we do our ad hoc inspections, which will prevent any abuse of the system. The processors must comply with various stringent federal regulations, as well as provincial regulations. The inspectors must be given the authority and the ability to enforce these regulations.

Just recently, I heard that somebody had bought lobster meat and they got sick. Well, our staff went in, acting on that complaint and they secured all those bags of lobster and had it tested in the labs. It was found to be contaminated and found it did not come from a bona fide processor and we have to take the course of action of prosecuting the people who do not comply with the regulations that exist. It is very important that for the skills of the staff that we have, that they continue to be trained and to meet the new regulations of ISO 9000 and HACCP, regulations which will be enforced within a year or so that require all our fish plants that export from Nova Scotia to meet very stringent processes and our staff must be trained to comply.

We will be providing HACCP training at our school. We have the approval now to provide that HACCP training and all fish plants, within a year from now, must comply with that regulation if they want to export into the U.S. and into the European Community. I know the concern and the concern is that these are staff inspectors and they have done the job and I compliment them for the service they have provided for the safety of seafood in this province and for all people that buy the products throughout 60 different countries within the world in which we export our products.

Under the Aquaculture section, I noted that there were questions about the assistance provided by the aquaculture industry. This legislation was taken before them and worked in consultation, closely, with the Aquaculture Association. May I say, recently we had a position in the department of hiring a director and the president of the Aquaculture Association was part of the interview team. We work very closely with the industry. We believe that they are

[Page 2658]

a very important part of the industry and we invited the president to be part of that interview team and, hopefully, that will provide the knowledge and confidence that the department is hiring the right person and that we hire the best person available to provide leadership in the aquaculture section of our department.

Also, in the section on sport fishing, which generates about $82 million worth of revenue per year in the sports section, we have regional fishing associations we meet with on a very frequent basis and they also took part in the legislation and are very important contributors to the health of our recreation industry.

[1:30 p.m.]

There are just one or two other items which I wanted to mention. With penalties, the fines seem to be quite high in dollar value, but consistent with the size of the industry that we have. We have an $800 million export industry and there are many large operators and $200 fines may not seem to be a severe enough penalty. So, we are consistent with the $10,000 fines that are applicable in other provinces and with federal legislation and this becomes an enforcement tool in the regulatory clout that can cause compliance to come into play very quickly. We believe that we are consistent and we consulted with all other members. The industry did not rebel. I think it sees that compliance and enforcement must be carried out.

Under the public registry, a lot of our information has gone into the information technology and using computers and a number of staff has been able to be held because of the use of computer technology in providing registries and tremendous amounts of information that in the past took a lot of people to create.

In the appeal process, what we do is we have placed a section in the Act for the right to appeal, and what we have is a very important and very transparent and open process which has never been set out before and we believe that this will provide the means in which to give all of those concerned, particularly whether I am the minister or some future minister who has not given a fair and reasonable decision, that they can go to the courts. If necessary, maybe in the Law Amendments Committee or the Committee of the Whole House, if it is necessary - and I will get further legal opinions as to the process - it may be necessary to make a minor amendment to make it a better system. I am not adverse to making a better system because I believe the right to appeal is important to the people in the industry.

Madam Speaker, I believe I have covered most of the questions that were raised. I again thank every member for taking part and so I move second reading of Bill No. 41. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 41. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 2659]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[1:33 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[1:36 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 31 - Real Estate Trading Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments; and begs leave to sit again.

MADAM SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read for a third time on a future day.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Notices of Motion.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

RESOLUTION NO. 921

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

[Page 2660]

Therefore be it resolved that the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly be amended, effective immediately, as provided in the attached Schedule.

[SCHEDULE

Province of Nova Scotia

Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly

1. The Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly are amended by adding immediately after Rule 5B the following Rule:

5C (1) Notwithstanding Rules 3, 4, 5A and 5B, the time for the meeting of the House, the time for the adjournment of the House and the maximum number of hours the House may sit during a day may be determined by the House by majority vote on the motion of the Government House Leader or the Leader's substitute.

(2) No notice of motion is required for a motion pursuant to paragraph (1) and the question shall be put forthwith by the Speaker without amendment or debate.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, that concludes government business for today. We will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and the order of business will be Public Bills for Third Reading.

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

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is in order that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

The House stands adjourned.

[The House rose at 1:38 p.m.]