|TABLE OF CONTENTS||PAGE|
|PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:|
|Transport. - Hants West: Windsor Back Road - Upgrade,|
|Mr. R. Russell||115|
|Health - Port Hood: Nurse - Retain, Mr. C. MacArthur||116|
|Transport. - Louisbourg: Fleur-de-Lis Trail - Complete,|
|Mr. A. MacLeod||116|
|Transport. - Victoria Beach: Hollow Mountain Road - Pave,|
|Mr. E. Rayfuse||116|
|NOTICES OF MOTION:|
|Res. 27, Fin./Health - Home Care Private: HST - Remedy, Dr. J. Hamm||117|
|Res. 28, Educ.: Underfunding - Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm||118|
|Res. 29, Sports - Hockey: Cape Breton Alpines -|
|Atlantic Junior "B" Champs. Congrats., Mr. R. MacNeil||118|
|Vote - Affirmative||119|
|Res. 30, Parkinson's Foundation (Can.): Mission - Applaud, Mr. J. Leefe||119|
|Vote - Affirmative||119|
|Res. 31, Bedford-Fall River MLA - Emergency Ambulance Service:|
|Loss - Address, Mr. B. Taylor||119|
|Res. 32, Halifax Citadel MLA - Ice-Breaking Fees (Montreal):|
|PC (Can.) Commitment - Table, Hon. R. Mann||120|
|Res. 33, Health - Min.: Leadership (Lib. [N.S.] Candidate) -|
|Future Plans Table, Mr. T. Donahoe||121|
|Res. 34, Volunteers: Sackville - Appreciation Extend, Mr. J. Holm||121|
|Vote - Affirmative||122|
|Res. 35, Health - Hants Commun. Hosp.: Funding Adequacy -|
|Delay Explain, Mr. R. Russell||122|
|Res. 36, Halifax Citadel MLA - Throne Speech Reply (11/04/97):|
|PC (Can.) Leader - Transmit, Hon. R. Mann||123|
|Vote - Affirmative||123|
|Res. 37, Commun. Serv. - Child Welfare: Erosion Prevention -|
|Plans Outline, Mr. A. MacLeod||124|
|Res. 38, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Unemployment (C.B.): Inaction -|
|Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm||124|
|Res. 39, Premier Savage - Promises (1993): Broken - Apologize,|
|Mr. G. Archibald||125|
|Res. 40, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway No. 101 (Digby-Weymouth):|
|Completion - Specify, Mr. B. Taylor||125|
|Res. 41, Educ. - School Boards: Amalgamations - Savings Destination,|
|Mr. T. Donahoe||126|
|Res. 42, Commun. Serv. - Soc. Assist.: One-Tiered - Promise Unfulfilled,|
|Mr. J. Holm||126|
|Res. 43, Educ.: Commitment (1993) - Re-Examine, Mr. G. Archibald||127|
|Res. 44, Educ. - School Boards: Amalgamations - Re-Examine,|
|Mr. J. Leefe||128|
|Res. 45, Agric. - Dairy Industry: Concerns - Understand, Mr. A. MacLeod||129|
|Vote - Affirmative||129|
|Res. 46, Volunteer Week - MLAs: One Hour - Offer, Dr. J. Hamm||129|
|Vote - Affirmative||130|
|Res. 47, Agric. - Fairs & Exhibitions: Funding - Revisit, Mr. D. McInnes||130|
|Res. 48, Windsor - "Great Fire" (1897): Commemoration/Reconstruction -|
|Efforts Recognize, Mr. R. Russell||131|
|Vote - Affirmative||131|
|ADDRESS IN REPLY:|
|Mr. D. McInnes||132|
|Mr. William MacDonald||138|
|Mr. R. MacNeil||141|
|Mr. C. MacArthur||144|
|Mr. J. Leefe||147|
|Mr. E. Rayfuse||162|
|Mr. J. Holm||167|
|Mr. W. Fraser||181|
|Mr. B. Taylor||185|
|Mrs. L. O'Connor||198|
|GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:|
|Res. 49, Estimates - Comm. of the Whole House on Supply,|
|Hon. W. Gillis||204|
|ADDRESS IN REPLY:|
|Mr. R. Russell||205|
|Mr. K. Colwell||221|
|Mr. C. Huskilson||226|
|Mr. A. MacLeod||228|
|Mr. K. MacAskill||239|
|Hon. G. Brown||245|
|ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 15th at 12:00 p.m.||247|
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily proceedings at this time.
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as all members are aware, I am sure, the secondary roads and bridges in this province, at the present time, are in a deplorable state. (Interruption) Disgraceful, that is the word for it and the reason being that this government that is in power at the present time has done absolutely nothing as far as road maintenance and bridge maintenance is concerned on the back roads of this province since they came to power.
The prologue of the petition, Mr. Speaker, reads, "We the undersigned agree the Windsor Back Road, Martock Back Road that is, is in dangerous condition and has to be upgraded and repaved due to ruts, heaving, cracks and bumps due to heavy traffic in recent years. The Windsor Back Road has become a short cut to Ski Martock and the Chester Road for heavy trucks, trailers, et cetera. The road needs sanding and plowing more often. The Windsor Back Road needs attending to before someone is killed or seriously hurt.", and I am signing the petition. I ask that the petition be tabled.
MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.
The honourable member for Inverness.
MR. CHARLES MACARTHUR: Mr. Speaker, I want to also present a petition, from the people in Port Hood and surrounding communities. There is a danger that they are going to lose their health nurse and especially, seeing they have a nice, beautiful clinic presently in Port Hood, they want to maintain it. The petition is signed by myself with a number of other persons from the Port Hood and surrounding area and I would ask that it be sent to the Department of Health as well as their regional health board. I so move that petition. I signed it myself.
MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.
The honourable member for Cape Breton West.
MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the Town of Louisbourg. As you know, not so long ago there was a great fanfare in this House when they announced the development of the Fleur-de-Lis Trail. Many people took this government at their word and invested a lot of money in the Town of Louisbourg and the trail has seemed to have come to some kind of a stop.
The operative words in this petition are, "We the undersigned as members of Stella Maris Parish, Louisbourg, N.S. encourage the earliest completion of the Fleur-de-lis Trail.". Mr. Speaker, I have attached my name to it.
MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.
The honourable member for Annapolis.
MR. EARLE RAYFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition as well today. It is signed by 525 people from the area of Victoria Beach, Granville Ferry and it reads, "We the undersigned feel that the Hollow Mountain Road connecting Port Royal and Delaps Cove is overdue to be paved. In the Annapolis Spectator on January 09, 1997 it was stated that the dirt road to the Delaps Coves Wilderness Trail was to be paved.". It should be because that is a very steep hill. "We feel that the Hollow Mountain Road should be paved before . . .", or along with the stretch on the mountain. "The Hollow Mountain Road has been prepared for paving in the past several years and feel this the appropriate time to put down pavement before the road deteriorates to a point it cannot be paved.".
MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
NOTICES OF MOTION
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas a 30 per cent cut in hospital beds, a freeze of nursing homes beds and a woefully inadequate Home Care Nova Scotia Program has forced Nova Scotians needing medical care or Homemakers Services to pay for private home care services; and
Whereas the blended sales tax applies to private home care services and poses a significant financial burden on Nova Scotians, particularly older Nova Scotians who pay for the service in order to remain in their own homes; and
Whereas the additional cost of the blended sales tax will force some Nova Scotians to go to a nursing home, to cut back on the amount of service required and/or hire unqualified workers through the underground economy;
Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance seek an immediate remedy to this tax which penalizes those who save government money, that has the real potential to jeopardize the health and well-being of Nova Scotians and that threatens legitimate private care services that pay taxes to support government programs.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
RESOLUTION NO. 28
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas since taking office, this Liberal Government has cut over $50 million in funding for school boards in Nova Scotia; and
Whereas the governments policy of school board amalgamation has failed to put more resources into the classroom, thereby contributing to the pressure to close schools; and
Whereas this governments failed education policies are forcing the Halifax Regional School Board to consider closing seven neighbourhood schools in order to meet its other educational obligations;
Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for its wrong spending priorities which have led to a badly underfunded system of education for the children of Nova Scotia.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.
MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the Atlantic Junior B Hockey Championship tournament was played in New Waterford this past weekend; and
Whereas the Nova Scotian champions, the Cape Breton Alpines, acted as host to this prestigious tournament in their home arena; and
Whereas the Cape Breton Alpines emerged victorious over very stiff competition upon completion of this tournament;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to the executive, coaches and players of the Cape Breton Alpines on their success in winning the Atlantic Junior B Championship.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to waive notice.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable member for Queens.
MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas on February 29, 1997, the Parkinsons Foundation of Canada sponsored a wing eating challenge to raise funds to find a cure for the disease that affects more Canadians than ALS, multiple sclerosis and Huntingtons disease combined; and
Whereas the Progressive Conservative Caucus Office team participated in this worthwhile effort and contributed to raising money to assist research, education and public awareness of this most debilitating disease;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the Parkinsons Foundation as it seeks a cure for this disease that affects so many Nova Scotians and Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion in carried.
The honourable member for Colchester-Musquododoit Valley.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas in her Reply to the Speech from the Throne on Friday, the member for Bedford-Fall River referenced Emergency Health Services in Nova Scotia as being recognized as a leader in North America; and
Whereas the member for Bedford-Fall River in her putting forth her glowing attributes failed to mention a word about the large-scale reduction and loss of ambulance services to Nova Scotia communities; and
Whereas the member for Bedford-Fall River conveniently ignored recent comments made by an official of Emergency Health Services saying that if a community did not like losing their ambulance service, he had no difficulty taking "a brass knuckles approach" to ensuring services would be reduced;
Therefore be it resolved that before extolling the virtues of Emergency Health Services in Nova Scotia, the member for Bedford-Fall River look at the anxiety and additional loss of emergency ambulance service resulting from Liberal health reform.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would just like to review the comments that were just put on the record about brass knuckles. I am afraid I missed it, I would like to see it at any rate and then I may just challenge what is in the member's resolution. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The point is made.
The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Halifax Citadel MLA, Mr. Terence Donahoe, is attempting to use the House of Assembly as a forum to advance his federal political career; and
Whereas on last Friday the federal candidate, Mr. Donahoe, scolded the provincial Liberals for not convincing federal Liberals to decrease marine service fees even further; and
Whereas this MLA/federal candidate said a Tory Government in Ottawa would fix these things;
Therefore be it resolved that this MLA/federal candidate table in this House the commitment he has received from Mr. Jean Charest, which indicates that Mr. Charest will impose significant charges and full user fees for ice-breaking on the Port of Montreal and its users so that Halifax will get a break.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.
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 Health Minister praised outgoing Premier John Savage on the day of his resignation, saying that he was sorry to see "a man of the calibre of the Premier leaving the scene"; and
Whereas the Health Minister also claimed that he would do things differently than the Premier and that "the next four years are going to be a lot more fun than the last four years"; and
Whereas the Health Minister has been the Priorities and Planning Chairman for the last four years and has been intimately involved in all of this Liberal Government's decisions, indeed, if not leading the Liberal charge on HST, health care cuts and education cuts;
Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister and Premier wannabe come clean with the people of this province and table in this House all of the government's decisions that he would undo and define how he would undo them in four more years of Boudreau Liberal fun.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.
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 community of Sackville is very rich where it counts the most, in the calibre of its citizens; and
Whereas this Wednesday evening Lake District Recreation Association, itself a volunteer organization, will host the 18th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night so the community can honour distinguished Sackville residents for their unselfish service to the residents of their community; and
Whereas organizations have a difficult time selecting from among their members just one person to honour because so many are deserving;
Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank those who will be honoured at the 18th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night and all other volunteers who have made personal sacrifices by giving so generously of their time, energy and resources to improve the quality of life for Sackville residents.
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 Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the most recent example of the necessity for 24 hour emergency health care services at Hants Community Hospital in Windsor occurred Saturday morning at 4:00 a.m. as a result of a fatal motor vehicle accident in Moose Brook, Hants County; and
Whereas this tragic accident claimed the life of one man while two others were rushed to hospital in Windsor, 45 minutes away; and
Whereas if 14 hour rather than 24 hour emergency care had been in place at the Hants Community Hospital, the two individuals would have had to have been transported to either Truro, Bedford or Halifax, greatly increasing the time before a doctor would have been able to examine the two injured individuals;
Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and his Liberal Government explain to the residents of Hants County why funding was arranged so quickly for Digby General Hospital to ensure 24 hour emergency care, yet an agreement must be reached province-wide with the Nova Scotia Medical Society before residents of Hants County can be guaranteed the same level of service.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas on Friday last the member for Halifax Citadel participated in what could have been his last Throne Speech; and
Whereas that member indicated that as a federal member he would adjust marine service fees and impose full user charges on the Port of Montreal, tackle immigration concerns, delve into education matters and adjust transfer payments for post-secondary education; and
Whereas the federal wannabe for Halifax is obviously unveiling the Tory federal election strategy one piece at a time;
Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the member's swan song and direct the Speaker to forward a copy of his remarks to Tory boss Jean Charest.
I would ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye? Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable member for Cape Breton West.
MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas under this Liberal Government the child poverty rate has grown from the third lowest in the country to the fourth highest rate in Canada; and
Whereas the Premier stated that the federal monies given in the new federal budget are, "good start"; and
Whereas the Premier has stated that there are no more provincial monies to match federal monies to fight child poverty in this province;
Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately outline their plans to prevent the future erosion of children's welfare in this province.
Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?
I hear several Noes.
The notice is tabled.
The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.
MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the promoters of the pipeline that will ship Sable gas to customers in the United States and parts of Nova Scotia have confirmed that the line and its economic benefits will bypass Cape Breton Island; and
Whereas while missing out from the benefits, Cape Bretoners will suffer the economic costs as natural gas replaces coal as a source of electrical energy; and
Whereas this government tries to take credit for the economic benefits of the Sable gas project while washing its hands of the impact on the Cape Breton coal industry;
Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for once again turning its back on Cape Breton and its tragically high 27 per cent rate of unemployment.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Kings North.
MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas in 1993 the Liberal Leader promised no new taxes; and
Whereas since 1993 this same Liberal Leader has raised the provincial sales tax to 11 per cent, increased the gasoline tax, put a new 3 per cent tax on electricity and as of April 1, 1997, Nova Scotia has the new BS Tax on an even broader and higher base on items like fuel oil and electricity; and
Whereas since 1993 they have also raised fees for driver's licenses, marriage licences, fines, registration and fee for services;
Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Leader apologize to Nova Scotians for breaking so many of his election promises.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works has recently announced two major highway infrastructure projects for Shelburne and Pictou Counties; and
Whereas despite these announcements the minister has continued to ignore the completion of Highway No. 101 between Digby and Weymouth, which has seen a 75 per cent increase in accidents between 1991 and 1996; and
Whereas at the present time, approximately 900 trucks a month are travelling this stretch of Highway No. 101, exclusively from the Lewis Sawmill, an increase of 100 per cent over the past few years;
Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works come up with a specific time-frame for the completion of Highway No. 101 between Digby and Weymouth.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.
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 Liberal Government sold its amalgamation of school boards on the line that it would $11 million into the classrooms of our schools; and
Whereas the school boards have said, all along, that the government based its projections on reductions in staff numbers that had already been made in the year previous; and
Whereas the Liberal Government is, once again, through the Speech from the Throne, celebrating its efforts of amalgamation by saying, "Administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom.", although it does not attach the same $11 million figure;
Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government explain to the teachers, students and parents of this province exactly where the savings for its botched amalgamation have, in fact, gone and also explain whether, for example, their accounting figures incorporated overexpenditures such as the overbudget salary of co-ordinator George Unsworth.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.
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 Liberals promised during the 1993 election campaign to bring in a one-tiered, provincially-funded system of social assistance in Nova Scotia within six months of taking office; and
Whereas the deal announced last Friday is not only three and one-half years late, it is many millions of dollars short of creating a one-tiered system; and
Whereas under the long-delayed deal municipalities will still pay a substantial share of social assistance costs and Nova Scotians will continue to see levels of support determined by where they live;
Therefore be it resolved that this House add single-tiered social assistance to the long list of broken Liberal campaign promises that include among other things the BST, health reform and job creation.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Kings North.
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 Liberal Government's fifth Speech from the Throne states that, "Administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom. As an example, a four-year plan to reduce class sizes will be unveiled this year."; and
Whereas this action merely illustrates the fact that the results of the Liberal's so-called education reform of the past four years have meant larger class sizes; and
Whereas it appears that the Liberal direction for its next year is to undo what it has spent four years creating;
Therefore be it resolved that the government re-examine its 1993 election commitment to education and spend more time investing in progress for our education system and less time undoing the damage it has inflicted upon the classrooms of our province.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable Premier.
HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hope they are finished with their remarks. I was hoping I could make an introduction. I can wait. This is an introduction and I think that because there are young people up there, it might be just as well if they had this done before the rest of the remarks were made.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to welcome in your gallery three young people whom I have just presented with the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award. (Applause) They are Joel MacKenzie, Mike Lovas and Michael Gasparetto. Their parents, who obviously worked hard to organize this thing for them, are: Ann MacKenzie and Rick Wilson. If you would stand, John and Sandy Lovas and Renato Gasparetto.
I would like to acknowledge their presence and to acknowledge, too, the degree of hard work that young people put into achieving this and to wish them well in their future endeavours. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.
MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the school board amalgamation has also received a negative report from the President of the Canadian Teachers Federation, who is touring schools and meeting teachers across this province; and
Whereas the president has said publicly that while it was suggested that the merger would save money, "in reality it is quite costly"; and
Whereas the President, Maureen Morris, pointed as an example to the metro school board, where she said it might "look good on paper" to have one large board share resources, but when you are trying to deal with so much at once, it is difficult to meet anyone's needs;
Therefore be it resolved that the Education Minister and this government re-examine the goal of the school board amalgamation, since its author was reshuffled to another portfolio, and examine the areas that simply are not working, in an effort to rectify the mistakes before the fall elections, after which it will be an even bigger problem to repair.
MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Cape Breton West.
MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas presently there are 43 dairy farms in Cape Breton producing gross revenues of nearly $10 million annually; and
Whereas in total there are 443 dairy farms in operation across Nova Scotia, providing stable levels of employment; and
Whereas Nova Scotia's dairy industry has embarked on a province-wide campaign to bring to the attention of both government and the public the contributions, as well as the needs of their industry;
Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing immediately undertake to understand the real concerns of the Nova Scotia dairy industry and develop a working relationship that will see the industry prosper now and into the 21st Century.
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. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
The honourable Leader of the Opposition.
DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas Volunteer Canada is coordinating the country's celebration of National Volunteer Week, in recognition of the millions who give freely of their time to assist others; and
Whereas a recent study which states that 42 per cent of Canadians volunteer is certainly a reason to celebrate; and
Whereas this year Volunteer Canada has organized The Elected Hour of Service as a way to motivate elected officials at each level of government to pledge one hour of volunteer work, either on Volunteer Spirit Day - today- or any other time during this week;
Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House set a good example for the volunteer movement and offer an hour of their time during Volunteer Week and extend to the thousands of Nova Scotians and those millions across Canada our hearty thanks and congratulations for offering freely, year-round, of their time and talents to others in need.
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 member for Pictou West.
MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas agricultural exhibitions across Nova Scotia play a strong role in the promotion of Nova Scotia's agriculture industry while attracting over 300,000 people annually; and
Whereas this Liberal Government continues to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into other major tourism attractions in this province while ignoring Nova Scotia's 14 fairs and exhibitions; and
Whereas exhibitions and their boards of directors understand the necessity for fiscal restraint but object to being singled out and having $65,000 taken from them while the government leaves hundreds of thousands of dollars in place for other events;
Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing have Cabinet revisit the issue of funding for Nova Scotia's agricultural fairs and exhibitions and put them on an equal footing with other tourism shows and events presently being funded by the Government of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.
MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?
I hear several Noes.
The notice is tabled.
The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas 1997 marks the 100th Anniversary of the great Windsor fire; and
Whereas the fire started in the early morning hours of October 17, 1897, resulting in thousands of people being left homeless; and
Whereas the Centennial Committee of the Windsor Fire Department, comprised of Chairs John Sweet and Bob DeMont and other department members as well as representatives from the Windsor BIDC, the Windsor-West Hants Historical Society and local municipal councillors, is presently reviewing plans on a commemoration ceremony that will not only mark the historical significance of the anniversary but also pay tribute to the town's reconstruction 100 years later;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the dedication efforts being put forth by the residents of the Town of Windsor as they continue to strive to make Windsor an even better place to live while also recognizing what has transpired in the town since the great fire of 1897.
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.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.
HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West. (Applause)
MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their warm applause. I am thrilled.
AN HON. MEMBER: It is unexpected applause.
MR. MCINNES: Very unexpected.
Last Friday afternoon we kind of ran out of time. It was close to 3:00 o'clock and I didn't have a lot left in my speech, but I did want to come back and make a few more comments in regard to a number of items. When I adjourned, I was talking about the highways. I just want to take a minute and go back again to them.
We all drive Highway No. 102 and other roads, Highway No. 104 and Highway No. 103 and Highway No. 101. I will tell you, Highway No. 102 is miserable, the holes in that road. I do not understand. The minister may have stepped out or whatever, but I really wanted to bring it to his attention that it is so important. At night it is just impossible to see those holes. In the daytime you can pretty well steer around them, but at night it is just simply impossible to miss those awful holes. I don't understand. They did some work in the Stewiacke area on Highway No. 102, but why they wouldn't have done some more I don't know.
The other thing I want to mention. The member for Hants East talked on Friday afternoon about new paving for his constituency. I appreciate that every rural member wants new paving. I am saying a lot of them want new paving too but the fact whoever is in government next year, should . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Us.
MR. MCINNES: Well, whatever. Somebody will be but I am telling you that the program should be strictly repaving all across the province on those secondary roads because they are going to pieces and I don't care whether you go to Guysborough or you go to Colchester North, Annapolis County, or go to Timbuktu, I am sure some of those roads are just terrible that have been paved and if we don't do them - and I go to my colleagues in Pictou East, too - some of those roads really have to be done. I just say to you, if you are going to have some program this summer, let's do it on a repaving program on those other roads. I know the 100-Series roads are a little different matter, but anyway.
The government talks about how much debt was there when they came to office, and I don't disagree, but the debt was made up from lots of things like new hospitals, new schools, roads, infrastructure and whatever, and we now have a balanced budget or, according to the information we received, the minister will be talking about a balanced budget on Thursday or whatever day he brings it in, but at what cost to the people of Nova Scotia? It is like your own mortgage on your house or your business or whatever. You know you cannot pay it off in four years or five years, although we would like to. It is very difficult. It makes it hard on people and you are hurting the people of Nova Scotia by going too fast.
You say we wasted money? Well, maybe we did, but I just want to point out to you one or two items where this government wasted money. Just one or two things. (Interruption) Just let me have the floor. I have the floor this afternoon for probably 5 or 10 minutes. But anyway, your deputy ministers were fired and they were replaced how? By a national search across Canada, and three of those hired have already resigned at a cost to taxpayers of over $2.3 million, with the firings.
What about patronage? Liberals promised to end the age-old system and the following are just a fraction of the well-placed Liberal Party members who received plum positions, or sweetheart compensation deals. One of them who is mentioned often is Heather Robertson, of course, former chief of staff and Party worker. She has, what? Utilities Review Board, $80,000-plus. John Morash, Liberal fund-raiser, $70,000-plus.
AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, and he also got to be the administrator of Queens amalgamation.
MR. MCINNES: And he was an administrator, okay. George Unsworth. Now he was a friend of, I think he was Bernie's pal. He is Gaming Commission Chairman and do you know what his salary is? Its $120,000 a year.
AN HON. MEMBER: How much?
MR. MCINNES: Its $120,000.
AN HON. MEMBER: Are you serious?
MR. MCINNES: And many more. I won't list more, but there are more.
AN HON. MEMBER: List some more. Come on, give us some more.
MR. MCINNES: There was a committee appointed by the Premier and by the House, the Human Resources Committee, which our good friend, I understand, from Lunenburg chairs. Anyway, this committee was to ensure that appointments to agencies, boards and commissions were done fairly. Well, instead Liberal-dominated committee members merely rubber-stamp every government appointment, regardless of patronage and even my colleague for Colchester North called the committee a joke.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I saw nothing in this Speech from the Throne about agriculture and nothing about forestry, two of our primary industries in this province. Nothing; not a line. I never saw a line. There was one line about the tech business at the Agricultural College . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Agri-tech.
MR. MCINNES: Agri-tech business at the college, but that was one line. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, introduced a resolution this afternoon about dairy farmers of his area and our Leader, the member for Pictou Centre, and my colleague, the member for Pictou East did meet with the dairy farmers from our county. I understood that many of the dairy farmers have met with the MLAs across the province to raise their concerns about the Agriculture budget. They know that there has to be cuts in the budget and they understand that but they said, why doesnt the minister or the officials from the department come to us and we will make suggestions as to what should be cut, rather than be told that they are going to take $50,000 from the Dairy Commission or whatever they are cutting. The agriculture people know that there has to be cuts and they appreciate that, but let them have their say. Why dont we listen to the people?
Mr. Speaker, my Leader, the member for Pictou Centre, again mentioned in his remarks on Friday about Recovery House, and I do not want to belabour the minister about it. Funding for this facility is said to be going to be reduced again this year. Recovery House, how can Nova Scotians benefit from the closure of an agency that provides such an essential service for the increasing number of citizens who suffer from the bonds of addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, et cetera. I think it is imperative for the Minister of Health to intercede and see that funding is put in place. Now, I understand that he has told Recovery House that it will be funded by the regional boards. Well, the problem with that is that Recovery House is in Antigonish and then you have the eastern board and they have the northern board, but most of the people who go to it are from the northern board. So, if somebody does not give some direction, I do not know where the money is going to come to support that facility. I think it is one that is very important and one that is needed.
Tourism is a $1 billion industry across this province. It not only provides jobs for Nova Scotians, but generates provincial and municipal tax revenues which in turn support essential services, like health care and education. Nova Scotia has the highest concentration of festivals and events in Atlantic Canada and research has shown us that time and time again, tourists who take in a festival or community event during their visit tend to stay longer and spend more money.
We have many festivals in Pictou County and I am not going to take the time this afternoon. I told you about them before on various occasions, but I know it is important that we all get out and attend those festivals which are very important to the communities for fund-raisers and whatever, but people do appreciate them.
Tourism in Nova Scotia, as I said, is rapidly approaching a $1 billion per year industry. That is because of our beautiful scenery and whatever. Tourism can be the instigator of economic growth for communities across this great province. Tourists are interested in getting to know our heritage, that is not just things but also people. They are interested in natural, cultural, social and economic aspects of a given area or areas. Tourism is a growth industry and I encourage the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism to work hand in hand with the tourism industry and make tourists want to come back to Nova Scotia again and again.
Can we look for a moment at Nova Scotia campground activity in 1996. In 1996, there was 581,200 site-nights sold at 124 private and municipal campgrounds. Site-nights sold have increased since 1992 from, I will round it up, 459,000 in 1992 to about 582,000 last year. That is an increase of about 221,000 or 222,000 sites. Yet, the government has turned around and implemented the BS Tax without any advanced look at the harm it could have on this one particular tourism industry.
Our caucus has already heard from the President of the Nova Scotia Campground Owners Association and, needless to say, they are not very happy. My simple question is, why go out of your way to harm sectors of the industry that are doing so well?
In a written question to the then Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency last spring in this Legislature, I asked for the detailed analysis this government had undertaken as to the impact the BST would have on the tourism industry, and I am still waiting for a concrete answer. Why would they go ahead without having this type of information?
If tourism is to continue to flourish, we must address key issues such as a priority on the successful negotiations and consensus of ensuring commercialization of the Halifax International Airport. For example, the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia in a recent letter to the federal Minister of Transportation talked about the Atlantic Region losing its market
share in international visitation to the rest of Canada over the past five years. For example, in 1996, while international visitation from Europe to Nova Scotia decreased by 1 per cent, visitation to Canada was up 11.3 per cent and tourism spending by out of the country tourists rose by 9.6 per cent.
TIANS President Peggy Anderson said these figures are alarming and indicate the extreme disadvantage of the Atlantic Tourism Industry in attempting to gain international visitation via air travel.
Since the end of August of this past year, United States tourist entries to Nova Scotia were down 4.1 per cent, so there is considerable concern within the industry over the fact that Nova Scotia is losing its market share, particularly from traditional market places.
A recent strategy for growth released by the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia Air Access Committee and the Halifax International Airport identified four key thrusts. One of them was that the Nova Scotia Department of Economic Development and Tourism lacked a tourism marketing plan to address growth opportunities over the next five years and provide a road map for investment by industry partners.
They have called upon the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to assume the champion role and accountability to ensure that air accords are funded and implemented in accordance with industry direction and market opportunities, and development of a plan which identifies air route opportunities necessary for growth. Mr. Speaker, why hasn't this been done?
We have an Open Skies Agreement which was signed in 1995. American Eagle and Northwest Airlines were two carriers to begin flights in and out of Halifax, but they are now gone. What has Nova Scotia's minister done to see why this has happened, and what discussions has he had with his federal counterparts to see if these difficulties can be turned around? I think it is important that we look very carefully at that airport to see what we can do to bring more tourists here to Nova Scotia.
I am pleased to see that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs is here because I want to speak for a moment about the infrastructure project which announced an extension for another year. I think this was an excellent program and one that was very beneficial to many areas across the province. We were certainly pleased that we had a major project in River John, a sewer project that was approved and completed, as well as some work at the Hector Arena and it was very beneficial to the residents of both River John and to the Hector Arena people, of course, because there are a lot of young people that use the rink.
This year the Municipality of Pictou County has applied for two projects, one is Abercrombie and the other in Alma-Green Hill. I think there is about $2 million set aside for those projects and I know there is only so much money to go around. The Town of Pictou has also applied for a small sewer extension worth $333,000. While I realize, and the minister will well know, the town turned down a project during the last program because they didn't feel they had the funding. I think they do have the funding in place now, because where this is going to go out in the west end of town with the Oddfellows Home and the Pictou Advocate, if the shoreline is not put in, both these businesses will probably have to put in a treatment plant, so I think they would participate and bring in the town's share. I would hope to alleviate the minister's fear that because of the town's situation they at least would come up with the money.
The other project for the town is the new RCMP Headquarters which is very badly needed. I would urge the minister to give consideration to these projects.
Mr. Speaker, as I was driving down today I had the CBC on. Anyway, I am thinking that within a year or so there is going to be an election in Nova Scotia. My understanding is that Alberta and Prince Edward Island have not done enumeration which is being done in the province on the weekend for the federal election. I am just wondering if any of the government people have given consideration that the province use the federal lists for voting purposes during the next election, whenever it may be. Now, I realize that some of the boundaries may be different but I think it is something that is worthwhile looking at. I believe the figure for enumeration across this province is at least $1 million to do the enumeration. If in fact the lists are done and whether they could be brought back, because some of the polls are different. I realize that. With computers today and with all the civic numbers listed I would think it is something that the government should look at.
Mr. Speaker, again I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak to the Speech from the Throne. I just want to say I was disappointed that there was not more in the budget for job creation. You know, we have a lot of people unemployed and anything we could do to help those people get work, I think is very important.
They do mention money for health but the people are nervous about health care in Nova Scotia. They really are. Anybody that goes out and listens and talks to people, look, people are concerned with the health care cuts. People want to feel good about health care. It is important that they feel good about health care.
Education. There is supposed to be a little money in the budget for education, but you know, they are our future, Mr. Speaker. The young people in this province are our future. So anything we can do. These school boards are too big. They are just unwieldy, absolutely unwieldy. I did speak about that Friday afternoon, so I will not go back.
I will say to you, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you again for the opportunity. I would like to finish up today on this speech and I will be voting against the motion and for the amendment.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.
MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am once again honoured to rise in this Legislature and address these few remarks in reply to the Speech from the Throne.
Mr. Speaker, please convey to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor the congratulations of the citizens of Sackville-Beaverbank on a most excellent speech. Good luck to you, Mr. Speaker, in this session.
Before I begin my comments, Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with my colleagues in expressing my condolences to the family of our friend and former colleague Ross Bragg. Ross was one of the finest people I ever met. Whenever I approached him with a concern or a problem he willingly gave of his time to help find a solution. Ross always looked on the positive side of things. This was evident as Ross struggled with the disease that finally took his life. He was cheerful and upbeat right to the end. To his wife Cathy and all his family I extend my deepest expression of sympathy.
Mr. Speaker, it is hard to believe that almost four years have gone by since this government has been elected to office. So much has been accomplished in such a short period of time. Because of legislation passed in this House by this government, never again will the citizens of this province be confronted with the terrible financial mess encountered by the government in 1993 as a result of the total mismanagement of the province's affairs by the previous John Buchanan-led Tory Government. For the second year in a row this government will produce a balanced budget. Now that is performance. (Applause) The Tories were in power for 15 years and could not even come close to what we have done in the last four. Those members to my left should hang their heads in shame. (Interruptions) They did, too.
Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear His Honour state in the Speech From the Throne that according to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia will lead the country in new investments, with 18 per cent growth. That growth will translate itself into more jobs for Nova Scotians. Now that is performance. The sacrifices of the past few years are beginning to pay off.
Mr. Speaker, there is one initiative of this government, for whatever reason, that has gone relatively unnoticed by the media and the public at large. I refer to the first across-the-board income tax cut in the province's history. Effective July 1st, the personal income tax rate payable to the provincial government will drop 3.4 per cent. This is good news for all Nova Scotians.
Associated with this income tax reduction is a direct payment program for Nova Scotians who are on a low income. These people will not have to pay any income tax at all. This is good news for Nova Scotia. It shows that this government is a caring government that despite difficult fiscal times, is still able to look after those in our society who are struggling to make ends meet. This is what Liberalism is all about.
Mr. Speaker, this government has also been very much aware of the needs of the constituents of Sackville-Beaverbank. This past year there have been many government-sponsored projects that have benefitted the constituency of Sackville-Beaverbank. I would like to thank all the volunteers in my constituency for their continued devotion to the needs of the community. I would like to again commend Mr. Ken Margeson on his 75 year commitment to the Scouting movement.
Last year when I participated in the Throne Speech debate I made reference to the concern of mobile-home owners and the practice of mobile-home park owners increasing pad fees with no justification. I am pleased to see that on Friday the Minister of Business and Consumer Services introduced a bill that will allow the Director of Residential Tenancies to make decisions respecting rent review for mobile-home park spaces. In other words, the director can make decisions as to whether or not an increase in pad fees is justified. If the increase is not justified, the director can then reject the fee increase.
Mr. Speaker, mobile-home owners who live in mobile-home parks have been waiting a long time for this legislation. Thanks to the hard work of the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, the legislation is now a reality. I commend the staff, the Mobile Home Advisory Committee and residents and especially the Premier, for his dedication to get this bill forward. It was not an easy one. With the greatest number of mobile homes in this province in my constituency, I am truly grateful for this legislation. That is, once again, another example of this government responding to the needs of its citizens.
In the past year there have been many government initiatives that have been beneficial for the constituency of Sackville-Beaverbank. The recent twinning of Highway No. 101 from Bedford to Mount Uniacke has been a boost to traffic safety in this constituency. Not only is travel safer but travel time from metro to the Valley has been considerably reduced.
This past year also saw the repaving of Highway No. 1 from Beaverbank to the Patton Road. This coming year will see a number of paving projects that take place in Sackville, Beaverbank and Hammonds Plains.
I want to thank the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for his response to the transportation needs in my constituency. This is yet another example of this government's caring responsibility to the communitys needs.
Other government initiatives in Sackville-Beaverbank include the following: funding support for the Lucasville/Upper Hammonds Plains Economic Development Association; the passage of a bill in this Legislature to compensate the residents of Upper Sackville for putting up with a landfill in their community; a $230,000 grant for the upgrading of the Sackville Arena; funding for the first phase of the Beaverbank sewer and water project; and cost- sharing on the installation of water lines for the community of Lucasville through the infrastructure program.
Mr. Speaker, there are still more projects that need to be undertaken in Sackville-Beaverbank, projects such as the water lines for Hammonds Plains and Beaverbank and the upgrading of recreational facilities in Sackville, Beaverbank, Lucasville and Hammonds Plains. I know that government funds are limited, but I also know that through innovative measures the government departments concerned will do their best to see these projects through to completion.
Mr. Speaker, there are some other matters that are of great concern to residents of Sackville-Beaverbank. One of these is the decision of the Council of the Halifax Regional Municipality to consider locating a composting facility in proximity to Hammonds Plains. I have already expressed the concerns of the residents of Hammonds Plains about this facility. There are many other sites in the Halifax Regional Municipality, removed from populated areas, where such a facility could be located. I trust that my good friend, the Minister of the Environment, will hear the people's concerns. I have been talking to him many times about this and he is looking at this and he is concerned and he is going to have a good look at this through people who are going to set up a committee for the people to have a good look at it and make a decision. So I appreciate that.
Although an addition to the Hammonds Plains Elementary School was recently completed, the school is still overcrowded; in fact, four portable classrooms have had to be placed at the school for the present school year. I appeal to the Minister of Education to take a serious look at the rapid growth of the community and implement the necessary measures to provide adequate education facilities for the fastest growing area of Eastern Canada, and this is a fact.
There are also concerns about school overcrowding in Millwood, Upper Sackville and Middle Sackville communities. An immediate start on additions and renovations to Sackville Heights Junior High School will help to eliminate these problems. I trust the minister will be able to approve a timely start to this important project.
Mr. Speaker, before I conclude my remarks, I would like to pay tribute to our Leader and Premier. Our Premier provided the leadership and made the tough decisions to put this province back on its feet. Despite strong criticism from many interest groups, our Premier never flinched and did what he had to do. To you, Mr. Premier, I say thank you for your steadfastness in bringing about a sound, responsible government for all Nova Scotians. Your unswerving leadership during this most difficult period will not be forgotten. (Applause)
Personally, I will miss our many years of friendship and assistance to each other in municipal and provincial politics. We had a good, long relationship and I think it was beneficial to both of us.
Mr. Speaker, I will be voting for the motion in favour of the Speech from the Throne. Thank you very much. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.
MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the constituency and on behalf of some things that may touch on the provincial. I appreciate the honour of standing in this historic Chamber to say some words on behalf of the people of Cape Breton Centre. It is an opportunity that not all people in Nova Scotia have. I say this because I had an opportunity, and most of us had the opportunity, to look in the lounge to see all the new pictures that are up there, people in the past who have served in this historic Chamber. Some people in the House know many of them and have been colleagues of many of them in the House. Some of us may not have had the privilege.
What I want to mention is that when I looked at all of the pictures and looked at all of the historical aspects of it where they came from, one could see that there were many words spoken by these people in this House. Probably some of them were very long; some people may say many were long-winded, and some say they were short. Some people would even say that those who spoke did not mean anything or say anything anyway, but that's the democracy of the place.
I would like to bring greetings from Cape Breton Centre, Mr. Speaker, to you and to the members of the House. The constituency comprises the areas of New Waterford, Scotchtown, River Ryan, Gardiner Mines, Dominion and Reserve Mines. I would like to bring to the attention of members that the people in this constituency are all great, great people. The mosaic of the population is one that speaks for great harmony that happens within the constituency. Most of these people came from foreign lands in order to work in the coal mines and the steel plant.
There are a couple of aspects that I would like to mention to you, Mr. Speaker, and to members of the House and the first one is the health aspects that are happening in the constituency. I am very pleased to announce that the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital
is now stabilized. This was not always so because there was a lot of suspicion, a lot of political interference and a lot of doubts on many people's minds that it would not be stabilized. I would like at this time to thank the Premier for personally coming down to meet the people in New Waterford and to say that the New Waterford hospital will not and would not close. That is one that has been fulfilled. Even further than that, I think the hospital is almost completely full. In other words, they are stabilized to the highest extent for a long, long time.
Now, this is was not always going to be so, Mr. Speaker, because as my colleague the member for Cape Breton Nova has expounded in his reply, the hospital was not going to stay open under a certain government, and it was not this government. So this has been expounded very, very strongly. Now, I shudder to think what would have happened if the past government had been in office. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova and myself strongly believe that the hospital would be closed, because there was some information around that stated that. It is amazing as I sat and listen over the past number of months how the health system is becoming a political football in this House. That's a shame. We know that if it had of been on the strength of the past government, there would be no health system, it would be deprived for most people in this province and, particularly from the area from which I belong, health would have been on the back burner and slashed and cut so that the hospital that is in my area probably would be closed.
I would like to mention another thing that has come to my attention since I have been elected to the House, Mr. Speaker, and that is the condition of the roads. In the past government, the roads that came under jurisdiction on the distribution of boundaries were probably in the most terrible condition that ever existed. The reason I say that because they were never ever paved. We are not talking about repaving. We have been very fortunate because of the schedule that we have is that all of those roads that have been in my constituency that were not paved are now done. Now, I wonder why sometimes it took over 15 years to get them paved? I am not saying there was patronage involved anywhere, but I have to tell you that they were not done and now they are all finished. With the completion of the Sydney-Glace Bay Highway this summer, hopefully, that will make it a complete job. Half of it was done last year and the other half will be completed this year. It was done on a maintenance schedule and with a great deal of respect for the people and their conditions. It was not done all at once but over a gradual period of time, which is the way it should have been done in the past.
McLellan Heights is one that I hope to have done this year. That is one that has been on the books for at least 15, 16 or 17 years; completely ignored. Is there a need for more? Yes, there is, and I will be requesting from the minister responsible a maintenance and operations schedule so that these things can happen at the same time. What we are saying is that there is a government willing to listen to the requests of the people from Cape Breton Centre and they did it very nicely and in a deliberate way.
I would like to take the opportunity to pay homage to all the groups in Cape Breton Centre who perform activities on service clubs, the Rotary Club and that sort of thing. They do a tremendous job for the people in the constituency of Cape Breton Centre and I would think that some of the resolutions that were passed in the House today recognize that fact. Without these people, a lot of the things that may happen in our communities would not be able to be fulfilled. These volunteers do their work unselfishly and they perform their endeavours in the greatest possible way.
A couple of things I would like to mention, one is the coal industry. As everybody knows they have undergone many changes and have been confronted with many problems. As before, and as history will tell us, the mining people and those who are responsible for it will settle the operation of the coal industry in Cape Breton. On that line, I think thanks should be extended quite extensively to the members of the UMW and all the miners for the work they are trying to do to maintain this industry. They will find a way to develop the mining operation in Cape Breton, so I applaud and endorse their efforts to make the coal mining industry a viable operation.
Unemployment, as we all know, is causing a great deal of stress and concern to the people. It is well known that the people affected are the ones who will determine the path of recovery. What I would like to mention is that the TFAs are all coming out now; those from away is what it means. They are the ones who are all saying how the area will be corrected and it is just amazing how everybody else knows what should happen in Cape Breton. Never been there or never lived there, but the TFAs are the ones who are giving all the worldly advice to the people. But I have to tell you that history will prove, again, that the people in the area will be the ones who will decide what is going to happen there and they will do it in a very constructive way.
That is a great thing to have now; all the people saying that this is the area that they are going to concentrate. I am always amazed as I sit here and everybody has the answer, especially some of the people who have been in government before who didn't have the answer then. I have to tell you that the TFAs who were in operation a long time ago were not very successful. They came and took the money, did a couple of things and left without any responsibility for the people who live there. So, we have had all the experts from away.
I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, to see that there is now a concentration of groups in the Cape Breton area who are willing to put the time and the effort, who are making suggestions and who are putting into some viable ways how Cape Breton can operate. I think we should applaud them and I am sure that the government will be listening and I am sure they will assist those who want to bring forth. I want to tell you, the Economic Development and Tourism Department have already moved in that way. So, I thank the government for their interest, but they are not coming in and laying everything on them.
The government assisted before and the government will assist again the Island of Cape Breton as it develops, to show their way in this country. I have to tell you that anything that is good for Cape Breton is good for Nova Scotia. Anything that is good for Nova Scotia should be good for Cape Breton. So, we cannot keep separating them as some people try very extensively try to do.
AN HON. MEMBER: Like that TFA over there.
MR. MACNEIL: We all know that anybody who wants to be a TFA, that you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, and that the Cape Breton people will satisfy themselves quite extensively.
Just before I close, Mr. Speaker, because a lot of people like to talk a long time and sometimes say nothing, while other people like to talk a very short time and may not say anything, but shorter is better. I would just like to compliment the University College of Cape Breton at this time for all their endeavours in trying to bring the community together. They are having difficulties. We know that the money they were allocated is not great. It is becoming a little better. They are a major institution that is trying to help all the communities in Cape Breton.
Mr. Speaker, in the short time I have, I hope the people of Cape Breton Centre will be pleased with the results that will be forthcoming. I will be voting on behalf of the motion. Thank you very much.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.
MR. CHARLES MACARTHUR: Mr. Speaker, indeed it is a pleasure for me to rise once again in this historic Chamber and say a few words on behalf of this constituency that I have had the pleasure to serve in this House for the last eight or so years.
I want to, sir, first of all congratulate yourself on being appointed Speaker of this House. I wish you the best of luck. I also wish to extend my congratulations to the Deputy Speaker. I hope you both will get along fine and that things will work out for you and that you will be here for a good long time.
I want to first of all, Mr. Speaker, give my condolences to my former colleague the honourable Ross Bragg. Mr. Bragg served this House very well and I am sure that his constituency and his wife and all of his family will miss him greatly. I want to extend my own personal feelings to them and wish that they get along well and have a good future in years to come.
A name that was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Archie Neil Chisholm, was a great colleague and friend of mine. I remember when I did the first campaign in Margaree Forks I was at Archie Neil's home and was very welcome. Although Archie Neil and I didn't see together politically, certainly when I entered the House I said to Archie Neil - and I think I stated it one time before - that I was only calling on the voters that I thought would vote for me and he was one of the first that I would welcome to give me the opportunity. Archie Neil and I were great friends.
Archie Neil certainly made a great contribution to the County of Inverness as well as the Island of Cape Breton, from his cultural point of view and from all the things that he did, the great contributions that he made to the county and to the musical culture of Nova Scotia. Some of the names that I mention that Archie Neil probably had a great influence on are John Allen Cameron, Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster, the Rankin Family to name just a few. Certainly Archie Neil encouraged them to keep on with their music. Many is the night that I attended functions and dances in the County of Inverness and Archie Neil was always one of the first to be there, he and his wife. He certainly made a great contribution to the tourism system of Inverness County.
It is certainly a great pleasure for me to understand that the Department of Economic Development and Tourism has declared this year the Year of Music and will be marketing musical gifts for Nova Scotia. If the department intends to have a festival in any part of Nova Scotia, I would certainly welcome them to Inverness County because I am sure that the people of that county make a great musical contribution to the Province of Nova Scotia and to Canada in general. Those people that I have mentioned before have travelled all over the world and brought great honour to Nova Scotia and especially to Inverness County.
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear my colleague from Cape Breton Centre got some new paving last year and I congratulate them for being able to do that. I want to assure you that the roads in Inverness County - and I have mentioned them on very many occasions in this House - certainly need a great deal of upgrading. I was pleased that the Minister of Transportation announced last week that there was a little piece of my constituency as well as the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesburys Highway No. 105 in Inverness County beginning in Port Hastings and extending eight kilometres toward Whycocomagh. I want to thank the minister for his attention to this project and hope that concerns in regard to the highway in Inverness County will continue.
I want to assure the Minister of Transportation that a great deal of people travel down from Port Hawkesbury and Port Hastings toward Inverness, Mabou and Judique and certainly that road is badly in need of upgrading. The first portion of the highway toward Judique is not too bad but when you get beyond that it is deplorable. I am sure that the tourist people coming to Inverness County and travelling down Trunk 19 find it a great inconvenience and certainly cannot travel along like they can on Highway No. 104. I want to ask the minister to take a good look at Inverness County because I think if you look across Nova Scotia, we
probably have more back roads in Inverness County than in any other part of Nova Scotia. A couple of years ago there was a survey done and Inverness was first and I think Antigonish County and probably Digby County came second and third.
I am looking forward to working with the minister to see what new construction can be done and I will be meeting with him in the near future. I am sure the minister will give us every consideration. I know there is a lot of repaving to be done, but certainly there are a lot of roads in Inverness County that have been upgraded over a good many years and it wouldn't take an awful lot to put new paving on them.
I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about Stora Forest Industries. In 1994, as we know, the Government of Nova Scotia advanced them $15.4 million and as a result the government was responsible for saving 600 direct jobs. Stora Forest Industries was given this loan over a three year payback period and it was paid within one year. So we have Stora making a major contribution to the province's rosy economic future with a $750 million expansion with a possible additional 800 jobs that we could create.
Not all businesses are the size and scale of Stora Forest Industries. However, this government recognized that with the Community Business Loan Program, entrepreneurs got a chance to start up or expand their small businesses in Inverness County. This program has resulted in 12 new businesses and has created 33 jobs. It also maintained an additional 55 jobs and I hope to see this program and its success continue.
The governments commitment to infrastructure helps to provide employment while providing municipal maintenance and capital improvements. I was pleased to hear the Premier announce in February a one year $42 million extension to the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program. This program has a positive effect on the constituency that I represent with sewer system installation and upgrading in Port Hood, Inverness and Cheticamp. This program has also resulted in the construction of a new community centre in Judique and an upgrading of the courthouse in Port Hood.
The water system in Port Hood was also upgraded under this program. We hope that the Canada-Nova Scotia Works Program representing an investment of over $5 million to the economy of Inverness will continue. I am very proud to tell you of the role that this government played in securing that investment for my constituency.
Mr. Speaker, on Saturday evening, I had the great pleasure of attending the Horsemen's Banquet in Inverness and I am proud to say that out of the horsemen of all the racetracks in Nova Scotia, Inverness was the only one that made any money. Not a great deal of money, but certainly I want to congratulate the board of directors and all the horsemen. I want to say that regardless of what each and every one of us think of the horse racing industry in Nova Scotia or across the Maritime Provinces, it is a big industry with a lot of investment. The Racing Commission happened to be at that meeting and I spoke to them and they made a
comment themselves. They have a program that they are ready to present to the three Maritime Provinces, with the hope that the racetracks in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will get an opportunity to get a facelifting and some new funds will be provided so that the tracks can operate successfully in the future.
Mr. Speaker, I was glad to hear them say that they had a program that may be possible to revitalize the horse racing industry, not only in Inverness, but across the whole Maritime Provinces. I look forward, when they have their proposal ready, that the Government of Nova Scotia, along with the other governments, will look favourably and present them with some way of operating the racetracks. Because, as I have said, there are a lot of people with a great deal of investment.
I know that I could go on about Inverness County for a long time, but I look forward to working with the government over the next few years to see that Inverness gets its fair share of the economic conditions that will exist in the province, after having a balanced budget for the past couple of years. I look forward, as I said, to working with the ministers and hope that they will cooperate and do whatever they can for the people of Inverness.
I want to say in closing that we are no better off than the rest of Cape Breton Island. On the western side of the island, we are running an Employment Insurance somewhere between 30 per cent to 50 per cent. I look forward and I am grateful that the people of Inverness County now have taken the initiative to form three or four development associations and they have presented programs to the government that are now before the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. I look forward to working with the minister and to seeing some of those proposals will be looked after and put forth.
I will be voting for the motion and against the amendments. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.
MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to make my modest contribution to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne this afternoon here in Province House, this focal point of democracy in Nova Scotia. I bring to you, sir, and all members of the House, greetings from my constituents in Queens, whom I have had the honour to represent now for almost 19 years. I am beginning my 20th year in September, should the House continue to live that long.
My constituency continues, as it has been since I began representing it and, indeed, as those who came before me found it when they were elected to represent an area which is essentially rural, an area with one fairly large town in it, an area that has an economy which is essentially resource based, an area in which the people live close to the land, yet one in which we find essentially two communities - one which is culturally nurtured by the sea and the other which is culturally nurtured by the forest.
One need not go very far beyond tidewater on the Mersey or the Medway Rivers in order to understand that those two cultures are very much extant and they are very different from each other. We have been sending representatives to this place for some 230 years now. The member of longest tenure was Simeon Perkins, who represented our constituency for something in the order of 35 years. I can assure you, sir, and all members that I have no wish to emulate that very fine record set by Mr. Perkins and I suspect it will last for a long time to come.
Not very often do we take time to reflect on the necrology and the congratulatory messages which His Honour reads in his Speech from the Throne at the beginning of each session. I think it is important for us, from time to time, to think about some of these people whom we knew personally and to reflect upon the contributions that they have made or continue to make to the Province of Nova Scotia.
While I did not know Dr. Clarence Gosse well, he was a Lieutenant Governor when I first was elected to this place in 1978, I remember him as a kind and generous man of great medical reputation; a person who took a real interest in this place and in all of the members irrespective of which Party they were elected and which area they were elected to represent. He was a fine gentleman and one who will be fondly remembered by all who met him, and I suspect will be fondly and kindly remembered by Nova Scotia historians as well.
George Henley was just a wonderful man. Indeed, one of those persons who was larger than life and could well be said to have been a legend in his own time. George came to be a friend of mine, and I hope I a friend of his, in advance of my coming here in 1978. George always made sure that he listened attentively to and gave every level of assistance that he could to those who were backbenchers, not only in the government but those who sat in the Opposition as well. George was well-liked. George was trusted. George was a man who spoke well for his constituents and spoke well in a country kind of way for the people of Nova Scotia and particularly for those in the forest industry, which he represented so well as a Minister of the Crown for many years.
While I did not serve in this place with Jim Vaughan, I did know Jim reasonably well. I think it can be said of Jim that, whether in this place or elsewhere, he always worked hard for the people of the North End, which he loved so dearly. He will certainly be remembered by the people in that area, not only as a fine representative in this place but, indeed, as a tireless worker on behalf of the North End.
Ross Bragg, a person who will be sorely missed not only by his family but, indeed, by all of his friends, and his friends were legion in number. Ross had a very kind and gentle touch with respect to the relationships he had with others. There was nobody to whom Ross reached out or, indeed, who reached out to Ross who did not walk away feeling that they had
benefited from the relationship that they had made with him. Ross was a great partisan but, at the same time, Ross was entirely capable of pushing partisanship into the background in the better interests of Nova Scotia. I must say that, with respect to my own constituency, time and time again I have found Ross to be a most valuable colleague as well as a valued friend with respect to serving its interests. I know that all of us join together in expressing to Ross' family our deepest sympathy on their loss, which is not only our loss but a great loss for all of Nova Scotia as well.
I did not know Dominic Melanson, the last surviving member of the Royal Canadian Regiment, who fought in the First World War, but I think it is very important that we reflect on Mr. Melanson's contribution in two great wars. My generation is the first generation of three which did not face a global conflict, and in large measure we were able to avoid having to face the kinds of decisions that our fathers and grandfathers made as a consequence of their unselfish action in volunteering to serve for democracy from 1914 to 1918 and from 1939 to 1945. We do well to remember the men and indeed the women who, like Dominic Melanson, have served their country, all too often giving up their lives and their health in that service. As we say each Remembrance Day, and as so many of us say as we pass by the monuments to those who made the supreme sacrifice in our home towns, at the going down of the sun we shall remember them.
There is also a reference made by His Honour in the Speech from the Throne to notable Nova Scotians and each of them is indeed worthy of note, but there are two people whom he does not mention and the reason is obvious. He does not mention either himself nor Her Honour, Mrs. Kinley. Both His Honour and Her Honour have done exemplary service to this province in advance of their coming to Government House to continue to provide exemplary service, in this case to the Crown as Her Majesty's representatives here in Nova Scotia. I know that I speak on behalf of all the people on the South Shore when I say how proud we are to have a second Lunenburg couple inhabiting Government House and how deeply and genuinely fond the people of the South Shore are of Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Kinley.
Finally, I would also like to note that there are two other persons who have done great service to the province and who will be departing the political scene. They, of course, are the Premier, John Savage, and his wife Margaret. Irrespective of our political differences, through the years as a Minister of the Crown and then, more recently, as a member of the Opposition, I have had the opportunity to get to know John Savage and to work with him, both in his capacity as the Mayor of Dartmouth and as the Premier of this Province. In my personal dealings I have always found him to be a gentleman, a man imbued with some significant humour, a man who is one of significant learning and one who, irrespective of the differences we may have had with respect to the way in which government has been applied during his tenure here, one who has clearly dedicated himself to what he believed to be the best interests of this province. In that respect this province has been well served by both him and by his wife Margaret. I know that I speak on behalf of my constituents when I say that we wish them well
in whatever endeavours they may together undertake subsequent to the Premier's departure from this place.
Madam Speaker, I also noticed that very early in the Speech from the Throne His Honour makes reference to the tide having turned. Indeed, that is an entirely correct observation, the tide has turned. But the tide, having come in on the flood in 1993 and having elected this government, it is very clear that the tide has turned and it is on a fast ebb and at the first opportunity that the people have to go to the polls, that fast ebb will result in the current crowd being swept from office, just as the Fundy shores are swept by that 30 foot and 40 foot tide which rushes in and then, in turn, rushes out twice daily.
This is a government which fabricated an election platform and, which once having achieved government, turned around and did precisely the opposite to virtually everything that it promised in that 1993 election campaign. Is it any wonder then when the government, through the Speech from the Throne, says Nova Scotia will lead in new investment and Nova Scotia is leading in job growth and unemployment, that nobody believes it. How can the electorate possibly believe a political Party which, when out of government, promised one thing and, when in government, delivered precisely the opposite? There is a very significant credibility gap here which will not be healed in the few months left between now and the time that Nova Scotians go to polls.
Bear in mind that this is the government that said no new taxes and then, in its first budget, turned around and raised somewhere between $80 million and $100 million in new taxes in that first budget. This is the government which said no new taxes and yet which, in order to help bail out its friend, Jean Chretien, and his promise to abolish the GST, has involved Nova Scotians, along with Newfoundlanders and New Brunswickers, in a new form of regressive taxation, that is the blended sales tax, the dreaded BST.
I was reminded of that just three times this past week. When I went home on Friday I found the oil bill left by my oil man. I noted that the amount was $256.32. Prior to April 1, 1997, the taxes would have been $20.51 less than the bill was, as a result of the tank being filled on April 10th, 1997. I wonder how the poor are going to cope with such a tax as that.
We who live in rural areas are perhaps even more conscious than those who live in urban areas of the need to have transportation available to us, for our families to meet our daily needs, to get back and forth to work, to go to the doctor, to do all the things that one must do in a rural constituency in the family automobile or truck. I have been reminded of that, as have all Nova Scotians, two to three to four times a week as we go to the gas station and fuel up and find, as is the case in Liverpool, that gas has gone from under 60 cents per gallon to almost 65 cents per gallon.
What do Nova Scotians get for that extra tax? Absolutely zero, nothing. Another hardship perpetrated on rural dwellers, in particular, in Nova Scotia, but a hardship perpetrated particularly on those who are less well-to-do and who also have to have vehicles to drive to get themselves around in the rural areas of this province, particularly where there is no mass transportation available. Then I went over to pick up a pair of trousers at the dry-cleaners; this is an old form because it simply has the GST registration number on it, but we now know this is going to cost 8 per cent more. Cleanliness is next to godliness; this government is even taxing that attribution.
This is a government that speaks of new directions. Well, I can well understand why it would want to speak of new directions; it doesn't want Nova Scotians to remember the directions in which it has taken them over the last four years.
We look at the health system which is just jury-rigged, which is held together by baling wire, which has as many different policies applied to the communities in this province as there are communities. My colleague, the member for Hants West, spoke to that earlier this afternoon, when he spoke on behalf of his own constituents who find themselves in a very different situation with respect to Emergency Health Services in Windsor than are those in Digby. Why should people in different parts of the province be treated differently? Surely all Nova Scotians and all Nova Scotian communities are equal and what applies to one community should apply to another. Why is it that the health system has become so fragmented that that no longer is the case?
What has happened to our hospitals in our communities? In my case, thank Heavens our hospital is still open, but I look at other communities across the province who have lost their hospitals, who are now less well served than they were in the past. People who as citizens strive to work hard for the community hospitals and now have lost the energy and the rationale, who are continuing to put their shoulders to the wheel because they no longer have a community hospital to serve.
When we look at the drain of doctors in this province and we understand that new doctors are not coming in because they fear that there is a very poor future here for persons who wish to practise medicine in Nova Scotia and say they look to more fertile fields. The nurses, who are clearly overworked in this province, who are overworked to the point of burn-out, the young people who graduate from nursing and cannot find employment here because of downsizing and because of hospital closures now have to go and practise their profession in other jurisdictions, most particularly in the United States. I can think of young constituents of my own who have found themselves in that position and who have gone to Texas and Louisiana, to Florida, to Maine and to other states in the United States.
I look at the jobs that our hospitals are having to do now making up for the lack of additional spaces in homes for special care. Our population is growing older and, yet, in spite of the demographics in society and predictions that we can clearly make with respect to what
is going to happen to our aging population, we are not adding new spaces to our nursing homes. As a consequence, we find people who should be in nursing home beds being temporarily housed, indeed, for too long periods of time by our hospitals because there is simply no place else for them to go. As we all know, it is more expensive and less productive to keep these people in hospital beds than to give them places that they need and they deserve in homes for special care.
What of our Emergency Health Services? It is like a kaleidoscope; every time we pick it up and look through the viewer, it changes shape. At the end of last week, I was told, by a person in my community who would certainly know, that the arrangement with respect to Emergency Health Services in Lunenburg had fallen apart. On Saturday, I went into Chandler's Funeral Home to pay my respects to a departed friend. I learned there that not only had the arrangement fallen apart in Lunenburg County, but, apparently, it has now fallen apart province-wide, that, in effect, we now are moving almost to a situation where we have a government-owned Emergency Health Service from one end of the province to the other.
This is certainly not what this government preached that it would be doing with respect to Emergency Health Service. The whole thing continues to be in flux. People continue to be confused. Nova Scotians don't know where this government is going and, for Heavens sake, how could they? The government itself has no idea where it is going with respect to Emergency Health Service.
Sable gas. Well, Sable gas is now much touted as the saviour of the economic future of this province. It was very interesting to have listened to this government when they were in Opposition and talked about Nova Scotia's offshore resources and spoke derisively of any of those who promoted Nova Scotia's offshore resources. Now we find them playing out exactly the same kind of role that was played out by the Regan Government and then the governments of which I was part, with respect to understanding, indeed, there is a very valuable resource on the Scotian Shelf, one which is waiting to be tapped and one which Nova Scotians believe was waiting to be tapped for them.
We have been very focused, if not singularly focused on the question of what route the gas pipeline will take. That question, or the answer to it, is of significantly less importance than to other questions. One question being, what kind of royalty will the Province of Nova Scotia receive as a consequence of its natural gas resource being tapped and, secondly - and at least equally important, and, indeed, perhaps, in the long term, even more important - what kind of access will Nova Scotians be guaranteed to the natural gas which will be tapped from the Scotian Shelf? Well, we are beginning to have some grounds for fear for the future. I think we were all reminded by that in stories in both The Chronicle-Herald and The Daily News this past week, as the Sable gas hearings were underway.
The whistle was blown, not by a representative from Nova Scotia; the concern was not raised by anybody representing the Nova Scotia Government, but oddly enough, by a person representing the Government of New Brunswick, Mr. Ian Blue. I think it is interesting for us to reflect on the questions that Mr. Blue raised, questions which could not or would not be answered by the experts representing those who are applying to build and operate that gas line and move gas from Nova Scotia west into New Brunswick and then the United States.
Mr. Ian Blue had this to say. "Theres no assurance that either New Brunswick or Nova Scotia will get gas. If a higher price can be obtained in the Boston market, then that is where the proponent intends to sell the gas, . . . Maritimes and Northeast has sold only pipeline capacity - not the gas - to customers such as Nova Scotia Power Inc. . . . According to figures provided to Blue, Maritimes and Northeast has committed pipeline capacity of more than 532,000 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) a day, which is greater than the Sable development's planned daily production of 480,000 million BTUs. '(Maritimes and Northeast) has oversold the pipeline, creating expectations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that can't be met". Blue also pushed the representatives of the proponents for assurances that if Maritime companies sign on to gas, there will be a long-term supply coming from the Scotian Shelf. Neither experts, however, would go out on that limb.
The Chronicle-Herald has a story which is very much the same. It adds a few new facts which are rather interesting. A Dr. Goobie, who is Shell's engineer, testified that she did "not feel comfortable" with a production level of 600,000 BTUs. That is the level that will be required to meet the demand that would be created with Nova Scotia Power and NB Power coming on-line. Mobil, the lead partner on the project, has estimated reserves to be at only 460,000 BTUs. "The Canadians in Eastern Canada . . . should recover gas. That should be the price the proponents pay to get the rights to build this pipeline and make all the money theyre going to make from it," said Mr. Blue.
My question to this government and particularly to the ministers who have been central to this project is why did they not put in place the kind of regime that would ensure that the question Mr. Blue had to raise last week never needed to be asked in these Sable gas hearings? It is very clear that this government, in its mad rush to try to create some good news, has sold the interests of Nova Scotians right down the river.
What about Cape Breton? Is there any prospect that Cape Breton is going to be able to gain from natural gas coming onshore? What about Cape Breton coal? Is there a possibility or indeed a probability, as some fear, that natural gas might displace Cape Breton coal and thereby have a dramatically negative impact on a Cape Breton economy which is already suffering with 26 per cent plus unemployment? What contingency plan has this government created and put in place to ensure that if natural gas does come onstream in Nova Scotia and if it does have a negative impact on the production and sale of coal from Cape Breton's coal mines that the impact on Cape Bretoners will be lessened as much as is humanly possible? Do they have a plan? Clearly they do not for if they did they would have trotted that plan out well
in advance of now. Do they have a plan? Clearly not because they have studiously avoided being within a country mile of this question being raised anywhere in Cape Breton. This is a very serious question, one to which the people of the Island of Cape Breton deserve an answer and one to which the people of Nova Scotia deserve an answer. As the people of Cape Breton hurt with their 26 per cent plus unemployment, so we hurt for them in their continuing distress.
What about Nova Scotia's future with respect to cheaper energy both for driving industry that is here now and for attracting new industry here? What about the capacity for Nova Scotians domestically to be able to tap into natural gas to heat their homes, to cook their food, to heat their water? Will there be any left for us after most of it swishes through the pipe on its way to the New England markets? Indeed, if there is any left, do Nova Scotians in my part of the province along the South Shore have any kind of guarantee from this government that we will have ready access to that natural resource which lies on the Scotian Shelf, which is our doorstep? These questions are all pertinent, these questions are all unanswered and these questions will remain unanswered because this government has no plan to deal with them. We are going to face the same kind of situation with respect to natural gas and with respect to Sable gas as we have experienced with health care, with education and, indeed, as we have experienced with economic renewal in this province. If this is economic renewal then God help Nova Scotians.
There is some reference, albeit fleeting, to the other natural resource industries in this province with respect to economic development. There is virtually no reference whatsoever to forestry, but then one can understand that. This is the first government in well over a decade which has not been able to negotiate a cooperative agreement on forestry with the federal government. I don't fault the present minister. It was her predecessor who dropped the ball on that one, as he dropped the ball with respect to the walking away from the back-in provision to the gas pipeline and as he dropped the ball with respect to walking away from the interests that LASMO offered the province and which consequently were sold to PanCanadian, I think for something in the vicinity of $50 million while theirs probably totalled $70 million to $75 million which could have accrued to Nova Scotians, but instead went down the pipe just as this gas is going to do.
What about our forestry resources? Are our forests in good condition? Are they in good shape? The answer emphatically is no. Time and time again we listened to the people who work in the forest industry, whether independently, for large companies or for small, and time and time again they tell us that we are rapidly moving in the same direction with respect to our forestry resources as we now find ourselves with respect to our fisheries resource.
This renewable resource cannot renew itself at a greater rate than that at which it is harvested. The failure of this government to negotiate a new co-operative agreement in forestry is one of the reasons that our forestry resources are facing, and the companies and people that depend on them are facing, a bleak future. There are other reasons as well. We
have not done the job that we should do with respect to husbanding our own resources on Crown lands. If nothing else, it is incumbent upon the government of the day to ensure that it makes its own Crown lands a show place for forestry in Nova Scotia to provide leadership in Nova Scotia to demonstrate to the private sector that as government we are prepared to put public money where our mouth is and to give them every encouragement to put their private money into forest enhancement and the renewal of our forestry resources as well.
I think the time has probably come where we have to review the long held practice in this province of laying out guidelines for forestry harvesting and give consideration instead to moving toward a regulatory regime so that instead of applying guidelines that are optional we apply to the forestry industry in this Nova Scotia a regulatory regime which will require them by law to comply with the policy of the government of the day. Here, of course, we speak with respect to the size of clear-cuts, the nature of clear-cuts, we speak to the need for the provision of game trails between areas which are clear-cut and also with respect to insuring that there are green spaces along streams and our lakes and rivers where forestry harvesting is taking place.
We have a long way to go to renew our forestry resources here in Nova Scotia. If we do not hurry, we are going to end up either with no forestry resource or with no forestry industry, if indeed there is any difference between the two.
I would like to take a few moments and reflect on an industry which is central to the interests not only of my own constituency but to the constituencies of so many people who are sent here to represent men and women across this province. That is, the fishing industry.
The future of the fishing industry in Nova Scotia is unclear. We have reached a very interesting crossroads. Depending on which crossroad we choose to take, we will end up with a fishery which may be significantly different or a sound reflection of that which we have enjoyed in the past. There is a growing propensity on the part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to view as the best way to resolve the problems in the fishery is to remove as many people as possible from it, particularly from the harvesting sector where they have direct control. Of course, what happens in the harvesting sector will have an impact on what happens in the processing sector as well.
It seems that Department of Fisheries and Oceans advertently or inadvertently, and reluctantly I have come to the view that it is more likely advertently, that the more people that can be driven out of the industry, the more economically viable the industry will be. One of the ways that they seem intent upon doing this is through the imposition of individual transferable quotas. They will say, look how well ITQs have worked in New Zealand. Look at how well ITQs have worked in Iceland. An example was given to me the other day. My gosh, it really worked well in Iceland. I heard an interview, this person said to me, of a fisherman, who because of the advent of ITQs in Iceland, last year was able to earn $400,000. It is my view and I think the view of my constituents that we would rather have 10 people
employed making $40,000 than one person making $400,000 from what I believe still must continue to be a common property, public resource rather than private property.
ITQs are a long and slippery slope and a very, very steep one at that to further corporatization in the fishery where more and more fish are going to be controlled by fewer and fewer companies, where more and more boats are going to come to be controlled by fewer and fewer vertically integrated fishing operations. As that happens literally hundreds of little communities around Nova Scotia's coast who are dependent on the fishery are going to find themselves squeezed and then destitute of economic opportunity for themselves.
There is an alternative to this and the alternative to this is to ensure that the fishery is maintained as a common property resource, one which is seen to be owned by all Canadians. We should also ensure that this fishery is managed, not on the basis of single stocks, as though you were managing a herd of heifer cows over here and a herd of Guernseys over there, but on the basis of holistic management of all of the ocean's resources. There is nothing in the ocean which is not either directly or indirectly related to every other life form in the ocean. If we try to separate one out from all of the others, then surely we are going to fail with respect to our suzerainty over that resource.
We must put much more influence on effort to control. We must put more emphasis on closing areas where juveniles have congregated and which are spawning areas. We must ensure that we provide adequate policing within the fishery and we must also ensure that justice is not only just but indeed is swift, with respect to those who will fend against all the men and the women who earn their living in this industry.
Our way of life in rural Nova Scotia is dependent on ensuring that we optimize the access to this wonderful, vibrant, economic resource. The interest of our communities does not lie in narrowing the access to this resource to the few. My community, as well as many others, has suffered as a consequence of corporate centralization of the industry. We can make a difference if we choose to stand and take a stand, both publicly and politically, to ensure that this fishery continues to be the vibrant activity to maintain our rural communities in the future, as it has in the past. That is not because I seek to turn back the clock, because nobody can do that. It is rather because, like so many people in the fishery, I seek to learn from the past and apply those lessons, both good and hard won, to the future.
That is why as we look, for example, in the Eastern Shore to opening a fishery which has been closed. We must be very, very careful on the approach we take. Rather than opening that fishery up to everybody again based on whatever quota DFO determines is there, it should be opened incrementally, incrementally not on the basis of each fleet sector getting its own share, but on the basis of ensuring that we move in in a very conservative way. First, we move in very slowly, letting the hand-liners and the smaller long-liners that go to work in that
area, that we measure the impact of those hook and line vessels under 45 feet on the fishery and that once we understand the impact of that fishery we then determine how we will move forward from there.
I predict, and I take no joy in this prediction, that if the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Government of Canada opens up the Eastern Shore to the same kind of fishery that was there when it had to be closed down, that we will be facing an unmitigated disaster from which nobody living in Nova Scotia today will ever be able to escape.
The future of our communities does not lie in big being better. The future of our communities around the shore of Nova Scotia lies in ensuring an adequate access to our fisheries resource, which must be based on a clear understanding of holistic management of that resource and an understanding that the best fishing methods are the ones which will be most selective and which will ensure that the smaller fish are left to grow into spawners and to replete the stocks as they are fished each year.
There is a section in here on youth training and jobs. Well, one can well understand why this government would be concerned about its record with respect to youth training and jobs. I looked this morning at Nova Scotia's monthly trends in the economy, Nova Scotia Department of Finance, statistics for March 1997, hot off the press - youth employment. Here is what the government's own publication has to say about this government's record on youth employment. If you look strictly at non-student youth, the situation worsens; of the 52,300 who fit that definition last year, 43 per cent were either employed part-time or were unemployed and the unemployment rate stood at 21.9 per cent. Now that is the provincial average.
Now if that is the provincial average, think how bad the situation must be for the youth in Cape Breton where the overall rate is 26 per cent. I don't think I would be stretching my credibility if I were to suggest to the members of this Chamber, Madam Speaker, that the unemployment rate among young people in Cape Breton who are available for full-time work must be pretty close to 50 per cent. No wonder we have a whole new generation of people going down the road. How many families in here have experienced that? My family has. In order to get the kind of opportunity that my daughter wanted, she had to leave Nova Scotia and seek employment in the Province of Quebec. How many others among our families in Nova Scotia have experienced the selfsame phenomenon?
There is an interesting section in the speech referencing Marketing our Strengths. It trumpets that, "The province's exports have climbed by 27.5 per cent since 1993.". Well, isn't that interesting. I wonder what the government members in this place had to say prior to May 25, 1993, about the free trade agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Did they go out and say this is a good thing for Canada and a good thing for Nova Scotia? I suspect not. Did the Prime Minister, whom each and every one of them supported, say prior
to November 1993, that the North American Free Trade Agreement and the free trade agreement was a good thing for Canada and a good thing for Nova Scotia? Absolutely not.
What happened just after November 1993, Madam Speaker? Ah, we know what happened; somewhere between Stornoway and 24 Sussex Drive, the Prime Minister, like Saint Paul, had a revelation. He came to understand that, indeed, the free trade agreements which were negotiated and signed by the Progressive Conservative Government in the 1980's and the early 1990's was, indeed, very beneficial to the people of Canada.
It is because of the groundwork laid by that Progressive Conservative national Government, supported by the Progressive Conservative Government in this Legislature, that this government is able to put at least one, good, positive true line in the Speech from the Throne, when they note that, "The province's exports have climbed by 27.5 per cent since 1993.". Isn't it interesting that the one statistic over which they can gloat is available to them because of the far-sightedness of a Progressive Conservative Government? (Interruptions)
I note that one of the areas that is touted as an area for economic improvement in Nova Scotia is ecotourism. I wonder if this will include tourist tours of the Jim Campbell's Barren to see the gold mining taking place there? Now there would be an interesting ecotourism experience. There are a lot of things wrong with that decision. It doesn't matter where you are coming from with respect to Jim Campbell's Barren. There still are a lot of things wrong. I am one of those who stands and says that the decision having once having been taken as a consequence of public consultation, that Jim Campbell's Barren, like the other sites in Nova Scotia, should be set aside for protection, should have stood; that this government should not have walked away from that.
There are those who do not share that view and I respect their right not to share that view. But even among those who do not share my view with respect to whether or not protection should have been maintained there, most of them understand that the process which led to the decision to delist Jim Campbell's Barren was entirely faulty. In fact, there appears not to have been any due process. It was a decision that was taken behind closed doors with no consultation with the greater public. It was taken, it would appear, if the newspaper reports are anywhere near correct, as a result of an in-depth review and view of Jim Campbell's Barren from about 1,000 feet in a Department of Natural Resources helicopter, piloting the Premier and the Minister of Health, the man who would be king, on the tour of Cape Breton.
AN HON. MEMBER: Why do you suppose the Minister of Health was on the helicopter?
MR. LEEFE: Well, that is very interesting. I suspect that perhaps he was trying to find some health facilities in that part of Cape Breton. Do you suppose?
AN HON. MEMBER: I suppose that would be it.
MR. LEEFE: That might be it. Then, if the lack of due process with respect to the way in which that decision were taken were not bad enough, we also have the phenomena, perhaps coincidental, we would hope coincidental, of significantly high stock purchases of Regal shares at the very time at which the decision was taken by Cabinet, but 12 days in advance of that decision being made public. Was there a leak? Was it intentional? Was it just sloppy administration? Is it a coincidence that John Young, the former President of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, happens to be one of the two lawyers of record? Surely, it must be coincidence.
I reflect on a story by Dean Jobb in the Chronicle-Herald, "Regal stock could pay off in big way.". These aren't my words. They are Mr. Jobb's, but he certainly is a man of some sound reputation. He says, "The directors who have options on 230,000 shares are: . . .", and he goes on to name them, Fred Doucette and, "Patricia Davis of the Dartmouth law firm Boyne Clarke. She and partner John Young, former president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, are Regal's lawyers.". Another interesting coincidence.
Then we have, also, in another story by Dean Jobb, and he lays it out very clearly, ". . . more Regal shares change hands in a single day - Nov. 22 - than during the previous month. Cabinet removed the 1,700 hectare barren from a list of protected wilderness areas on November 21 . . .", the day before all those shares changed hands, ". . . but the decision was not announced publicly until December 3 . . . About 45,000 Regal shares traded on November 21 - nine times the volume the day before. Another 308,000 shares traded November 22.". It may only be coincidence, but it is a coincidence which is being scrutinized by the people of this province.
Isn't it interesting that it was not the Premier nor, indeed, the Minister of Natural Resources in this province who spoke to this issue, but rather it was the Premier's pressman who, it seems more and more frequently, is speaking on behalf of the government. It is one of the things that I have noticed about this government; it is sort of a presidential wrinkle that this government has taken on.
In the past, it had been the ministers who were the spokespersons for their responsibilities within the government. Occasionally, yes, a public information officer would speak on behalf of a department or a minister if the minister was out of the province, but that was not the rule. But this government has a propensity, and we saw it again this morning when Bruce Cameron spoke on behalf of the Minister of Finance, that time and time again the ministers of this government hide behind their hired spokespersons. Why? Because it is much more difficult for the media to get at the truth if they only have the opportunity to question the spokesperson than if they have the Minister of the Crown immediately available to them.
Roads and highways. Well, anybody who has driven on Highway No. 103 this past year - most certainly this spring - will understand why there is a need to address roads and highways in this province. In the 19 springs that I have been driving from Liverpool to Halifax to represent my constituents, I have never seen Highway No. 103, particularly between the Hammonds Plains turn-off and Halifax, in such an absolutely deplorable condition. This on a road which, I am told by people who work in the Department of Transportation, is now deemed to be the most dangerous highway in the province after the Wentworth Valley highway.
I cannot understand why, if he has any real influence with this government, the Minister of Transportation, who has to drive that self-same road to come in here from his constituency, has not done something about it. But then again, this is the same minister who failed to represent Nova Scotia's best interests with respect to the LASMO deal on the offshore, with respect to getting its resources, and the back-in on the pipeline provision. It is the same minister who failed to get a cooperative agreement on forestry and it is the same minister who came back to Nova Scotia, whining after a trip to Ottawa in December 1996 that he couldn't get a cooperative agreement on highway strengthening from the government, and the federal government was doing things in Nova Scotia which were absolutely to the detriment of the western part of the province, the very area he represents.
At the very least, this government, in the short time it has available to it - or if not them, the government of a future day - must immediately address the need of beginning to twin Highway No. 103, beginning at Halifax and working along the South Shore. In coincident with that, one would hope that two of the three parts missing from the Highway No. 103 puzzle will be put in place.
Last year, the then Minister of Transportation will recall that I asked him, during consideration of his estimates, to include in his estimates the building of the Barrington By-pass. I am delighted that he responded to that request of mine, but there are two other areas that need to be addressed on the highway. That is the upgraded section of Highway No. 103, from Hebbville to the Queens County line, and the other section, from Broad River to Sable River. Highway No. 103 will not be complete until those three sections are done and then it must be deemed to be incomplete until that twinning commences.
The very minister who I just heard speak a moment ago reminds me that this is the minister who spoke of not having to have all the Civil Service jobs in Halifax. Let's share them, he said. Let's put some of them in Cape Breton.
I think that that is a great idea, but I invite him to review what his government has done to some other communities in Nova Scotia, small communities, by stripping government jobs from them. And I would suggest that he take a look at my constituency. We used to have a Department of Housing office in Liverpool with two people working out of it and a part-time
secretary. No longer. We used to have an assessment office in Liverpool. Now we have to call Bridgewater.
We used to have a Sheriff's office in Liverpool. Now we have to call Bridgewater. (Interruptions)
We used to have a transportation office in Caledonia. Not any more. We used to have a full service Department of the Environment office in Liverpool. One of those people has now been moved out and Heaven knows how long it will be before the other goes. (Interruptions)
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. LEEFE: This is a government which says one thing but practices the other. (Interruptions)
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. The member has the floor.
MR. LEEFE: It talks about sharing positions on one hand, but on the other hand it reaches out into rural parts of Nova Scotia and takes those very positions away that it says should be shared and moves them into centralized locations. The government very clearly does not practice what it preaches.
This is a government which says it takes a principled approach to public affairs. The very same government which, in the election campaign of 1993, said that it was going to create a code of ethics. Do you remember that?
Well, 1993, no code of ethics; 1994, no code of ethics; 1995, no code of ethics; 1996, when problems occurred in the government and the Premier was asked where is your code of ethics, he said, it is being worked on. It will be available almost immediately. We now are in 1997 and where is it?
Madam Speaker, I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks that this was my 19th spring in this Legislature. I must say that when I came to this place, it was a rather more civil place than I find it today. (Interruptions)
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. LEEFE: There used to be a collegial atmosphere in this House. But it is an atmosphere that has become venomous. It is an atmosphere that poisons all of us. I am reluctant to say that I, myself, on occasion have been poisoned by it and have allowed myself to be poisoned by it.
The other day I happened to walk over to the Red Room. Mr. Speaker was welcoming a group of young people who had spent time in Ottawa looking at Parliament there and who had come here to have a look at our Parliament in Nova Scotia. I reflected upon the times that I brought young people into this place, as a schoolteacher, and upon the times - the many hundreds of times - that all of us have had school students come and visit us in the gallery. I know that time and time again those young people have left here shaking their heads because we, through the way in which we comport ourselves, cause them at an early age to begin to develop the cynicism which their parents developed so long ago, cynicism toward us as elected members, cynicism toward this institution. All of that eventually spins itself out as a cynicism directed at democracy.
Each and every one of us has an important role to play. Each of us is an important cog in the machinery of this place. Each of us has a responsibility to rise to the occasion and strive to make this place more collegial in the future than it has been in the immediate past. Of course, there will always be heckling in this place and much of it, admittedly, in a jocular way, not deemed to hurt but rather to cause some degree of mirth and laughter.
My recollection is that while much of that used to be confined to Question Period, a rather more negative kind of heckling has moved beyond Question Period into speeches both when bills are being debated and, indeed, during the Reply to the Speech from the Throne. If I ever had to be reminded of that I was reminded of it last Thursday. I believe the tapes will demonstrate that we as Opposition, both Parties, listened attentively as my two colleagues to my right moved and seconded the Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Yet, when the Leader of the Opposition rose to speak he could barely be heard above the catcalls and the abuse hurled at him by some members of the government. That is simply not good enough and I hope that all of us will reflect on that and endeavour to ensure that we mend our own fences, not for ourselves so much as for the men, women and young people who sent us here to be their representatives.
It has been my pleasure, once again, to make an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Again I bring greetings to all members from my constituency of Queens, the place which has been my family's home for almost 26 years now, the place which I have had the great honour to represent for 19 years. I thank my constituents for their support. I thank my colleagues in this place for their friendship and instruction and I look forward to continuing to work with them. I must say, however, I find myself at this time in the position where I will be voting against the main motion and supporting the amendment. Thank you.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis. (Applause)
MR. EARLE RAYFUSE: Thank you, Madam Speaker, and thanks for the nice applause from both sides of the House. I am truly honoured to rise in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I say it is an honour because I have had the privilege of serving the people of most of Annapolis County since September of 1988. There is no greater honour than to
serve your fellow citizens and I thank the citizens of Annapolis for allowing me to be their representative.
I would like to congratulate you, Madam Speaker, and Speaker Wayne Gaudet for your work in this House. The Speaker and the Clerk were regular visitors at my bedside when I was a patient at the Victoria General Hospital, as well as many other colleagues - Kenny, Charlie, Joe and the list goes on and on. Two members of the Opposition - and I hope I don't get clobbered too badly by singling them out - were regular visitors, the honourable member for Pictou West, Donald McInnis, and the honourable member for Kings West, George Moody.
If I may, Madam Speaker, I would like to make an introduction at this time. I would like to bring to your attention and to the attention of all members of the House, seated in the east gallery, and I had better go from left to right, on the left is my wife, Babe; my daughter, Nancy; her husband, Ian; and my constituency assistant for the last nine years, Terry Little. (Applause)
When I announced at our annual meeting in October that I would not be re-offering, the next week I noticed a piece in the local paper where my assistant had thrown her hat in. I hope that you members here see a lot more of Terry after the next election. (Applause)
Madam Speaker, I would like to add to the expressions of sympathy that have already been addressed to the family of our departed friend and former colleague, Ross Bragg. Ross was truly a fine gentleman who had a lifelong devotion to his family, his community, his province and to his country. Ross was unflinching in his efforts in promoting this province and all that it had to offer. Nova Scotia has a lost a great friend and a hard worker who will be missed by many. To Ross' wife, Cathy, and family I extend not only my own expression of sympathy but also the sympathy of all citizens of Annapolis County.
Madam Speaker, I would also like to extend my sympathies to a few families in Annapolis who lost loved ones during this past year. Among those who have passed away, there are four citizens who especially come to mind: Samuel Johnson, a longtime resident of the Black Community of Inglewood, a veteran of the Second World War, very active in community fund-raising projects and a member of the Good News Singers gospel group.
Don Johnson of Annapolis County was an environmentalist, activist, volunteer and a man who felt that all people had a responsibility to make the world a better place to live in. Not too long ago, in fact a few weeks ago, Don was speaking at an environmental meeting on a landfill site in Annapolis County where there has been a great deal of controversy. He sat down and, Madam Speaker, his last words before he sat down were, history tells us Nero
fiddled while Rome burned. Let us not be buried in solid waste or burned by a depleted ozone layer, let's act now.
Jean Fairn, wife of George Fairn, who I might add were to see me at the VG Hospital on New Year's Eve. George and Jean were the previous owners of Valley Drug Marts, Middleton and Kingston. George and Jean originated the free shuttle bus for constituents or residents of Annapolis County who come to Halifax to see specialists. In fact, back in 1987 or the first part of 1988 I had the pleasure of driving the shuttle bus a few times. Georges is the first one originated, I believe, in the province. Jean was always there to help any charitable organization and was a great worker in the Baptist Church.
Mr. Francis Bishop, lifelong resident of Clarence, Annapolis County, a highly respected community man and all through the county and the province. From 1950 to 1965 he developed one of the highest producing Guernsey herds in Canada. A Past President of the Canadian Guernsey Association, he was made an honorary life member. He was also a valuable member of the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board. All who knew Francis and had the opportunity to work with him, will remember him as a true friend and neighbour who will be greatly missed by all.
Madam Speaker, I was pleased to note that in his Address, the Lieutenant Governor pointed out that according to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia will lead the country in new investment in 1997, with a projected gain of 18.1 per cent. This is clear evidence that this government, despite what some of the Opposition Parties keep saying, is on the track to bringing prosperity back to this province. I wonder why Opposition Parties keep failing to mention that Nova Scotia led the way in job creation in Atlantic Canada in the last four years - approximately 25,000 jobs. That is more jobs than were developed in the 15 years before. Most of this came under the leadership of our Premier, Dr. John Savage. He had the courage and desire to reverse the trend to lead us back to the road of prosperity.
If I remember correctly, the members of our Party at the first time that we were called together after the election, the Premier said what he was setting out to do and he said at that time, we are a lot more popular today than we will be in two years time, but what will re-elect the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia is the finances of this province and the finances of this province with a balanced budget is what will re-elect the Party. He held true to what he told us back in June 1993.
Madam Speaker, while you used to hear a lot of complaints about so much paperwork in small business and what have you, we are now consolidating government licences and permits needed by businesses and this is very welcome news. One of the largest complaints from businessmen over the years has been, again, the proliferation of government required paperwork, which is both time consuming and very costly. I commend the Minister of Business and Consumer Services for initiating these activities.
Agriculture is one of the mainstays of Annapolis County and I had hoped that the Minister of Agriculture would be here when I gave my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Honourable Guy Brown was at Annapolis Valley Exhibition last fall for an afternoon. He attended the steer sale with myself, the honourable member for Pictou Centre, Don McInnes, was down a few years ago. When I introduced Guy, why I introduced him as the Eugene Whalen of Nova Scotia, he likes that and he is a friend of all the farmers. The next morning we met with the farmers and went to breakfast at one of the pavilions and he was very well appreciated and accepted. In fact, I believe he was back to the annual meeting of the Annapolis County Federation when I was in the hospital.
I would like to just comment to those industrious men and women involved in farming, I extend my sincere thanks for your tremendous contribution to the economic well-being of your province. I urge my government colleagues to make themselves aware of the contribution that agriculture makes to our economy and take the necessary steps by means of legislation to keep this sector of our productive power flourishing. We must stop to consider that agriculture is where our food is produced. I think the figures are something like 3 per cent of the people in Canada are supplying Canadian food that is used for 97 per cent of the people. There is lots of room for expansion and lots of room for growth. I urge merchants, stores, every member of this House of Assembly to go to their favourite food store where they shop and ask for Nova Scotia or especially Atlantic Canada-grown products.
There are so many of us that don't exercise our options. After all, those hard-working farmers produce local beef and what have you, produce, and I better say poultry. I received a card from the Honourable Donald Downe - and Don was a regular visitor at the hospital as well - I received a card from Don, when they were giving me a little bit of food, saying that maybe you should have some chicken soup.
I don't know whether I should say this or not, but one night Don was there waiting to come into see me, and the nurse came in and said that there was the most handsome man out there dressed in a blue suit and he wanted to see me. I said that it must be the Honourable Donald Downe. (Laughter)
I would like to say one thing more about health care. We hear an awful lot of concerns, and comments, how people are let down and they don't have the care and service, the care they need and what have you. For those of you who haven't had a chance to read today's paper, it would be nice if you read an article in the Voice of the People from a resident of Antigonish. I want to tell you colleagues and friends, that from the time the ambulance picked me up at our door, until Babe took me home from the VG Hospital, I could never ask for any better care and that goes for nurses, doctors, what have you, right through the piece. So for those who criticize and condemn the health care in this province, they need to spend 53 days in the hospital. It won't take 53 days, but that is what I had, and if you don't see what is happening in 53 days, you don't see it at all. (Applause)
Madam Speaker, this week is Volunteers Week. I would like, at this time, to pay tribute to all volunteers across the province and especially those in Annapolis County. Year after year, they give generously of their time to the many worthy causes in our communities across the province. Without their true dedication and hard work, many of our agencies would cease to exist. To all those hard-working people, I say thank you very much for your positive contribution to the quality of life in Annapolis County. Again, Terry filled in for me at the Flag Raising Ceremony in Middleton because I was at the hospital and had to come right in here for therapy.
Madam Speaker, just a bit on Athletics East. The Athletics East Association is looking into the possibility of establishing a high-performance sport and recreational training centre at the former Cornwallis base. This non-profit organization will spend six months developing business, corporate and marketing plans for the proposed centre. Part of the project involves hosting an international think-tank from May 20th to May 22nd, which will bring some of the world's top athletes and sports experts to Clementsport, Annapolis County. This has all been made possible through grants from Economic Development and Tourism, Human Resources and Development Canada, Cornwallis Park Development Agency, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Annapolis Ventures. I want to wish the directors of Athletics East every success with their project and I trust that we will see some positive results following the workshop in May.
There is heard a lot of discussion in this Chamber regarding CFB Cornwallis before it closed down and what have you but I would like to go on record as saying that I forecast that within five years Cornwallis will probably be more stable in employment than they have been for some time because every year when the military was here we heard that next year it was going to close. Well that next year came in 1989 and, believe me, it hasn't been good for the Annapolis-Digby area but it is coming back. There is a vendors' market that opened last week, two good friends and supporters from Hillsburn in Annapolis County on the Bay of Fundy shore. Under the guidance of Paul LaFleche, I look for great things to happen in Cornwallis Park.
Madam Speaker, the Town of Bridgetown, which lies in the heart of the constituency of Annapolis, is celebrating its 100th Anniversary of its incorporation as a town. To mark this significant event, the town council recently passed a motion accepting a new design for the town's coat of arms. The motto on the coat of arms in Latin reads; "Palma Non Sine Pulvere", which translated means, no victory without a struggle. This motto is indicative of the industrious, hard-working citizens of the community. To the Mayor and councillors, as well as citizens of Bridgetown, I extend my congratulations on their 100th birthday this year.
Before I conclude my remarks, Madam Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to our Premier who sacrificed so much of his personal life to make Nova Scotia a better place for all its citizens. We all know the difficulties he faced while implementing government policy yet, through it all, he stayed the course and never wavered.
Our Premier is a man of courage and integrity. He did what had to be done to get this province back on its feet. Mr. Premier, it has been a privilege and an honour for me to have served under your leadership. I wish you every success in whatever task you undertake in the future. (Applause)
Through you, Madam Speaker, I want to thank all my colleagues in the House for all the kindness given to me during my two terms in office. Although over the years we have had our disagreements, we have always had a respect for each other and our roles as representatives of the citizens of this province. I will always cherish my years as a member of this House of Assembly. Along with my wife, Babe, thank you for all the many kindnesses you have shown to us over the years.
I might add that Babe and I received over 400 pieces of mail while I was having some problems. That is not signatures, that was pieces of mail. We were very pleased and you can never say enough to the good friends in Annapolis County.
Madam Speaker, I will be voting for the motion in favour of the Speech from the Throne. (Applause)
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.
MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, it is very obvious from the response given to the previous speaker from Annapolis County that all members of this House do very much welcome seeing the member back on his feet and taking his place in this House. Regardless of which side of this House that you are on, there is a strong, personal friendship and admiration for the member for Annapolis. He is a very fine gentleman and even though as he pointed out we sometimes have our political differences, he has worked very hard on behalf of his constituents and the people of this province. I just wanted to add my words that it is a pleasure to see him back and looking so strong.
As I begin I want to say that it is indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise again in my place to take part in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon of Saturday summed up the Speech from the Throne very well. The caption read, "Unfortunately, initial core testing which indicated there might be something in the Throne Speech seems to have been premature.". As a consequence, my remarks about the substance or anything of substantive nature in the substance that is contained in the actual Speech from the Throne, of necessity, will not be very extensive. However, I will return to that matter shortly.
Before I embark on that topic, however, I would like to bring to you, Mr. Speaker, and to all members of the House greetings from the very fine people of Sackville-Cobequid where I have had the privilege to serve for a number of years. Sackville is an urban area that has undergone tremendous growth over the past number of years. Prior to amalgamation, it was located on the outskirts of Halifax and Dartmouth. Now, since we are all part of the Halifax Regional Municipality and because of its geographic location within HRM and the type of people who live in Sackville, I like to refer to Sackville as the heart of the new municipality.
I certainly want to join and be associated with the kind of remarks made by other members who have expressed their sorrow at the loss over the past year of so many distinguished Nova Scotians who have served this province so well. I especially want to express my sympathies to the family of Ross Bragg. Ross was a unique individual. We did, of course, have our political differences but that in no way diminishes the respect I and others who knew Ross had for him. Ross worked and fought hard for his constituents and what he believed in. He had the ability to keep things in perspective and didn't take political differences personally. He was devoted to his family. Ross's rich sense of humour and spirit will be missed.
Sackville residents also sadly suffered from the loss of loved ones this year. I want to extend to each and every one of those residents of Sackville, whether the relative or friend who passed away lived in Sackville or elsewhere, my very deepest sympathies to them for their loss and sorrow over this past year.
I also would like to welcome back to this House all the staff who have served us so extremely well over the past years. I know that they will continue to provide us with the same kind of excellent service they have given us in the past and I thank them in advance.
In Nova Scotia we are fortunate to have a dedicated professional Civil Service. Our public servants have been serving Nova Scotians very well under the most difficult of circumstances that resulted from government downsizing and job uncertainty. They are being asked - in fact, told - to do more and more with less. They have been and continue to serve residents of Sackville and all Nova Scotia very well. We are very fortunate to have such a high calibre of public servants in this province and I want to thank them for their dedicated service to the residents in my constituency and to others across the province.
Mr. Speaker, if I may breach the Rules of the House for a moment, I would like to congratulate the Honourable Alan Mitchell on his appointment to Cabinet. I also extend best wishes to Jay Abbass in his future endeavours. Again, Mr. Abbass, when he was holding his former portfolios, we had our political differences over the policies and the directions that he followed while he was in Cabinet; however, I will acknowledge that he did not have the easiest of portfolios and he carried much of the criticism for decisions that were not his alone, but were decisions made by the entire Cabinet and by the entire government.
Mr. Speaker, Sackville is a very rich community in many ways. It is especially rich in the calibre of its residents. Sackville is full of caring individuals who dedicate much of their time, their energies, and their personal resources for the betterment of the community and to improve the quality of life for their fellow citizens within the community. I will not attempt to list all of the organizations here today, the list would be too lengthy and, as would be the case, you would undoubtedly leave out some who are extremely worthy of being mentioned.
I was very pleased that the House did today, earlier, unanimously approve a resolution to congratulate the volunteers in Sackville, because this coming Wednesday, Lake District Recreation Association, which is itself a volunteer organization within the community, is holding - and a very important one, I might add - its 18th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night. At the Volunteer Appreciation Night ceremony, all of the volunteer organizations within the community are given the opportunity to have somebody come forward and to speak about and then to make a presentation to the individual within that organization whom they are honouring for their service over the past year and years on behalf of the community.
Now I know it is something that I always look forward to attending and it is certainly very humbling to go and to listen to the tributes that are being paid to all of these individuals for all of their sacrifices. It is certainly very humbling to listen to what they have accomplished. These organizations have a difficult time singling out which individual, often, to give that award to, and the reason is quite simple. There are so many in so many organizations who are doing so much that it is difficult to single out one and one alone. Many more also deserve that recognition. Certainly, I want to extend, on behalf of myself and on behalf of the other residents of Sackville, my deep appreciation and their deep appreciation for all of their efforts on behalf of the community.
Those people who have been working on behalf of us, certainly have been making an important difference, whether that is in the fire service, providing services to children's programs, helping the shut-ins, working to protect and preserve our lakes and rivers, service clubs that are involved in fund-raising to put monies into community activities, community facilities, and to help individuals and so on in need. The list goes on and on. These people deserve tremendous amounts of gratitude and I would be remiss if I did not point out that, because of the funding cuts that have been coming down from government to various organizations, the pressures and the demands being placed upon service groups and individuals to provide even more assistance is constantly growing. Mr. Speaker, I salute them one and all.
These volunteers that I have mentioned also recognize that Sackville and Sackville residents do need improved services. As mentioned earlier, Sackville has undergone a tremendous growth in population over the last number of years. Services required have not kept pace. I again bring to this House the need to expand the services offered at the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. The foundation has submitted a plan to government. The Minister of Health would be very aware - and I know he is - of the plan, as is the regional health board.
I continue to urge this government to give favourable consideration to their plan. I am especially supportive of the efforts to have the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre's emergency department remain open 24 hours per day. The time it takes to travel to an emergency facility in Halifax or Dartmouth could be life-threatening. I firmly believe the area served by the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre is more than sufficient in size and population to warrant a 24 hours a day emergency service. That is something, Mr. Speaker, that I certainly will continue to press for. I pressed with the former Minister of Health, as he will recall, and I have pressed with his predecessors in the former government. We did get some ground, in terms of extending the hours a little bit a number of years ago but more is needed.
Certainly I think that all members of this House and certainly all people who have served in the Ministry of Health portfolio know that the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre does provide an excellent service, that it is very unique in the way that it combines not only the emergency service, the facilities and services to test and so on and to provide certain kinds of treatments but also to combine those with community services in the one facility and in the one combined unit. It is a model, it is one that we are very proud of and it is one that certainly should not be under attack. It should be one that is being expanded and used as kind of a role model for use elsewhere.
I would also at this time like to express my appreciation, since I am talking about health care, to July Black. Ms. Black is the Chair of the Cobequid Region Community Health Board. I want to say thank you to her and to the other members of the community health board. I had the pleasure of attending a meeting that they held to consult with elected representatives about what we saw as being needed and we are allowed to cast our wish list in very broad strokes. What we felt would be needed to make our area a healthier community. In that meeting and in previous meetings that I had with Ms. Black and others, I must say that I found them to be extremely capable, very professional and certainly open-minded and willing to hear suggestions. They are a very dedicated group of volunteers and they do deserve our appreciation and thanks.
Public forums are scheduled within the Cobequid Community Health Board's catchment area to hear from residents. One date for one meeting is in Lower Sackville at the Kinsmen Centre on Sunday, April 27th. That is a tentative date and others certainly also have been scheduled or have already been held in other parts of the catchment area. I would certainly urge residents who live in that catchment area to attend one of those meetings so that they can express their views to the community health board about what they see as the important health care needs within the community.
I must say, however, Mr. Speaker, that I still do have some objections to the whole process about how the health boards are working. I expressed them at the meeting that I attended. My reservations, my criticisms certainly were not meant as nor were they taken as
being against the members of the community health board. My criticisms were directed, instead, at this Liberal Government, this government which ignored a key recommendation of the Blueprint Committee.
I continue to believe that the community health boards should have been appointed before the regional boards and that members of the latter should have been appointed from the community boards. The community boards need to be given more decision-making authority, instead of being advisory only, as they are at the present time, if we truly want to make health care delivery and planning community-based.
One aspect of a healthy community is recreation. For a number of years now, residents of Sackville have identified passive recreation as their greatest need. That brings me, naturally, to Second Lake. Residents of Sackville have steadfastly said that they want to see these lands, which are currently owned by the Government of Nova Scotia, reserved for passive recreation. The majority do not want to see either a road built through it, nor do they want to see that area developed for housing.
I know that I need not remind either this Liberal Government or the former Tory one that Sackville owes its growth, in no small part, to the decisions of previous governments. Planning was not well done. We had to fight for schools because of overcrowding that developed as families moved into homes built on former Department of Housing lands. Ridiculously, the government didn't develop what were obvious infrastructure needs that would be required with the growth in populations that they themselves were fostering and that was obviously happening around them. That situation in other areas has not been resolved yet. If you take a look at areas surrounding Sackville, in the Hammonds Plains area, the expanded, modernized school already has portables strung all around it because proper planning was not done.
Passive recreation is another area we are still waiting for the government to address. Just because this Liberal Government chose, without consulting residents, to amalgamate in a shotgun marriage all municipalities contained within the former Halifax County does not absolve it from having to meet its obligations.
Second Lake is a pristine lake. The area will become even more valuable as time passes because of the inevitable growth that will occur in surrounding areas. The Second Lake area has the potential to be a Point Pleasant Park for the Cobequid area, not only Lower Sackville but for the entire Cobequid area. It would, I suggest, be a true disservice not to protect that lake and that surrounding lands potential.
Before I leave that topic of Second Lake, through you, Mr. Speaker, I again tell the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, that I certainly am very anxiously awaiting the ATi Consulting Report that is currently in the government's hands. As you will recall, the government hired a consultant, ATi, to advise it on what it should do with housing programs
it currently administers. That would then include the assets, the lands that are currently owned by the government. The terms of reference did not only call upon the consultants to give advice to the government about what they should or shouldn't do, but they also called upon the consultants to tell the government how they could divest themselves of those programs and assets, should the government chose to do it.
I am very mindful that the government, as it is trying to pretend that it has all kinds of money to apply to the debt, might have a desire to sell off some of those holdings like the lands at Second Lake, so that they can have cash to put against the debt. I would say to this government that any such move would indeed be very shortsighted. I also know that there are some developers who see the opportunity to make a very sizable profit if they could get their hands on those lands to develop them.
I have spoken to the minister about my concerns and I won't mention a number of the items that I talked to the minister about in private on that. The minister knows what they are. I reiterate that I am certainly waiting very, very anxiously for a copy of that report and the recommendations that are contained in that ATi. Certainly, any decision to sell off those lands will not be well received.
Sackville is, in relative terms, a young community. Therefore, education remains a primary concern. As we see what is happening in our schools, people ask, where is all of this extra, so-called money, all of these millions of dollars that were suppose to be directed to the classrooms as a result of the amalgamations imposed by this government? Class sizes, that is what people see, they see that the class sizes in which their children are attending schools are going up, they are getting larger. They are seeing that not only are the class sizes increasing, but also that the resources that are available are shrinking. They know that there are not sufficient textbooks, they know that the buildings are in need of repair, they know that there are not the resources or the specialist resources available to assist those children with special needs. They are not there. All of these millions of dollars that were promised, somehow have disappeared. They have not materialized, but the yet the government says, do more with less. The educators and those who are very much concerned are doing their darnedest to help the children.
When you take over $50 million out of the education system, the effects start to be seen and they are being seen. The government can stick their head in the sand and they can say, oh no, that is not happening. Anyone who looks at it with an objective eye, they do not believe that just because the government says it is not so, they do not buy that because they know that it is, in fact, so, and that the classes and the children are, in fact, suffering as a consequence of this government's action and its failure to deliver that on the commitment that millions of more dollars were going to be pumped back into this school system into the classroom, instead they have taken $50 million out.
Class sizes, as I have said, are up dramatically and resources are way down, yet the pressures that are being imposed continue to mount on all of the people, all of the partners, the children, the parents, the teachers and the support staff; ask more and more of people all the time while you give them less and less. There comes a breaking point.
I want to say that I believe that the educators in this province are becoming increasingly frustrated. They are becoming extremely frustrated because the vast majority of them are extremely dedicated individuals who are in that profession because they care very much about the children who are in front of them in their classrooms. They know that they are not able to provide the kind of services and the kind of attention, individual and small groups, that those children who they have charge of need and deserve.
Recent reports have indicated that children in Sackville and in other areas of the former Halifax County-Bedford District School Board are falling behind because of the reduced Primary hours. That, of course, stands to reason. If children receive less instruction time they cannot be expected to keep pace with those who are receiving more. The underfunding by this government of education is responsible for these children losing out in their formative year. Our children are incurring a deficit in their education opportunities in favour of this government's fiscal deficit agenda.
I remind members opposite, I remind members opposite, I remind them even of some of the words that they said when they were on the Opposition benches, that investment in education is a true investment in the future of our children and of our province. I say government must stop its short-sighted approach and it must stop cutting education and it must once more make education of our young people a top priority. Also, it is not only the children in my constituency of Sackville-Cobequid who are suffering from the reduced primary class times. Anybody who was in the former Halifax County-Bedford District School Board which is having the Primary hours reduced whether they live in Bedford, whether they live in Sackville-Beaverbank, whether they live in Timberlea-Prospect or other areas, your area as well, they are all suffering as a consequence.
It is a tribute to the staff in those schools - and I single out my area because I am more familiar with my area - the staff in the Sackville schools and the children's parents that they are receiving the highest quality of education that they are at the present time. They have been going above and beyond and they are trying ever more to reach even higher plateaus in terms of the demands that are being placed upon them to ensure that those children receive an education. That is the public school system.
Post-secondary education in this province is also a concern to residents who live in Sackville and in other areas of this province. Post-secondary education, because of costs, is becoming less and less accessible. We hear over and over again how we must have a well-
educated workforce. In 1990, the average student graduating from a post-secondary institution in this province, the debt load was $5,000; by the end of the next calendar year, it is anticipated that that debt load will have increased fivefold, to over $25,000. That means that it is becoming increasingly more difficult for those middle-income families, and low-income families certainly, to have their children go to post-secondary education. Again, that is extremely short-sighted on behalf of this government. Regardless of where the person is from across this province, education must be treated as a top priority for investment of resources, so that we can reap the dividends in having an educated workforce and an educated society in the years to come.
Sackville continues to have need for additional social housing. The waiting list of those needing affordable housing, unfortunately, is not disappearing. There is also a need and desire for additional continuum care housing for seniors in Sackville. The government recently turned down a request for additional nursing home spaces in the Sackville area. While I am not going to change my position in that I say that I personally would like to see additional housing spaces that would be developed to be developed either by government or by a not-for-profit organization, I certainly also recognize that the need very much exists, and when I read the minister's letter giving the reasons why his department was denying the request, it was very obvious it wasn't because there was a lack of need, the reason was financial. The government was concerned that it might cost a little bit more if there were additional spaces available because then they would have to provide more per diems for those who qualify for the spaces.
Home care remains inadequate. The government likes to point to its increased spending on home care. They don't like to acknowledge that the increase that is being spent on home care is a pittance compared to what they have cut from the health care budgets of the hospitals. There is no question that the health system needed to be reformed. We all agree on that one. However, it needed to be planned and it had to have replacement services put in place prior to making the cuts. You don't build a home or decide that you are going to remodel your home by going out with a chainsaw and ripping off the roof of your home. Then, when you look at the weather forecast and you realize that, oh my, there are clouds coming and it might rain tonight, we had better figure out how we are going to design a way to put another roof back on and to order the materials to do it. You do it first. You do your planning.
What this government did, supposedly in the name of reform, was that they went in cutting, slashing, hacking, hoping that they would be able to plan replacement services before, Mr. Speaker, disaster occurred. Well, unfortunately, their planning has been coming to late and the services and the citizens in this province have been suffering. (Interruption)
I have just been told by one of the ministers that I obviously have driven him out and all I can say is, well, maybe it will be a little bit quieter in here, Mr. Speaker, but it won't change what I have to say. Home care services have been eliminated or reduced for many
people. The government, of course, likes to brag, as they did in the Speech from the Throne, that so many thousands more people had been served. That may well be true, but what they don't tell you is that that increased number are being served in large part because the level of service being offered to so many others has been reduced. In other words, the very limited services are being spread even more thinly than they were before. Despite government denials, people are suffering and families are being required to provide services and procedures that they neither feel comfortable doing nor competent to deliver.
From across the province, there are stories of the health care system in crises. Whether it is in Digby or in Windsor, or even in metro, we hear about the emergency service and the difficulties and how those who are providing the services are under severe stress and strain. We hear, of course, about the doctors, many of them leaving emergency departments and communities that are unserved or underserved. Communities like Digby and Windsor are familiar with the crises of the emergency service. I would suggest that similar pressures and scenarios are being played out in other small communities in this province.
Many people cannot find or have a difficult time finding a family doctor. You hear about people being sent home from hospitals too early and having to return. We hear about long waiting lists because of a lack of available spaces. Certainly, few would disagree that health care workers are under siege because of the tremendous strains being placed upon them and because of the reduced resources and increased workload. Much of this results from the federal Liberals cutting funding for health under the CHST and because of insufficient planning at the provincial level.
We are paying the price, Nova Scotians, for the Liberal April Fool's joke of last year, because that was the date upon which the CHST took effect. Nova Scotia's silent 11 Liberal MPs sat by silently while this was happening, instead of standing up and fighting for Nova Scotians. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that is one more reason, I may talk about a few others during my speech, why some of those MPs should be placed on the unemployment line when the election rolls around and is expected to be called later this month. Certainly, what they have done to stand up for health care in this province has been woefully inadequate.
Deficit reduction appears to have been a far greater priority for both the federal and the provincial Liberals, a far higher priority for them than protecting the health care system that we have in this province and this country. I believe very strongly that that system of Medicare that was implemented by Tommy Douglas and fought for across this country is worthy of being protected and, not only protected, Mr. Speaker, but that it needs to be enhanced and improved.
I am reminded here - I digress - of a program that I was watching on television about two weeks ago. I turned the channel one night, as I was doing a little bit of surfing through the different programs, there was a program talking about stock performance in the past year in the United States, about which ones were performing the best, which ones had received the
greatest growth in profits. Number two were the banks; number one were the private health care providers. The profits for the private health care providers' shares went up the fastest and the greatest amount.
I say, Mr. Speaker, rather than seeing us trying to turn to the American system, and we have already had examples of health care services in Nova Scotia and other parts of this country being privatized out, instead of having built-in profits for these private providers, I want to have those monies that would have gone to profits put back into the system to improve the health care system, to enhance it, rather than sending to shareholders who are living, in many cases, not even inside this country.
I was, Mr. Speaker, on a bit of a halfway complimentary note, pleased that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services introduced legislation that will provide some protection for mobile home owners against very greedy landlords. That, indeed, was welcome to see that some half-hearted measures have been taken. The legislation was, of course, made necessary because the government ignored what I and many others had warned would happen when it eliminated rent review in the first place. Here, at least, the minister in this one is moving part way to undo some of the damage that this government inflicted upon mobile home owners. I will, of course, talk more about that during the bill debate.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a couple of points; mobile home owners are in a very unique situation; (1) they are tenants; (2) they are homeowners. They pay rent on their lots but they pay mortgages for their homes, they pay taxes on their homes, et cetera. They are extremely vulnerable. They cannot just pick up their mobile and run off somewhere else to locate if the landlord decides to crank up the rent, and the landlords know that. Some landlords took advantage of the vulnerability of those tenants, as people who had two clues in looking ahead would have predicted, and jacked up the rents immediately, as soon as the rent review was gone. That was predictable because they knew that the tenants, the homeowners, could not move.
Mr. Speaker, the minister is providing some comfort to those tenants. However, it should have gone further, in this regard in particular, that the landlords who own these mobile home parks should have been required to apply for a rent increase and to justify it before any rent increase was granted to them. It should not be the responsibility for the tenant to have to go and appeal the rent increases. The onus should have been placed on the landlord to prove that it is, in fact, justified. There are some other things that I will talk about later on in the bill in that legislation, in terms of what is missing, but I will not use that during the Speech from the Throne debate at this time.
I also want to say to that very same minister, of course, that maybe the minister still might want to rethink her position on the insurance harmonization that is going on within the Atlantic Provinces. Maybe the minister will rethink the previous position she and her colleagues in the other Atlantic Provinces have taken, and that is to deny consumer representation on the committee which is looking at how to harmonize the insurance industry regulations and policies in Atlantic Canada. I just say, Mr. Speaker, that insurance is not only about the insurance industry in terms of the providers of that service, it is also about the consumers who buy it for their protection and the consumer should be heard to ensure that any changes in legislation, regulations or policies are going to have their interests primary and that they will be protected from any changes.
Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne contains so much backslapping that one might have concluded that there is an election imminent. As I said in my resolution on Friday, the claims made by the government in its Speech from the Throne would have been enough to make Pinocchio blush. I also suggested that Nova Scotians should view the Speech from the Throne for what it is, and that is, largely, fanciful compost. The speech contained no vision, no plans on how this government was going to address the very real issues and uncertainties that Nova Scotians are facing in their daily lives.
As the election approaches and as some of the Liberal heavyweights jockey for the Premier's chair, they didn't want to say anything against which they could be judged. Maybe they have learned from past experience because, obviously, the government doesn't like to be reminded about commitments that they have made previously, or to have comparisons made between what they said and what they have accomplished because the comparison is not a pretty picture for this government.
We are, of course, told that there will be another balanced budget, fiscal budget that is, this year. That is good. What they didn't tell us about is that the human deficits that they have created are very real, Mr. Speaker, and those human deficits are indeed very bad. The most interesting budget, of course, will not be the next one, not the one that is anticipated to be presented later on this week. The most interesting budget is going to be the one that follows that, after the next provincial election. Then we will see if there has been any sleight of hand and how accurate the actual projections that are going to be made in this particular budget are going to be.
We have some evidence of this already. The Minister of Finance has admitted that the government has used some of the $250 million incentive - I can't use the word that I was going to say; the other word is called unparliamentary, I remember being told - that was given to the government in order for the Liberals here in Nova Scotia to support the federal Liberals BST. This money was supposed to be to help compensate for lost future tax revenues after the April Fool's Day BST implementation date in 1997.
What the government has done, in effect, is sort of like you or I or somebody else going to our employer and asking for an advance. Could we borrow part of next year's salary? We have a shortage this year in our operating expenditures. We are not meeting our targets. We are in debt. We cannot meet our projections. I have some bills to pay, so I want to go and borrow my salary from next year to pay this year's bills.
Now, the government and the Minister of Finance say, that's good because we didn't have to go to the banks or financial institutions to borrow it, but what they have still done is they have borrowed next year's income to pay this year's bills. Why? Because they want to pretend by juggling that money back that they have created a balanced budget. It is not really a balanced budget. Any monies that they ever advanced that were intended for next year and spent last year, is the amount of the deficit that the province incurred this past year. It is sleight of hand, just as it was last year sleight of hand in terms of how they tried to pretend there was a balanced budget by all of a sudden finding some additional transfers from the federal government.
The Tories, of course, gave us the GST and the Liberals have given us an expanded version: the BST. I say, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians, by and large, were not impressed by either. Yes, if you go out regularly and buy a fur coat, a new vehicle, a major ticket item, you are going to save on that item; however, most middle class and low income families - and that is what the vast majority of people in this province are - are just making ends meet. They are concerned about being able to pay for the essentials, not luxuries. The GST has already ripped about $3 billion out of the Atlantic economy. The BST is going to be taking approximately $80 million more per year out of the pockets of Nova Scotia consumers; that $80 million - and I suspect it will be much higher than that - is money that they are not going to be able to spend on goods and services.
I don't know if you like to drink coffee, Mr. Speaker, but if you do like I do, you probably have seen the signs at a well-known coffee establishment across Nova Scotia, and many other parts of Canada, called Tim Hortons. I am reminded of driving up to get my cup of coffee and going in - because I like to drink a fair bit of coffee - and seeing the sign which posts the price of a cup of coffee, pre-BST and post-BST, and it has gone up.
The thing is, that is not the only thing that has gone up in price. Children's clothing, and anybody's clothing under the price of $94, has gone up by 8 per cent. Gasoline. Yesterday I had the pleasure of driving to Yarmouth. The return trip, in terms of gas, at my guesstimate, was about $3.50 more, courtesy of the BST. Home heating fuel, every time somebody fills up their oil tanks, now 8 per cent more. Furnace service contracts, electricity, the necessities of life, have increased, many of them courtesy of this Liberal Government agreeing to try to bail out their federal Liberal cousins by pretending that they have done something with the Tory GST. And they have; they have made it worse.
People have a choice about whether or not they will buy luxuries, but they do not have a choice about buying necessities. Mr. Speaker, even 8 per cent more for the price of a funeral. Yes, indeed, booze is cheaper, but most people with whom I have spoken would gladly forego the very modest savings they are going to get from buying cheaper booze in return for the increased cost of 8 per cent that is now going to be charged on school supplies and private home care services and other essential services removed. Somehow, if you take a look at where the government's priorities are, there is something wrong with the picture. They say that the two things in life you can count on are death and taxes. This government has combined them.
Municipalities and school boards are now also being forced to contribute to the provincial coffers, courtesy of the Tory GST and the Liberal BST. A further reduction in services and increased property taxes will inevitably result. Of course, the Liberals will try to pretend that any of the consequences are the result of the decisions taken by others at the school board and municipal level and not because of their actions. Voters will not be taken in.
Prior to the 1993 election the Liberals vigorously opposed the Tory's scheme to forcibly amalgamate municipalities. Once in power they did not even give enough time for dust to settle on the Tory plans before they moved to implement them themselves against the wishes of the residents. Their actions gave credence, of course, to the saying Liberal and Tory, same old story.
Property taxpayers in Halifax Regional Municipality should not be misled by the tax bill that they received recently. The impact of the Liberal shotgun amalgamation has not yet been factored in. The interim bill that I and many other residents received recently represents only one-half of last year's tax bill. The tax rate has not yet been set for 1997 and when it is, Halifax Regional Municipality will have no choice but to start to include part of that approximately $25 million price tag that came with the amalgamation, plus the increased costs that result from the downloading of this government along with the increased services that they have passed along to the municipalities in poor condition, such as roads.
Of course, again this government will try to tell people, tell the residents, tell the taxpayers, that all of the tax increases are a result of decisions taken by municipal council. Taxpayers will not be that easily fooled. They are already asking, where are these so-called savings that were promised by both the Tories and the Liberals when they advocated these mergers?
It is hard to believe that this government has been in office for four years, given how little they have accomplished and how much they promised. When you look at it another way, however, when you look at all of the amount of havoc and the number of failed policies implemented by this government, it is difficult to believe that they have been in office for only four years; 30-60-90; jobs, jobs, jobs; creating employment was to be a top priority, both
federally and provincially. Liberal governments have been a dismal failure. The promises and commitments were very short-lived. Now, with election fever in the air, concerns for the unemployed and their families are once more being dusted off.
Fact. Unemployment in 1997 remained virtually unchanged since the 1993 levels. More and more Nova Scotians are being forced to work in part time and casual jobs with few, if any, benefits. The federal government has drastically cut employment in this province. It was the Premier who observed that even though we account for only 3 per cent of the nation's population, we took 16 per cent of the hit. One more example, I suggest, where our federal Liberal MPs have failed.
You know, back in 1993 Nova Scotia got on the winning side. We not only elected a full slate of 11 MPs to go to Ottawa, but they were all Liberal MPs and they all shot immediately into the government caucus. They told us that you have to vote for us because you have to have a member on the government side if you want to get anything done to your province. Well, we have 11 Liberal MPs in Ottawa and what has it gotten us? Major cuts in health and education, we have the BST, we have cuts in ferry service in Yarmouth, we have an unemployment rate that is as high now as it was in 1993. It hasn't gotten us a lot.
As I say, Mr. Speaker, reasonable people might be asking has there been anybody speaking up for Nova Scotia in Ottawa? Certainly if the MPs from this province have been, they may have been fighting very hard in their caucus meetings, but if they have, nobody has been paying any attention because they have not been very successful.
It is amazing how governments, Liberals in Ottawa and in Nova Scotia, can set targets for fiscal deficit reduction and meet them, but they cannot set targets to reduce the level of unemployment. If people are working they contribute to the wealth creation and to the delivery of services instead of being a drain financially and socially upon society. They feel better about themselves, so they are healthier; they would also be paying taxes and purchasing goods and services that employ others.
Parts of the province have also suffered from another April Fool's joke and I referenced it a moment ago and here I am again referring to southwestern Nova Scotia because April 1st was the official privatization date for the Digby-Saint John and Yarmouth-Bar Harbor Ferries - 25 per cent of the jobs disappeared. Worse, it was the end for year-round ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine. This service is essential to the economy of this province and to southwestern Nova Scotia, in particular. Again, they were quiet.
In Cape Breton, virtually this government has cut them adrift and ignored them. It would be comical if it was not unbelievable when I listened to the former Liberal Leader declaring that he was running for the nomination to become the MP for that area. He said that
he learned eight weeks ago about the high unemployment rate of 27 per cent in Cape Breton - the highest in the country - so he decided he had to get involved in politics. My immediate response was, hello, where have you been, Vince, all these years. If you have not known about the high unemployment that is affecting the people in those communities, you do not deserve any support to get elected to anything. Of course, if you would have been listening to the actions taken by this government and the directions in its Speech from the Throne, you would never know that unemployment was a problem because this government does not address it at all either.
Mr. Speaker, you have told me that my time it just about up. There are many other things that I need to address and that I will over the coming days. The shell games in terms of the privatization of Highway No. 104, the privatization in the schools in terms of the construction of those schools, the privatization that the government is planning in the prisons and many other areas which are going to be costing Nova Scotians many millions of dollars more in the years ahead in their shell game to try to pretend that they are controlling the deficit.
Jim Campbell's Barren and a whole host of other items, unfortunately, since my time has run out, will be addressed on another occasion. Let me be sure that the government knows this very clear; Nova Scotians understand what has been happening and Nova Scotians would love to have the opportunity that I am going to have and that is to vote against the Speech from the Throne resolution when it comes to the floor for debate.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.
MR. WAYNE FRASER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand before you and members of this Assembly today to respond to the Speech from the Throne.
I would like to thank the Honourable James Kinley for presenting the incentives of our government to the people of Nova Scotia. I would also like to thank the honourable Lieutenant Governor James Kinley for his presentation of the Medals of Bravery to 23 draegermen and bare-faced miners of the Westray Mine disaster. The sadness caused by this tragedy is still very fresh in the communities of Pictou County and it is strongly felt by all that these brave men greatly deserved this recognition.
I would like to recognize the loss of Calvin Murdoch, a prominent citizen of Pictou East, who will be sorely missed for his contribution to our community. He was indeed a great friend of mine.
I too would like to add my voice to those who have also acknowledged the loss of our colleague, Ross Bragg. Ross was a dedicated husband and father, a true friend, and an exceptional member of this government. He will be sorely missed by all of us.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the constituents of Pictou East for their continued support of myself and our government. It has been this support that has enabled our government to achieve its goals for 1996 and to project a bright year for the people of Nova Scotia and Pictou East in the coming year. I am pleased to say that the past 12 months has already provided a good year for Pictou East to reflect upon.
In health care, 1996 saw the completion of the badly needed construction on one of our major hospitals. This government contributed more than $18 million to the renovations of the in-patient units and refurbishing of the Aberdeen Hospital. In a time when news of hospital and hospital bed closures are all that's heard, this truly is a sign that this government has turned things around.
From the beginning, this government has advocated the advantages of home health care in Nova Scotia. I am pleased to announce that this concept is growing quickly in Pictou East. The operation of home health care has expanded over this past year and more people have been able to stay in the comfort of their own homes during treatments and recovery.
Emergency medical services have also been modernized in the Pictou County area. Along with the province-wide implementation of 911, three new, state-of-the-art ambulances were given by the Department of Health to Dort's Ambulance of New Glasgow to serve Pictou County. Pictou East also being a relatively rural area has benefitted from the new air-ambulance service based out of Shearwater. This rapid transport system gives all Pictou County residents access to a full range of medical care services.
Results of the strong leadership role this government has taken to create a stable economy ideal for private sector investments, these are also quite visible in Pictou East. I am pleased to report the creation of a number of partnerships between this government and the private sector.
Our government, along with Partners construction are investing approximately $700,000 to bring the Pictou Shipyard back into operational standards after lying dormant for two years. This facility will be used as a metal fabricator and ship repair yard and is expected to create up to 100 jobs in the Pictou County area over the next few years.
This government, along with the federal government, the private sector and the community have pooled their resources and have entered into a partnership to permanently keep the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry operating in Pictou County. This establishment is not only a popular tourist attraction which offers Nova Scotians an important link to the history of industry in our province, but it also serves as a conference centre for meetings in the Pictou County area. The visitors that the Museum welcomes annually increases the amount of business that goes to the local hotels, inns and restaurants. This alone supports the employment of a number of Pictou County residents. The collective effort of private and community groups and this government, to sustain the operation of the Nova Scotia Museum
of Industry means that these people will continue to bring home a paycheque home each week.
Along with the 19 new small businesses and the 38 new jobs that were created with the aid of this government's Community Business Loan Program, there are a number of other companies which continue to add to the employment rate of Pictou County. For example, Trenton Works Limited which has recently been named one of the leading exporters in the province; and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation which has successfully assumed full responsibility of the Scott Paper Mill and the operational activities of the Boat Harbour treatment facility. This arrangement came about in response to almost 30 years worth of concerns for the environment by the residents of Pictou County. The steady income provided by these companies goes into the homes of hundreds of residents, reduces the number of people that require social assistance and secures the future of these Nova Scotians and that of their children.
Premier John Savage has just recently announced a one year, $42 million extension to the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program. This federal-provincial cooperative project has already been the basis for over $3 million worth of investments in Pictou East. This has included projects such as a $180,000 expansion of the MacDonald arena in Thorburn, $42,000 for the Union Street Lift Station upgrade, $260,000 for the Hamilton Road waterline in Westville and over $2 million for the Linacy sewer project.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report on the continued attention of the Department of Transportation in ensuring the completion of the $50 million project on the Trans Canada Highway to Pictou County. As an aside, this is the largest construction project in the province this year. This highway, as well as a number of smaller roadways that have received paving in the last year, is an essential link for both travellers and truckers alike to Pictou County.
The farming community in Pictou East has also benefitted from the incentives of this government. I would like to thank the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, Guy Brown, for responding to the concerns of the beef farmers in Pictou East. The commitment of this government to the Beef Net Income Stabilization Agreement Deposit Assistance Program is necessary for the successful future of the beef industry in Nova Scotia and Pictou County.
The Minister of Natural Resources has recently announced that the Sable Offshore Energy Project may produce upwards of $300 million annually during its lifetime. This is excellent news for Nova Scotians because the gas pipeline and the resulting royalties will benefit a great many of us, including the citizens of Pictou East. Pictou County is the largest industrial centre east of Montreal. The birth of a natural gas industry in Nova Scotia will draw more national and international attention to other industries in our region. The products of companies such as Trenton Works Limited will complement very well the activities of the Sable Offshore Energy Project. It will produce an even larger income for the province and for the people of Pictou East and Pictou County.
Mr. Speaker, I have confidence in the ability of this government to secure the future of the Nova Scotia economy. I am proud to come from a region of such rich potential for investment and to represent a population of skilled, industrious and enthusiastic people. These positive qualities are being passed on to our future generation, our youth. The schools in Pictou East are responding to needs of society and the current marketplace.
In February of this year the Nova Scotia Community College and Michelin North America expanded on their previous agreement and have entered into a new technical training partnership. Michelin, as we all know, operates three large manufacturing facilities in Nova Scotia, including one in Pictou County. This plant and the Pictou campus of the Nova Scotia Community College will work together to train the best possible workers who will be able to compete in the international marketplace.
This adaptation to the current needs of our society is also visible at an earlier stage of our youth's education. I am proud to commend the cooperative efforts of the board and the Department of Education in implementing a Middle French Immersion Program in three schools in the Pictou County region. These include Frank H. MacDonald Elementary in Sutherlands River, A.G. Baillie Elementary in New Glasgow and West Pictou Consolidated in Lyon's Brook. I would like to thank the former Minister of Education and Culture, the Honourable John MacEachern, for supporting this initiative. (Applause)
Pictou East is a region of innovation and of awareness. I am pleased to point out that several organizations in Pictou County were the recipients of environmental awards presented by the Nova Scotia Environmental Assessment Board in 1996. Kimberly-Clark Nova Scotia and the Pictou Harbour Environmental Protection Program were recognized in the business and industrial category. The Pictou County Rivers Association were the honoured recipients in the citizens group category. The activities of these groups have had a positive impact on the environmental concerns that face our community.
Mr. Speaker, in the past three years this government, under the leadership of Premier John Savage, has worked hard to create a stable environment for the people of Nova Scotia and for Pictou East. This government has been strong enough to haul this province out of the desperate financial mess it had been spent into over the last 15 years. I am confident that this government, even after the loss of our capable Leader, Premier John Savage, will continue working to make a brighter future for Nova Scotians. This is why I am happy to support the Speech from the Throne. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as the MLA for the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I very much welcome the opportunity of replying and responding to the Speech from the Throne.
I would like to begin, as so many members in this House have done, by paying tribute to my friend, the late MLA Ross Bragg. I think I can best describe my feelings toward and about our colleague Ross by sharing a couple of stories with you.
It was brought to my attention back in January 1995 that 21 year old Kimberly Mortenson of Brentwood, Colchester County, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kimberly had leukaemia, a disease characterized by an excessive number of white corpuscles in the blood. Kimberly had a lifelong dream. She wanted to visit British Columbia. Unfortunately, she came from a very poor family.
I communicated Kimberly's dream to Ross. Ross seemed to genuinely identify with the young girl and he didn't, for one moment, say, Brooke, your political stripe is different than mine. Ross was very interested in Kimberly's concern. He almost immediately helped Kimberly and he helped Kimberly's mom and dad, David and Betty, by making ticket arrangements with Canadian Air so Kimberly, her mom and dad, could fly out to British Columbia. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, and very sadly, Kimberly, while in British Columbia, became sick and she had to be flown home where shortly thereafter she passed away. The dreadful disease, cancer, had tragically taken her life, but Betty and David Mortenson, their family, their friends and myself will be forever grateful to Ross and his department for their help.
The other event, Mr. Speaker, which is a little more humorous, a little short story that I would like to share with you, happened at the Victoria General Hospital. It was the day before Ross was to receive his bone marrow transplant in Nova Scotia. I was in the hospital visiting a constituent who also happened to have the same dreadful disease, leukaemia. Ross was on the same floor and my friend, the patient, said Ross was not really feeling good, but he was still very cheerful. My friend pointed out that Ross was not up to receiving or seeing visitors, but, nevertheless, knowing all this, I went to the nurses station, identified myself and suggested to the nurse that she might just mention to Ross that I was at the hospital and if he wasn't taking visitors, I certainly wanted to convey my best wishes and regards to Ross.
Well, as it turned out, Ross had heard my conversation with the nurse because his nurse was directly across from the nurses desk and Ross shouted out, tell Brooke to come in, but tell him to leave those Tory boots outside the room. Of course, I did go in and I was quite surprised. Actually, Ross, as you could imagine, was sitting on the edge of the bed with a
clipboard, a calculator, numerous papers and in one hand or the other - I believe it was his right hand - he had the cellular phone. So Ross was working quite diligently, even though he wasn't feeling all that great. But I think that just represents the type of guy that Ross Bragg was.
An old adage, the author is unknown, Mr. Speaker, I think it kind of represents Ross. It says that it is not ones aptitude in life, but ones attitude in life that helps him reach the altitude in life. Ross certainly had the right attitude. When I left the hospital, I couldn't help but think to myself just how fortunate that I was. As you know, it was just a little over a week ago, in fact on April 6th, that our friend and colleague was laid to rest. I travelled to Collingwood with former MLAs and colleagues Ken Streatch and David Nantes. Ken and Dave also thought very highly of their friend Ross Bragg. I was specifically joyed, yet sorrowed, during Ross' cousin's act of recollection and she certainly shared a lot of stories with us, Mr. Speaker, and I know you were there. My condolences and sympathy and certainly understanding are again extended to Cathy and the children. He is certainly going to be missed. He was certainly a friend to everybody in this House.
Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, I do represent the beautiful constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, an extremely large geographical area, one that more people travel through in the course of a year than any other constituency in all of Nova Scotia. This is because we have the Halifax-Dartmouth highway, the four lane highway, and we have the Halifax International Airport. The airport, I might add, handles over 1.1 million passengers annually. I know this government is fully cognizant of the fact that the airport is going through some very trying times with the federal downloading on the province and the province and the Halifax Regional Municipality essentially left holding the bag. I certainly wish the committee that is looking into the future of the Halifax International Airport all the best.
The constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley stretches into eastern Halifax County and southern Colchester County down into Lower Truro. Lower Truro, with a population of approximately 950 and Old Barns with a population of 230 people, are situated at the head of the Cobequid Bay, where rich, broad and level expanses of dyked saltmarsh adjoin many of the districts around Truro and bumper crops of hay are produced annually. For example, from Old Barns you can take a scenic country road to Princeport and then follow the Shubenacadie River to the Town of Stewiacke and then go through to Green Oaks.
Going to the other end of Truro, you can enter the great constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley via the Glooscap Trail on Route No. 2 and head toward Hilden and Brookfield, along with the communities of Middle Stewiacke, Otter Brook, Upper Stewiacke and the Stewiacke Crossroads. Middle Stewiacke and Upper Stewiacke, of course, are situated in the beautiful Stewiacke Valley and for centuries this region was the prime location of the Mi'kmaq Indians who fished its streams and hunted its dense forests.
Mr. Speaker, should you ever want to do a side excursion in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, visit the Natural Land Bridge, accessible by foot and across private lands on Dawson Mountain at Upper Stewiacke. At the base of a cliff just to the west of the natural bridge, a small stream flows into a cave and works its way through many feet of limestone to emerge at the bridge. Then you reach a small community named Burnside, the rural upland section of Upper Stewiacke which becomes Burnside Park, a picnic area with waterfalls.
Another area in my constituency is the Town of Stewiacke with a population of approximately 1,300 people. The Mayor of Stewiacke is Ross Wickwire and Mr. Wickwire and the Stewiacke Town Council have attended a lot of meetings and are working very hard to provide services and programs to the citizens of Stewiacke, again through some very difficult and trying times.
The Town of Stewiacke is located on the Stewiacke River and is situated essentially halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. I know that is a fact, Mr. Speaker, because we have a sign up saying so.
In season, the Stewiacke River offers smelt, gaspereaux, shad, bass, trout and even salmon, Mr. Speaker. The river is also a very popular canoeing stream. One spot I would like to mention is the Caddell Rapids, situated on a bluff overlooking the Shubenacadie River. This particular area attracts a large number of bald eagles during the winter months. The birds, of course, fish for tomcod which are trapped on ice pans in the river estuary. If you visit this area, an interpretive sign, or at least the last time I was in this area, there was a sign that tells the story, or at least the last time I was in this area there was a sign that tells the story of the Riverside eagles.
Mr. Speaker, the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has an incredible amount of scenery to offer our tourists and, of course, our local people. Again, tourism along the Eastern Shore is a gigantic revenue generator. The Antigonish-Eastern Shore Tourism Association with businesses in my constituency is responsible for 700 direct and 400 spinoff jobs every year. The estimated tourism industry payroll for this area is $14 million direct and $9 million in spinoffs.
Agriculture, in various local communities, allows us to share our history and pride, as well as share the agriculture industry with those people around us. The most recent agriculture statistics available show that there are approximately 160 farms in the Halifax Regional Municipality portion of my constituency, which generate just over $13 million in agriculture production on an annual basis. Now, granted, some of these farms are small but some are also very big. For example, did you realize that there are 24 farms with total gross farm receipts of between $100,000 and $0.25 million and another 9 farms with total gross farm receipts of $0.25 million or more. The agriculture industry has witnessed a tremendous change in the past few years. I am quite aware of that change, having worked on the family dairy farm for a number of years. I fully support the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
in their comments that without accepting and adapting to change, the agriculture industry would not exist and there would be no hope of competing and that it is better to be a leader, with new technology, rather than to be a follower.
I also happen to believe that despite the vast technological changes we are facing practically on a daily basis, Nova Scotia's rural way of life must be enhanced and developed for the well-being of all Nova Scotians. Across Nova Scotia the dairy industry, which I might add is very big through the Colchester end of my constituency, throughout the Old Barns and Cobequid areas, remains the most important cash receipt, with an average annual value of nearly $85 million, followed closely by poultry and eggs at $64 million.
The constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is widely known across the province for its exceptional number of people involved in the agriculture industry. There are a total of 633 dairy farms in Nova Scotia and you only have to look at different farms throughout the constituency to see the tremendous impact agriculture has in the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.
The elimination of the feed freight assistance subsidy is hitting livestock producers across Nova Scotia especially hard. Feed prices have risen between $8,000 to $10,000 annually for hog producers and a startling $25,000 per farm for poultry producers. A dairy farmer speaking in Truro said that despite funding from the Feed Freight Assistance Adjustment Fund, this is only a compensation package and, in the long run, will cost our industry millions of dollars.
The municipal service exchange was supposed to be a fair and equitable process. Municipal units across Nova Scotia have really been slapped with hidden back-door increases in costs by the province. Municipalities do not buy the lame arguments that the province is putting forward regarding the increase in costs. Can you blame the municipal units? This is a government that forced the old Halifax County, the City of Halifax, the City of Dartmouth and the Town of Bedford, via the shotgun, into one municipal unit.
The service exchange was supposed to essentially mean that the province would accept the cost and the responsibility for social services, the full cost. Is this government aware that the Halifax Regional Municipality this year is committed to spending over $22 million for social services? This, in spite of the fact the government promised to take over the costs. That is an additional cost. Besides that, the Halifax Regional Municipality has assumed roads and policing costs.
I might add that the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the most kilometres of paved and dirt secondary roads in the province. Yet this government, for four straight construction seasons, has not repaved one kilometre of secondary road in the
constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The municipalities have paved some subdivisions but the province has not. I stand by that statement, Mr. Speaker. It is a small wonder that the Speech from the Throne contained only one short paragraph regarding roads and highways. When is this government going to do something about the deplorable, the disgraceful, the bone-crunching, the shameful, the wicked condition that the roads of this province are in? When is this government going to spend some money? When are they going to gravel some of our secondary roads? When are they going to do some ditching? This government has neglected rural Nova Scotia. (Interruption) The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect and leadership hopeful, tells me that Wednesday, if he is the Premier, they are going to start gravelling and doing some ditching. I like that plank a lot better than some of the other ones.
In recognition of how important these undertakings are - this is what the Minister of Transportation is telling us; I trust that the minister had some input. He is telling us that in recognition of how important safe travel and commercial progress is, this government is going to spend $12 million linking Highway No. 103 at Barrington. That is a long overdue and welcome announcement. He also has committed this government to spending, in cooperation and concert with the federal government, $54 million on twinning the corridor from Highway No. 104 from Salt Springs to Alma. But guess what? There is no mention of tolls. What happened to this grandiose plan of public-private partnership? Did the government learn by the error of their ways? Well, the Government House Leader is shaking his head no. He hasn't learned yet. I can believe that the member for Richmond hasn't learned yet. (Interruption) The minister is telling me I should have asked for some paving. The roads in this province are deplorable and disgraceful.
Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at the four pillars of the Liberal Government. June 11, 1993. It starts by talking about 30-60-90 and the Economic Development Minister continues to boast of jobs created, but ignores other factors such as the decline in the growth of salaries and wages, increase in unemployment rate in Cape Breton and the fact that part-time jobs are replacing full-time jobs and salaries. Part-time jobs without benefits.
The BST, the blended sales tax. Now, if there ever was a tax grab, the blended sales tax is that. That is a tax grab of at least $84 million by the government's own figures. Now, leadership hopeful and Minister of Health signed the deal without consultation and with highly debatable benefits. Necessities such as gas, home heating oil, stamps, clothing under $94, diapers, et cetera are hit, Mr. Speaker. Claims of job creation are unproven and highly doubtful. What about the poor federal-provincial relations? I think those relations are basically poor through provincial inaction. What about the lost Devco jobs? What about the winter ferry service, EH-101 helicopter deal, Cornwallis, freight rate subsidy, federal freight rate assistance . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Federal jurisdiction.
MR. TAYLOR: Federal jurisdiction, I am being told by one honourable member. Cuts through new Canadian Health and Social Transfer.
Who is standing up for Nova Scotia? Are the 11 Members of Parliament? Are the 11 MPs who act like marionettes? Are they, Mr. Speaker? What about casinos? Casinos were introduced despite the opposition of most Nova Scotians and the government's own Committee on Gaming. The government's own Committee on Gaming submitted a report with recommendations that the government not proceed. The government not only didn't listen to Nova Scotians, they didn't listen to a committee that had government members as members. The full impact of the casino is yet unknown, but we do know that fewer jobs have been created, less revenue has been raised than expected and projected, and the Sydney casino has not turned the profit that was estimated. Again, that leaves native groups and charities without promised money that they were supposed to receive from the profits raised at the casino in Sydney. So that is one pillar, the pillar of sustainability.
Let's talk about accountability. This government is going to be accountable. The government told us that they were going to be accountable. Well, let's have a look at patronage. Although Liberals promised an end to an age-old system, here is the following, and this is just a fraction of the well-placed Liberal Party members who received plum positions or sweetheart compensation deals. Heather Robertson, former Chief of Staff and Party worker, job for life at the Utility and Review Board as Chairperson, of course, with $80,000. (Interruption)
Well, let's see what the comment is about this individual then. John Morash, Liberal fundraiser, $70,000 plus per year, Utility and Review Board Vice-Chairman. Dr. Dan Reid, former Gerald Regan Cabinet Minister, and his position is, let me see, Physicians Affairs Advisor at $115,000 per year; $115,000 for Dr. Dan. How about George Unsworth? I think that is leadership hopeful Mr. Boudreau's fundraiser, isn't he? Let's see, he is a coordinator for two school board amalgamations. Now, we won't get into the school board amalgamations right now, but they came in over-budget, over $150,000 in fees. How about Elwin MacNeil, the leadership hopeful's pal and, of course, the Gaming Commission Chairman. How about Mr. MacNeil? What is Mr. MacNeil's salary - $120,000 a year. That is not bad, that is not chicken feed. Well, here is another former Gerald Regan Cabinet Minister, Ralph Fiske. How about Ralph Fiske, no patronage. Ralph Fiske, former Regan Cabinet Minister, well he is the Gaming Corporation Chairman and he only gets $120,000 a year. Another big winner - absolutely. We see Kenzie MacNeil, he received an untendered contract with the Economic Development and Tourism Department. Accountability and patronage, a thing of the past, come on, let us get serious.
Then, of course, we have the Human Resources Committee. Well, let us talk a little bit about the Human Resources Committee set up by this government to ensure appointments to agencies, boards and commissions were done fairly. That sounds like quite a mission statement in itself, doesn't it? Well, let us see, we are going to do things fairly, but instead I
am being told and I have witnessed it as a member that it is merely a rubber stamp committee, in fact, the member for Colchester North has called it a joke. No patronage.
Eight former deputy ministers were fired, compensated and replaced through a national search. Three replacements of that national search have already resigned at more cost to the taxpayers. The cost to the taxpayers, this is for the initial firing, is $2.3 million. No patronage. How about the Honourable Gerry O'Malley. Let us have a look and see how Mr. O'Malley is doing. No, let us talk about following Cabinet restructuring. Let us talk a little bit about Cabinet restructuring so we can keep everybody in the Savage swarm. We want to keep everybody in the Savage swarm, let us talk about it now.
He remained and I think this perhaps even perplexes some government members, he remained. There was no national search done for this job, I can tell you. He remained as Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat despite admitting he is computer (Interruption) now, Mr. Speaker. He is not computer? Well, I am being told that he is a technological wizard.
Perhaps we should move on to Dr. Mike Murphy - no patronage. He is a commissioner of emergency hospital systems. Dr. Mike Murphy works nine months a year and he spends the rest of the time in Ontario - $140,000 a year for Dr. Mike Murphy for nine months. Now is that being fair to Nova Scotians? There is no patronage and there is no accountability. That is a pillar of yours, not mine, you said that accountability was one of your pillars. How about compassion, another pillar of the Liberal Government. Health reform, another Liberal promise in 1993. Ron Stewart commissioned another committee, another report, then closed hospitals and beds immediately - 30 per cent of the beds have been closed. Those beds were closed without the full implementation of alternatives. Home care and emergency services have not been carefully thought out, have not been planned.
Well, it is a small wonder that the Auditor General's Report of 1995 cited this government for poor planning. Even the current Deputy Minister, Mr. Cramm, admitted that there is essentially no plan. Now this is a government that has a lot of compassion and compassion is one of their pillars, one of the four pillars of the Liberal Government.
So long, family doctors: Thousands of Nova Scotians losing their family doctors each year. $34 million lost in family benefit payments to government employees, those without children, as well as prison inmates. That is from the Auditor General's Report, 1995. Shelter allowance for mentally/physically disabled cut by the Community Services Department, Mr. Speaker. Where did they get a pillar and how could they ever have the gall to call it compassion?
How about quality of life? $9 million in cuts to classroom education in 1996 despite John MacEachern's 1995 promise of $11 million to be re-directed to the classroom. (Interruption) The savings were going to come from school board amalgamation I was told but instead, Mr. MacEachern and his department gutted out $9 million from the education budget, from the classroom. Mr. Speaker, $4.7 million in cuts to community colleges was contained in the 1996 budget. Almost 200 spaces from the community colleges have disappeared.
Administration costs jumped between 50 per cent and 200 per cent in the Department of Education Policy, Program and Community College Divisions. No new taxes. Jobs, jobs, jobs. No new taxes. That was the Liberal promise in 1993. Well, then they delivered their first budget, loaded it with $80 million in new taxes, including a 1 per cent increase in the provincial sales tax. Tax on motor fuel, tax on electricity. Consumers are now hit with the BST to fulfil a federal election promise.
The Speech from the Throne is very thin. Absolutely nowhere in this Speech from the Throne is there meaningful mention of our resource-based industries - agriculture, natural resources, forestry and mining. How come, Mr. Speaker? Where was the Minister of Natural Resources when this document was being drafted up? Surely she must have had some input. Why, in my constituency alone there are eight saw mills. Four or five of them are the largest in the province. In fact, one is the largest but no mention. The MacTara Saw Mill in Upper Musquodoboit Valley is going through a $17 million expansion. Laurie Ledwidge's mill out in Enfield, Halifax Regional Municipality, is again going through a major expansion. Sproule Lumber, brought out by the Irvings in my constituency, again another major expansion, and nowhere in this document is there any mention of natural resources and the resource-based industries.
No mention of agriculture. No mention of mining. Tusket Mining development in a little, small community of Murchyville. Absolutely no mention. Well, the honourable member from somewhere outside of the city tells us, Mr. Speaker, Halifax-Bedford Basin, in fact, tells us that we have to try harder. Well, surely somewhere in the province one of the other 51 members could have had a little input and headed some conversation and communicated their concerns to somebody that our resource-based industries should have been mentioned somewhere in this document.
What about our agriculture community? What about our mining community? We have gypsum, we have kaolin clay, we have lead zinc, we have gold, we have all kinds of things, Mr. Speaker. But you know, we should not forget that this is the same government, the same Cabinet that unilaterally, dictatorially, lifted the designation on the Jim Campbell's Barren. Now, in today's Truro Daily News, the editorial states that "Barren inquiry needed. The Nova Scotia government must re-consider a decision not to investigate a possible leak following removal of the Jim Campbell's Barren from a list of protected areas. There is evidence suggesting that someone, either inside Cabinet or a bureaucrat, leaked the information.".
Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not making the allegation, the editor of the Truro Daily News is making this allegation in today's editorial. "There is no other rational explanation for the sudden heavy trading in shares of Regal Goldfields Ltd., a company exploring . . . on the barren near Margaree in Cape Breton.
Its not sufficient for cabinet members or government spokesmen . . .", government spin doctors, ". . . to simply say that they are satisfied there was no leak, so there will be no investigation. If there is nothing to hide then why not let an independent inquiry verify that?". Why not let an independent inquiry verify it?
Mr. Speaker, let's be serious. I tabled a resolution on Friday of last week, calling on this government to initiate an inquiry, an independent investigation of the goings-on at the Jim Campbells Barren. (Interruption) The editorial goes on, for the benefit of the honourable Minister of Community Services. "It shouldnt need to be proven to government there was a leak to justify an investigation. If it was proven, there wouldnt be any need for an inquiry - people involved would be fired or charged.".
But, nonetheless, "Cabinet decided . . .", now this is probably just coincidence, probably just happenstance, but back on ". . . Nov. 21 to reopen the Barren to mineral exploration. The Department of Natural Resources didn't make that decision public until Dec. 3. The decision to remove the 1,700 hectare barren from protection caused a storm of protest from environmental and angling group, who said the exploration threatened a sensitive and important wilderness area. Natural Resources minister . . . defended the decision because various municipalities and business groups in the area wanted the mining exploration to create jobs and increase opportunities in the depressed region.
The whys and the why nots of the delisting are not the point here. It is possible that there was a leak and it resulted in inside trading. "The day of the Nov. 21 decision, trading in Regal shares jumped to 45,000 from about 5,000 the day before . . .", just an accident, just a freak of nature. Well, I am being told there was another mine in Timmins. Well, then the following day ". . . another 300,000 shares traded Nov. 22 which were more than the total trades for the previous month.". Again, just an accident, just a coincidence. On November 22nd it appears someone knew the decision was made to reopen the area. I will leave that at that.
It is time, Mr. Speaker, that this government supported their pillar of accountability. That was their pledge in 1993, that wasn't mine. With these goings-on, just that one example, that is why I referred and expanded a little bit on the barren, I believe an inquiry is needed. I have never made an accusation, never made the allegation. Many other people have. (Interruptions)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment a little bit about our health care fears and our health care system. Now the government and, in fact, the Premier - who, by the way, has stated that he is going to resign once a Leader is found, the Premier - stated that the Opposition is fear-mongering, is out there frightening the public.
Mr. Speaker, the Halifax Daily News carried a story on April 12, 1997. It states here that, "Nova Scotians are filled with 'fear and anxiety' over the changes to the health-care system, says a report issued by the Medical Society of Nova Scotia.". That is not the Opposition saying it, it is the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. "The Dialogue Campaign, launched by the society last November, asked Nova Scotians to share their concerns and experiences through a 1-800 number . . .". Nova Scotians were asked to mail in comment cards. "The medical society received about 2,000 calls and 500 cards . . .".
"The report proves health-care workers weren't over-reacting . . .". (Interruption) Well, I will be quite honest and truthful; I didn't send one in and I didn't make one phone call, Mr. Speaker. "The report proves health-care workers werent over-reacting . . . Politicians were saying . . . health-care workers were fear-mongering.".
Now, why can't this government give Nova Scotians some credit? "The report quotes three respondents who said the death of family members was the result of delayed surgery.". That is not the Opposition saying that, Mr. Speaker, that is three family members, real life stories. "Most commonly noted problems included concerns about doctors leaving the province, overworked medical staff and long waiting lists for essential services, including hospital beds.".
Mr. Speaker, let's be fair to the government because, "The report also says a small number of participants 'voiced support for health-care reform, but felt that the implementation process was not properly planned or managed'.". This is a government that is accountable and has compassion. At least, these were two pillars of this government's campaign back in 1993.
"The medical society embarked on the campaign because nobody else was asking the public what they thought . . .". The government never asked the public what they thought. The government never asked the community what they thought. The government never asked organizations what they thought. The government never asked individuals what they thought, but the Medical Society embarked on a campaign because nobody, save nobody, was asking, Mr. Speaker. "With all of the reform, cuts to the system and changes that were happening so quickly, there wasn't any avenue for people to say what they thought. So, we tried to provide that'.". Now, if you want to call and comment and perhaps complain or commend the system, the 1-800 line is still open. So, if you have some good news to tell the Medical Society, go for it. Be my guest.
Mr. Speaker, I have a few more comments to make on the health care system, or the lack of a health care system, in this province. I would like to read a few comments from Dr. Steve Sheehan from Chester. This is a letter to the editor of the Halifax Daily News on April 12th. "Your report April 3 of a patient dying, due to the suspected inability of a hospital to find a bed for him, comes as no surprise to me.". This a doctor saying this. "Our health-care system is in a crisis!". This is a doctor saying that, but still nobody will listen. (Interruption) Well, I am very appreciative of the fact that the honourable member, Mr. Rayfuse, was able to get a bed and I certainly wish that honourable member all the best. He is certainly a very friendly and very fine MLA. The doctor is saying that. "Yet, despite the government's appeals to the media that the dangers are being exaggerated by health-care . . ." workers, that is what the government is appealing to the media. The doctor is saying, "I believe that everyone in Nova Scotia already has - or soon will - experience the effects of the government's health care 'restructuring.".
"Dr. Rick LeMoine's comment that, '. . . there is a concerted effort by the medical society to point out every deficiency that they can find which they believe is going to put them in a better bargaining position for a contract . . .' is ludicrous.". This is what Dr. Sheehan is saying. "He goes on to say, 'That's been a tactic that I used when I was president of the medical society, and Im sure it's a tactic that the medical society uses now.'".
Dr. Sheehan is saying, Mr. Speaker, that Dr. LeMoine ". . . is now employed as a government representative. If he admits to deceit in the past, on behalf of an organization, what credibility does he bring to his present position? Indeed, what good would accrue to doctors from a statement based upon their ability to get a better bargaining position? Over the past five years the doctors of Nova Scotia have experienced approximately 25-per-cent cuts in wages, despite having negotiated a settlement in good faith with the government.".
He says, "Although wages are an important issue, I feel the statements made by physicians are not a 'communications strategy,' as described by Dr. LeMoine, but an honest effort to make the public aware of a system that is becoming unstable, . . ." and, Dr. Sheehan thinks, becoming unsafe.
I want to say that Dr. Sheehan's views are shared by many in Nova Scotia. Dr. Sheehan goes on a little further to say that eight years ago when he was an intern, if he felt uncomfortable or unsure about a patient's condition, he would admit him or her for observation. "Today, patients with atypical chest pains, infections requiring IV antibiotics, and many other potentially serious conditions, are being refused admission to hospitals because of a shortage of beds.".
"When someone is sent home from a hospital because there are not enough beds, and their situation subsequently worsens, causing them to return to hospital, do we assume they must say, 'Isn't it terrible how all these government cut-backs are affecting health care?' No. The usual reply is, 'That stupid doctor missed my diagnosis!' And the family is enraged, shouting, 'Why didn't you admit my father last night?'".
Dr. Sheehan questions, "Dr. LeMoine, why did you leave clinical medicine? Did all the cutbacks make it difficult for you to practice the medicine you were taught too? And even if you do answer this, why should anyone believe you?". That is from Dr. Sheehan. (Interruptions) Well, Mr. Speaker, we should look at the Throne Speech, I believe, if we can find it between the covers. It is extremely thin.
Mr. Speaker, this Throne Speech is really something to talk about. It tells us that in fact the tide has turned. Was this printed after the Premier resigned or beforehand? Before he stated that he was resigning? I would suggest that that applause, Mr. Speaker, was for the Premier's resignation. The tide has turned.
You have to give Nova Scotians more credit than you are giving them. Nova Scotians are very cynical of politicians, irrespective of their political stripe. Let's keep that in mind. Nova Scotians do not need to be patronized. They do not want to be patronized. They do not want somebody to tell them that the health care system in Nova Scotia is a Cadillac. They do not want Nova Scotians to tell them that the public sector, the workers in the public sector are being looked after. Mr. Speaker, it does not matter what department you talk to. It does not matter what department, the public sector is very concerned about their jobs. They are under a lot of stress. They are under a lot of anxiety. This government greatly contributed to that uncertainty, to that anxiety, that the public sector is facing.
The 21 active business improvement districts across Nova Scotia are active at this present time. Did you know, Mr. Speaker, (Interruptions) No, to my colleague from the Eastern Shore, I am not done, but the number of downtowns across Nova Scotia are in serious trouble, yet there are others who have a strategic vision and they have that vision in place and are doing extremely well. Across Nova Scotia we have different Chambers of Commerce who are working very hard on behalf of their towns and I want to commend the different Chambers of Commerce, et cetera, across the province.
Let's talk a little about the forestry industry. The year 1995 was predicted to be a record year for the harvesting of timber and as it turned out, 1966 also was. Officials in the Department of Natural Resources have indicated that slightly more than 2 million cords of softwood were expected to be harvested and 0.5 million cords of hardwood. Our caucus is being told by people in the industry that these figures are low. To ensure that our forestry remains a very strong entity, the Minister of Natural Resources must play a proactive and aggressive role in sustainable management in Nova Scotia and in the forest industry.
The former Minister of Natural Resources was more concerned about his image than he was about the forestry in this province. He was more concerned about that than about anything else. My hope is that the new minister will aggressively pursue a partnership that will ensure sustained development of the forestry in Nova Scotia. Approximately 25,000 direct and indirect jobs in Nova Scotia are related to the forest industry and its estimated value is in access of $1 billion a year.
The provincial Government of Nova Scotia is presently going through a very trying time and before I conclude my remarks and my response to the Speech from the Throne, I would like to wish the Premier the very best in his life after politics. I have stated privately and publicly that although the Honourable John Savage didn't always come across the very best, I believe he did have the public's interests at heart, I would never say otherwise. His methodology left quite a bit to be desired. I do wish the new Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia the very best. We are in difficult times. I support fiscal restraint and financial responsibility but the government just doesn't recognize - and that is the difficulty I have with the provincial Liberal Government - unfortunately, it does not recognize what it is doing to this province.
One of the leadership hopefuls, well, the only stated leadership candidate at this time, has pointed out that from now on things are going to be fun. That type of rhetoric just fosters further cynicism. I would ask the Minister of Health, sometime during his travels when he is wearing the Minister of Health hat and not the leadership hat, that perhaps he would go down to the Eastern Shore, to Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and visit the extended care nursing homes. For example, the Duncan MacMillan Nursing Home has a waiting list of some 35 patients, yet this government has a moratorium on any further long-term nursing homes. Surely, the Health Minister, when he is wearing his Health Minister hat will recognize that home care, at this point at least, is not sufficient, it is not satisfactorily meeting the needs of Nova Scotians.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel, Terry Donahoe; that may very well have been Terry Donahoe's swansong, but Mr. Donahoe works very hard on behalf of his constituents and I am sure he will as the Member of Parliament for Halifax work just as hard for the people in Halifax. (Interruption) Well, he does have to get elected, but Terry visited over 5,000 homes in Halifax and many times when Terry was talking to the individuals in their kitchens they were complaining. They were complaining about the lack of job opportunities, the lack of economic benefits for Halifax, they were talking about the Port, they were talking about health care. I hope this government wakes up sometime and realizes that the cuts they are delivering are negatively impacting Nova Scotians.
Amalgamation of the municipal units, the metro amalgamation certainly leaves a lot to be desired. The Port of Halifax is fundamentally important to the City of Halifax, provides some 7,000 jobs. It is one of the largest ice-free ports in the world. What is this government's position relative to the Port of Halifax?
I have been told that the MLA for Eastern Shore is putting Sheet Harbour on the map (Applause). I want to suggest to that member that now is not the time to change the proprietorship of the Port of Sheet Harbour. This government is actively (Interruption) It is not the time to change the proprietorship of the Port of Sheet Harbour. That port is essentially run by Sheet Harbour terminal operations, by Sheet Harbour stevedores and by the Westside stevedores and my understanding its that this government is negotiating with CERES Corp. and the infamous Wilfred Moore to lease (Interruptions) Well, he is a senator, he is a lawyer and he wears a lot of hats - yes. Wilfred who?
By way of concluding, I want to point out, individuals, organizations, the community of Sheet Harbour and this province will be at a loss. If that port is leased/privatized at this time; 16 months ago the Minister of now Economic Development and Tourism issued a directive to the Port of Sheet Harbour not to entertain any new customers. Is that any way to do business in Nova Scotia? This is the time to leave the port in the hands of those in Sheet Harbour who can best manage it.
I welcome the opportunity to respond to the Speech to the Throne. My last request to the Premier would be to come in, before you officially resign, with a code of ethics and a code of conduct for your government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg. (Applause)
MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, as always it is my honour to return here to this distinguished House of Assembly, as the provincial representative of the people of the riding of Lunenburg.
It is my pleasure to speak through you to the other members present, our capable staff. Your role as Speaker here at the Legislature is of such great importance to our House proceedings and I know you have spent an enormous number of hours in preparation for your weighty duties. You have carried out these responsibilities with such professionalism, Mr. Speaker, that I am honoured to give you my full support and congratulations. Each year, the people of Nova Scotia look forward with a keen interest to the opening of our House as the contents from the Speech from the Throne are given.That is why I extend my congratulations to our Lieutenant Governor James Kinley for so ably presenting the intentions of this government.
Before I begin my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, I would appreciate this opportunity to publicly express my sincere love and appreciation to my husband, Michael, and our family. It is with their love and support that the work I do on behalf of the residents of Lunenburg is made all the more enjoyable and rewarding.
I look forward to the coming year as I continue to work with the concerned citizens of my riding. Together I know that with their participation and insight, we will make a difference in the prosperity of the Lunenburg constituency and of our province.
The well-being of our province has only managed to continue throughout these many years because of the collective driving force of key citizens in each one of our communities. In the riding of Lunenburg, I am proud to recognize and commend those citizens who give generously their many selfless and inspiring contributions for the betterment of others. Sadly though, this year, I must report that Mr. Jim Pittman has passed away and our community has lost the many valuable contributions of Lunenburg County's singing cook.
During his lifetime, Mr. Pittman worked tirelessly as a member of the Canadian Air Force, our police force, as a founding member of the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival and as an onboard cook, most famous for turning local stories and folklore into song.
Also, I too am proud to remember the former MLA for Cumberland South. Ross Bragg was a cherished, dear friend and along with his family, colleagues and friends, I mourn the loss. It has been people like Ross who have inspired us all in the process of good government.
I am proud to be part of a government that is adept in fulfilling the vision that so many people all across our province have helped to shape. I remain confident in our future because of the sound, responsible government of these past few years.
For example, through the Department of Health, this government has actually secured essential programs and services that were in jeopardy of failure just four years ago. The senior's Pharmacare Program for one. It has been this Liberal Government that actually enhanced the inefficiencies of programs such as the Home Care Program. And it was this Liberal Government that introduced long awaited services like the Home Oxygen Program.
For the first time ever, it is this government that will establish the means for residents of communities throughout Nova Scotia to not only identify their health needs but to participate in the process that will address and meet those health needs.
Through the Department of Education, this government has streamlined administration so that as much as possible limited funds go where they are needed the most - the classroom.
Through the Department of Justice, this government is committed to zero tolerance of family violence and has developed strict maintenance enforcement for single parent families.
Through the Department of Community Services, this government remains committed to easing the burden on those in need. We have increased the number of day care spaces, increased family benefits and this government does so while designing employment incentive programs. To date, this Liberal Government has moved 1,500 Nova Scotians from welfare to work.
Last Friday, I was encouraged to hear that our government and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities have agreed to the funding formula that will lead to the creation of a single-tiered system of social assistance in Nova Scotia. This is the first giant step for Nova Scotia's welfare system. Finally, the assistance offered to those people in need will be equitable, more reasonable and less confusing.
I would like to compliment both levels of government for working together with a shared goal of improved services, while creating a program that will be sustainable. In addition, I would like a moment to mention that this Liberal Government has rescued the Workers' Compensation Fund from bankruptcy, introduced a province-wide 911 emergency service, increased the minimum wage, launched a recycling and reusing program to divert 50 per cent of the province's garbage from landfills, diverted 100 million beverage containers from landfills with the introduction of the Bottle Deposit Program, is building schools for the future in partnerships with the private sector, and most of all - I like this one - witnessed the decline of the unemployment rate from nearly 15 per cent in the spring of 1993 to 12.1 per cent in 1996, reduced the tax burden on low income Nova Scotians, created the largest tax cut in history through the sales tax harmonization and produced the first tax cut in Nova Scotia history. I would most like to applaud this government's role in the vigorous management of this province's financial recovery.
We, the members of the Assembly, have witnessed an historical first for Nova Scotia, a government truly committed to the renewal of Nova Scotia's economy, regardless of political gain. It will be Premier John Savage and his government that will be renowned for many years as having faced this province's insurmountable financial obstacles with courage and conviction to change.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we are fortunate to be witnesses to Nova Scotia's renewal and the people living in the riding of Lunenburg share an interest in the well-being of our constituency within this renewed life of Nova Scotia. The constituency of Lunenburg was founded on the seafaring way of life. Along our ruggedly beautiful coastline many of these traditions remain, such as fishing and boat-building and now, today, also include such ventures as aquaculture. The County of Lunenburg is recognized as the balsam fir capital of the world and also held the designation of forestry capital of Canada for 1996. These are some of the reasons that the forestry industry plays a vital role in our economy.
In 1995 a commercial relationship developed between our province and Mexico. These contracts were facilitated by the critical work of our Minister of Natural Resources and the Mexican ambassador. Mr. Speaker, for the first time in the history of the forest industry in Nova Scotia a deal was struck to sell over 750 balsam fir Christmas trees to Mexico businesses. For the second time a tree from Nova Scotia was selected as the Christmas tree for Washington, D.C. Besides having the opportunity to add to the holiday enjoyment, our province's profile in a strategic market is increased. The Christmas tree for Washington was from the farm of Mr. Jack Wentzell of Barss Corner, Lunenburg County. It was my pleasure to represent our province at the Christmas tree presentation to our Governor General, His Excellency Romeo LeBlanc, for Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
The Christmas tree business is ever-growing and one of many tree farmers who know this well is Mr. Rex Veinot. For four generations and more than 50 years the Veinot family has been raising Christmas trees in the small community of Maplewood. They will tell you it takes dedication, hard work and patience before a seedling turns into a plant that is fit to be moved to the woods and then grows into a seven foot market-ready Christmas tree.
Mr. Speaker, you may recall that Christmas trees from Rex Veinot's farm were donated to both Government House and our House of Assembly in 1996. I am proud also to report to the House that last year the Veinot's family dedication was rewarded when Rex and his father, Maynard, were jointly named Nova Scotia woodlot owner of the year.
Mr. Speaker, the residents of Lunenburg, along with the rest of Nova Scotia, welcome the news about the Sable gas royalties. Money expected from the royalties along will range from $2 billion to $3.5 billion over the life of this natural gas project. This will not only mean desirable revenue but meaningful, challenging employment opportunities. This new source of money will boost the economy of this province, create hundreds of jobs and have a ripple effect that will be felt by every resident in every community in Nova Scotia.
Last year, Mr. Speaker, I was particularly proud to announce on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources that the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, with the province, had acquired full ownership of Hirtle's Beach. This is an excellent example of a provincial, municipal and local community partnership. It means that this very popular beach will remain protected by controlling the pedestrian and vehicle access over the dunes and beach area, while providing continued enjoyment for everyone's use.
Fishing and forestry play an integral role in our constituencys economy. I would also like to recognize the growing impact of the tourism industries in our communities.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the South Shore Tourism Association is the largest tourist association in Atlantic Canada, covering Shelburne, Queens and Lunenburg Counties. For 36 years, the South Shore Tourism Association has boasted the largest business association with over 400 participants. I am pleased to extend my best wishes for many more
years of success in promoting our regions natural beauty, cultural heritage and historic significance.
Last year, Mr. Speaker, the tourism industry along the South Shore experienced a tremendous boost when the Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Festival was selected as one of the American Bus Association's list of top 100 destinations in North American. Well known by its characteristic churches, Mahone Bay is now gaining a worldwide reputation.
Mr. Speaker, also well known in our area is Morgan Falls of New Germany. It is most impressive and offers residents and tourists a great reason to visit the county communities throughout the scenic New Germany area.
Among our distinguishing landmarks is the Town of Lunenburg. Lunenburg features a new, unique blockhouse style tourist bureau, the distinctive Lunenburg Academy and the home of the Fishermen's Museum. But it has been Lunenburg's recognition internationally by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that I am always proud to boast of. The World Heritage Committee designates cultural and natural heritage sites of outstanding global value. The Old Town of Lunenburg has been recognized as an extremely well preserved example of 18th Century British colonization and settlement patterns in North America. Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my congratulations to the people of Lunenburg for achieving this designation, as it truly reflects the wealth of cultural tradition and enthusiasm evident in this community.
Besides the forestry, fishing and tourism efforts in my riding, other contributors to our economy include some of this province's leading exporters: Reinforced Plastics of Mahone Bay; ABCO Industries Limited of Lunenburg, which celebrates 50 years of service this year; and Composites Atlantic, also of Lunenburg. As a member of the Nova Scotia Aerospace Association, Composites Atlantic exported over $3 million in advanced composites and aircraft parts, including a unique aircraft de-icer.
Madam Speaker, a significant contributor to our economy has been National Sea Products, NatSea. It was through the Shippers Assistance Program last year that this government was able to provide financial assistance in the purchase of a huge refrigeration unit. This has helped a major Nova Scotia company remain competitive with others worldwide.
Madam Speaker, over the last few years, I am proud to have played a role as an advocate on behalf of communities in my riding to this government for a number of projects to stimulate growth and to enhance community living. For example, this government has acknowledged the need to revitalize the waterfront areas of coastal communities. Through the Waterfront Development Program, the province has contributed funding to Mahone Bay for the construction of a bandstand, landscaping and shoreline protection.
Another successful project that I am pleased to participate in is the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program. Madam Speaker, when this government took office, it was evident that there was a lack of funding for ongoing municipal maintenance and capital improvements to such necessary systems as sewer, water and transportation. Thanks to all three levels of government together for the Infrastructure Works Program. The Town of Lunenburg has a new fire station and Mahone Bay has an expansion to their fire station and the town hall has improvements. I am encouraged by Premier Savage's announcement earlier this year of a one year, $42.6 million extension to the Infrastructure Works Program.
Madam Speaker, sound transportation links are vital to communities in my riding. That is why each year I extend my appreciation to our government for the attention paid to the many roads in my riding. I have worked very closely with the staff of the Department of Transportation to see to the repaving of Highway No. 3 from Mahone Bay to Herman's Island Road and repaving on Highway No. 10 from New Germany to North River Road. I want to thank the Minister of Transportation for helping to make that possible. I will continue to seek future necessary roadwork in my riding.
Last year, Madam Speaker, a review of the ferry services throughout our province was conducted and included the LaHave Ferry Service. I am pleased to report that a community committee along with the Department of Transportation worked together to find a solution pleasing to both sides of the river.
In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the people and to report on the riding of Lunenburg. As many of you know, I could talk on for a lot longer but, with attention to the clock, I will close by expressing my confident support of this government.
Madam Speaker, it has been this Liberal Government, with the leadership of Premier John Savage, that today we are all able to look forward with confidence to the coming years.
I will advise anyone listening, or in time, reading these words, that this Liberal Government with Premier Savage rescued this government from near disastrous financial ruination by the previous government and removed corruption by ending the tradition of government handouts.
This Liberal Government has opened the doors for entrepreneurial opportunity, ensured lasting job creation with an enhanced education system that prepares our youth for future job markets, and finally created a climate for enthusiastic business investment.
Madam Speaker, I remain dedicated to the agenda set out in the Speech from the Throne and our vision of a province that offers each citizen an improved quality of life. That is why, Madam Speaker, when called upon, I will be voting in favour of the Speech from the Throne. Thank you.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Government Notices of Motion.
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.
HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall:
(1) read and table the message from His Honour the Lieutenant Governor transmitting the Estimate of Sums required for the service of the Province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1998, for the consideration of this House;
(2) table the Estimate Books;
(3) table the Estimate and Crown Corporation business plans resolutions;
(4) deliver my Budget Speech; and
(5) move that the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the Province, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1998, being Supply to be granted to Her Majesty, and the Crown Corporation business plans be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.
Madam Speaker, I would like to inform members of the House that we have determined the day. We are not just giving an indefinite day. The plan is that at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 17th, I plan to stand in this House to deliver the budget. Without divulging any of the details, I can assure all honourable members that it will represent a real turning point in the finances of this province.
MADAM SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.
The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Government Motions.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I would like, before I get into the nitty-gritty of the Throne Speech itself, to engage in a few pleasantries with you and with my colleagues in the House.
I think that I should start by saying how much I miss Ross Bragg. Ross and I were friends before he came into the House. I knew Ross reasonably well and got to know him a lot better when he became a member. You run into all kinds of people when you get into politics, some good, some bad and some indifferent. Ross Bragg, I think, can only be described as a gentleman and a scholar. He was the kind of person who was always decent and kind and even though you perhaps battled with him in the House about some of the things that the government was doing, some of the criticism from the Opposition, you would leave the floor of the House, go outside, and you could be the best of friends. He will be truly missed in this House. I am certainly one of the fans of Ross Bragg, I can assure you.
Madam Speaker, it is good to see the Speaker of the House and you as Deputy Speaker back in the Chair again and I know that you are going to be there for at least this session anyway and I do not know if there will be any other sessions after this one or not with the same incumbents, but we shall see. However, we in the Opposition, appreciate the fact that the Speaker, I think, has been most fair and certainly has abided by the Rules of the House, insofar as Speakers are concerned and that is to apply the rules equally to the Opposition as well as to the government.
Madam Speaker, I was sorry to hear that Jay Abbass, the member for Halifax Chebucto will not be running again and has vacated his ministry, the Ministry of Justice and that in his place, of course, we have the new minister from Dartmouth-Cole Harbour taking over as Minister of Justice. Next to him we have the Honourable Allister Surette who is looking after Human Resources and next to that, of course, we have Manning MacDonald representing Cape Breton South.
Now these are the new trio in the Cabinet and it seems to me to be a custom in this House, I do not know why it is, but Ministers of Labour come and go with the greatest of frequencies. I think the present minister from Cape Breton South is the third one in this particular House and if history repeats itself, then about 9 or 10 months from now, he will no longer be the Minister of Labour, now that is not to say that he will not be something else, but he will not be the Minister of Labour.
When we were in government and it seems so long ago now, but when we were in government we seemed to do the same thing with Ministers of Labour. They came and went with great rapidity and I was one of them. In fact, one evening the ex-Ministers of Labour got together and we had a dinner and I was amazed, we had nine members at that meeting of ex-Ministers of Labour, it was just astounding. I think the member for Cape Breton South and the present incumbent can be assured that he is not going to remain in that portfolio forever and that he is liable to go on to, perhaps better things or perhaps nothing at all and that happened to our last Minister of Labour (Interruption) It could be better.
We have a Throne Speech, it is not much of a Throne Speech, it is pretty gruel, but anyway, it has several pages and we can go through this page by page as we will shortly and look at exactly what the government is saying. Perhaps we will learn from the government as this session progresses what it is all about, because certainly you do not get very much from the Speech from the Throne. I must congratulate the Lieutenant Governor James Kinley, he took what was a very poor publication, something with nothing very much in it and he made a speech out of it and I think he is to be congratulated for that.
I would also like to congratulate the Lieutenant Governor because he has been very kind to my constituency. The Lieutenant Governor has been to my constituency, I do not know how many times to be quite truthful, but I know that he has been there on three occasions when I have been present. The three occasions that I remember are the ones connected with the small village of Avondale. I think the honourable member for Hants East was at one of those particular functions as well. Avondale is right at the end of a point that you can throw a stone from Windsor across the river and it would probably land in Avondale if you are a pretty good person throwing. However, to get there by land you have to drive around and go across the St. Croix River and take a back road. It is a long way.
On the way you are going to cross the Mantua bridge.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, that is a crummy bridge.
MR. RUSSELL: It is a crummy bridge, you are right. It is an old steel bridge. You come into a s-turn and there is the bridge. It is one-way. If there is a truck coming towards you, you have to dive into the bushes with your car, to let the truck get by, and there is an s-turn on the other end.
Now the surprising thing about this bridge is everybody knew what a terrible bridge it was, including a former Minister of Highways. He came out and took a look at it and said, my goodness gracious, that bridge has got to go. Being a person who kept his word, that minister put the bridge out to tender and the tender was issued.
AN HON. MEMBER: Then what happened?
ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: What year?
MR. RUSSELL: This was in 1993, now that you mention it.
Now we have a tender out there; somebody has the tender. We have expropriated some land so that we get a straight route to this bridge and the government changes.
AN HON. MEMBER: In 1993 there were tenders all over Nova Scotia.
MR. RUSSELL: Oh, well this one was a very important tender because it was on a bridge on the way to Avondale and Belmont. (Interruption) When did the tender go out?
AN HON. MEMBER: May 24th.
MR. RUSSELL: The tender went out in 1993, around about the same time that the tide went out but I am told in this document that the tide has changed.
You know there is a thing about tides that apply directly to these people opposite, Madam Speaker, that is the red tide is a tide that nobody wants. Finally the people of Nova Scotia are going to have the opportunity to decide that and they are going to go.
Anyway, getting back to this terrible bridge that you have to cross on the way to Avondale, they cancelled. This crew over here, Madam Speaker, believe it or not, they came into power and a day after they were sworn in, bingo, the contract is cancelled. Now we have a bridge there that is a danger to everybody and is still on this s-turn, and I presume that as long as this government is in power it is never going to get replaced. (Interruptions) Well, we will talk about bridges and roads later on. I have lots of time and I haven't got a heck of a lot to talk about so we will get on to roads and bridges.
Anyway, I was talking about Avondale. Now in Avondale during the Age of Sail they built 165 large schooners in Avondale. In fact, they used to build ships in Avondale, or Newport as it is sometimes called. They would build a ship, they would load it up with products from the local area. In Windsor at that time they were manufacturing pianos and furniture and all kinds of stuff and, of course, they were growing apples. They would load the ships after they had built the ship and they would sail it to the far corners of the world, to China, to South Africa, to Europe. Those ships would go all over the world. When they got there they would sell the cargo and then they would sell the ship. Then they would come back and build another ship.
Over the years, in the late 1800's as I say, they built about 165 ships in Newport. The last ship to be built, the last cargo schooner built in Nova Scotia was built at Avondale. It was called the FBG. I don't know what that stood for but I presume it was the initials of the owner or the captain or somebody else - or girlfriend maybe - who had part of the shipyard.
Now Avondale has lost its apple industry and it is no longer, of course, in the shipbuilding industry. In fact, it is just a small village. The people of Avondale got together and thought, how can we, by our own strengths that we have here, rejuvenate the area? Somebody said, well, why don't we build a schooner? Somebody said, are you nuts? There is not much market for schooners these days. The fellow said, well, look, if we had a shipyard here and we built a schooner and we had the public in to watch us as we progressed with the building of this schooner, and as soon as we finished it, we sold it and then we started another one, we could get quite a tourist industry going here.
So they went out and they formed a company called Avon Spirit Inc. The idea was that they would build a schooner called the Avon Spirit. So they went out to sell shares and they had a great deal of difficulty but, to be quite honest, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency gave me some assistance about a year and one half ago when they were having some difficulty getting the shares out because, as you are probably aware, there is something to do with selling shares in schooners you issue 400 or something. There is some magic number. Anyway, that is beside the point. They finally got the show on the road and they raised some money to start building this schooner.
In 1995, I believe it was, or early 1996, whatever the case may be, they laid the keel for this particular schooner, Madam Speaker, and they invited the Lieutenant Governor to come on out for the keel laying. If I remember correctly, it was a miserable day. It was a cold day. It was snowing and it was not a very nice day at all. They didn't have a shed or anything at all. What they had was an open piece of field down by the shore there in Avondale and they had a roped off area and a couple of stands and they brought a little band. The Lieutenant Governor came out and he laid the keel. He laid the sovereign on the keel, as they did in the old days, I guess, and the ship was blessed, et cetera, and that was it. The Lieutenant Governor, as I say, turned up and everybody from around showed up. It was a good day in downtown Avondale.
So the story progresses and, finally, we get to where they have got sufficient money to build a boat shed. They build a boat shed. I only have one of these, unfortunately, or else I would like to give everybody a copy, but I have only one copy with me, but I will get everybody a copy, Madam Speaker, at some future date. They built a building, and I don't know if you can see the building. You are not to show exhibits in the House, of course, but they built a building big enough to house the construction of this schooner. Around the inside, they built a catwalk so that tourists could come in and walk around and look at what was going on with building the schooner. They are building this ship using the old hand tools, the adzes and axes and what have you. It is being built by a gentleman who they imported from Lunenburg. In fact, the gentleman that they have there doing the building owns Snider's Shipyard. The master builder is Phillip Snider of Snider's Shipyard at Dayspring, Lunenburg County. So they have a Lunenburger there.
MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: He is a good man.
MR. RUSSELL: He is an excellent man. As a matter of fact, he might even vote for me because I am hoping I can lure him to start living in Avondale. (Interruption) They built this big building, and it is a very nice building, Madam Speaker. In this shed, they proceeded with the Avon Spirit. It is built of white oak, I should tell you. It is built of some beautiful timber. I guess the Leader of the Opposition would probably like to have some of that down in his workshop. It is built of white oak and they have gotten to the stage now where they have got the sides planked, I think that is the term, and they are going to start working on the interior and the top of the ship.
When they complete the ship, Madam Speaker, as I have said, they are going to sell it. They have had a couple of nibbles, but nothing very definite yet. But, however, if they cannot sell it, they intend to launch it and they are going to run cruises on the Avon River across to Hantsport, which is just across the way and down the river to Walton and they will generate sufficient money to lay the keel for the next ship. They are just going to keep on going building wooden ships in Avondale.
I very much appreciate the Lieutenant Governor's interest in this particular project and he has been down there three times to the shipyard and he will certainly be down there this summer for the launching of that ship. But the point is that this is being done by a community with their own resources and their own money. They are not going to the government saying, give us a grant, give us this, give us that, they went out and raised the money locally and they are doing it on their own. It is going to be a success and a source of pride and joy for that small township of Avondale.
Actually, I know the third time that the Lieutenant Governor was there, Avondale is also noted, this is where the Planters landed. The Planters were New Englanders who came up to Nova Scotia at the end of the revolution and because they planted crops, et cetera, they were called the Planters and they landed at Newport Station. The Lieutenant Governor was down there and they had a re-enactment of the Planters coming ashore and they had some people dressed up in uniforms from that period and they had the old fashioned muskets and the whole thing. It was a great day and very much enjoyed by everyone.
I just want to say a few words about Hants County before I get into anything else from the Speech from the Throne. Speaking about my home town, I have got to say something about the Hants Community Hospital. This is disgraceful, it is absolutely unbelievable, that something like this could occur in 1997. It is impossible to believe that this government could destroy a hospital in the Town of Windsor in 1997. I couldn't believe that there would be a government so shortsighted and so stupid as to do something like that. If the present Minister of Health came into downtown Windsor about two weeks ago when we had a meeting there, he would have gone out of the town tarred and feathered because the people are not going
to put up with the kind of treatment that they are presently getting from this government with regard to health care.
The Minister of Community Services is very disruptive and he is not only disruptive, the minister doesn't know what he is talking about because he has not been to Windsor to see what is going on. In the Town of Windsor two weeks ago, we had a public meeting in the community centre. Windsor is not a very big town, it has a population of about 3,000 or something like that, that is counting old women, children and everybody else, the whole works. We had a meeting in the community hall and the fire marshal said when you have 510 people in that hall you have got to close the doors and shut people out. The hall was filled in nothing flat and they were still coming in and by my own count, there were well over 600 people in the hall. Outside there was a line that stretched right out from the community centre and up the main street of Windsor. There were at least 200 or 300 people in that line and other people driving by were saying, what is going on in the hall and they said, you can't get in the hall because it is filled. And what were they there for? They were there because they were worried about health care in Windsor and I imagine that their worries are duplicated right across this province.
Has the hospital gone? If this government has its way it will be gone. If this government has its way it is going to be turned into an office block. This government spent $1 million and how did they spend it? They spent it building offices in the hospital, oh, wonderful, marvellous, tremendous.
About two months ago we had a delegation that came down from Windsor, they got in their buses at 7:00 a.m. to come down here and have a meeting with the present Minister of Health, the former Minister of Finance. The Minister of Health said, your problems are not really that great. What you need is $600,000 which will maintain the hospital and they said, that is right. The minister said, don't worry about it, we will look after it. So they went back home as happy as clams, knowing that the minister would probably keep his word.
AN HON. MEMBER: As happy as Bill Gillis on payday.
MR. RUSSELL: Yes, exactly. They get back to Windsor and, a week later, they find out all about this $600,000. The Department of Health didn't give Windsor $600,000, although Bill Gillis on the radio the other morning - I beg your pardon, not Bill Gillis, I am sorry - Bernie Boudreau, the Minister of Health, on CBC Information Morning about a week or 10 days ago said, well, Windsor doesn't have a problem, I solved it. I gave them $600,000.
Do you know what he did? He gave them an advance of $300,000 against this year's funding for the hospital. He loaned them $300,000 to be paid back after March 31st of this year. In other words, it is due now. Then he said, you have a trust fund. Do you know what a trust fund is? (Interruptions)
AN HON. MEMBER: Is it like the Liberal trust fund?
MR. RUSSELL: No, it is not like the - the money didn't come from liquor, my friend, this is an above-board trust fund, this is money that is being raised by people out having bake sales, by people getting out and knocking on doors and saying, would you contribute a couple of dollars to the hospital? Kids running around having pancake sales, et cetera. That is how the trust fund was established. He said you have in your trust fund more than $300,000. I am giving you authorization to take $300,000 from your trust fund to put in the operating budget of the hospital because you can't use trust funds for an operating account.
AN HON. MEMBER: Did they do that?
MR. RUSSELL: Your Minister of Health did that. You must remember that every problem that we have with health care today did not originate with the former minister, it originated right over there with the former Minister of Finance. It originated with the former Minister of Finance who stood there and said to his other Cabinet Ministers, you have no problems, I am going to take $50 million from you and $50 million from you and, from Health, because it is such a big budget, I will take $100 million. But the Premier snookered him, he said, well, I need a new Minister of Health. You seem to know how to run the Department of Health without any money, I am going to move you to Health. So Bernie trots off and becomes the Minister of Health.
What is the first thing that this financial genius does when he gets there? He says, no, I need another $70 million.
Now he said to the former minister, you can't have any more money, close some more hospitals. But, as soon as he gets there, he says, I want $70 million more to run my department. The Premier says, well, I don't know, Bernie, where would you go about getting $70 million? He said, very easy, we will take it out of Highways, we will take it out of Community Services, we will take it out of Natural Resources, we will take it out of every department across the Cabinet.
The man is a sham. I hope, oh, my Lord, I hope he ends up as your Leader. Oh, my Lord, I hope that happens. I think it is just wonderful, I think it is just marvellous. Your present Premier quit because he wasn't liked. (Interruptions) I would support all kinds of people other than Bernie Boudreau. (Interruptions) Well, I don't think I could support the Minister of Community Services if he was running, I don't think I could do that. You have some nice people over there, I mean there are lots of people over there that I would support, if I was a Liberal that is, but I don't intend to buy a Liberal card so that I have the pleasure of voting for a new Premier, a temporary Premier, pro tem I think is the term, a Premier pro tem. I don't know who it is going to be but, no matter who it is, he is not going to last, of course he is not. He is going to be there for maybe a week or maybe a month, maybe two months. Maybe he will try and stretch it out to six months, but he or she is gone. It does not
matter whether it is a female or a male. No matter who you choose, boy, they are toast. You know why they are toast? They are toast because you guys got off in the wrong direction and you got off in the wrong direction because when you came into power you made all kinds of promises which you had no intention of keeping. When you got there, of course, you did not keep them.
Now we are told that the fun times are here. I went through this document. Is Mickey Mouse in here or something? Is there something in here that is funny? Is there something in here that should give hope to Nova Scotians? Is there something in here that is going to help the unemployed? Is there something in here that is going to help those people who need hospitalization, for the people who need home care, for the people who are on welfare, for the people who have problems with the Department of Transportation and their horrendous approach to maintenance of the highway system? Not a thing in here, nothing.
AN HON. MEMBER: What happened to the Windsor hospital?
MR. RUSSELL: What happened to the Windsor hospital? Well, as I was saying, actually I got as far as advising you, I was talking about how the present minister would be run out of the town on a rail, tarred and feathered. He did not show up.
AN HON. MEMBER: That is pretty normal for this crowd.
MR. RUSSELL: Of course it is. Actually, he had an excuse. I forget exactly. It was something to do with he was going to go to a school or something on that day.
AN HON. MEMBER: But he is Minister of Health though.
MR. RUSSELL: Well, that is what I figured. I guess he is also Minister of Education too. In truth, this government has never been run by John Savage. John Savage has just borne the brunt of what has happened to the people of Nova Scotia and we have been blaming the wrong guy. The guy is right next door to him. This is the guy. (Interruptions) Do you want to speak on the Speech from the Throne? If you really do, I will let you have a go. In fact, I will even sit back and listen to you.
The only way you can treat this document, really, is to go to Page 1. Well, actually Page 1 is Page 3 in this document. You go to Page 3 and you start off reading this thing trying to find a glimmer that this government has finally caught on. You know, it astounds me. What really astounds me, in fact it just boggles the mind, this government knew last year that this year they would probably have an election. They knew that. What did they do last year? They blew it. They brought in the blended sales tax - the BST, the B Sales Tax. They
brought that in and imposed it upon the people of this province. How could any government with any sense do that kind of thing?
Some of these people over here will say, we did it for the benefit of Nova Scotians. Well, I wonder what Nova Scotians were going to benefit. Are they benefiting the poor people? Are they benefiting the middle class? Are they benefiting the rich? I do not know anybody that is benefiting under this blended sales tax, but I know a lot of people that are angry. Look at the weather out there. It is snowing again, folks; you are going to need some more heating fuel. Heating fuel has gone up by approximately 4 cents a litre.
AN HON. MEMBER: Didnt you think of that in 1991 when the big man brought it in? I did not hear too much noise then.
MR. RUSSELL: This gentleman over there is talking about the goods and services tax, which John Chretien - that is another Liberal - who is making a promise about getting rid of something in this particular case. Of course, he came to power and he immediately forgot all about the goods and services tax. He forgot about it until suddenly he realized he is going to have an election this year. He is a little smarter than these guys over here, though, because he thought we cannot get rid of it, but how can we hide it? What we will do is fold it into our provincial tax and then the provincial government will wear it. They did and they are. I have no sympathy for them.
Anyway, Madam Speaker, getting back to the Speech from the Throne. We are told that "Statistics Canada reports Nova Scotia will lead the country in new investment this year. Only Alberta is expected to come close to Nova Scotia's gain which is projected to reach 18.1 per cent. This compares with an anticipated national increase of 5.2 per cent.".
People reading that, Madam Speaker, think, gosh, that is a heck of an increase. But, you know something? When you start writing down figures, you can tell all kinds of fibs. I can use the word fibs, I guess. You can come across all kinds of fibs. This doesn't mean what you think it means. If you start with zero and you increase it by 18.1 per cent, how much have you got? You work it out. You have zero. If you started off with 1 per cent and went to 19.1 per cent, you have got an increase of 18.1 per cent. So it doesn't mean anything because it depends on the base where you start and when you take that into account, Nova Scotia still isn't doing that great.
To be quite frank, Madam Speaker, as much as I hate to say this, it is to this government's advantage that Nova Scotia doesn't do so great because their whole fiscal program to date has been based on what they have gotten in the way of welfare from the federal government through the equalization payments.
AN HON. MEMBER: Lucky Bernie.
MR. RUSSELL: Exactly, lucky Bernie and now lucky Bill. (Interruption) What did he do? Let me tell you what he did. He found out that his projections for this year, you know the balanced budget and a $1 million surplus, remember that? Now how do we balance the budget this year when you are going to have a deficit. Well, you see, the federal government came along and gave the Department of Finance $240-odd million. They shoved that into the bank. (Interruption) Oh, yes, they did shove it into the bank. It was given by Ottawa to spend as they saw fit. They could spend it all tomorrow if they wanted. They could spend it all next Tuesday or they could keep it in the bank and never spend it. It was supposed to be $60 million a year but they said, we are giving it to you in lump sum because they too are playing little games with their budget up there. They actually have $240 million that they can afford to give Nova Scotia right now but, however, they cannot afford to give $60 million a year for the next four years.
It is exactly what this government did back in March 1995, just before the end of the fiscal year. Remember that, Madam Speaker, when they came in with an extra appropriation, my friend, the former Minister of Finance, I won't call him lucky or anything, anyway, came into the House in the dying days of March, just before the fiscal year ends and he says, guess what? He said, I have got an extra appropriation here, $32 million for victims of abuse, $26 million for early retirement incentive programs and a bunch of other little ones, which we will not worry about for the moment. We will worry about the two big ones, $32 million for Justice and $26 million for Education for early retirement.
You can only get an extra appropriation, Madam Speaker, in any civilized government, for expenditure in the fiscal year in which you get the extra appropriation. In other words, if you get an extra appropriation in 1995, it is to meet expenses incurred in 1995. In fact, I think the Auditor General might have a few words to say about this when his report comes out this year. Anyway, they got the money and they flim-flammed it through this Legislature. Now we find that the Department of Education, of that $26 million that they so urgently needed and had to move forward into fiscal 1996-97, do you know how much they spent so far, Madam Speaker? Maybe you don't know, so I will tell you. They have spent $2 million so they still have $24 million out there perking around. How much have you spent on victims of abuse? Actually if you look at all of the money you've got, you had $10 million in that account in 1995 and you added another $32 million, that is $42 million. Now we understand that this year he is going to be asking for another $10 million which will bring it to $52 million. The funny thing is that the Department of Justice is changing the roles. They are not going to give all of this money now. I don't know if the new Minister of Justice knows this or not, he probably does. He is probably laughing all the way to the bank because he has got money in the bank, more than what the Minister of Finance has got. At the moment, the Minister of Finance is behind the eight ball.
The Department of Justice has that money to pay out to victims of abuse but they are not going to pay it out this year, they are not going to pay it out next year or the year after, they are going to pay it out in dribs and drabs over the next four or five years. The reason that
was given for that is because these people will spend the money. Well, it seems to me to be a rather peculiar situation where we are saying to people that we don't want to give you your money because you may spend it. I thought that was the reason that we were giving these people the money was so that they could spend it but nevertheless, there is that money sitting in that fund out there.
Then we come back to the other fund that the Minister of Finance has, the $240 million which is the cushion provided by the federal government to those provinces that were shortsighted enough to sign onto the BST because my God, that is going to come back to haunt them. He has essentially $60 million a year starting this fiscal year, that is April 1st of this year, to expend. However, he finds now he is a little short in the till for 1996-97, that is the year that he is going to have $1 million surplus remember? In fact, it was $2 million at one time but all of a sudden, he finds that he is short but he feels that he has got to meet this commitment to have a surplus this year because this is what they are banking on to get themselves elected. So, what does he do? He steals from that fund sufficient money to balance his budget and to give himself $1 million (Interruption) I apologize, Madam Speaker, I should not have used the word steal. He knowingly borrowed from that fund when he should not have borrowed. I think that is chicanery, I think that it displays financial incompetence by this government and in fact, I am sure of it.
We have finished the page entitled, The Tide Has Turned and I agree with that statement, the tide has indeed turned but however, not quite the way that they would like to believe it has turned in this particular document.
The next section in this document we talk about new directions and this is what really gets to me. There is a statement here in the second paragraph, a short paragraph, I will read it to you, "Buttressing this significant achievement will be a second consecutive balanced budget.". Now please, come on, do you really and truly believe that the people of Nova Scotia believe that statement? No, you don't but you are hoping that not too many people will read that far in this document because it is pretty dull reading, I will tell you. So, that is never going to be made public but we will do our best to let everybody know how you have balanced the budget and every budget that has been balanced so far has not been balanced by good management, it has been balanced by good luck and it has been brought to that phase by windfalls that you have received from Ottawa because you have governed so poorly. (Interruptions)
Your equalization payments, the excess in equalization payments that this government has received. This government is getting $1.1 billion, $1.2 billion, somewhere in that area now, in equalization, that is welfare; 25 per cent of the income of this government is coming through welfare. Is that something to be proud of and the fact that we are doing so terribly badly is that our welfare payments are going up and that is what is bringing us into balance in budget. (Interruption) All right, you don't believe me. You have $69 million additional this year which wasn't in your budget. What did you do with it? You blew it. If, indeed, your
management was so good and you came in on budget, you would have a surplus of $69 million because you picked up an additional $69 million from equalization. So don't tell me about what great financial managers you are. You are the pits.
AN HON. MEMBER: So what does that make you?
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East is on his feet to seek if you would answer a question, honourable member.
MR. RUSSELL: No.
MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. (Laughter)
MR. RUSSELL: I haven't got enough time. I am sorry. (Interruptions) Madam Speaker, this is about the 18th time, I think, I have risen to speak on a Speech from the Throne. As I say, there is nothing here to really talk about. So what you have to do is you have to get the word out and I haven't got time for questions. The member for Hants East, if he wants to ask me a question, he can just come across to my riding any time. He knows where my office is.
AN HON. MEMBER: But he can't go to Windsor.
MR. RUSSELL: Well, no. Yes, that is right, I am sorry about that. However, you could come in late at night.
Okay, youth training and jobs. My Lord. There are two pieces in here on jobs, I think. No, there is only one little piece here on jobs. You know, Madam Speaker, when this government came to power in 1993, they only had two or three promises but boy were they ever big promises. In one of them, they were going to cure unemployment. They were going to create 60,000 jobs. They didn't fool around, we are going to make 41,300 or something, we are going to create 60,000 jobs. Well, they created a program called 30-60-90 which was supposed to do that but it never went very far. A few people got rich, I guess, running around the countryside renting halls, et cetera, but nothing ever happened. It disappeared. I will bet you that there is nothing in their Red Book this time around about the 30-60-90 program.
But anyway, I read in this little document . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: They don't even know what that is anymore.
MR. RUSSELL: Well, no, but it is time that they did. (Interruptions)
I read in here somewhere whereabouts we are talking about the good news is not confined to the construction industry. Nova Scotia, with 25,500 net new jobs to its credit since May 1993, is the undisputed leader in job growth in Atlantic Canada.
AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?
MR. RUSSELL: Who said that? Well, whoever wrote this document said that.
AN HON. MEMBER: It is true.
MR. RUSSELL: It is not true. (Interruption) In fact, I read a piece of paper the other day put out by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism which talked about the present unemployment in Nova Scotia. When this government came into power, Madam Speaker, by their own admission and in their own red book, they talk about 58,000 people being out of work in this province and that was disgraceful, I admit it. It was not good. But do you know right now they are saying that . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Who was in power when those jobs were lost?
MR. RUSSELL: We didn't lose the jobs, we were trying to create jobs. There were 58,000 people out of work in 1993 when you came to power. How good have you done since then? Well, you have done so well, you brought it up to 62,000 jobs, 62,000 people unemployed. What kind of a record is that? How can that possibly give people in Nova Scotia any confidence that you guys can solve anything?
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. It is getting difficult to hear the speaker.
The honourable member for Hants West has the floor.
MR. RUSSELL: I will try to speak louder, Madam Speaker. (Interruptions) I will answer questions eventually, if I have enough time.
AN HON. MEMBER: The roads are a disgrace. The worst . . .
MR. RUSSELL: Yes, I was going to come to roads, actually. I have already spoken about the Mantua Bridge. You know, Madam Speaker, in this province when the people opposite came to power, we had a road system that was by far the best in Atlantic Canada. In fact, it was probably one of the better ones across Canada. We had a good road system. First class secondary roads and our 100-Series was rapidly expanding. (Interruption)
It was $6.8 billion and what is it now? It is $9.8 billion right now. You people put us in the hole by $3 billion in three years. What a record. Boy, you can take that one to the bank. I hope you put that in your red book. We only went into debt at the rate of $1 billion a year. Boy. Isn't that great? (Interruptions) We did not go into debt $5 billion in two years.
Madam Speaker, in Nova Scotia we have a lot of what are called the old iron bridges. These bridges were put in place, some of them as far back as 100 years ago, some of them within 40 to 50 years ago. We were still putting up these prefabricated iron bridges. They were a cheap bridge and they were quite adequate for the times.
They were normally single-lane bridges. I think all of them were single-lane bridges and we have dozens and dozens of these bridges around the province. They are not suitable for today. They are not suitable for carrying vehicular traffic. They are not suitable for carrying buses with school kids on them, or certainly for carrying 18-wheel trailers loaded with logs across them. Yet we have to use these because that is all that we have.
As a government to which I belonged, we had a program to replace those bridges. We religiously, every year, replaced a certain number of bridges. (Interruptions) They are not doing it now. If they are doing it now, I would suggest they are either doing it on a very low level or else, Heaven forbid, they would not do that, they are doing it based on who the MLA for the constituency is. (Interruptions) They would not do that, I know, so therefore, all I can believe is that they are not replacing very many bridges. (Interruptions)
In 1989, I understand that the present Minister of Finance got more road work in his constituency than any other MLA in the House on either side. (Interruptions) Well, just a second. I am talking about one year, so do not complain you never got anything, because you certainly did. (Interruptions)
I am not holding my breath for this (Interruptions) You know, really. Well, okay.
In the Department of Health which spends something in the order of $1.2 billion, they are endeavouring to provide health care to Nova Scotians. Surely to goodness, for that much money they can do it. The truth is they are not. We cannot keep doctors in this province.
Why can't we keep doctors? There are two reasons, and fairly obvious ones. One is to do with money, the fees that they receive. Secondly, is that they do not understand where the health care system in this province is going. They have no faith in the Minister of Health. They have no faith in regional health boards. They have no faith in the Department of Health. They are saying, "heck, why should we stay here? These people are never going to get the health care system on track. Therefore, I am going to leave and go somewhere else where I can practise and practise the way I should be practising. That is why they are leaving this province. And they are leaving in droves.
Now the Minister of Health is saying not to worry. We have a recruiter, a person who recruits doctors. (Interruptions) Did they give this guy a signing bonus? He gets $150,000 a year, I will have you know. He is not doing too badly, thank you very much.
How does he go about recruiting doctors, you might well ask? What does he do? There must be some magic to this. If you are going to get $150,000 a year, you must really have something that is going to enable you to recruit doctors.
AN HON. MEMBER: Ron, he gets the guy from Parrsboro to move to Kentville.
MR. RUSSELL: Well, he does that sometimes, but he has a telephone and he telephones periodically around the country. He writes some letters and he advertises in the paper. I would suggest that the Minister of Health, who has a very competent secretary, tell his secretary to write some letters to the doctors around this countryside, to put a couple of ads in the Medical Journal and to do whatever else this present person is doing and he will probably get a better response than what he is presently getting from his chief recruiter. This is just not working. It is nonsense. It is absolute nonsense. So the doctors are leaving. That is only part of the problem with the health care system.
The other thing that is wrong with the health care system is that the Minister of Health, in his wisdom - and I don't know how much wisdom he has - he has decided that we don't need all the beds that we presently have. (Interruption) Yes, you can decrease to some extent, but this minister has chopped the system completely apart. There are now no beds available for those who need beds. The Minister of Health says, well, not to worry. We will send you home and home care will look after you. What does home care consist of? Well, home care means that you either have a brother or a sister or a mother or a father or somebody to look after you and, if they are working, what is their advice? You should quit your job to provide home care. That is not the way the system should work. If indeed this minister is being truthful with the people of this province, then I suggest to you that he has to have a home care system that is adequate to meet the needs of those who are being discharged prematurely from the hospital because there are insufficient beds.
In the last session, Madam Speaker, whenever that was, it would be back in November, I guess, last year, I brought to the minister's attention the plight of a gentleman in my area. He is 93 years of age and he is partially blind. He can see a little bit; just a blur. He and his wife were living in their own house. They were looking after themselves and they had a certain level of home care. They had a home care person who dropped in every day for two hours. They were getting by. The wife, unfortunately, her situation deteriorated and she was moved into a senior citizens' home. She was fortunate enough to find a bed, but there is no bed available for the husband. He is still remaining at home. But from two hours a day, every day of the week, the home care of this gentleman has been cut back to two hours a week. You know what they are saying to the family? The family should be looking after him.
Well, this gentleman is blind and the family all work. This is not the Rockefellers or the Sobeys of this world; this is just an average family and everybody works. They are being told that they can give up their job to look after their father, or the daughter has been told that. She says, I cannot do that. I am sorry. I will do everything I can, but I cannot do that. This poor old fellow, if he had somebody who would come in every day for two hours a day, he could look after himself and he could stay at home. He is quite willing to go into a nursing home, but there isn't a bed for him. I say again, there is a bed available for him. The bed available for him would be up in Northwood Manor in the City of Halifax. But do you think it is right that his wife would be in a nursing home in Windsor and he, because he is not getting home care, has to come on down and go into a nursing home in Halifax.
This is a gentleman 93 years of age. His wife, I think, is 87. What are we doing to people like that? These people are not going to live that much longer. They may live to be 100 or they may live to be 103. They may live to be 110, but they are not going to live very much longer and, surely to goodness, any government that has any heart at all could say, yes, we will provide home care in this situation; they will do something for somebody in that situation.
I read today a fax that went to some people who operate ambulances in this province. As I understand it from this fax, we are going to have a nationalized ambulance service in this province. Can you believe it? When we started off we had an ambulance service out there, maybe you need a little bit of upgrading or maybe you need a little more training, and the Minister of Health decides to go and buy a whole bunch of ambulances. He found some money somewhere, found money, he goes out and squanders $7 million, or whatever it was, to buy some ambulances which he is leasing. I said at that time to the minister in a question, is it the intent of the Department of Health to take over the ambulance services of this province? He said no way, he said it would be foolish. Well, today I learn that is going to happen.
I am very disappointed with the Speech from the Throne. I am very disappointed. Of course, I have always been disappointed with this government because they have not done anything for the people. However, next time around we will have a decent Speech from the Throne and I hope to have a seat somewhere over there or maybe down in this corner somewhere. Anyway, whatever happens, it is going to be happier days for Nova Scotians. It is not going to be fun times, but it is going to be happier days for Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians are going to have confidence, they are going to know that the government is there working for them, not for themselves. Thank you.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.
MR. KEITH COLWELL: Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure I rise in the House of Assembly today as the elected representative for Eastern Shore and speak in response to the Speech from the Throne given by the Lieutenant Governor.
The past four years have been very interesting, indeed, for me as an elected member representing an area that is both rural and urban and the support that the community has shown me in the growth has been significant. I want to thank my wife, Elizabeth, and many members of my family for their support in many times of change and diversity in our community. I also want to recognize Ross Bragg, whom I considered a friend and a true politician and a real friend to Nova Scotians. During his stint as Economic Renewal Minister he accomplished some very significant things which I feel will bring Nova Scotia into the future on very solid ground.
Over the past year I have had opportunities to meet with many of the people in my constituency, both in my constituency office and as many functions I attend on a regular basis. It is with pleasure, when they come to me and state they have a problem or also anything that needs to be rectified in the community, that often times I am able to help them; sometimes I am not.
My riding is very diverse. It has over 1,000 kilometres of paved highways and listed roads and some that are not paved. We also have 200 kilometres to 300 kilometres of unlisted roads and private roads. We also have some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire world, the breathtaking inlets, forests, streams and many other things, but our most valuable resource is our people. We have the finest, most courteous people anywhere to be found in the world and I am proud to live in the community I live in.
We have a very diverse constituency economically. It ranges from people who travel back and forth to work every day to metro from Musquodoboit Harbour, Porters Lake, Lawrencetown and surrounding areas, to the people in the Sheet Harbour, Ecum Secum, Tangier areas who find their living, because of their geographical location near home, in the more traditional industry such as the forestry and fishing industry. We have tried to develop over the last four years a new type of economy, one that is not based on government grants and handouts and short-term jobs that last a short while. I can tell you this is really starting to work for people in my riding.
We have seen the Statistics Canada reports that indicate that Nova Scotia is going to be the place to invest in the new year and I feel that is very appropriate. I am seeing that in my own riding. We have also seen that there have been 25,500 new jobs created since 1993. That is an encouraging number, by far not enough jobs but it is at least a very good start - better, I believe, than any government in the past has ever seen. Indeed, in the last 12 months,
Nova Scotia has had the best job creation record in the entire country and I think that is a record we should all be proud of. Again, I stress we have to do much better.
One thing that has been tremendously positive on the Eastern Shore is our tourism industry. We have grown and prospered in tourism on the Eastern Shore. We have taken the worst record in tourism that has had no improvement in many years and now we have enjoyed, since May 1995 to May 1996, a 54 per cent increase in room nights' stay compared to a provincial decline of 8 per cent. I think that is very significant. I think it reflects on the people of the Eastern Shore and the determination to ensure that it is a prime destination, the courtesy they show the visitors and the excellent facilities they provide. I think we are on the right road. Tourism has created in excess of 50 new jobs, 50 permanent seasonal jobs that are there every year. That is but one of the areas in which we have seen economic growth.
You look at the Chezzetcook Industrial Park that we inherited which was a disastrous mess with three companies and two buildings employing very few people. Today I can tell you that we have in excess of 100 people in that park in just four years and 11 businesses operating there without any government assistance. That indeed speaks for itself. I feel a company without government assistance is one that will grow and prosper and stay in the community.
Look at the other things that have been happening in the area. Just recently, the province, through a public tendering process, sold the Ship Harbour aquaculture site. Now the aquaculture site at its inception might have been a good idea but fortunately private industry took the role over that that facility was supposed to perform in the community and the facility became redundant. In the time it was operational, it was a tremendous strain on the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia. I can tell you today, Madam Speaker, that that has now turned a corner where what we are seeing today is that facility being sold to private industry, the facility is in the process, at the present time, of being expanded and will create between three and five permanent jobs in an economically depressed area - again without any government funding.
One of the previous speakers mentioned the Murchyville Mine that is being opened by Tusket Mining. That facility will not only help Middle Musquodoboit but also the Sheet Harbour area as the Sheet Harbour Port is a port that is designated for shipping the product through. This will create some long-term trucking jobs and jobs in the facility in the area, badly needed jobs in the Sheet Harbour area.
Recently, there was also an announcement made for a wood chip operation to operate out of Sheet Harbour. That will create another 10 to 12 jobs and potentially another 120 jobs for Sheet Harbour and surrounding areas over the next 10 years, real job growth. Again, no government money. This was strictly financed through private and offshore firms seeing the potential of the area and the quality of the people in the area.
I earlier spoke about tourism. Tourism has been a favourite topic of mine and four years ago I initiated a Tourism Day and have worked with the people in the tourism industry the whole time. We made a significant contribution to the area. I have seen the operators go from the ability to look into the future and see what they can do with their future rather than sit back and wait for somebody to do it for them. They have really taken the bull by the horns, to coin a phrase, and are making things happen. They are putting people to work, they are bringing people to the Shore and people are coming back. I think they deserve a lot of credit. It says a lot for the people on the Shore and their ability to do things.
We have also been working in the Chezzetcook area on the clam flats. Now the clam flats and clam industry, I have spoken in here about that before but I think we cannot speak about it enough. There are approximately 100 seasonal, permanent jobs in the clam flats. Now it doesn't appear to be a very glamorous job to some people, but for the people who make a reasonably good living off it, it is a very good job. It makes a long-term economic growth of the community in the clam industry that dates back some 250 years. I can tell you, we have had some hard times over the last several years and the community has finally come together and is working towards solving many problems that have been in that community and on those clam flats for those 250 years.
I want to give the organizers and the people of Chezzetcook and surrounding area credit for the work they have done in that area. I know we have a long way to go but we have come a long way in the last couple of years and I was very pleased to be part of that group.
On the Eastern Shore we are also laying the foundation for future growth. Last year MT&T placed a new cellular tower in Musquodoboit Harbour, one of three more that we need. I lobbied hard with MT&T to have the tower there. I can say that it is being utilized and we are still lobbying MT&T or any other operation that would like to put a cellular tower up on the Eastern Shore. It is only through this type of service that we can attract more business.
We have seen a sewage treatment plant built to service the Musquodoboit Harbour High School, Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital and The Birches Nursing Home. This project ensured that our pristine waters and environment will be protected while at the same time providing for these important facilities to continue in our community.
We see Sable Island gas on the horizon. I can guarantee you that Sheet Harbour and other areas on the Eastern Shore are strategically located to help capitalize on this and the employment it will bring to our communities, that is badly needed, will be gratefully accepted. I know Nova Scotia will benefit tremendously from this with the estimated 3,900 jobs in the construction phase and the approximately 260 when the gas line is completed. I think it is important that we capitalize on these jobs and make sure that we get as many Nova Scotians as possible to work. I know we are going to do that. I have many people in my constituency looking forward to employment in these areas to utilize their expertise that they typically had to go away and do. It is a very positive step forward.
We have seen in the last while significant tax cuts, especially in the income tax area. We are going to see a 3.4 per cent reduction in personal income tax. That will truly help stimulate our economy and encourage business to come to Nova Scotia. I am glad to see this kind of money back in the pockets of Nova Scotians that they will undoubtedly spend in their own communities.
I am very pleased to see the new $8 million Direct Assistance Program. For many people in my communities who are on low incomes this will be money they will surely put back into the local economy almost immediately and provide them with some assistance in the meantime.
We have heard all kinds of negative stories about health care. I can give you one very positive story about health care. Prior to my election to the Legislature in 1993 we had an adequate - I wouldn't know how to describe it - but it was a good emergency response system we had in place. We had ambulances, response times sometimes were up to an hour, because of geographic location, and really had no one else to go. Now, through efforts of the Department of Health, we have in the province for the first time on the Eastern Shore what is known as a grey area for ambulances. In other words, the closest ambulance will respond, no matter what company it is and what territory there is. That is very positive.
We have also seen the first ever in the province, the First Responders Program on the Eastern Shore. It was developed with and through the Department of Health, in cooperation from the fire departments in my area. We had six departments that worked on that and I definitely want to mention them because they have done such a tremendous job. It is Lake Echo, Lawrencetown, Chezzetcook, Musquodoboit Harbour, Ostrea Lake and Oyster Pond. The people and dedication from those fire departments has been incredible. I can tell you from first-hand experience, I happened to call the first responders about three weeks ago myself, that these people came. They were there in a matter of minutes, probably quicker than they would have been if I had been in the city. The people that arrived were very professional, knew how to do their job and it was reassuring for me and my wife when they did arrive.
We have seen the installation of a permanent ambulance on a 24 hour a day basis in the Musquodoboit Harbour Hospital. Not only is it important to have the ambulance there, but the ambulance staff also helps in the hospital at night, particularly when the staff is at its lowest and, many times, have saved peoples lives, just from the sheer fact that they have been there.
We have seen the standard of training improve in the ambulances and with the first responders, all in cooperation with the Department of Health. When we were going through this whole process, we hit a lot of ups and downs and I would get calls from constituents who would say, well, the ambulance didn't come here for 35 minutes. When I started investigating
the problem, which I did on every occasion, I found the 35 minute delay was usually because the person called the hospital instead of calling the ambulance or they would call some place else and the ambulance wouldn't even get the call for 20 minutes. So with the implementation of 911 service, all these problems are gone.
So if you add up the changes we have had in the ambulance service, the first responders and 911, we have a system that is second to none and so vastly improved over what we had even two years ago, it is almost impossible to measure the improvement in the service. I believe that it has saved many people's lives in my constituency already and it will save a lot more. It will eliminate long stays in hospitals, in some cases, and, at the minimum, give people a feeling of confidence when they pick up the phone and the person arrives at their door, especially if it is a neighbour they know and a neighbour that they know has been well trained.
Can you imagine in a rural area five years ago someone telling you that if you live in a rural area, you are going to have someone at your door in less than two minutes? You would have thought they were lying to you. Well, I can tell you, that is a fact on the Eastern Shore today. Not only are they there in two minutes, they are well trained, well equipped and they are followed shortly thereafter by an ambulance that is just as well equipped.
One other thing I want to talk about in ambulance and first responders, is the helicopter service that has been put in place. An area like Sheet Harbour that is one and one-half hours drive or more with no traffic, from Halifax or the VG Hospital, is now serviced in 19 minutes by the air ambulance. This ambulance has been used on several occasions and has saved a couple of people's lives from Sheet Harbour and surrounding areas. The fact that it is free to the people that use it is even more important. I feel that services like this and the ongoing things we have to do to improve services to get people to the doctor and to the hospital emergency services faster and not only faster to those places, but the people that now respond are very professional.
I couldn't go on without saying how pleased and impressed I am with our hospitals we have in my riding. We have two hospitals, one in Sheet Harbour and one in Musquodoboit Harbour. They have done a tremendous job. They have worked very hard to ensure that their patients are well looked after and I have had very few complaints, if any, from either one of those hospitals. The only thing I hear is people praising the quality of service and the professional service they have received.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude this evening by again saying that it is truly a pleasure to serve in this place. It is truly a pleasure to work with the people of the Eastern Shore that have been so kind, very demanding at times and I am glad that they are, but very kind and very good people to work with. I can only hope in the next several years that we can continue to improve the economy and add to the 300 or 400 jobs that I have helped create over the last four years, to make that 3,000 jobs and put everyone to work. Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.
MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a pleasure for me to be in our provincial Legislature to speak on behalf of the residents of Shelburne County. I would like to begin my reply to our government's Throne Speech by expressing my sincere gratitude to my family, friends and supporters. They have helped to make the last four years a real honour for me to represent Shelburne County in this provincial Legislature.
To you, Mr. Speaker, who has earned the respect and confidence of your constituents in Clare, I trust you will continue to carry out your duties with fairness and objectivity as Speaker of this House of Assembly.
To all members of this House, Mr. Speaker, who have earned the trust of the electorate, I extend my compliments as we work together in the responsible governing of this province.
One colleague I would like to pay special tribute is the former MLA Ross Bragg. I will remember Ross as a valued mentor during my few years in government. Ross was well liked by those who knew him personally and highly respected as a capable representative of this government.
When this government took office in 1993, the Legislature had not sat in over 15 months and the previous government, who had predicted a balanced budget, showed a provincial deficit of over $617 million in just one year. (Interruptions) Obviously, the task of reshaping government was immediate and could not be ignored. To make sure that the essential government programs and services could be maintained, change had to take place. This task required a certain kind of government that would not shy away from making tough decisions. And this, Mr. Speaker, is the kind of government that I am very proud to be part of.
Finally, the people in Shelburne County, like people throughout our province, have a brighter future. The stage is now set so that you and I and our children can expect to benefit from the sacrifices of the past four years.
In the last four years, tough decisions have resulted in significant accomplishments across this province. Last year I was proud to represent this government at the opening of the new Alzheimer Unit at Roseway Manor. I must applaud the outstanding care residents receive here and acknowledge that this facility provided 22 additional jobs in our community.
In the Town of Lockeport it was under this government that the new Surf Lodge Nursing Home was built to provide a modern facility for 29 residents. In addition jobs were created both during the construction phase and now to staff and maintain the lodge. Presently there are close to 30 people working there.
I was proud to represent the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Eleanor Norrie, at the announcement of a new comfort station at the Islands Provincial Park. Now, one of the oldest parks in our province will be equipped with enhanced services to encourage tourism in Shelburne County.
Increasing the number of tourists to our area promotes future visits to our county and strengthens our local businesses.
I have also worked hard to advocate for infrastructure projects that would be for the betterment of Shelburne County which include: the community recreation facility in Barrington; the restoration of historic Dock Street in Shelburne; the installation of a sprinkler system at the Shelburne County Arena; the resurfacing of the main street in Clarks Harbour; paving in the Town of Lockeport and the construction of a new fire hall and community centre in Shelburne.
I would also like to report that $12 million will be spent by our government with support of the Honourable Don Downe, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, for the Barrington exchange. (Interruptions) This project was started by the former MLA Harold Huskilson in 1978, but put on the shelf by the Tory Government while they were in power. (Interruptions)
I am proud to say that this Liberal Government recognized the importance of this vital transportation link along our South Shore and I will continue to work with the Department of Transportation to determine additional roadwork in Shelburne County.
Our government is committed to the former employees of Shelburne Marine. Shelburne Marine has played a vital role in the economic well-being of our community, often employing over 100 men and women. Since Shelburne Marine's closure last year, this government and Shelburne municipal leaders, were determined to see Shelburne Marine reopened and provide valuable jobs in Shelburne County. That is why I was proud to be part of the announcement that an agreement had been reached with Steel and Engine Products Limited, STENPRO of Liverpool, to lease the facility. Former Shelburne Marine workers have been hired to clean up the yard and to make ready for the new employer.
Shelburne Harbour is the third best natural harbour in the world. The new Shelburne Shipyard will complement STENPROs multi-purpose operations by handling much larger ships and generating twice the haul-out capacity as that of the one in Liverpool. It has been obvious that Shelburne County has reached a turning point in its history because of the attention of this government.
I am proud to add that all Nova Scotians will benefit because this government has rescued Pharmacare and the Workers' Compensation Fund from the brink of bankruptcy. They have introduced a province-wide Home Care Program, moved 1,500 Nova Scotians
from welfare to work, created a province-wide 911 service, increased the minimum wage and the number of day care spaces, legislated fiscal responsibility - balanced budgets are now the law - and we reduced the tax burden on low income Nova Scotians.
Perhaps one of the most impressive quotes comes from Statistics Canada who predicts that Nova Scotia will experience an incredible 18.1 per cent increase in private public sector investment in 1997, the highest in Canada.
In addition, earlier this year the government entered an agreement with Mobil Oil. It is predicted that the Sable Offshore Energy Project revenues will be $3.5 billion over the life of this natural gas project. This project will also provide work for many Nova Scotians. I am convinced that this government will continue to succeed in order to pass on to our children a province that is responsible in meeting their needs, while remaining fiscally sound.
With the continued input and support of Nova Scotians, this government will achieve that vision of a province that treats its citizens with compassion and offers a high quality of life. That is why it is with a great sense of pride that I will be voting in favour of this government's Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.
MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise and respond to this year's Speech from the Throne. I would first like to begin by thanking the people of Cape Breton West for the privilege that they have given me by electing me as their representative in the October by-election of 1995. The task is a big one but it is a task that I truly enjoy. However, I would not be able to devote so much of my energies to being the MLA for Cape Breton West if it were not for the love and continuing support of my wife, Shirley and our children, Sandra, Jessica and Daniel. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank them for their support. To all of those who work so hard in our offices here in Halifax and back home in Sydney River, I would also like to extend my thanks to them.
The Speech from the Throne acknowledged some very great Nova Scotians who have passed on. I too would like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to Ross Bragg. I did not know him as well as many in this House but I did have a chance to see his quick wit in action and I am thankful for that experience. To Ross's family, I pass on my most sincere condolences.
There was, however, another individual who passed away in 1996 who contributed much to the Island of Cape Breton, to Cape Breton West and to the Mira area. That person was Joe Pat MacKinnon. Joe Pat was a husband, a family man, a community leader, a church
leader but, most of all, Joe Pat was a friend. Joe served as a municipal councillor for 30 years, being elected at the age of 21. He served as deputy warden for the County of Cape Breton for many years, and finally served as warden for that county. He was an educator and retired as a principal from Malcolm Munroe Memorial School after 30 years in the education system. After his retirement, Joe Pat sought and was elected to the Cape Breton District School Board and helped work through the amalgamation of the Cape Breton Regional District School Board and the Victoria boards. Joe Pat eventually wound up as the chairperson of this new Cape Breton-Victoria amalgamated board. He passed away on September 26, 1996 at the age of 56, a man who had given so much to his community, to his province and a man who wanted to give much more. To his wife Dorothy and their family, and his mother Marion and her family, I want to express our thanks for Joe Pat's work on behalf of Cape Breton. He was a good friend and he will be sorely missed by many.
The Premier has decided to step down and I would suggest that he spend his retirement years with his wife, his children and his grandchildren because in public life, Mr. Speaker, you miss so much of the special times with your family and now he will have an opportunity to spend that time with his family.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to pass on my best wishes to the new Minister of Justice, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. Also, I would like to wish the member for Halifax Chebucto well as he moves on to his new career. I spoke to his uncle the other day and heard there might even be a job for him in the photo industry if he is interested.
Mr. Speaker, as I reflected over what I might say today, I have thought about the time that I have been honoured to serve my community. I have thought about the concerns and the worries of the people of my community which they have raised with me since my election, and I also thought about the other communities that I have had the privilege of visiting over the last year. As you know, my caucus colleagues and I have been travelling the province fairly frequently to hear face to face what is on the minds of Nova Scotians. We have been asking Nova Scotians to tell us exactly what issues are affecting their lives. Since January, our caucus has toured through the areas of Antigonish, Guysborough, Port Hawkesbury, Digby and Annapolis, and our Leader has covered many parts of this province.
Our caucus held a first when it held its caucus meeting in the Town of Louisbourg. We met with the merchants association; we met with many business people from that area. We visited around and we saw the investment made by the local people. Mr. Speaker, it is impressive that they have been able to do so much. Our Leader, John Hamm, and I have also met with the Sysco union executive. We have met with the UMW of A executive. We have met with the people who have been affected by subsidence in Glace Bay and we visited with business people in Sydney Mines and North Sydney. We sat down, the Leader and I and other members of our caucus, with the people who are members of the business community in industrial Cape Breton, and we sat down and we listened to the concerns of the health care workers in the Province of Nova Scotia, and certainly in industrial Cape Breton.
Mr. Speaker, the issues surrounding jobs and the economy still remain on the top of the list for many and health care would be tied. No matter where you are in Nova Scotia, our province's health care system, especially with the cuts to hospital beds, without the back-up available in emergency services or home care and the high unemployment rates throughout the province, the unrest distilled in the situation has created equal doses of desperation. The cuts to our education system, as well as the province's amalgamation efforts, are all major complaints.
Each and every one of these issues, on their own, is extremely serious, but the common thread that I hear every time I speak to someone about any of these issues is that no one in government is listening. Time and time again, Mr. Speaker, our caucus hears from Nova Scotians who are disillusioned by our Party system of government. They believe that their opinions and their voices do not count. Nova Scotians are fed up with MLAs who vote en bloc on virtually every issue. They want their local member to bring an independent thought to their caucus and to the floor of the Legislature. They want them to speak their minds, regardless if it clashes with the Party line. I believe that free votes on motions other than non-confidence and issues contained within our platform and mandate are one way to ensure that elected members are given the freedom of expression and our caucus and Leader are not just saying trust us, we have done it. We have allowed free votes in the Legislature and it has not hurt us as a caucus one bit.
As our leader, John Hamm said in a recent speech, not only has it not hurt us, it has contributed to some healthy debate on occasion, but that is what is needed. Our caucus is determined to rebuild the trust between government and the people of Nova Scotia and this is only one step, but it is an important one. There are other things that we can do to assist in representing our constituents to our very best and to do the very best we can. If Nova Scotians give us the opportunity to form the next government, there will be other changes that will be made. Our Leader, John Hamm, has said that a promise made is a promise kept, and he is a man of his word. He will not be making wild promises, nor will he be implementing policies without first consulting with the people and this is in direct contrast to our current Liberal Government.
The Liberal Government promised the electors many things in 1993 during the election. They said things like, "Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity, and accountability that will permeate all Government dealings . . .". What did we get? We got lies, we got closed-door meetings and we got no accountability; that is what we got. The Liberal Government promised jobs, jobs, jobs, no new taxes, more money for school boards and student aid, and a reformed health care system.
Well, let us just look at some of these items for a moment. Let us look at job creation. I was amazed to read the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism's latest comments in the media. He is boasting about the 21,000 new jobs created in the last three years. Now in January, the Premier of this province said there were 24,000 jobs created, but whichever
one you take, you have to listen to it. I think most Nova Scotians, who have watched as their businesses have closed and jobs have been eliminated, might like to know just where the 21,000 new jobs are.
The Tartan Downs Raceway was forced to close. Since the Liberal Government allowed casino gambling in Nova Scotia, live wagering has declined. There are just not enough dollars to go around. Our caucus asked over and over again, at the time the government was forcing the casino legislation through, where is this money going to come from to support the casino? What are the plans to attract out-of-province dollars to the casino? As the head of the gambling corporation indicated, the casino is not doing a good job of attracting out-of-province dollars; the casinos are simply redistributing money from within the province. With this equation, someone had to lose and this time it was the employees of Tartan Downs that suffered.
The Liberal Government has nothing to brag about since taking office in 1993. Nova Scotia, as a whole, is still hurting, especially the Island of Cape Breton. The unemployment rate for the province last month rose a full point and one-half since February of 1996, 1,000 jobs were lost. The unemployment rate increased yet another time in Cape Breton to 27.4 per cent. The highest rate in the province; the highest rate in the country. We all know that even this rate is low. The real figure is more like 50 per cent and the member for Cape Breton East has publicly stated that he feels that is what it is in his area.
There is still too little to show for this government's four years in power with regard to job creation or even an attempt to do what is realistic in the area of job creation. We have to create a positive climate for business so the private sector is able to create jobs in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, as we all know, there is a very definite link between job creation and a tax situation.
In the spring of 1993, the Liberals campaigned on no new taxes and, Mr. Speaker, what did they do in the fall of 1993? They raised the provincial sales tax by 10 per cent. The government has once again broken their promises of no new taxes. April 1st brings with it the government's BS Tax, which will ensure that not only have they not helped create the climate for jobs in this province, but Nova Scotians will be economically disadvantaged with this new tax as well. Businesses and individuals will be paying more with the BS Tax on professional services like legal and accounting fees and on the essential operating costs of businesses, like heating fuel, gas and even postage for their stamps.
But wait, Mr. Speaker, here is our long-awaited job strategy. The government says that the BS Tax will create 3,000 jobs. Well, I am a reasonable person and I would like them to show us where. Where are these 3,000 jobs going to be created and how are they going to be created? I do not hold confidence in the claim that the BST is a job maker, nor do I concur with its latest claim that they have created tens of thousands of jobs since election day in 1993.
Mr. Speaker, just lately I was at a local shopping mall at my own area and there was a lady going by and she asked for some money to buy a cup of coffee. So I gave her a loonie and she gave it back. She said, a loonie is not enough anymore. Coffee is $1.18 with the new tax. What I do know about all this is that it will be tougher for everyday Nova Scotians to make ends meet. The tax has been increased on lifes daily necessities such as heat, clothing, electricity, children's clothing, school supplies. There is something wrong with a tax that makes it cheaper to buy a fur coat, but makes it more expensive to buy a set of Pampers for your child.
School boards, well, it is hard knowing where to start on this subject, Mr. Speaker. In the Speech from the Throne, the Liberal Government states, ". . . My Government will use its financial resources to improve and protect Nova Scotians quality of life. The term embraces such things as good health care and education, . . .". The speech continued by saying that these new directions are apparent in government activities connected with education and children. This government says that administrative streamlining has meant more education dollars are reaching students in the classroom. Before the changes in ministers, we heard that $11 million was going directly back into the classroom.
Since then we have seen the aftermath of the amalgamation. We have seen the oversized areas that members will have to cover within the Cape Breton-Victoria District School Board, not to mention the Strait-Richmond Board as well. We are witnessing the problems in the cities with the merger of all metro boards covering the needs of some 58,000 students. School board members that need to devote their hours to deal with too numerous to mention issues with our schools having spent more time in the last year and beyond sorting through the mess following the mergers. A board member from the former Cape Breton District School Board, for example, is now left wondering why they are making the decision on a school in Cape North or in Baddeck that they have never even had the chance to be to. They feel the communities of interest are completely lost following the mergers. There has been little from the current minister on how the supposed $11 million has helped the classroom, but I am hopeful he will have some answers for the people soon.
Mr. Speaker, those within the system say that the full brunt of the loss of some $52 million over the last four years has not hit the classrooms yet. Those are the same classrooms that have already had to scrimp on supplies just to be able to afford new textbooks as the curriculum is forced to change mid-year. Those are the same classrooms that are facing the addition of students with special needs, without adequate funds accompanying their move, through mainstreaming into regular classrooms. Those are the same classrooms whose teachers are dealing with ever-growing numbers of students. It is ironic that the government has committed in the same speech to a four year plan to reduce the classroom sizes, four years to undo the damage they have caused in the last four years. They call this progress?
The government has championed its process for new schools, built and operated through private sector partners. Then they lease them to the province. It is the way all schools will be built now, the minister says. It is unfortunate we have not had the time or had some of our pertinent questions answered about the lease agreements the government has tied the taxpayers to or evaluated the operations of the first schools that were built under these programs.
The government played the same game with the School Advisory Councils, Mr. Speaker. It set up pilots and then it didn't bother to evaluate them. It rammed legislation through this House, incorporating the councils into the education system, based on the minister's views.
Mr. Speaker, health care reform was another Liberal Government promise. It certainly continues to be at the top of the list of concerns for many Nova Scotians. Every week there are stories in the media that have managed to keep people across this province nervous and upset. They are unsure, wondering if they require help if they are going to be able to get it.
Canadian Pensioners Concerned, a group representing seniors across the province, say that some older Nova Scotians are afraid to go to the hospital for medical treatment. These individuals are beginning to think that after the horror stories they have heard since the many cuts to our hospitals and health services they might be better off getting no treatment at all. Well, I hope no one sits at home if they are ill, and abandons all faith in our system. The health system is a mess and it does need help.
Like many Nova Scotians, my family has had a recent experience with the health care system. I know I can speak for everyone who has had to access the system when I say that enough cannot be said about those caring health providers who work tirelessly and compassionately. There are no complaints, Mr. Speaker, about the service provided, it is just getting the service, that is the problem.
Mr. Speaker, I have talked about some of the promises the Liberal Government made, now let's talk about some of them that were not even mentioned. Let's talk about the casinos. The casinos did not show up anywhere in the Liberal scheme. In fact, the committee chaired by the member for Halifax Bedford Basin reported to the Legislature and recommended that casinos not be permitted in Nova Scotia but the then Minister of Finance gave Nova Scotia casinos anyway.
Another thing that the Liberal Government has forced down the throats of Nova Scotians is municipal amalgamation. Now that was to save us all some money. That was supposed to be the be-all and end-all, Mr. Speaker. What has really happened? Higher taxes, bigger debts and less service.
On March 28, 1996, Mr. Speaker, this government gave its Speech from the Throne and on Page 7 of that speech it said; "Special emphasis will be placed on areas of the province with high unemployment, including Cape Breton and Southwestern Nova Scotia.". Yet this year Cape Breton is not even mentioned in the Throne Speech delivered in this House. Now we know that it is not because the problems in Cape Breton have gone away and they are all cured, far from it. As you and all members of this House know, the unemployment rate in Cape Breton is 27.4 per cent. That is the official rate. It is more like 45 per cent to 50 per cent. As far as that goes, there is no mention of our resource industries, such as mining and forestry and agriculture and very little on the fishery. All of these things have been good to rural Nova Scotia which, of course, means that it has been good for all Nova Scotia. These industries are still important to us and deserve a lot more attention than was received in this Speech from the Throne.
This government has talked time and time again about how important tourism is. This government said they would support projects like this and that other projects would be supported by the building of infrastructure and that is a good thing. But when it comes to infrastructure, the building and maintaining of highways would go a long way to making tourism a lot more successful in Cape Breton West.
Highway No. 4 built in 1934 between Saint Peters and East Bay needs major work. With the development of things like Ski Ben Eoin, the Ben Eoin Beach and of course, Rita's Tea Room which is located in Big Pond Centre, traffic has grown substantially along this road. We see many people travelling from right across the country to test the wares of Rita's Tea Room. We should also keep in mind that many new homes are being built in this area, as people move out to the rural parts of Cape Breton West so they can enjoy the peace and quiet. This all leads to more and more traffic on Highway No. 4 and we should not forget that there are a large number of trucks using this route, as trucking is the major way that we now get freight onto Cape Breton Island.
The recent work that was done on the Canal Bridge in Saint Peters will allow even heavier loads to be hauled across this road. An investment in this road would be an investment into the safety of the people travelling and living alongside it. It would be an investment for tourism and it would be a big help. Highway No. 4 is not the only road that needs fixing, that is for sure, not in Nova Scotia. To help with tourism and to also help create jobs for local contractors, truckers and labourers, we should look at other roads.
Let's look at Highway No. 327 which leads from Sydney to Marion Bridge. It leads to the only wildlife park in Cape Breton, a wildlife park that this government tried to close but the people of the area had the ability to keep it open and the desire to keep it open and they kept it open. This road also leads to the famous Mira River. This river is known world-wide and Highway No. 327 leads to the world renowned Mira River which is also the longest river system in the Province of Nova Scotia. The rebuilding of Highway No. 327, along with the completion of pavement from Victoria Bridge to Grand Mira South would again help to keep
people in this area longer through tourism. It would be a major route around the longest river system in the province and it would be another added attraction when they come to visit the Fortress of Louisbourg, the wildlife park, Rita's Tea Room and all of those other beautiful things that can be found in beautiful Cape Breton West.
Let's talk about Main-a-Dieu, the lobster capital of Nova Scotia, a real hidden treasure. It needs to have work done on its roads too. There is some kind of a trend going on here I am sure. The road leads from Catalone to Main-a-Dieu and it has to be upgraded. This road also leads on to the Marconi Trail which is marketed by the Department of Tourism. This would also be an access to the people to go to Louisbourg. The Marconi Trail leads along the coast from Main-a-Dieu through to Port Morien and on to Glace Bay. I am sure, as many of you know, Port Morien was the site of the first coal mine in North America, as well as the home of the first Boy Scout Troop.
The road between Port Morien and Birch Grove, known to us as the back pit road, is long overdue for some maintenance and will help not only tourism but it will help local people make their way to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
Let's not forget the Fleur-de-lis highway. This project was announced by the former Minister of Transportation and has yet been a help to the people of Louisbourg. As a matter of fact, the work stopped at the boundary line between the former minister's constituency and mine. A coincidence? I don't think so. The people of Louisbourg have invested in their community and they have made it a true tourist destination with all the tourists needs being met by the people of the Village of Louisbourg.
AN HON. MEMBER: And our caucus met there, didn't we, Alfie?
MR. MACLEOD: We met there and that was in the speech earlier. This government has failed to deliver on the rest of that road. They failed to tell the people when they are going to complete the Fleur-de-lis Trail and it has failed to tell the people why they have not lived up to their promise.
This is not the only broken promise. People in Louisbourg, people indeed in all of Cape Breton West were told amalgamation was a good thing. Told our taxes would not go up. Told our services would get better. More broken promises. More property tax being paid and you have to search long and hard for services. Some would even have to say (Interruptions) You have to remember the source. Some would even say, Mr. Speaker, that the amalgamation is the third siege of Louisbourg.
The Throne Speech talked about more money for infrastructure projects that need to be looked at. Where do I start? Is it the sewers in Birch Grove? Or maybe it is the sidewalks in Port Caledonia or Big Pond or in Dutch Brook? Or maybe it is the sewer along the No. 4 Highway between Sydney River and Howie Centre. Or it might be the water that needs to be
repaired in Floral Heights. Or what about the widening of Kings Road between Keltic Drive and Weidner Drive. What about the paving of Schaller Drive and the New Boston Road because these are both hazards and eventually somebody is going to get hurt and they are going to get hurt bad. Both these roads intersect on very busy highways and nobody is listening to the pleas of the people who live on them. These are just a few of the local projects that should be addressed under infrastructure.
I would also like to take a few moments to speak about the fishery in Cape Breton West. As you know, Mr. Speaker, and all members of this House are well aware, the fishery is in a bad shape. The people of the industry are doing their best to try and improve on a bad situation, but they need help. They cannot do it alone. Some things are simple. Some things can be done. Things like increasing the length of the boat that they are allowed to fish out of, so they can maintain certain licenses and at the same time still fish safely. That would be a big help for people who are expected to fish in many different fisheries, not like the days when we only had people going out and fishing in lobsters, fishing in crabs or long-lining. Now, in order to survive in fishery you have to fish in many different species and for safety sake, we should be increasing the size of the boats.
The other thing that that would do is give the small boat builders in the small communities new employment because people would be buying bigger boats for safety concerns and in turn would create employment for those.
Those are just a couple of small things that we could do right now in the fishing industry to help those who are trying to survive in a traditional fishery.
I would also like to draw your attention to a very important event that is taking place this year. That is, of course, the 75th Anniversary of 4-H in Canada. This is a club that is well known and well respected in rural Nova Scotia. In Cape Breton West we have a number of 4-H groups, including Oceanside, which is located in Louisbourg. The Rising Sun which is located along the Mira River, and of course the Grand Mira 4-H Club. (Interruptions)
We were all graced in this House with a beautiful pin celebrating the 75th Anniversary, compliments of the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. The Grand Mira 4-H Club brings some special distinction to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia. It has been the longest continuously running club of 4-H in Canada. The general leader, a lady by the name of Marion MacKinnon, is celebrating her 65th year as a leader in 4-H this year.
Mr. Speaker, just to give a little history to the House, Mrs. MacKinnon would be the mother of the former member for Cape Breton West, Russell MacKinnon. Mrs. MacKinnon has served her club long and well and it is certainly a record for the Province of Nova Scotia and we believe it is even a record in Canada.
Let's move on. This government talks about the help and support that they gave the three sound stages. All of these sound stages are going to be based here in Halifax and none in Cape Breton. The place that has given you such people as Rita MacNeil, Tracy Dares, the Rankin Family, Natalie MacMaster, not to mention Manning MacDonald. Mr. Speaker, all of these people have put Cape Breton and Nova Scotia on the map with our traditional music. If ever there was a time that we should have such a thing, it is now. If ever there was a place in Nova Scotia that should have a sound stage, it is Cape Breton Island.
Now there is a little bit of talk about a film production school where people would go into school and learn how to produce films. That is not a bad idea, Mr. Speaker. What a natural job and location Cape Breton would be for this. The home of such films as Squanto, Margaret's Museum, the Bay Boy, the Life and Times of Alexander Graham Bell, My Bloody Valentine, just to name a few. The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism has talked about decentralization. Here is an opportunity of a brand new department, to put his money where his mouth is and see that this school is delivered to Cape Breton Island and see that it is put there for the development of the film industry in Nova Scotia for the benefit of all people and, at the same time, help our economy because that is how we are going to beat the unemployment problem on Cape Breton Island. It is one small step at a time. There are no big solutions.
Mr. Speaker, as you are probably aware, I worked for the Cape Breton Development Corporation for 19 years and the coal industry was good to me. It allowed me to provide a good living for my family. But now we hear much talk about Sable gas. We hear all about Sable Island gas in this Speech from the Throne that was delivered here in this House. We don't hear anything about the industry of mining in Cape Breton. We don't hear anything about forestry in Cape Breton. We don't hear anything about fishery in Cape Breton, but we do hear about Sable gas. The big question and the question that is on a lot of people's minds is what effect will natural gas have on the coal industry? What is it going to do to the coal industry? Has this government sold the farm and have they given one natural resource more opportunity over another natural resource? It is a question that has to be asked and I would love somebody to answer it.
Mr. Speaker, the pipeline companies tell us that they are not even going to put a lateral into Cape Breton. They are not even considering it because of the economy there. But the question I have to ask is, why? If you listen to what is going on in the media and you hear the New Brunswick Government said that there is going to be a lateral going into Saint John or the pipeline will not come across New Brunswick property and people are listening. But who said that about Cape Breton? Who is standing up for Cape Bretoners rights? We are part of Nova Scotia. It is a simple question and there are enough simple people on the other side of this House that they should be able to answer it. We have as much right to a lateral to Sydney as anybody else in this province has. We have to know why we are not being treated right and equal. (Interruptions)
There are all kinds of noises coming from the other side but I never notice them getting up and having the courage to speak about their convictions in this House.
Mr. Speaker, the coal miners of this province are Nova Scotians. We are not sure how many jobs this gas is going to create in Nova Scotia. We are sure about the number of jobs that are there right now in the coal industry. Now I don't think we should pit one national resource against another and I don't believe we should give one natural resource a better chance than the other but I don't think that any government in this province should allow natural gas to overtake the coal industry without standing up and seeing what the effects are going to be on the Cape Breton economy, on the Nova Scotian economy and on our province.
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about 2,100 jobs. These people here who are all saying that everything is great and that the unemployment rate is tickety-boo around here don't live in Cape Breton and they don't have to face a 27.4 per cent unemployment rate. So they had better not think that we are going to sit down and take this because it is important to us to be sure that the people of this province treat everybody equally - not better but equally.
We have to talk, Mr. Speaker, about the steel industry and what is going on there. (Interruptions) The caucus chairman is really concerned about laterals now, at least I got his attention. It is the first time he has actually noticed that there is something else going on in this House and that is good.
Mr. Speaker, it is time that we found out what is going on with the steel plant. It is time that we found out what the story is with Global. I am sure that the minister responsible for Sysco is, indeed, going to bring forward to this House a plan. Sysco is again now and always has been part of our economy. But if it is not going to be and if the coal industry is not going to be, I would like this government to stand up and tell us what the plan is. What is the plan? What contingency plan does the Minister of Transportation have for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia if this fails and if the coal industry fails because of his lacklustre dealings when he was the Minister of Natural Resources with the Sable Island gas? That is what I would like to know. Have him stand up and show us a plan, show us something that we can bring back to the people and tell them that people do count when they live on Cape Breton Island.
Mr. Speaker, we have had more powerful ministers sit on the benches of this government than ever before. What have they brought back to Cape Breton? What have they done for Cape Breton? Sometimes it is hard not to get frustrated.
Mr. Speaker, Cape Bretoners have many concerns, concerns which are similar to those in many areas of the Province of Nova Scotia. The members of this House should remember that Nova Scotia is a lot larger than four square blocks around this building. The members of
this House should remember that it is not their caucus they are responsible to, it is not their Party they are responsible to, it is their constituents that they are responsible to.
In closing, I would like to take you back to Page 3 of the Speech from the Throne. On Page 3 it says that the tide has turned. Well, the tide has turned from where we were and it is a red tide. Mr. Speaker, you being from a fishing community, you would know that when the red tide comes in, it kills everything that it touches. The red tide is doing that. It is killing our health care, it is killing our education system and it is killing our people's spirit. It is killing rural Nova Scotia and yes, the health policies of this government are actually killing Nova Scotians. People need better.
Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against the Speech from the Throne and will be voting in favour of the amendment. Thank you very much.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.
MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Legislature representing the people of Victoria, it is an honour to stand in response to Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne.
The Speech from the Throne is a cherished tradition in our province that provides an opportunity to reflect on our past and offers a link to our future. I must compliment our Lieutenant Governor for his delivery of our government's approach to securing Nova Scotia's prosperity. To you, Mr. Speaker, I offer my congratulations, as you ably carry out your duties and I offer you my continued support during the fifth session of our House proceedings. Through you, to my colleagues in this Assembly, I extend my very best wishes to you all as we continue the course of good government.
Mr. Speaker, most of my eight and one-half years in this Assembly, I have been most fortunate to be a seatmate of the late Ross Bragg and I would appreciate a moment to recall my great colleague. Whenever there was an occasion for him to be in my constituency, we would always get that telephone call when he was probably an hour away to put the kettle on, that he was getting handy. If he was not or if he was passing by my place or not reaching my house, we would always get the invitation to join him for a cup of tea wherever he would be and, of course, he was mostly accompanied by his wife, Cathy. I considered him an adorable guy. Both he and his wife Cathy were highly regarded as true friends by my wife Lillian and me.
Also, from the community of Middle River, I must report to the House the death of K. R. MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald owned and operated Midway Motors, a successful car dealership for over 70 years. I am pleased to advise the House that his business is being carried on by members of his immediate family and provide much-needed jobs in Middle River and Port Hawkesbury.
I am also very happy to see the return to the House of my good friend, the member for Annapolis East. Late last year and early this year, Earle Rayfuse bravely pulled through a real health challenge to return to his seat with us. We are most grateful. (Applause)
Members of this Assembly learn early on that the support of their constituents is vital to the success of their job and this is true for me and the good people of Victoria. One highly honoured citizen of Victoria that I am proud to recall to this Assembly is Mr. Alexander P. Christie. On July 3, 1992, in rough seas in Saint Anns Bay, a fishing boat overturned, throwing two crew members into the icy cold water, underneath the boat. From a nearby boat Alex Christie jumped in, risking his own life to save Richard MacGregor but, sadly, he was unable to rescue his own son, Eugene Christie. Late last year, as a result of his heroic efforts, our federal MP, Russell McLellan, on behalf of the Governor General of Canada, presented Mr. Christie with the Certificate of Commendation.
Sadly too, we have lost a number of highly respected citizens to death in our riding. One resident of note was Mrs. Rachel C. Probert who died at 101 years. Rachel was active in community organizations all her life, gaining the respect and love of all who knew her. Residents, staff and visitors at Alderwood Nursing Home all seem to remark how much they miss her presence in that nursing home.
I would also like to thank the Lieutenant Governor for mentioning the deaths of two Victoria County citizens in the Speech from the Throne, Tina Emiline Morrison and Jessie Effie Morrison. These two women were seen as true pillars, pivotal to the life of the Gaelic community. I am proud to be part of a government that continues to promote the Gaelic language and culture. This is fundamental to ensuring the legacy of our forebearers and preserving our cultural heritage for future generations.
It has been through the support and encouragement of many wonderful people that has sustained me in my efforts to represent Victoria over the past eight and one-half years. My wife and family are certainly considered among them.
In 1993 when this government took office, I am sure many in this room can recall the difficult challenge of accepting the mess left to be cleaned up. Our political system was in complete disarray and our province's finances were out of control.
In fewer than four years, this government established a four year plan to eliminate the deficit of $617 million left by the previous government and delivered the first balanced budget since the early 1970s. Four years of sticking to our guns has resulted in this Liberal Government's accomplishments.
We have rescued Pharmacare and workers' compensation from bankruptcy, introduced a comprehensive province-wide Home Care Program, created a province-wide 911 emergency response system, added 150 new day care spaces, introduced an initiative to combat family violence, an initiative which is already recognized as Canada's best. We have allocated funds for expanded literacy initiatives in every community in Nova Scotia, established a sales tax harmonization that will result in the largest tax cut in history, reduced the tax burden on low income Nova Scotians, increased the minimum wage, moved 1,500 Nova Scotians from welfare into the workforce and legislated fiscal responsibility so that balanced budgets are now the law. The people of Nova Scotia must not forget how close the Tories came to destroying this great province of ours.
This Liberal Government put this province back on its feet to walk steady on the road of financial recovery. And while unemployment in the Cape Breton Region remains seriously high, I would like to remind Nova Scotians that this province, as a whole, has the lowest unemployment in Atlantic Canada. The largest increase in new jobs in the region in the last four years by far; 19,000 out of 21,000 new jobs in the region were created in Nova Scotia. Over the last 12 months alone, we had the largest employment growth in our country.
This province has witnessed a 27.5 per cent increase in foreign exports since this government took office in 1993. The Province of Nova Scotia has the largest projected business investment in Canada for 1997. Now that this government has rescued the province from the brink of financial disaster left behind by the Tories, I look forward with great enthusiasm to our future.
The riding of Victoria covers a vast area of Nova Scotia. We have overcome many challenges in the past and yet the people of Victoria, like many across our great province, know we are now on the brink of opportunity and new prosperity.
Economic Activity. The Speech from the Throne emphasizes the increasing importance of the tourism industry. This remains true in Victoria as well. I am proud to report that our natural beauty, culture and heritage will be featured in all provincial marketing efforts to the world.
Also noted in the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, visitors will be drawn to Cape Breton for the Cabot Meeting 97, marking the 500th Anniversary of John Cabot's arrival in North America. Many events are planned around this anniversary; that is in great part due to the hard work of community members along the Cabot Trail.
It only seems appropriate at the beginning of this year's Volunteer Week that I should compliment the outstanding efforts of one volunteer group, in particular. Mr. Speaker, it has been because of the impressive work of the John Cabot Meeting Society that we now refer to this summer's event as Nova Scotia's top tourism initiative for 1997.
I was very proud earlier this year, Mr. Speaker, to participate in the official launch of Reflections/The Cabot Meeting 97 which took place amid music at Cape Smokey in Ingonish. Cape Smokey has, with the assistance of this government, created much for that area of our county. It has created a viable business and a great ski facility. This government participated in an initiative designed to kick-start a five year plan to make Ski Cape Smokey a self-sufficient and profitable operation. Upgrades were funded by the federal and provincial governments, with significant funding being contributed by the local community, as well as the local municipality. The impact of Cape Smokey on the regional economy is estimated to be at least $1 million through increased visitor sales, accommodations and meals, increased employment and visitor sector growth.
Mr. Speaker, in 1995, the resort hotels, The Pines, Keltic Lodge and Liscombe Lodge, operated by the province, experienced a highly successful operating season with total revenues of $7.107 million, an increase of 7.3 per cent over the previous year. Last year Keltic Lodge in Ingonish established a winter operation season in support of the Cape Smokey facility. In addition, this government allocated the necessary funds for the construction of a new sewage treatment plant. With upgraded reliable services, the lodge will be able to continue its reputation of being the Cadillac of hotels in Nova Scotia.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that through the cooperative efforts of our provincial government, with the federal government and a private developer, a new 18 hole championship golf course will be built in Baddeck. It will be designed by Tom McBroom and Associates Ltd., an award winning golf course architectural firm and will be a signature course with a ranking similar to top-rated championship courses. Construction began in October 1995, and the course is expected to be ready for July 1997. This project is expected to create 61 direct and indirect construction jobs and 24 seasonal positions, once it is in operation.
Mr. Speaker, speaking of Baddeck, I am delighted to report that the old post office has been restored to its natural and original state, thanks to the great efforts of Nancy Langley and her many volunteers and community support, also to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, the Honourable Richard Mann and our government's assistance.
Last year, Mr. Speaker, both Inverness and Victoria Counties multi-use trail systems were upgraded to facilitate a growing winter use. Support for the project came from the provincial, federal and municipal governments, snowmobile clubs and the Glenora Inn. The upgrading has created new trails and results in the connection of existing trails, to provide a completed loop encompassing the communities of Cheticamp, Inverness, Margaree, Mabou, Port Hastings and Port Hood and across the highlands into Victoria County, hooking up with communities extending into northern Cape Breton.
Mr. Speaker, now you can see why the recent news by the Department of Natural Resources was good news for many residents of my riding. Earlier this year the province acquired approximately 564 kilometres, or 350 miles, of abandoned rail corridor lands throughout Nova Scotia from CN Rail, at no cost. This now means that the province owns approximately 1,100 kilometres, or 650 miles, of abandoned rail lines. Throughout Victoria County, these rail corridors will provide increased recreational opportunities for both residents and tourists. With the passing of the Occupiers Liability Act and the acquisition of these lands, the province is in a position to become a leader in trail development.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that it has been this government that designated the Bras d'Or Lakes Scenic Drive as Cape Breton's second official scenic drive. The request was made by the Cape Breton Tourist Association, with the Grand Narrows and District Board of Trade playing a key role. An eagle logo was selected to mark the drive because the image represents a natural tie between the growing interest in nature-based tourism and the fact that the area is a habitat for that bird.
During the late 1980's and early 1990's it was obvious that Canada's infrastructure was in trouble. In addition, Mr. Speaker, there was a lack of funding for any ongoing municipal maintenance or capital improvements to sewer, water and transportation systems. Finally our provincial and federal governments responded with the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Agreement on January 14, 1994.
In a spirit of cooperation, Mr. Speaker, the federal, provincial and municipal governments, with the private sector, have invested over $220 million in Nova Scotia. It has been estimated that more than 4,181 people have been directly or indirectly employed on the various projects throughout our province. In the riding of Victoria I have worked hard to advocate for the infrastructure needs of our communities, including the lobster bait freezing facility in Englishtown, $30,000; Shore Road water extension in Baddeck, $250,000; fire station renovations in North River, $9,649; Neils Harbour-New Haven water and sewer project, $2,383,800; Little Narrows water supply, $750,000; site parking lot for the Nova Scotia Highland Village, $71,096.
In February of this year, Mr. Speaker, our Premier, John Savage, announced a one-year $42.6 million extension to the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program.
Mr. Speaker, it was through the Federal-Provincial Economic Development Agreement that funding has been secured for the establishment of a unique program designed to encourage and attract 1,500 expatriate Cape Bretoners to retire in our area.
Mr. Speaker, Little Narrows Gypsum Company is an important player in the economy of Victoria County and central Cape Breton. It was through the Canada-Nova Scotia Cooperative Agreement on Economic Diversification that a cost-shared funding agreement for a major dredging project at the Middle Shoal Channel was completed. Depth
improvements at Middle Shoal Channel increased the haul-out capacity of the ships and is a fine example of how the public and private sector can help business and industry thrive.
Just last year, Premier John Savage announced an additional $188 million to the $52 million already in the Economic Diversification Agreement. That is a total of $240 million available for promoting economic development in this province.
July 1996. Since its inception in the fall of 1993, the Community Business Loan Program has created 1,000 jobs and another 712 maintained. In addition, 338 new small businesses have been successfully started by Nova Scotians. In Victoria County an investment of $184,000 has started 13 new businesses, creating 38 new jobs and maintaining 21 jobs.
From June 1993 to September 1996 the Business Development Corporation approved province-wide projects which resulted in the creation of 2,046 jobs; 117 projects across the province were provided with a total of $125,940,000 in government support. In Victoria County there have been three projects approved for funding for $2,623,000, creating 23 jobs.
Last fall, thanks to this government's support for funding an Arichat multi-media company, Telile was able to produce 10 half-hour television programs called Towns and Villages of Canada: The Cape Breton Series. Television viewers from across Canada were given the inside track on tourism and business opportunities in some Cape Breton towns and villages throughout 1997.
The communities highlighted in the series are Glace Bay, Sydney, Eskasoni, Port Hawkesbury, Isle Madame, St. Peters, Cheticamp, Port Hood, Baddeck and Ingonish.
I am pleased to report, too, that this provincial government has made the construction of a bridge between Englishtown and Jersey Cove a priority of the public-private partnership committee. I have long sought and will continue to work hard for a bridge that would provide local residents with a reliable year-round transportation link.
Aside from our economy and our transportation system, the people of Victoria have been encouraged with the delivery of health care throughout our many communities.
Since 1953, Mr. Speaker, Buchanan Memorial Hospital in Neil's Harbour served the people of northern Cape Breton well. However, everyone recognized the need to replace this out-of-date and unsafe wooden structure. Last fall, this government saw through on its commitment to build a new health care facility in Neil's Harbour. In partnership with the community and the Eastern Regional Health Board and the people of the area, they will soon benefit from a brand new health care facility.
I am also proud to boast of the new Victoria County Memorial Hospital in Baddeck. This new 12-bed hospital was opened in 1995 to include such agencies as Home Care, Public Health and Palliative Care and is considered a model for community-based health care.
One of the unique programs based at this facility is the "Native Outreach Program." Staffed since mid-1993 to better serve the members of the Mi'kmaq community.
Mr. Speaker, I feel very proud of what this province has accomplished in four short years, particularly when you consider that our starting point was a Tory disaster. The next Liberal Government will have a solid foundation on which to build the kind of future that every Nova Scotian can benefit from, thanks in large part to our Premier, the Honourable John Savage.
I want to wish our Premier and his wife Margaret a happy and bright future. My wife and I will miss their summer trips to Victoria County. I feel very privileged to have been able to play a part in bringing Nova Scotia to what I consider a very hopeful point in our history and that is why, when my name is called, I will vote in support of the passage of the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.
HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words this evening, but I want to tell you to stay tuned for tomorrow with regard to what is going on in this province.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you, as you bring a great deal of honour to the people of Clare and to the people of Nova Scotia in the way you are fulfilling your job as Speaker of this great House of Assembly and a Speaker on behalf of all Nova Scotians. I congratulate you and congratulate the people of Clare. I want to say to His Honour how gracious they were and I have a special spot for them, although he is from Lunenburg. For those who know the family well, they know his wife is from the Springhill area. We have a great connection there and I want to say how pleased I was to see them in this House again this year.
I want to take a few moments to talk about a former colleague, a minister in this government and that is Ross Bragg who served this House and the people of Cumberland West as well as Cumberland North with honour and distinction and brought a great deal of respect, in my opinion, to that part of the county. I can remember the first time Ross ran, how just about every night we would be talking on the telephone during the campaign about how things were going. The guy was loaded with enthusiasm and he was positive, although he thought we should be able to do things a lot faster in some ways than we could, and that is his business background and that is the attitude of the Bragg family. I want to certainly associate myself with the Premier's comments and other members of this House; I believe the
loss of Ross Bragg is a loss to all residents of this province, not only to the people of Cumberland County.
I want to say a few words about the Premier this evening because I want to tell you it is no secret that I did not vote for the Premier in the leadership at that time.
AN HON. MEMBER: I dont blame you.
MR. BROWN: Well, you stay tuned, you will get your ears full about your Leader maybe.
AN HON. MEMBER: I am looking forward to it.
MR. BROWN: The honourable member, he thinks this is a big joke. Disgusting, it shows his attitude and it shows the attitude of that group over there that want to try to form the government in this province. (Applause)
I want to tell you, when the Premier asked me to go into the Cabinet as Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs, I was honoured and I want to tell you that at no time was there political input in having me make certain decisions. When I went there, the former group, some of them sitting there now, allowed the federal Tory Government to do away with RRAP under housing. My first job was to renegotiate that agreement and I am pleased that we have about $20 million or $25 million over the last four or five years. (Applause) They talk about people sitting down, they sat on their hands while Brian Mulroney destroyed the social network of this country in housing, RRAP and other programs and that is a fact. (Interruptions)
I have no speech, I am talking from the heart because . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: . . . tell the truth sometimes.
MR. BROWN: Oh, Mr. Speaker, don't, honourable member, ever say to me that I am not telling the truth. (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor.
MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, then I had the honour of going to Labour, following my colleague from Halifax Chebucto at that time. I was pleased with this report that I got from the Premier in dealing with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, in dealing with changes to the Minimum Wage Act where we increased it twice, which I am very proud of, and other changes made in that department. Then I went to Agriculture which, to me, is just so exciting. So many opportunities that had been lying there for years that nobody ever did anything with.
Today, even the story in the Chronicle-Herald this past weekend talks about the aggressive approach that we have taken with regard to the agricultural sector.
I want to say that this Premier brought standards, morals and leadership to this government of ours, more so than any other government in the history of this province. (Applause) I consider it, Mr. Speaker, an honour to have the opportunity to serve with that man, to serve in his Cabinet, to serve in his government, because history will treat him well with regard to his leadership.
You know, they have a real problem tonight. Stay tuned for tomorrow. Mr. Speaker, I wish to adjourn the debate at this time.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.
The debate stands adjourned.
The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.
MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, following the daily routine tomorrow, we will continue with the replies to the Speech from the Throne. If that is completed, we will then go to Public Bills for Second Reading, beginning with Bill No. 1.
I move that the House rise to meet again on Tuesday from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m.
MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will rise to sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.
The motion is carried.
[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]