Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Apr. 15, 1997

Fifth Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Hants Community Hospital: Cuts - Protest, Mr. R. Russell 249
Transport. - Yarmouth Co.: Lake George/Richmond Rd. - Repave,
Mr. R. Hubbard 250
Transport. - HRM: Barrington St. Ramp - Oppose, Hon. G. O'Malley 250
Transport. - Marion Bridge: Oakfield Dr. - Upgrade, Mr. A. MacLeod 250
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 3, Ardnamurchan Club Act, Hon. A. Surette 250
No. 4, Université Sainte-Anne Act/La Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne,
Hon. A. Surette 251
No. 5, Labour Standards Code, Mr. R. Chisholm 251
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 50, Health - Doctors: Recruitment - Priorities Establish,
Mr. R. Russell 251
Res. 51, Health - Care: Delivery - Plan Required, Mr. R. Chisholm 252
Res. 52, Agric. - ApEx (Food Show-Hfx.): Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. G. Brown 252
Vote - Affirmative 253
Res. 53, Fin. - HST: Effect - Reveal, Dr. J. Hamm 253
Res. 54, Health - Min.: Policy (Doctors) Change - Timing Transparent,
Mr. A. MacLeod 253
Res. 55, Health - Min.: Policy Changes - Timing Transparent,
Mr. R. Russell 254
Res. 56, Fin. - HST: Acceptance - Payment (Gov't. [Can.]) Received,
Mr. J. Holm 255
Res. 57, Health - Changes Envisaged (1991-93):
Non-Implementation (1993-97) - Commend, Mr. P. MacEwan 256
Res. 58, Fin. - Min.: HST - Purchases (Pre-01/04/97), Dr. J. Hamm 257
Res. 59, Gov't. (N.S.) - Decisions (Gov't. [Can.]): Issues (N.S.) -
Support, Mr. A. MacLeod 257
Res. 60, Health - Ambulance Services (Wood's Harbour): Approach -
Reveal, Mr. G. Moody 258
Res. 61, Exco - Barren (Jim Campbell): Decision Secrecy -
Inquiry Appoint, Ms. E. O'Connell 259
Res. 62, Health - Medical Society: Negotiations - Focus, Mr. B. Taylor 259
Res. 63, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Mt. Uniacke-Windsor -
Twinning Begin, Mr. G. Archibald 260
Res. 64, Health - Hants Commun. Hosp.: Beds Sufficient - Ensure,
Mr. D. McInnes 260
Res. 65, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. School Bd.: Schools (Hfx. 7) Closure Defeated -
Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 261
Res. 66, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Min.-Workers Meet,
Mr. T. Donahoe 261
Res. 67, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: South Shore Tourism Assoc. -
Dedication Acknowledge/Award Winners Recognize, Mr. J. Leefe 262
Vote - Affirmative 263
Res. 68, Health - Care: Lack - Min. Apologize, Mr. G. Archibald 263
Res. 69, WCB - Appeals: Independent System - Implement,
Mr. R. Chisholm 263
Res. 70, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Oakland Farm Zoo: Access Roads -
Repair, Mr. G. Moody 264
Res. 71, WCB - Forestry Workers: Levy Approval - Conditions Apply,
Mr. J. Leefe 265
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 6, Gas Distribution Act, Hon. E. Norrie 265
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Benefits - Specify, Dr. J. Hamm 266
No. 2, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Unemployment (C.B.): Throne Speech -
Absence, Mr. R. Chisholm 267
No. 3, Health: Hants Commun. Hosp. - Funding Adequacy,
Mr. R. Russell 269
No. 4, Health - Medical Society: Negotiator (Dept. [Dr. R. LeMoine]) -
Justification, Mr. G. Moody 272
No. 5, Health: Recovery House (Antigonish) - Funding, Mr. D. McInnes 274
No. 6, Health - Services (Rural): Adequate - Provide, Mr. R. Chisholm 275
No. 7, Health: Ambulance Service - Regionalization, Dr. J. Hamm 277
No. 8, WCB - Appeals: Legislation - Effectiveness, Dr. J. Hamm 278
No. 9, Health - Hospitals: Beds Reduction - Effect Alleviate,
Mr. B. Taylor 280
No. 10, Exco - Barren (Jim Campbell): Decision - Info. Security,
Mr. J. Holm 281
No. 11, Agric. - Crop Insurance Comm'n.: Federation Advice - Use,
Mr. G. Archibald 283
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Hon. G. Brown 285
Mr. J. Casey 289
Mr. B. Holland 294
Mr. G. Archibald 298
Hon. J. Smith 313
Mr. D. Richards 315
Ms. E. O'Connell 322
Mr. G. Moody 332
Hon. R. Mann 346
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric.: Econ. (N.S.) - Importance:
Mr. G. Archibald 348
Hon. G. Brown 351
Mr. R. Chisholm 353
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
The Premier 356
Vote - Subamendment - Negative 364
Vote - Amendment - Negative 365
Vote - Main Motion - Affirmative 365
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, Residential Tenancies Act 365
Hon. S. Jolly 365
Mr. G. Archibald 367
Mr. J. Holm 371
Mr. William MacDonald 377
Mr. A. MacLeod 379
Adjourned debate 379
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 16th at 2:00 p.m. 380
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 72, Volunteers: Collective Action Day - Salute, Mr. R. Chisholm 381
Res. 73, Agric.: ApEx '97 (Food Service Showcase) - Applaud,
Hon. S. Jolly 381
Res. 74, Nat. Res. - Protected Areas: Barren (Jim Campbell)
Yew Tree Presence - Decision Reverse, Mr. J. Holm 382
Res. 75, NDP (N.S.) - Public Finances (N.S.): Appraisal - Flawed View,
Mr. P. MacEwan 382
H.O. 1, Educ. - School Boards: Amalgamations - Savings,
Mr. T. Donahoe 384
H.O. 2, Educ. - Atlantic Prov. Educ. Fdn. Progs.: School Bds. - Cost,
Mr. T. Donahoe 384

[Page 249]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin with the daily proceedings at this time.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have today a petition that is signed by 18,000 signatories. I think this is probably the largest petition ever presented in one step in this House, as a matter of fact. It illustrates a concern that the people in Hants community have with the loss of hospital services in the Hants Community Hospital and it affects the whole community of Hants County. They are protesting the loss of around-the-clock emergency services, they are protesting the loss of beds and protesting the loss of doctors in the local area. At the present time, some of the members of that committee, the SOS Committee, are meeting with the Minister of Health.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table this petition and have it passed on to the Minister of Health for his activation.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

249

[Page 250]

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that has been signed by approximately 430 Yarmouth County constituents. It reads, "We the undersigned are petitioning for REPAVING of the Lake George and Richmond Road. (From South Ohio corner to Port Maitland.)". I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition which reads as follows, "We, the undersigned, wish to express our opposition to the construction of an overhead ramp from Barrington Street over the residential area to the south of the MacDonald Bridge.". It is signed by 32 residents of the area and I have affixed my signature to the skin sheet, Mr. Speaker.

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. The petition is from the people of Oakfield Drive in the Marion Bridge area. The operative clause says, "We, the undersigned, insist that the Province of Nova Scotia take all steps and actions necessary to immediately upgrade and pave Oakfield Drive . . .". I have attached my name in agreement.

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

Bill No. 3 - Entitled an Act to Continue the Ardnamurchan Club. (Hon. Allister Surette as a private member.)

[Page 251]

Bill No. 4 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 106 of the Acts of 1977. The Université Sainte-Anne Act. (Hon. Allister Surette as a private member.)/Loi modifiant le chapitre 106 des lois de 1977. La Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne. (l'honorable Allister Surette comme membre privé.)

Bill No. 5 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Labour Standards Code. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 50

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

Whereas residents of Hants County, as a result of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing in the Department of Health, are being forced to sit on pins and needles to see whether 24 hour emergency health care service will stay in place at the Hants Community Hospital; and

Whereas the latest fiasco with the Minister of Health occurred yesterday when he was unable even to get negotiations going properly with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia because he was unclear on who he should send to the negotiating table; and

Whereas negotiations with the Medical Society are critical to the future of 24 hour emergency health care at the Hants Community Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health establish a series of priorities that involves first and foremost the recruitment of doctors not only to Hants County and Nova Scotia in general, but the beginning of effective negotiations with the Medical Society and making campaigning for the Liberal leadership last on his priority list.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 252]

RESOLUTION NO. 51

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 SOS Committee is to be congratulated for its efforts to retain full, 24 hour a day health care service at the Hants Community Hospital; and

Whereas the problems facing emergency health service at the Hants Community Hospital have been duplicated in smaller communities throughout Nova Scotia, including Digby and Canso; and

Whereas these problems are the result of Liberal imposed cuts and a failure to deal with the chronic problem of rural health care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Government to recognize that a permanent solution will not be found through a piecemeal approach to a problem that requires a comprehensive plan incorporating new models of health care delivery.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 52

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

Whereas ApEx is Atlantic Canada's largest food show; and

Whereas ApEx '97 was held and is being held at Exhibition Park for the last three days; and

Whereas this provides an excellent opportunity to showcase local products to the restaurant, to the food industry and to people outside of our province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members congratulate the local companies for their participation at ApEx, the special restaurant and food show that is now being held in Halifax.

I would ask for waiver of notice on this resolution.

[Page 253]

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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 53

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

Whereas the government's 1994 document Government By Design under the section headed "Taxes Aren't the Answer" said, "Nova Scotians already pay some of the highest taxes in the country"; and

Whereas this same document went on to say, "Taxes erode consumer confidence and discourage spending at a time when increased consumer confidence and spending are vital for economic recovery"; and

Whereas this document further said that, "higher taxes reduce the incentive to work and contribute to the growth of the underground economy";

Therefore be it resolved that this government re-read its own document and fess up to the fact that the blended sales tax which broadens the tax base and more than doubles the tax on many of the basic necessities of life is a blow to consumer confidence, a drain on the economy, a boost for the underground economy and a recipe for fiscal and political disaster.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 54

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

Whereas prior to the Liberal leadership vacancy, the stand pat, stay put, tough talking Minister of Health was saying doctors were going to have to take their lumps like everybody else; and

[Page 254]

Whereas once the Liberal leadership vacancy came open, the flexible, on the move, conciliatory Minister of Health promised doctors they no longer had to worry about cuts; and

Whereas the timing of the Minister of Health's dramatic conversion is not lost on doctors or anyone else for that mater;

Therefore be it resolved that the fickle, forgetful, fair-weather, fumbling Minister of Health acknowledge that his timing is incredibly transparent, his actions incredibly self-serving and his leadership abilities incredibly lacking.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, before presenting a resolution, I would like to introduce you, and through you, members of the House, to the presence in the West Gallery of a large number of residents from the community of Windsor and surrounding area who are here with other members from the SOS Committee to protest the closure of various services at the Hants Community Hospital. I believe that the SOS Committee, or some members, has met this morning with the Minister of Health to bring those particular concerns directly to his attention.

I would ask that you and members of the House join with me in according these visitors to our Gallery today the normal enthusiastic greeting we give visitors to the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 55

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

Whereas while in Opposition the soft on the deficit, always fair-minded champion of collective bargaining member for Cape Breton The Lakes would never agree with or tolerate the wage freeze because it placed the heaviest burden on those who could least afford it; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas while in government the deficit-driven, hardly ever fair, squanderer of collective bargaining, member for Cape Breton The Lakes rolled back wages, raised the provincial sales tax 10 per cent, introduced an upaid furlough and stuck it to the taxpayers with the BST; and

[Page 255]

Whereas the timing of the member for Cape Breton The Lakes' dramatic conversion isn't lost on Nova Scotia's civil servants or anyone else for that matter;

Therefore be it resolved that the fickle, fair weather, forgetful, fumbling member for Cape Breton The Lakes acknowledge that his timing is incredibly transparent, his actions incredibly self-serving and his leadership abilities incredibly lacking.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I appreciate the enthusiasm that the honourable member brings from Hants West but there is a basic philosophy difference. They supported freezes for every income group. This government exempted all of those under $25,000 a year.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. With the greatest respect I suggest to you that it is and that you know it is and all members know it is an abuse of the Rules and Procedures of this House to allow any member, such as you have just done, to stand up and make a speech in the middle of the proceedings in response to the substance of a resolution just tabled here at the Clerk's table. If in fact, that member wants to suggest that there is a philosophical difference between his position and that suggested by the resolution, there is ample opportunity under other orders of business for him to rise and debate that issue. With respect, I would ask that in the future you not allow any member from any place in this House to stand and make speeches in the middle of the presentation of resolutions.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of privilege.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 56

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance admits that he used interest from Ottawa's BST inducement to bring about his much-ballyhooed balanced budget in fiscal 1996-97; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance says the government will use the principal from the BST inducement to balance the books in 1997 and 1998; and

Whereas the government has no idea how it will balance the books once the proceeds of the BST inducement are spent;

[Page 256]

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for forcing Nova Scotians to accept the long-term pain of the BST in exchange for their short-term political gain from the BST compensation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on an introduction.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of the House to make a very special introduction here today. We have, in your gallery, a group of very special people from Truro and area, the Junior Girls Curling Team and prior to me giving you their accomplishments, I would like to introduce them.

First of all, we have the curling team's skip, Meredith Doyle, who showed great talent and leadership during the competitions that they have just undertaken. We have Beth Roach, who also showed dedication in her skills during her competition. We have Tara Hamer who has come here from Yellowknife to attend university and brought the northern spirit of risk and forbearance with her. We also have Candace MacLean, who showed great ability and determination during the competition. Accompanying them is Jim Burgess. Jim Burgess also has great qualities and character that he showed as a member of the Public Service through the Department of Natural Resources, through his family life, through the curling life in Truro, and on behalf of all those whose lives he has guided so selflessly, I want to congratulate him. Accompanying them, also, is Allyson Burgess, who is team manager.

These young people and their mentors went to the Canadian curling championships and are the Canadian Junior World Curling Team, and went on to Japan and became the bronze medalists in the 1997 World Junior Women's Curling Championships. I want to ask the House to give them their warm welcome and congratulate them. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 57

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

Whereas the plans under consideration in the Department of Health in 1993, at the time of the defeat of the Cameron Regime, proposed to close one unit at the Hants Community Hospital to save $963,000; and

Whereas these plans proposed the full closure of six hospitals, the conversion of four more to ambulatory care, and major reductions in programs of 12 more hospitals, to cut $40 million out of the health budget and the loss of 1,032 full-time employment positions;

[Page 257]

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes with interest the intentions of the Progressive Conservative Government of Donald Cameron as regards the provincial health care system, and commends this government for never having implemented these drastic Tory proposals.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 58

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

Whereas in the days leading up to April 1st and the imposition of the blended sales tax, the Finance Minister gassed up his car and topped up his furnace oil; and

Whereas even the Finance Minister, who better than most understands the impact of the tax, couldn't resist beating the tax man; and

Whereas the minister's frugal actions only serve to anger Nova Scotians who, by the minister's account, would be so much better off as a result of the blended sales tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance acknowledge that in the case of the blended sales tax, even the tax man couldn't resist beating the tax man.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 59

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

Whereas the members of the Liberal benches in this House continue to highlight to the people of Nova Scotia just how badly they have fumbled the ball on any issues which they feel are "federal" and, hence, untouchable and not their responsibility; and

Whereas the Liberals feels that if a member from the Opposition benches mentions issues such as the fees for the Port of Halifax, they are dealing with a federal issue; and

[Page 258]

Whereas the federal government has, from day one of their reign, held the strings on the government and taken from us military bases and jobs, a future for Devco and jobs, a leg up for the Port of Halifax, the EH-101 helicopter deal and it gave us the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government start facing the reality that all of the issues mentioned above affect Nova Scotia and affect the livelihood of people in this province and, instead of passing the buck and giving free rein to our province to the feds, start standing up to their Liberal cousins in Ottawa for the good of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 60

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

Whereas effective at the end of this month the people from Charlesville to Doctors Cove, in Shelburne County, will be losing the services of the Woods Harbour and Area Ambulance Service; and

Whereas a very large contingent of people, numbering in excess of well over 100 people, attended a meeting at the Barrington High School in early March, to be told of changes being imposed upon them by the Department of Health, involving an ambulance being situated in Woods Harbour for only certain days of the week; and

Whereas emergency health officials have been extremely uncooperative with the residents of Woods Harbour, with one official saying he had no difficulty using the brass knuckles approach so that changes to the ambulance service for Shelburne County be implemented;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health inform residents of Woods Harbour and area whether he supports the brass knuckles approach and if he will continue to insist this brass knuckles approach to governing will continue if he becomes Premier and Leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 259]

RESOLUTION NO. 61

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

Whereas the Liberal Government waited 12 days to announce publicly the Cabinet's decision to remove Jim Campbells Barren from the list of candidate protected areas; and

Whereas during this period there was a frenzy of trading in the shares of the mining company which holds exploration rights on Jim Campbells Barren; and

Whereas the government has been unable to provide evidence that any precautionary steps were taken to ensure there would be no leak of information between the Cabinet decision of November 21st and the announcement of December 3rd;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to appoint an independent inquiry into this matter to reassure Nova Scotians that there has been no breach of the tradition of Cabinet secrecy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 62

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

Whereas considerable concern is being expressed along the South Shore and in western Nova Scotia over the declining state of health care services; and

Whereas a Halifax oncologist has stopped holding monthly cancer clinics in Yarmouth, forcing patients to travel to Halifax for periodic examinations; and

Whereas trips for radiation patients are an added expense for families and for the health system of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health stop campaigning for the kingship of the Liberal Party long enough to get negotiations going properly with the Medical Society of Nova Scotia and address the health care concerns along the South Shore, as well as many other areas in Nova Scotia.

[Page 260]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 63

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 Liberals announced in 1993 that road building will be on a truly non-partisan basis; and

Whereas Highway No. 101 from Mount Uniacke to Windsor has a daily traffic count in excess of 13,000 vehicles; and

Whereas Highway No. 101 from Mount Uniacke to Windsor has one of the highest traffic counts in all of Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government begin immediately the twinning of Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Windsor.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 64

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

Whereas this Liberal Government presently has health care reform in this province in an absolute state of chaos; and

Whereas the Hants Community Hospital has seen the removal of over 80 hospital beds since this Liberal Government came to power; and

Whereas the ability to provide necessary services to the community has been greatly reduced because of the hospital bed shortage, resulting in patients being discharged back into the community sooner than is ideal;

[Page 261]

[12:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health listen to what is being said by the residents of Hants County and ensure that in the release of the 1997-98 budget on Thursday a sufficient number of hospital beds are accessible at the Hants Community Hospital, so that people will not be turned out into the street with health conditions that require hospital attention.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 65

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

Whereas this government's cut, slash and amalgamate approach to education policy has forced many boards to contemplate closing neighbourhood schools; and

Whereas review committees made up of community volunteers and parents considered closing seven schools in Halifax in order to cope with budget pressure brought about by this government's education cutbacks but agreed unanimously to keep them open; and

Whereas members of the Halifax Regional School Board voted last night to accept the recommendations of the review committee and keep the schools open;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the review committees and those members of the Halifax Regional School Board who have recognized the role and value of communities in the education of their children.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 66

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

[Page 262]

Whereas the Liberal Government is expecting the presentation by the Atlantic Corrections Group, ACG, by mid-May regarding the direction to be taken for the reconfiguration of our province's correctional facilities; and

Whereas while the private interests are certainly involved in the Co-operative Business Solution review and impending proposal to government which may include privatization of the entire correction system or parts thereof; and

Whereas the front-line workers - the correctional officers - who have been working in those facilities and know first-hand the problem areas and what solutions will work and which will not have been kept at arm's length from the process;

Therefore be it resolved that the new Justice Minister offer - albeit in the last few weeks before the proposal is to be put forward - the opportunity for our province's corrections workers to meet with him and most especially the group members drafting the recommendations for government, not after the words are on paper in May.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 67

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 South Shore Tourism Association held its annual awards banquet at White Point Beach Lodge, Queens County, on Friday evening last; and

Whereas three Lighthouse Route Awards for local initiatives were presented for tourism events in Lunenburg, Queens and Shelburne Counties; and

Whereas the award winners were Shelburne's Founders Days, which has since its formation 13 years ago attracted visitors annually from across North America; Bill Wamboldt for his work in promoting the Kejimkujik National Park; and the Town of Lunenburg for their hard work in getting the town designated as a World Heritage Site;

[Page 263]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge the dedication and hard work put forth by the South Shore Tourism Association and recognize the achievements put forth by this year's award winners.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 68

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 more and better health care, but the Minister of Health closed hospitals and laid off hospital workers; and

Whereas the Health Minister politically hired several communications officers; and

Whereas the Minister of Health politically hired several doctors to try to cover up Liberal policy mistakes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health apologize to Nova Scotians for our lack of health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 69

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 previous Tory Government put the finances of the Workers' Compensation Board in a mess through chronic under-assessment of businesses; and

[Page 264]

Whereas the Liberal Government moved to clean up the mess by cutting benefits and restricting eligibility for injured workers; and

Whereas the Pictou County Injured Workers Association has brought to the attention of members of this Assembly the hardship being suffered by injured workers as a result of delays in processing of claims;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Labour to implement an independent, impartial appeals system for workers' compensation claims.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 70

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

Whereas tourism is reaching the billion dollar mark in importance to the Nova Scotia economy on an annual basis; and

Whereas tourism is such a strong economic generator for this province because of attractions such as the Oaklawn Farm Zoo; and

Whereas the 14th season of operation is now under way at the Oaklawn Farm Zoo, yet the Victoria Road from Aylesford to the Ward Road in Millville, Kings County, the main traffic route off Highway No. 101 for tourists and visitors to the zoo, is in extremely rough shape and difficult to drive on because of the rough driving conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works ensure tourist attractions across Nova Scotia such as the Oaklawn Farm Zoo are easily accessible.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

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RESOLUTION NO. 71

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

Whereas Stora North America and Bowater Mersey have requested that Cabinet pass an Order in Council approving a levy on workers' compensation premiums paid by certain employers in the forestry sector; and

Whereas this new payroll tax would not be paid by either Stora or Bowater Mersey; and

Whereas it is essential that no further impediment in the form of additional payroll taxes by imposed on small business in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that Cabinet not approve a levy on forestry workers' compensation premiums unless at least two-thirds of those employers to be taxed give their consent.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member for Kings West raised an issue of the ambulance service in Woods Harbour. He indicated a situation that came to his attention sometime in the latter part of March. I would just like to inform him and the House that through the good work of the member for Shelburne who contacted me on the matter, we were able to have a meeting with the people from Woods Harbour in Shelburne County. We resolved the issue and we issued a press release on April 4th announcing that resolution. I will table a copy of that for the member's information. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Before we move to the Orders of the Day I would like to revert to Introduction of Bills.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 6 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Delivery and Sale of Natural Gas in the Province. (Hon. Eleanor Norrie)

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

Before we move to the Orders of the Day I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate. The honourable member for Queens will debate the following:

Therefore be it resolved that this government begin to recognize the tremendous value of the agricultural industry to the economy of Nova Scotia and put a stop to the persistent cuts that have plagued the industry since 1993.

That debate will take place at 6:00 p.m. The time now being 12:30 p.m., Question Period will run for one hour.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: BENEFITS - SPECIFY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin with a question for the Premier. Sable gas is our gas and Sable gas is our future. My question to the Premier is what guarantees have your government put in place assuring Nova Scotians that they will have full access to their own gas and at a cheaper rate than any non-Nova Scotian consumer, including those in New Brunswick, Quebec and New England?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, this province is participating in the effort, just down in the hotel there, the inquiry and the whole issue of who does what. This government will not be answering those questions. It is provided for in the National Energy Board and that is exactly where those questions are going to be answered. Those questions will be answered in public as they have been so far. If the member is that interested, I suggest he send somebody to listen.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would think that the Premier would be in a position to answer the question that I ask rather than just send me down the street.

By way of first supplementary, can the Premier tell the members of the House and Nova Scotians what advantages, if any, that this government has negotiated with the partners in the gas development that will ensure Nova Scotians will have first dibs on the jobs and the advantages that will occur during the construction phase of the offshore energy project? What advantages are guaranteed in the contract that your government signed?

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THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this information has been public for four months. It was released by the partners in the consortium. They involve 4,000 jobs that will be available to Nova Scotians. Every effort will be made to employ Nova Scotians and we have no doubt that these companies will be employing Nova Scotians. For that limited period between the time of approval - which hopefully will be this year - until November 1999, there will be 4,000 person jobs which, in fact, amounts to more than 4,000 people. Nova Scotians will be the people who will get those jobs.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier avoided guarantee and he spoke about every effort will be made.

By way of final supplementary to the Premier, we have heard a great deal from the Government of New Brunswick about their demands relative to the offshore but not enough from our own government. My question, when the Premier and his government were in a position to demand concessions from the producers and the transporters of gas, why did they not do so and why are they now going to the National Energy Board and placing themselves in a position simply to ask for concessions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has a deplorable lack of understanding of what this process is about. It is not up to us to do this, it is up to the panel of the National Energy Board. What we have done in the course of two years, through two very competent ministers - a minister who is now the Minister of Transportation and the current Minister of Natural Resources - we have met probably 40 times with the consortium, the people from Mobil, Shell and the third party, and we have worked with them to obtain a whole series of job offers, a whole series of royalties which are judged by fair-minded people to be the best possible under the circumstance and judged very fairly by most people. The circumstances of the inquiry, which was conducted by the National Energy Board, are to answer those questions. The Leader of the Opposition knows full well that our job is to present ourselves and we will be doing that at the inquiry and if he wishes, once again, because I am sure he can spare the time, he can come and hear us do it there.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - UNEMPLOYMENT (C.B.):

THRONE SPEECH - ABSENCE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Last year you will recall that this government's Throne Speech made special mention about the unemployment problem in Cape Breton at a time when the unemployment rate was below 20 per cent. Since then, there have been thousands more Cape Bretoners who have joined those on the unemployment ranks to the point where the rate has now reached over 27 per cent.

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Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier if he could explain to Cape Bretoners and to all Nova Scotians why it is that this year, with unemployment in Cape Breton in excess of 27 per cent, his Speech from the Throne has decided to ignore that problem?

[12:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party knows full well that because something is not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne does not mean there will not be efforts made. The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, formerly known as the ERA, has in hand a whole series of initiatives. I would remind the minister and I would remind the member opposite that it was this government that got Systemhouse to go to Sydney, with some 180 jobs and that we have adopted working with ECBC. What he refuses, and particularly his Party, to accept are the structural difficulties in Cape Breton that constitute a significant barrier to the creation of employment. These have to be addressed slowly. We are doing that.

I would be less than honest if I could stand here and say that I am happy with the employment position in Cape Breton. I am not. But it was 25 per cent when this government took over and what we have done in the meantime is virtually hold the number of jobs that have been lost in those industries which are beyond our control, particularly the federal ones.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, well last year, let me remind you that it was of such importance that the Premier said that it required special attention. But this year, when the problem is worse, it seems that this government wants to ignore it. Clearly, there is a need to turn around the devastating situation of unemployment in Cape Breton. That is what participants on our round table on jobs told us on February 24th, that this government needed to take action immediately to begin to kick-start the economy and to be able to actually address, specifically, with specific measures to deal with the problem. In fact, on March 17th, I passed on many of those suggestions to the Premier asking for a response to that.

I would like to ask the Premier now, Mr. Speaker, whether or not he, in fact, has a plan? Is he going to respond to the suggestions of those Cape Bretoners about ways to turn around the unemployment situation in Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Let me just preface my reply, Mr. Speaker, by saying that if the member opposite wishes to write to me, I am very pleased. But when he writes to me and covers every media outlet from here to Vancouver, I take it much more as a PR gesture than something he is serious about. If he wants to write to me, then I will get an answer, as I do with most members.

I have seen the letter, Mr. Speaker, but it is addressed to everybody, as was his one on Jim Campbell's Barren. He addresses them to every possible media outlet. The issue, however, should not be (Interruption)

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: The important issue here, however, must not be trivialized by the politics that the member opposite plays. This is a serious issue, the unemployment in Cape Breton. We take it very seriously. We have had Cabinet meetings, Cabinet committees and we are in the process of working with the federal government to address more of them. We have done, by concentrating on the IT sector, by concentrating on, in particular, the University College of Cape Breton, and other areas that we are serious about Cape Breton. There are no quick fixes. We had enough of those with the last government.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the idea about no quick fixes doesn't mean there are no fixes. This Premier and this government have a responsibility to deal with a national disaster on Cape Breton Island and that is record levels of unemployment in excess of 27 per cent.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of his government, to confirm whether in fact that because they decided to ignore Cape Breton unemployment in the Speech from the Throne, is it in fact the policy of this government to pretend that unemployment in Cape Breton does not exist, just like problems in the health care sector don't exist, just like problems in classrooms across this province don't exist? Is it in fact the policy of this government to pretend that unemployment problems in Cape Breton do not exist?

THE PREMIER: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw attention to the members of the House the presence of a large number of people in the gallery representing injured workers in this province. The workers are from the Pictou County area, Port Hawkesbury and Halifax. The delegation is led by Mr. David MacKenzie. They come here today to bring awareness of their difficulties in having their claims adjudicated by the Workers' Compensation Board.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask through you that all members of the House welcome them here. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH: HANTS COMMUN. HOSP. - FUNDING ADEQUACY

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Health. On April 3rd of this year, the Minister of Health was on CBC Information Morning being interviewed by Don Connolly. He referred to the fact that he had made available to the Hants Community Hospital the sum of $600,000 to take care of a shortfall in their budget for the last fiscal year. I wonder

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why the minister made that particular statement, and I wonder if he would explain it to the people of Hants County, because he did no such thing. What he did was he acted like Mr. Household Finance and loaned them $300,000, took $300,000 from a hospital auxiliary account and presented that money to the hospital to cover the shortfall.

I wonder will the minister in the House today guarantee the Hants Community Hospital that they will have adequate funding in the next fiscal year and, furthermore, that it will not be predicated on their paying back that $300,000 loan that he made to them in the last fiscal year?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I thank the honourable member for that question. I know it is a topic that he is very concerned about.

The particular issue that he addresses was an issue that involved the emergency room service at the hospital at Windsor. The issue that had come before me directly involved whether or not there would be sufficient funds in the operating budget of the hospital to maintain 24 hour service. What I undertook to a number of people there, in the meetings I had both in Windsor and here in Halifax, was that I would have our department work very diligently with the regional health board, who has direct responsibility for administering the hospital, to ensure that an arrangement would be reached to permit that emergency room to remain open 24 hours a day.

That is the commitment I gave. The commitment was followed through. Both parties came together. They made those arrangements, put them in place and the regional health board announced that the emergency room would stay open 24 hours a day.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member never even came close to answering the question I asked him.

The fact is, he did not provide $600,000; the Department of Health did not provide $600,000; the regional health board did not provide $600,000. There is still $300,000 outstanding as a loan to the Hants Community Hospital. The other $300,000 - and I hate to use the word - was taken by this minister to fund an operating loss for the hospital for that year.

My question to the minister - and I do not want him to waste Question Period trying to get an answer to this question - is he prepared to forgive that $300,000 loan that was made by the Department of Health through the regional health board to the Hants Community Hospital in this fiscal year and, furthermore, is he going to guarantee that in this year's budget there is adequate funding to support the hospital with the present services intact for this coming fiscal year?

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MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asks a number of questions. I will try to answer at least two or three of them in that question.

The parties involved, who were the regional health board and the Department of Health, got together and found a solution to a very specific problem, and that was to keep the emergency room open. That was what it was all about. Those parties came together and found a solution which was satisfactory. I almost think that the member is disappointed about that. Somehow he was disappointed that the parties came together and came to that solution. Well, they did, and I will tell you, I am not going to interfere with it.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health is not providing very much comfort for the people in the gallery and the people in Hants County. They are truly worried and concerned and bothered and distressed by the way the Minister of Health is handling their problems. At a meeting I attended for a very few minutes this morning, because I had to get back up here and table that petition signed by 18,000 persons, he more or less passed on the concern with 24 hour emergency services as being something he could not control because it was up to the doctors.

This minister, in a letter on September 23rd to Mr. Garnet Burns, the Chairperson of Hants Community Hospital, and also in a letter to me at a later date in November of last year, stated that he would ensure that the 24 hour emergency services in the Hants Community Hospital would be maintained. Is he willing to give that commitment today in the House?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows full well that that commitment had to do with the operational budget of the hospital, that we would ensure there would be sufficient funds in the operational budget of the hospital to operate that emergency room 24 hours a day. I gave that commitment, I met that commitment, clearly.

In terms of the general role of the hospital and its future, I think that probably I have met at least 10 times with various groups from the area. I went down to the hospital, spoke to the employees, I spoke to the auxiliary, I spoke to the foundation, I spoke to some of the medical staff, I spoke to the citizens' committee, I spoke to the municipalities. The assurance I gave was twofold, Mr. Speaker. One was that that facility would continue to play a significant role in the health care system in that area of the province and, two, specifically in this year's budget that I have already announced, we will maintain facility funding. We have stabilized it this year for the first time in years, to allow the regional health boards to make those kinds of decisions. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - MEDICAL SOCIETY:

NEGOTIATOR (DEPT. [DR. R. LEMOINE]) - JUSTIFICATION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Having been a lawyer in his other profession, I know the Minister of Health has had experience representing clients at the negotiating table. I would ask him how he can justify jeopardizing negotiations with the Medical Society by sending in as his chief negotiator the very person who sat on the opposite side of the negotiating table when the last contract was negotiated.

I would ask the minister, how can he justify that kind of reckless and stupid approach when there is such an urgent need to get on with the negotiations with the doctors of this province, how can he justify sending in that individual?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, what might jeopardize negotiations would be some kind of silly exchange on the floor of the House of Assembly between the honourable member and myself, so I am not going to engage in that. Suffice it to say that we are very anxious to see negotiations proceed. We have continued to speak with the negotiating head for the Medical Society today. Indeed, we are very hopeful that a negotiation session may occur perhaps even as early as later in the day.

MR. MOODY: Well, the minister knows very well why negotiations went off track. The Medical Society advised the minister earlier, even before negotiations started, that they had a concern about Dr. LeMoine being part of negotiations. He ignored that.

I am asking the minister, did he ignore that so that he could sabotage the talks from the beginning? Does he want delay from the beginning? Is that the reason he sent Dr. LeMoine to that meeting?

MR. BOUDREAU: The individual in question, Dr. LeMoine, is the senior departmental official in the Department of Health responsible for our relations with doctors. As such, he has this responsibility and, in fact, engaged in that responsibility in the last round of discussions we had with the Medical Society when we concluded an agreement, as some may remember, that went out to the membership and was subsequently rejected. The lead negotiator or one of the lead agents in that negotiation was the same Dr. LeMoine, without objection.

Let me stress once again that we are not interested in getting hung up on haggling or technicalities or the type of approach that this honourable member suggests by his question. We are interested in making progress. We think the doctors of Nova Scotia want to make progress so that is why we hope that negotiations will resume perhaps as early as this evening.

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[1:00 p.m.]

MR. MOODY: Well, I am encouraged. We went from this afternoon to this evening. His last time up it was this afternoon, now it is delayed until this evening. I am sure the minister is aware that maybe why negotiations were turned down last time was because Dr. LeMoine was involved. I would ask the minister if he has any sense of the urgency facing communities like Windsor, Digby, Springhill, Glace Bay and others who have lost doctors because of this government's down-the-throat attitude with the doctors.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, would he guarantee today that if the problem with negotiations with the doctors is Dr. LeMoine, that he will remove Dr. LeMoine from that process as of today?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, when the honourable member says am I aware of the concerns of doctors across Nova Scotia, in about a two week period, a number of weeks ago, I travelled the province meeting with doctors. I met, personally, with probably somewhere between 500 and 600 doctors. I had discussions with them and I am well aware of what their views were, really well aware of what their views were. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: I have, in fact, become specifically aware of the type of problem that exists in Windsor with respect to payment of doctors on call for emergency room service and it is a problem not only in Windsor but it is a problem in Springhill, it is a problem in Amherst and in fact, Mr. Speaker, it has been a problem that has been growing (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: It has been a problem that has been building probably for about 20 years but we are going to deal with it. I have indicated in every one of those meetings across Nova Scotia that I had with the doctors, (Interruption) We will put a proposal forward. Mr. Speaker, they are yelling across the floor. They don't want to hear this. They don't want to hear the answer.

All of the political gain is in the question. They are not interested in the answer, Mr. Speaker. Well, the answer simply is that we indicated, we gave an undertaking to every one of the doctors in those meetings that we would put a proposal forward that will deal with that issue. We will do that and we will resolve the issue, hopefully to the satisfaction of all but that is part of the process that is now under way.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

HEALTH: RECOVERY HOUSE (ANTIGONISH) - FUNDING

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I understand, Mr. Minister, that Drug Dependency Services now come under the regional health boards. Could the minister explain the funding arrangements for Recovery House in Antigonish which comes under the eastern region but really the majority of their people come from the northern region?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member raising that issue. It is one that has been raised by other members as well. Specifically, I recall the member for Antigonish raised it with me. It is a bit of an anomaly where you have a facility in one area which serves mostly people from another. The budgets which were attributable to Drug Dependency were transferred en bloc to the jurisdiction of the regional health boards. In fact, in doing that, we have asked that those funds become non-portable, in other words, that they cannot be used for anything other than drug dependency. In doing that, we are asking all of the regional health boards, in cooperation with ourselves, in looking at where services are delivered and where the patients come from because some of the issues that you raise, I think, are issues that will have to be addressed particularly now that the funds are with the regional health boards. So I thank the member for drawing that to my attention and I can tell you that that is one of the issues that is being addressed.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. Do I understand from what he just said that he or some of his staff will be giving directions to the regional health board as to how that funding from the eastern board will be delivered to the Recovery House because of the patients coming from northern Nova Scotia? Will he give direction, or his staff give direction, to the regional health boards to see that that money is in place to help those people at Recovery House?

MR. BOUDREAU: I think the simple answer is no, Mr. Speaker. There would be little point in us turning over the budget to the regional health boards and putting them in charge of the budget and saying, now, here is what you are going to do with it, here is a list of instructions. It would be totally a waste of effort. What we will do and what we have done is ask the regional health boards to work together with us to address the whole issue of cross-over services, people coming from one area into another regional health board and seeking and receiving services. That issue is being addressed in a cooperative way as we speak. But there is no point in us transferring jurisdiction to the regional health boards and then trying to run everything from Hollis Street here.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, maybe those regional boards shouldn't have been set up then. Well, here we have Recovery House in Antigonish that has been serving the people of northern Nova Scotia for many, many years and the minister is telling me that the eastern

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board is the people that are supposed to fund it. Yet, the people come from the northern board. I can't understand why somebody on his staff cannot suggest to the board that that be shared equally?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, the situation that exists after April 1st will not be much different than the situation that existed before April 1st in terms of that facility. We have asked both the boards involved to address that situation specifically, and not just that one, there are others too that have to be addressed.

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

HEALTH - SERVICES (RURAL): ADEQUATE - PROVIDE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. In response to a question earlier the minister acknowledged the fact that problems with respect to the provision of health services in rural communities like those that are being experienced now in Windsor are not something new in this province, problems existed for 20 years. Yet here we have the minister and his staff, in particular his officials, running around the province trying to put out fires, cutting side deals with doctors from Canso to Digby to Windsor, throughout the province.

My question to the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, is when is he finally going to get to it and come up with a plan to deal with the provision of adequate health services in rural Nova Scotia?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party should decide whether he is in favour of consultation or not. What we did and what I felt was of great benefit to me, as a new Minister of Health, was to go around and talk to the people who are intimately involved in delivering health care in rural Nova Scotia, the doctors. Surely the honourable member doesn't object to that. He doesn't object to me speaking to them. I can't see why he would.

What we are doing, Mr. Speaker, in a planned, sensible way, is bringing a proposal to address some very specific questions having to do with doctors in rural Nova Scotia and I think they are productive suggestions, I think they received a reasonably good hearing and positive response from the 500 or 600 doctors that I met on this tour around the province. They will be an integral part of the proposal that we will make to the Medical Society.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is funny, I remember that back in 1993-94 this government, this Liberal Party and then this government, had a plan. They knew what was going to happen and they were going to ensure the provision of adequate health services in rural Nova Scotia. But what we have seen from this minister, in particular, is a continuation

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of what has been happening in Nova Scotia for far too long. As he sits in his ivory tower, communities have to come to him, cap in hand, asking for specific solutions.

I want to ask this minister when is he going to stop this top-down kind of approach that we have had in Nova Scotia for far too long and work to devolve power and resources to communities, Mr. Speaker, so that real health care reform can finally take place in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, I think at one point you have to discount a little bit of what the honourable member says to his enthusiasm for political rhetoric, which will probably increase as we go through the session. The honourable member wants to know why I am in an ivory tower, why haven't I gone out. Mr. Speaker, I just said that I have been out to speak to roughly about 600 physicians. I remember leaving Amherst one night at 11:45 and pulling into the Wandlyn in Bridgewater at 2:50 in the morning so that I could speak to the next group by 7:00 a.m. Now, Mr. Speaker, I think I have made a reasonable effort. The people of Windsor have had concerns that they wanted to deal with with me, as an example. I have been in Windsor I think on three occasions, besides the meetings I have had with those people here in Halifax. So I think I have been around. I think I have listened and tried to get as broad a view as I could.

What the honourable member doesn't seem to understand is that we will make progress in this province incrementally. He claims that we say there are no problems or challenges in health care. I have never said that. I don't think anyone on this side has ever said that. What we have said is that we are making progress and we will continue to make progress. The good news, Mr. Speaker, that they can't handle is that we are going to do it with our own money. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again I remind all members of this House that this government, this minister promised action to deal with health reform in the Province of Nova Scotia. As he continues to run about the province when the province needs action on this issue, one might wonder whether or not he is just on a leadership tour and not dealing with the real problems of rural Nova Scotia.

My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, devolution of power is essential to real health reform in this province. Those are the principles that the Blueprint Committee recommended be followed back in the spring of 1994. My question to the Minister of Health, why has he sold out and abandoned the principles so clearly articulated in the Blueprint Committee Report laid on the table in here in April 1994?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, of course we have not. Indeed, we have made great progress in many areas. He doesn't want me to recite them so I won't go into too many but the whole process of designation, to empower the regional health boards, that has taken place in this term.

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Mr. Speaker, there are over 20 community health boards now up and running and another 10 to 12 under development. (Applause) We have now the finest emergency health system in the country in place. I could go on but I know they want an opportunity to ask further questions.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that some members of the Opposition, and perhaps even sometimes the questioner, the Leader of the Third Party, draws rhetoric to an extreme. He doesn't say there are challenges in the health care system, he says it is collapsing all around us, it is gone, it is done, everyone panic. He does it for political reasons. Somebody will have to bear responsibility for that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: AMBULANCE SERVICE - REGIONALIZATION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question, too, is for the Minister of Health. Will the minister confirm that last year government officials from the Department of Health agreed to work with ambulance operators over a two year period to come up with a new, regionalized ambulance service?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, there have been many discussions and, indeed, great progress towards a rationalization of emergency health services across the province and many of those discussions involved ambulance operators.

DR. HAMM: Well, I thank the minister. Although he said a few things, he didn't address the question. The legislation passed in this House relative to the provision of emergency services guarantees that the local operators would continue to be included. Now would the minister confirm here today, that the province, despite all that was guaranteed to the operators, what the legislation that was passed said, has abruptly abandoned the agreement that was in place with regionalized operators and has given the green light to Maritime Medical Care to set up a provincial takeover of all existing ambulance service?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I might just take a moment to explain the process. In any commercial transactions which have occurred, the honourable member would probably be aware that there have been quite a number of consolidations in emergency health services around the province over the last year and one-half, perhaps two years.

The involvement of the department is as follows: If there are two people interested in discussing a transaction, then we will qualify the bidder or the potential purchaser. Because if that purchaser is totally unacceptable, then there is no point in people wasting their time. So we will pre-qualify any potential purchaser. Then the parties will see if they can work out

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a deal. If they do, fine. If they don't, fine too. They work out a deal and then the department ensures that the business plan of the successful bidder, if you will, is reasonable so that the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are not picking up the results of a non-commercial arrangement. So we come in right at the start to pre-qualify and we make sure that the taxpayers are not going to get it in the ear at the end, but the parties are free to negotiate their deal or to choose whether or not there should be one.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary to the minister, we made reference to the fact there was a two year agreement in place encouraging local operators. There is reference in the legislation to the ongoing participation and, in fact, there were regional mergers done at the suggestion of government and carried out by local operators, who made, in some cases, significant investments in expanding their business and their area of responsibility.

Will the minister today guarantee that those operators who wish and who supported this regional concept, and who have made those investments, will be guaranteed an opportunity to provide ambulance service in this province and remain in operation and will not be forced out of business by Maritime Medical Care or anyone else?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health is not in the business of forcing anyone out of business. If there is a willing buyer and a willing seller, surely the honourable Leader of the Opposition is not suggesting we should step in and prevent that transaction from taking place. If he has any evidence that in any of these transactions there was either an unwilling buyer or an unwilling seller, perhaps he would let me know, because that is not my information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on a new question.

WCB - APPEALS: LEGISLATION - EFFECTIVENESS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board. Members will remember that in 1994, there was considerable debate and eventual passage of a new Workers' Compensation Act. That Act was proclaimed in early 1995. That Act provided a new style appeal process as part of the workers' compensation activities in this province.

My question to the minister is simply, is the minister confident that the new appeal system that is contained in that legislation is doing the job for workers across this province?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. We are not satisfied with everything that is contained in the Workers' Compensation Board Act. It is a new Act. I think it is working, but there are some provisions in that Act that need attention. However, I think you are talking about the

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Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal that has been set up to deal with cases at the final stage of appeal for somebody who was aggrieved by decisions of the Workers' Compensation Board. At the present time, we are dealing with a caseload in excess of 1,800, the backload that we are trying to get disposed of in one way or the other by making decisions and, hopefully, those decisions will be the right ones.

We know that we have inadequate resources to do that at the present time. We are in the process of doubling the staff at the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal to accommodate the very intense backload we have presently with the board.

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for the answer. The minister suggested that I was asking about the appeal tribunal, and that really is the subject of my next question. The minister did make reference that there are some 1,800 cases before that tribunal. Will the minister indicate for those present the number of cases that have been adjudicated by the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal since the new legislation came into effect in early 1995? How many cases have actually gone through the tribunal?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I do not have the answer to that question. I am sure you can appreciate that I do not interfere in the day-to-day workings of the Workers Compensation Board like the previous government used to do, calling up the Workers' Compensation Board and ordering decisions to be made or getting a count day after day of how many of their constituents were being dealt with by the Workers Compensation Board. I will endeavour to get the figure for the honourable Leader of the Opposition and I will present it to him in this House.

DR. HAMM: I think those in the House would realize very well that I was not suggesting that the minister get involved. I was simply asking him how many cases had been adjudicated since the appeal tribunal was set up. A very simple, I thought rather harmless question.

By way of final supplementary, the minister made reference in his answer that he is doubling the staff on the appeal tribunal. Then, how much time is the minister prepared to wait for the tribunal to adjudicate the 1,800 cases that is the backload that is facing them? How much time is he prepared to wait?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: We are trying to deal with those cases as quickly as possible. I can tell you that we are having ongoing discussions with the tribunal people at the present time. I can simply say to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that we will get them done as soon as we possibly can.

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

HEALTH - HOSPITALS: BEDS REDUCTION - EFFECT ALLEVIATE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. The minister would be aware that his government cut hospital beds by some 30 per cent almost immediately upon taking power in this province in terms of forming a government. They did this without the full implementation of alternatives. As one of many consequences, patients who normally would be hospitalized are being turned away because there are no beds. My question is modestly this. What is the minister doing to alleviate this concern?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: It is true, as the member suggests, that we reduced the number of hospital beds in this province. The reduction was something in the range of about 30 per cent. It was done because we believed in following widely accepted standards of health care delivery. The previous government had spent all kinds of money in bricks and mortar. They loved to cut ribbons and, in fact, drained resources from direct patient care.

Let me illustrate what I mean. While reducing hospital beds by 30 per cent, in that same period of time the number of surgical procedures increased. The top 100 procedures increased from 68,000 a year to 72,000 a year. So while the beds went down, more people were being served, not less. (Interruptions)

MR. TAYLOR: Now that the attendant has stated that he is resigning, the monkeys are certainly running the zoo.

My question by way of supplementary to the Minister of Health is essentially this. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: I am glad I got the attention of the honourable member for Bedford-Fall River. Mr. Speaker, this government has placed a moratorium, a ban, on any new licensed nursing homes in this province. This is in spite of the fact that every licensed nursing home in Nova Scotia has an incredible, a large waiting list. My question to the minister is simply this, what is he going to do about the waiting lists pertaining to nursing homes in this province?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I just happened to check my notes here and before I address this specific question, the honourable member might be interested in knowing, for example in that period of time when hospital beds reduced, knee replacements increased to 820 a year from 425; hip replacements went to 735 a year from 670; and cataract extractions went from 3,900 a year to 5,200 a year. So there were a lot of very significant improvements.

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With respect to the question that the honourable member directs about long-term care facilities, there is no question, we could use more long-term care facilities in every single part of this province. If we had them tomorrow morning, they would be filled the day after tomorrow. What we have to do within the resources we have is make sure we are getting the best use out of every single long-term care facility. We will be announcing, as we move forward, some very, I think, innovative programs to make sure that we do get such use out of the existing resources that we have. And we are going to move forward and improve in that area of health as with other areas of health. What we are not going to do is borrow a whole lot of money and make a lot of noise just before an election in hopes of gaining some political favour. That is what they did, that is not what we are doing. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, talking about rhetoric, I am sure we will get a lot more once Russell MacLellan announces that he is going to run.

Demographical information clearly points out that our senior population is ever-increasing. In fact, our senior population is pretty much increasing faster than we can keep up with. I am sure the minister is aware of some of that factual data. The Sackville Seniors' Advocate, in the community of Sackville, has proposed a facility for their community, and I am wondering, what is the minister's response to the community of Sackville in their request for a seniors' nursing home in that community?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the demographics, and if the honourable member hasn't read it let me suggest a little bit of reading for him. It is only about 12 pages and it is a chapter in a book called, "Boom, Bust and Echo". Its on health care, and it deals specifically with those areas of concern that he raises, the demographics and what is going to happen essentially when the baby boomers move into the expensive health care field. It is going to be a tremendous challenge. That is why I find it really difficult to understand how the Opposition, day after day, can pretend on the one hand that there was some golden age of medicine 10 years ago and if we could only return to it. It is a myth, and what is a bigger myth is that we can deal with the challenges that are coming down the pike without changing anything. Impossible.

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

EXCO - BARREN (JIM CAMPBELL): DECISION - INFO. SECURITY

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a question to the Premier. The Premier, of course, will know that he and his Cabinet colleagues were lobbied very hard prior to its decision on November 21st to delist the Jim Campbell's Barren as a protected wilderness site. The Premier will also know that immediately following that decision and 12 days prior to the making public of that decision, there was a tremendous frenzy in the sale of the Regal shares; in fact, on one day alone as that decision was made there were more shares traded than in the entire preceding month. Given the fact that the Premier would have known

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that there was a tremendous potential for abuse and the potential to make certain rich people even wealthier, I am wondering could the Premier explain what special precautions he and his Cabinet took to ensure that there was no leak of information that could have led to abuse?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let me first of all emphasize that there are often two to three weeks between decisions that are made in Cabinet and their release, in relation to budget items, in relation to appointments to committees and boards. There is a whole series of issues. So there was nothing unusual in a delay of one or two or sometimes even three weeks.

[1:30 p.m.]

As to special measures that we undertook, the only thing I can ask you to look at is the reputation of this government which, in four years, has had absolutely nothing that it could be blamed for and to emphasize that we take our oath of confidentiality very seriously. Nothing got out of the Cabinet.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier, of course, will know that the trading activity is extremely obvious. The Premier reasserted here again today, and based supposedly on this government's credibility and its integrity, that there was no leak from Cabinet. So I want to ask the Premier very specifically - he made that statement; his Minister of Natural Resources has made that statement as well - I want to know what investigation and by whom was that investigation done to determine that there was no leak and upon which the Premier is basing his statement today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would repeat that this government, and this Cabinet in particular, takes its oath of confidentiality very seriously. The projector of sleaze opposite is aware that much of what went on was in relation to a mining operation that may have occurred in some other part (Interruptions) The issue that I tell you is that if they have any evidence at all that they wish to put, let them put it on the floor of this House right now.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I am going to be called sleazy, all I have to do is consider the source and that just rolls right off me.

Mr. Speaker, it is not only the credibility of Regal that is at stake but it is the credibility and the integrity of the entire government. A leak could have occurred whether it was intentional or accidental. We have learned today that the Ontario Securities Commission, and they have confirmed that, are not now investigating it but they have received only a public complaint that they are looking into.

My question to the Premier is quite simply, if the Premier has such confidence that no leak occurred, will the Premier write to the Ontario Securities Commission and ask them to investigate the Regal stock trading and the potential of a Cabinet leak that could have been

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the seed that caused that frenzied activity to take place? If you have such confidence, will you do that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will not be drawn into that imbroglio simply by accusations without base that are thrown across from the Opposition. What we were particularly clear on was that this investigation was up to the Ontario Securities Commission. Fine. We said nothing about it. They have decided not to and it would seem to us that they are the people who will investigate, who will look at the price of shares as they rise, et cetera. To imply that this Cabinet has done anything is absolutely scurrilous and without any base of fact. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC. - CROP INSURANCE COMM'N.: FEDERATION ADVICE - USE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and this is a very serious question. I know that the government doesn't view agriculture very seriously at the present time. I can tell by the moans from the Government House Leader that he thinks it is a joke.

To the Minister of Agriculture, the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Insurance Commission have resigned. The Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Insurance Commission, Mr. Speaker, as you know, has been independent since 1968. They have been a model for all of Canada to look up to and emulate. Over the years they have built up a fund of over $5 million that is in excess of the demands of the insurance payments they have been making. The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the fruit growers, the blueberry growers, they have all written letters to the Minister of Agriculture requesting that he allow the Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Commission to maintain its independence in a separate building, in a separate location downtown.

Would the Minister of Agriculture indicate to me the reasons he no longer respects or listens to the advice of the Federation of Agriculture when it comes to dealing with the Nova Scotia Crop Insurance Commission?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member that this government listens to the Federation of Agriculture and listens to all the 18 commodity groups. I have not yet received a letter saying they have resigned. I have received a letter saying they may resign.

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What we are developing with reorganization is better services for the farmer, so that the farmer can pull up and make one stop and look after his NISA Program, look after his Crop Insurance Program, look after his Farm Loan Board program and look after other programs, business management. He will have only one stop now, he wont have three or four stops to make and that is why what we are bringing is a better service to the farmer.

I agree, some of those members have been on that board since the former government appointed them, and I think they have done a great job. It doesn't matter what we do. That honourable member knows, as former Minister of Agriculture, that crop insurance is under a separate Act and this government has no control over that Act. It operates independently, and it will continue to operate independently in this province as long as we have a Crop Insurance Program.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Now, Mr. Speaker, we have just heard the Minister of Agriculture indicate that perhaps the difficulty he is having with the resignation, and if he didn't understand the letter they wrote him that said they resign, they have made it perfectly clear that they have resigned. There is one member on the Crop Insurance Commission who was appointed some 20-odd years ago. The other three appointees were appointed by this government since the 1993 election, so there should not be any question about their political loyalties. I guess is what the minister was trying to infer.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture has had requests for the maintenance of the independence of this commission. He has chosen to ignore the request from the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, he has chosen to try to overlook the resignation. The minister indicated that one-stop shopping is the only solution and the reason for doing this.

Mr. Speaker, I maintain that already we are seeing the lack of independence of this commission when the Minister of Agriculture sends out a letter to the people that were attending the Agricultural Committee meeting, he sent out a clarification letter saying the federation was misunderstood and wrong.

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Agriculture reconsider the request so that the Crop Insurance Commission may truly maintain its independence stature? I do not think that any farmer will believe it is independent if he lumps it in with a branch of the Department of Agriculture.

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, the Crop Insurance Commission is an independent body by an Act of this House and nobody can change that. Our goal is to put the funding out there in the field, where it belongs, with the agricultural sector. If we can put all the same people in one building - they have their independence - a farmer can drive up to the door, park his truck or car and go in and look after his NISA, look after his crop insurance, look after his Farm Loan Board.

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Last week, I met with FCC and they may be joining us in joint office space as well. So there will be one stop for the total agricultural sector. Mr. Speaker, the crop insurance is under a separate Act of this House that this minister cannot change, or anybody else in this House. So let's stop the propaganda and get on with serving the farmers.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: Last evening, the debate was adjourned by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I started last night and I will try to finish up very shortly. Depending on the attitude on the other side of the House, I may take longer.

Last night I wanted to add that Alan Mitchell, of course, the honourable Attorney General, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, who has been appointed to the Cabinet, I want to congratulate him with regard to his appointment and I am sure he will give us the type of leadership we need in that department.

I also want to say how sad I was when a week or two weeks before it was made public, that I had heard that Mr. Abbass, the member for Halifax Chebucto, was not going to run in the next election. Because in Cabinet we have a joke and I voted him the most improved Cabinet Minister a year ago because I thought he was doing a great job. I also told him, when I heard he was going to resign, one day I would read that he was going to consider the leadership and then the next day I said, God, Jay, I was even considering you for the leadership if you had stayed around. I didn't say I was going to vote for him, I told him I was considering it. I am sorry to see this very able member and former minister leave the

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government, but many people today in public life are going to the private sector, in every province, and nationally, due to the great pressures.

Madam Speaker, I guess, in some ways, my wife would say to me, Guy, why don't you do the same thing because being in public life today, although nobody thinks we are very high on the totem pole and most people don't respect politicians but I want to tell you, most politicians that I have met in every political Party are any worse in this country or any worse in the world, I find are committed and dedicated individuals that work very hard in the best interests of their province at all times and I appreciate that.

You know, in 1993, Madam Speaker, when this government took over, it is good that people should remember. Those people that forget their past really have no future. We should remember what this government took over in 1993. Never has a government in Canada taken over such a mess as we did in June 1993. You don't have to believe me. You can go to the libraries anywhere in this country. You can go to the Budget Books anywhere in this country and you can look at the analysis of this province. It was unbelievable what we walked into.

[1:45 p.m.]

I was in power before in government and I was a minister. I want to tell you, the honourable Minister of Finance was there with me, we were the only two, and we could not believe what we were seeing and when our creditors and when Finance officials came in to tell us what we had done. Except for two honourable members that were elected in a by-election, each person in the Official Opposition was part of that cover-up in 1993. Now, let me tell you, it was a cover-up, because there was no budget. We went to the polls in 1993. Don't anybody ever forget that we had no budget, the Cameron Government did not table a budget in this House and this government was sworn in June 1993, the first time in the history of this country that such a mess was left there for a government to take over.

Their philosophy, Madam Speaker, was one of government without budgets, just keep borrowing. They all supported it, they were all candidates, they all ran in 1993 except two who ran shortly after in a by-election. Govern without a budget. Govern without a plan. Govern without financial responsibility to the people of this province. A government that destroyed the Workers' Compensation Fund in this province. We went in there with an unfunded liability of $450 million, another $200 million shortfall. We went in there and took over that with no money in the coffers. How could anybody today face somebody that was disabled or a widow when they destroyed everything that was in the pot for these individuals? They blew it. That is a fact. They destroyed the fund totally.

Some people would say, we didn't know what we were going to do. Each of you and each person in the Tory Party, except those two that came in in the by-election, were part of that whole bankrupt and destroy scheme. They knew that when they went to the polls. It is like if there was an election tomorrow, I know what is in the Department of Agriculture

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budget, I know what is in the budget of the Province of Nova Scotia, so I would know it. But it was the biggest cover-up that was ever put on the backs of Nova Scotians in 1993. How could that government or how could the people in the Tory Party honestly look at a widow, look a disabled person in the eye when they destroyed the reserve account that was put in place to look after those people? That is a fact. That is not gossip. The record is true. It's there.

We had industries, I had some in my own community, which were headlines in the paper, that they were going to leave Nova Scotia because of the mismanagement of the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Fund and because of the mismanagement of the finances in this province. That was in the Herald. That was in papers across this province and throughout Canada which turned people off from coming here and creating jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, it hurts me very much what we had to go through with regard to that total issue and with regard to what we took over in this province today. People with their children and their grandchildren, you know, how could they bankrupt them? How could they go to the till and borrow money every day and look at their children and their grandchildren every day and pay that back? Who pays for it? The kids pay it back. The worst attitude of anything I have ever seen.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look in the mirror, Guy.

MR. BROWN: I can look in the mirror. How you people can live with those types of decisions - because you knew it - how you can live every day with those types of decisions is beyond me; I cannot, as an individual, and my family would not allow me to.

I want to touch on jobs for a few minutes. Yes, the economy is turning around and we are creating jobs. I can remember as Minister for ERA, when I went to Pictou and opened up the car works where there were 60 people working there when that crowd was in power; today about 1,200 people are working there. (Applause) How about what we are trying to do with the shipyards? Or how about in Cumberland County? When we came into power in March 1993, the unemployment in northeastern Nova Scotia was 17 per cent. Facts. Go to the library, get the Statistics Canada book and look at it. They are not my figures. Look at it. Today, that is still far too high, but we got it down to 14 per cent, in that area; in fact, we are doing better than any other area of the province excluding the City of Halifax. We have done well, but we have not done well enough. We must make that commitment and we must continue to work day and night. The only figure I can accept is no unemployment in this society.

I look at the jobs that we have created in this province. I get tired, especially with the local media in Nova Scotia, when they print a story about Premier McKenna in New Brunswick. Well, they had better go check their figures. Nova Scotia has grown faster than

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any other province in Canada in the last three years and we have created 26,000 jobs in this province. (Applause) That is the best, Madam Speaker, in all of Canada. Our capital investment in Nova Scotia is around 18 per cent. The only one that is close to us is Alberta at 12 per cent. The average across Canada is 5.4 per cent. We are doing a better job. It is not good enough; we have to do much more, but I am telling you that we have the thing on the run and we are making gains in this province more than we have ever made in the last 10 or 15 years. (Applause)

I want to tell you, Madam Speaker, that in my area in northern Nova Scotia, we not only cut the unemployment by 3 per cent - and we are going to cut it by more, let me tell you, with some announcements we have coming over the next two or three months, hopefully, if the negotiations are finished for expansions of our industries that are there and I think some of them will come - that we have not only done that, but we have added 3,000 people to the labour force at the same time we have cut our unemployment rate from 17 per cent to 14 per cent and our participation rate in 1993 was 54 per cent. We got that up today over 66 per cent. I want to tell you, that is what we need all over Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton Island.

Madam Speaker, just for a few minutes - I realize my time is just about up - but I just want the people, especially the members in our own caucus, to understand what we took over. Those who forget their past have no future. I want to tell you, don't ever forget your past when it comes to a government in this province because you have a lot to be proud of. What did we take over? We took over the biggest financial mess in Canada, with a debt that was unbelievable. Check Statistics Canada, don't believe Guy Brown. That is a fact. We took over a Teachers' Pension Fund that was $1.2 billion underfunded; we took over a Workers' Compensation Board that was almost bankrupt, padlocked; we took over the Westray situation - and I am not going to get into that - we took over the issues at Shelburne which sat on the table for many years. We have taken that over. You people can walk with your heads very proud as members of this government for the things that we have tried to deal with that other governments would not deal with.

The highways in Nova Scotia were falling apart and I want to tell you that a lot of them are falling apart today, Madam Speaker, but at least we have a plan and we are trying to get at them if people will give us a chance. Sure health care, in some peoples' eyes, is a problem today. I can remember getting up and asking questions on the other side, it was a problem when the other government was in power and we came in with no money.

I want to tell all of you a little something about health care in Cumberland County before I finish. In Springhill and Oxford, we have a great little hospital in Springhill but people are trying to make it a political issue but those people would get burned and stung at the end of the day. In Springhill and Oxford the senior citizens and the low-income people had to get a taxi or somebody to drive them to Springhill to have their blood tests done. Thanks to the ladies auxiliary program, we now send technicians down to Oxford one or two days a week

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and those seniors and low-income people now don't have to spend $10 or $20 or get somebody to drive them to Springhill. We are servicing them right in the Oxford area. This is a major improvement if you talk to the right people in that area and I have confidence in those people.

I want to talk about Highland View Hospital and River Hebert and Joggins. For years, I tried to get blood tests and things done in River Hebert because it costs about $20 for a senior to hire a cab to go to Amherst and wait to get his or her blood test done and then go back to River Hebert. For low-income families without a car, it was very difficult. Sometimes people didn't get their tests done because they couldn't afford to get to Amherst to get it done. As the member for that area, I stand very proud today that we are now sending people from Highland View Hospital to the River Hebert Medical Centre a couple of days a week and all of those poor people and those low-income people who had to dress up and get a cab and go to Amherst are now getting their blood work done right in the fine communities of River Hebert and Joggins. Now, isn't that progress? Who is opposed to that? That is what health care is all about, reaching out and serving the people, not putting the people in the position that they have to spend $20 or $30 for a cab to get a little bit of blood work done if they are diabetic.

As well, I would like to talk about and if he was here and they carried on like they did last night but you know there are no secret words to all the answers, the Leader of the Official Opposition today, it is my understanding, was Past President of the Nova Scotia Medical Society. Whatever happened in those days with regard to getting doctors to rural Nova Scotia? Remember this, remember your history, remember the truth about this whole debate and ask yourself some questions.

I am sorry I cant take an hour but I tell you, I could talk for five hours because I have so much to say about this government. When people think about three years ago and compare where we are today, I don't have to worry about the decision of those individuals. I take a great deal of pride in stating very clearly that I will be voting for the Throne Speech and getting on with the job that has to be done in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[2:00 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: I am pleased to be able to rise once again to speak on behalf of the people of Digby-Annapolis in this, the birthplace of responsible government, in what was once called British North America. I must warn the members of the House that I just had oral surgery and big words kind of stump me, so the surgeon suggested that I use mainly four letter words. (Laughter)

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Before I begin my remarks, I want to congratulate you - oh, wait a minute. The wrong Speaker is in the Chair. I congratulate you, too, as Deputy Speaker. I will say more about the other Speaker as we go along. I also want to pay tribute to our Premier, who has served this Party and this province so well over the past number of years. He has led Nova Scotia through some very trying times, and has shown tremendous political courage every step of the way. I also want to take this opportunity to remember the late Ross Bragg. I am saddened, as we all are, Madam Speaker, at the loss of a good friend and a loyal and true Nova Scotian.

Madam Speaker, my constituency has undergone some ups and downs over the past 12 months, particularly in the scallop fishery which has seen a lot more downs than ups recently. But a lot of good things have happened to the people of Digby-Annapolis since I last stood and delivered my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. These things are signs that, like the province as a whole, we are moving in the right direction.

Cornwallis Park is in my constituency. This has been a pivotal year for the Cornwallis Park Development Agency. The agency has had its share of difficulties recently, but this year chose to make sweeping changes to the overall administration and is finally on the right track. Early this year, Cornwallis was selected by TRACC, Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation, to be the Nova Scotia site for its tire recycling operations. This plant is expected to be in operation (Interruption) I think the honourable member wants . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel on an introduction.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My thanks to the honourable member for relinquishing the floor for just a moment to afford me the opportunity to make an introduction to you and to all members of a class of some 43 Grade 8 students from Sacred Heart School of Halifax, which is in my constituency. I recall many years ago having the distinct pleasure of being able to introduce legislation to change the administrative structure of Sacred Heart School. My wife is a former chairman of the Board of that school and all of my sisters are graduates, so there is a great (Interruption) No, I did not go there. There is a great Convent of the Sacred Heart or Sacred Heart School of Halifax history in my family.

As I introduce our guests this afternoon, I am delighted to say that in the last number of years the Sacred Heart School of Halifax has grown and flourished to the point where its enrolment is as large as it has ever been. It offers a very fine quality education program and I am delighted therefore to invite our guests to stand and receive the usual warm welcome from all members. (Applause)

MR. CASEY: TRACC is expected to be in operation at the end of September 1997 and will create about 50 jobs.

[Page 291]

An agreement was reached between the park, and Galbraith and Associates to market the park as a retirement destination, a recreational centre and an investment opportunity. To that end, Athletics East will conduct a market study over the next six months for the development of a high-performance sports and recreational centre.

Damos Enterprise International, which is currently employing 78 people, is planning to expand again in the near future. The park has also expanded by attracting new companies, such as Maritime La Baie, which will produce rappie pie for the international market and will employ up to 22 people over the next 10 years; Vendors Market, which is an upscale vendors market that employs two to three people on a permanent part-time basis; Cornwallis Physiotherapy employs two people. These are all new. Annapolis Holiday Homes, which constructs frame and log homes - mainly holiday homes for the German market - employs five people and will provide employment opportunities for local electricians and plumbers.

Madam Speaker, 1,000 sea cadets are trained there every summer. They come in and spend much of the summer and this leads to a lot of employment in the whole area. To date, Cornwallis Park employs 217 people in total and the number is expected to grow over the next 12 months.

Madam Speaker, there is also a great deal of enthusiasm in my community about the future of Upper Clements Theme Park since it was turned over to community operators in early February. The Hanse Society, a non-profit community organization, will lease and operate the family theme park from the province for up to 10 years. This Cornwallis Park Development agency is loaning $300,000 to the society for working capital and the provincial government will invest up to $310,000 a year to assist with operating costs, upgrades and tourism marketing.

The Hanse Society has already set a new course for the park. It has reduced admission prices. It has set a new marketing strategy which will focus on selling the park within Nova Scotia and it has opened up opportunities for local business by privatizing its food, retail and craft operations. Furthermore, it is now closely marketing itself with the Upper Clements Wildlife Park. The Upper Clements Wildlife Park Society took over the park about two years ago and, with government's help, that park has turned itself around. Recently, it finished constructing some new animal enclosures with assistance from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Attendance is up and the future looks bright.

From now on, the two parks will be marketed as a package, which should have been done in the years past. A tunnel between the two parks will be re-opened and visitors will be able to gain admission to both parks with one ticket. For the first time, Madam Speaker, my constituents are optimistic about the Upper Clements Theme and Wildlife Parks. They are in capable hands and the community groups have made all the right moves so far.

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Something else that I don't have on my list, but it just came to me. We also now have a Alzheimers ward on the third floor of the Digby Hospital and it is working well. It is great to go in there and see these people being taken care of really well, there is all kinds of special care. The nurses and so on have had special training and the results are starting to show. That is a great improvement.

Paving projects. We have also had some good news recently in terms of paving. A tender has been awarded to repave 6.9 kilometres of Highway No. 101 from east of Weymouth easterly to the branch at Plympton. Another tender will soon be awarded to repave 11.6 kilometres of Highway No. 101, from the Bloomfield Crossing to Exit 26 at Digby. Included with that tender will be another 2.1 kilometres of repaving work on Highway No. 303, from Highway No. 101 to the Digby town line. We are optimistic that many tenders will be issued soon, and we need them. There is a lot of roadwork that needs to be done throughout Digby and Annapolis County.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right across the province.

MR. CASEY: Yes, no doubt about that. It has been a bad winter. We have had an exceptionally bad winter, too. You can't just blame the government for it because we have had 15 spring thaws two weeks before spring ever came.

Just last week, Madam Speaker, I received confirmation from the Department of Education and Culture that a budget of almost $2 million, in fact $1.725 million, had been set aside to complete long-awaited renovations at Digby Regional High School. The wings of the school built in 1957 and 1961 will be taken down. Students will get a new cafeteria and kitchen, a new gymnasium floor. They have had a lot of problems with the existing floor. The athletes using that floor have had a lot of trouble with their knees and so on. I don't know why but it has been serious. That will take care of that. New classrooms and more technology. An elevator will also be installed, so the school will be accessible for all students and visitors.

This is more than just a promise, Madam Speaker, because planning is getting under way immediately. The Department of Education and Culture has already started preliminary work and will step up the process by more directly involving the school board in May. An architect and other consultants will be selected in July with detailed work on the school design beginning in August. Tenders will be called in April 1998 with construction beginning in May.

One of the larger problems that I mentioned earlier is the scallop fishery in my particular area. As I mentioned before, Mr. Speaker, my constituency has gone through some difficult times over the past year. Unemployment, for example, remains high in many parts of my riding but what concerns me most is the state of the scallop fishery. The scallop fishery, as most of us are probably aware, is in bad shape. Last week the scallop fishermen in my area began to occupy the Digby offices of Human Resources Development Canada and the office

[Page 293]

of South West Nova MP Harry Verran, and half of that office happens to be mine, too. They are desperate and it is easy to understand why.

Madam Speaker, my father helped pioneer the Digby scallop fishery and I, myself, worked in scallop boats as a teenager. At one time the Digby scallop fleet could fish from Digby to Browns Bank, German Bank, Georges Bank. They could fish as far east as Newfoundland and with no restrictions. I believe a scallop license cost $5.00 at that time; now one would cost around $6,500 and there are no scallops.

In 1977 what we now refer to as the offshore fleet began to move into the Bay of Fundy, around Brier Island, Grand Manan and Lercher. Not surprisingly, Madam Speaker, friction between the offshore fleet and the Digby fleet soon developed. At that time I was Chairman of the Fisheries Committee of the House. I called a meeting of the Digby fleet to find out the problems. Then I called a meeting of the offshore group and heard their point of view. Then I called both groups together and, with the help of our Governor General, the Honourable Romeo LeBlanc, who was then Minister of Fisheries, we hammed out an amicable agreement.

That agreement worked fine until 1986, when more friction developed. Again, Madam Speaker, the groups got together and worked out a new agreement. As a result of this agreement the inshore fleet was restricted to the Bay of Fundy. They could not fish beyond what is known as the 43/40 line - 43 degrees, 40 minutes north latitude. This created a great problem from the standpoint of conservation. In the past the Digby fleet harvested the scallop beds on a seven year cycle. They would fish the Bay of Fundy one year, Georges Bank the next and then Browns Bank the following year and so on. That way they wouldn't fish the same scallop bed year after year.

Once they were restricted to the Bay of Fundy they had no choice. To make a living, Madam Speaker, they had to fish the bay year in and year out. To make matters worse, the inshore fishery gave up their rights to the fishing grounds on Georges Bank, German Bank and so on to restrict increased fishing on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy. This was never done. In fact, around 1986, the government of the day in Ottawa switched 212 New Brunswick recreational fishing licenses to commercial mid-bay licenses. The New Brunswick and mid-bay now take 20 per cent of the scallop each year in the Bay of Fundy. So you see they have been pushed right up into one very small area, the boats have become more efficient, more powerful and so on and that is one of the reasons for the over-fishing. The fishermen do get blamed a lot for that happening and in some cases, it does happen but not all of the time.

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[2:15 p.m.]

I mentioned before how desperate some of the people have become and I am not surprised. Last week a spokesman for the scallop fishermen said that a lot of the crews are making $2.00 to $3.00 per hour and working 100 hours a week. I know on some of the vessels they were fishing 80 hours and making $80. As I have said to one person, I think you would get a lot more than that in Bangladesh. I think this should be brought to the public's attention. I don't have all the answers to this, it is very complicated. A lot of people are getting hurt and everybody tries to lay the blame on somebody else, not themselves.

I just wanted to bring this to the attention of the members of the House, I think it is quite important and as a man I heard on the radio said, now you know some of the story. The simple fact of the matter is the scallop catches in the Bay of Fundy have fallen ever since 1990. They are now at historically low levels and something needs to be done. I cannot say for sure which side is at fault. I can't say whether the fault lies with the DFO, the inshore fleet, the offshore fleet or the New Brunswick mid-bay fleet. I know they are all trying to make a living and I don't think anybody is trying to hurt anybody else but that is the way it works out. In other words the old system isn't working for them anymore and they need a new one.

The scallop fishermen have a lot of community support in this fight. I cannot imagine Digby without the scallop fleet. It is as much a part of the community as anything I can think of, it is a big part of my family and a big part of me. Thank you, Madam Speaker. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, I just wanted to bring to the attention of all members of the House, with my congratulations, one of our colleagues has a birthday today, the beautiful, talented Mr. Edward Lorraine from Colchester North. I do know that his birthday is less than 70, that is all I know but it is less than 70. I want to take this opportunity to offer our congratulations. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today and offer Happy Birthday greetings to the member for Colchester North, I hope he has an enjoyable day and many more birthdays.

As I flip through the Speech from the Throne, I do come across condolences to prominent Nova Scotians who have left our presence over the past year. Some of them I knew personally, some I didn't but I would like to offer my condolences to all of the families of those people. In particular, I didn't know George Henley myself personally but his son Terry is a constituent of mine and a very fine gentleman. If his father was as fine as Terry is

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then I know that George was an extremely fine man as well. I am not sure that Terry's political stripes are any different than his father's but I am certainly working on it.

Ross Bragg was a wonderful man, very colourful, someone I had the privilege of performing with on stage as the Blues Brothers and that was the way Ross enjoyed life. He figured if you did not have fun, doing what you were doing, then you should move on to something else. That was the way he lived his life and it was a lot of fun. It was the only time I made the cover of the front page above the crease and I was in costume so nobody knew who it was, anyway, but it was a lot of fun. Ross will be fondly remembered by all members of the House and anyone who came in contact with him.

Judge Palmeter was a well-respected man in the legal community, someone whom I had past dealings with and had a lot of respect for.

There were a lot of people in my riding who have passed away over the last year and some of them very prominent. I am not going to mention anyone in particular, although I do want to give my condolences to all the families of people in my riding who lost members of their families over the past year.

My congratulations go out to you for your continued service to this House, Madam Speaker, and to our new Speaker, the Honourable Wayne Gaudet, for the challenge he has ahead of him in the days to come as our new Speaker.

As I continue to go along here, I see we talk about job creation in the Speech from the Throne and I want to add my congratulations to the members of the Cabinet and the members of the government for the work that they have done in that area. It is not an easy task these days. All governments across the country, across North America, around the world, are striving to create employment in their communities and in their countries. To see job growth anywhere and to be recognized as a province in this country that is at the top of that task is a tremendous accomplishment in this day and age. I offer my congratulations to all those people in the government who have worked toward that goal over the past few years. I know that the previous government struggled with that. There were some 60,000 fewer jobs when we took over in 1993 from the time they had taken over previous to that. To see 25,000 or so of those come back is certainly a promising statistic.

Reduction in personal income tax we see in the Speech from the Throne which is another tremendous accomplishment for this government. For any government to be able to lower taxes is certainly an accomplishment worth noting and one that I hope and I trust we will continue to make to the people of Nova Scotia. That is what they want, Madam Speaker. They want us to reduce taxes. Whenever you go anywhere, to the corner store, to the gas station, to the shopping mall, people do not like tax. That is a plain fact about life. To be able to reduce taxes in this day and age is certainly a tremendous accomplishment.

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We see noted in the Speech from the Throne a section on roads and highways. Of particular interest to me is a sentence in the speech that says forthcoming and of particular interest will be road improvements that will affect the Halifax and Sydney areas. I congratulate the members from the Sydney area who are going to benefit from such improvements.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite all the constituents of Timberlea-Prospect to the St. Margaret's arena tomorrow at 12:00 noon for a special announcement that will have a tremendous effect on the residents of my constituency and will have a tremendous effect on residents in the Halifax vicinity. (Interruption) It won't be banking machines.

Madam Speaker, the success of public-private partnerships in new schools, we are seeing the benefits to that as well in various parts of the province. The issue in my riding right now is over-crowding in schools. I think there are a number of ways that can be resolved. Now with the new regional school board, to a degree, I think there can be some shifting of students from the area that was Halifax County Regional School Board and now they could move across to empty schools in the city, which would resolve some of the problems that they are facing in that their numbers are going down in their schools and the numbers in the county area, where we are seeing lots of development and a lack of school construction. To shift some of those students around can resolve, I think, both of the problems.

Another way to resolve that would be that we know that in Hammonds Plains we have tremendous overcrowding at the Hammonds Plains Elementary School, the same in Tantallon, the same in Timberlea. We have an ancient school in Boutliers Point. Those are areas that are geographically close to one another. I think a new middle school, say from Primary to Grade 9, somewhere in that area, somewhere in that vicinity, would certainly resolve all the problems that all those schools are facing. There is some overcrowding at Prospect Road Elementary and at Atlantic Memorial School, which I think may have to be looked at and addressed in the very near future. I mention those things because I know the Minister of Education has been looking at them very carefully and will be wanting to be addressing those issues in the coming months.

Just quickly, because I know we are on a schedule here, Madam Speaker, so I want to thank the ladies from the school for coming and joining us today. I hope you enjoy the rest of your tour, and we will hope to see you again.

One other issue of major importance in my riding are environmental issues. I know that the members of the House have heard me speak before on the Five Island Lake contamination from what is more commonly known as Junky Jim's. There was a salvage yard there and, over the years, there had been a number of items put in that salvage yard which leeched through the soil and through the streams into the Five Island Lake. The government, I would like to offer my thanks and congratulations to the Minister of the Environment and to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Honourable Donald Downe, who have committed

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money to resolve this issue in Five Island Lake, and to the Premier, as well, because he took a personal interest in this particular problem and was very influential in bringing it to a resolution. It is not quite complete. I know that money has been budgeted to do the preliminary testings on the sediments this spring. I thank the Minister of Transportation and Communications for that and I am optimistic that there will be a considerable amount of money needed to finally clean up the north bay of Five Island Lake. I look forward to having that project complete and that environmental catastrophe finally resolved to its fullest degree.

The Minister of Housing has been extremely helpful to residents in my area over the last year and for that, I want to offer my thanks. I see in the Speech from the Throne that the Residential Assistance Program will continue for seniors and others. I think that is an important program and one worth mentioning.

Back to the environment, one of the major, perhaps one of the biggest projects that will take place over the next few years in Nova Scotia is the Halifax Regional Landfill Site and Waste Disposal Facility. This is part of the application, this document here - there is another one that thick that I have here as well - I will pass along some maps to the members and I just want to briefly outline the concerns that my constituents have expressed to me.

[2:30 p.m.]

There are two watersheds, the Nine Mile River watershed and the Otter Lake watershed, that run down alongside of this proposed facility; one runs into Prospect Bay and one runs into Shad Bay. There is extreme concern over the environmental safety of those watersheds. They are heavily used by locals, by people from the city who go there to enjoy the wilderness over both summer and winter. I just bring that to the Minister of the Environment's attention. I know he is paying particular interest to this application by the Halifax Regional Municipality. I know that all residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality are very concerned about the cost of this project and the effect it is going to have on their municipal taxes, and there is some concern that it could be done less expensively than for what it is going to be done.

I think the minister should have a look at that as well. I think we have a responsibility as a government to ensure, since municipalities are a creature of the provincial government, we must ensure that they are doing what is right for the citizens, as well as we should do the same.

With that, I think I covered a broad range of issues and topics and I would like to tell members of the House that it is certainly my intention to support the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

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MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, it is always nice to see you in the Chair. I am a little disappointed that the real Speaker isn't in the Chair, because I was going to tell him what a great job he is doing and what a refreshing change it is to have a little decorum put back in the Chamber from what it has been the last three years.

MADAM SPEAKER: I will pass your kind comments along.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I do thank him because I think he is doing a very good job under difficult circumstances, as you can well imagine, and I think he is performing well, as you are too, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that you are a pretty good Speaker yourself as a stand-in.

We read this Speech from the Throne and we listened to it and so on, and it was kind of a disappointment because it is not that I want to make war on trees or help the pulp and paper companies, but I didn't realize there was such a shortage of paper that you couldn't put anything in the Speech from the Throne because you were trying to save paper. I know the schools and the schoolchildren in Nova Scotia have experienced a shortage of paper over the last couple of years; in fact, one of the high schools at home does not have any paper in the school office for the youngsters to use. I didn't realize that it had spread all the way over here to the Speech from the Throne.

On a very sad and difficult note for all of us, I do want to pass on my condolences to the family of the late Ross Bragg. Ross and I were acquaintances and friends and Ross meant a great deal to all the members of the House. It was a real shock a few years ago when we learned that Ross was in hospital and he wouldn't be able to attend the Legislature. I will never forget one of the times I went to visit him when he was in the hospital - and you couldn't help but admire his courage and determination - while I was there Ross was cheering me up because we all felt the same when we heard about his unfortunate illness. Ross never let it get him down and he carried on like a real gentleman, so I do want to pass on my condolences because all of the members of the Legislature miss him, and I know the community in which he lives misses him as well because he made a great contribution to Nova Scotia.

Clarence Gosse, a former Lieutenant Governor, passed away this year. I knew Dr. Gosse. Perhaps people dont realize Dr. Gosse was a farmer as well as a doctor and as well as a Lieutenant Governor. Part of the farm that Dr. Gosse used to operate in the Valley is part of the farm that I bought at one point. He had a piece of land and I wanted it and he kindly sold it. Now the house that I live on is located on that property that Dr. Gosse used to have.

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The former member for Cumberland West, George Henley, passed away as well this year. I never had the pleasure of being in the Legislature with him but I did see him at a lot of Conservative functions, annual meetings and so on. What a great fellow, so full of life. I have heard some of his colleagues who were in the Legislature when he was a member here and they all have kind words to speak about him. There are many others who passed away this year and I do pass on my condolences to all.

Being a politician has mostly good days. Many people wonder why the devil anybody would want to get into this Legislature as a member. I tell them that it is because it is enjoyable. It is hard to understand why it is enjoyable but truly, I don't think I have had a bad day since I became a politician. I have enjoyed every day for the opportunity to work with people and with my colleagues within the Legislature. Sometimes it gets kind of exciting and sometimes it is a little warmer in here than other days but, on average, it is an experience that we are very fortunate as the 52 people eligible to sit in the Legislature, we are very fortunate we are able to be here.

This Speech from the Throne, with all the writers that this government has hired in the last four years from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, from the television networks, from the Daily News, and have put into the writing services of government, I almost think that with all the communications officers, the Department of Finance has two communications officers, I don't know how many there are over in the Department of Health now, they all have them. This is the best they could do? I think, Madam Speaker, that maybe they had better go back to the drawing board and find some real writers to come and communicate. If this is the best that this government can do, it sure tells a lot about the communication skills of the government.

The Sable Offshore Energy Program could materialize and develop 3,900 short-term jobs, 260 permanent jobs. They talk about Nova Scotia and that the unemployment rate is the lowest rate in the region. They forget that Kings County is 14 per cent. In Cape Breton it is reported in statistics over 25 per cent. People who live in the area will tell you it is closer to 50 per cent. You know they tried to put the best foot forward. I guess that is what you do and that is why they pay all these communications officers. They have so many communications officers working for the government that some of them are communications officers and some of them are communications directors, so it is a pretty interesting group. They have no money for hiring school teachers and no money for nurses in hospitals and no money for useful programs but, by golly, if a minister needs another communications officer, they just materialize.

The government says that the bulk of its reform measures are complete. Well, I have to tell you that the damage done to our schools, to our health care system, to transportation under the so-called guise of reform is not complete. It is going to be very difficult to rejuvenate health care, education, transportation, agriculture, because of the cuts and the totally unplanned changes that have happened.

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Sable gas, Madam Speaker, is probably going to be written as one of the greatest tragedies of this province, the way this government has lackadaisically gone about it. When we as Nova Scotians have to depend on New Brunswick to stand up and tell the oil and gas companies that we are important and we count, it is a sad day.

Our Premier was asked after the Chamber of Commerce meeting, when the president of the pipeline company was down and spoke, about postage stamp pricing. He had to ask the reporter what he meant by postage stamp pricing. When the reporter said, well, that means it is the same price along the entire length of the pipeline, oh, the Premier said, that is perfectly understandable because it is a private enterprise venture; we couldn't tell them what to do.

Then the Premier was asked by the same reporter, well, what about laterals around Nova Scotia? Have you instructed the pipeline company, Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline, where they are going to have laterals that will service Cape Breton, service Halifax, service Truro, Yarmouth, Sydney? Oh no, we couldn't tell them where to put the laterals; it is a private company. Well, look, I have to tell you there is something wrong. Whose gas is it?

I have nothing but admiration for Mobil and the operators of Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline Ltd. because they have one person that they are looking out for and that is the shareholder. But who is looking after the taxpayer of Nova Scotia and the interests? The Government of New Brunswick told the pipeline company, if you want a pipeline through New Brunswick, you are running the lateral to Saint John. Did Nova Scotia, who owns the gas? Not only did we not tell them where to put any pipelines, we didn't even tell them where to put the junction boxes so we could hook on with a lateral.

No gas to Cape Breton. I assumed when I saw the drawing, and we all saw the drawing with the gas coming to Country Harbour and then the lateral heading to the New Brunswick border as quickly as possible and then they off-shoot to Port Hawkesbury. I assumed that there would be gas in Port Hawkesbury. Actually and truly, what is going to be in Port Hawkesbury is the wetline taking the liquid and the gas that is all mixed up with liquids and impurities and they are going to install one of the big kettles and separate and export. Our government didn't even tell the oil company, you are going to build the refinery in Port Hawkesbury and you are going to set up a petro-chemical industry to refine to the final end product Nova Scotia's natural gas. Neither of our ministers, and we have had two, told the gas companies, you are going to do it or you are not in business in Nova Scotia. Maybe the Premier can say, well, you can't go telling private enterprise what to do. Well, you sure can't go around telling Nova Scotians what to do either, Madam Speaker, or you shouldn't, anyway.

If you look at the example put forward in Newfoundland, the Government of Newfoundland found out that the oil storage from the Newfoundland oil fields was going to be stored for trans-shipment in Nova Scotia, in Richmond County. How long do you suppose

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that plan was in existence before the Premier of Newfoundland said, hold on fellows, you are going to build a trans-shipment facility in Newfoundland; you are not using Nova Scotia? The Nova Scotia facility was there. It is ready to be used. The Premier of Newfoundland said, you are going to do this in Newfoundland and not only that, we are going to have an official opening and the president of the company is going to come to Newfoundland and say what a great idea it is.

That is sort of called leadership and thinking of the folks back home. We need to follow the example of the Premiers who are looking after and sticking up for the people of the province. It is too late now to negotiate a deal with the oil companies. If you do not have it before you sign on the dotted line, it is going to be darned hard to get it.

[2:45 p.m.]

We could have got it when we gave them the 50 per cent of our pipeline rights. Perhaps we had a bargaining chip there, but we gave that away. We in Nova Scotia should not be subject to the rules and regulations set out by Mobil, located in Fairfax, Virginia. Mobil should be subject to the rules and regulations set out right here in this Legislature. I admire Mobil. I have great respect for them because they have done an admirable, masterful job on behalf of their shareholders. But who did the job on behalf of Nova Scotia? Who was there representing Nova Scotia and being concerned about our future in the gas business?

The questions have been arising. How much gas is allotted for Nova Scotia? Are Nova Scotians going to have all the gas that the industries are eventually going to say they want? Is there a limit on the amount of gas Nova Scotia is allowed to have?

You ask the questions, and you do not get a definitive answer from this government. You should. The Irvings in New Brunswick have indicated that they want to buy 15 per cent of the production. That is great. How much does that leave for Nova Scotian producers?

I guess we do not need to worry about the Cape Breton consumers because they are not going to have any. A bill was introduced in the Legislature today and we will be debating that as time goes on.

Sable gas is not as exciting for Nova Scotians as perhaps it could have been had all of the concerns and issues of the province been handled by people who could have been hired to render assistance and give advice to our Cabinet ministers before they started agreeing.

One of the great things we see in this Throne Speech is, "Rate reduction in personal provincial income tax.". Ain't that great? We have had more tax increases in Nova Scotia since 1993 than any other government probably in the world. Taxes have been going up on gasoline. They have been going up on electricity. They have been going up 1 per cent, a 10 per cent increase in sales tax. You cannot go to any store, you cannot go to any branch of

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government and not see the increase in tax. If you buy a new car, you are even going to see it when you buy the car because there is an extra little thing at the bottom for the tires, this new tire tax.

Go to the store and buy soft drinks and orange juice; you pay it on those containers. Now this government is all excited because of a small, minuscule rate reduction in personal income taxes after they have been hosing Nova Scotians for three years. A government that said no new taxes and they have put the taxes up to astronomical levels that each and every person who goes to the stores and buys goods and services finds out exactly what this government means by tax reductions. They mean we will give you five cents and take $2.00.

We are going to have one on-site, one inspector, one approval process all around the province now, but you call these services and you find out just exactly how useful they are. The Minister of Agriculture said he disregarded the information from the Federation of Agriculture and the Crop and Livestock Insurance Commission because he wants to give them a one-stop shop. Well, the farmers are saying, how often do we need a one-stop shop? We need the Crop Insurance Commission independent. But the ministers lumped the eight people that worked for that branch in with the 30 in the other new branch that they put up and said that they are independent. All I can do is listen to what the Federation of Agriculture says and, for some reason, after many years of dealing with the Federation of Agriculture, I believe and I understand that the Federation of Agriculture indicates that the Minister of Agriculture disregarded their request when he amalgamated Crop Insurance with this branch in government.

You see, there is a small indication here of 4-H. There is one line and, truly, 4-H in Nova Scotia is probably the finest youth-oriented organization in all of Canada. You know the great thing about Nova Scotia 4-H? We have more youngsters involved in 4-H and we have more leaders involved in 4-H than any other province in Canada. We are operating a better 4-H program and that is because of the leadership of the staff and the people within the Department of Agriculture and Marketing who have been out there coaching and encouraging the parents and the youngsters to get involved and, believe me, it pays big dividends because we have the finest program.

You see research and development mentioned. We used to have a research station in Kentville, the Kentville Agriculture Research Station, operated by the federal government. Over the last 20 years, we have seen agriculture research dwindle in that facility. It has dwindled and dwindled and now there is hardly any research being done in that facility. There is a new poultry research barn built to do research in poultry. The Annapolis Valley is the centre of poultry production in Atlantic Canada and the research isn't even done there anymore. There is one person hired by the federal department and they transferred him to Truro to work through the auspices of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

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So research and development, agriculturally, just doesn't cut it from the federal government. The provincial government has been trying to do research and development for agriculture, but it is very difficult because of the enormous dollars that are involved. The Agricultural College in Truro, it may surprise you, is the third largest funded research facility in Nova Scotia when it comes to universities. But, truly, when you look back into the history of the Agricultural Centre in Kentville, all you can do is look with disappointment. They used to have a Sheffield Farm over in Canard that did a lot of research in agricultural production in grain and forage and fruits. They had both pears and apples. There is just nothing there anymore. The federal government has forgotten how important agriculture is.

It looks to me, a very similar situation is happening in Nova Scotia with regard to agriculture because there is no mention of that very vital, important industry in this Speech from the Throne. Agriculture employs 16,000 Nova Scotians. The farm-gate sales, just at the farm, the income the farmers get in their cheques, is over $300 million. To put it in perspective, the Port of Halifax generates $300 million worth of business in a year and so does agriculture. So they are similar in size. So agriculture is important to the growth and development of our province. But we absolutely, completely must devote more time, more funding and more staff to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing.

Now in the Speech from the Throne they have a little section on roads and highways. I am amazed at the condition of the roads. I have a letter I received - I won't read from the letter, I will show you, oh well, it is here somewhere - one of my constituents wrote me a letter the other day. The letter was concerning the terrible condition of our roads. In the letter my constituent indicated that anybody, whether they are driving a car or are a passenger in a car, would realize that our roads are in terrible condition.

The other day I was over in the neighbourhood of my colleague from Kings South. I went out to a maple sugar camp up in Black River. To go there I went through White Rock and there is an interesting road, the Deep Hollow Road. You wouldn't believe it. It was amusing last summer when I went up the Deep Hollow Road, there was grass growing in the cracks in the middle of it. So I called the Department of Transportation and said, look, you really should go out and do something about this grass in the middle of the road. Obviously they didn't do anything because there are now cracks three inches to four inches thick all over the road. I really suspect what is going to happen to that road is that it has gone beyond just simple repaving, I think we are going to be faced with a multimillion dollar fee for rebuilding the road.

Anyway, I guess it sort of ties in with one of the policies that I read in the newspaper last year from the Department of Transportation. They have the new policy that they are not going to clip the weeds along the road, and they are not going to spray the weeds. They are going to let the weeds grow and they will be flowers. Now did you read that, Madam Speaker, in the paper? I couldn't believe it either. One of the attractions was going to be a natural weed field from one end of the province to the other and tourists were going to be

[Page 304]

flocking here by the carload and busload and truckload to look at it. Isn't that funny? I laughed, too. It was going to be a tourist attraction because Nova Scotia was going to have the weediest roads in North America.

This is what I read in the newspaper. I haven't got the clipping here. I wish I brought it, but I didn't. I was quite amazed that this was one of the thrusts for tourism and transportation. I thought, when I was going over the Deep Hollow Road the other day, my soul, we are not going to have weeds just on the shoulders of the road, in Nova Scotia we are now going to have weeds growing in the middle of the roads as well and that will really be a super attraction. So when I read that the weeds in the road were going to be a tourist attraction, I couldn't help but think that it must have been written by the same person who said that these new casinos that the government sprung on us were going to be great tourists attractions, too. Neither the weeds nor the casinos are, in the end, going to be great boons to tourism in Nova Scotia.

Now one of the other great things is said about education, and now I have to tell you I was amused when the honourable member for Halifax Citadel said how appropriate it was to have the Throne Speech and the discussion on education immediately follow the government's discussion on the enhanced 911 emergency service, because the education system, I am afraid, Madam Speaker, is really in an emergency state in Nova Scotia.

About a month ago we had a meeting in Canning to discuss the new super-school that the Minister of Education and the former Minster of Education are going to build over by the Old Orchard Inn. It was surprising, but one of the participants in the discussion was a teacher from Cornwallis High School. His question to the builders of this fancy new school was, look, you are talking about a computer in every classroom and monitors in the ceilings and all these great things and I think it is great but, he said, we do not have any white paper in our school that is size 8.5 inches by 11 inches - now that is a common size sheet of paper, so that you will understand - they don't have any paper like this in Cornwallis school. He said, we can't buy any, we have run out of money. This was a month ago. I would like to know, he had a legitimate question, how can they spend $20 million on a super-school but they can't provide paper for the classrooms they have today? I think that was a good question and I am sure there is a good, reasonable answer that will be forthcoming to his question.

[3:00 p.m.]

One of the other great things we have that didn't get mentioned, I don't know, I looked for it too because I thought it might, Landmark East is quite a school. I don't know if you are familiar with it but I have run into people from all over the province who have had a family member attend Landmark East. Our caucus visited Landmark East School as a group so we would understand the importance of what they do and how they operate but it is a school that has had remarkable achievement in helping youngsters with some kind of a learning disability. They have taken many youngsters who were having trouble keeping up in the classroom.

[Page 305]

The children are assessed and parents are told, I think individual tutoring is going to help this youngster and they have gone to Landmark East School. Last year I was really thrilled because I was at the graduation service from the high school and a young fellow who was pretty well written off in Grade 6 spent two years at Landmark East and he graduated from high school with honours because of the help and assistance he received at Landmark East. That speaks for itself but of course, the government reduced the funding to Landmark East School so substantially that there won't be any more good luck stories like that to tell unless you can pay your own tuition.

This is an interesting document, it talks about when the government was running the election they were going to be listening to the people and doing what the people asked them to do and that sort of thing. If you can find anybody in Nova Scotia that will say this government listens to anybody about anything, I would be surprised. It doesn't matter whether it is health care, education, agriculture, it just doesn't matter. When you have all the answers the way this government seems to feel it has, you don't need to listen. So that is about the size of the Speech from the Throne.

We in the Opposition have a unique and challenging position. We are here to speak on behalf of Nova Scotians that the government has failed to listen to and that is about 75 per cent of Nova Scotians, I am afraid, at the present time because in the last poll, 75 per cent of the people in the province were dissatisfied with the type of government they were receiving at the hands of the Premier, his Cabinet and colleagues.

If we remember back to 1993, this government said, and I have a little thing here that I can quote from, it says leadership starts with listening. This slogan lost its appeal about the day after the government was elected. This pre-election rhetoric, phrases like this one, a true measure of government is its accessibility to the people it serves, phrases such as the "Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity and accountability that will permeate all government dealings . . .".

I don't know who the communications directors were in those days compared to today but they had a real turn of phrase. I think the reason the Liberal Government no longer likes to write phrases like that is because they are embarrassed. They know they cannot live up to any slogan that says leadership starts with listening because if you can find me somebody that the Cabinet and the Premier listened to in the last year I would be surprised. I don't think they listened to anybody, I don't even think they listened to each other.

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted and pleased to see you have rejoined your rightful place in the Chair. I had the pleasure of starting out with the Deputy Speaker in the Chair and I told her to tell you what a great job I think you are doing and what a refreshing change it is to have you in the Chair because after what we have been putting up with for the last three years, it is really a pleasure to stand in this House and have you in the Chair. (Interruptions) Well, I wish he was. Say even more.

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There were three promises that the government made: jobs, no new taxes, more money for school boards and student aid. Those were the three big promises that this government made when it came into power.

We have seen what happened to jobs. In 1993 there were 57,000 or 62,000, depending which ad you looked at, people unemployed in Nova Scotia. Today, there are 50,000 people unemployed in Nova Scotia. So if that is progress, we do not need any more of it. There are as many people unemployed today as there were in 1993. Not only that, the pessimism from people is outstanding. There is not a family in Nova Scotia who does not have a family member or loved one who has suffered a layoff notice, a job cancellation or termination, much of it at the hands of the government because things in Nova Scotia under this government are so uncertain.

People do not have the confidence that the government knows where it is trying to go. The government does not have a picture or goal out front that we are striving to reach. We are barely wondering what the government is going to do next.

One of the most hurtful things was that there was a member, still a member of this Chamber, from Cape Breton and he was running as Minister of Health and he put out the press release that he was the special advisor to the U.S. President's wife and he could fix health care. He knew more about health care than anybody else. Well, if you can find me one Nova Scotian who will tell you health care is better for him having been Minister of Health, I will be surprised. My calls from the telephone are constant. I spent yesterday morning in the hospital taking somebody that had to go to the hospital. I spent the morning there. For a 9:30 a.m. appointment we got home at 12:30 p.m. It was total disorganization.

AN HON. MEMBER: What time was your appointment?

MR. ARCHIBALD: It was 9:30 a.m. and it takes a long time. Total disorganization within the hospital. The staff are furious because they cannot do the work the way they want to. Everything is in disarray. It certainly is not because we do not have dedicated health care providers. We have the dedicated health care providers but they do not fully comprehend what in the name of time the government wants done because the government keeps changing the rules and the government does not seem to have a plan.

Health care, which was the cornerstone of this 1993 campaign, has been a disaster.

During the 1993 campaign when the Liberal Government, then in Opposition had the answers to everything, I did not hear anything about casinos.

Why is it that when the Liberal Leader was speaking in the television debates he did not stand up and say, I know how to fix Nova Scotia's problems, I am going to bring in some casinos. (Interruptions) Why didn't he say, I know what is wrong with our road system, we do not have any tolls. I do not know what is wrong with our cities, except that if we

[Page 307]

combined all of them together, we would have one super place. The school boards - amalgamating the whole works.

Now, you see, an election campaign is sort of the outline of what you are going to do in the future and you tell the folks and then the folks make a decision. The reason the people in Nova Scotia are so fed up with the Liberal Government is the Liberal Government in 1993 said they were going to provide jobs, not raise taxes, put more money into schools, make health care better and there would be no amalgamated super-cities.

That is what this government said, but they did exactly the opposite. If anybody is wondering why you are down at the bottom of the heap in popularity, read your own campaign literature and you will know for sure.

The failed commitments by this government are on the forefront of everybody's thoughts. Daily we are reminded of no new taxes when we go to the store because we see the benefit of Bernie's sales tax, the 15 per cent that was going to save us money. We quickly found out that it isn't going to save us any money. Yesterday the Minister of Finance even admitted that all this flow-through, pass-through that he indicated was going to be coming along lickety-split at 15 per cent has been - you know, they were forecasting maybe 10 per cent of any savings will be passed on. Yesterday he admitted that there will not be anything passed along to the poor old beleaguered Nova Scotia consumer. We are paying the full brunt of this new tax on gasoline, on electricity, on fuel for your homes, on your children's clothes.

Go to the grocery store. The great flag is, oh, it is not on groceries. Well the great thing about that is most of the stuff in the grocery store is household soaps, tissue, all of those kinds of things. We are paying taxes. It is neat. I went into the store the other day. They sell a little basket of fruit. It is all cut up and they have a fork right in the package. I bought it and then she put on the taxes. I said, this is food, you can't tax that. Oh, yes you can, it is prepared food. They cut it up. So by cutting it up, that meant I had to pay the tax. (Interruption) From now on, I will take the advice of the Government House Leader and I think I will peel my own apples. When I want to buy a cantaloupe, I will buy the darn thing and peel that too.

The 57,000 Nova Scotians who can't find a job, all they can probably think of every morning when they get up to go looking for a job, is they probably say, by golly.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were saying 63,000 over here.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Pick a number. Let's not quibble if it is 63,000 or 57,000. If you want to tell me it is 63,000 unemployed, I will agree with you. The member for Sackville-Beaverbank has corrected me. It is 63,000 unemployed Nova Scotians.

[Page 308]

What I want to say is that in the morning when they get up, before they go through the help wanted columns in the papers and go down to the employment centres, they probably say, I want to thank the Liberal Government for bringing in 30-60-90 because it made a difference in my life. I bet that is what they are saying because that was the saviour of Nova Scotia.

Remember the big fanfare? They had a meeting up at the college in Truro and they invited almost everybody in Nova Scotia who was important. They invited all the presidents and the vice-presidents.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you there, George?

MR. ARCHIBALD: No, I wasn't there. I am not important. I am just an ordinary fellow from the Valley. But all the important fellows were there. Some guys from home were invited and they were important. Anyway, they went and they designed up a plan to save Nova Scotia and make it the best place in the world. We haven't heard anything of 30-60-90 since and little wonder, because the government got it and they didn't know what in the devil to do with it and I don't blame them because it was confusing. But that shows you what happens when you elect a government without a plan or without a vision. There was no plan and no vision.

It is not going to get better. Our youngsters in school are having a great deal of difficulty. The Minister of Education at the time amalgamated school boards around the province and said, I am going to save you $11 million and I am going to put it in the classroom. Teachers will tell you, because they are telling me, my classroom is bigger now than it has ever been. They are telling me, I have never had so many students in my class since I was a student at university. Since the government took office, $52 million has disappeared from the school board budgets. Is this going to make Nova Scotia a better place?

Health care is falling apart; education is in disarray; 63,000 people looking for work; this is getting to be a serious problem.

[3:15 p.m.]

The BST, April 1st, unbelievable, over $84 million in new tax increases in one fell swoop. The great example that everybody uses is that it is cheaper to buy a fur coat now, but it is more expensive to buy a winter jacket for your child. You can buy a piece of fancy jewellery for less, but home care costs you more; that is, with the BST. There is no fairness to the policies of this Liberal Government, absolutely none.

Let me read you a quote from the Minister of Health when he was in Opposition. The minister was making a comment on the wage freeze that the former government put in place in 1991. Let me tell you what the Minister of Health said about a wage freeze, and I will

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quote; "There is no fairness to it, we are putting the heaviest burden on the people who can least afford to pay it and that is simply not fair and it is not something that the Liberal Party and the Liberal philosophy will ever agree with. We will not tolerate it and that is why we are opposed to the bill.".

Well, you know those were those hollow, weasel words I guess. Perhaps what the minister meant was it was not severe enough. I guess what the Minister of Health meant was this is not tough enough because when we get in we are going to have a three year freeze and a roll-back. Now the Minister of Health has all the answers, just give him the questions. How can he answer the fact that on one hand a wage freeze was something that the Liberals - let me see - it is not something that the Liberal Party and the Liberal philosophy would ever agree with. You compare that to what this government has done since 1993. I think, Mr. Speaker, that this government has not done a very good job. Their Throne Speech was an embarrassment for the government, so they just put it in a tiny book and if anybody goes looking for it, they won't be able to find it because it is so thin.

Maybe the Minister of Finance will have a bigger one for his Budget Address, I don't know. Mr. Speaker, you know and you agree with me that the schools are not as good as they were when you were teaching, I am sure. You were principal of a school, I think, and you must have talked to teachers. They will tell you that it is not as good as it was. The students are telling you that, too.

The Speech from the Throne gives members an opportunity to have some time to talk about their riding. I was looking forward to hearing members of the government benches speaking, talking about the Speech from the Throne, but when you have only about three days to reply, most of them didn't have an opportunity to speak. I would certainly hope that perhaps they could speak at another time. There are certain things in everybody's constituency that they feel good about, that they are proud of.

One of the proudest things and one of the most beneficial programs that has been started in Kings North lately by a volunteer group, and I want to congratulate them, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They started a Kings County branch and they have made a huge difference. The dedication and the help they are providing to the motoring public and to the youngsters across our province cannot go unnoticed.

You know we all will have to do what we can to help and remind people that when you are driving you leave your alcohol somewhere else. Mothers Against Drunk Driving are setting a great example for us. I was so pleased two years ago when they started the branch in Kings County and I was so pleased that they have more members now than they had before and there is a very strong and growing provincial organization. I urge each and every one of you, when the time comes and they are having their annual day to put a red ribbon on your car antennae. Do that and show others that you really believe that alcohol and driving do not mix.

[Page 310]

Some of the great organizations that we have in our ridings we share. One of them is the legion. Every community of any size in the Province of Nova Scotia has an active legion and they are doing so many good works to help members of the association and to help youngsters and young people in the community. Canning has a very active legion, as does Kentville. On April 23rd the Progressive Conservatives are having a dinner at the legion hall in Kentville and that is going to be a great event. The tickets have all been sold so it is a sell- out and nobody else can get in. The great thing is what a marvellous dinner and it is all provided by the volunteers who work for the Ladies Auxiliary of the Kentville Legion. They work tirelessly and at the end of the year on Remembrance Day they will be presenting a cheque to the legion for several thousand dollars to help the legion carry on its good work.

Last year I was at the Canning Legion's ceremony on November 11th and Canning does something that is a little different and I would like to explain it to you so that members may pass it along to other legions. Usually Remembrance Day, November 11th is probably almost the coldest day of the year, if it is not it is the second coldest and wettest because often it rains or does everything else. Canning decided that they would hold their ceremony at the Lion's Hall. Last year there were over 400 people from the community who attended. There was an inter-denominational church service and there were over 400 people at the Remembrance Service and then at 11:00 a.m. there was a moment of silence and then the Girl Guides, the Brownies and many of the veteran's families laid a wreath at the Cenotaph that they had constructed that they can put inside the Lion's Hall. This is such a great thing and it is growing. The first year there were probably 75 or 80 people in attendance, last year there were over 400. I don't know how many will be there this year. It is just a marvellous thing to take the two hours and go to remember and be thankful to all of those veterans and think of all the things they did for us and the sacrifices that they made for our benefit.

The service is held in the Lion's Hall in Canning and there are not many halls in the province that are large enough to hold 400 people. The Canning Lion's Club is probably one of the most active groups of Lions anywhere in the province and they have a huge hall that is available to all the groups, the Boy Scouts are meeting in there, the senior citizens have a room, the Lions have their own room. It is just a real busy centre of the community and Canning is an interesting community and over the last few years through the local initiatives of the local people, the downtown main street in Canning has been revitalized and turned around. Ron McInnes, Bruce Spicer and a few others made the old fountain work in the memorial to Lieutenant Borden who was killed in the Boer War. Canning is a busy and vibrant community and it is the community groups and the people that make it so.

When you look around the rest of Kings North you can't forget the work that the Lions are doing in Port Williams or the work of the Lions Club in Kentville as well. Where would we be without the service clubs like the Rotary Club, the Kinsmen Club with our Christmas Miracle that is such a great event? They raise $25,000 or $30,000 every year to buy Christmas presents for youngsters.

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The Rotary Club is always involved in a project, whether it is helping at the hospital or I think one of the projects now is going to be working on the bird sanctuary that they will probably put together in the Town of Kentville.

The fire departments, Canning, Port Williams, Halls Harbour, Kentville, all the volunteers. Where would we be if we didn't have our volunteer fire service? But, you know, I received a letter from the Lawrencetown Volunteer Fire Department. They are mad as hops at this government, and I don't blame them. We were down in Lunenburg not long ago and we met with fire chiefs from that end of the province and they laid out their case. Boy, they are annoyed as the dickens at this government, too.

I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if the Cabinet Ministers get up in the morning and say, look. Is there anybody that we haven't done something to lately that we can go down and beat up on now? Try to get everybody mad and they have been successful because I can't think of a group I have met with that are not annoyed and the Lawrencetown Fire Service is no exception. The volunteer firefighters that we have in the province should be treated with respect and listened to by this government, because we sure cannot get along without them.

We have the Valley Regional Hospital, probably one of the finest hospitals in the province. It is undergoing some level of duress and problems, due to the forced amalgamation with western Nova Scotia. But, through it all, the volunteers and the hospital auxiliary keep things rolling. It is great to see my colleague from Annapolis County here today and he spoke very well yesterday. He was on the fund-raising committee that helped build that hospital. Isn't that great? He made a sizable donation himself. He is that kind of a guy. If he is going to ask you for $5.00, then he will put it in himself first. He is really quite a guy and he helped build that hospital. But now we need him again because the government is trying to undermine all the good things that have been happening at that hospital.

The volunteers in the hospital are handling everything from registration to wheeling people around and taking books. How could we ever thank the volunteers? The nice thing about it is that this is Volunteer Week and in Kentville, every year, they have a special volunteer ceremony. My only regret is that I think it was last night and I am here and I wish I was there.

The waiting lists at hospitals across the province are long. The staff are overworked. The staff are really under duress.

Education is a problem in Kings County, the uncertainty of it is due to the hare-brained scheme that the former Minister of Education hatched one night in his woodshop. He decided that we will build a super school. He called his colleague in Kings South. They popped down, held an emergency, hurry-up meeting at the high school gym and said, we are building a super school. Nobody on the school board knew what they were talking about. Nobody at Acadia University they had gotten involved knew what they were talking about, and I am not sure

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yet whether they, in fact, know what they are talking about, but we are getting it anyway. So, Mr. Speaker, that is causing a lot of meetings and a lot of people are annoyed.

Mr. Speaker, agriculturally speaking, Kings County is the heart of agriculture in Nova Scotia. Agriculture in Nova Scotia is becoming the forgotten industry by this government and it is not fair. There are other industries in other locations in my riding that need special attention. The roads are a shambles. The roads have literally had not one lick of maintenance for the last three years and they need it. If we don't start doing maintenance on roads soon, and it is just not Kings North, Kings South is just as bad, we won't be doing maintenance on roads, we will be rebuilding roads. This we cannot allow to happen.

Mr. Speaker, in Halls Harbour, the wharf washed out in the big storm in January. It is clearly a federal responsibility. We cannot even get our federal MP to go out and have a look at it. The other day, the candidate, Scott Brison, who is running in Kings-Hants, he went out and looked at the wharf and saw the devastation. I know it is a commitment to fix the darn wharf. But do you think you can get that commitment from the federal government? How much help are we getting from the provincial government to make the federal government rebuild the wharf before it is washed away? There are several families who depend upon that wharf for their livelihood and it is time that the provincial government pressured the federal government toget to work and do what they are supposed to do.

[3:30 p.m.]

Now there are so many great things happening in Kentville, in Canning, in Port Williams, in Centreville. I seem to have run out of time so I cannot mention them all. Now by unanimous consent I could keep on, but another time, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to you staying in the Chair for the rest of this session and I wish you well. I do sincerely thank you because you have been a fair and impartial Speaker and it is very refreshing to see you there.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to vote in favour of this Speech from the Throne because I think this is the worst piece of you know what. This is drivel. I am going to vote in favour of the amendment but I will not vote in favour of the Throne Speech because it is not the kind of speech that Nova Scotians were entitled to. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the next speaker I would like to introduce to all members of the House seated in the Speaker's Gallery is Mrs. Louise d'Entremont, a good friend and my next door neighbour in Church Point. So I would ask all members of the House to give Mrs. d'Entremont our usual welcome. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 313]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to respond to the Speech from the Throne. My comments will be brief. In representing Dartmouth East in this House of Assembly since 1984, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a Throne Speech, particularly one that has been so well done after four years of government that we witnessed.

I would just like to thank Their Honours again, as other members have done, and their attendance at the House of Assembly. To you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment and the courtesies and the professionalism that you bring to office, I want to thank you for your fairness.

Others have mentioned the passing of our colleague, Ross Bragg. I would be remiss if I, too, didn't extend my deepest sympathies to Cathy and the family.

I would like to welcome Alan Mitchell to our Executive Council. Alan has been a member from Dartmouth and he has certainly been a supporter with us in the Dartmouth community and I want to welcome Alan and wish him well in the very difficult and challenging job as the Minister of Justice.

In bringing greetings from Dartmouth East, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say at this time, following amalgamation particularly, that the community spirit is alive and well in the riding of Dartmouth East. There are many naysayers who, speaking in terms of amalgamation, that the community spirit would be lost. I would say it is not only surviving, it is really thriving.

I did want to touch on some particular areas within the Dartmouth East community. I would start off particularly with the infrastructure program that brought the multi-purpose trails to Shubie and along the lakes in Dartmouth East. I have had the opportunity to visit this trail and I am pleased to say that many other Dartmouth residents have done as well. This has probably been one of the best and greatest utilized community infrastructure projects in all of the province.

The highlights of the Canadian National Canoe/Kayak Championships were held in Dartmouth last year, where 1,500 athletes participated. This showcase will be hosting in this coming year the World Senior Canoe Championships. I would like to wish Martin Jones and his committee all the best in this undertaking. This will certainly be the envy of the world when they visit the Dartmouth lakes in this coming year.

The construction of the Events Plaza on the Dartmouth Waterfront has ensured that events such as the Multicultural Festival will have a larger, safer and more attractive place to call their home.

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The Eastern Front Theatre Company was established four years ago in Dartmouth. This is the only professional theatre in Dartmouth and is the Number 1 theatre in Atlantic Canada that produces Atlantic Canadian plays authored by Atlantic Canadian playwrights.

The Dartmouth Book Awards is alive and well and entering its ninth year this year. This was started when our Premier was Mayor of Dartmouth and these awards showcase some of the best written talent not only among adult authors but a very interesting feature is that it showcases the best writing talent amongst the students of Dartmouth.

The City of Lakes Hockey Tournament and the international SEDMHA Hockey Tournament. These are major tournaments that visit our city. Individuals such as Lorraine Pickett, Ginnie Clark, Bob Khan and Alden Rennie all contribute significantly to this as well as Wayne Macdonald who is Chair of the SEDMHA Tournament this year. Many of these players who have appeared have graduated through the minor hockey system.

I am also pleased to say that the multi-service centre for business and the general public will be coming to Dartmouth. I certainly hope that we will see it come to our Dartmouth East community.

I would like to extend special greeting to Prince Andrew High School and their principal and also to teacher Greg King for the work they have done co-operatively with the Regional Police Force in their Community Based Policing Projects. Next month Prince Andrew High School will receive one of the ten national awards being presented for business education partnership programs.

I would like to list some of the accomplishments of some of the residents of Dartmouth East. As was already mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, Dr. John O'Connor was named Family Physician of the Year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada; 18 year old Dominic Bricault is now the holder of the Nova Scotia Provincial Pole Vault Record; Samantha Covert, an accomplished equestrian, was awarded the Junior Jumper Amateur Stake Class at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto last year; 21 year old Alyson Bailey was recently appointed to the Board of Governors of Saint Mary's University and was winner last year of a $10,000 National Research Council Award which enables her to work over the next three summers doing what she does best, scientific research and inventions; and Mr. Akhmal Khan was elected Dominion President of the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans. This made him the first Dominion President from Dartmouth, the first from the Maritimes and the youngest person ever to be elected to this position.

Those are just a few of those people who received national recognition from the riding that I represent.

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In closing my brief comments, I just want to say thank you to the constituents of Dartmouth East for their phone calls, their visits and their letters to the constituency office and from individuals and also from organizations.

As a government, we have accomplished what we set out to do. We have our four-year plan, and as the Speech from the Throne has said, the tide has turned. Now we will be able to see and work toward the development of programs for the seniors, particularly for the children and the families of Dartmouth East and all of Nova Scotia.

I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to make these brief comments. I know other times I have had the opportunity to speak for an hour in reply, but I just chose to make a few brief comments and thank the people of Dartmouth East and I look forward to representing them in the times ahead. I will be voting for the Speech from the Throne and against the amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour that I stand here today in this House, surrounded by my honourable colleagues, to reply to the Speech from the Throne.

As so many members on all sides of the House have paid tribute to our former colleague Ross Bragg, I too would like to extend to his family in particular my sincere sympathies on his passing and wish them all the best as they struggle to bring their lives back together. Ross truly has been a friend, a great Nova Scotian, and a great politician.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to comment on a few other individuals and in particular, yourself. I would like to congratulate you in your position as Speaker of the House. You have shown us a great deal of professionalism in your position and I wish you every success as you continue to lead us in the weeks, months and years ahead.

I would also like to pay tribute for just a few moments to our Premier. Our Premier has been an individual who has, without question, been a tremendous Leader for Nova Scotia, a great Leader of this Government and a great Leader for our Party. I will have an opportunity on some future day to expand on those words and give him the kind of due respect that I firmly believe he deserves.

In identifying the Speech from the Throne, it listed a number of very notable Nova Scotians who have passed on since the last speech about a year ago. Each one of them in their own way has brought prominence to our great province. It didn't list every Nova Scotian for sure because it would be an extensive report. There are other people though, who have touched the lives of all of us in one way or another. I would like to ask for the indulgence of

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the House as I identify three individuals from my constituency or the communities that I represent.

One person probably would never make the Speech from the Throne because he was a very young individual. But in his few short years on this earth, he has made a tremendous impact for those who knew and loved him. I identify in particular Mr. Seamus Flynn. Seamus was a very young man, 20 years of age, stricken with cancer and died a very untimely death last summer. Seamus was a very active young man though for those 20 years. He touched the hearts of all those who knew him through his school community and through the sporting community that he dearly loved. In some ways he made history in those short years at his school because he had a natural talent of video artistic ability. What he did in his graduating year at Cole Harbour District High School was produce the first and only video yearbook that Nova Scotia has seen. He will always be remembered for that and a multitude of other endeavours that those of us who knew him can personally attest to. He will be sorely missed by his family, by his friends and certainly, my family.

Another individual that I would like to draw attention to is a lady who served our community for a long time. In fact, she was a little over 100 years of age when she passed away this year, Mrs. Muriel Morash, a long time community member, an activist and one who will be missed because of the great work she has done throughout the Cole Harbour community.

Last year when Mr. Don Mills was awarded the Order of Canada, I stood in this House and presented a resolution that was unanimously passed. Again I would like to single out Mr. Mills for the tremendous role model he has become and continues to be for our community. He does this at a tremendous challenge, for Mr. Mills is a quadriplegic but that has never stopped him from being an advocate for social reform.

Now I would like to identify some of the things within the Speech from the Throne. It was certainly my pleasure to be in attendance to hear the Lieutenant Governor read the Speech from the Throne. Many of my colleagues have spoken about the success of this government over the past several days. However, what I found quite interesting was the reaction of the Opposition members. In fact, I would go on to say that I found it almost remarkable to listen to the Opposition members as they replied to the Speech from the Throne. It is as if they cannot bring themselves to believe that we could have done so much to rectify the damage inflicted by 15 years of Tory rule. I mean this is not rocket science, a Grade 2 student or perhaps even a Tory backbencher should be able to get it.

[3:45 p.m.]

I would like to quote a line from the Democratic campaign, "It's the economy, stupid.". We have produced back-to-back balanced budgets. We have the greatest job creation rate in the country and the best rate of investment in the country. Yet the Opposition Parties went

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through the pretenses of attacking the government's success while it was obvious the words were sticking in their throat.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition was in fine form during his Reply to the Speech from the Throne. He tried to bring up jobs, jobs, jobs, probably because many times he has been saddled with those old Tory campaign refrains from years past. Well, I am going to say that it might have been the Tory campaign slogan, but it was this government that brought jobs, jobs, jobs to Nova Scotia.

Let's have the Leader of the Opposition and all members on the Opposition side face the facts. On April 4th, just a very few weeks ago, Stats Canada reported that Nova Scotia's employment rate fell to 12.8 per cent. That is the lowest in Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia has recorded a net increase of over 25,000 jobs over the past four years. In the past 12 months, our job creation rate (Interruption). You know, Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. Every time they do not want to hear the truth, they start this heckling. They do not want to hear the truth.

In the past 12 months, our job creation rate has not only led Atlantic Canada, it has led the whole country. Our job as government has been to create the right business climate. That is what we said when we campaigned in 1993 and that is what we continue to say to date.

What we had to do was first bring financial stability to this province and we have done that through back-to-back balanced budgets. The business community said, you have to reduce the regulations that strangle business growth, and we have done that. You have to bring in new investments so business can grow and new attractions can come to this province, and we have done that. We had to create a competitive tax regime so that business can continue to grow and we have done that. Every indicator proves that our record has been successful.

I want to quote you a few incidents. Our economy continues to grow as a result of these reforms. This government is not alone in that view. I am going to quote a few examples. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council said that the input tax credit, an integral part of the harmonization plan, will decrease the tax burden on business since they will receive a tax credit for all sales paid. Consumers will also benefit from the new tax with consumer spending in each of the provinces expected to increase between $33 million and $52 million annually once the new tax is fully implemented. Overall the new tax represents a significant step to improving the economic climate in Atlantic Canada. That is from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

It does not stop there. The Consumers Association of Canada, an interesting quote; "Harmonization is a necessary step to achieve the simple, single, unified sales tax that the CAC has been proposing for years and the other provinces should be encouraged to participate. (Interruptions)

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I will get to that honourable member in just a few minutes. Mr. Speaker, there are still others who share our positive view of the economic prospects for Nova Scotia. No less than the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, the Toronto Dominion Bank and the Conference Board of Canada have stated that our economic potential has not looked better for a long time in this province.

Apparently, Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough for the Leader of the Opposition and his crew. Who can blame him entirely? You know when he can rely on the great, tremendous economic expertise of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Yes, let's check the accuracy of the economic forecaster from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley who said on April 1st of last year in this very Assembly, "Frank McKenna will be laughing all the way to the bank because economic development in Nova Scotia is going to lessen, there is no question about it.".

The question should be, Mr. Speaker, why doesn't the honourable member have more faith in the citizens of Nova Scotia and are his constituents aware of his pessimistic attitude? That is the question. I think his economic forecasts should stop right there.

Let me compare the honourable member's statement from last year with one that appeared in the provincial dailies just recently. This is from a week ago, Mr. Speaker, April 8, 1997, as it appeared in the editorial of the Cape Breton Post, "Over the first Liberal term, there has been a net increase of some 25,500 jobs, compared with New Brunswick's net loss of 3,800 jobs - a remarkable contrast in light of Premier Frank McKenna's popular reputation as a go-getter who supposedly has whipped John Savage in the jobs sweepstakes.".

Well, to use the words of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, there is no question about it, Mr. Speaker, that our job creation record in this province has outdone every other Atlantic Province in Canada and, in fact, as I have already stated, has outdone the national average in this past year.

You know, Mr. Speaker, I find it hard to believe that the honourable members from the other side could not find examples of job growth. I am going to give you a few other examples that are close to my own area, the Dartmouth area. I am pleased to report that companies such as OSP Consultants now have over 200 employees; M&M Industries in Woodside is expected to be a very busy organization because of the Sable offshore developments. Survival Systems, also in Woodside, have signed a deal as a result of the Asian trade mission that will bring jobs to Nova Scotia and continue to make Nova Scotia an international place to do business.

To help put our economic situation in context, let me once again quote from the Cape Breton Post, an editorial that appeared last Wednesday, "The Nova Scotia Liberals achieved one of the most remarkable financial turnarounds of any province in a single term - from a $617 million deficit in the fiscal year that preceded them to an overall balanced budget in the

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fiscal year that just ended.". What a remarkable commentary for this government; we went from a $617 million deficit by our friends across the way to a fully balanced budget in four years, a record that has not been matched by any other government in this country.

Earlier I mentioned the Sable offshore development deal. This reminds me of the Third Party and the member for Halifax Atlantic who apparently attracted some attention from the Guinness Book of World Records last week. Apparently he set a land-speed record in his haste to distance himself from a once promising potential candidate for his Party. It seems this potential candidate was intent on derailing the hearings into the Sable development and thereby depriving Nova Scotians of an estimated 4,000 jobs, most of those jobs I might add in the construction industry. I guess though you can't blame the honourable member for not wanting to wear that one but let me be honest about it, that potential candidate or would-be candidate was really speaking on behalf of that Third Party. They don't want Sable gas, they don't want the 4,000 jobs that are part of this development. They want to go back to the old days of the government providing all of the jobs. Well, we have seen what that does to this province.

In his reply, the honourable Leader of the Opposition tried to criticize home care. I guess he was taking his numbers again from that economic forecaster or one of the Georges or somebody over there. I want to quote you a few of the statistics with regard to home care. In 1993 the so-called uncoordinated program of home care had approximately 6,000 users across this province. Today we have 20,000 people involved in the home care delivery service in this province; from 6,000 to 20,000, imagine the growth in that. It doesn't just stop there with that statistic, let's look at the budget that we have allocated. At that time there was approximately $6 million going into that program and today there is over $60 million into home care; from $6 million to $60 million. The growth in that program is phenomenal. The service that it is providing to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other is quite incredible. It is continuing to grow and will have to continue to grow. It is not perfect but I will tell you, it has come a long way in a very short time.

Perhaps what is really frightening for the Leader of the Opposition is that his Progressive Conservative colleague in Alberta ran on promises that copied what our government has actually done over the past four years. Home care is an example that I just stated; a province-wide 911, that was only a dream just a few years ago and today it is reality. Many other provinces have talked about balanced budgets. We have it, we have delivered on that as well as many other major initiatives of this government. We have done what I have just identified, we have been there. In some ways one could say I suppose we now have the T-shirt that comforts us in knowing that the future is more secure for us, our children and our grandchildren than it has been in a very long time.

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I know that my constituency has benefitted from this government's commitment to improving all types of health care. Shearwater, as has been stated here before, is the base location for the first provincial air medical transport arrangement. This is a service that although based in my constituency, serves every end of this province. The statistics that are used by this highly professional team of individuals is quite interesting. The number of calls that they have made, the lives that they have saved and the quality of care that they have been able to provide to areas of this province that were virtually unserviced in most health care needs now receive immediate, fast, professional and proficient care.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to talk about a few other major concerns within my constituency. Great from this view, but, more importantly, from the view of my communities, are two of this metro areas greatest jewels, and that is McNab's and Lawlor Island. I am pleased with how aggressive we are and with the great support of the minister in pursuing a land use strategy for these islands, with the cooperation of our federal government. The potential that these two islands give us, and for the whole metropolitan area, is an opportunity to expand eco-tourism and passive recreational activities that will service, not only the people from my constituency of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, but surely all of metro and, in fact, throughout the whole province. I am patiently waiting for the day when we can complete that strategy, announce it to the public and then all of us can enjoy the great beauty these lands have for us.

Protecting our sensitive lands does not stop just there. Just on the other side, on the Bisset Road side of my constituency, is a view that has truly been described as breathtaking when one reaches the top of the hill at Long Hill. When you look out over those lands of Cole Harbour and you see the beautiful site, especially in the very early hours of the morning for those who are able to get there, you will see that we have a treasure that is unparalleled anywhere else in this province. Those lands need protection and we are going to do that, Mr. Speaker. We are making great progress, again with the support of the minister, in protecting those lands and preserving them for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased with the announcement recently by our Premier of the extension of the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Program. This means another $42 million will be spent in Nova Scotia, expanding critical infrastructure programs throughout our province. I know, from a very personal perspective, how important this program is. In 1993, I recall, quite vividly, when I was walking along the Shore Road in Eastern Passage and I saw first-hand open sewers in the ditch. I committed at that time that as soon as possible, we would correct that problem. Well, through the Infrastructure Works Program, we did correct that problem. We now have water and sewer extension all along the Shore Road straight down to Hartlen Point. We have also extended the water and sewer program on the Cow Bay Road in Eastern Passage and we have participated in the water main replacement program, as well as the upgrading of the fire response signalization systems.

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All of these, Mr. Speaker, came through the Infrastructure Works Program and I am anxiously waiting for the new program, the $42 million that has been recently announced, to determine just what projects we can get listed there as well. There is more to be done, however, we have done great in the past three years. I look forward to the continuing cooperation under that particular area.

Mr. Speaker, there are other issues within my constituency that I would like to identify. I have been an active person who has visited Ocean View Manor on a regular basis. Many of the constituents that I represent make that their home. It is a great facility, but for 25 years, the residents in that facility were suffering because the wind blew through the windows and they had to put blankets around the windows in the winter. The heating system could not keep up with the difficulties that they were facing. The ventilation system was inadequate.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member take a question?

MR. RICHARDS: I am not sure what time I have left. Perhaps when I conclude my remarks, if the honourable member would like to interrupt me at that moment. I was courteous to him when he was speaking. I did not interrupt. (Interruptions) Coming from you, I can understand that comment. I will receive his question at the end of my remarks.

I went there and I saw and I listened and I did some research. I went to the Department of Health and I said, how long has the request been in to fix that facility? Because understand, the residents who live in that facility are, for the most part, senior citizens, people who have served our communities well, but now they require some attention from the community. The Department of Health gave me some information. They said, you know, Mr. Richards, for 25 years there was a request in but there was not the political will to do it. I said, well, I am going to encourage by every strength I have that that political will be done.

Last year I was very pleased to announce on behalf of the Minister of Health that that work is now started. That work is almost completed and the residents of that facility can now enjoy a home that is fitting to them and all of the great service they have done for our province.

As important as it is to recognize the service of our seniors, we must also recognize that the youth of our community also need special attention. I saw a junior high in my community of Eastern Passage poorly equipped and could not handle all of the students because some students were requiring elevator service. So again, I approached the Department of Education and I am proud to say that they now have a fully functioning elevator that allows those students full access to that school. A year and one-half ago that was not possible.

So progress has been made. We continue to look at the concerns of our community and we will continue to meet those challenges in the days and months ahead.

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I want to close by saying that it has been my privilege to service the community of Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and I certainly respect all the calls and requests that I have received on their behalf and have been able to deliver for them. With that, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and acknowledge that I will be voting in favour of the Throne Speech.

If there is a question, I will certainly entertain it.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, on a question. The honourable member was referring to the wind whistling through the windows of the senior citizens home and he referred to the fact that this was 25 years ago when the request was made. I was wondering if he would let the rest of the House know who was in power 25 years ago and to whom was the request made to have those windows replaced made.

MR. RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that for 15 years of those 25 years that crew over there along with his colleague sitting next to him who was the Minister of Health ignored that request time and time again; year after year. I can proudly say that it is now solved.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: I am pleased to rise in reply to the Speech from the Throne and I suppose it is perhaps, given some of what I have heard today, a blessing that I have not heard the whole debate on this matter. I hope my remarks are not too repetitious, because the other side of that is that I have not heard all the comments and don't know what has been said.

AN HON. MEMBER: Lucky you.

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, that is what I thought. Mr. Speaker, I do want to take a few minutes initially to say some words of thanks because, as the newest member here, I am the one with the most recent recollection of how helpful people are to those who are new to this place. The first person I would like to thank in this regard is yourself, for your kindness and fairness and decency to someone who, perhaps, is not altogether clear on the rules.

I want to thank the other members of this House, as well, for their kindness and generosity to me when I first came here. I would like, too, to thank the staff, who have been absolutely wonderful and who have taught me so much and helped me so much in my first few months. I want to make special mention, Mr. Speaker, of the young people here, the Pages and messengers, who come here from school and who help all the people who come to this place, so I do want to thank especially those young people who come here to work.

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Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the people of Halifax Fairview for their continued confidence, consultation and feedback on the work that we do in the constituency of Halifax Fairview.

I want to add my voice, as well, to the voices of those who have expressed their regret at the loss of Nova Scotians who have left us. I would like to add, with your permission, the name of someone else who is a great loss to the people of this province. I don't know if the members saw in the newspaper today, a notice of the death of Alice Loomer of Halifax. With your permission, I would like to say a word or two about her. This is a woman who lived from the age of 9 to the age of 82 with the after-effects of polio. She succeeded in a time when there was no access for disabled people in this world. She succeeded in gaining three university degrees and, in addition to that, an honorary degree from Acadia University.

Madam Speaker, it might interest this House to know that her convocation address at Acadia University, when she received her honorary doctorate, was later published as "The Art of Quarrelling", which I think might be of some interest to members of this House. It might be of some use to all of us. She was a psychologist in her working life, a thoroughly creative thinker, an inventor of aids for the disabled when very few were paying attention to that, and was also a business person. So I would like to extend to her brother, Ralph, and to her nieces and nephews, the sympathy of this House on the death of a pioneering woman of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, Halifax Fairview is not one community. It is made up - like so many of these places that we represent where lines are drawn - of several different communities, most of them long-established in the greater Halifax community. They have some common characteristics which I came to understand long before now, when I worked for 14 years in Halifax Fairview as a teacher. Some of the characteristics of Halifax Fairview will suggest to this House why the issues that we raise are so crucial to them. One characteristic is that there is a disproportionately high number of renters in Fairview, relative to the general population. Very many people in Halifax Fairview rent their accommodations rather than own their own homes.

[4:15 p.m.]

By and large, with the exception of the new development up there with the box stores, Fairview has been a community of small businesses and many of them family-owned and long-standing. Fairview also has a very high proportion of senior citizens. These characteristics indicate some of the concerns that I will raise in a minute or two about the constituency of Halifax Fairview.

Some very positive things have gone on there in the short time I have been privileged to represent the constituents there. Halifax Fairview is the place where the coordinator of the Metro Immigrant Learning Centre, Gerry Mills, and her two children decided to adopt the

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plans of her students and former students and recently became Canadian citizens themselves. They joined her students and former students who had come from all over the world and in a truly moving ceremony at Fairview Junior High School, the teacher became a citizen, along with her students. Halifax Fairview is a place that has a wonderful support service for young mothers called the Parent and Tot Centre and this is at Fairview United Church. On April 6th, they celebrated their 10th anniversary. This is a place where young mothers add skill to the love that they have for their children and where the staff and the other adults support and enhance the development of those mothers' children. I would like to commend both of these places for the fine work that they do on behalf of the people of not just Halifax Fairview but, in fact, the greater region.

Halifax Fairview is the home of a number of people who were honoured within the last few months for 25 years of service to this government as civil servants and I am sure that the House would thank and commend them for that. It is the home of the upcoming Model Parliament at Halifax West High School which begins the day after tomorrow. As all these Model Parliaments do, it will demonstrate to us and the wider public the understanding of and the enthusiasm for the political process that these students have acquired in the course of their school work.

Halifax Fairview is the home of the Nova Scotia Lung Association headquarters where it does its good work on behalf of all Nova Scotians. It is also the home - and this was very recently in the news - of a group of dedicated parents and community members who are among the most intelligent, resourceful and dedicated community volunteers I have met in a very long time. It is this group of people who have won a reprieve for the Clarence A. Beckett Elementary School on Fenerty Road. I think in particular the two people who organized and spearheaded this community were Barbara Lock and Alan Knight.

Halifax Fairview is a place where every single person who lives in Cornwallis Moreau Manor is a really good cook. It is a severe disappointment to miss the potluck dinners there because there is not a bad cook among the entire range of residents there. It is a wonderful place to go and visit but especially at mealtime.

Halifax Fairview is the home of the Fairview Legion, where the members decided some time ago that they must find a way to make their building become accessible to those who are less able, particularly those veterans who are less able, for whatever reason. I am sorry to say that when the Fairview Legion required support and funding assistance from this government, not only was no support forthcoming but I have waited three months for a reply from the minister to the letter that I wrote to him. Although they were unsuccessful in finding support that was probably there to enable them to make this building accessible, they certainly were not able to get the support. They did it any way, finding a will and a way and I am pleased to report that this elevator had its official opening on Saturday, April 12th.

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There are lots of things that are not good news in Halifax Fairview. It is a place were the residents of the mobile-home community continue to wait and hope for the same kinds of services that other residents in communities take for granted. I will be saying more about this after the minister brings in her bill on the issue of mobile-home communities.

It is a place where small businesses, many of whom have been there for so long, are struggling, some are lost and they are suffering the burden of their neighbours in this kind of a community having less and less money to spend in their local community on the small businesses there. A number of restaurants have gone from the community, all the businesses which depend upon neighbourhood traffic, such as dry-cleaners and so on are suffering from the lack of spending money that their neighbours have and I will talk more about that later.

The seniors in Fairview, like the seniors all over this province, struggle with the needs that they have on their what cannot be called wealthy incomes, particularly with their health care needs, in that case, particularly with home care and the imposition of Pharmacare. There are many people in Halifax Fairview whose incomes have shrunken substantially, even with this small cost of a few hundred dollars for a Pharmacare Program. It is a community where absolutely everyone struggles with the increased costs imposed by the harmonized sales tax. Everyone in Halifax Fairview is poorer now than when I came to that place a few short months ago.

Halifax Fairview is a place, where in that very short time, two groups of workers have had to take to the streets to make their case with employers. The Maritime Tel & Tel workers and the VON nurses have had to put up their picket signs and go on strike for fair working conditions and wages that were due to them, but which were not necessarily given to them.

That brings me to some of the claims that have been made in this Speech from the Throne. I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, I have never seen the Speech from the Throne before. I never did go down to the library and look one up in all those years I was not in this place, but I have to tell you, I did not expect it to be so itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny, I thought a Throne Speech was something substantial. I wondered whether, like everything else in this world, it had been downsized (Interruption). Not all teachers do it that way. The honourable member is making a remarks that is perhaps unfavourable to teachers, so I am going to choose to ignore it.

It has not been my impression that the government has done much to cause grief to citizens as opposed to much in the way of achievement and progress. I have to tell you, I did not expect it to be so obvious and I did not expect the Speech from the Throne to look like a grilled cheese sandwich that was pressed so hard you could slide it under a door. I think it is probably a disappointment to many people besides myself, the people of Nova Scotia included.

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Now, Madam Speaker, I read it carefully and I read it several times. There is an awful lot of talk in it, even for its small size. There is an awful lot of what we used to call rhetoric and empty language. The tide has turned, according to this Speech from the Throne and it may be drowning us all. The government says it brought in its second consecutive balanced budget.

I was halfway across the country when I picked up the Globe and Mail and read that the Minister of Finance has admitted balancing the books with the GST bribe money. Now I was halfway or two-thirds of the way across the country at the time I read it so it is clear that everybody knows this, this is no secret. So the gap between the profession and the reality is fairly widespread and, in fact, exceedingly obvious.

Madam Speaker, I was bothered by the discussion of industrial expansion. Several specifics were named. It is not that this Party, my Party, is bothered by industrial expansion, this Party wants jobs, this Party wants a healthy economy, this Party wants what Nova Scotians need and want. What bothered me was the reference in particular to industries that involve our resources, without much of a suggestion, if any at all, that our resources would be enhanced, preserved, sustained and renewed in the course of industrial strategy in this province.

We have Stora Industries which is into major expansion. As I said, expansion is good, it creates jobs, it creates growth in the economy. If there is one area of government policy in this province where expansion absolutely must be accompanied by some kind of government leadership, it is the forestry sector of this province. This government is the last of a long line of government since the turn of this part century, who have given it away to outside, multinationals. They say come in and take it away and they come in and cut it down and haul it out and they don't make any plans to save any of it, to regrow it, to preserve it and to continue the life of the forest in this province.

Instead of taking a leadership role with the forestry industry in this province, this government made a hash of it, Madam Speaker. This government, under two different ministers, commissioned a report that didn't reflect the population of this province, had it sadly refuted by the public in a series of public meetings and still refuses to get on with the job of taking its responsibility and not passing it off onto some other body or some other mythical body to control the use of our forests for the future.

We heard a lot of talk here today about our children and our children's children. Well, it is the same with our trees, Madam Speaker. When the government says that it has respect, and it says this in the Speech from the Throne, respect for natural environment and resources, I certainly have to say that I don't see that in this province.

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The other place we have not seen it and it has already been mentioned in this place today, Madam Speaker, that is the Jim Campbells Barren. Now the government says it has a respect for the natural environment and resources. Well, whether it does or it does not, it has no respect for process because we all know what happened when this government got its ear tweaked by the right people and the next thing we knew, 31 protected sites became 30 protected sites and nobody seemed to know quite what hit them. So, I challenge this government on its commitment, not just to the natural environment and to resources but, in fact, to the process that brings people together to protect them.

[4:30 p.m.]

The other resource that requires some mention - and I am sure that it has been mentioned before but, as I said, I was not here to hear the comments - and that is, the Sable offshore gas. This government has made a series of unproductive, not very useful, in fact, perhaps harmful decision surrounding the offshore gas.

We have some kind of a secretariat or a government office with staff in it. I do not know what it does, but if it helped with the royalty agreement, it certainly did not do much of a job. Everybody in this place knows that that royalty agreement, being based on profits, provides a way for the government to receive no money at all if the company can find a way to suppress profits by expansion or any other means.

Everybody in this place knows, Madam Speaker, that there are very few long-term jobs in this project. The government can talk about 3,000 or 4,000 full-time equivalent jobs for a very short time and this government can talk about employing Nova Scotians, but there is no commitment to that anywhere.

This government leaves environmental concerns unaddressed. Most importantly, it leaves the big picture unaddressed. All these issues should come together in some sort of a social cost analysis in relation to jobs, the environment and the economy.

What is wrong with a government taking the large view and the long view? It seems to me that that is part of the job of being in the government; in fact, it may be the most important job that governments have. All these issues remain unresolved or badly resolved, and certainly not to the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia.

We have a tax cut. Well, we do not have much of a tax cut. We have a 3.4 per cent provincial tax cut that the government is boasting about, which is about 1.2 per cent on your total tax bill. That is about, I do not how much money, how many gas fill-ups, it would take to spend that pittance of a saving on your tax bill, but I do not think that it would take very long in the cars . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: One tankful would . . .

[Page 328]

MS. OCONNELL: One tankful, you think? It might be two or three. The honourable member says one tankful, but I suspect it may be more.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, less.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: There is another concern, and I do not know whether this has been raised, either, but I am extremely concerned about the Science and Technology Secretariat. It seems to me that the mandate for this department has been sort of all over the map. I do not know any more how many people work there; how many people used to work there; and what exactly they do there. In addition to all that, the government's own words in the Throne Speech say the following, they say that the government is "laying the groundwork for development of the province's first research and development policy.". We support a research and development policy, but what this says in this Throne Speech is that the government is going to get ready to get ready. They are going to think about thinking about it. Now to me, that is the kind of talk that is totally meaningless and of utterly no value when we are trying to make progress in this province.

The government talks about consolidated gains in health care and education. I am going to talk about home care and I am going to do what makes this government crazy. I am going to be anecdotal because I want to talk about a home care system that has left out of the system one of the most needful and desperate cases. This government knows about this case and the other Opposition Party knows about this case, but I want it on the record because I think it is the best example of this sad situation. And how any government, knowing what it knows about this case, can talk about consolidating games in home care, it is just a shock to the system to even think of it.

Madam Speaker, we saw the home care review results. We saw that 46 per cent of home care cases in this province had their home care cut, 22 per cent had their home care reduced. That adds up to well over 50 per cent of the population of the home care service right there. I want to talk about Colin and Janet MacDonald. I want to talk about them, as I said, because I think it is one of the worst cases that I have ever heard in my life. The treatment of this case by the government is totally irresponsible.

Madam Speaker, Janet MacDonald is a young woman, probably 34, maybe, who, after the birth of her second child four and one-half years ago, was immediately struck by multiple sclerosis. Janet MacDonald's case has been so progressively degenerative that she is now totally disabled in her bed, unable to speak. She has two children, one of whom would be in about Grade 1 and one is a pre-schooler. This resourceful family set about organizing its life so that this mother would not be separated from her small children. They organized insured care that was covered. They organized volunteer care through the community, through one

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of the churches and they sought home care from Home Care Nova Scotia. This is where the wheels came off the wagon.

In order for this family to stay together and survive, Mr. MacDonald must drive at the end of every weekend to Yarmouth to work in construction and drive back home again on Friday. Madam Speaker, through those five nights of the week when he is away, home care is needed for the MacDonald family so that this family can remain together and this government will not give it. This government has no sense of what should be done and what should be needed in a catastrophic case. This government will drive this young mother away from her children and into an institution because it does not even have the sense to know that this is not an everyday occurrence. The Multiple Sclerosis Society tells us in this province, this is the only catastrophic case.

Where is this government's compassion? Where is the program to deal with catastrophic cases, Madam Speaker? I feel no shame at all about being anecdotal. I feel no shame at all about inviting every single member of this House to go to Antigonish this Saturday night where Ashley MacIsaac will be performing a benefit concert in order to pay for the medical care that Janet MacDonald so sorely needs.

Madam Speaker, the other thing that gets me all riled up is education. Education gets me all riled up and certainly this government's education policies, if you can call them that, get me all riled up. This government says, in its Speech from the Throne, that it modernized education. Well, as far as I can figure, modernizing education means creating mega-school boards, uprooting school children from their communities, supplying fewer resources to those schools so that children will not have what they need in school. This government, right out of the blue, from the planet Zonk, right out there, one line in the Speech from the Throne says that we are going to have smaller class sizes in Nova Scotia. Well, I don't see anything there that tells me how they plan to do that, it is just plunked there as if it was some kind of believable option or plan given the current state of education in Nova Scotia. The fact really is that class sizes are larger and getting larger. Modernization means higher administrative salaries, not dollars directed to the classroom, big, big lunch money for travelling great distances in these mega-school boards and all kinds of problems as parents, teachers and all those involved in education and students, struggle to make do and to do the best they can with a serious lack of resources.

I am sorry the Minister of Education isn't here because as my colleague for Sackville-Cobequid said back in the previous session, he said maybe we should call him the Minister of Educational Marketing. I think the Department of Education has lost its way in this government. The Department of Education (Interruption) That's right, the previous minister did indeed lead it down the garden path. This government's Department of Education is a department that used to be about education. It used to be about what to teach and good ways to teach it, how to assess it and respond to it and how to assist teachers in their job of teaching children.

[Page 330]

MADAM SPEAKER: Order please. I am going to call for order. It is getting increasingly more difficult to hear the member who has the floor. If the honourable members wish to carry on a conversation in a fairly loud tone, I would invite you to take it outside the Chamber so I can hear the speaker.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am not at all bothered by the comments of the Minister of Community Services, a former Minister of Education because I am sure he knows his role in all of this quite well.

There are some so-called initiatives in this so-called Speech from the Throne. Initiative is a big word for something that we just might get around to doing and might not be worth doing so we might not bother. One of the initiatives this government praises itself for is that it is going to have 1,000 students from other countries who will come and study in the public schools of Nova Scotia. I want to be perfectly clear, the Minister of Education has previously accused me of being some kind of bigot in not welcoming foreign students into this country and I say that is not what this is about at all. I want to ask this government, who will provide the money for the support services and all of the other things that those students will need when they come to our province?

We have been told that there are as many as 3,700 students in the region of the former Halifax-Dartmouth and County area, in the regional municipality we have been told that there are as many as 3,700 English as a second language students in the schools in this area, most of them in the old City of Halifax. They receive English language training, it is my understanding, two half-hour periods a week. What in the name of Heavens are we doing when we don't even have adequate programs for the students who are already here and who desperately need the English language training in order to fully integrate into our culture and become part of Nova Scotian life.

[4:45 p.m.]

Now the truth is that what is needed in this province is not fancy-Dan marketing programs, but money. School boards in Nova Scotia desperately need funding, they don't need fancy talk, and I want to talk about the fancy talk because this is what the Department of Education seems to do so well these days. It cuts back the money and then it has initiatives. An initiative is somebody writes a book about some great idea that we are all going to implement in the schools of Nova Scotia. We have a new high school curriculum, we have new teacher certification quidelines, we have a new special education policy and I could go on and on; some of them even contradict each other.

If you read these piles and piles of document initiatives, you will discover, Madam Speaker, that the teacher certification guidelines for Nova Scotia have a certain methodology and a certain proposal, whether or not you agree. This government says in the Speech from the Throne that it is going to reorganize junior high schools in this province. Well I have to

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tell you that if it is what I think it is, it is going to be in direct contradiction to what is already written down in the teacher certification guidelines.

Now I am not taking a position either way at this time on any of those documents. My point is that this government has a left hand and a right hand, and the left hand and the right hand don't know what the other one is doing. The whole Department of Education is filled with stacks of jargon-ridden, expensive - and currently under the present funding system - improbable and impractical schemes for improving education, on paper. Madam Speaker, that is the only place education will be improved in this province, on paper, with the piles and piles of stuff they are grinding out at the Department of Education.

I don't believe for a minute, Madam Speaker, that any of them, or most of them, have a prayer of being realized as long as we live on this earth, unless there is money to back them up. For example, the most recent document that I have seen set guidelines for implementing the challenge for credits in high schools in Nova Scotia and, sure enough, it is exactly what I expected. There is a new burden of duty on teachers and school personnel. It is not minimal; it requires substantial organization, meeting time and evaluation. This is just one more thing piled on the backs of people who have done every fad that ever came back from graduate education schools in the Province of Alberta and from the Midwest United States. It is just one more deflection from the real purpose and the real job, which is to get together with those kids and to have them learn.

Madam Speaker, the last thing I want to talk about, and another one that distresses me to no end, is the whole issue of public-private partnerships for schools. First of all, I want to identify the inherent contradiction in what this government is doing. This government is saying we want to consult the whole community, we want everybody there; they call them stakeholders. So they want the stakeholders, they want the parents, they want the teachers, they want the community and so on and so forth to get together and help shape and define and govern and guide the education of their children.

This is a good example of the kind of talk we get from this government about education. Madam Speaker, what do they do instead? While they are putting on the show on the left hand, on the right hand they are out there making deals with private consortia and then telling us on the television that we will never know the full story. It seems extremely strange to me that if you take public money, or you borrow it on behalf of the public, and you use it to put up schools, which are public institutions, for the good of all children in this province, and you hire teachers to be public teachers of public education, and you believe it is for everyone and that is why it is public education, and then you turn around and you make back-room deals with companies and you say, oh no, we cannot tell you people whose money this is or what we did with the money because the requirements of business, the perspectives of business, the imperatives of business, don't allow it.

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I think this government has to think hard about what it means by modernize. If modernize means sell us down the river, Madam Speaker, which is the way it is going now, we don't want it. We don't need it. We don't have to have it and we certainly want to do without it. I think there are grave difficulties to be addressed in education. One of them is money. That is simple. You can talk about money. You have got to have enough money to do it. The waste has been taken out of the system. It can be done, but the money has to be there to do it. If it is not there and if our children continue to go to school to larger rooms full of more children, with teachers that are more harried and have more extra classroom responsibility, then don't bother with those fancy highfalutin documents that tell us how wonderful education is, because we all know better. So don't tell us about modernizing education unless we are really going to do it.

Madam Speaker, I have to say that in general, in response to this list of the government's dubious achievements, it shows what many people in Nova Scotia, and I am sure that includes the people of Halifax Fairview, have sensed all along, and the sense is that this government doesn't have any vision and I don't like using the word, it is a corny word but we have to have some kind of master plan. We have to have some kind of vision. We have to budget carefully and thriftily, but we have to produce something for that money. Whether it is the resource industry, or whether it is now education or any other government department, we have to stop giving away the shop. We have to stop giving away the shop and then fancying it up with highfalutin talk that says that we are doing a wonderful job on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, I intend, obviously, to vote for the amendment and against the Speech from the Throne when it comes to a vote in this House. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, the people from Kings West would prefer for me to be called the member for Kings West, sorry.

MADAM SPEAKER: Of course, the honourable member for Kings West.

MR. MOODY: Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to reply to the Speech from the Throne. I have had the honour and privilege of representing the people of Kings West for 19 years in this House. I want to say that it sure is an honour and a privilege.

I want to pay tribute to a couple of my former colleagues. George Henley, who I had the honour of serving with for a number of years, actually since 1978, until George retired in, I think, 1984. A very active member.

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We lost two members from Cumberland County since the last Speech from the Throne which is really unusual. I want to pay tribute to Ross Bragg. I think one of the things that I have enjoyed about my political life and enjoyed about the Legislature is the meeting of people and the friendships you make and the people you get to know. Ross had to be one of the people that when you got to know him became a friend, and you were better for having known Ross.

I remember visiting Ross in the hospital a number of times when he first was sick. I know he and his family were going through a difficult time. I was Minister of Health at the time. The only complaint Ross had was not about the service. The nurses were great, the doctors were great, everybody was great, but Ross was complaining about how we could improve upon the food. He was not impressed with the food. Ross never lost his sense of humour.

The kind of person Ross was - his two sons live in Kingston, they actually live in Kings West with Ross's first wife. Ross was going down to speak. One of them was in Scouts and part of it was the citizenship badge. Ross said, it is in your area, George, how about we go down together? And we did go down together. Actually, I enjoyed the trip down and back and enjoyed the time we had. That was the kind of individual Ross was. My sympathy goes out to his wife, Cathy, and family. We have all suffered a great loss in the losing of Ross at such an early age.

I want to pay tribute to the Premier. The Premier and I may have disagreements on a number of issues that come before the province or come before the House, but I have a lot of respect for the Premier. The Premier came to power, came to provincial politics out of being Mayor of Dartmouth and I am sure he found it quite different than municipal politics. The Premier gave a lot to this province, gave a lot of his time. I know anyone in political office, we all take a lot of abuse and I am sure he got his share. It is unfortunate that the Premier has seen fit to resign. I often think that regardless of what Premier it might be, sometimes it is the advice they get that, I guess, turns out to the right advice or wrong advice, whether people take to it or don't take to it.

The Premier will be missed not only, I am sure, by my colleagues across the floor but by many Nova Scotians. I want to wish him well in whatever he chooses. I wish his family well. I know that the Premier will do his very best at whatever task that he takes on. I know as Mayor of Dartmouth he had a great interest in Dartmouth and I know as Premier of this province his heart was with this province and his people. (Applause)

I want to pay tribute to my colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel. Terry is going on whenever the federal election is called to run as MP. I remember coming into the House with Terry in 1978. I always looked up at Terry and Terry, I think, was one of the best Ministers of Education this province had. For being a non-teacher, Terry took a great interest

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in education. Terry is one who also had a great interest in this province and made sacrifices and represented his constituency well.

Unfortunately I was not here when he replied to the Speech from the Throne, but the member for Annapolis and I have been friends for a long time. I know Earle has given indication that he is not seeking re-election this next time. Having known Earle for a long time and knowing the kind of individual he was, Earle worked very hard. I found it very easy. Even though we were on opposite sides of politics, we agreed more times than we disagreed. Many times Earle and I worked together for the common cause of people who were right on the boundary or issues that flowed over from Annapolis to Kings West. Earle was always a gentleman and a good friend and I enjoyed working with him and I know he worked hard to represent those people that elected him to the office. So I want to wish Earle the best of health and all the best as I know that his intentions are not to re-offer.

[5:00 p.m.]

I want to talk about a few constituency issues that have come up since the last Throne Speech. One of the areas that I am sure all the members are aware of is our volunteer fire departments in our local areas. I am fortunate that I have Waterville and District, Berwick and District, Aylesford and District, and Kingston and District Volunteer Fire Departments in my area.

The volunteer firefighters give a great deal to protect the citizens of this province. Many of them make great sacrifices to be volunteers. There is more than just signing up to be a volunteer firefighter. There is training. There is commitment. There is time, all hours of the night, time away from family. One of the things, in talking to the volunteer firefighters of my area, they have become quite upset in the last year about a couple of issues.

I have talked to some of the chiefs in my area and I know that many of you, like I, have probably got a copy of a letter from the chief in Lawrencetown and District, but it is no different from the fire chiefs in my area who have all talked to me about this very issue. That is the issue about first responders in case of an emergency. This government, when they first came to power, introduced legislation for emergency health services in this province. They touted it as the answer to all of the emergencies that ever could happen. We are going to have the biggest shiniest, well-trained, the response time is going to be a matter of minutes in all areas of the province and it was going to cost less.

Unfortunately, that has not happened. They also said that the local operators would be part of that process. As I talk to the local operators and many of them have been forced to sell, regardless of what the Minister of Health says, and many of them are now finding, those who have bought others out, that it may in fact be one company like Maritime Medical that will run the whole province.

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I had a call this winter, a number of calls. It was a call from the manager of the Kingston Rink. In the past, as we all know, in rinks occasionally you need to call an ambulance. There will be accidents that will happen. This particular night an accident happened. A man was unconscious, very ill, and it was over 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived. Over 20 minutes. Police, everybody else arrived, and the manager said under the old system we would have one within ten minutes. But now that we have the new system, the response time is actually longer.

AN HON. MEMBER: You could die.

MR. MOODY: You sure could. What I am finding out is that in actual fact we are going to have less ambulances, not more ambulances. We are going to have less ambulances and the response time is not going to be as good as it was before. Yes, we are going to be better trained and I think the attendants and everybody indicated that was very positive. I have talked to attendants in this province who are still making $6.00 an hour. Can you imagine that if you are in a life and death situation and the person coming to treat you gets $6.00 an hour, that is how much importance this government puts on those people that are stressed and working long hours. I had one gentleman tell me he worked 100 hours in a given week under this new setup. What the volunteer firefighters are set up to fight fires, that is what they are set up to do. They say they do not have the personnel and when they see things in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald like January 24, 1997, indicating what a wonderful thing first responders are and how pleased 66 per cent of the firefighters in the province are to be the first responders. A wonderful service has been provided by the volunteer fire service according to the paper.

But, according to the volunteer firefighters that is not the case; in actual fact, 66 per cent of the firefighters are not equipped to handle these kinds of emergencies in the province. The problem is when people think that the firefighters can respond and they call them and they cannot and they have to wait for the ambulance, then that could cause a great deal of difficulty. What the volunteer firefighters are saying is, would you please not make announcements and have expectations out there which we cannot fulfil and that is a trait that this government has done continually. It is almost like when they announced home care that everybody from one end of the province to the other would have the same kind of home care and equal access, when actual fact, that was not the case. That is the case with the first response by volunteer firefighters in the province.

The other thing that they are upset about is the Village Services Act. They are upset that this government may see fit - village commissions in this province and I know there are none in Cape Breton, but there are a number of village commissions in the Valley and around the province, but we seem to have a large number in Kings County. Now village commissioners were very upset to find out this government was looking at making changes to practically eliminate what they do, to eliminate them from being able to tax commercial

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property for fire service. In other words, the commercial properties would not be able to be levied by the villages.

I had the opportunity and the honour of being a village commissioner before I got into provincial politics. Village commissioners play a very important role in my area before provincial politics. They are not paid, as a matter of fact, you do not even get mileage to go to the meetings. It is basically a volunteer thing. The only person who gets any money, that I aware of, is the little bit of time for the clerk who has to do a lot of the paperwork and that is only a few hundred dollars. They are upset that the government may see fit to take away the role that they are now playing. I hope that we never see that legislation here because it is not right. The other thing that I am seeing this government do, is eliminating almost the roles of volunteers in a lot of areas, discouraging volunteers in a lot of areas across this province and that is very unfortunate.

I hope that the government that is reviewing, the Municipal Legislation Review Committee, will see fit to not include this part. (Interruption) It is the government that would have to bring the legislation forward. I am hoping that no matter what happens that when the government brings the legislation forward, will not eliminate in any way, the function and role of the village commissions across this province because it is very important that their role continue.

I want to talk about another area of concern in my area and that is the Oaklawn Farm Zoo. I know that many people in this Legislature and many people in this province have taken their children or grandchildren to Oaklawn Farm Zoo. It is actually quite amazing, what Gail and Ron Rogerson have done. We went to see the lion cubs, unfortunately, one did not make it, but three out of four did. I want say that I think everyone in this Legislature recognizes that Oaklawn Farm Zoo is educational for young people. I know my grandson from the time he was about one year old wanted to go to the zoo all the time to see the animals, feed the animals. I never went there at any time that I didn't see a lot of people come from all parts of the province, as well as tourists, to view those animals.

One of the things I know they have asked the Minister of Finance. I remember when we were in government in 1986, there was a regulation passed exempting zoos from collecting an amusement tax on admission from its visitors. The reason we did that, that way the Rogersons charged only a very small amount, so the whole family could go for an outing at the zoo without having to pay a large sum of money. So, they are not sure under the new BST whether they have to collect it. They know they have to collect it on the food items and drinks they sell in their small little store there, but what they are trying to find out - and they hadn't when I last talked with them - was whether this actually applied to admission to the zoo. It is unfortunate if we charge little children. I know under a certain age it is free. I think under age five it is free and it is a very small amount from 5 to 12. It is unfortunate if we raise another tax to be paid by those who are going to the zoo.

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Also, the road that goes from the main Highway No. 101. I will give this government credit because this government did put in the signs along the highway. I think the minister of the day, the former Minister of Transportation, actually arranged those signs on Highway No. 101 and in other areas so that people could find the zoo, which has been very helpful, a very positive move.

We do have one problem. One of the main roads obviously needs recapping because it broke up so bad this year that it is almost impassable. They are hoping that at some point the government will see fit, although they have been told that it has been on the list for a number of years, that that road will actually get fixed.

A farmer opened up on that same road a restaurant called The Farmers Family Restaurant, using his own beef and all of the carrots, turnips and potatoes that he grows, and actually it is a quite nice family restaurant. It is very reasonable and run by Brian Hebb and his family. They live along that road and are hoping too that some work might be done.

So, we have these entrepreneurs who are always out there trying to make it better for tourists in the local area. Sometimes they need not direct money from government to make it a go but they need the government to recognize, like they did with the signs, that there are other things that government can support them in so they can have a viable industry.

I want to say how fortunate I am to have CFB Greenwood in my area. It has been a real economic boost for the Valley and we would be very hard hit without it. We have been fortunate that Greenwood has expanded. It seems like when one base or another closes, some part of that base comes to Greenwood. I am very fortunate to have that base in the area, as the people from the Valley are very fortunate.

I want to say a couple of kind things about a couple of business, O.H. Armstrong in Kingston being one.

[5:15 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: There he is right up there, George. Look in the gallery.

MR. MOODY: There he is, gee. I didn't even know that he was here, actually.

HON. GUY BROWN: I will be there tomorrow morning.

MR MOODY: You will be there. You will be going to a very fine place. I am sure John Pierce and all of his staff will treat you with respect and kindness, Guy.

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I want to say that industries like O.H. Armstrong in my area not only are employing a large number of people, but it is a place where farmers can take their beef. I want to talk about how O.H. Armstrong and the farmers have taken it upon themselves to try and promote, through promotions at stores throughout the Valley, and I know that John knows they were at Moody Brothers and Harley made me watch the tape, to promote Nova Scotia beef.

Mr. Speaker, I think the beef industry does have a future in this province. I think for a long time people thought that unless you got western beef, which is good beef, that you were not getting good beef. But our farmers in this province can produce good beef. Their good grades of beef are every bit as good as anybody elses good grades of beef. I know that through the promotion of the beef industry and I know the continuous support of O.H. Armstrong, that that, along with a number of businesses selling the beef, that I think it will, hopefully, come back and be a viable industry once again.

We are very fortunate because if we didn't have O.H. Armstrong, they are the only one that is doing local beef in Nova Scotia. If you want to get your beef done, that is where you sell it. So, without that company being in business, it would be a blow to a lot of farmers. One of their competitors, Larsen Packers is mainly in the hog industry, but it, too, employs a large number of people in my area and, again, where a lot of farmers are able to take their hogs. So I am very fortunate that I have these industries which are a spin-off, actually, from the agricultural sector, which is very important to Kings West and, actually, all of Kings County.

I want to talk a little bit about a letter from my constituency before I get on to provincial issues. I had a letter and we haven't heard a lot about the seniors Pharmacare. I guess we assume that other issues take over and that people aren't upset any more about the seniors Pharmacare Program. That is absolutely not true. People still don't understand. I had this letter that came to me in the last week, Mr. Speaker, and the person who wrote the letter said that I could use this in any way that it will help. She says, "Dear George, Well my friend we are madder than a cat that got its tail caught in a door. Today when we got our mail, this form . . .", and she sent along the form, ". . . I am sending to you came. They tell us what our income was in 1995 and then go on to say we owe them $32.93. Then on the back of the paper they tell us if we don't have $24,000 a year to disregard this letter. The money we as taxpayers spend for paper, stamp & envelopes to send us this is only something the Liberal turkeys get away with. My husband is 84 yrs old and it upsets him & I to no end. Last year they (Liberals) sent us $85.00 each (for what I don't know) then in a month or so sent us a bill for $87.00 each.".

Mr. Speaker, for many seniors, this is very upsetting. They don't understand that the government makes these mistakes and sends them out $85 cheques and then wants $87 back. She said her husband is 84 years old and it is very upsetting for them to understand what is going on with this program. Anyway, I won't read the whole letter. The point she is trying to make is that for seniors it is very difficult to understand what it is that the government is

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doing because on one hand they tell her she doesn't have to pay, then they send her the money, then they want the money back and their income has not changed but it is not $87 anymore, it is now $32.93.

When I talked with the Canadian Pensioners Concerned group, when they had their annual meeting here in Halifax not long ago, to which I was invited, many of those seniors still have concerns about this program. Now part of it may be a communications problem but that is something that this government has to address. One of the things we don't want to happen is for seniors to be upset. They have enough stress in their lives, with fixed incomes and with the way things are, yet here is government that confuses them almost on a daily basis. It is the BST that is hurting many seniors in this province.

I said I had one other letter that I wanted to refer to, from a constituent, if I can put my hand on that particular letter. This particular person kept track of what the government said would happen to her family, because of the BST, and actually what it did to her and her family. You know her training course has increased $60 for the family, because of the BST. Household items have gone up $60.96, then she has a few little items that cost 18 cents, 11 cents, 36 cents more for dry-cleaning, 13 cents for a newspaper and supplies, and stamps, 4 cents. But anyway, what she did, she took the total for the month and took the pluses and the minuses. Well the pluses for her, and this does not include home heating fuel, by the way, which went up; this does not include electricity, which went up, she has 56 cents to the good and $61.75 to the negative.

The point she is making is that for her family, this change is not positive. She is having great difficulty, as are many seniors in my area, being able to cope on a fixed income. We know that salaries are not going up but when this government came in and said, you can buy a fur coat cheaper, for those who can afford it, but as one of my colleagues said, children's clothes have actually gone up.

Now common sense would say to me, Mr. Speaker, why didn't the fur coat go up and why didn't the children's clothing go down or not go up? That is the kind of common sense that we have to get back to. Those are the kinds of issues that people talk to me about in my constituency. That is the kind of real, everyday issues they face. So this government has to understand that some of these things they are doing are actually hurting an individual and if they want to raise jewellery and things that are not necessary to live day to day, then I don't have any difficulty with that but I have difficulty with the necessary things that come to light that people have to use.

Mr. Speaker, people are mad. I don't think I have seen them mad since 1993, and you know what happened during that election, they were mad.

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened, George?

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MR. MOODY: We lost. They were mad at us and I knew it. I hope that group over there is smart enough to know they are mad at them, because they are. It does not matter if I go to a funeral, it does not matter where I go, people raise the everyday issues of this government and how they have affected their lives.

When they say the tide has turned, there is no question, the polls have turned. They must be asking themselves why. Why? Was it because the Premier was too arrogant? Was it because we did things wrong? What was the reason? Was it because we met with too many people? We consulted too much? Was that the reason?

It is not what you do, but how you do it in life that really matters. People feel hard done by. They are still mad in my area about the closure of the hospital, they are still mad about the BST. They are mad about those kind of issues. (Interruptions) Well, you can blame somebody else, but I looked at where the money was spent in health and education and community services the years over there, there is no regret for any of that.

Maybe you do not care about the people that you represent and maybe you do not care about the hardships they are going through, but I will tell you one thing. We cared and we cared about the health care of this province. We cared about the people of this province and we made sure that those programs stayed in place. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask him about the inquiry workers, George.

MR. MOODY: The refinery workers that he stood up for? (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, yes, I can look in the mirror. I have been asked if I can look in the mirror. Yes, I can, because all my life in politics I cared about people. I understood people issues. Many people here do too and I acknowledge that. No question.

The member for Cumberland who was maybe trying to get up and ask me questions, he cares about people. I know that.

HON. GUY BROWN: Ill sit down . . .

MR. MOODY: You are all right. You won't fall. It is all right.

One of the areas that I want to get into is that this government had an opportunity when they came to power, with the Environmental Health Clinic. One of the good things that this government did was that they continued on the road that had been started with the Environmental Health Clinic. I was so pleased that this government recognized that there are people out there that traditional medicine, as we know it, does not help them at all. This government - and I give them credit - said we are going to make sure we have a new Environmental Health Clinic, but one of the things that has happened is that they have cut the funding. They cut the budget.

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Many of you may know that there is a waiting list of 1,100-plus to get into that Environmental Health Clinic. One of the things I heard the present Minister of Health say one day - and I thought, hey, this is great - he said we have the only Environmental Health Clinic in Canada. If we run this, we can bring people in from all over Canada and they will pay. The other provinces will pay and they will pay to come here; we can treat them. I thought, what a great idea. There is nothing wrong with that idea. We have something to offer that is unique in this province; something that people are looking for. What a wonderful idea.

Then I read where they are laying off two doctors while they have a waiting list of 1,100 people. This is a government that has compassion and this is a government that cares about people? This is a government that wants to do the right thing? Why would you make those 1,100 people wait longer, knowing the kind of suffering that those people are going through? The amount of money we are talking about for the two part-time positions is $100,000. Why are we cutting those and expecting Dr. Fox, who is a good doctor, to see all of those patients? Why did the government do that? (Interruptions) Well, not according to Dr. Fox. He said it dropped slightly to $1 million from $1.1 million - $100,000 - and I am willing to say that I bet those two part-time doctors got no more than $50,000 each, if they got that. (Interruption) Well, we had Gerry Ross come in at that time. These people have now been trained; as a matter of fact, when I was Minister of Health we agreed to send Dr. Roy Fox down to be trained. He was ill and we agreed, and you people kept on with the program and I don't deny that.

[5:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: We expanded it.

MR. MOODY: You did expand it, but now as I get call after call from people on the waiting list saying, what is the government doing to cut out these two part-time salary positions and making the waiting list longer? Why? I haven't got the answer. If they have the answer, then I hope they will let these people know.

One issue that I want to raise is a federal issue; it is not a provincial issue, but it is one that I have concerns about because it is tied into the Environmental Health Clinic. As probably many of you know, dietary supplements are what a lot of these people who are treated at the Environmental Health Clinic take. The Food and Drug Act, I think, became law in 1953. Back then dietary supplements were virtually unknown; we didn't know about environmental illness; we didn't know about the kind of treatment that those people require. You know, 43 years later, Canada is the only country in the world where these supplements are not called food but they are in the drug category.

I have had a number of calls from people who are saying that the federal government is taking some of these off the shelf. You can go to the United States to get them and it is safe to take it; you can go to Europe to get it and take it; you can go to Australia; you can go to

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any part of the world but Canada to get some of these supplements that people who become environmentally ill have to take. It is very unfortunate that the federal government is moving in this direction.

Many prescription drugs that we have to take have a lot of side effects. I have known of prescription drugs that have actually caused people to die. I don't know of any herbs or vitamins that have caused anyone to die. So, I am hoping that we can make our federal counterparts aware that as they go around the province taking these items off the shelves, that they are actually taking away treatment of some of the people that we are funding out at the Environmental Health Clinic. This is just beginning. This is an issue that is going to become more and more higher profile as the federal government moves to do this.

Madam Speaker, I am going to yield the floor to another member who wants to make an introduction.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce to you and to all members of the House a group of agricultural specialists that are up in the gallery talking with the Minister of Agriculture.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good minister.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, since he has company here I will agree with you. Sean Firth is the beef specialist with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture; John Pierce, who George Moody was talking about, is the President of O.H. Armstrong; beside him is Frank Berkler from the Maritime Cattle Market; Jeanne Cruikshank is with the grocery store business; Anthony Van Oostrum is a beef and apple producer; and Rick Williams is a beef producer. They are here. If you could stand, we would give you a welcome. (Applause) They are part of a committee that the Minister of Agriculture has established to look into ways to increase beef production and consumption in the Province of Nova Scotia. They are going to show us all how we can turn a 15 per cent industry into a 100 per cent industry so that all the beef we consume in Nova Scotia will be produced right here. Thank you.

MR. MOODY: Madam Speaker, it would be great if we could produce enough beef for all Nova Scotia. We would certainly have a lot more beef farmers, for sure.

Another area I want to talk a little bit about is the blood fractionation plant that this government announced in 1994. The government had great fanfare the day they made the announcement that we were going to have this fractionation plant. I have watched this government over the years make quick announcements and then realize later that maybe it was not quite what they thought it would be. I think there has been about $45 million in debt

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spent on that fractionation plant, which this province will ultimately end up being responsible for some of it because it is through the Red Cross.

You wonder, why hasn't the plant taken off? Why don't we have this plant? I said when they had the announcement that day that this plant should not be built and I have not changed my mind. Madam Speaker, synthetics are the way to go. We all know what happened to the blood system and people became infected with HIV. We also know what happened to people who became infected with Hepatitis C through blood transfusions. You know technology is a wonderful thing. The minister is clapping because he is beginning to learn all about it, I am sure.

Madam Speaker, as you do research into this very issue, you come to realize that many of these products now can be made synthetically, with no risk of drugs, no risk at all of disease being spread, none. Many studies have been done about operations performed in the United States without blood transfusions. So the need for the kind of product that we are making, and I said in 1994 that by the time this plant gets built, if it ever gets built, it will be obsolete.

The world is very small today; it used to be that the world was very large. The way that people travel today and the way that you hear people going to this country and to that country and coming back sick or bringing a disease, we are in a world where infections are going to be very difficult to combat. You read where pharmaceuticals are saying that the viruses now become immune or find a way to fight the drugs on the market. Pharmaceuticals have not spent a great deal of money on new drugs to fight infections. So we have to change our whole approach because if you look at what is happening in other countries, and we are asking to build a plant that who is going to buy the product? If you were having an operation, Madam Speaker, or I, and you had the choice of a synthetic product or having an operation safely, without blood supply where you know there will be an element of risk because there will never be any absolute foolproof from risk with taking a product of blood coming from a source that is unknown of what disease may or may not be identified. HIV won't be the last disease that will get by the system, that we won't know about until later because somebody had a blood transfusion and becomes ill and ultimately dies because of that disease.

I am hoping that this plant is never built and I am hoping that this government, and I know the Premier said yes, yes, it will be built, there is just a little delay. Knowing that the Premier is a very fair man and a man who recognizes the importance of making safe jobs, I would say to the Premier, let's start a plant that makes synthetic products that are safe. Why in the world would you want to start a plant that, in actual fact, may end up contributing to somebody's death or a number of deaths? Why wouldn't we want to work with the technology that is out there and try to attract an industry that would produce a product that would be safe? I want jobs in this province, but I want to make sure the jobs that we get are producing a product that is safe and not a product that in some way may carry disease that could cause ultimate suffering and death to the people who receive that product. I am hoping

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that the government will change its mind and say yes, we do need a product, but let's go the route of synthetics and go with a plant that we can be proud of; look into the future, stop looking behind us.

I want to say a little bit about the doctors and nurses of this province and a little bit about health care. You know, we are very fortunate in this province. Weve had in this province dedicated health care workers, weve had dedicated doctors, nurses and other health care workers who have given beyond the call of service. I never heard anyone say that when they went to a hospital, a health facility, or to any place where there are health professionals, that they weren't treated in the best manner or treated by people who cared about them. Unfortunately, a number of doctors are leaving and you have to ask yourself why? They didn't just wake up one morning and decide that they are going to leave this beautiful province, a place where they would like to raise their family. No, they had to make some tough decisions. It is unfortunate that we had too many physicians - the Premier will probably agree - in some urban areas and not enough in rural areas, but we don't have any control over those who leave.

We have not only lost some very good general practitioners in this province, we have lost some very good specialists. Some of them did reach the age of 65 and this government says no, at 65 you don't work any more, but some of these have gone to other provinces and are contributing great things in medicine at age 65. I don't think there is any magic that you say to somebody, you are of no value at age 65; you can be of great value at age 65 and on. I know one specialist who actually went to Vancouver, who had to leave because he was 65. He was a specialist that I had seen and members of my family had seen, a great doctor who was sort of forced out. He said George, I have to go where somebody wants me.

As the Minister of Health goes around the province, he is now trying to deal with a crisis, whether it is in Windsor, Digby or wherever and those crises didn't happen overnight, they happened because the policies of this government led to those crises when the number of doctors in the area went down to a small amount, so that they couldn't perform a 24 hour service at the outpatient department, they just cannot humanly do it. I talked to some doctors as late as last weekend and they feel great concern. Whether the government realizes it or not, we do have a crisis with our physicians in the province, and if you talk to nurses, they feel that they are in a crisis.

The government talked about no money and said they would like to do all kinds of things. I could never quite figure out, as I talked to people at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, they spent around $30 million or $40 million out of the current account to change the new Infirmary, to change it from its original design. Now they are finding out, and people who work up there in the outpatient department are saying it is a very difficult place to work. It is; it is very difficult. They are under a lot of stress, as the place wasn't designed to do what it is doing, but somebody had a dream and I think it is more of a nightmare for those people who have to work up there with the difficulties, the long line-ups.

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Do you know what many of the doctors who have left said? They said they couldn't practise, Madam Speaker, what we would call good medicine.

[5:45 p.m.]

You know there was a Physician Task Force that reported in 1993 to address some of the issues and on that task force were not political appointments. They were people who represented the nurses, the RNANS; the Nurses' Union; the Medical Society; all of those areas were covered as well as some lay people. They produced a document that said, look these are the problems physicians are having. Here are some of the solutions to address some of those problems. Well, the former Minister of Health said, oh no, that report came in in 1993 so it cannot be any good, we will let it collect dust. But as I talked to physicians around the province who were part of that process, they say, hey, there were a lot of good ideas this government could have used.

We had a task force on nursing and as I talked to nurses in this province, they cannot understand why that task force on nursing is collecting dust and nothing has happened. The same thing with primary health care. Primary health care is very important to this province, very important if we are ever going to get a handle on health care costs. This government has chosen to ignore that report as well.

You know I want to sum up and I think I have about five minutes left, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: You have about eight minutes left.

MR. MOODY: One of the things that the people were mad about, as I went around this province, is broken promises by this government. Madam Speaker, I remember the election of 1993 very well and I remember what this government said it would do. They said they wouldn't raise taxes but they did, more than once and people remember that that is a broken promise. You know what they said about health care, they wouldn't close any hospitals. We got in that debate; another broken promise.

When they introduced casinos, that again was a broken promise because they said they would consult and I was on a committee that was chaired by the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin, who did an extremely good job. (Interruption) That report, never mind who was in favour of it, clearly indicated that the people of this province were not in favour of it. Never mind whether I was, you were or anyone else was, but they weren't. Another issue that has really upset people is toll roads. Toll roads have not made people happy. Do you know another thing this government did was to download onto municipalities and the municipal taxpayers of this province. I remember that this government wasn't going to force amalgamation if they came to power. They were against it. Many of them got elected, campaigned against it. A broken promise and if you think, Madam Speaker, the people of this

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province have short memories, they don't. As I go around this province, they remember the promises that this government made and didn't keep. That is part of the problem.

Do you know what else they are upset about? They are upset about the BST, the tax on the necessities of life. They are very upset about that. They are upset about lack of jobs. They cannot find jobs in this province. The government boasts about all of the new jobs and as I go from one end of the province to the other, how come, if there are so many jobs, there are so many people looking for work, a lot of people looking for work. So the people are angry and they are upset and they are mad at this government.

I know that they do polling and we do polling. I know what the polls are saying. They are upset with this government and they upset because of the policies of this government. They are upset because this government didn't consult. This government prided itself that when it came to power that they were going to consult with Nova Scotians before changing things. They never consulted with the seniors. They never consulted with anyone. They said, this is what is good for you and it is coming from the top down and people are angry. So I know, I feel very confident that whenever this government dares to call an election - it is not a matter of when; it is a matter of when they dare to call an election - that the people will have an opportunity to vent their anger at this government, like they did in 1993. The only thing different is, how in the world could this government - it took us 15 years to get them mad. You did a marvellous thing. You were able to do it in four years. That is a feat that I find amazing. (Interruptions)

There we go again. Blame somebody else. You have been in government four years. It is time you stood on your own two feet. You do not need a crutch. You answer to the people of this province and they will decide. Not me, not you, but they will decide when the next election rolls around whether they are happy with the kind of policies that you put in or the kind of policies that you have stuffed down the throats of Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians feel bereft. Nova Scotians feel that the political process has let them down. They voted for something they thought they were going to get and then they did not get it because the government broke its promise.

I dare this government to issue the writ. The day the writ is issued will be the day that I will be smiling in this province and so will the people from one end of the province to the other. They know that they cannot get to this government, but there is one way they can and that is at the ballot box. I know this may be the last sitting before we go to the polls. I hope so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. RICHARD MANN: As I say, I had not intended to engage in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, but seeing how there are a few minutes between now and the moment of interruption, I thought that perhaps I would take to my feet and share a

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couple of observations and as the member for Halifax Fairview said earlier, some anecdotes that may in fact drive people crazy.

In this House on Thursday, following the delivery of the Speech from the Throne, the Leader of the Opposition got to his feet and started to rail away against the health care system in Nova Scotia. There happened to be people in the gallery who were listening to what the Leader of the Opposition had to say. Those people that were in the gallery work in the health care system. I met them downstairs at a reception following the delivery of that and they were outraged. They were outraged at someone standing on the floor of the House telling people, telling everyone that our health care system is falling apart at the seams, when in fact they said it is not the truth. It is not the truth. There is a quality health care system in this province, a service delivery that is second to none and that is being misrepresented. People are fear-mongering all over the place.

I had another opportunity recently to go to the hospital to visit a young friend of mine, a young friend of my daughter's who had collapsed some months ago and has been in a coma for about five and a half or six months. After two and one-half months in a local hospital without a correct diagnosis being done or any corrective measures being successful, this young lady was moved to the University of London Neurology Centre. She stayed in that Neurology Centre at the University of London for 67 days. Following the 67 days, as she was being discharged and sent back to Halifax, they handed her father a bill. They handed her dad a bill as he was leaving the hospital. The cost of care for 67 days was $108,000. Her dad said to me that he was not asked to pay the bill. They just wanted him to know, as they do with others, what the cost of care is. He said, I will never again complain about the health care service in Nova Scotia, now that I know what it costs.

When I hear people talk, want this here and that there and every service in every little corner there is, he said, I now realize that those people fell off the turnip truck. It is impossible to provide that type of service in every corner with that type of cost associated with it. If that does not drive home the reason to any clear thinking Nova Scotian why the health care system has to be reformed, then I am afraid that it is more politics at work than common sense, because we never, ever want to have a Nova Scotian having to pay that type of bill because they are ill - $108,000 for 67 days.

The people in this Chamber that I have listened to for the last couple of days railing away about what a pathetic system we have should be ashamed of themselves. (Applause) They should be ashamed of themselves when a Nova Scotian can receive $108,000 worth of care in 67 days and not have to pay a penny. I am proud to stand here and say that we have got a heck of a good health care system. That is the health care system we want to protect and the Tories, for 15 years, brought us that close, brought us perilously close to having to pay the bill, because that is how close we came to being bankrupt. That is how close we came to having the inability to deliver the quality service without having to pay that $108,000 bill as an individual. That is the horror story that would happen.

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We have heard story after story opposite about how bad it is. Well, it is not that bad. It is a system that is under reform and has to be under reform in order to protect those services. The members opposite can sit there and they can heckle and they can fire shots across the floor, but they know they are the ones who brought us that close to having to dig in the wallet and come up with the $108,000 as an individual. So they should really sit back and reflect on the quality of that health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I took my feet just for a couple of minutes to share that story because there are people in this province that realize what tremendous quality care they are receiving. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have now reached the moment of interruption. The Adjournment motion this evening was submitted by the honorable member for Queens. The debate tonight will be:

Therefore be it resolved that this government begin to recognize the tremendous value of the agricultural industry to the economy of Nova Scotia and put a stop to the persistent cuts that have plagued the industry since 1993.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: ECON. (N.S.) - IMPORTANCE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to see you in the Chair again as we begin the first late show of this session. I wanted to speak as soon as possible into the late show. As you know, there is fierce competition to have your topic chosen for the late show. But, you know, I really don't feel that agriculture gets the publicity nor the coverage from this Legislature and from the members that it deserves. That is quite understandable because there are not very many farmers in Nova Scotia.

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, the agricultural industry employs 16,000 people. Now, find me another industry that is that big. You can't, because agriculture is, truly, probably the biggest employer in Nova Scotia. There are 1,900 farm businesses, 1,900 individual farmers around the province that are operating a business. They are large and small and medium and all things in between. Many of them are incorporated family farms and some are regular family farms. So there are 1,900 farm businesses and some of those are part time.

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The products that we are growing in Nova Scotia run the gamut from large production to small, from dairy to chicken. Many of the crops that we are growing are for export. One of the interesting crops for export is the strawberry plant. We are growing them in several locations across Nova Scotia. They take the plant out of the ground in November. They ship it to Florida where it is replanted and, this time of year, we are buying strawberries grown in Florida from Nova Scotia plants. This is the type of thing that agriculture can do, they can be innovative. We have some of the most modern dairy facilities anywhere in the world. We have milking parlours that cost in excess of $0.5 million. Can you image, $500,000 just to milk your cows? This is the kind of investment it is taking to operate a farm.

[6:00 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: Jody Hill has a $1 million barn.

MR. ARCHIBALD: That is a barn; I am talking about a milking parlour, it was $0.5 million. That is a lot of money. You can see the investment and I know, as a former minister, you know the investment that families are making in the farms of Nova Scotia.

The reason that I am little bit distressed and upset is the lack of interest that this government, except for you and the present minister, is showing in the agricultural sector. We had 40 programs in agriculture in 1993 and now there are 18, so that is a cut from 40 to 18. That means there is a 34 per cent reduction in program spending since this government came to power. That does not tell me that this government has any faith or any commitment to the future of agriculture in Nova Scotia.

The program for young farmers to establish themselves in agriculture, the federal government had a Feed Freight Assistance Program, the extension services, the limestone policy, the fertilizer policy - the list goes on - land clearing, tile drainage. All these programs went among the missing. It was a lot money for an individual, but not a great deal of money in the annals of a government. The Government of Nova Scotia used to spend about 1.5 per cent to almost 2 per cent of the budget on agriculture; that is now less than 1 per cent. That indicates to me and to you that we have a real problem with commitment. The government may talk the talk, but they are not spending the dollars and that is not right; it is not fair.

A budget cut of $7.9 million represented a 20 per cent decrease in government spending on agriculture and that does not even include the $1 million that was decreased in 1996-97. Since 1988, the revenues have declined to less than 1 per cent and it is not fair to be balancing the budget on the backs of the job creators of Nova Scotia. I hope that the Minister of Agriculture will be able to talk to his Cabinet colleagues, so that on Thursday when the budget is presented there will not be another drastic reduction.

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This year, the farmers in Nova Scotia were shocked and surprised - and if the dear federal Leader of the NDP was here, she would say they were appalled at the same time - in the spring, unbeknownst to anybody in this Legislature, except the Minister of Finance, they slapped the tax on agricultural land. Well, they really did not, but they dropped the subsidy. The Government of Nova Scotia for many years has spend just over $1 million, close to $2 million, to pay the tax on farm land but this year, just like that, a blink of the eye, as quick as you can read the sentence, that was all over.

That was such a tangible piece of evidence for the farmers of Nova Scotia, to suddenly see how little this government thought of them. There was no meeting with the Federation of Agriculture to discuss it beforehand, because the minister probably did not know, so he could not talk with them. What happened? Every county in the province handled this reduction a different way. Some areas of the province, like the municipal government, said we will just pay it and forget about it. Others sent a bill to the farmers, others sent half the bill to the farmers. It puts farmers up against the wall for two reasons: they feel kind of let down by their elected officials; and they are short of cash. So you have to pay the bill at the same time you feel let down by your government. Now is this fair? I don't think so.

Feed Freight Assistance. The policy that was enacted in the 1940s by the federal government to guarantee a market for western grain in Eastern Canada was eliminated. Did you hear a whimper or a whisper from the Liberal Government in Nova Scotia when the Liberal Government in Ottawa did that? I don't think so. Federal governments for years have been trying to get rid of it and we didn't let them, we beat them up and said you cannot change the rules halfway through the game. This Liberal Government in Nova Scotia said okay, send us some money. Then the Department of Agriculture established a committee with representatives from each commodity group that uses Feed Freight Assistance, the dairy, the beef, the poultry, the sheep, all facets of agriculture that were using the Feed Freight Assistance policy had a hand in it and they decided the distribution of this farewell subsidy that the federal government put on them.

The only thing the government hasn't cut to farmers is taxes. All the programs, all the assistance, the extension service from the Department of Agriculture is being decimated by early retirement and some of the good staff people, feeling very unsure of the future that they might have had with the department, have sought employment in other provinces and in the private sector. They didn't know when the government was going to say we aren't going to operate a Department of Agriculture anymore, we don't need you. So a lot of people got out when the getting out was good.

We must as an Opposition make a commitment to the farmers that we will in fact provide the kind of government where agricultural production can grow and prosper and the family farm must be paramount in Nova Scotia. It is unfair for this government to operate policies that then take them away. They introduced the Agri-Focus 2000 Program and it ran out of money a year and one-half after it started, after the minister promised it was a five year

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program, 15 months into five years and it was finished. Not only that, it was underfunded by $800,000 over the commitment that was made to the Federation of Agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, my time has run out and I indeed indicate to you and to others that if this government doesn't mend its ways in a big hurry, its time has run out as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate this evening and I want to congratulate the honourable member for bringing the issue forward. I hope we will talk about agriculture even more in this House. Let me assure all members of this House and all Nova Scotians as the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing and my government, that I believe we are well aware of the values and the contributions that the industry makes to the economy of the province. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words in this debate.

First of all, I want to congratulate the Federation of Agriculture. I have been a minister almost a year. I have never met with a better group. Charlie Keddy and I disagree a lot, but the guy is honest with you. Jim Austin and other members of the federation I have a lot of time for, and also the commodity groups and the staff with my department that I think does a great job out there in the field.

It is true, Mr. Speaker, that we have an education program that we have to carry out. We also have to convince Nova Scotians and we have to convince every member of this House that when they go shopping with their families, they should be looking at Nova Scotia produce. They should be looking at Larsen, they should be looking at Sunrise, which takes most of our beef from Nova Scotia and a lot of the hogs in the Cumberland County area because it is shorter to ship them to Moncton than just to ship them all the way to the Valley. Each one of us has a responsibility and each Nova Scotian. I don't know if this is on cable, but if it is, I say to everybody who is watching, when you go shopping this weekend, you ask your retailer for Nova Scotia grown. It is time that we started worrying about creating jobs in Nova Scotia and not somewhere else in the world.

For years when I went to the department, all they wanted to talk about was farmgate value of the industry. If you want to talk farmgate, it has increased $30 million during the past year, but that is not the issue. The honourable member is right; the agricultural sector is over $1 billion a year to this province and it is time that we stopped talking about farmgate and time that we started talking about the 60,000 jobs. I am glad he reads my speeches or gets the information because that is what I have been talking about ever since I went into the portfolio and found out what was going on.

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There is a story to tell for those who are interested in agriculture, to all of our colleagues on all sides of the House. There is a story to tell to all our constituents, our executive and everybody with regard to this issue. I have met with 90 per cent of the processors in Nova Scotia; I think I have met with every commodity group at least once. I believe I have met with every county federation, or most of them. I will be at Armstrong's tomorrow. I never knew when I went into the portfolio that we have no federal meat inspection plants to handle cattle in Nova Scotia. Do you understand? We don't have it. Hub has it and we have Tonys in Antigonish. Tonys does all of Sobeys sausage. Every sausage that Sobeys sells in Atlantic Canada is made right here in good old Nova Scotia. We have to get federally inspected plants. We don't control the law but you cannot ship to another province or out of this country unless you are federally inspected, so that is why we are working with Armstrong's.

I have met with Larsen Packers and they are doing a great job. When people go shopping they should look at Sunrise or Larsen products. Larsen is a unionized plant. Why are people buying products outside of Larsens that come in from outside this country? You either have a philosophy that you support our local industries or you don't. And it is unionized. I want to tell you that they employ about 300 people there and they do a great job in this province.

[6:15 p.m.]

I am meeting now with the grocery groups. I have met with Sobeys. I had a great meeting. I want to try to convince them that when they are marketing they have a sign saying Nova Scotia or Atlantic produce. You can go into a grocery store this weekend and you can see where the manager writes on a thing, U.S. Imported No. 1 lettuce. You read that when you go this week. What I want, and Sobeys said, we never thought of that. They are now looking at that so that on apples or on Larsen's products, or on any other products, be they Tony's or Sobeys sausage, that somehow they put a sign on the meat counter, these are Nova Scotia produced and Nova Scotia processed.

This group that was in the gallery today, they are all volunteers because they are working with me trying to develop programs for the beef industry. They are not on the payroll. They are all volunteers from the grocery, the packers, the processors, the beef producers, right through the whole system, that are all sitting down trying to find an answer, Mr. Speaker, to some of these problems.

The honourable member already mentioned the jobs; 8,000 direct jobs on farms, 4,000 jobs in the processing industry in Nova Scotia. It is time that Nova Scotians understand that if we don't support Nova Scotia processors like Larsen Packers, like ACA, like Maple Leaf, like Oxford Frozen Foods, like Sarsfield's Pies, and I know I have left some out. If we don't support them and if they don't get the agricultural products at a proper price, those companies are not going to be in business. If we don't produce hogs in Nova Scotia that

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Larsen Packers can compete with, Larsen Packers will not be in business. So there is a big stake here for everybody in this House.

God, I only have two minutes left and I am only done one page, 16,000 jobs. We have faced difficulty, but I want to give you some figures, if I can find them right here, with regard to our input into agriculture in Nova Scotia. I want to tell you, despite the reductions, and we have had reductions in every government department except Community Services and Health and I think there has been some in Education. We have had that because we had a debt, yes, we had those cuts. But I hope now that we can start putting more money back into our natural resources. Because forestry, agriculture, fisheries, made Nova Scotia a great province. Those three industries will make us even greater in the years ahead.

I want to tell you that we, in Nova Scotia, enjoy the highest level of provincial government support than any province in Canada. In 1996, the Nova Scotia Government contributed an estimated $16.28 for every $100 of agriculture Gross Domestic Product. This support level is twice the national average of $8.68 per $100. It is three to four times more than our neighbouring provinces, like P.E.I. and New Brunswick. If people want to look at the P.E.I. budget, you will see where the new government cut the health services to livestock, which we have not done. That has happened just in the last week.

Mr. Speaker, I could talk a lot more about it. I appreciate this opportunity and I hope we have more opportunities and I hope each member of this House and each Nova Scotian will accept their responsibility in creating jobs in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak for a few moments this evening on the important role that agriculture plays in the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia. Not only the economy, but also the very culture of many of our communities throughout this province.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution, I think, talks about the reduction in budgets to agriculture.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . 34 per cent.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thats important, and I would like to say that there has been an increasing pressure on farmers and people within the agricultural field as a result of downloading from the federal government in a number of areas and has shown up also in pressures on that province, whether that be in terms of freight assistance or whether it be in terms of inspection services, whether it be in terms of scientific research or whether it be in terms of programs dealing with land management. There have been a series of changes made to the support that is provided to the agricultural industry by both the federal and provincial governments, which has created some significant pressure for that industry.

[Page 354]

Let us be clear that the New Democratic Party caucus at the present time doesn't have a lot of farmers in it; we don't represent a lot of farmers in terms of the constituencies that the three of us represent but, at the same time, we have a lot of members who are involved in the agricultural industry and, as I have had the opportunity to say before in this House, I grew up in the Valley and spent a lot of years, from my youth until I was 20 years old, working in and around farms of different types. I think I have some appreciation and certainly as a caucus we have a responsibility to talk very much about the important role that agriculture plays in the province.

HON. GUY BROWN: Buy Nova Scotian. I guess . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: And buy Nova Scotian. If I forget to talk about that before I finish, perhaps the Minister of Agriculture will remind me.

There have been a couple of very significant threats, in particular to supply management programs in the Province of Nova Scotia during the 1990's when the former President of the Federation of Agriculture, now the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Honourable Donald Downe was in that role, dealing with the GATT negotiations and the impact that that was going to have on supply management programs in the Province of Nova Scotia. As a result of efforts by farmers, agricultural ministers, governments and political Parties from one end of this country to the other we were able to successfully withstand the pressures to dismantle supply management programs in not only the country, but in the Province of Nova Scotia.

We have had further pressure on those programs as a result of not only the Free Trade Agreement, but also NAFTA and I think some efforts have been made and been successful in order to stop that pressure again. It has recently come to my attention that there is another free trade agreement type negotiation taking place out there and I refer of course to the agreements under negotiation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and that is called the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI). What that is is basically a free trade agreement expanded to include the world, in particular, the European Common Market and other countries. What it does is it takes down any and all barriers that may exist that a jurisdiction may want to put in place in order to protect or set standards for how they want to conduct business in their particular jurisdiction whether that be in terms of labour laws, health and safety, or whether it be in terms of protections for domestic industries like the agricultural sector.

The idea is to basically give the investment community and multinational corporations a free rein to set up and operate anywhere they want and to come and go from this jurisdiction or any other jurisdiction in the world without any restrictions whatsoever. I think we should pay attention to what is happening there, Mr. Speaker, because these negotiations are being conducted behind closed doors by bureaucrats. In fact there is very little public awareness of these negotiations taking place. I would suggest that those countries that are

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backing this agreement, the United States, Canada and the European Union, recognize the kinds of pressures that resulted when the public became aware of the FTA and NAFTA and the kind of opposition that was generated.

My goodness, if we think that we had trouble with GATT or with NAFTA, Mr. Speaker, I think we must recognize that an agreement being negotiated at this level is going to be extremely difficult for us to maintain our very small domestic agriculture sector here in this particular province.

You know the issue has always been that a turkey farm in Georgia could easily supply the complete market here in Nova Scotia or elsewhere in this country, unless we had protection. The same goes, that that same turkey plant in Georgia could not only meet the needs of Canada but also of other countries in the world. That is exactly the track we are headed on with these kinds of agreements.

I want to bring that to the attention, of course, of members of this House and of the minister. There have been increasing pressures on the agriculture industry, as I have indicated, in terms of downloading from the federal and provincial governments, increasing transportation costs. The loss of the railroads down through the Valley has created hardship and certainly the services that I indicated earlier have created increasing pressure.

I understand there have been some tax changes that have helped farmers, that have helped people within the agricultural sector, things like the BST, Mr. Speaker. I made a presentation to a sectoral group of milk producers a few months ago and I raised the concerns that we had about the BST and the impact that would have, in particular on the rural poor and the impact on consumers and the availability of their disposable income to be able to purchase milk products in particular. That goes for other agricultural products produced in those particular communities and that farmers, while they may enjoy some savings as a result of the pass-through credits, must recognize that these kinds of tax changes have an impact on demand, they will have an impact on the consumer.

Therefore, when considering these kinds of tax changes, they must recognize the impact that they have on the total community not just on their ability as businesses or business people to realize savings. In other words, when it comes time to take to the streets to man the barricades, to protect the supply management programs, the agriculture industry has called on all Nova Scotians, consumers and producers alike, to help. They must also recognize when it comes to other issues that affect the general community, they, too, must think in kind with the impact that has on the global community, Mr. Speaker.

I see my time is up. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to stand for a few moments and raise a few issues of concern that I have and my caucus has with respect to the state of the agriculture sector in the Province of Nova Scotia and some concerns that I have about some future pressures coming down the pipe. Thank you.

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MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's debate. (Interruption) Buy Nova Scotia.

Now we will return to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

[GOVERNMENT MOTIONS - Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier. (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me considerable pleasure to rise in support of the Speech from the Throne. This is, as you know, the government's fourth such speech and is, without doubt, the most positive statement that we have made so far.

[6:30 p.m.]

Before going on, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention the mover and the seconder of the Speech from the Throne. The member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and the member for Yarmouth. These two members are extremely hard working MLAs. They exemplify the reason that we are here. (Applause) They give voice to the concerns in their constituencies and they also raise issues that are important for all of us. So I thank you both for the response that you made and may you work harder and your voices continue here for many years to come.

I also make, as is customary, mention of my own constituency. It has been a very distinct pleasure for me to have served the fine citizens of Dartmouth South for the past four years, the progress that has continued in the City of Dartmouth, the significant improvements in the waterfront area, the Dartmouth multi-use trail, is indeed a very exciting development that anytime, particularly on an evening like this, that you can see anybody out walking with their dog, with their bicycle, with their children and it has turned out to be a very important example, a fact of how infrastructure works. It is very pleasant. It is six kilometres and an outdoor facility that is unequalled, I think, and one that we are very proud of.

I also wanted to draw special attention, Mr. Speaker, to a very important event this summer in Dartmouth, which has been heralded as the biggest sports event east of Montreal in the history of this country. I am referring to the 1997 World Canoe Championships that will take place on Lake Banook this year. A tremendously important event, not just for people in Dartmouth, but for people all over Nova Scotia. Its success is, in no small way, due to the tremendous team of volunteers and hard work that has been put into it by people headed by Martin Jones and others. I want to pay tribute to those volunteers who have worked so hard. This will be a great event and if you are not still here in August, Mr. Speaker, listening to the cries and the wails of the Opposition, you might depart from your throne and come on over to Dartmouth, like many of the others will do, because it will be a tremendous event.

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As I stated earlier, this is probably the most positive Speech from the Throne that we have had. I think it is fair to say that it marks a significant turning point for the Province of Nova Scotia. If there were words that one had to use to coin the approaches that we have made, as opposed to 15 years of Conservatives, and the absence of any NDP policy, I guess it would be the word responsibility. What we have demonstrated is responsibility in management, responsibility in dealing with major events that were forced upon us, as opposed to irresponsibility that characterized 15 years of a spendthrift organization called Conservative Government. As the NDP Convention showed recently in their federal campaign, they have no understanding of fiscal responsibility, just tax and spend. So it goes on.

But the characteristic of the last four years, that I think will eventually be seen, is the word responsibility. I think that is an important statement to make up front. We can, and we will, in the next four weeks, listen to every anecdotal story you can think of in health care, in education, in community services, on roads. We will have ample anecdotal bits and pieces thrown at us. It is important for us to remember that it is easy to produce anecdotes as has been mentioned. It is important to understand that changing that kind of experience to the kind of consistent development of policy, which is what we have done in four years is the difference between four years of Liberalism and 15 years of Conservative spendthrift government. (Applause)

Liberalism is often referred to an ability to see and work through reforms, to accept the need for reforms, to approach whatever is necessary in the light of reform and I guess it would be interesting to toss into that mixture the speech of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Mulroney, who said yesterday that Prime Ministers and ministers are not there to just do the popular thing, you have to do what is right.

This government has done what is right in terms of reform. They have done what is right in terms of programs and they have done what is right for the people of this province. I think that is terribly important to stress. Badly-needed reforms that have been done in the past four years have virtually been completed. Programs and services have been stabilized in areas like health, education, community services. Programs are actually being expanded and my colleague, the Minister of Finance will detail that on Thursday when he brings down the second balanced budget in the history of this province since 1971-72; two in a row, Mr. Speaker, something that eluded our good friends across the road for 15 years.

What is more important, with what we are doing now in reform and what is more important with what we are doing in the changes in the programs, is, do you know whose money we are spending? We are spending our money. We are not spending our children's and our grandchildren's money, which is what we saw for 15 years of spendthrift Conservative spending. We are spending our money and no more and maybe a little left over for a surplus and that is the major difference that the people of this province eventually, I hope, will come to understand.

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We have preserved programs and services that were in serious danger of collapse. As a government, we made the tough decisions that were necessary to preserve those programs and what we distinguished ourselves in terms of the Opposition now, the government then, was that we did what was right and they did what was easy. That is very important for us to understand. The result is that this province has now turned the corner. This is not just a view of an optimistic Premier, it is not just a view of an Economic Development and Tourism Minister, it is not just a view of Liberals, it is a view of other people.

Economic growth will improve significantly in 1997 and accelerate in 1998. Who says that? The banks - the Royal Bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia and Statistics Canada comes out with the very important statistic that this province, Nova Scotia, will lead the country in investment growth this year. Our rate of growth increase is 18 per cent which far outstrips the nearest province which is, of course, Alberta and the average for the entire country is 5 per cent.

This is a good statistic that perhaps we can refer to when people talk all the time about the bad news of this province. More then 1,000 Nova Scotians will be employed in just two of the capital projects undergoing this year. The $750 million Stora Industries expansion and the $112 million Highway No. 104 western alignment project. That is just two projects, that is just part of the investment that is coming into this province in 1997 and 1998. Jobs are being created, not part-time jobs, as is the wish that you sometimes hear from the NDP, but full-time jobs. As the Throne Speech points out, Nova Scotia has led the nation in job growth for the past 12 months. Nova Scotia has the lowest unemployment rate in the Atlantic Region and we are proud of that.

There are areas where we are not proud. One of them remains, unfortunately, the area of Cape Breton. Job growth has not kept pace with jobs lost, particularly in the traditional industries that I mentioned this afternoon, such as coal and steel. Replacing these jobs will take time. There are no quick fixes. We had enough quick fixes for 13 years, in which answers were dropped for five years and then moved away again. We have not done that. We have not promised facile answers to complex problems. What we promise is an approach to work with ECBC, an approach to work with the people of Cape Breton for whom the prime responsibility now rests on the creation of jobs in that part of the province.

There is significant hope and there has been significant development. In the IT sector there are 120 companies, many of whom have been funded in part by government. Tourism has received significant boosts by the waterfront development that my colleague from Sydney and the others will tell you. In addition, we have the entertainment business and all those that are so important to the psyche of Cape Breton, as indeed, is the University College of Cape Breton.

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So though I do not pretend to be happy about the fact that we have not made the successes in Cape Breton that we have in the rest of the province, they are coming. They just will take a lot longer, particularly involving community economic development, the kind of community development of jobs which is so important and the kind of jobs that will last. So I am optimistic about Cape Breton, even if I am not particularly happy with the rate of unemployment there.

I am also not particularly happy about the area that my good friend from Digby comes from. Those kinds of areas and Shelburne and some of the areas in this province need the kind of assistance that we can do. We could only do so much in four years. When you consider what has happened in four years, I think this government, without being too upset and without having a kind of egocentric look, can take pride in what has happened. The 25,000 jobs are here in this province and no amount of propaganda from the Opposition can take those jobs away. We are proud of them. We just want another 25,000 as well.

As the Speech from the Throne also mentioned, there is great promise in the Sable Offshore Energy Project. This afternoon, I refused to comment on much of this because we do have a panel. We do have a National Energy Board. In the next few months, some of the issues will unfold. The amount of gas that is available for people in this province, which has always been of concern to us. Our relationships with the partners in the consortium. Our approach to the issue of tolling. All these issues will appear where they ought to appear, which is before that particular group.

That is where the answers will be. That, after all, is why the National Energy Board appointed this panel. We have two representatives on that panel. We have established, I think, that that panel is fair. We now have to approach the issue as well as we can in making our case. I know the honourable Minister for Natural Resources has been working tremendously hard on this and deserves tremendous credit for the way in which she has worked with companies and with the Offshore Project. I think there is ample opportunity for us to make our case.

You will not see us in this House, while this panel is sitting, talking a lot about this because if those who seek answers have the time, which presumably they have, since they are not all here tonight, they might wander down and listen to some of those proposals, some of the counter-arguments that will be put out.

Let me tell you, Nova Scotians will benefit from the offshore development.

Those of us who have had contact with the companies, who have met with Mobil and Shell, who have met with West Coast, have no doubt that commencing on the day that that finally happens in terms of the ultimate decision which we hope will be October of this year, according to them, that there will be a period of two years when there will be 4,000, close to 5,000, jobs in construction, in the coating of legs of those platforms and all the things that are

[Page 360]

important for working people. It has been dismissed that some of these jobs are just that. I care very much for people who work in construction and it is our objective to make sure that those jobs will, in effect, come to the people of this province.

[6:45 p.m.]

We have from these people, from Mobil, with whom we have worked very hard, a virtual guarantee, not in writing in blood, which is what the Leader of the Opposition requested this afternoon, but we have a demand which they have said they will fulfil. It is the equivalent of 4,000 to 5,000 jobs in that interval. It will involve work that will go on the part that goes out offshore and part, of course, on the pipeline. That whole project, $3 billion worth, will be the biggest single investment that this province has ever seen. It will be absolutely important for people, for instance, in Guysborough to have subsequently a plant that will be there for 25 years. If you listen to some of the forecasts that people are telling you, it may be that this is a source of revenue for this province for 75 to 80 years. We have never had that in this province and we never had the opportunity to cash in on it like we are doing now.

When you hear the naysayers, when you hear the people who protest, when you hear the so-called environmentalists who talk, for some reason, against gas, remember that this project offers this province the chance to become a have province. I will give you an incautious forecast. Probably by the year 2010, I think, this province will be a have province and part of it will be that. (Applause)

The royalties have been discussed and they will be discussed a lot more but in addition to that the potential for a petrochemical industry in Cape Breton is already significant. We have had inquiries from companies from the United States, from Vancouver, about the possibilities of a whole variety of those related to the petrochemical industry and that is going to be of major importance in Cape Breton as well.

In addition to that we will also have a new energy source in this province. I want to emphasize, before the scaremongers again who particularly frequent the benches from the New Democratic Party, that this gas will not replace coal. This gas will replace expensive offshore oil. (Applause) There will be environmental issues that will have to be addressed by the coal industry that seem to have escaped the Leader of the Third Party. They are of great importance to this province and they are changing as the environmental standards change as we approach the next millennium.

It may be that gas will go into Cape Breton for industry but, once again, the objective when we sit down with the Power Corporation and when we sit down with our own energy department, our own Department of Natural Resources, is to keep going with coal as long as we possibly can. That is this government's intention. It is highly likely that environmental concerns will be of more importance in the long run than the issue of coal being displaced by

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gas. Let's be under no illusions about that. This government will continue to support the coal industry in Cape Breton but we are under no illusions about the ultimate environmental issues that will have to be addressed.

So, what do we have as a goal? This government has a goal that is very important and that is to guarantee, as much as you can in an uncertain industry but certainly one that is showing major promise, to show that Nova Scotians will benefit in both the short term and long term from the development of gas in this province. That is our pledge, we have given that pledge, we have worked hard for the last six months and it is a pledge and promise that we will keep.

In closing I would just like to mention a few of the other highlights that were contained in His Honour's insightful speech of last week. In the very near future, as I mentioned, the Minister of Finance will introduce this government's second consecutive balanced budget. Remember that our goal in dealing with the finances of this province is not a primary aim in itself, it is a goal to ensure that we have the money to spend on those programs and policies that are important to us; it is a means to an end and we will never forget that.

Let me also point out, since we are in a mood of talking about what will happen to Nova Scotians, that income tax was introduced in this province - and I stand to be corrected - I think in 1917. This summer, Mr. Speaker, the people of this province will have their first-ever cut in personal income tax in the entire life of income tax in this province and it took a Liberal Government to do it. (Applause)

The Department of Education and Culture will be introducing programs designed to assist young people to upgrade their educational levels to find jobs in the new and expanding economy and this is a new and expanding economy. It is not an economy in which there are only low-paid jobs, as the Bank of Commerce and the other places have shown in the development in this province. The Minister of Education will also be introducing a four year plan to reduce class sizes in Nova Scotia's public schools. There will be and has already been a significant push in terms of the emphasis on research and development and the export of technology.

Highway safety and those of us who travel will remember the importance of highway safety. It is of major importance to us. Those of us who remember back to 1982, 1985, will remember that at this time of the year the litany of complaints about potholes is as repetitive and as well-versed as any story there is in this province, every single year. I think it was a member for Digby who said how difficult it was this year, after the winter, since we have already had six freezes and thaws within a period of six weeks. The point is that it is important to us and we will put money into those eventually, Mr. Speaker, but I come back to the theme that we will be putting our money into it, not borrowed money that our children will have to repay.

[Page 362]

Listening, particularly to the member for Kings opposite, you have to wonder about what he speaks when he talks about the health care system. Anecdotal drivel is probably the best way to describe much of it. That is not to deny that there are not problems within the health care system, there are, but I will tell you this, if there had not been reform, if there had not been the changes, if there had not been the directions pointed out by this government, the problems would have been even greater. What we have is a necessity to come to grips and to deal with the Medical Society, which the Minister of Health is approaching in as open a way as he possibly can. It is coming, it is just that it is not easy.

Let me end on health care by saying one thing. Hospital funding will be stabilized. I announced that with the minister a few weeks ago. That means that it will remain and probably will increase, and you may have to wait for the budget to see where that comes from. Home care has already been expanded. They may talk about the difficulties in home care, but 18,000 people have been served, as opposed to 6,000. Those are people who are happy with health care and with home care. Not all of them, because in any program you can produce anecdotal information which highlights a tragedy or highlights somebody's discomfort with a program, but the long and short of it is that it is a much better program, as the emergency health system is in this province as well.

I also want to announce what I will be talking about, on the weekend I guess, and that is there will be four Healthy Communities Projects introduced in four Nova Scotia communities through community health boards; that will be this coming year.

Let me conclude on health with that simple phrase and that simple sentence that I have used before, there is no crisis in health care in this province.

The other point I want to emphasize is the way in which, despite the difficulties we have had in financing over the last number of years, having to cope with the incredible debt load and the deficit that was left due to the push, in particular, of the former Minister of Community Services, this government has continually tried to emphasize the importance of childrens and children services. At a time when we did reduce the number of people involved in our public system we have, indeed, added 38 child care workers, which if you compare with other provinces, is a major number of people - long needed, but very important. I pay tribute to the way in which the former Minister of Community Services continually brought the subject back to children's health, no matter what it was, whether it was money, whether it was roads, there was always a way that the former minister would bring it into the importance of child care in this province and he deserves our thanks for that continued record. (Applause)

These are just a few of the highlights that this year's Speech from the Throne contains. It is an optimistic document, yes it is, and rightfully so. I know the members of the Opposition do not like to hear about good news because it implies that something is going well, that is not what they like. The fact is, you talk, as we do, to people from Calgary to Toronto right

[Page 363]

through and they will tell you that Nova Scotia has turned the corner. Nova Scotia has made the changes that were necessary for us to turn the corner and we are now going to benefit from this and take our place as we should do as one of the best places in the world in which to live and which to enjoy a good life and which, hopefully, will see the continued improvement in services that the difficulties of the last four years are now entitling us to expect.

Let me just finish by saying what the Minister of Economic Development and myself told some of the people in Italy last week. Nova Scotia is ready to take on the world. We have a potential source of opportunity in places like Italy and places like Germany. We talk about the price of gas here, the price of gas in Italy is $2.00 a litre and the small cars are not the ones that you see on the highway. They are looking at the way and the cost in which business is done here and they see the opportunity to enter a free trade area, which no matter how much it may upset our New Democratic colleagues is here and they look at this as an avenue to get into a tariff free U.S. I think you will see, as the minister will probably unveil in the next couple of months, you will probably see this kind of opportunity which will show that Nova Scotia, particularly because of the HST and the opportunity we give to companies that come here that this province will be a great place in which to build, both plants and also to do joint partnerships with these European companies.

I want to conclude by saying that this, whatever way people refer to it as, this has not been an effort in which I get all the blame or an effort in which I get all the credit - it is not. This has been a team effort. We have slugged it out on Wednesdays in caucus, as my colleagues here will tell you, and there have been occasions when we slugged it out in Cabinet. We have made the decisions that we think were right and I think we are beginning to see that it is justified in the progress that we have made and the fact that we have turned the corner.

I want to thank all of my colleagues, those in the backbenches who have served so valuably, those in my Cabinet who have worked with me, I want to thank them for the support and criticism that they have often given me, but which has, I think, resulted in better policies.

I also want to acknowledge that this is probably the last time I will participate in a Throne Speech debate. I want to acknowledge, generously, the way in which members in the Opposition and the opposite Parties work in this House, the way in which they attempt to put across arguments the same way as we do. Although we have different views and although we have differing approaches, I think it is fair to say that the people who represent the three Parties in this House have only one goal and that is to create a better Nova Scotia. I acknowledge that that is a goal that we share. (Applause)

[Page 364]

[7:00 p.m.]

I want to acknowledge their dedication, their stamina, I suppose would be an appropriate word to use when you sit in a House like this. I particularly want to thank them for the mentions that some of them have made, sometimes in my absence, of what I may or may not have contributed to this House. It has been a brief four years compared to the longevity and the way in which some of them have been around for a longer time. I just want to say that I think that this is an honourable and an interesting profession. Although it is difficult and although it is at times hard, and the criticism comes from all angles, it also has it rewards.

I want to conclude by repeating my thanks to the Opposition Parties, but, more particularly, to those people who have worked with me in the last four years. I could not have done and led this Party without the support that I have had from them. In closing then, Mr. Speaker, I will obviously be voting in favour of the motion. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The House will now deal with the amendments proposed on the Reply to the Speech from the Throne. The House will now deal with the subamendment proposed by the Leader of the NDP.

It reads, "I move that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition be amended by adding the following words: that this house lacks confidence in this government because:

(1) The Speech from the Throne completely fails to deal with the real problems of Nova Scotians who must endure worsening health, education and social services and continued economic insecurity because of this government's failed policies;

(2) The Speech from the Throne fails to make jobs the priority and completely ignores jobs in rural Nova Scotia and in Cape Breton, where unemployment is a national disgrace.".

Is the House ready for the question?

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

The subamendment is carried in the negative.

The House will now deal with the amendment proposed by the honourable Leader of the Opposition and it reads: "I move that the resolution before this House be amended by deleting on Page 2 all of the words after, 'College of Family Physicians of Canada', and substituting thereafter the following words: This House regrets that His Honour's speech proposed no new government action to address the deterioration in our health, education and social services, nor did it offer any concrete solutions to alleviate high levels of unemployment, especially in rural Nova Scotia. It also failed to adequately address Nova

[Page 365]

Scotia's natural resource sectors or to ease the increasing sense of frustration about the misguided direction of this government.".

Is the House ready for the question?

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

The amendment is carried in the negative.

The question now before the House is that the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne do pass.

Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

Ordered that the Address as a whole do pass. Ordered that the Address be engrossed. Ordered that the Address be presented to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor by such members as are of the Executive Council.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - Residential Tenancies Act.

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

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me this evening to stand and put forward Bill No. 1 for second reading. I will just make a few comments and then look forward to hearing response from the Opposition Parties.

[Page 366]

This legislation will serve to protect tenants of mobile home parks from excessive rent increases. Since rent control was ended in 1993, there have been incidents of substantial rent increases in mobile home parks without a corresponding improvement in service to the tenant. We felt that this situation was unacceptable, so we moved forward this legislation. In the legislation it includes a process whereby tenants of mobile home parks can request a review of a notice of rent increase. The landlord will then be called upon to justify the proposed increase. The residential tenancies officers of the department will be authorized to approve or roll back a proposed increase.

This is not a return to rent control, Madam Speaker, or a rent freeze. The rent increase will be permitted and there will be no ceiling, but they must be justified. This is extremely important to the individuals at mobile home parks. Also, a review is not automatic. It must be requested by the tenant.

We first talked about this piece of legislation back in December 20, 1996, and particularly I want to say, Madam Speaker, on the request of the member for Sackville-Beaverbank. There are certainly other members in the House who have mobile homes in their area, but I do want to say that the member for Sackville-Beaverbank has the largest number of mobile homes in his area. We certainly do appreciate his bringing forward the concerns of his constituents and we are very pleased as a government to be able to act on that request.

The amendments proposed that where there is a disagreement between landlords and tenants over a proposed increase, either side can request that a residential tenancies officer decide the dispute. If either side is dissatisfied with the decision, it may then be appealed to the local Residential Tenancies Board.

The legislation further authorizes residential tenancies officers to be the first line of decision making in any dispute between residential landlords and tenants. This also includes apartment related disputes.

It is important for us to understand that tenants in mobile parks have a completely different circumstance from apartment tenants. They often own the building in which they live but not the land on which the building sits. When presented with a notice of rent increase, mobile home park tenants must choose between paying the increased rent that has been requested or relocating. Often, as has been pointed out to me by the honourable member and those individuals who are owners of mobile homes, that can cost up to $5,000. It is very expensive to decide that you are not going to accept a rent increase and move. The mobility of mobile homes in this instance is not very mobile.

Many tenants in mobile parks find that large increases are something that they just are not going to be able to accept because of the expense to move. The regulations will establish the criteria to be applied for determining a justifiable rent increase. Criteria will include past rent increases, changes in operating costs, repairs and other factors. It is important to note

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that there are approximately 10,000 mobile home owners renting space in parks across Nova Scotia, and it is also important to note that the majority of them are here in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The new procedure requires that the director has attempted to mediate a dispute between the landlord and the tenant so the first line is a mediation of the dispute. If the director is successful, the director shall make a written record of the settlement so it is done there and there is a record of that settlement. If the director is not successful, the director must make an order. The Act contains the requirement for an order and this order is deemed to be an order of the board. If the director's order is appealed by the board, the board holds a hearing, as ordered by the order.

The board is required by the amendments before this House to complete a record of the hearing. So it is important, Madam Speaker, that we understand that what we are doing here today is to provide some comfort to the mobile home owners in the Province of Nova Scotia, to offer them an opportunity to deal with what has been deemed in the past couple of years since we removed the rent control in 1993 for unjustified rent increases on mobile home parks.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to move Bill No. 1 for second reading. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to see you in the Chair again and to talk about this bill that was introduced, An Act to Amend Chapter 401 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Residential Tenancies Act.

I guess the place you start is how come? Well, the reason we have this bill is because the previous Minister of Housing abolished the rent control bills, so that it became apparent that perhaps the government, in its haste to become as - I don't know, I don't like to use the words right wing and so on - but in order for the government to set out the ground rules, that they are, indeed, the Party operating on the right, that they wanted to make sure that everybody knew. Really, as exemplified by this bill that we have introduced here, they may have gone too far and they may be making another one of their turnaround statements.

You see, Madam Speaker, this government in pretty near everything they have done they have changed their minds. I mean if we start going down the road in one direction, then halfway down the road they say oh my goodness, let's turn left or turn right. This happens time and again so that is really why this bill is here, because the government didn't really mean to cast the residents of a mobile home park in the same category as residents of an apartment building.

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The changes for an apartment building were quite evident because with the decline in jobs that we have seen in Nova Scotia in the last three years, there are more people who (Interruptions) Oh, listen to that, did you hear it? Oh my, look. Madam Speaker, do the rabbit tracks from the Minster of Community Services disturb you as much as they disturb me? They don't bother you a bit? Well, they should.

MADAM SPEAKER: The only thing that I am responsible for is maintaining order and I think you have the floor.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you. Tell the Minister of Community Services he is such - I don't know what you would call him.

AN HON. MEMBER: A kibitzer.

MR. ARCHIBALD: No, I think he is more of a buffoon than anything. Anyway, Madam Speaker, the Minister of Community Services seems to think that there are no problems within this government with the way they start out to do one thing and they wind up doing - it is like when the government was elected they said we are not going to raise your taxes and then they raised every single tax that we have in Nova Scotia, then they raised every single fee, then they raised every single fine. Now, just to make sure they didn't miss a single living soul or breathing person in the province, they brought in the BST. So you have gone full circle.

Now it is the same thing, he was going to spend more money on education and when he is Minister of Education he is spending less. He has closed schools, he has laid off teachers. I mean this is exactly the same situation; the government did away with rent controls and I think rent controls and apartments (Interruption) look, jobs he says. In 1993 there were 57,000 people unemployed and according to my colleague over here on the right this afternoon, he told me there are now 63,000 unemployed. We have a net loss of 4,000 jobs in Nova Scotia since 1993.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I fear you have fallen prey to the rabbit tracks and we are dealing with the second reading on Bill No. 1.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I know, I know. Well you know, Madam Speaker, it is hard not to when that fellow gets into it. You would just like to go over and throttle him. (Interruptions) What? Just trying to help, you know. I can't wait for the election because I think your constituents will give you the final help.

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[7:15 p.m.]

Now this bill introduced by the Minister of Business and Consumer Services is a bill that she really believes is a good thing to bring in. This bill is interesting because of the reason it is here. It is also interesting that the government suddenly realized that they had done a great disservice to a whole segment of Nova Scotia society. The people who live in apartments were protected because of the high vacancy rate. Now anybody in this Chamber from outside of the City of Halifax who happens to be an out-of-town member and is renting an apartment knows first-hand that there are apartments for rent now in greater abundance than there were four or five years ago. That is due to the terrible economic climate that this government has put the province in.

The mobile-home people are in a different kettle of fish altogether. How you can even think for a moment that renting an apartment is the same as renting the piece of land that your home is sitting on is beyond me. So the minister had to bring in this piece of legislation to try to give some sort of protection to the group of people that do live in mobile homes and believe me, there are a great many people living in mobile-home parks. Most of them are living in the metropolitan area and apparently the vast majority of them live in Sackville in the NDP member's district.

"Clause 7 puts . . . a new procedure to allow the Director of Residential Tenancies to make decisions respecting rent review for mobile home park spaces . . .". Appeals can go to the Residential Tenancies Board. This puts a great deal of responsibility shall we say on the person known as the director. He is the person that will make the decisions that will affect one way or another the tenant of the mobile home as well as the owner of the property upon which it is situated. In a perfect world when you have perfect tenants and you have perfect landlords, the director wouldn't be busy. But when you have problems such as were indicated in the news media, there was a picture in the paper of Chris Richardson of Sackville Estates. She says this legislation doesn't go far enough. (Interruption) Well, you have to listen to her argument. Now she can speak with greater knowledge even than the Minister of Community Services. I never thought that there was anybody who knew as much about everything as he does but I think that Mrs. Richardson living in a mobile-home park may have a greater understanding than the Minister of Community Services who doesn't.

Mrs. Richardson indicated that we should have rent controls and that is what she wanted the government to do. Well, I have never been a great proponent of rent controls even when they were introduced before but under this bill - and I am not sure that it is entirely fair either - the disputes will be settled entirely by the director. "A tenant of a mobile home park space may apply to the Director in accordance with Clause 5, Section 11A(3) and (4) for a review of a notice of rent increase received on or after the twentieth day of December . . .", and that is regarding this bill when it was introduced the first time.

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The guidelines prescribed by the regulations. Well, I would be a lot happier if I had some idea what the regulations that the director is going to be working under are. The director is going to be operating under information provided or submissions made by the landlord and the tenant. This director is going to be a judge and he can make an order which may be made retroactive. This fellow has a great deal of power. He doesn't report to you or to me or to this Legislature. "The Director shall investigate and endeavour to mediate a settlement of the matter. The Director may . . . make an order . . .". The order made by the director is an obligation that the tenant and the landlord have to carry out.

So you can see that the director is a very powerful person. The order that the director can make means that compensation may be paid. The landlord or the tenant can't breach the lease, "require the landlord or tenant to repair or take any action . . . terminate the tenancy on a date specified . . . direct that the tenant pay the rent . . . require the payment of money . . .". So this director is very powerful in this situation. When two people, the landlord and the tenant come together, the director is the guy who is going to make things right, we hope. If the parties don't they can go to an appropriate board for an appeal.

This is all very interesting. I am anxious to hear further debate from members. I would love to hear a debate from members of the government. How many members of the government have read this legislation and how many of the members are going to be speaking? Will the member for Sackville-Beaverbank be standing up and telling us how much input he had when they were drawing up this bill? Did he have any input in it at all?

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you. The riff-raff was getting loud, wasn't it? Madam Speaker, being a tenant in a mobile-home park is very different than being a tenant in an apartment building. The minister has pointed out so clearly . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I cannot believe, Madam Speaker, how you got mixed up with such a crowd.

Madam Speaker, a person who is a tenant in a mobile-home park is not under the same ease of movement. With three months notice, I can be out of my apartment and into another one. A person with a mobile home, in three months will still be looking for a new place to park the mobile home and have it hooked up to services. I am anxiously awaiting the discussion, to hear from the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat, to hear from the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. They seem to have a great deal to say in that they are talking across the floor. Let's have them stand up and tell us how much input they had when this bill was being considered by the Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

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AN HON. MEMBER: I had a lot.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, he says he has a lot. Let us hear him. Let us give him an opportunity to stand in this House. Let us not prejudice his views by hearing somebody else. Stand up. I have never yet heard the government members in this Chamber speak on any legislation that came before this Chamber. I think it would be an excellent opportunity for this government to come forward and tell us exactly where they stand.

I know from the experience that the people in Kings South, in New Minas, had when the mobile-home park was moved so that the new Canadian Tire and the new Sobeys stores could be constructed. There was a great deal of discussion from the people who were living in those areas because the person owning the land actually owns the land, and your mobile home is actually on a driveway. It is not on a government road and, as such, the owner of the land moved all the mobile homes. Some of the people were living in the park and they quite liked where they were but, to make way for progress, those homes were moved.

Was proper compensation paid? I know that the person who owns the mobile-home park made every effort to accommodate all the residents, but I do know that towards fall, some of their tenants were having a great deal of difficulty getting up the road when the mud and the snow and the ice came. It is up to the landlord to make sure that there is proper snow and ice control and that the roads are gravelled and salted and the dust is kept down.

Will the director mediate discussions like that in a fair and equitable way? Talking to some people who own mobile-home parks, sometimes they foresee the residents, in some cases as not being very helpful. We have to have a director that is going to, in fact, make sure that each and every problem between the tenant and the owner are handled properly to the satisfaction of all concerned. If not, according to this, they go to the board and have the board rule on it. I am not sure that this is as fair to all parties as it could be and I am anxious for the government members to stand and convince me that this legislation is, in fact, legislation that should be supported by all members of this Legislature. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, as I begin my remarks and I know that there have been a few hecklers across the way asking the former speaker if he was going to be voting for or against the bill, I want to tell you, that I think there are many serious flaws in the bill and that there are better ways of doing things than that which are contained int he bill, but I do acknowledge that this is an improvement by about 25 per cent over the current situation, therefore I will be voting to move the bill forward, but I also will be pushing for amendments and changes to the legislation.

[Page 372]

The minister in her comments and others have said that mobile-home owners are in a unique situation and that is fact. There have been a lot of concerns, there have been a lot of controversies about mobile homes and mobile-homes parks in recent years. I have been a member of this House now since 1984 and even though after redistribution, my riding was cut in half and so most of the larger mobile-home parks are no longer in my riding, I want to assure you that just because they are no longer in my riding, I have not forgotten about the concerns and I have not forgotten about how many of those tenants have in the past and still are today being taken advantage of by their landlord.

Mobile-home parks and mobile homes are, in fact, a good quality of home. There is nothing wrong with a mobile home. Very often those who live in mobile homes are made to feel like they are second-class citizens. When this government, and the minister did not state this as clearly as she might, in 1993, one of the first things that they did was to move in and cancel rent control. What they did is they turned around and they placed these people who live in these homes, who are homeowners, they pay mortgages, they pay taxes, they pay their power bills, they are like any other homeowner in the responsibilities to maintain their home. They have an investment, but the one difference is that they are paying for that small postage stamp lot of land on which that home is located.

They have made substantial investments and if you are to go out and purchase a new mobile home today, that could cost you $45,000, $50,000 and sometimes $60,000. It is a major stake, a major investment and they cannot pick up their home and relocate it. In fact, in this area, many, if not in fact most mobile-home parks, are owned by the same family. You cannot pick up your mobile home and move it from one park to another; if you can find a space, the chances are you will not be allowed to move your mobile into it unless you purchase a new mobile home from the owner of that park.

[7:30 p.m.]

When those mobile homes are moved into the park, very often, in fact in most cases, the wheels and the axles are removed and traded back in, as is the hitch that brought it. In order to pick up your mobile home, if you could, to move it, it is a major expense. It is not just a matter of telling a truck to come up, hook on the front and haul it away. It is a major expense. The newspaper article that the former member referred to pointed out that it can cost $5,000. Indeed, it can, $5,000-plus, if you can find any place you can put it, because most of the zoning will not permit a mobile home to be placed on the land.

They are trapped. What this government did three years ago in 1993, over three years ago now, they gave carte blanche permission to those landowners to take advantage of those tenants who are trapped and gave them carte blanche permission to go in and crank up their rent by whatever they wanted, without any controls whatsoever. And they did it. The rents have been being jacked up without any improvement in services whatsoever and those tenants

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were at the disadvantage that there was virtually nothing they could do about it. That is why I say I will vote for this. It brings it in and improves it a slight bit, but only a slight bit.

Across this province from one end to the other, the minister's statement and her press releases have summed it up quite correctly. There are about 10,000 mobile-home owners. My guess, without having sat down and actually figured out the numbers, I would be willing to bet you in the member for Sackville-Beaverbank's riding alone, there are well over 2,000, probably about 2,500, because that is how many there used to be in mine when I represented that whole area before redistribution. That is families. That is senior citizens. That is young families bringing up their children. That is families that are getting their start in their first home or people who have decided that that will be their retirement home.

A whole host, a whole range of incomes, demographics - all trapped by this government's decision.

One of the big problems with this legislation is still that it is placing the onus upon the (Interruptions) That is a request for me to yield the floor for somebody to make an introduction. I would be happy to do that and I will begin my remarks again in a moment where I have left off.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. I would like to introduce in the gallery the Scout troop from the First River Lake Scout Troop who are visiting here tonight from the riding of Bedford-Fall River. I would ask that they stand and receive the warm welcome of the House.

I appreciate your allowing this introduction.

MR. HOLM: I always welcome the opportunity to yield the floor to introduce guests in our gallery, especially when they are young people and Scouts. I am sure that you are working on one of your badges and part of the Citizenship one, quite probably. It is indeed very encouraging to see young people coming here and finding out what happens in what is their House. This is, of course, Madam Speaker, as I am sure you know, and if you speak to them will tell them how this Chamber belongs to them and that we are here supposedly working on their behalf.

I want to go back to the point that I was trying to get at and get my thoughts recollected here as I get to the point.

One of the major problems with the legislation is that it is still placing the onus on the tenants. Before the government scrapped, back in 1993, the rent review process, there used to be a process in place where if a landlord wanted to increase their rent that the government would set a rate up to which they could increase it automatically but that any amount beyond

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that, they would have to apply to the Rent Review Committee for an evaluation to see if it is justified. I believe that is the process that should be followed.

What the government in this legislation is doing is placing the onus on all of the tenants once they have received the notice that those tenants who often may be of very limited resources, who maybe feel intimidated by the process, it is up to them. Let me tell you, many of those tenants feel intimidated and if you don't believe me I will go with you to any park you name, let's go knock on some doors and ask the people privately if they feel any concern that if they bring complaints against some of their landlords that they could be evicted or they are afraid that some of their landlords would get back at them by trying to force them out. You will find that, that is a fact. That is harsh for me to say that but it is fact, I have heard it time and time again, they've got huge investments. The landlord, not the tenant, if they want to increase the price of their rents above and beyond the rate of inflation, they should be required to justify that before a board. The tenants shouldn't have to go the other way around.

Many of those landlords own numerous parks and so what they may be showing as an expense in one park, they may also be showing as an expense in the other, whether that be for manpower, for equipment and so on. And the individual tenants don't have the resources and the abilities, quite often, to be able to do that kind of financial analysis and details to determine which belongs to which. So I say very passionately that I believe firmly that the onus should be on the landlord to bring forward his request and to justify it before that is imposed.

Secondly, in this legislation and I have spoken to the minister on this and I wait to get some clarification back, the way this reads, a tenant can appeal a rent increase or a group of tenants can appeal a rent increase and they may be successful and the director may order that the rent increase be rolled back. But the way I read this, that roll-back would only apply to that individual tenant or to that group of tenants that brought the concern forward. If you have a park of 600-some odd mobile homes, as is the case for Woodbine Park, the member for Sackville-Beaverbank should know off the top of his head a little better than I do now because I don't represent it but the last time I recollect it was around 600 mobile homes in that one park. (Interruption) 635? It has gone up then, it has gone up after they hooked onto the water and sewer because of course another problem in that park was that they were even exceeding their permit numbers and had more mobiles in there than they were permitted to. Anyway, that is another story that I won't go back and fight today.

Let us say that a group of 35 of those 635 individuals or those families decide to appeal the rent increase and the director says, yes, that rent increase was unjustified and we order it rolled back. I say that rent increase if it is not justified for one or for 35, that rent increase should be rolled back for all 635 tenants in that park, every one of them. The director should be empowered to order the roll-backs for each and every one of them. The government should be prepared to stand up and to defend the director's decision should that landlord then

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take it to court because those tenants do not have the financial resources or very often the organizations that would be able to help them do that.

Next, in the appeal process and it is a small point but in the initial appeal it says, Clause 7, Section 17C(8), that "the evidence at a hearing shall not be recorded.". I think it should be. I am not saying that it should be transcribed, I am not saying that you have to have somebody there who is transcribing and keeping a typed verbatim record but certainly there should be an accurate recording kept of what took place and if there is not to be the secretarial staff to keep accurate records, then it should be tape recorded so that if any of the information and evidence that is provided in that appeal should be needed in a court case later on, it is available.

Another problem with the bill, and again I have spoken to the minister about this, there is no proclamation date. One of my criticisms of the minister when she announced the legislation back in December, she said that she planned to introduce the legislation sometime in 1997. I didn't think at that time that it would be in the spring session, thought it would probably be in the fall, so she has pleasantly surprised me by bringing it forward in the spring rather than the fall because if it had come in the fall undoubtedly it would have been after the election. I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that any improvements we get, I want a proclamation date in it and I want an assurance that this isn't going to be just sitting on the books and waiting for a proclamation that may never come.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I have to take exception to the comments about those who live in apartments because we were told by the previous speaker, for example, that those who live in apartments don't need any kind of protection. Well, the argument given is that there is a large vacancy rate so if a tenant doesn't like the rent increase they can always move. I point to members across on the government benches who live in rural areas. You tell me, in small towns around this province, small communities, are there a lot of apartments? I suggest from the information that I have that there are not. So if you are looking to rent in many small town communities across Nova Scotia, you don't have much to pick from. If you are in an apartment, if you are renting, the landlord can crank up your rent and if there are not other apartments to move into, then you are also trapped.

Plus, if you live in an apartment even in metro, let's say that you are a couple of seniors and the landlord comes along and says to you, I am going to increase your rent from $500 to $550 a month. Now, $50, 10 per cent, is a very substantial amount of money for somebody who is living on a fixed income and who now has to pay the BST as well on all kinds of other items. Well, you can pack up and move. That may mean that you have to hire a moving company to come in and pack up your goods, pack up your furniture, pack up your belongings, hire a truck to relocate you and unpack you somewhere else. By the time you factor in the cost of the moving company, it takes up two or three years worth of that rent increase and you don't have any guarantee that that won't happen somewhere else.

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I don't care where you are, Mr. Speaker, whether you live in an apartment building or whether you are a tenant in a mobile-home park, you deserve to have some protection. It is not just this great, oh, let the free market system prevail, but I will acknowledge that those who live in the mobile-home parks are, by far, the most vulnerable of all. I will also say that legislation still needs to be expanded to ensure that those who live in those parks have adequate services being provided to them and that they are inspected to ensure that the park owners meet those standards.

Another speaker spoke earlier about difficulties people have getting up and down the roads in the wintertime or in the spring, because of the mud and the poor conditions of the road or because they are icy. You will also hear people across this province who live in the mobile-home parks about the poor street lighting. They will talk about the lack of recreational areas for their children.

[7:45 p.m.]

You know, if you develop, in most municipalities, a parcel of land for a housing development, you have to deed over or give a portion of your land for the development of recreational areas. I say that park owners should be required and the province can do this through the Planning Act province-wide. They should be required by law to establish and to maintain areas for recreation for the children of the families who live in those parks. They should be required to maintain the roads to a certain standard so that they are passable and safe and they should be required to maintain proper street lighting, Mr. Speaker. That all should be.

The Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat says, why don't you get that through a municipal planning strategy. Well, in fact, some have that and some don't. Okay? I appreciate the fact that some of that has been done and that has been worked on in different municipalities, for example, in the metropolitan area. But all across the province is what I am saying. The minister knows through the Planning Act of the Province of Nova Scotia, the province does have the authority. I am saying that the province has a responsibility and we are in the provincial House. I am not in a municipal council. If I was in a municipal council, I would be arguing for the municipality to be doing that. But here I am arguing on behalf of the entire province and saying that the province should look at trying to come up with the proper standards and have those imposed. So that whether you are living in Guysborough, and I don't know from the Town of Guysborough if there are any parks or where they are. I haven't got any idea. But, if they are, they deserve to have the standards. I am sure that the member would be trying to fight to make sure that they do have the proper standards and services, regardless of where you are at.

Mr. Speaker, there are problems, as I say. This moves it. It advances it a little bit. It undoes a little bit of the damage that was done by this government to the tenants. This legislation ain't gonna put any of those dollars back into the pockets of those tenants that

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have been ripped out. Those who have had their rents cranked up over the last three years are not having their rents reduced, whether those increases were justified or not. It is only going to, in effect, really take advantage of the fourth year. So they are already starting from what are over-inflated rents, in most cases, because this government, in one of its more foolish moments, and it has had many, decided to place these tenants at the absolute mercy of the landlords when it came to rent increases.

With those few brief partially complimentary words, I will indicate that I will be voting for the legislation to go forward, but I hope the minister, when she wraps up, will address a couple of the issues that I talked about as to whether it is the intention that the director, if he finds that a rent increase for 1 per cent, 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the tenants was unjustified, if that director will be given the authority to roll back the rent for each and every one of those tenants who live in that park. I also want the assurances that there will be a proclamation date and I certainly also believe that there should be records kept of any appeal process that does take place. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to respond to this bill. It is a very important bill I know and there has been a lot of work put into it. Some of the people are saying they want to hear who had input into this bill and who did anything about it. It has gone back, I guess, a couple of years. There have been a lot of people involved. There has been the three Ministers of Housing, the Premier was very persistent in having something brought forth. (Interruption)

We understand that when the rent reviews were taken off that mobile home residents were vulnerable and across the province there are many mobile homes and those in other areas certainly didn't take advantage of the situation. It was difficult to get a bill to be fair to all mobile home owners in the province, not just those in a particular area where excess rents have been put on. I think, with give and take to get agreement, I guess with our caucus and so on and so forth, that those people that were fair and just took the increases that they needed to make a small profit. The mobile-home park owners are businessmen. We realize they have to have small increases to survive, and most across the province didnt. Only in a particular metropolitan area some certain land owners took advantage of the situation and gouged the people of the mobile-home parks. I was quite persistent, I know, in the last two years, trying to get a bill to come forth in this House to protect those people. I think the most important thing that we have to do, we could have waited and made some other changes on the Tenancies Board, but I thought it was urgent and my request to the minister and the Premier was to bring this in in this session. There was not too much legislation, but this is one of them and I appreciate the concern of the feelings of the mobile-home people.

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I think it is important that we move this bill. As far as input, I forget who else was involved in this, I have a long history in the mobile-home park concerns. I was on a county council and we put a bill through to present policing in mobile-home parks, a mobile-home by-law that brought standards on mobile-home parks up to standards of residential construction. Now you cannot build a mobile-home park in Halifax County unless you go by the specifications of the County of Halifax and now the Regional Municipality. There has been one park built since that day, and Century Park is on municipal sewer and water services. I think their concerns are being looked after. In my time we have come along, we have street lights and now they are part of the county street light system and the rest of the mobile-home parks can apply for street lights and that is the way it should be because they are residents the same as anybody else.

One point the member for Kings North brought up, about who the director was. I think the director is actually the Tenancies Board. There is no difference when you have concerns for mobile-home parks than anybody else, it still is directed to the Tenancies Board, not any special director, and that the director is the Tenancies Board.

One issue that has not been finalized, and I hope it will be finalized shortly, is the rate for a resident to take a mobile home off a lot in a park and return it with a new mobile home. Right now the county by-laws say that when a resident moves a mobile home off and wants to replace it, the park owner has to sign a certificate and make that possible. I think, through the cooperation of the municipality, we are going to change that and people in mobile-home parks certainly have a right to take a mobile home off and put it back on without any interference from anybody. I think the streets are policed by the RCMP and they are plowed privately by the developer, but they have a right to do that as same as anybody else.

I want to get this bill through second reading tonight and one thing I will say that we put in last year, that a resident of a mobile home one time had to wait five years to get tenure, they were sort of on the edge for five years and now, recently, we put this change in the Tenancies Act that a resident after one year in a mobile-home park has a right to live in a mobile-home park and I will tell every person in a mobile-home park right now that you have a right to be in that park and you have tenure and there is no reason why you should be scared of anybody in the mobile-home industry, the owners or whatever. If you pay your rent and keep a decent lot, you have a right to live in a park and not be scared of anybody. I notice since this bill has been pursued a lot of the owners in the mobile-home parks are pretty darn quiet. I have not heard a peep out of them for three months at least. I think they know that this government is not fooling around anymore and we are going to make it better for residents of mobile-home parks.

I support this bill and hopefully the members here tonight will support this for second reading to go into the Committee on Law Amendments and return to the House for the third reading shortly. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 379]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to stand here today and talk about Bill No. 1, An Act to Amend Chapter 401 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Residential Tenancies Act.

This bill that has been brought before the House today is quite important to a number of people across the province. It has been talked about by other members of this House. The area which I have the privilege of serving as MLA has a number of people living in two different mobile-home parks. There are many concerns that they have raised about the mobile-home parks and about rents that they are paying. Certainly, this bill is a step in the right direction. Some of the things that were mentioned and brought forward are things that I do believe have to be addressed. I don't want to be repetitious but I do think that they are important.

When you have a number of mobile homes in an area, a number of families and as has been said here already tonight, there are a large variety of different people with different incomes who live in those homes but that is their home. I think that is something that we have to keep in mind here, it is home. It is not just a trailer or a mobile, it is home. The people who live in these mobile-home parks have to be treated fairly. They have to be treated the same as any of us who live in other areas or who live in homes.

In some municipal units there are zoning restrictions. One area in Cape Breton County has a restriction in their municipal by-laws that says you are not allowed to have a mobile home within 500 feet of the centre line of a highway; that is not fair but that is not the question here tonight and I realize that but I just want to make it very clear that this indeed is an important piece of legislation.

The things that were pointed out by our colleagues, when we have a review, I think the evidence has to be recorded. I think that the effects of the result has to be known for everybody. As it reads now it seems that only the people that actually appeal the rent increase are the ones that are going to be affected. But there are other things that are going on in mobile homes.

Madam Speaker, I would like to, with your permission, adjourn for tonight and carry on my deliberations on another day.

MADAM SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned.

[Page 380]

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, tomorrow is Opposition Day; obviously after Question Period, we will be debating two resolutions, Resolution No. 4 and Resolution No. 12.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, the House will sit tomorrow from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and I move that we adjourn.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]

[Page 381]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 72

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Leader of the New Democratic Party)

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

Whereas volunteers have always played a vital role in maintaining the health and well-being of our Nova Scotia community; and

Whereas volunteers have increasingly been forced to step into the breach as a result of the ill-advised cuts engineered by Liberals in both Nova Scotia and Ottawa; and

Whereas to celebrate Collective Action Day on Monday, hundreds of Nova Scotians acted as "volunteer" volunteers at locations across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House salute Collective Action Day and all of the volunteers who give of their time to help their fellow Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 73

By: Hon. Sandra Jolly (Minister of Business and Consumer Services)

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

Whereas 1,450 exhibitors from Atlantic Canada are showcasing their products and services for an estimated 4,000 visitors at the food service industry's annual trade show, ApEx '97; and

Whereas more than 22,000 Nova Scotians are employed in the accommodations and food and beverage sector, making it one of the our largest employers and an integral part of the package that makes our region such a popular tourist and convention destination; and

Whereas I was pleased to bring greetings to the event on behalf of the province and to open the show;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud ApEx '97 for its extremely well-orchestrated showcase of what our food service industry has to offer.

[Page 382]

RESOLUTION NO. 74

By: Mr. John Holm (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas one reason for listing Jim Campbell's Barren as a protected area is the occurrence of a high concentration of rare and unique elements; and

Whereas one of the rare plants occurring in Jim Campbell's Barren is the Yew tree which was once abundant but now occurs only in isolated pockets across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Yew leaves or bark produce the drug Taxol which is described as one of the most promising new cancer drugs to come along in years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Government to recognize that the presence of the Yew tree on Jim Campbell's Barren provides one more reason why this government should reverse its senseless decision to remove the barren from the list of candidate protected areas.

RESOLUTION NO. 75

By: Mr. Paul MacEwan (Cape Breton Nova)

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

Whereas the NDP state that this government uses "questionable methods" in balancing its budget; and

Whereas it is the NDP that uses questionable methods in approaching public finance - highly questionable methods; and

Whereas whether the NDP follow the Glen Clarke approach to budget balancing as practised in British Columbia, the Roy Romanow record of near bankruptcy and secret federal bail-out as done in Saskatchewan, or the Bob Rae method of financial hay ride and one-term government, it all adds up to monumental incompetence in handling the public purse strings;

[Page 383]

Therefore be it resolved that this House views any NDP appraisal of public finances in Nova Scotia as being inherently flawed, emanating from an uninformed and unqualified source and unworthy of comment save to note the catastrophic financial consequences everywhere the NDP has gotten into power - a fate from which this government thankfully has rescued and delivered Nova Scotia.

[Page 384]

HOUSE ORDER NO. 1

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Education:

(1) Account of savings accrued from school board amalgamation process; and

(2) Analysis of numbers of employees working within the school board system prior to the amalgamation and following the completion of the amalgamations, i.e., all administrators whether they be those assisting classes, teachers or the students.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 2

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Education:

(1) Cost to the province's school boards of the Atlantic Province's Education Foundation programs.