Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Apr. 23, 1997

Fifth Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Old Halifax Rd. (Colchester Co.) - Pave,
Mr. B. Taylor 851
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health - Reform: Diagnostic Services - Waiting Time
(QE II Health Sciences Centre) [Question p. 815]; Answer,
Hon. B. Boudreau 852
Nat. Res. - Nova Scotia's Protected Areas Strategy,
Hon. E. Norrie 852
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report,
Hon. D. Downe 852
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Orenda (Debert): Plant Establishment,
Hon. R. Mann 854
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Auditor General, The Speaker 861
Anl. Rept. of the N.S. Farm Loan Board,
Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 1996, Hon. G. Brown 861
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 159, Educ. - Canada Book Day 1997: Importance - Acknowledge,
The Premier 861
Vote - Affirmative 862
Res. 160, Secretaries: Professionalism - Congrats., Hon. A. Surette 862
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 161, Agric. - Crop Insurance/NISA Progs.: Participation -
Encourage, Hon. G. Brown 863
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 162, Agric. - Analytical Lab.: Staff - Congrats., Hon. G. Brown 864
Vote - Affirmative 864
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 163, Educ. - N.S. Teachers College: Contribution - Commemorate,
Mr. G. Moody 864
Vote - Affirmative 865
Res. 164, Nat. Res. - Donkin Mine: Privatization - Resources Comm. Refer,
Mr. R. Chisholm 865
Res. 165, Health - Cancer (Cervical): Screening Project - Encourage,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 866
Vote - Affirmative 867
Res. 166, Lunenburg MLA - Lun. (Town): Tax Load - Remedy,
Mr. G. Archibald 867
Res. 167, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Orenda (Debert): Plant Establishment -
Commend, Mr. E. Lorraine 867
Res. 168, Econ. Dev. - YES Prog.: Mike McMullen (Dutch Brook, CBRM) -
Award Congrats., Mr. R. MacNeil 868
Vote - Affirmative 869
Res. 169, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization -
Health (Min.) Admit, Mr. T. Donahoe 869
Res. 170, Culture - Shakespeare-By-The-Sea Co.: Activities - Congrats.,
Ms. E. O'Connell 870
Vote - Affirmative 870
Res. 171, NDP - Donkin Mine: Flip-Flop - Award Nominate,
Mr. P. MacEwan 870
Res. 172, Environ. - EYE Prog. (St. Lucia): Best Wishes - Extend,
Mr. R. White 871
Vote - Affirmative 872
Res. 173, Fin. - Health (Direct Patient Care): Savings -
Resultant Expenditure Detail, Dr. J. Hamm 872
Res. 174, Agric. - Rural Beautification Week: Volunteers - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Rayfuse 872
Vote - Affirmative 873
Res. 175, Culture: Truro Music Festival (Anniv. 75th) - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 873
Vote - Affirmative 874
Res. 176, Sports - Heros Dinner (C.B.): KidSport Fund - Congrats. Extend,
Mr. R. MacNeil 874
Vote - Affirmative 875
Res. 177, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Job Creation (1993-97) - Applaud,
Mr. G. Fogarty 875
Res. 178, Gov't. (Can.): Jobs Decrease (Hfx.) - Reveal, Mr. R. Russell 875
Res. 179, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Commun. Econ. Dev.: Promises -
Compost, Mr. J. Holm 876
Res. 180, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - "Matthew" (Cabot Ship Replica):
Yarmouth Visit - Recccognize, Mr. R. Hubbard 876
Vote - Affirmative 877
Res. 181, Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.-Michelin: Training Partnership -
Congrats., Mr. W. Fraser 877
Vote - Affirmative 878
Res. 182, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - North Sydney:
Shipments Role (Nfld.) - Continuance Ensure, Mr. A. MacLeod 878
Vote - Affirmative 879
Res. 183, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Jobs Basic - Queens MLA Reprimand,
Mr. R. White 879
Res. 184, Sports - Sheet Hbr. Archery Club: Facilities -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 879
Vote - Affirmative 880
Res. 185, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - ABTCO East River Plant:
Anniv. (30th) - Congrats., Mr. J. Barkhouse 880
Vote - Affirmative 881
Res. 186, Educ. - Eastern Passage JHS: Heritage (Cdn.) Celebration -
Congrats., Mr. D. Richards 881
Vote - Affirmative 882
Res. 187, NSLC - Store (Sydney [Kmart Plaza]) Employees: Fund-Raising
(Children's Wish Fdn. [C.B.] - Salute, Mr. A. MacLeod 882
Vote - Affirmative 882
Res. 188, Human Res. - Contract Negotiations: Wage Fairness -
Example Set, Ms. E. O'Connell 882
Res. 189, Volunteer - John (Jack) Hughes [Lun. Co.]: Dedication -
Acknowledge, Mrs. L. O'Connor 883
Vote - Affirmative 884
Res. 190, Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.-Pictou Partnership: CNR Station -
Work Congrats., Mr. D. McInnes 884
Vote - Affirmative 884
Res. 191, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Partnerships in Lbr. Market Prog.:
Dal. Univ. - Dev. Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 885
Vote - Affirmative 885
Res. 192, Health - N.S. Hosp.: Academic Day - Participants Congrats.,
Mr. D. Richards 885
Vote - Affirmative 886
Res. 193, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Lawyers (Dept.) -
Interests (N.S.) Represent, Mr. R. Chisholm 886
Res. 194, Exco: Patronage - Admit, Mr. B. Taylor 887
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 50, Health - Home Care Services: HST - Applicability, Dr. J. Hamm 888
No. 51, Fin. - Aud. Gen. Report (1996): Expenditures (Capital) -
Overstatement, Mr. R. Chisholm 889
No. 52, Health: QE II Health Sciences Centre - Wage Disparity,
Dr. J. Hamm 891
No. 53, Fin. - HST: Press Release (27/03/97) - Uphold, Mr. R. Russell 892
No. 54, Health: QE II Health Sciences Centre - Wage Disparity,
Dr. J. Hamm 894
No. 55, Justice - Judges: Training - Inaction, Ms. E. O'Connell 896
No. 56, Fin. - HST: Apple - Grocery Product, Mr. J. Leefe 897
No. 57, Educ. - Schools: Construction Policy - Document Table,
Mr. G. Archibald 898
No. 58, Health - Ambulances: Wage/Safety Legis. - Attendants Include,
Mr. G. Moody 899
No. 59, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corp.:
Debt - Accountability, Mr. J. Holm 901
No. 60, Environ. - Beverage Deposits: Benefits - Monetary,
Mr. A. MacLeod 904
No. 61, Fin.: Aud. Gen. Report (1996) -
Restated Estimate [1996-97 ($48.113m.)], Mr. R. Russell 905
No. 62, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: FRDL Scallop Farm - Monies Lost,
Mr. J. Leefe 907
No. 63, Educ. - Special: Funding - Inadequacy, Ms. E. O'Connell 908
No. 64, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Aud. Gen. Report (1996): Hwy. No. 104
Western Alignment Corp. - Borrowing Charges, Dr. J. Hamm 910
No. 65, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Aud. Gen. Report (1996): Hwy. No. 104
Western Alignment Corp. - Borrowing Charges, Dr. J. Hamm 912
No. 66, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Aud. Gen. Report (1996): Hwy. No. 104
Western Alignment Corp. - Legislation Amend, Mr. B. Taylor 913
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill 8, Wildlands Protection Act 915
Ms. E. O'Connell 916
Hon. E. Norrie 918
Mr. B. Taylor 921
Mr. J. Holm 923
Mr. R. White 925
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 51, Health - Care: Delivery - Plan Required, Mr. R. Chisholm 926
Mr. R. Chisholm 926
Mrs. F. Cosman 928
Mr. R. Russell 931
Mr. J. Holm 934
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Government By Design [Crown Corps. - Business Plans], Hon. W. Gillis 935
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Gov't. (N.S.) - Reforms (Fin., Econ. & Social) Post-1993:
Positivity - Recognize:
Mr. R. Hubbard 936
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 24th at 12:00 p.m. 939
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 195, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Jobs Basic - Queens MLA Chastise,
Mr. P. MacEwan 940
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER:
No. 3, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Machinery - Standard Operating Policies,
Mr. B. Taylor 941

[Page 851]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

2:00 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of the Old Halifax Road, Colchester County. I believe there are approximately 50-some names attached to this petition and I have signed my name.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

851

[Page 852]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, in response to a question in Question Period yesterday from the member for Kings West who raised some issues on waiting times, I am tabling a report which responds specifically to those questions he asked. For just one area that he raised a particular concern about, MRIs, the average waiting time in October-November 1996 was 56 days. As of March 1997, that had dropped to 19 days. I will table this. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled, Nova Scotia's Protected Areas Strategy; with a companion piece, Interim Management Guidelines; and an Action Plan, for Nova Scotia's Protected Areas.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, and esteemed colleagues, I am tabling the Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report today and I would, at this time, like to share with my colleagues here in the House just how this program works to benefit Nova Scotians. Disposal of Crown surplus is done in a number of ways. Items, including property and equipment no longer of use to government departments are sold, auctioned, or tendered in some cases. Through this process we are able to raise money, which directly applies to the provincial debt.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to tell you that from November 1, 1996 to March 31, 1997, we have raised in excess of $690,000 through the sale of surplus items. That is extra money, money that is part of the overall budget surplus of $4.7 million. We are proud to be able to contribute to bringing down the governments debt in this way. It truly benefits all Nova Scotians.

More specifically, there are other groups which benefit from the disposal of surplus Crown property, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to mention a few. Many non-profit, non-government groups have been supplied with items ranging from office equipment to medical equipment. Some 166 groups have received donations through this process since last November.

[Page 853]

Internally, we have recycled over 200 computers, 177 monitors, 121 printers, and 172 keyboards to schools through Nova Knowledge. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, we feel good about helping to provide our students with some of the tools they need to prepare themselves for the future.

Mr. Speaker, communities have also benefited. For example, MLA Ron Russell from Hants West was able to receive a flagpole for the Town of Hantsport, and MLA Eileen OConnell from Halifax Fairview recently acquired curtains for a school in her area. These are good examples of how the surplus Crown property disposal program works to benefit everybody in this province. (Interruption)

Yes, and I might yet. Mr. Speaker, there are countless other examples of people, communities, non-profit groups, school boards, and charities that have gained, all of them documented in this report. I am pleased to table this report today.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable minister makes a statement such as, I gave to the Town of Hantsport a flagpole, but in point of fact, what he did not mention was that this government closed the community college to get that flagpole from a surplus.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the statement by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. This statement basically formalizes the process that was put in place by the previous Conservative Administration. I want to commend the minister for putting the logistics and the mechanics in place. I am especially pleased to learn that the practice of non-profit, non-government groups being able to acquire surplus equipment will continue, because that is a very important program. I know some schools in my constituency were the recipients of some computers, keyboards and sundry and things of that nature, so it is an important program.

The Department of Natural Resources in my constituency is looking at a facility that may soon be declared surplus, I am hoping that they will support it or at least the Minister of Natural Resources will support a stay of execution regarding that facility until the middle of September and that no declaration is made that the facility is a surplus property. A community consortium is working very hard to make an arrangement whereby that facility will stay in the hands of the community and possibly a couple of the school boards in the province.

I welcome the statement and am pleased the government is going to continue with the program and I thank the minister. Thank you.

[Page 854]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, certainly the Surplus Crown Properties Disposal Report is something that comes out each and every year and indicates which properties have been disposed and assets and how they have been. I am certainly pleased to see some money has been raised through that process and I am especially pleased, of course, that many very important valuable community groups benefit by receiving what are surplus products.

I would rather see surplus government materials, whether that be computers, monitors or those kinds of things, going to a continued public use when that was used or paid for initially by the taxpayers, than turned over to somebody to sell to make a profit for themselves.

There are a couple of observations I would make, however, with regard to that. A couple of the things that I have observed is that when schools, for example, which are now suffering from very severe financial restrictions that have been imposed upon them by this government, now maybe this has changed, maybe the minister can at some time respond to this but when they apply for particular items to let's say try to get a computer, a monitor or whatever, if there are the materials available at that time, then those materials can be made available to them. There are no records being kept in terms of where the requests come in so that if, for example, some material that could be used in a school or by some other non-profitable organization is made and that material may become available a month or two months later when at the time of the request it was not currently there. That material then is not reported back.

Maybe that issue is being or has been addressed but I certainly believe and support very much the practices of the government to ensure that those items, those materials that were paid for by the taxpayers of this province, if they can be used for a non-profit organization or a group like schools and so on, that those assets be made available to them. Those items are extremely important to those people, especially when they are very strapped for their own financial resources in large part because of the cuts being made by this government. Thank you.

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

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House of a positive announcement made earlier today by Premier Savage, Natural Resources Minister Eleanor Norrie and myself.

Together with the President of Orenda Aerospace Corporation, Rich Neill, we announced that Orenda will establish an aircraft engine development and manufacturing facility at the former Canadian Forces Base in Debert. A partnership among our government,

[Page 855]

the federal government and Orenda will create 110 direct jobs and another 325 supplier-related jobs. (Applause)

I think all members of the House would agree that a high technology company in Debert, creating 110 jobs, is indeed good news for the Province of Nova Scotia.

My department aggressively looks for new investment, for top-notch companies to move into our province. That's our job. It's also our job to ensure that we act in the best interests of the citizens of Nova Scotia. We're achieving both of these objectives with the arrival of Orenda to our province.

Orenda looked around and compared Nova Scotia to other locations. But Nova Scotia was hard to resist. Once again, Nova Scotia presented the best business case.

[2:15 p.m.]

We have the skilled and educated workforce, the right business climate for investment with our tax credit programs. We are a gateway to both the U.S. and the U.K. We have the people with the desire to work.

When we list Nova Scotia's advantages, there's no denying that we can compete and win. Orenda is the proof, as are the many other companies that have chosen to locate in Nova Scotia recently. We should celebrate such success stories.

Our faith in the Colchester County workforce and the Orenda vision amounts to a $9.3 million investment. This is a repayable investment. We will more than double our return on investment. Orenda will pay $20 million in royalty payments to the people of Nova Scotia over the next 13 years. Orenda's investment in the engine program will exceed $14 million. The federal government will contribute $8.4 million through their Technology Partnerships program.

The Municipality of Colchester and the Town of Truro will also benefit from an increased tax base and new activity at the former base at Debert.

This is another win-win story for Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, and I hope all members of the House will join me in congratulating the people of Colchester for landing Orenda Recip Inc. at Debert.

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic that the member opposite from Colchester would be heckling this announcement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 856]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for providing his statement. It is hard to be negative about 110 jobs in this province. I do not think there is a member in this place that could not use 110 jobs in their constituency because certainly the employment stats in the province are discouraging.

The minister in his announcement failed to provide, I think, some important information. It is my understanding that the municipal council and CORDA played a very aggressive role in attracting these jobs to their area. I would like to acknowledge their efforts on behalf of the people of that area and the people of the province.

One of the observations that is, I think, only fair to make is that Orenda will pay $20 million in royalty payments. I wish the minister had been a little clearer in terms of what that means. He said it is a repayable investment. Now, the total investment of the taxpayers' money in these jobs is $18 million, between the provincial and the federal components. We cannot afford to provide that kind of loan structure unless there is good security. In other words, that the investment of the taxpayers' money is well secured. I would be interested in the minister's information as to how this money is secured.

The cost of each job is $160,000, if you add up the federal and the provincial components, once employment reaches the 110. It is my understanding that the first year the employment will be 26 jobs for our $18 million. While I do congratulate the minister on being able to announce 110 jobs for Colchester County, if it is going to cost $160,000 per job to put the 58,000 remaining unemployed Nova Scotians back to work, then in fact we are going to require money by the truckloads to get this province back on its feet.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Let me say first of all that I am sure that anybody who is going to receive one of those jobs is going to be very delighted to receive it. Of course, we know that since the government has taken office federally, and here provincially as well, there has been a tremendous withdrawal of the federal presence in the Province of Nova Scotia and that the problems occurring in this area are, in large part, as a result of that federal withdrawal. In fact Nova Scotia, which has approximately 3 per cent of the total population of the country, had received 16 per cent of the cut. So, Mr. Speaker, the feds certainly owed something to us.

The previous speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, raised a number of questions and pointed out a few of the very obvious; that is, that in terms of the investment of public funds to the jobs we are talking approximately $160,000. It is also interesting to note that the amount of money being advanced, provincial funds in this particular situation, in a loan is approximately four times the amount of money being expended on the regional development groups for the economic development in the communities that would be spread across the

[Page 857]

province. That was what this government said was going to be its top priority when it assumed office and after its 30-60-90. So they have obviously abandoned that strategy.

There are a lot of things that I want to find out before I comment too much on the specific details. Maybe the minister will agree to table in this House the actual agreement; for example, the risks in terms of the royalties. The minister has said that $20 million worth of royalties will be paid over 13 years. I would like to see the payment schedule. I would like to see what happens. I would like to know if the province has taken equity in that plant to cover the value. If that company is not successful, do we have equity ownership for that $9.3 million? If the company is to be established, when are the royalties expected to start to kick in, to be paid back to the people of this province?

I would also like to know, Mr. Speaker, if, in fact, those royalty projections don't come true, what kind of conditions are contained in the agreement that would ensure that the monies are, in fact, being protected?

As I say, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot more that needs to be known than simply the statement being made a few days probably before the federal election is announced and a few months before one is announced here in the Province of Nova Scotia. We welcome jobs. We want to know and we need the details, we need the information to evaluate properly whether this is a good, sound investment on behalf of the people of the province or if it is, in fact, a political decision being made. The proof one way or the other, the evidence, will be based on what further information the minister is prepared to provide to us. Certainly it is a part of the province which has an extremely high and unacceptable rate of unemployment and there have to be measures taken to try to address that issue. We just have to have the details to find out if this is, in fact, a reasonable and a prudent investment of over $9.3 million of Nova Scotia taxpayers' money.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. At 1:00 p.m. today, the Public Accounts Committee was called into session at the request of the Auditor General for a briefing on the Auditor General's Annual Report to this House and, through this House, to the people of Nova Scotia. Just a few moments ago I was handed a note - and I will table it for the Clerk - which states that the Auditor General's Report is not being tabled today. The Auditor General has been asked that all members of the committee respect the confidentiality of the briefing.

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear with respect to the practice of this House, since the Office of the Auditor General was established, that the tabling of that report with respect to the timing of that tabling is in the hands of the Auditor General, not in the hands of any other officials of this House and the tabling through the Speaker is pro forma and that the Speaker automatically accedes to that request by the Auditor General.

[Page 858]

I have spoken to the Auditor General by phone since I received this note. The Auditor General does not understand why, after negotiations with you, sir, and agreement that that report would be tabled today, that the report is now not going to be tabled until some future day. I believe that is an abuse of this House; it is an abuse of process; it is an abuse of the privilege of every member of this House who has a right, as the elected representative of their constituents, to have that report tabled when the Auditor General deems it is appropriate and not when some other official deems is appropriate.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of privilege. I, too, just recently received a note with regard to the Auditor General's Report that says exactly the same thing that the previous speaker indicated. I had the pleasure of being at the briefing session, as I did last year when the Auditor General made his report and answered questions from members of the Public Accounts Committee, and that is a report that is a report to this House. The Auditor General is a servant of this House, not a servant of the government or any other government official.

I concur wholeheartedly with the comments made by the previous speaker, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and I believe it is a travesty if that is not tabled on the floor of this House as it was agreed to and negotiated. It certainly would appear that if the request did not originate from the Auditor General himself to have that tabling delayed, then it clearly would appear - I cannot state it categorically - that there is some interference with the independence of the Auditor General. I see that as an extremely dangerous precedent to set.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on the point, the Minister of Finance is just coming in, I guess, and he can speak to the point of privilege himself if he so chooses, but it is my understanding that it is the decision of the Auditor General when he is going to table his report; in fact, we were led to believe that he was going to do it today. Then we were told he was going to do it tomorrow and recently we were told, again, that he was going to do it today, so perhaps the Minister of Finance could clarify. If the honourable members opposite are suggesting that there has been interference from this side of the House, I suggest they watch very carefully what they are saying about that.

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of privilege, maybe to inform all members of the House, speaking with the Auditor General last week, there were some arrangements made for the report to be tabled today, however, the report was not here, but I have just been advised by the Clerks that the reports are now in the House. I was actually in the process of writing a note to the Government House Leader requesting that he revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers later on today, so the report will be tabled.

[Page 859]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, were you requesting that I revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers?

MR. SPEAKER: I was going to ask the honourable minister to revert to that order of business.

MR. MANN: Now that the theatrics have ended, I would request that you do so, Mr. Speaker.

[TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS]

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. When I rose in my place, I did not rise to provide theatrics for this House; I rose to provide information to this House which was related to me by the Auditor General. I rose not only as a member of this place, but also in my capacity as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. I deeply resent the implication by the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism that this is a theatrical performance. My performance here is the performance that I stand on behalf of the people of this province, and I make no apology for that whatsoever.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. I just have to also echo that again we are playing tag team here and one supporting the other, but an hour and one-half ago when we were at the briefing session, there was no indication at that time that the reports were not going to be available; in fact, we looked at the report and then left them at our desks as we are required to do and it is appropriate that we do and they were only across the street.

Mr. Speaker, since I came into this Chamber, I also received the very same note that the report was not being tabled. (Interruptions) I say that I resent very much the suggestion that, in fact, theatrics are being played. I believe we are standing in our place trying to defend the important principle that is involved here. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, both members opposite have stood up and said it is the role of the Auditor General to table the report. They both have had conversations or notes that suggest it is not going to be here on time. Now, we find out from you it is going to be here. Who sent the notes? (Interruptions)

[Page 860]

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. The note which I have tabled came to me from Mora Stevens, who is the secretary to the Public Accounts Committee. She was advised by the Auditor General that he had received a phone call, he believed from Mr. Michael Laffin, speaking on behalf of your office, sir, telling him that today the Auditor General's Report would not be tabled and that he was not to be bring them here for tabling. That is the information upon which I proceeded.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I, unfortunately, didn't hear the points of privilege in the early going but after what I did hear I thought it might shed a little bit of light from my perspective in terms of the tabling of the Report of the Auditor General, which is done by yourself.

I came to the House assuming that it was to be tabled because I heard it was about the time it was to be done.

AN HON. MEMBER: You didn't get a note?

MR. GILLIS: I got no notes. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I was surprised to hear just a little while ago that maybe it wasn't going to be tabled. But I want to tell you that the Minister of Finance and the government is not involved either in tabling or not tabling the report. So, let's get on with business. I had nothing to do with it one way or the other. It is not my affair. There may be some things to which we may respond over the next period of time, but let's get on with business. We had nothing to do with it.

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I guess we would have to ask that the clerk of the Public Accounts Committee when she is sending notes to the Opposition Parties advising them on when they are going to be tabled that perhaps we on this side of the House could receive a note as well.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it was in my capacity as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. We had a closed door briefing session in the hour from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The information in that briefing session was deemed to be in confidence. I received a hurried note from the secretary on behalf of the Auditor General asking us to ensure in view of the fact that he had been instructed that his report would not be tabled today that we not inadvertently after 2:00 p.m. when we anticipated it would be tabled divulge the contents of that report which was shared with us by the Auditor General. That is why I got the note.

[Page 861]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

At this time, I beg leave to table the Report of the Auditor General for 1996. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just wouldn't want this matter to be cleared without letting this House know that I am a member of this same committee and I also was advised by the clerk of that committee that the report would not be tabled. I just wanted to make that point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice, on an introduction.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make an introduction, and it is one of the more difficult introductions I have had, trying to find a chance. It is my honour to introduce to you and other members of the House a number of Grade 6 students from Joseph Giles School who are in our gallery today, accompanied by their teacher Alan MacDonald. I would ask them to please rise and accept a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 159

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

Whereas under the leadership of the Writers' Development Trust and in cooperation with Canadian publishers, authors and booksellers, April 23rd has been designated as Canada Book Day 1997; and

Whereas on Canada Book Day, Canadians are urged to donate books to hospitals, schools and their favourite charities, therefore spreading the joy of reading about ourselves and our country; and

[Page 862]

Whereas this government has recognized the need to ensure that all Nova Scotians have the opportunity to experience the enjoyment and satisfaction of literature;

Therefore be it resolved that each member of this House acknowledge the importance of Canada Book Day 1997 by supporting the government's literacy initiatives, such as the community learning initiative, and by doing their part to ensure the value and importance of Canadian literature.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 160

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

Whereas today is recognized worldwide as Professional Secretaries Day; and

Whereas secretaries throughout Nova Scotia provide invaluable administrative support services for their employers; and

Whereas secretaries perform these tasks with loyalty and professionalism of the highest standard;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and appreciation to all secretaries for diligently accomplishing their task in a professional manner, while maintaining a high standard of performance.

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

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

[Page 863]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 161

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

Whereas this government has signed an agreement to establish Crop Insurance and NISA as the core national risk programs designed to bring stability to the agriculture industry; and

Whereas we have $1.34 million in the budget as this province's commitment to these two programs; and

Whereas we have a special promotional program that has been put on everybody's desk, which they can place on their wall in their constituency office;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize the opportunities for all of us to encourage eligible farmers in the province to enroll in the Crop Insurance and the NISA programs.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

[Page 864]

RESOLUTION NO. 162

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

Whereas the Department of Agriculture and Marketings analytical lab provides analysis of livestock feeds; and

Whereas an accurate analysis provides important information for farmers to use in the management of their livestock feeds on their farms; and

Whereas the analytical lab, Agriculture Truro, was ranked top in the top 10 per cent of 180 labs worldwide for accuracy of analysis;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the staff of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing's analytical lab for their training, their skills and their dedication to the achievement of such a very high standard of excellence.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 163

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

Whereas this spring marks the last class of the graduates from the Nova Scotia Teachers College; and

[Page 865]

Whereas this institution's 144 year old tradition of educating men and women to be educators must now be carried on by Acadia University, Mount Saint Vincent University and Saint Francis Xavier University; and

Whereas many Teachers College alumni will remember their time in Truro, from which they began their careers in education, with great fondness;

Therefore be it resolved that the House commemorate the Nova Scotia Teachers College for the valuable contribution the institution and its graduates have made to education and to Nova Scotia society as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 164

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 Liberals in this House say it is premature to talk about the possible transfer of coal leases to facilitate the privatization for $1.00 of the Donkin coal reserve; and

Whereas experience has shown that when this government says it is premature to deal with an issue it really means the government wants to deal with an issue behind closed doors; and

Whereas experience with the BST, Jim Campbells Barren, Minmetals and other issues shows that when this government deals with issues behind closed doors the interests of Nova Scotians suffer;

[Page 866]

Therefore be it resolved that in order to protect the rights of Nova Scotians who own the Donkin coal leases the proposed privatization of Donkin be referred for detailed study to the Standing Committee on Resources.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 165

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

Whereas studies indicate that cervical cancer rates in Cape Breton are higher than in the rest of the province; and

Whereas a new pilot project was announced recently to encourage more women at high risk to be screened for cervical cancer; and

Whereas along with the government contributions, additional funds will come from the Nova Scotia Gynaecological Cancer Screening Project, which will also coordinate the program along with the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage women at risk to participate in the project and recognize the efforts of the Nova Scotia Gynaecological Cancer Screening Program and the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network in their fight against cervical cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 867]

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. 166

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 Mayor of the Town of Lunenburg and his council are sick and tired of facing increased downloading from the Nova Scotia Liberal Government, which they feel will result in increased taxes for municipal ratepayers; and

Whereas the most recent examples of the continual onslaught of provincial downloading faced by the town has been the 6 per cent reduction in funding to the regional library and, as a result of the BS Tax, an additional $3,600 in costs in fire protection for the residents; and

Whereas a recent editorial in the Lighthouse Log said that, "with increased costs and a shrinking revenue base, many small towns are struggling to survive. If these small communities are to survive, provincial and federal governments are going to have to become part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem";

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Lunenburg attempt to remedy the increasing tax load for municipal ratepayers in her constituency which is struggling to survive as a result of measures imposed by her Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 167

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

Whereas this morning the Premier announced the establishment of a plant by the aerospace firm, Orenda, at the former Canadian Forces Station in Debert; and

[Page 868]

Whereas the location of this plant in Debert by Orenda, a world leader in the aerospace industry, is a recognition that Nova Scotia is a great place in which to do business; and

Whereas this plant will provide over 110 jobs for rural Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the government for attracting this world-renowned and respected manufacturing firm to rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 168

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

Whereas the Youth Entrepreneur Skills Program has a remarkable record of creating 1,350 businesses through loans totalling over $3 million; and

Whereas the YES Program assists full-time students in starting their own summer business; and

Whereas earlier this year, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism presented awards of merit to young entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to award winner, Mike McMullen of Dutch Brook, Cape Breton County and recognize this government's efforts in support of young entrepreneurs.

[Page 869]

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 169

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

Whereas the part-time Minister of Health and Liberal leadership candidate met with a group of provincial correctional facility guards; and

Whereas the candidate committed to sit down at a later date with correctional facility guards but did not rule out the option of privatizing the province's correctional facilities; and

Whereas the candidate has adopted the same line the Savage Liberals have taken on privatization for the past 18 months;

Therefore be it resolved that the part-time Minister of Health and part-time candidate come clean with correctional facility guards, admit that the die has been cast in favour of needless and harmful privatization and abandon any pretense of changing the Savage Liberal Party line on this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution I wonder whether the Rules permit me to interrupt myself, so to speak and make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to tell the House that in the gallery opposite me this afternoon are four members of the Shakespeare-by-the-Sea company. Their names are Kristen van Ginhoven, Sarah Duffy, Matthew Kennedy and Steven

[Page 870]

Manuel. Mr. Speaker, I would ask through you to ask all members of this House to give them a warm welcome here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 170

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 April 23rd, the feast of Saint George is commonly celebrated as William Shakespeare's birthday; and

Whereas a group of young people have joined together to perform Shakespeare's plays in natural settings; and

Whereas they raise funds through expressive means such as bard-o-grams and the sale of art;

Therefore be it resolved that this House on this day congratulate the Shakespeare-by-the-Sea company for this happy union of art and enterprise and wish them well in the upcoming season.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 171

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 New Democratic Party pride themselves on great political consistency but are actually the masters of flipping and flopping; and

[Page 871]

Whereas only the NDP can be for something and then against it at the same time as shown by their record of demanding a feasibility study for the Donkin Mine and then condemning it when one is proposed to actually be done; and

Whereas the monumental inconsistency of the NDP is by no means confined to this topic alone but may be noted any time that anyone else does any of the things the NDP so shrilly calls for;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House, the first and only possible nominee for the Harry Houdini Award for political flip-floppery, must be our good friends in the so-called New Democratic Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 172

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

Whereas the Department of the Environment, through the Environmental Industries and Technologies Division and the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps has established an Environmental Youth Exchange Program or EYE with Saint Lucia in the Caribbean; and

Whereas the EYE Program will provide an opportunity for youth from Nova Scotia and Saint Lucia to work together as a team in each other's country; and

Whereas the EYE Program also allows for the demonstration of Nova Scotias environmental technologies to other parts of the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that environmental issues and concerns have no borders and extend best wishes to the successful participants of the EYE Program.

I request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 872]

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. 173

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

Whereas there has been a moratorium on new nursing home beds, four hospitals have closed while others have been downsized, hospital beds were chopped by approximately 30 per cent, wages of health care workers have been rolled back 3 per cent and thousands of health care workers laid off, and new Pharmacare premiums introduced for seniors; and

Whereas despite the drastic cuts in direct patient care the 1997-98 estimates of the Department of Health are $8 million higher than the actuals for 1993-94; and

Whereas the huge and unexplained discrepancy between lost service and the budget of the Department of Health begs serious questions about how this government is managing scarce health care dollars;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance table in this House a detailed breakdown of where the savings from cuts to direct patient care are being spent, including a comparative analysis of the administrative costs of 1993-94 versus the costs of administration in 1997-98.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: It is my pleasure to introduce the other half of the Grade 6 class from Joseph Giles Elementary who are here today accompanied by their teacher John Dobrowski. I would ask them to please rise and accept the warm welcome of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 174

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

[Page 873]

Whereas April 21st to April 25th has been announced by the Honourable Guy Brown, Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, as Rural Beautification Week; and

Whereas the positive image created by many volunteers in rural areas who donate their time to projects such as litter clean-ups and garden enhancements during Rural Beautification Week; and

Whereas the Rural Beautification Week committee holds annual competitions in farm and rural property improvements and in community enhancements - and I might say it is an annual event in Annapolis County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend their congratulations to the many volunteers who have helped to make this program a success for the last 30 years and have promoted a true sense of pride in the rural communities around the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 175

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

Whereas starting this past Monday and continuing until May 7th, the 75th Anniversary of the Truro Music Festival is being hosted by the Truro Music Festival Society; and

Whereas the Truro Music Festival is the third oldest uninterrupted music festival in Canada; and

Whereas the cost of the festival is approximately $13,000-$15,000, with the majority of funding required to host this festival coming from the local community;

[Page 874]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend the dedication and hard work of all individuals in organizing the 75th Annual Truro Music Festival and wish them every success in their 75th Anniversary fund-raising campaign.

I request waiver, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 176

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

Whereas earlier this month Sydney was the site of the 1997 Cape Breton Sports Heroes Dinner; and

Whereas this dinner, the first for Cape Breton, was held to recognize the outstanding accomplishments, both nationally and internationally, of Cape Breton athletes; and

Whereas the proceeds of this dinner were donated to the KidSport Fund, a fund set up to help kids overcome economic and social obstacles so that they can participate in sport;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to the organizers of this dinner and extend best wishes for success to the KidSport Fund in its effort to provide an active, healthy sport experience for youngsters.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 875]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 177

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

Whereas Statistics Canada has reported that Nova Scotia has had the best job creation rate in Canada over the past 12 months; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has had a net increase of 25,500 jobs since May 1993; and

Whereas the unemployment rate in Nova Scotia has actually dropped from 14.8 per cent in 1993 to 12.8 per cent, which represents a 14 per cent drop in the rate of unemployment;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly, rather than comdemn the government for its failure to provide employment opportunities, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested on Friday, April 11th, should applaud the Liberal Government for creating the best economy for employment opportunities in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 178

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

Whereas the governing Liberal Party of Nova Scotia has refused to take the Chretien Liberals to task for their abysmal record of hack and slash management in the Department of National Defence; and

Whereas the City of Halifax has recently seen the closure of Maritime Command Headquarters, with a loss of over 200 jobs, the downsizing of Land Forces Atlantic Headquarters, with a loss of 48 full-time reserve forces members, and now is faced with the closure of Maritime Air Group Headquarters at Shearwater and the loss of those jobs; and

[Page 876]

Whereas Nova Scotia cannot afford to lose one single job from the economy, jobs that were once the top billed promise of both federal and provincial Liberals, now forgotten forever by both of these uncaring, irresponsible governments;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier of this province come clean with Nova Scotians and tell us how many more federal government jobs will be leaving this city and this province in the near Liberal future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 179

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

Whereas this Liberal Government said while campaigning in the 1993 election that community economic development would be the cornerstone of its economic policy; and

Whereas in recent years, community economic development has been receiving less money and less attention from this government; and

Whereas the government made clear today that it is business as usual in the economic development game by giving the Toronto-based Orenda Ltd. nearly $10 million, which is some five times the annual budget for CED;

Therefore be it resolved that this House consign Liberal promises on community economic development to the composter, along with their pledge of no tax increases, no Civil Service layoffs, no municipal amalgamation and so on and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 180

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

Whereas the Matthew, a 73 foot replica of John Cabot's ship, will sail Nova Scotia waters this August to commemorate the famous explorers landing in North America 500 years ago; and

[Page 877]

Whereas the visit of the Matthew to Nova Scotia is a welcome addition to an already impressive list of events and festivals planned for this tourism season; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas after stopping in Cape Breton and Halifax, the Matthew will visit the Yarmouth area in late August, before heading to New England;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the important role the visit of the Matthew will play in attracting tourists to Yarmouth and other areas of the province and encourage all Nova Scotians to take the time this summer to celebrate an important part of our heritage.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 181

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

Whereas the Pictou Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., have entered into a new technical training partnership; and

Whereas Michelin, a worldwide tire manufacturer, has developed state-of-the-art training facilities and expertise to train its own personnel over the past two decades; and

Whereas the Pictou Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is committed to providing Nova Scotian business, industries and government with the training necessary to support the economic health of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Michelin and the Nova Scotia Community College for entering into this worthwhile partnership.

[Page 878]

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 182

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 1949 Terms of Union which brought Newfoundland into Confederation "constitutionally enshrines North Sydney as the principal mainland port for shipments to and from Newfoundland"; and

Whereas the Port of North Sydney has been the principal shipping point from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland for more than 100 years and has been a good source of employment for the residents of the Northside and surrounding areas; and

Whereas Marine Atlantic's future in North Sydney is threatened by the federal government's possible plan to privatize the Crown Corporation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately contact his federal counterpart and ensure that the Terms of Union are kept and North Sydney continues to play a central role as the principal port for shipments to and from Newfoundland.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

[Page 879]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 183

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

Whereas during the debate on Bill No. 6, the Gas Distribution Act, on Friday, April 18th, the honourable member for Queens made reference to the jobs that would be created as a consequence of the Sable Gas Energy Project; and

Whereas in his reference to these jobs the honourable member said, "Sure, there will be some jobs for Nova Scotians. We can sell them sandwiches and coffee. We can clean their offices for them. We can do that kind of menial work."; and

Whereas there are already many Nova Scotians performing technical jobs associated with the Sable Offshore Energy Project, including Charlie Rogers of Glace Bay, who is the Drilling and Completion Manager;

Therefore be it resolved that this House reprimand the honourable member for Queens for his lack of support and confidence in Nova Scotian engineers, technologists and other professionals currently working on the Sable Offshore Energy Project and that we recognize that all jobs have dignity.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 184

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

[Page 880]

Whereas the Sheet Harbour Archery Club is widely recognized as having the best outdoor archery range in all of Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the Sheet Harbour Archery Club will be hosting the Atlantic Canadian 18 Metre Championship this weekend for the second consecutive year; and

Whereas up to 100 archers will participate in this weekend's event, including provincial champion Doug Howe of Sheet Harbour and many other members of the Sheet Harbour Archery Club;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Sheet Harbour Archery Club for its quality facilities and commitment to promoting the sport in this province and around the region and wish all participants the best of luck in this weekend's Atlantic Canadian 18 Metre Championship Event.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 185

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

Whereas Canexel opened in 1967 in East River, Lunenburg County and today is operated by ABT Canada Limited as ABTCO; and

Whereas the plant employs 320 employees producing high-quality hardboard products to customers all over the world; and

Whereas workplace safety is given high priority by management and production staff and is used as a standard of measurement of product output;

[Page 881]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the employees and management of ABTCO, East River plant, on the occasion of its 30th Anniversary and wish them continuing success as exporters of world-class Nova Scotia hardwood products in global markets.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 186

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

Whereas Eastern Passage Junior High School on April 17th celebrated Canadiana Day; and

Whereas the school chose this particular day and particular name to recognize Canada's unique and rich heritage; and

Whereas all classes in the school chose a piece of Canada to celebrate and recognize through means of a skit, decoration, or construction of an item;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to the principal, staff and students of Eastern Passage Junior High for their celebration of the uniqueness of our Canadian heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

[Page 882]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 187

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

Whereas during the months of September and October 1996, the employees of the nova Scotia Liquor Commission store at Sydney's Kmart Plaza held numerous fund-raisers in support of the Children's Wish Foundation of Cape Breton; and

Whereas a total of $2,612 was raised and donated by these hard-working and generous employees; and

Whereas the dedication and spirit of these Nova Scotia Liquor Commission employees is indicative of the charitable and unselfish nature of Cape Bretoners despite tough economic times;

Therefore be it resolved that this House salute the employees of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission store at Sydney River's Kmart Plaza for helping make a Cape Breton child's wish come true.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 188

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

[Page 883]

Whereas today is Secretary's Day across Canada; and

Whereas secretaries in all sectors work hard, often for low pay and little recognition; and

Whereas the economic climate, particularly wage freezes and roll-backs, has frequently disadvantaged lower paid employees such as secretaries;

Therefore be it resolved that this government set an example of wage fairness for all employers when it reinstates contract negotiations with its employees this fall.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 189

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

Whereas John (Jack) Hughes, recently named Lunenburg County Representative Volunteer, passed away on Friday, April 18, 1997; and

Whereas among his many volunteer activities, Jack was the guiding strength of the Scout movement throughout the Lunenburg District; and

Whereas Jack, a double-lung transplant recipient, due to pulmonary fibrosis, championed the fight for a provincially-funded home oxygen service for residents throughout Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly acknowledge Jack Hughes' dedication to enriching the lives of others and extend condolences to Jack Hughes' wife, Mary, his family and many friends.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 884]

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 190

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

Whereas students from the Pictou County Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College are offering unique services to the Town of Pictou; and

Whereas the Canadian National Railway station, damaged by fire one year ago, is getting a facelift with the help of carpenters; and

Whereas the restoration of our train station is not only of great value to Pictou and its tourism industry, but also for the 10 carpentry students who are offered an opportunity to do on-site work on a historic structure;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students for their work and the partnership between Pictou and the community college campus, which has produced a win-win situation for all involved in the efforts to re-open our railway station.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

[Page 885]

RESOLUTION NO. 191

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

Whereas the partnerships in the Labour Market Program is the first of its kind between a university and government; and

Whereas the Summer Employment Program will provide relevant summer job opportunities for 20 arts, social science and science students who will be returning to Dalhousie in the fall; and

Whereas the Department of Economic Development and Tourism developed this program for students to gain valuable experience and share their talents and enthusiasm while earning money that will help them continue their studies;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and Dalhousie University for developing this program to meet the changing needs of students and also extend congratulations to the successful participants in the Partnerships in the Labour Market Program.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 192

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Hospital is a facility that deals with a number of social issues that impact on the mental health of many people in our society; and

Whereas the sharing of information between mental health professionals is an essential part of the continuing education in a constantly advancing field; and

[Page 886]

Whereas April 25th is the 8th Annual Academic Day hosted by the Nova Scotia Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend best wishes to the participants who will be attending this academic conference which, this year, will concentrate on seniors' mental health and dealing with violence, two very important issues in our society today.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 193

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 Minister of Natural Resources boasts that jobs are already being created by the Sable offshore project, especially in legal firms in the City of Halifax, who are participating in the offshore hearings; and

Whereas this government is spending $500,000 on lawyers and has redirected $1.5 million in salaries and other monies to look out for Nova Scotia's best interests at the offshore hearings; and

Whereas despite this expenditure, the Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has concluded that the interests of his region are not being represented by all of this high-priced help;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the Minister of Natural Resources why all of her high-priced help is unable to represent the interests of all Nova Scotians on the issue of offshore natural gas.

[Page 887]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 194

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

Whereas the Fairness in Government Liberal Policy, released during the 1993 election campaign, stated that, "Liberal Government initiatives will be built on a foundation of honesty, openness, integrity, and accountability"; and

Whereas the use of these warm, cuddly words fly directly in the face of what this Liberal Government has done from day one, which is dole out patronage jobs to an exclusive club of Liberals across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas no better example exists of these Liberal shenanigans than with the announcement on Monday that the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into the doling out of patronage plums for three tourism positions in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit that patronage is alive and well and flourishing, despite Liberal claims to the contrary.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

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 and the honourable member for Yarmouth will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening:

[3:15 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the many positive fiscal, economic, and social reforms and advances undertaken by this government since 1993.

We will now commence the Oral Question Period, which today will run for one hour and 30 minutes. The time now being 3:15 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 4:45 p.m.

[Page 888]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - HOME CARE SERVICES: HST - APPLICABILITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last Wednesday, a week ago today, my colleague for Kings West asked the minister for details concerning the application of the HST on private home services. The kind of services that he was seeking information on were such things as: turning and positioning the patient in bed; moving the patient from a lying position to the sitting position; taking temperature, pulse and respiration; caring for the external urinary drainage system; passive range of motion exercises for incapacitated individuals to prevent muscle wasting and contracture. Those would seem to be medical services. Can this minister explain the rationale of taxing these kinds of Level 1 services if they are provided by a PCW and exempting if they are provided by a licensed practical nurse?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the honourable member, it is quite true that I was asked last week about the criteria and I indicated that I would provide it. I don't have it to date, I will attempt to do that before the end of Question Period tomorrow.

DR. HAMM: The minister chose to comment on my preamble and neglected to answer the question. But I will try again.

When the minister last fall had occasion to change the level of service that is available in the Home Care Program, 46 per cent of those receiving home care had their level of service decreased and 11 per cent were actually summarily discharged altogether. Would he agree that those cuts and now the policy to put the 15 per cent blended sales tax on Level 1 private care will result in clients who would otherwise stay in their own home now applying for admission to a nursing home? Would he agree with that statement?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, to give an accurate balance to the comments of my learned friend, the Leader of the Opposition, I might say of those who had services decreased 82 per cent had a reduction in the frequency of their cleaning and laundry services. Now, I realize that having reduced cleaning and laundry services can be bothersome, can be problematic for some but hardly, I would think, enough to make the kind of difference that the honourable member suggests.

[Page 889]

With respect to the HST, I can read in detail the information I gave to the House earlier, in the last session, but what I want to do is get an update for the honourable member and I promise to do that by tomorrow.

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for that commitment and I know he will keep it. Perhaps then I had better luck with that supplementary.

Would I then perhaps dare to go back, Mr. Speaker, to the minister and ask him if he is prepared to look very carefully at the substance of the rationale of taxing Level 1 care if provided by a PCW and exempting it if provided by a licensed practical nurse. Would the minister please explain the rationale?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, I was going to address that, Mr. Speaker, when I had the update on the criteria. I am not even in a position to confirm that that is, in fact, the case in every instance.

I can indicate what HST is not charged on: public health care services, medical devices, all government-funded and government-approved provincial home care services. I want to be sure, I want to be precise when I answer the honourable member's question and that is why I am looking to get the information between now and tomorrow.

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

FIN. - AUD. GEN. REPORT (1996): EXPENDITURES (CAPITAL) - OVERSTATEMENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General tabled his report today for 1996 on the financial operations of the Government of Nova Scotia. In that document, there is the information and the contention presented by the Auditor General that the Province of Nova Scotia, in their 1995-96 statement overstated in various departments capital expenditures to the tune of $50.9 million.

Mr. Speaker, for many of us, taking a look at this, we understand that the last budget was brought in under great bugles and blaring of congratulations that it was balanced. As it appears from this, in fact, instead of a $2 million surplus, what, in fact, we see is a $48 million deficit.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance to explain to members of this House why, in fact, his department and this government made a decision to cook the books of the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 890]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the government in 1995-96 made a decision to go from two-year to one-year budgeting for capital. In that year - in a prudent way, it is like prepaying a funeral - we paid for certain commitments that we had, tenders that were called, Orders in Council that were passed and we put approximately $51 million in the 1995-96 budget which increased our deficit by that amount in 1995-96.

We continued on. We budgeted for a surplus in 1996-97 and we delivered that surplus which I reported last week. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister can present the fact that the government wanted to do this and it wanted to do that but as the Auditor General said, "In our view, the $50.9 million of net capital expenditures being reported in 1995-96 as opposed to 1996-97 is material, and could affect a reader's assessment.".

In other words, Mr. Speaker the Government of Nova Scotia set out to pull the wool over Nova Scotians' eyes about what the accurate fiscal circumstances were of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, how he can explain away this discrepancy, a discrepancy that the Auditor General has suggested is clearly contrary to generally accepted accounting principles at both the provincial and federal levels? How can he possibly explain this kind of financial chicanery?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, in his comments, talked about what the Auditor General said and he said that the changes were material. I think it might be worth the honourable member looking at the 1995-96 year end report which is signed by Deloitte & Touche who are the provincial auditors.

Speaking of materiality, they say, "In our opinion, these financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Province of Nova Scotia as at March 31, 1996 and 1995 and the results of its operations . . ." and so on.

So, we have the Auditor General saying one thing. The provincial auditor says it is quite in order. There is no material difference. I rest my case.

MR. CHISHOLM: That is why we have an independent watchdog to look over the financial accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia.

My final supplementary to this minister. This minister, of course, was not in that position last year, that was a position held by the now Minister of Health, so perhaps we should talk to him a bit about his responsibility for this change in direction for this attempt to mislead Nova Scotians. This minister is responsible for this budget. I want to ask this minister my final supplementary.

[Page 891]

How does he expect Nova Scotians to in fact believe any more than it was true last year that this is a balanced budget when we know, for example, that they have not accounted for the contingent liabilities of wage demands for public sector workers? For teachers, a 1 per cent increase for teachers will represent $5 million. Will the minister explain to members of this House how he expects Nova Scotians to believe the credibility of his department and his government when it comes to their claims of balancing the budget of Nova Scotia?

MR. GILLIS: Contrary to the suggestion of the member opposite, there is money in our budget to begin negotiations when the wage restraint ends at the end of October. That is misleading the House. We have money. He has been told that. That money is provided and the truth of the picture and the members opposite (Interruptions) Well, read the budget. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GILLIS: The proof of the pudding in terms of the bottom line is in terms of the budget and we have two auditors discussing, but, Mr. Speaker, as of March 31, 1997, 24 days ago, for the first time since Robert L. Stanfield (Interruptions) we have a balanced budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE - WAGE DISPARITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: My question is for the Minister of Health. Last fall the Minister of Health gave assurance to the president and the secretary-treasurer of the NSGEU that he would begin negotiations in January with a view to addressing the wage disparity that exists among many employees of the new QE II Health Sciences Centre resulting from the marriage between the former NSGEU and former NSNU members. The minister apparently has had a change of heart and now says that such matters come under the jurisdiction of the board and will be dealt with through the negotiation process. Given the original indication that he would begin negotiation in January and given that he established the budget for the QE II Health Sciences Centre, why is the minister now reneging on his early commitment?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: The honourable Leader of the Opposition indicates that I gave a commitment that I would begin bargaining sessions the first of January to deal with the wage disparity in respect of the QE II workers. I would just be curious as to where he read of that commitment, or indeed has he read of it. Does he have something there that he could share with me?

DR. HAMM: By way of supplementary again to the Minister of Health. Now, recently the minister prior to the budget was prepared to announce a package of incentives for doctors and my understanding is that that came from the department and details are to follow. Would

[Page 892]

the minister indicate, is he prepared now to bring forward packages for other health care workers and address in a similar fashion their concerns?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to be difficult with the Leader of the Opposition, but he made a very specific statement about a very detailed commitment that I had made and then proceeded to question me on that commitment. I am asking, does he have anything to indicate where that specific detailed commitment was made and, if he has, will he share it with me?

DR. HAMM: It sounds like what the minister is saying is that he has no commitment to the nursing profession and those working in the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and, in fact, it looks like they are going to be dangling on a string. (Interruptions)

Let me ask specifically, by way of final supplementary, where is this minister on the issue of wage disparity among health care workers in the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, there is only one word that can describe the honourable Leader of the Opposition's position right about now and that word is caught; he was caught.

However, let's disregard that for a moment. We are interested in seeing that the wage disparity issue be resolved. We are anxious that the appropriate bargaining be conducted and that that issue be resolved. Obviously, that cannot go on over a period of time; it has to be addressed and that will be addressed in the normal bargaining sessions with the QE II and its employees.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - HST: PRESS RELEASE (27/03/97) - UPHOLD

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. On March 27th or March 28th, somewhere in that area, I was invited along with members of the media to the Department of Finance for a Pepsi and pizza party. At that repast that we enjoyed so much that day, up in the Department of Finance, the Minister of Finance issued a press release. In that press release he made the following statement. "The price of coffee and two donuts at Tim Horton's is a good illustration" - of the effect of the HST - "Before the HST, the cost was $2.47, including Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST). On April 1, the cost will be $2.38 including HST. Thats an 11 cent drop. Ten cents is a tax cut and the other penny is Tim Horton's dropping the price of an eight ounce cup of coffee. That daily saving adds up to more than $25 a year.".

[Page 893]

I wonder if the minister will still stand by that press release and the statement that he made on March 27th or March 28th?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, on that day I tried to explain that as we came close to April 1st, harmonization day, what the changes would be in taxes in various matters. Taxes on some items, 30 per cent, were going up; 30 per cent were staying the same; and 40 per cent were going down. I was giving some examples. I didn't think I put the Ten Commandments out and that meant that every Tim Horton's would have exactly those prices, but the general drift given the changes in prices, some of them would go down and some of them would go up. That is what I was trying to do on that day.

MR. RUSSELL: If I were permitted to, I would say the minister lied because he put out a press release that made that statement. (Interruptions) I didn't say you lied. He obviously attempted to mislead me as a member of the Opposition, the Critic of the Department of Finance, and attempted to mislead the media.

This is a press release. I will send him across a copy in a moment. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the spin doctor for the Minister of Finance, one Bruce Cameron, was going around after the member for Queens when he tabled a resolution the following day stating that that statement in the press release was not true. As I say, Mr. Cameron was going around and saying you are wrong, you are wrong. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have here in my hand a copy taken from a poster in the Tim Hortons store. In spite of what the minister says, the cost of a coffee and two doughnuts prior to the imposition of the tax was $2.33. Rather than going down by 11 cents, as the minister states, the cost is now $2.51. I have proof of it right here. This morning I went to a Tim Hortons and actually bought that, and I will table that at a later date.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister now issue a press release retracting what he stated on March 27th?

MR. GILLIS: We are dealing with something with many variables and with more than one variable they may have difficulty dealing with it. Taxes are up, taxes are down and prices are changed.

Mr. Speaker, since the honourable member was quoting from some documents he took off the wall at Tim Hortons, I just thought I would show the complexity by reading a short part of a letter to the editor. It says in part - this is what happens when tax changes happen and prices go up or down. "My objection lies with the businesses that are piggybacking a rise in prices on the end of this new tax.". This is by Jennifer P. Wallace of Halifax. "For example, Park Lane's parking garage was $2;. . ." Mr. Speaker, that was the price up until the end of March - ". . . effective April 1, the price is $2.50. When asked why their price had risen, they responded: 'Blame it on the government; it's the new tax!'

[Page 894]

According to my calculations, a 50-cent jump in price represents a 25 per cent rise in cost!", far from the 8 per cent of harmonization. I rest my case again.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, things have come to a pretty pass in this province, when you have to go to Tim Hortons to find out about the HST when the Minister of Finance doesn't know what he is talking about. I am going to table this document. I would ask the Minister of Finance, if he is an honourable man, he will retract that statement that he made in his press release of March 27th or March 28th. Will he today, in the House, state that he was in error and retract that statement because it is not true?

MR. GILLIS: There are even more complications when, for example, meals under $2.00 didn't attract the provincial tax before and had the GST, Mr. Speaker. I will give you another example because I know the honourable member for Hants West wants to know. As an example, just personal experience, in Antigonish normally I buy the Sunday Daily News. The Sunday Daily News up to the end of March cost one loonie. After the first day of March the paper cost $1.25. There is an 8 per cent increase. It has nothing to do directly with the HST. There was obviously quite a price increase.

I will give you another example of how things vary. (Interruptions) Go get a coffee. (Applause) In contrast, up to the Saturday - Mr. Speaker, they don't like the truth in information. I am going to give it to them.

Mr. Speaker, the Saturday Cape Breton Post up to the end of March cost $1.00. After the first of April one loonie would still get you a Cape Breton Post on Saturday. So there you are.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE - WAGE DISPARITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health. Now a few moments ago in Question Period the minister indicated to me that he had made no commitment to health care workers in the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre to address the issue of disparity himself.

Will the minister indicate clearly to this House, did he indicate that he was going to address, in January, the issue of disparity or did he not?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: This is what you call a recovery question. Mr. Speaker, the honourable member alleged, very clearly and very specifically, that I had made an offer to negotiate, starting in January, with the NSGEU to resolve this issue. In fact, I simply asked him to produce for me - because I am very busy these days and sometimes my

[Page 895]

memory might possibly slip - something upon which he based this very clear and very detailed statement. That is still my position.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have here a letter that went to Mr. Boudreau and it is over the signature of the President of the NSGEU, David Peters, and the date of this is February 4th. I will quote, it is very short,

"Dear Mr. Boudreau:

Re: Equal Pay for QEII Employees

As you will recall, our Secretary-Treasurer and I met with you last November to discuss the importance of resolving the glaring disparities in pay for several groups of employees at the QEII.

At that time, you made a commitment that you would be prepared to hold more detailed discussions with us in January on how to address this issue. We would like to begin these discussions as soon as possible.".

My question to the minister is, did you receive this letter?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that would have been much easier if he had done that about three or four questions ago and then we would have known what we were dealing with. In fact, we have had discussions. I have had discussions with union officials. I have had discussions with nurses from the QE II here in this building, on more than one occasion. I have indicated to all of them that these were issues that I was prepared to discuss and that should be resolved. But, in all cases, in my recollection, I made it very clear that these issues had to be resolved at the bargaining table with the QE II.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is quite specific. If this minister was not prepared to aggressively and substantively address the issue, then why did he hold out any hope that there was any productivity to be achieved by having negotiations at all? What was the minister trying to do at the time when he made this kind of commitment?

MR. BOUDREAU: Again, Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Opposition sneaks in the word negotiations, implying that contractual negotiations were to begin to resolve an issue. That is not the case. I don't remember it specifically, but I don't think that was in the letter even. But, in any event, this is an attempt to characterize something so that the honourable Leader of the Opposition can attempt to make a little political gain on it. This is an important issue. It is one which I am prepared to speak to union officials about. It is one I am prepared to speak to nurses about. I have done so in the past and I will continue to do so, but the actual bargaining, the negotiation, the collective bargaining to resolve this issue belongs with QE II management.

[Page 896]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

JUSTICE - JUDGES: TRAINING - INACTION

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Yesterday, in the House, the minister agreed with me that there is a problem with bias at the top of the judicial chain of command in Nova Scotia. The Minister of Justice further indicated that he couldn't do anything about this problem because it would interfere with the independence of judges in the judicial system.

This morning we had yet another report in the press of the same problem and my question to the minister is, given this report and all the previous reports, how can the minister continue to justify his inaction on this problem?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe, and I know that I did not say that I agreed that there was a bias by members of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

[3:45 p.m.]

I would like to, again, point out to the member that, yes, this is a serious question but we do have a system here in Nova Scotia where there is an independence of the judiciary from the executive branch of government. It is improper and inappropriate for the government to interfere with the administration of justice by the Supreme Court.

They do their own training; they are very well aware of problems and I have every confidence that they will conduct the proper training.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, our research has indicated, in the last 24 hours, that thousands of pages of research have been done in the last 10 years on this very issue. Report after report supports the mandatory education of judges.

Mr. Speaker, I have an abstract here of six different reports, including one to the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in this province, from a wide variety of sources, including one to the federal government in 1993. I would like to table this report because with these thousands of pages of research, all of which support mandatory training for judges, will the minister admit in the face of all that evidence and the government's commitment to zero tolerance, that he must take some action?

[Page 897]

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I would just repeat that it is not for the government to design and impose a training program on Judges of the Supreme Court or any court system in Nova Scotia.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I feel compelled, then, to direct this supplementary to the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

I want to ask this minister, Mr. Speaker, what action she will take to educate the Minister of Justice so that the recommendations, including the one from her own Advisory Council, are taken seriously and mandatory training of judges occurs in this province? (Applause)

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, yes, this government, indeed, has a zero tolerance policy and we would hope that every aspect of any part of the justice system that intervenes in any case would take that same policy. We are working to make sure that happens. Any one intervention is not going to be good enough.

We, as a government and a society as a whole, have a responsibility here to make sure that we do address the violence, family violence and social violence. We would hope that every member of this Legislature and every aspect of the judicial system from the police on up would adopt that same policy and take it into consideration on any decisions that are made. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

FIN. - HST: APPLE - GROCERY PRODUCT

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. I wonder if the Minister could advise me if, in the view of his department, an apple would be deemed to be a grocery product?

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I consider the apple to be a Nova Scotia grown product that is marketed in this province. I would hope that all members and all residents of Nova Scotia, when they go to the store, would stop buying them from New York and B.C. and start buying them from Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, the Minister of Agriculture, for his answer.

My first supplementary is to the Minister of Finance. In a press release issued on March 27, 1997, Mr. Bruce Cameron speaking on behalf of the Minister stated, "The HST will bring higher taxes on a few items, lower tax on many items, and no change on tax-free items, like groceries.". The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed to my satisfaction that an

[Page 898]

apple is a grocery. Would the honourable Minister of Finance confirm that, in fact, groceries such as apples are not to attract the HST or BST.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: The rule is this. Whatever attracted GST before April 1st, has HST on it now. I would be glad to go and double-check. If apples attracted the GST before the end of March, they attract the HST now, but I do not know. I would be more than happy to co-operate and check.

MR. LEEFE: I firmly believe that in the eyes of all Nova Scotians an apple would indeed be deemed to be a grocery product, one which would, one would have assumed, have been caught up in the press release that was issued on March 27th. Yet today, when I purchased an apple - this morning - the apple was 95 cents and I was surprised to find that there was a 14 cent HST applied to it. My question . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. LEEFE: Fourteen cents on a 95 cent apple. That sounds to me like I was charged the HST on this apple, on this food product, on this grocery product. I ask the minister, is his statement issued on March 27th correct that groceries are not subject to the HST or, in fact, are they subject to the HST as has been the case with this apple? I will table the receipt for the minister's edification.

MR. GILLIS: As I said, I do not personally give imprimatur on every piece of paper that goes out. Whether an apple has HST on it or not, I have already said that whatever had the GST on it before the end of March has the HST on it now. It is the GST rules on what is covered. I just want to remind - and I am sure that honourable member does not need to be reminded - that it was his Tory friends in Ottawa, Mr. Mulroney and company, who instituted the GST and instituted those rules and taxed apples, if they are taxable. I suggest that he talk to the two refugees that are left from the Mulroney era.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: CONSTRUCTION POLICY - DOCUMENT TABLE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. Will the minister provide to members of the House, by tabling them, the reports and the evaluation upon which the government has decided to pursue and push forward with the public-private partnership in this school construction policy.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 899]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you for your positive answer, Mr. Minister. Through you again, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, how soon can we anticipate the delivery of these reports and the evaluation. Is it going to be today?

MR. HARRISON: There are a number of reports related to public-private partnering and we will begin, as a result of this question today, to assemble them and table them as quickly as possible.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Would the minister indicate then that his government and his department have concluded with all the evidence and have they drawn a conclusion based on that evidence that the public-private partnering construction of a school and then rental over a several year period is better financially for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia?

MR. HARRISON: We have, as we have indicated in budget estimates, proceeded to embark on a different way of constructing schools in Nova Scotia. We did so as part of a wide public consultation on public-private partnering policy development for this province. We will be happy to table any and all studies that have been done to date leading to this direction and as documents become available, as we have indicated to both members requesting information, we will make those available as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - AMBULANCES: WAGE/SAFETY LEG. - ATTENDANTS INCLUDE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question through you is for the Minister of Health. I am sure the Minister of Health is aware that recently we had amended and expanded minimum wage laws in this province. As well, we have had a recently amended Occupational Health and Safety Act. I am sure he is aware of that. I would ask the minister. (Interruptions) Very positive and I would agree with him.

My question for the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, is why ambulance attendants were not covered under the recently expanded and amended minimum wage law or the recently amended Occupational Health and Safety Act. Why were ambulance attendants not covered under the Act and laws recently changed? Why were they not included?

HON. BERNARD. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member will appreciate I am not familiar with all of the details of the coverages under the Minimum Wage Act or the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Perhaps I would take that question on notice and consult with my colleague, the Minister of Labour.

[Page 900]

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the minister will be aware and I am sure he knows, like all members know, that gas attendants, articling lawyers, bartenders, babysitters, there was a whole group that were covered under the new minimum wage laws and the amended Occupational Health and Safety Act which this government put forth, which was actually very good. What I can't understand is, we have ambulance attendants in this province working 100 hours a week, working for $2.25 an hour and these people are out on the front lines dealing with life-and-death situations, and I am sure you are aware of that and you know people who are.

I would ask the minister, can he indicate, since he wasn't aware, whether he is going to ask the Minister of Labour to immediately change both of those so that these people do come under the minimum wage laws and the Occupational Health and Safety Act of this province?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, yes. I am perfectly happy to indicate to the honorable member that I will speak to the Minister of Labour, my colleague, both to answer his first question and to discuss the contents of his second question. Is he indicating to me now that he has information that there are people actually on duty working who are making these types of wages or is this an on-call situation?

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister would agree - and I will send over a copy of a letter he may already have - people tell me that being on call and having to stay home, all of this adds to their hours you are actually working; you can't go away, you can't do things any of us do. We are willing to pay other people $50 or $60 an hour for being on call, surely to heavens, these people have to have something more than $2.25 an hour when they work 100 hours a week, or 87 hours on a weekend shift and they get way less than the minimum wage. So yes, there is some of that that is on call and some of it working but I am totalling the two together in some cases.

I would ask the minister, could he indicate if it is the province's intention to appeal to the Labour Relations Board to have ambulance attendants excluded from the collective bargaining process, once we have a province-wide operator? As the minister knows, under the Liberal policy paper, they were looking at one, single ambulance authority for the province. I wonder if the minister could indicate whether he will be asking the Minister of Labour to have them excluded from the collective bargaining process once that happens?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all we have to be precise when we talk about whether someone gets paid x number of dollars for working. There is a difference whether or not they are on call or they are actually at work. For example, until very recently, as a matter of fact that announcement we made a couple of weeks ago, it was possible for physicians all across the province to be on call, to put in an entire weekend and not earn one penny for that weekend. That was certainly possible, particularly in rural Nova Scotia. There

[Page 901]

are some people who have worked on call and received no payment. I think the figure the honourable member is referring to is payment for on-call service.

The other thing I might remind the honourable member of is that these contracts are contracts between individual, private sector operators and their employees. We are not the employer and those arrangements will be made. (Interruptions)

[4:00 p.m.]

The final point I am trying to make, Mr. Speaker, is that the honourable member speculates on a time some point in the future where there may or may not be one operator province-wide. We certainly are not anywhere near that situation at the moment and, in fact, it is a very speculative and hypothetical question. If that ever happens, I suppose we will have to address it at that time.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. -

HIGHWAY NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT CORP.:

DEBT - ACCOUNTABILITY

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it appears as if the juggling of the books as to where the money is spent is not the only shell game that has been going on with this government.

My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Auditor General's Report, if the minister has not had an opportunity to have a look at it yet, clearly indicates that the Western Alignment Corporation, for all accounting purposes, is government owned. That is something that we have been saying in this caucus for a long time, and that since the bondholders have recourse against that highway corporation, they have recourse against the Government of Nova Scotia. Yet, in the budget estimates that were presented about the province, there is absolutely none of that financial information provided.

I would like to ask the minister, quite simply, why did the government not choose to include within its financial statements the financial liabilities that the people of this province have as a result of the western alignment by-pass?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this project is an off-balance-sheet project. The mere fact that it is an off-balance-sheet project means that there is no liability to the province. What the member is really referring to is his inability to understand what the Auditor General is saying. There is no liability to this province by the

[Page 902]

agreements that we have. It is an off-balance-sheet project and I look forward to doing other off-balance-sheet projects in the future.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I suggest that what is off balance is something else other than what the minister has said. That is indeed what is off balance. It is a shell game.

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General also raised some very serious concerns about accountability for this process. In the audit he indicated that the documents, the papers that he was given, were mostly memorandums that were given to the Executive Council and pointed out that since May of last year, all that there were, were press releases from the corporation. This is the corporation for which we, the taxpayers, are responsible for the huge debts that they are running up. There are press releases, but we are told to rest assured. I guess the Auditor General would have been told, because the Auditor General's Report says the minister and the Executive Council get verbal briefings. Well, to me that sounds like the government does not want to have a paper trail.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. Why has this minister and this government allowed such shoddy accountability practices to persist?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting listening to the rhetoric from the Third Party. The reality here is on the issue of accountability that the Auditor General was referring to. I might say that before then the Auditor General did make some very positive comments about the issue of Highway No. 104 and the western alignment and basically complimented the former minister of Transportation and Public Works indirectly for the tremendous amount of leadership and also accountability in the process in regard to following contracts and so on and so forth and complying with government policy.

The issue here, Mr. Speaker, is with regard to the formal process of providing information. What we have done is informed the general public of exactly what was happening with Highway No. 104. We are prepared to continue to do that. The Auditor General has made reference to having a more detailed document. I have instructed staff to go back and take a look at that issue. A report was presented to my deputy minister at the end of March or early April and that information will be made very public.

Mr. Speaker, we are running a transparent process here on the western alignment, creating jobs, creating safe highways for Nova Scotians to travel on and we are going to continue to do that. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I see that the minister has caught some of the fantasy dust that is obviously sweeping over the government benches. If this government calls that transparency, I would hate to see what they classify as secrecy.

[Page 903]

The Auditor General in his report, again on Page 129 if the minister has not gotten this, he points out, Mr. Speaker, "We examined the documents provided and believe that some significant information was absent from the Department's reports, such as - a clear, concise financial summary or an indication of the expected total project cost, including all costs to be borne by the Department and Province;". That means taxpayers, "the costs of financing the debt, including the incremental interest rate and costs of private sector financing versus Provincial financing;", in other words, how much more it is going to cost us as a result of this.

I want to ask the minister, since you are so transparent, you have all this information, will you table that on the floor of this House so that members of this House can see it and all Nova Scotians can see what you have and what you have been hiding?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite refers to the document. I assume he is referring to Paragraph 11.30. The government conducted feasibility studies prior to embarking into the public-private partnership process, so that we can make sure that the project we are doing is accountable.

The other aspect is the Auditor General criticized the lack of formalizing accounting of how can the public know what has happened. HWAC is making formal reports and those reports will be open. The Auditor General's scrutiny is made public and here is a prime example with regard to the issues he is talking about. We are prepared to provide that information to the Auditor General, whatever information he has required we have always provided. There is a great deal of detailed information that he has access to and we have provided all that information.

We have also made a communications person available. We are working with community organizations, community groups, informing them exactly what is happening with regard to our department. In this particular project we have made press releases available. I have done tours of the facility. We provided information for the Auditor General and we will do that. We have no problem providing information on the project. In fact, we have been saying we are transparent to the Auditor General in whatever information he wants to take a look at.

I believe what the Auditor General is referring to, he would like to see it in a more concise manner. Some of the documentation, Mr. Speaker, is quite involved; reams and reams, documents upon documents, I believe six or seven different documents were made available to the Auditor General. There is a tremendous amount of work that has gone into project and it has been done under great leadership, certainly by the previous minister. I have no reason not to be supportive of the efforts that have been made in regard to providing information to the Auditor General.

[Page 904]

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

ENVIRON. - BEVERAGE DEPOSITS: BENEFITS - MONETARY

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of the Environment - I just wanted to be sure he was there. Last year municipal units across this province signed on with the Government of Nova Scotia in their environmental crusade, under the impression that they would be getting money back to help offset costs of keeping banned materials out of their landfills. Last November they were seven months into the plan and it was indicated that there was nearly $10 million collected at that time and this came from the beverage deposit return. Could he please supply us with the details of how much money has been collected up to this point, under this program?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and I do want to commend the member for raising the point to recognize that yes, indeed, the deposit return system is, indeed, working to make a cleaner Nova Scotia. I will acknowledge that we have, in fact, sent out the first series of cheques to municipalities in several regions of Nova Scotia, which represents the first six months of the operation. The next six months of monies are coming out and we are pleased that we have been able to award $0.5 million, there is another $1 million coming. That is more than our commitment to return revenues to those municipal units that are cooperating with our program to clean Nova Scotia.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, through you again to the Minister of the Environment, I wonder if the Minister of the Environment could explain just how the figure of $500,000 was arrived at to be used to be distributed among the municipal units in this manner?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will recall last year we sent him a package which outlined the formula that was used to break down the amounts of money from the Resource Recovery Fund Board to the southern regions of the province. If he would refer to the file, or I could update him with one perhaps tomorrow, he will find the formula that was used and it is basically the profits in and the profits out.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of the Environment. More and more times the municipalities are required to do more with less. It is estimated by people in Cape Breton that somewhere between $3 million and $4 million was collected through this tax in the first seven months, people involved in the industry, people who know the distribution of the different types of soft drinks and what not in the area. Yet, when the money was distributed there was only $15,724 distributed to the region of Cape Breton. Will the minister please advise us how this money was distributed? Was it based on population, on consumption or on the returns?

[Page 905]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member knows clearly that it was based on all the points he raised because he has the package of the formula. He also knows, as the Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has acknowledged publicly that the Cape Breton region must do more in the area of participating in the program. If they participate more they will indeed collect more.

Those who cleaned up more and those who diverted more from the waste stream earn more money. That is the merit on which the formula was based and it is the merit on which the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities agreed and accepted and it is the merit on which they have written me letters of thanks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN.: AUD. GEN. REPORT (1996) - RESTATED ESTIMATE

[1996-97 ($48.113M)]

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance and it deals with the Auditor General Report. On Page 26 of the Auditor General Report there is a restated, if you will, provincial financial report. In the one that the minister put forward it showed that there was a surplus for 1996-97 of $2.8 million. At the bottom of the page there is a restated amount and there is the figure of $48.113 million and it has brackets around it. I wonder if the Minister of Finance would tell me what the brackets signify?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I will just take a look and try to help. I think the member referred to Page 26 of the Report of the Auditor General down at the bottom with the restatement which we have already talked about and indicated it is an argument between accountants and we know our accounts are in order.

What I wanted to say is, I am very surprised that the honourable member wouldn't know about that because for 15 years the government of which he was a senior member every year had brackets around the bottom lines, surpluses all the time. It means a deficit all the time and that is what it means and he should well know.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this is the minister, and his predecessor, who go around the countryside preaching the fact that they had a balanced budget in 1996-97 and that they are going to have another balanced budget in (Applause) What are you applauding, a deficit of $48 million? You should be ashamed of yourselves. That is a deficit. In 1996-97 this now Minister of Health, the former Minister of Finance, in a last minute bit of chicanery in this House took about $35 million and put it into a contingency fund for the Minister of Justice, he took $26 million and put it into a contingency fund for the Minister of Education and at the same time, we find out that they transferred $50 million, which they did not expend in 1995-96, into 1996-97. So I am telling you fellows, you have got a deficit and it is $48

[Page 906]

million. My first supplementary to the Minister of Finance is, is he still committed to stand by his $4 million surplus this year?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, for 1996-97 we had, as of March 31, 1997, a surplus of $4.7 million. We are estimating a surplus of $4 million this year.

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, for greater certainty, I will quote from Page 32 from the Auditor General's Report, which includes the response of auditors appointed under Section 65 of the Provincial Finance Act, this is Deliotte & Touche, it says, "After examining all of these matters, and after taking all factors into consideration, it is our professional opinion that the results of this accounting treatment did not materially misstate the financial position or results of operations of the Province, as reflected in the financial statements taken as a whole for the year ended March 31, 1996.".

Yes, we had a surplus last year. We have one this year. We hope to have one for many years in the future. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in my final supplementary, I will bring to the minister's attention a statement made by the Auditor General. When asked, does this affect the view of this government by those who examine the books of this government, he said yes. He said yes because it is not a $2 million surplus, it is a $48 million deficit.

The minister says he is going to have a surplus in 1997-98, that is the present year that we are coming into, of about $4 million or whatever the number is. The thing to remember, Mr. Speaker, is how are they getting that surplus. I will tell you how they are getting it. They are entitled, under the four year program of payments from the federal government under the HST program, $60 million a year. They are taking an additional $58 million out of the HST fund. So, in effect, they are going to have a deficit in 1997-98 of approximately $58 million, but they are going to hide that by taking money, to which they are not really entitled, from the HST fund. Would the minister admit that that analysis by myself is correct?

MR. GILLIS: No, Mr. Speaker. We are confident. We are cautious. We run our affairs prudently. In 1995-96, we had certain commitments made with contracts and Orders in Council. We put the $51 million in there to pay the money. We had a balanced budget in 1996-97 and we have one in 1997-98. Listen, I want to just wonder about the credibility of the Finance Critic of this member of the Opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: Listen up, Ron, listen up.

[Page 907]

MR. GILLIS: This honourable gentleman, who is a senior member of the former Buchanan-Cameron Government, who crowned their glory in their last full fiscal year, 1992-93, they had a deficit of $617 million and they added $1.435 billion to the net debt of the province in that year alone, and I table that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: FRDL SCALLOP FARM - MONIES LOST

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. On February 26, 1994, the Premier, the former Minister of the Economic Renewal Agency, the Minister of Fisheries and the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, with great fanfare, went to White Head, Guysborough County, and announced $3.39 million in provincial grants and loan guarantees for the FRDL Scallop Farm to be developed at White Head, Guysborough County. We all now know that that farm has gone bankrupt. Will the minister confirm the $339 million figure and further inform Nova Scotia taxpayers how much to date taxpayers have lost in this adventure?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I cannot, off the top of my head, but I think he said $339 million?

MR. LEEFE: No, $3.39 million.

MR. MANN: I cannot confirm that, but I can certainly become familiar with the file and get back to the member with the accurate numbers.

MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister and, to be helpful, I would refer him to a press release issued from his department on February 25, 1994.

My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Fisheries. According to a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the venture failed because the glue, which was supposed to stick the scallops to the tape where they would grow, did not stick.

Can the minister can explain why the provincial government and his department did not check to ensure that the glue had worked before sticking the taxpayer with $3.39 million in grants and guaranteed loans?

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I believe that this whole program got unstuck because of a corporate decision made when the corporation analyzed the findings of the research that was done by a consultant they brought in to review the process and the economics. Unfortunately, due to the unsticking of glue, but there were a lot of other technical problems that had arisen over the years. I think this program may have taken 6 to

[Page 908]

10 years of research and development with the Nova Scotia research facility. Many other corporations had provided a lot of technical knowledge in assisting the company in this very unique gluing process. I do not believe that the glue became unstuck. I believe it was a corporate decision that at some point in time they decided to cut their losses and get out of the scallop growing industry. I believe that is the problem.

It was money and research that had been provided by the company. The loans which our government had provided I do not believe were fully extended.

MR. LEEFE: I have not heard anything from FRDL but certainly the Department of Fisheries has had that view expressed on its behalf with respect to the failure of the glue to stick and that causing the project to come unglued. I refer the minister to the Chronicle Herald, April 3, 1997.

My final supplementary is again to my colleague the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Will the minister explain why he is negotiating to sell the remainder of this dismal venture for an amount reported to be something in the order of $375,000 or 10 per cent of the money the taxpayer anted up through loans and guarantees for this boondoggle only 38 months ago?

MR. MANN: I think it is important to point out here that the member keeps throwing around $3.39 million and that has not been established as an amount of money that anyone lost in this. As he just tells us now in his final supplementary, there is negotiation on in the sale of some of the assets here for a company that is going to continue to operate. There will be an offset, one would assume, to the original amount of money. Also, one would assume there were a lot of wages paid during that time, goods and services provided, and some recovery by the Province of Nova Scotia.

Also, through the process and because of the failure Innovacorp has been working with other companies on improvements, on methods to perfect the technology, if you will, to ensure that such failures do not happen in the future. I think we all accept that as we attempt to develop industries and work with industries, there will be some failures, but from those failures we learn. We develop better techniques and especially in the aquaculture industry as we develop techniques perhaps a loss in this instance will help us to ensure that in future deals there is prosperity, there are jobs and there is wealth for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - SPECIAL: FUNDING - INADEQUACY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. During the estimates debate the Minister of Education has said that he is paying

[Page 909]

close attention to the Report of the Education Funding Review Work Group and I got the impression that he thinks well of the work that this group has done.

One of the things that he has not highlighted is the amazing news that special education in the Province of Nova Scotia is $33 million short of what is needed to sufficiently fund the program. In fact, in the report we are told that the work group wrote a letter to the Minister of Education outlining the adequacy concerns.

My first question for the minister is, can he tell this House and tell us how in heaven's name it got to be in such a shockingly deficient state?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Well, part of the answer is, as the honourable member opposite knows full well, that the grants for special education are over and above the general formula grants for every student in the province and that the amounts of money that boards have been spending on special education is well in excess of the budget line, the grants per student for special education.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is if the boards have been spending more than they have been granted, that suggests simply how desperately underfunded it is. The funding review group has suggested that the necessary funding, the $28 million that doesn't seem to be going to happen this year, the $28 million that this special education pot is not going to get this year be provided in a phase-in over three to five years.

I guess I want to know if the minister agrees that special needs students should have to wait three to five years for adequate services?

MR. HARRISON: It is important to point out, as we are asking questions back and forth in the House, that there are tremendously dedicated professionals offering excellent services throughout this province to students with exceptional needs in regular classrooms, working well and hard to implement new policies. There is no question precisely why I charge the working formula group to talk openly about the needs of this system. There is no question that boards are asking for additional funds and we are attempting to provide those funds over a four year period.

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have to ask the minister then, does he agree that current fiscal guidelines make it impossible to address this terrible deficit in special education funding?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I began my answers by saying that boards have traditionally spent considerably more on special education services than were granted to them under the appropriation line, special ed grants. Students with exceptional needs are students first and entitled to the same grant that every other student in the province gets. In addition to that, boards have additional expenses that are provided for in other parts of the budget.

[Page 910]

There is no question that special education needs in this province remain underfunded and we remain committed to trying to address that with proper funds allocated to boards over a period of time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - AUD. GEN. REPORT (1996):

HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT CORP. - BORROWING CHARGES

DR. JOHN HAMM: I have a question for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Auditor General has made an observation about the funding of the Highway No. 104 western alignment. The Auditor General says on Page 124; "Based on our analysis, if the Province had borrowed the funds for the highway project directly, instead of Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation, the debt service charges for the borrowing would have been significantly lower.". Would the minister indicate how much lower those borrowing charges would have been?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the question of the member opposite in regard to his understanding or the Auditor General's comments about the cost of this project, in his view. He also states very clearly in there that he doesn't - it is hard to calibrate the factor that this first was an off-balance-sheet project. If we had gone ahead and borrowed the money and created additional debt to the Province of Nova Scotia, it is quite clear that it could very well mean additional costs to the Province of Nova Scotia by the fact that in 1993, because of the concern of government's mismanagement of the funds of the Province of Nova Scotia for 15 years, we could have very well been downrated in regard to our borrowing ability; with a five basis points reduction in the assessment of what our rating would be, it could very well have ended up costing the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia some $30 million to $35 million additional costs if we had borrowed the money and done it internally.

What we decided to do, Mr. Speaker, is go on an off-balance-sheet project. That off-sheet-balance sheet process has allowed us to go ahead and build the highway that has created a safer highway when one realizes that over the last decade we have lost 50 individuals to a very serious highway situation. We rectified that through the building of this facility, off-balance-sheet, designed, operated and constructed by the private sector and, in turn, it has created a benefit to Nova Scotians. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: To continue with the minister, would the minister agree that the province would very likely have been able to borrow the $100 million at some 2 per cent lower than Atlantic Highway Corporation. Therefore, I think it is easy to calculate that Atlantic Highway Corporation are paying $2 million more in servicing their borrowing than the province would have and the people of Nova Scotia, the users of that highway are going

[Page 911]

to have to pay that additional $2 million a year. What is the calculation of that cost to the users of the highway over the life of the project, that increased borrowing cost of 2 per cent?

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe I clarified the point to the member opposite. The issue here, what the Auditor General was saying, that if this had gone internally on the books of the Province of Nova Scotia and with the rating structure we presently have, it could have down-rated the Province of Nova Scotia again. If that was the case it could very well have cost us an additional $30 million to $35 million which would have been a further cost to the taxpayers of this province.

The way we have gone after this project has benefited all Nova Scotians and I state that very clearly.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a short quotation from the Report of the Auditor General, 1996 Highlights, "Based on our analysis, if the Province had borrowed the funds for the highway project directly, instead of Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation, the debt service charges for the borrowing would have been significantly lower.". Would the minister answer how much lower, how much would we have saved if we had built the highway in the traditional way?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if the province borrowed the funds it would have assumed a greater amount of risk on the project and we have been told by (Interruptions) they want to read and are taking little bits and pieces out of parts of the document without the whole facts. I am surprised at the Leader of the Opposition being so insecure in asking a question without reading the whole document. He states very clearly in here that the Auditor General states that there could be a significant cost to this project if we hadn't gone off-balance-sheet, if we had borrowed against the Province of Nova Scotia, five basis points and it could have cost the taxpayers of this province an additional $30 million to $35 million. That is the way they borrowed money in the past, borrowing money on the basis of the grandchildren of this province.

What we have done is live within our means and that is what they find so hard to understand. (Applause)

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

[Page 912]

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS - AUD. GEN. REPORT (1996):

HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT CORP. - BORROWING CHARGES

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the Minister of Transportation that a 2 per cent borrowing cost results in a cost to the Nova Scotia taxpayer of $30 million and that is a fact. Now I would like to read what the Auditor General said. "We cannot express an opinion on whether or not additional borrowing . . .". (Interruption) Now the Minister of Community Services clearly isn't interested in what the Auditor General has to say. The Minister of Community Services is quick to jump on the first phrase, he really doesn't want to hear what the statement says. Here is verbatim what the Auditor General has said, "We cannot express an opinion on whether or not additional borrowing by the Province of this magnitude would change the Province's average borrowing rate. The financial markets determine interest rates, and it is very difficult to forecast the activity and demands of the market.". But what is clear, the 2 per cent borrowing increase for the Atlantic Highway Corporation 104 alignment is going to cost the taxpayers of this province an additional $30 million, and that is a fact. Will the minister respond to that?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't understand what the member wants, whether it be the rabbit tracks referred to over here in a corner, if he has a question he can just stand up and we will answer it like we have answered all the other questions in an effective way. What the Auditor General is making very clear is that the Auditor General could not have within his capacity the ability to understand going out beyond the public-private financing initiatives to determine the factors involved in borrowing those dollars on the private sector side, the risks associated and things of that nature. What we have offered the Auditor General is that whatever information we have is open to the Auditor General, which is very clear.

Secondly, the Auditor General's office has the ability to hire experts in the field of borrowing money on the open market processes, similar to what we have done with Newcourt and so on and so forth to make this project go forward. They have the capability of doing that and they can enter into those agreements any time. They can also hire professional staff to look into that. I believe what the Auditor General is saying is that under their capacity, they do not have the expertise in dealing with that. We certainly recommend that they go ahead and do it.

Thirdly, Mr. Speaker, in regard to the project that we have before us here, it is a project that is being built on time, on schedule, on budget, meeting all the requirements of the day and, at the same time, we are very happy with the general comments that the Auditor General was saying. We have complied in many ways with regard to this project.

[Page 913]

I am assuming, Mr. Speaker, that the member opposite is possibly referring to the fact that we should have been like Ontario. Now Ontario went ahead and borrowed their own money, but they also inherited all the risk. I would just like to bring to the attention of the members of the House and especially the Leader of the Opposition that in the Highway No. 407 project that is going on now, which was designed, built and operated privately, the government of the day - and I believe the government of the day is Conservative and prior to that was NDP - paid those bills. They financed it themselves. The problems they are having with opening that project are now going back to the taxpayers of the Province of Ontario. That is what they want to do, have the risks on the backs of Nova Scotians. We put the risk in the private sector where it belongs. They are building that highway below cost and on time. It is going to be a safe highway for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - AUD. GEN. REPORT (1996):

HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT CORP. - LEGISLATION AMEND

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister will recall that it was his federal cousins that shut down CFB Debert. He also will recall that it was his government that shut down the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre and it is his government that is closing the Nova Scotia Teachers College. It is this government over there that is imposing a tax toll on the citizens of Colchester and Cumberland. What I am talking about is accountability.

The Auditor General's Report states, and I will read it verbatim and the minister can read some following paragraphs if he deems fit, "Accountability for the Western Alignment project could be improved. The accountability responsibilities of Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation should be included in its incorporating Legislation.". We all know that the private partner running the western alignment has the ability to raise tolls at his or her whim and wish.

I am going to ask the Minister of Transportation and Communications if he will amend the western alignment legislation to make the Western Alignment Corporation a public utility within the meaning of the Public Utilities Act?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is somewhat exercised and I find it quite interesting that every time there is an issue on highways or anything else that is good news, he coils back, recoils, and then flies off the handle. I referred to him last year as a man like Mexican overdrive, like a truck driver who drives down the road, puts the transmission in neutral and lets her fly; he is out of control. That is very much similar to the member opposite in most of his approaches to government today.

[Page 914]

Mr. Speaker, we have indicated on the issue of accountability, obviously, the Auditor General has been subject to and provided information that we are very happy to provide to that individual. Secondly, we indicated that in the Auditor General's Report, in regard to more formalized accountability, we have agreed, as I indicated earlier, that a report has been presented to the deputy minister and that individual report will be a more concise report. I have no problem providing those to the general public.

We have also had a reporting mechanism in place where we meet on a fairly regular basis with people in the community, informing them of what is going on in the project. I would entertain any time that the member opposite, or any other member of this House, would like to come up and take a look at that project, take a look at the hundreds of Nova Scotians working there, take a look of the hundreds of individuals who will benefit from a safe highway, to just give me a call and I would be happy to take him up there and show him the accountability of this government.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works didn't come within a country mile of answering the question. I simply asked the minister if he would amend the western alignment legislation to deem the Western Alignment Corporation a public utility within the meaning of the Public Utilities Act. Why can't the minister answer that question?

MR. DOWNE: No.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that that company, the Western Alignment Corporation, has the ability, because of that minister's refusal to amend the Act, and he can amend the Act with very little resistance, he knows he can, to hold that company accountable.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that the Western Alignment Corporation be accountable to the public because the same principals, five equity partners that are building the Highway No. 104 western alignment, are also involved in the construction of Highway No. 407 in Toronto. Premier Mike Harris ordered an independent evaluation of Highway No. 407. Right now that highway is being assessed because of safety shortcomings.

Again I ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works if he will give Nova Scotians a commitment here and now that he is confident that the Highway No. 104 western alignment will be safe for the motoring public?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the question that was posed. I like using the comparison - they like to talk about Ontario and they want to talk about the New Democratic Government of Ontario that put that project in place and the Conservative Government that is now in power in Ontario that is reviewing the issue of safety.

[Page 915]

Let's take a look at the issue of Highway No. 104 that he is comparing to Highway No. 407. What we have done on Highway No. 104, and under the leadership of the previous minister who had a tremendous insight on making sure that safety is a priority, what we have (Interjection) - if the member opposite would just be quiet for a moment - what we have done, Mr. Speaker, is we have not only provided our own, we took a look at all the guidelines in building a highway and we brought in the highest standards in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia in building that highway. That is number one.

Number two, what we have done is we make sure our staff is there to monitor the activities of what is going on. Our staff, unless the member opposite is referring to our staff as incompetent in any way, shape or form, I don't believe they are. I believe our staff is very competent individuals, concerned about the issue of having safety on this job and having a high quality highway.

Thirdly, Mr. Speaker, we have hired an independent engineer who monitors all the activities in regard to the construction of Highway No. 104. We have made sure that Highway No. 104 is built for safety, is built for allowing our goods and services to move freely across this province in regard to speed.

I will give you another example, Mr. Speaker; we have a wide median in our highway. Take a look at Highway No. 407 versus Highway No. 104. The reality is that we have done our homework on this side of the House, we have done a good job in building that highway and we will continue to make sure that the taxpayers of this province are getting a benefit on Highway No. 104.

MR. SPEAKER: We have approximately 40 seconds for a short question. (Interjection) All right.

The time allotted for the Oral Question Period will now expire.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS BUSINESS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8. The order of speakers has been distributed.

Bill No. 8 - Wildlands Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 916]

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss and to endorse a bill called An Act to Preserve the Integrity and Diversity of Wildlands.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is quite a simple bill and it is a simple bill because it only does two things really and I will explain what those are. I want to say first that this bill actually takes its substance from three documents that have been produced by the government. Those three documents are: the Interim Management Guidelines; the Provincial Parks Act; and the Special Places Protection Act.

[4:45 p.m.]

The reason it takes its lead from the government's actions in the past is that it is a bill intended to bring to this House, sooner than the government intended to, the regulation, the protection of 30 candidate protected places in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is meant to be identical in all but one characteristic. I want to draw the attention of the House to the one distinction or the one difference, an anticipated difference, perhaps, between what the government might do in such a bill and what we have put in this bill.

Section 7(1) says "Notwithstanding any other enactment, upon the designation of a wildland site pursuant to this Act, the Minister shall not significantly reduce the boundaries of the designated wildland or grant, lease or otherwise dispose of lands that compromise the site without public consultation and then only through an Act of the Legislature.".

Section 7(2) says "Thirty days notice shall be given for any public consultation referred to in subsection (1) by advertisement in at least one newspaper circulating in the area of the proposed wildland site and in one newspaper circulating throughout the Province.".

That insertion is there to protect against the removal of protected places by any other means than through legislation. This bill contains the power to declare the 30 candidate protected places that remain on the list as protected sites in Nova Scotia.

We have not included in this legislation the Jim Campbells Barren and the reason for that is the difficulties that have surrounded the removal of the barren from the original list of 31 protected places. Section 7 allows that had this legislation existed and this section been in it, a public process would have had to take place before such a removal could happen.

That leads me to pointing out again, that the Jim Campbells Barren is absent from this legislation because of the history of its removal. There is a whole sequence of events which I do not think I am going to have time to go into, but the members of this House know the story and the story involves doing it without letting the public know and without any kind of public discussion. Rather than putting the Jim Campbells Barren in this bill, we are saying instead that it is absolutely vital and necessary that that public discussion take place. Therefore, we have left it out for the moment with a strong recommendation that that

[Page 917]

discussion occur and be widespread so that everybody will know what in fact happened before it is put back on the list, and part of the list of protected places.

I know I do not have much time, Madam Speaker. I want to just very quickly remind the House of the good work the government did in this regard over the course of about the last three years.

The previous minister on March 31, 1994 announced the Parks and Protected Areas System Plan. It is worth noting very quickly that when the previous minister did introduce this plan he said, "Opportunities to protect natural areas will become fewer and fewer in the future. Our government recognizes this and we know that the time for action is now.". The plan included public hearings which took place in late 1994 and early 1995.

The government brought in its report called, Protecting Nova Scotia's Natural Areas. In this report it outlined the public hearing process and the result of the public hearing process and that came out in August 1995. Then there was nothing from the government between August 1995 and December 1996. More important, in the meantime on November 21, 1996 the government removed Jim Campbells Barren from the list of candidate protected sites. On December 3rd it announced this decision publicly and on February 28th the current Minister of Natural Resources released the Protected Areas Strategy.

At that time she said that we were too busy in this House for the government to introduce this legislation this spring. She said we would be too busy with the budget. I feel it is incumbent upon us, as a responsible Opposition, to give some time to this, to help the government out and to get this on the agenda now instead of in the fall and to proceed to giving Nova Scotians what they want in terms of preserving our natural diversity and our wilderness around this province. How much time do I have left, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: You have two minutes.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you. That two minutes is just about enough time to say loudly and clearly and to reiterate, if necessary, what our motives are. Our motives are very clear here. We know that Nova Scotians want this. We have heard from Nova Scotians all over this province and they don't want to wait for this. They see absolutely no reason, as do we, why this government should put off a commitment that it has made over a three year period and sort of collapse in the last 10 yards of the sprint, when we all know the work has been done, some of it has gone a little bit awry, but mostly, the work has been well done and Nova Scotians want to feel safe, they want to feel secure. They are worried that if we wait until the fall, there will be other sites delisted before a government bill ever comes before the House.

[Page 918]

We urge this House to support this bill. We see absolutely no reason why the House would not support this bill. We have been very careful to structure it in such a way that it is not contentious, it is not meant to be antagonistic, it is meant to help the government do its work in an area that is of such enormous concern to Nova Scotians. So we urge the members of this House to move this bill forward and to support it when it comes up for discussion again. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to enter into the debate on Bill No. 8. I have to say that the bill, as the member opposite has stated in her introduction to the second reading of the bill that Nova Scotians are waiting for this legislation and she feels that this piece of legislation would respond to the strategies that we have put forward and that I should be moving more quickly than I am moving.

I want to, first of all, before I speak to that, talk about what has happened to date. I am delighted to bring all members of this House up to date on the significant progress this government has in establishing a comprehensive system of protected areas in Nova Scotia. The member opposite would know, and most members of the House here would know that, in February, I had the pleasure to introduce a Protected Areas Strategy for the province and an action plan for its implementation. I tabled those in the House today prior to discussing and debating this bill, for all members of the House who may not have received it at the time of them being released and being introduced to the province.

The strategy is very important. It commits our government, Madam Speaker, to the establishment of a comprehensive system of protected areas. It commits us to that. It commits this government to the enactment of a new protected areas legislation and, yes, we will bring that forward. It also commits our government to formal designation, under that legislation, of 30 sites across this province. It also commits our government to public consultation and management planning for individual sites.

Along with the strategy itself, there are two companion pieces. First there is the Action Plan. It provides direction for implementation of the strategy over the next three years. Specific actions would include: preparation of protected areas legislation for introduction in the fall of the 1997 session of the Legislative Assembly; designation of all 30 candidate sites under the Crown Lands Act, this year, to allow regulation on in interim basis; and formal designation, this year, of five properties under the Parks Act and five additional nature reserves under the Special Places Act.

Madam Speaker, the second companion piece is Interim Management Guidelines. The guidelines ensure protection. I want to stress that. It ensures protection of all 30 sites until legislation and individual management plans are in place. That is key to this; each place would have its own management plan and we are committed to public consultation in developing

[Page 919]

that, because public consultation is essential to effective planning and management of the protected areas.

Consultation can, therefore, be anticipated in a wide variety of situations, ranging from efforts to address environmental impacts caused by user activities to the development of community-based, nature-tourism opportunities, to the preparation of a comprehensive management plan for a protected area. That consultation must take place and we have a moratorium while we are bringing that forward. So it ensures protection of all 30 sites until the legislation and individual managements plans are in place.

This whole package, the three pieces, Madam Speaker, that were tabled in the House today, provides, and is a means for protection of some 291,000 hectares, or 727,000 acres of provincial Crown land, or nearly 20 per cent of all provincial Crown land. It means that there is immediate protection for all of those areas. Proportionately, that is more protected Crown land than any other province in this country. This amount of wilderness, 291,000 hectares, represents a significant commitment. Combined with existing protected areas such as our two national parks and more than 100 provincial parks, this means that nearly 28 per cent of Nova Scotias public land, or 8.2 per cent of the entire province, is protected.

To put this in some perspective, Madam Speaker, Nova Scotia ranks third in Canada in percentage of land under protection; only Alberta at 9.3 per cent and British Columbia at 9.2 per cent rank higher. With more than 8 per cent of its land base protected, Nova Scotia proudly ranks first in Eastern Canada, well ahead of Quebec and Ontario and our Atlantic Provinces neighbours, including New Brunswick. When you consider that 70 per cent of the land in Nova Scotia is privately owned - you must remember that - 70 per cent of Nova Scotia is under private ownership, the fact that 8.2 per cent of our entire land base is protected, is even more remarkable.

[5:00 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, because so much of Nova Scotia is privately owned, our Protected Areas Strategy encourages private landowners to protect significant natural features on their own properties. I can't stress that enough, that we ask and expect and encourage private landowners to protect any areas of the province that have natural features that should be protected. Most landowners do have that commitment, most landowners in this province recognize that and are more than willing, and some even to put them under the Nature Trust, to protect those areas and those wilderness areas of the province that are privately owned.

Now this can be done - those areas that are not already under protection - it can be done under existing provincial legislation. We offer advice and support from the department staff in any area of the province that any landowner would like to work with.

[Page 920]

There are three Acts. The member opposite mentioned those Acts and they are very important Acts and they do go a long way to protect us. We already had this legislation in place to do some of the things that are mentioned in this legislation and some of the things mentioned in our action plan that will go forward. They are: The Provincial Parks Act, the Special Places Protection Act and Crown Lands Act that has special provisions in that to cover this.

At this point, Madam Speaker, I want to acknowledge four recent initiatives which support implementation of the Protected Areas Strategy. The member opposite, in introducing this bill, refers to some of the changes that have taken place since 1995 when we brought this forward and since we identified and proposed 31 spaces and now have 30. Yes, indeed, we did make some changes and the member opposite mentioned only one of those, Jim Campbells Barren. We did remove that, specifically to answer the needs of the local community.

The member opposite didn't mention that we also made a change in the Tobeatic area because a 7,000 hectare tract of wilderness known as The Finger in the Tobeatic area was added to the Tobeatic candidate protected site early in February. Now I am not making any accusations here but it seems to me if there are changes made, some that maybe she is not particularly pleased with or the member opposite isn't necessarily pleased with, there are areas of this province as well that we added to the area. We added 7,000 hectares to the Tobeatic candidate area to be protected back in early February.

Second, a Cabinet approved management plan for the Shelburne River in the Tobeatic area of western Nova Scotia has been forwarded to the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board for review. The member for the area there is very pleased with this; the people from the area are very pleased with this and it has been supported by the community, strongly supported by the community - Madam Speaker, I do apologize to the House.

MADAM SPEAKER: Actually you have one minute remaining.

MRS. NORRIE: A Cabinet approved management plan for the Shelburne River in the Tobeatic area of western Nova Scotia has been forwarded to the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board for review. Designation as a heritage river will occur later this year.

Thirdly, Madam Speaker, endangered species legislation was introduced last fall and that is now currently undergoing public review, as we are committed to public comment in all these areas.

Fourthly, Madam Speaker, the department has initiated a comprehensive, integrated resource management process for all Crown lands and resources across Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians care deeply about their natural environment. We love and cherish our wild and

[Page 921]

rugged coastline and the spectacular highlands and tranquil wilderness forests. With that, Madam Speaker, I would close my debate on this.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I want to say at the outset that Bill No. 8, an Act to Preserve the Integrity and Diversity of Wildlands is, in principle, supportable. I know that the member for Halifax Fairview, the newest member to this Legislature, worked very hard with her staff and crafted a bill here that, with a number of amendments and I bring these suggestions forward in a helpful context.

I would like to perhaps start by commenting on the second Whereas in the preamble. The legislation states that, "And whereas the designated wildlands are for the use and enjoyment of, and appreciation by, the public and should therefore have their inherent biodiversity, ecological integrity and other intrinsic values protected and preserved . . .". I find that there is a flaw in that Whereas. I realize that it is in the preamble and I am not sure how it would impact the language in the rest of the bill but I would point out to the Third Party that brought the bill forward that certain areas in the Kejimkujik National Park on the western shore of Frozen Ocean Lake are determined to be out of bounds and I do not think the member perhaps (Interruptions)

The legislation states, "use and enjoyment of, and appreciation by, the public . . .", so I think that the honourable member is going to have to recognize that certain areas, certain protected wildlands, that we enjoy presently are out of bounds. That is just one point that I want to point out. We have to provide for protection and we certainly want the public to enjoy lands. There are areas because of flora and fauna and what have you that we certainly have to designate as perhaps out of bounds.

Clause 5 states that, "The Minister shall (a) appoint a wildland committee to perform such advisory functions as the Minister considers necessary or desirable in connection with the planning and management of one or more designated wildlands . . .".

I am concerned about the composition of this committee and I would suggest that citizens, staff, experts and generalists are included on this committee. I believe that the people should be apolitical people on this committee and the committee should have a strong local flavour. Those are just a couple of my observations regarding the wildlands committee.

The bill does talk about establishing, ". . . the terms of reference and procedures for such committees.", but that would be just one of the suggestions that I have - that the committee does have a strong local flavour because it is important that people from the communities that may be impacted are involved in the process.

[Page 922]

Clause 7 states that, "(1) Notwithstanding any other enactment, upon the designation of a wildland site pursuant to this Act, the Minister shall not significantly reduce the boundaries of the designated wildland . . .". I have to ask the Third Party what constitutes, significantly. I think that is something that we possibly could further determine, perhaps through the Law Amendments Committee.

Again, I think we have to look at Clause 7(2), the 30 day notice. Again, I am not going to get into the delisting of Jim Campbells Barren, but we all know that that designation most likely would not have been lifted if public consultation had been provided in the process. So I commend the Third Party for coming in with this legislation and, more particularly, Clause 7(2).

If we go on a little further, Madam Speaker, down to Clause 9, we find that it states, ". . . no commercial forestry activities or energy resource developments, including hydro developments and associated impoundments, are permitted within a designated wildland.".

My question would be, what about existing hydro developments that are already producing and have already been developed? I know the bill also has a schedule attached. Perhaps the member who introduced the bill is already cognizant of the fact; I think there are six hydro generators operating out of Lake Rossignol, which is listed as No. 27. So I am wondering if the intention of the Third Party is to grandfather existing businesses in.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is automatic.

MR. TAYLOR: I am told that it is automatic. I was not aware of that and I would almost have to see that in writing before I would take the honourable member's word (Interruption) No, to protect and ensure that those developments can continue to exist, because we would not want to compromise an existing business, especially an energy producer, in my opinion.

Madam Speaker, again, I am just sort of hitting and missing here. Clause 9(7) states, "Notwithstanding any other enactment, no campsite leases shall be granted for property that is within a designated wildland . . .". Now, the campsite leases, in my opinion, are certainly an area of concern.

I have just been handed a copy of the government guidelines. In fact, we should read it into the record so the minister will be more likely to support this bill. I will read it into the record: Roads and Utility Corridors - hydro developments and utility corridors should not be established within protected areas. Should not be established, but, as I pointed out, I am talking about existing hydro developments. (Interruption)

Well, the member for Sackville-Cobequid points out his interpretation and, in fact, I, for the most part concur with him.

[Page 923]

One area of the legislation that really concerns me is Clause 6. I apologize for jumping around here a bit. I am a bit disjointed here, Madam Speaker, but Clause 6(2) states, "The Minister may designate other areas of land or water, or part thereof, that are owned, leased or otherwise acquired by Her Majesty in right of the Province as wildland sites pursuant to this Act.". I see that, with all respect, as legislation that really provides for expropriation without compensation.

Madam Speaker, I am concerned about subdivision developers. For example, if they happen to have their land, or part thereof, designated as a wildland site, then there certainly would be problems for the developer who probably invested a great deal of time, energy and money in the project.

With those remarks and because I am running out of time, Madam Speaker, I want to say that I do support the legislation, Bill No. 8. I think the government should do likewise. We would like to see this bill go through second reading, go to the Law Amendments Committee and provide for public consultation. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak in favour of the bill that was introduced by my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview. As a beginning comment, I just point out to the previous speaker that a number of his concerns really are not concerns but they very easily can be cleared up in discussion in the Law Amendments Committee, for example. Of course, that member will already know that the government has powers right now to expropriate and really with very little or no compensation whatsoever. This bill does not give any powers to do that, that is something the government has and it is not being suggested here.

[5:15 p.m.]

I listened to the minister's comments and I have to tell you the minister is getting very good at dancing around saying absolutely nothing. The minister did correctly identify and we have, as many others have, congratulated this government, in fact, they have gotten awards, they have gotten recognition, well-deserved recognition because of their actions prior to this time to try to identify and to ensure that special places where we have unique diversities of wildlife and also vegetation are protected. That was something that was deserved.

The minister talked about strategies, she talked about the brochures Keeping the Wilderness Wild and the other document she presented today, Nova Scotia's Protected Areas Strategy, and it is called the Action Plan. Those are strategies and that is wonderful. What this bill does is do what the government said they were going to do. The government said that they did not have time to bring in legislation this spring, they wouldnt have time to prepare it to ensure that the 30 remaining of the 31 sites will, in fact, be protected. This doesn't claim

[Page 924]

to be a plan, it doesn't remove the responsibilities for the government to develop action plans and strategies within these protected areas. What it does do is it identifies the 30 remaining sites and it says that those 30 sites are protected and cannot be delisted without at least having public process. That is what the government said they didn't have time to do.

Well, my colleague, the hard-working member for Halifax Fairview said, well, the government with all of their resources can't do that; well I will take it upon myself to ensure that it is done and it is here and it is an important piece of legislation. The member has spared this government a lot of energy and effort. If this government is truly committed to those 30 sites, they will agree either by unanimous consent today because Rules do not permit us, as members of this House know, we cannot force a vote during Opposition Day. But by the unanimous consent of this House, this bill can be voted on and sent on to the Law Amendments Committee. If there is a minor difficulty that you don't like, a word here, or a word there, that is what the Law Amendments Committee is for. If you aren't prepared to do that today, you can call it on any day at all that you wish, this government can call business. That means you also can call Opposition bills.

Let's put Party politics aside. We are all saying the same thing, here is the legislation. We don't know if we will be here this fall and if we are we don't know what government will be here. We have no idea, if that election takes place before hand. If it is us, that goes forward, guaranteed.

Not too long ago there were 31 sites and one was removed without any public consultation. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding that. We tried, with this legislation to be as conciliatory as possible. We did not include that site to try to get it back in. It is not in this legislation, although I, and others, would like it to be. We aimed this at the 30 that remain, to ensure that that does not happen to another one, so that it doesn't go to 29 and 28 and 27 and 26. That is what the government said they were going to do, so let's do it. Is there anybody in this House, on the government benches, who disagrees with what the minister herself said previously, when she made her announcement? I think it was in February, was it? Okay, February 20-something, of this year.

I was one of those who attended that press conference and listened to it. This, Mr. Speaker, puts this government and the minister, it puts their feet to the fire; it tests their sincerity. That is what it does. If the government is not prepared to support this bill, then I hate to say it, but it will be one more area where Nova Scotians will have to question the sincerity of commitments made by this government. The credibility of this government is not riding very high. Let's get some for them; we are helping the government, and I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, would appreciate that. Think of the accolades, think of the good PR, the good press that the government will get by saying we agree to support an Opposition bill that does what we say we want to do. Let's do it.

[Page 925]

I am not going to challenge what the minister said about the importance of this document or that document or the things that have been done in the past, let's move forward, let's not go backwards. There is a logical next step that ensures, guarantees that they are protected.

Mr. Speaker, Clause 7(1), "Notwithstanding any other enactment, upon the designation of wildland site pursuant to this Act, the Minister shall not significantly reduce the boundaries of the designated wildland or grant, lease or otherwise dispose of lands that compromise the site without public consultation and then only through an Act of the Legislature.".

In other words, Jim Campbells Barren cannot be repeated at any one of those other sites. It doesn't take away anything; this legislation doesn't take anything away from anything that exists in those areas. It is not going to shut down any power operations that are currently there. It is aimed at preserving and protecting until the strategies, the management plans can be put in place.

Isn't that what the government wants? I am sure that those members in this House who represent the Margaree Valley, French River, Middle River, North River, Trout River, Gabarus, Ogden Round Lake, Liscomb River, the Big Bog, Alder Ground, Boggy Lake, et cetera - to bring it up to the full 30 - I am sure that the members from those ridings would be proud to be able to go around to their constituents and say that we plan to protect that site. Just think of the accomplishment, you will be able to say that not only did we say we will do it, we will do it.

So, as I take my place, I would invite the government to indicate if they would like to have a vote on this, and I would ask for unanimous consent, or for the minister to make a commitment, if she is not prepared to do it today, to have this bill debated during Government Business on another day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, this certainly is a topic of interest to myself and to the constituents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. One of the key interests that the residents have expressed during the consultation is access for traditional use and that has been guaranteed.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for Bill No. 8 has expired.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Third Party.

[Page 926]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 51.

Res. No. 51, re Health - Care: Delivery - Plan Required - notice given Apr. 15/97 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Third Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me commend the member who rose a few moments ago and made a good save. I am pleased to rise and speak on a resolution that I introduced back on April 15th that talks about the health care system in Nova Scotia. There is one Whereas that I specifically want to mention and that is, "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;". The resolution goes on then and says, "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.".

First of all, Mr. Speaker, let me, again, sincerely congratulate the SOS Committee for its work. I attended a meeting four weeks ago in Windsor held by that committee where there upwards of 700 or 800 people in attendance who were interested in the future of the health care services in that community and those people working on that committee should be commended again for having done such a good job at organizing it. But what we have seen happen with respect to that problem, that was that they wanted to keep their emergency services in that hospital open, they wanted to make sure that the residents of not only that community, but adjacent communities, had access to physician services.

Because there, like many rural communities across the province, they are losing doctors. Family practitioners are leaving the province and going elsewhere or they are moving to Halifax or whatever. They are just getting away from the kinds of stresses and strains that exist in rural medical practice. Primarily, it is a question of these physicians leaving the province altogether. The response by the Minister of Health to this has been to fire about $8 million worth of incentives at rural physicians, primarily. The only good part about that plan was the locum service, Mr. Speaker. In other words, the provision of additional practitioners to fill in for that health care centre, that hospital, in order to provide opportunities for regular physicians to take vacations and to have time off.

It is not a question of money for these rural physicians. It is not a question of money for the majority of physicians in this province when they talk about the increasing pressures as a result of changes in the health care system, as a result of making their quality of life worse and their ability to deliver good medical care. It is affected, Mr. Speaker, by the lack of physicians, by the lack of resources, by the lack of support, by the lack of facilities. These are the kinds of problems that exist throughout this province and this government is not going to solve them simply by throwing $8 million at doctors. Even the rural physicians

[Page 927]

acknowledge that and said that to the Minister of Health and to this government. The Medical Society was not even consulted on the merits of this particular plan, but, yet, we have the Minister of Health, perhaps in his capacity as a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party, running around this province throwing money at problems when, in fact, that is not the way to solve those problems. (Interruption)

I am not going to get into it. The question here, Mr. Speaker, and, again, physicians and other people involved in the health care sector say it is not simply a question of money. It also has to do with how, in fact, you provide services and develop the infrastructure. For example, we and doctors and other medical practitioners in this province, nurses and others who deliver health care are facing a 30 per cent reduction in hospital beds without an appropriate infusion of funds into the Home Care Program. So their ability to treat, their ability to put people who are ill into care has been deeply decreased.

[5:30 p.m.]

The government says, we have the world's greatest emergency health services in the Province of Nova Scotia which is not true. We are moving in the right direction in terms of the provision of EHS but they are saying in those rural communities where we don't have doctors we have the EHS system. Well, what we have are shiny new ambulances that the province paid over $1 million for but what we also have in many of those same communities are emergency medical technicians who are working 90 hours a week who are being paid minimum wage and who are attending calls when they are absolutely exhausted. That is simply not good enough. It is not fair to those technicians and it is not fair to the people whom they are trying to serve.

What we have to do if we are truly committed to making sure that services are properly provided throughout this province is that we have to do a number of things. One is we have to reinstate, if they were ever there, community health boards, the roles, responsibilities, with resources throughout this province. We have to bring in legislation to license allied health professionals. We have to look very seriously at the whole question of health care clinics.

In Hants East you have one of the best examples of a health care clinic that is run by the community, is supported by the community and that delivers health care in the most effective, efficient manner possible for that community. It is a good model and we should be looking at it for other parts of this province.

There is the whole question of devolving responsibility. Right now we have four regional health boards around this province that are continuing to operate the same way the health department is operated. In other words, they have the responsibility for a whole region and they are imposing decisions, respecting what services are going to be available and how

[Page 928]

they are going to be paid for. Those are being made by regional health boards now instead of the Department of Health, although in some cases the lines are pretty blurred.

But the problem, in Windsor and in other communities across the province, is that the communities are not involved. They have not been given the authority under legislation to be able to not only determine what the needs are but how best to meet those needs. Until we do that, until this government makes those kinds of commitments, we are going to continue to have a health care system where decisions are made from the top down, where there is no accountability and where you have a Minister of Health doing what this minister has done and that is running around the province throwing money at problems, instead of trying to solve them. That is what we have to focus on.

If you talk to anybody in the health care sector in this province, whether they be practitioners, deliverers of some sort, consumers, or activists, they say that the key ingredient to putting health reform back on the rails is for the communities to be involved, for authority and responsibility and resources to be given to community health boards and for government, once and for all, to give up some of the responsibility that they have been unable to give up for centuries in this province, to be able to give the community health boards not only the responsibility but also the resources to make those decisions.

Those were the recommendations of reports over the past 15 to 20 years in this province. The only way we are going to be able to shift health care from acute care to primary care, from dealing with illness, to dealing with preventive medicine is if, in fact, we devolve responsibility to the communities and that we ensure that all people within the health care sector from top to bottom, from bottom to top, including consumers, including people in the community, only until we devolve that responsibility are we going to have a true health reform in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, you have indicated that my time is up. I look forward to hearing other presentations on this important subject.

MR SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: I am really pleased to be able to enter this debate today and I want to focus on a few things. Part of the resolution that the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic submitted had the wording ". . . failure to deal with the chronic problem of rural health cares". I had to pick up on those few words out of the entire resolution because I think that if there is a failure to recognize anything it is a failure of the socialist Party and the Tory Party to recognize that we have made considerable progress in health care reform in the past four years.

[Page 929]

Just before the last election in May 1993, there was a fairly intense discussion by a bankrupt Cameron Government about what to do with health care. The Cameron government of the day in looking at what do we do in light of our $617 million deficit, came up with a number of suggestions, not the least of which included plans to close hospitals in Nova Scotia; significant service reductions, including hospital closures by January 1st. They targeted a number of reductions in the levels of care. They targeted a number of reductions in the funding and they targeted a number of areas around construction that they were no longer going to be able to afford.

The Cameron Government of the day did not release this paper to Nova Scotians, understandably, because it was an explosive document. They looked at reducing dietary and laundry funding in the hospitals. They looked at closing New Waterford, transferring the OR function to the Cape Breton Regional. They looked at closing long-term care units in Inverness. They were looking at closing Eastern Kings, Glace Bay, a second unit, converting Saint Mary's to an ambulatory care centre, closing North Cumberland and on and on this list goes.

There is some benefit in looking at this from just before the last provincial election because clearly it spelled out the fact that the Tory government of the day had no stable program or plan to deal with the mess they had created with their financial mismanagement.

Being $617 million in debt at the time in the operating accounts of this province meant that we were borrowing somewhere in the range of $2 million a day to deliver the programs. When you throw in the cost of borrowed money, it is well over $2 million a day. At the same time as that financial crunch had happened because of their mismanagement, the demands on the health care system were growing in the range of 10 per cent to 15 per cent a year. Obviously, there was a major collision course between the supply of borrowed money and the demand for programs and the growth in the need for programs because of population increases.

When we inherited this awful mess in May 1993, we had to embark on a program not only to reduce the deficit and start paying down the debt, we had to embark on a program of looking at everything that we deliver as a government and how we could reduce the deficit at the same time, keeping some semblance of order in the management of our programs.

In 1989 we had a Royal Commission on Health Reform. That was followed by the Blueprint for Health System Reform in 1994 and then From Blueprint to Building in April 1995. That series of documents produced a draft strategic plan for action that provided the entire framework for health planning in this province.

Now, where have we come from all those reports? I am pleased to say we have done a number of initiatives and we have to be very proud of those initiatives. The Home Care Program; we now have $60 million in it, providing service to somewhere in the range of

[Page 930]

18,000 people in this province. Prior to our government taking over, home care only served a seniors population on a very limited basis. The Cameron Government did not have in place any semblance of a Home Care Program that could deliver effective care, in light of their paper program of reducing the health care system for Nova Scotians.

We put in place the Pharmacare Program; we saved an out-of-control cost pharmacy program so that no senior citizen in Nova Scotia has to worry about the prohibitive cost of Pharmacare products if they face a catastrophic illness. That, honourable members, is something to be incredibly proud of. Nobody in this province who receives Pharmacare has to worry any more that tomorrow the program is going to be cut off or that they won't be able to afford their prescription drugs.

We have heard sort of discouraging remarks about the emergency health services. Well, I would rather receive care from an ambulance coming to the scene of an accident that was paid enough dollars to pick up a live body and care for it than an ambulance that was paid more to pick up a dead body. I would rather receive care from an ambulance that had qualified medical people, trained technicians on board, than an ambulance that just was there to pull me away from the site. This is what we have in Nova Scotia now because our government had the foresight to look at the emergency health services in Nova Scotia, to look at a fleet of well-designed ambulances, to give us two levels of training on the technical side and to give us an air response team that can be matched by no other province in this country. That is something to be proud of.

A home oxygen service; my goodness, up until our government acted to deliver a home oxygen service, we had in place a 15 year old pilot project. I mean how long does it take to pilot a project - 55 clients on it for 15 years, a pilot project. What a joke. Yet, at the same time, people who are seriously ill, seriously in need of oxygen therapy, were out there trying to scramble to find the money to meet their very significant health needs.

We put this program in place. Our government has something there to be very proud of. A home oxygen service that serves patients with documented needs. I am telling you, there are many documented needs out there.

The Environmental Clinic out in Fall River; I worked very hard to get that clinic located in my riding because when I campaigned door-to-door I met hundreds of people who have environmental illness. I am pleased as punch that that is located in my riding and I am pleased as punch that we have provided $1 million in stable funding to this clinic. That is no small amount of dollars to be sneezed at.

They are going to have their official opening in another few weeks and I am going to be there with a big smile on my face because our government has delivered on all its intentions around the subject of an environmental clinic.

[Page 931]

Now the $8 million plan to stabilize physicians' services, particularly in rural areas, is a direct response to the concerns raised by the physicians about their ability to provide emergency services on the weekend. Now I heard the honourable member across the floor say something about how we are throwing money at the problem. Does he actually think there is a solution to any of these health care issues without putting money into the pot? There isn't, there are no free solutions. Health care is an enormous, big ticket item; 35 per cent of our budget is going into health care. That is a large amount of dollars and there isn't a single solution in the health care system that comes without a price tag. So yes, we are putting money towards solving the problems of supply of physicians in the rural areas and we have to.

The simple fact is that when we look at statistics around the numbers of doctors, we know we are well doctored in the metropolitan regions because we have teaching hospitals here and this does things to the averaging. We also know that the rural areas have particular needs for more physicians and our government is finally having the courage to deal with this and offer very innovative solutions.

The 911 dispatch centre; I am pleased as punch again that this is in my constituency. This high-tech, highly computerized service will provide a dispatch response to all the emergency requirements across the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now I have just named a few of the things being done by the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia that are very significant with respect to the health care of Nova Scotians. I, for one, am sick and tired of the fearmongering and the scare tactics put forth in this Legislature every single day by the socialist Party and the Official Opposition. Thank you. (Applause)

[5:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address this resolution in that it deals, to some extent anyway, with a problem within Hants West and specifically with the problems faced by the Hants Community Hospital and also pays respect to the efforts by the SOS Committee within the community to try and keep the emergency health care system running 24 hours a day at the Hants Community Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, the last member spoke about fixing the problem and throwing some money at it. That is, indeed, what finally the Minister of Health tried to do with respect to the primary problem at the Hants Community Hospital. That is that doctors just cannot work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are, I believe, five or six of them manning the emergency care system in Windsor. They simply cannot continue. They need more doctors. True, the fact that there is a financial incentive to work in the evenings is of some benefit but, however, it is not solving the problem. The problem that we have in Windsor, the problem

[Page 932]

that we have in Springhill, the problem that we have all over this province where we have community hospitals is, simply, we do not have enough physicians.

We have lost something in the order of 134 physicians in this province since this government came to power. You might say, well, why did they leave? I will tell you why they are leaving, Mr. Speaker. Doctors will not remain in an area where they do not have facilities to refer their patients. What this government has done across this province is simply closed beds helter-skelter. By their own admission, they have closed 30 per cent of the hospital beds in Nova Scotia. You might say, well, bully for them, that is great, they are saving money. But, in point of fact, they have gone to the point where there are now insufficient beds. Because you must also remember that, by their own admission, 10 per cent of those remaining beds, that is of the 70 per cent that are still remaining, are being occupied by people who cannot get into nursing homes. Why can't they get into nursing homes? Because there are no beds in nursing homes.

I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, as the Auditor General has said in his report in 1994-95, this government has no plan and the Deputy Minister of Health himself admitted that there are gaps in the provision of health care service and inconsistent decisions are being made. That is what the Deputy Minister of Health said about the health care system and it is absolutely correct. No matter whether it is recruitment of doctors, the maintenance of people within the hospital system or their much vaunted home care system, they are all failing the public of Nova Scotia, in spite of what they state. The answer comes when you speak to the people in this province who are suffering because of the lack of health care.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health came along and said to the doctors in Windsor, you have a problem. We are going to give you some money so that you will have a stipend for hours put in on that late shift. He made the statement, by the way, that this was the first in Atlantic Canada. I don't know where he got that information from, but there is an existing service which pays a stipend in New Brunswick. There is another one in Newfoundland and there are also programs out west, including Ontario, where they actually pay a stand-by fee to doctors who man the late hours in the emergency rooms.

However, the minister's solution, when he heard that the pay-off wasn't going to remedy the situation, was simply to say, well, we will get you some doctors, and he gave them a list of 12 physicians who he said were available.

Now, Mr. Speaker, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Is the emergency room still open?

MR. RUSSELL: It is still open, but it is not going to be open forever. He provided a list of 12 doctors who he said were available to work in the emergency room in the Hants Community Hospital.

[Page 933]

AN HON. MEMBER: Did they call them?

MR. RUSSELL: They called them; yes they did call them. Where was the first one? Well, he was in Africa; I think he was in Zambia. Now it is kind of a long hike to come over here to fill in a shift at the Hants Community Hospital so, he said, I don't think I can make it. So they phoned the next one and guess where the next one was? He was in China and he was also going to have a problem getting to the Hants Community Hospital.

AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of a problem?

MR. RUSSELL: Well, he would have a problem because he would probably have to swim because he didn't have the air fare to get over here. They phoned another one and this one was closer to home, he was in Montreal. He could probably hop down here; he could either drive down here or fly down here but, of course, there was no provision for cost of transportation, so he figured that the air fare was greater than the stipend he would get. They phoned another one; he was a resident at one of the hospitals and he said I can't do it because I am writing exams. They phoned another one; he was on vacation, out of the country. The other seven who were left didn't even answer the telephone.

So much for the efforts of the Minister of Health and his chief recruiter in getting that additional assistance to the Hants Community Hospital.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it still open?

MR. RUSSELL: Of course it is open and it is open because we have dedicated doctors in our town and the surrounding district who are manning that, but they have stated themselves that they can only do it until they drop from exhaustion.

We have, right now, something in the neighbourhood of about 4,000 people in Windsor and district who do not have a family doctor. Why don't they have a family doctor? Because the doctors are deserting the ship. When I say they are deserting the ship, they are deserting Nova Scotia because of the policies of this minister and his predecessor; that is the reason why.

Whenever this minister gets to his feet and we put to him this proposition, that health care is not working, and the Deputy Speaker is the same way, they start talking about the fact that they came into this province and the health care system was falling down. Well, I would ask them to ask anybody in this province, somebody is walking down the street in front of this building, go out and ask them, was the health care system in this province better in 1993, before the Liberal Government came in, or is it better today? I am willing to bet you money that 99.9 per cent are going to say that the system today is worse than it was. I am absolutely positive of that. It is simply because they have gone helter-skelter into reform, without any

[Page 934]

thought of putting in place, first of all, a plan as to how they were going to accomplish the reform they were talking about.

The reform hinged on closing beds and using the money from closing beds, then putting it into home care. It doesn't work; you have to have the home care up and running before you start tearing down the health care. Have you ever heard before, in Canada, where people who are in hospital are required to bring in their relatives to look after them? What kind of a Third World health care system are we getting down to? That is happening in our hospitals today, Madam Speaker. It is not acceptable and it is going to be the death of this government. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to say what is going to turn out to be a very few words, unfortunately, this afternoon, on this very important topic. I know that I will have opportunities on another occasion.

Madam Speaker, the resolution, I believe, is a very fair and accurate one. It quite clearly sums up what the government has, in fact, been doing. (Interruption) No, no, in terms of what the government has been trying to do, by piecemeal approach, trying to resolve problems that require really a comprehensive plan to do that.

The government member who stood in his place earlier this evening as we were debating this bill said, and I copied down the words of the member who spoke for the government, saying that they were sick and tired of the fearmongering being done by others. Well, I say to that member and I say to all members on the government benches, please, lift up your red veil of denial. Look at what is happening in the real world. Look at what people are saying. It is not, what some would imply, just a few members on the Opposition benches trying to fearmonger. Members on the Opposition benches are reporting what they are hearing and seeing first-hand from their constituents and from people across the Province of Nova Scotia.

This government has confused health care reform with deficit reduction. Unfortunately, deficit reduction, fiscal deficit reduction, for political pretence, to pretend we have a balanced budget, has precluded, has taken priority over, truly reforming the health care system. I must admit and I say in fairness to the Liberals on the benches here in this House that this government in Nova Scotia does not bear full responsibility alone for what has happened to the health care system. Certainly, the Tories did not, in times when there was a better financial picture, embark upon the kind of reform that should have been done many years ago.

[Page 935]

That bunch that is expected to be calling an election this week in Ottawa, the federal government also shares a major portion of the responsibility for what has happened. They have ripped out of the Province of Nova Scotia over $200 million for health care. The Liberal MPs who have represented the Province of Nova Scotia who said, oh, get on the winning side, you have to have a member on the government side to protect the interests. Well, they sat quietly. They sat on their hands. Their mouths were clamped shut as over $100 million a year from Nova Scotia health care was ripped out of this province by the Liberals in Ottawa.

Then we hear David Dingwall and the Prime Minister and all of them now saying health care is important. We are going to defend and protect it. Sure, at the lowest common denominator. (Interruptions) At what is left. Nova Scotians, like all Canadians, value the importance of the Medicare system. It is what binds us. It is what we should be having to bind us in this province, whether you live in Sydney, whether you live in Yarmouth, whether you live in Halifax, Sackville, Bedford. All Nova Scotians deserve access to a top quality health care system. That is being drastically reduced.

What this government did and what they have been doing, first of all they ignored the recommendations, many of them in the Blueprint Committee Report.

As I said when I started there was not nearly enough time to even get into this, so obviously I will have to return to this topic on another day, but as you are telling me my time has expired I will take my place and resume my comments on this another day.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Something worth looking forward to, isn't it - his return?

Madam Speaker, would you please revert to the Order of Business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to table a document that furthers this government's pledge to accountability. The tabling of the business plans of Crown Corporations is another first by this government.

In accordance with Section 73 of the Provincial Finance Act, I am pleased to table this volume of Government By Design.

[Page 936]

[6:00 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, tomorrow following Question Period, in the Chamber will be going into the Committee of the Whole House on Supply and deal with the estimates of the Minister of Education and Culture. The Subcommittee will begin with Business and Consumer Services. Following that we will begin debate on the resolution introduced yesterday by the Minister of Finance for additional appropriations. I move that we rise to sit tomorrow from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The resolution has been submitted by the member for Yarmouth who wishes to debate the following:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the many positive fiscal, economic, and social reforms and advances undertaken by this government since 1993.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

GOVT (N.S.) - REFORMS (FIN., ECON. & SOCIAL) POST-1993:

POSITIVITY - RECOGNIZE

MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise tonight to speak about the role this government has played in the economic recovery of this province.

In four short years this government has brought back our province from the threat of economic ruin; debt was spiralling out of control, the previous government was continuing to run deficits despite promises to the contrary and the people of Nova Scotia wanted better.

In May 1993 things began to get better for the people of this province. However, to get where we are today has not been easy. There were many sacrifices along the way, many times we had to make unpopular decisions and many times the people of Nova Scotia had to

[Page 937]

hang tough in order to help the province regain its fiscal sanity. But it has worked and it is beginning to pay off. As the Premier commented, we have shown since 1993 the difference between four years of Liberalism and 15 years of Conservative spendthrift government.

We still have work to do. There is still disparity between regions within Nova Scotia. We do have, in the metro area, the lowest unemployment rate of any city east of Manitoba. However, that good news is tempered by the level of unemployment in places like industrial Cape Breton, Guysborough and Digby.

This government is committed to maintaining the very positive atmosphere for business that now exists in Nova Scotia. This in turn should help our regions where the unemployment rate is unreasonably high. Already we see some improvements such as yesterday's announcement of Sysco receiving a rail order that will bring another 320 employees back to work and help to make the plant more saleable.

Earlier today, Orenda Aerospace Corporation announced it is setting up a company at Debert to develop and manufacture airplane engines. The company, Orenda Recip Incorporated will employ 110 people with another 325 supplier jobs to be created over the next five years.

I can see examples of this government's successes in my own riding with the jobs that were saved by the purchase of the former Dominion Textile Plant. As a result of this purchase jobs were saved but also, jobs have been created.

Then we have the Sable gas development providing up to 4,000 jobs. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald yesterday listed, in their want ads, some of the jobs that this industry requires and it looked quite promising. Then we have the large number of construction jobs from the Stora expansion in Point Tupper, the highway project on Highway No. 104 and closer to my own home, the work on Highway No. 103.

There are still a great many projects that I could mention but I think my point is made. This is a government committed to creating a favourable business climate.

Another example of how our government is helping the business environment is our plan to reduce and re-examine the number of government licences and permits that businesses need to operate within Nova Scotia. This, in turn with a simplified fee structure will be a welcome help, especially for our small businesses.

It is very simple to see why, Madam Speaker, this government's efforts have resulted in Nova Scotia leading the country in job creation, with a net increase of over 25,000 jobs since May 1994. It is not just in job creation that this government has helped the recovery of this province. The economy in general has been helped by the second balanced budget in a row, thanks to our financial management, resulting in the bond companies improving Nova

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Scotia's rating. Another relief for Nova Scotians will come in the midst of, hopefully, the summer sun, as July 1st begins the first income tax reduction in the history of this province. The first one, Madam Speaker, in the history of this province.

As a result of our tough decisions, we can now start to enjoy the results of effective management. One area that will benefit is education. For the first time in four years, school boards will see an increase in their funding - $13 million will go towards special education, new science, math and language programs and an additional $1 million will go towards school maintenance and operation. Class size will be examined in a four year plan to reduce the size of classes and decrease the student-teacher ratio. The role of technology in the classroom is being re-examined, with successful results, such as the new Sherwood Park Education Centre in Sydney. The success of this school makes me look forward to the construction of Meadowfield School in my own riding, where the emphasis on technology will include distance education and sharing of resources between schools.

For some, education starts a little earlier than others and this government recognizes the importance of providing subsidized day care. This year, we added 50 more subsidized day care spaces to bring the total created since 1993 to 200. Thanks to these provincial subsidies, 2,300 children in Nova Scotia have access to early childhood education. The care of children remains of paramount importance to this government. That is why the Department of Community Services global budget has received no cuts since 1993. That is also why 38 child care workers were added to this system and I think this government has every right to be proud of this record.

Madam Speaker, our financial health reflects positively on how this province can pursue first-class health care for our citizens. To that end, we are now able to increase our health care spending for 1997-98 by $38 million. In addition to this, funding for hospitals and regional health boards has been stabilized. Home care has now become the government's fastest growing program. As one recent editorial put it, "Nova Scotia's revamped home care is finding its legs and should gradually win over many of the critics.". More than 20,000 Nova Scotians will be served by this program in 1997.

Another benefit for the province is our 911 system, which will be province-wide by this summer. The 911 program was nothing but an idea four years ago, but this government has made it happen and, I may add, we are the first province in the country to have this program province-wide.

Madam Speaker, I can continue on with many other initiatives that I have not mentioned, such as our investment in rural communities, our investment tax credit for manufacturing and processing industries, or the Nova Scotia Links Program. But I think I will leave off here for now, for my point is obvious. We have done more in four years than either Opposition Party could do in 40. We know it, they know it and the people of Nova Scotia know it. Thank you. (Applause)

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MADAM SPEAKER: Are there any further speakers on the debate? Hearing none, the House is adjourned until tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:10 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 195

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 honourable member for Queens in debate on Bill No. 6 on Friday, April 18th, spoke of the jobs associated with the Sable Offshore Energy Project; and

Whereas when speaking of these jobs, he said Nova Scotians would be doing mainly service jobs; and

Whereas the honourable member referred to these jobs as menial jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House chastises the honourable member for Queens for these inappropriate and untoward remarks to all the fine, outstanding, hard-working citizens of Nova Scotia who work in the service industry and contribute to the economic growth of our province.

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NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on April 22, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 3

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Donald Downe (Minister of Transportation and Public Works)

(1) Will the minister explain standard operating policies in place now within the Department of Transportation and Public Works for operating machinery?

(2) What class of license is required before an individual is permitted to operate, for example, a backhoe, front-end loader and a tandem trailer truck?

(3) Will the minister also provide operational guidelines in place at the present time as to the operation of two-wing snowplows?

(4) How many employees are presently able to operate a two-wing plow and is it departmental policy that one or two operators be engaged in the operation of these plows?

(5) Also, will the minister supply for me a detailed list of the number of winter maintenance staff employed by the Department of Transportation and Public Works between November 1, 1995 and April 1, 1996, and also between October 1, 1996 and April 1, 1997?