Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Tue., Apr. 29, 1997

Fifth Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Housing & Mun. Affs.: Heather Mobile Home Park (Howie Ctr., CBRM) -
Taxes Unfair, Mr. A. MacLeod 1155
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: New Grafton Rd. (Queens Co.) - Repair,
Mr. Leefe 1156
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 248, Agric. - Shows: Col. Beef (19/04/97) Success Congrats./
Cumb. Co. Steer (03/05/97) - Support Show, Hon. G. Brown 1156
Vote - Affirmative 1157
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 249, Fin. - Budget (N.S.) (1997-98): Resurrect -
Accounting Practices Conform, Dr. J. Hamm 1157
Res. 250, Janet Conners - AIDS Justice: Acadia Univ. (Hon. Degree) -
Congrats., Mr. R. Chisholm 1158
Vote - Affirmative 1158
Res. 251, Educ. - Funding Formulas: Tax Grab - Avoid,
Mr. G. Archibald 1158
Res. 252, Educ. - C.B.: C.B. Centre MLA - Partisan Attacks Stop,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1159
Res. 253, Health - Home Care (Private): HST - Info. Table,
Mr. G. Moody 1159
Res. 254, Health - CHST: Cuts Reduction -
Silence (Gov't./MPs [N.S.]) Keep, Mr. J. Holm 1160
Res. 255, Health - Deloitte & Touche: Virtues Extolment -
Care Exercise, Mr. R. Russell 1161
Res. 256, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation -
Delay Alleviate, Dr. J. Hamm 1161
Res. 257, NDP (N.S.): Policies New - Develop, Mr. A. MacLeod 1162
Res. 258, Health - Promotion Organizations (Commun.-Based):
Support - Increase, Ms. E. O'Connell 1163
Res. 259, Acadian Affs. - Le Courrier de la N-É: Anniv. (60th) -
Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 1163
Vote - Affirmative 1164
Res. 260, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sheet Hbr.: Business Interests (U.S.) -
Expansion Prevent, Mr. B. Taylor 1164
Res. 261, Health - Multiple Sclerosis: Super Cities Walk - Commend,
Mr. D. McInnes 1165
Vote - Affirmative 1165
Res. 262, Lib. Party (Can.) - Election Campaign: Unemployment/Taxes -
Action, Mr. R. Chisholm 1165
Res. 263, Educ. - Special: Funding Cuts - Restore, Mr. R. Russell 1166
Res. 264, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Monte Vista Rd. (Enfield):
Hants East MLA - Action, Mr. B. Taylor 1167
Res. 265, Nat. Res. - Protected Areas: Public Decisions - Make,
Mr. J. Leefe 1167
Res. 266, Gov't. (Can.-1993-97) Econ. Policies: Impact (N.S.-Atl.) -
Condemn, Mr. J. Holm 1168
Res. 267, Nat. Res. - Donkin Mine: Leases - Protect, Ms. E. O'Connell 1168
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health - Ambulance Serv.: Maritime Medical Care - Takeover,
Hon. B. Boudreau 1169
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 76, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Expedite,
Mr. R. Russell 1174
No. 77, Fin. - Pub. Serv.: Pay Negotiations - Funding, Mr. R. Chisholm 1176
No. 78, Health: Ambulance Attendants (Trinidadian) - Training Contract,
Dr. J. Hamm 1178
No. 79, Health - Ambulance Serv.: Maritime Medical Care - Takeover,
Mr. G. Moody 1181
No. 80, Health: C.B. Reg. Hosp. - Unit Change (Medical to Nursing),
Mr. A. MacLeod 1182
No. 81, Environ. - HRM Landfill: Otter Lake - Assessment, Mr. J. Holm 1184
No. 82, Fin. - Vehicle Surtax: Impact - Negative, Mr. D. McInnes 1186
No. 83, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM Act: Rural Serv. - Amend,
Mr. B. Taylor 1188
No. 84, Educ. - Special: Landmark East - Support, Mr. G. Archibald 1190
No. 85, Educ. - Schools: Construction Policy - Rationale,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1191
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. J. Holm 1194
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:04 P.M. 1198
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:04 P.M. 1198
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
DFO - Salmon Hatcheries (N.S.) Closure - Condemn:
Mr. J. Leefe 1198
Mr. B. Holland 1201
Ms. E. O'Connell 1203
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 13, Antigonish Heritage Museum Board Act 1206
Hon. W. Gillis 1206
Ms. E. O'Connell 1206
Vote - Affirmative 1206
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 6:38 P.M. 1207
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:54 P.M. 1207
CWH ON BILLS REPORTS 1207
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 30th at 2:00 p.m.
CORRIGENDUM
1208
Tuesday, April 15, 1997
Page 265
RESOLUTION NO. 71
Delete the second Whereas clause.

[Page 1155]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the Heather Mobile Home Park that is located in my constituency. The operative clause is, "We, the landlord and residents of Heather Mobile Home Park, Howie Centre, feel that we are unfairly taxed compared to other residential areas. We want immediate action by the municipality in the form of services (roads etc.) or a decrease in our tax rate.". I have signed my name in agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

1155

[Page 1156]

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by a number of persons who live on and who travel the New Grafton Road in Queens County. They are complaining of the poor condition of the road and requiring that the Minister of Transportation undertake immediate remediation with respect to their complaints. I have signed the petition and thus endorsed it and so tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I beg your indulgence; I have a statement that I asked the staff to make copies of so I could provide it to the Opposition. If I could revert to that, they will be back immediately.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 248

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 16th Annual Spring Beef Show and Sale, held on Saturday, April 19th, provided the Colchester Cattlemen Association with an opportunity to showcase quality Nova Scotia beef; and

Whereas over 400 people attended this event, including producers and buyers, indicating a strong support for the Nova Scotia beef industry; and

Whereas the average selling price was up by more than 50 cents per pound after a time when beef producers had experienced such low prices;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the show organizers, the volunteers, the buyers and the producers for making the Colchester show and sale such a success, and I challenge the business community in northern Nova Scotia to show the same

[Page 1157]

kind of support for the Border Classic Steer Sale and Show in Cumberland County on Saturday, May 3, 1997.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 249

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

Whereas the Finance Minister said that the government's decision to record $50 million in 1995-96, even though the expenditures were to be incurred in 1996-97, was prudent budgeting; and

Whereas the Finance Minister said his inventive budgeting was similar to prepaying for a funeral; and

Whereas the Auditor General dismissed the Finance Minister's analogy saying what the province did was nothing like paying for a funeral in advance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister, whose misleading blended sales tax ads should have long since been buried, recognize the will of Nova Scotians to hear the truth and resurrect the budget to conform with the accounting practices of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 1158]

RESOLUTION NO. 250

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

Whereas Janet Conners has worked devotedly for the cause of persons with AIDS; and

Whereas Janet Conners' courageous efforts have been a source of inspiration to Nova Scotians and all Canadians; and

Whereas Janet Conners' great contribution will be recognized through the conferring of an honorary degree at Acadia University's spring convocation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate both Janet Conners for her continuing fight for justice, and Acadia University for recognizing that struggle.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 251

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

Whereas the Liberal Government is not content with saddling municipal units with the BS Tax, they now want to raise taxes on municipal ratepayers by adjusting the province's educational funding formula; and

Whereas the Liberal Government is oblivious to the hardships being placed upon Nova Scotians with their constant deluge of sneaky tax increases; and

[Page 1159]

Whereas the Mayor of Kentville said over the weekend that property taxes could rise by as much as 7 per cent and that other municipal taxpayers will be in for a nasty shock, if the province does not use the 1991 census numbers in establishing educational funding formulas for the 1997-98 fiscal year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education ensure Nova Scotians will not be slapped with another heavy tax grab when educational funding formulas are determined for this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 252

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 member for Cape Breton Centre, last Thursday, called the Leader of the Opposition a come-from-away who had no concrete answers for lasting economic development on Cape Breton Island; and

Whereas the Liberal answers for economic development involve attacking valuable educational institutions, as demonstrated by a $5.2 million cut to university funding this year; and

Whereas this has resulted in UCCB hiking tuition for next fall by 7 per cent which Student Union President, Sheldon Gillis, blamed on the federal and provincial Liberals;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton Centre stop engaging in partisan attacks and start defending education on Cape Breton Island from further Liberal cutbacks.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 253

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

[Page 1160]

Whereas government claims regarding the application of the HST on private home care services has caused a great deal of confusion for both private home care operators and their clients; and

Whereas on April 16th, and again on April 23rd, the Health Minister said he would provide the information on the application of the HST on private home services to this House by the end of Question Period the next day, but has still not seen fit to do so; and

Whereas the Health Minister and would-be Premier's commitment to keeping his promises to this House are no better than the Liberal Government's record in keeping the promises it made to the people of Nova Scotia in 1993;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister immediately table, in this House, the information he first promised on April 16th and that he recognize his quest to become Liberal Leader and Premier will be quickly derailed by making promises he refuses to keep.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 254

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

Whereas the Prime Minister came to town yesterday to announce that $6 billion was enough and his Liberal Government would carve no more from its health and social transfers to the provinces, at least for now; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas it has been noted that stopping the cuts to health, education and social programs after so much has been taken is akin to the thief who gives you a bus ticket home after stealing your wallet; and

Whereas this Liberal Government and Liberal MPs in Ottawa remained quiet as lambs while Jean Chretien and Paul Martin cut hundreds of millions from transfers to Nova Scotia for health, education and social programs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government and the Liberal MPs who wish to return to Ottawa to keep their silence and refrain from bleating their appreciation for the election damage-control crumbs that have had been tossed in this direction by the Prime Minister.

[Page 1161]

Mr. Speaker, I hear encouragement from government members opposite so therefore I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 255

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 part-time Minister of Health and wannabe Premier stated on Friday, "I will put the view of an internationally reputed accounting firm against the Auditor General on any accounting question at any time"; and

Whereas said accounting firm is Deloitte & Touche, whose Sydney office includes one George Unsworth - someone to whom the part-time Minister of Health has been a full-time patronage dispenser since 1993; and

Whereas George Unsworth has been the beneficiary of several government appointments whose total salary figures well into the six figures;

Therefore be it resolved that the part-time Minister of Health and wannabe Premier choose his words carefully when he extols the virtues of Deloitte & Touche, a stopover for the minister's friend between trips to the trough.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 256

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

Whereas the former Minister of Justice officially apologized to the hundreds of our province's young people abused within the walls of our provincially operated institutions saying that the victims are in no way responsible for what happened to them; and

[Page 1162]

Whereas since the compensation process was put into place following the release of the Stratton report in June 1995, this government appears to have forgotten why it apologized; and

Whereas the government put the victims on hold in the fall of 1996 and at the same time, refused to offer an extension to the victims themselves to respond by deadline even though the province also altered the compensation payment and rules on evidence;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier and Justice Minister take a serious look at the reaction of victims allegedly completely frustrated by the whole ordeal of being revictimized by the province and cease its attempts to obstruct the system of justice put in place such a short time ago as a tangible means of apologizing.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 257

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

Whereas an April 1996 advertisement from the Eastern Shore New Democratic Party Association stated the following about community economic development, "The NDP have been promoting if for years. Now the governing Liberals have borrowed this platform and are implementing it"; and

Whereas the current community economic development program, adopted by the Liberals and supported by the New Democrats, has resulted in no job growth for communities along the Eastern Shore and throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are looking for a true break with the Liberal Government, not more of the same failed Liberal programs;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP stop acting like Liberals with merely larger budgets and start developing new policies to meet the demands of Nova Scotians who need real change from four years of Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 1163]

RESOLUTION NO. 258

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 after years of chronic underfunding Planned Parenthood Nova Scotia is closing its office in Halifax in May; and

Whereas since 1974, Planned Parenthood Nova Scotia has offered cost-effective health promotion and prevention services to Nova Scotians and supported the work of four affiliate offices located throughout the province; and

Whereas the current Liberal Government campaigned on an election promise to enhance sex education programs and increase funding for health promotion and disease prevention;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to increase support to community-based health promotion organizations, like Planned Parenthood, and ensure that all Nova Scotians have access to reliable information and services that encourage informed decision making on issues related to sexual and reproductive health.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 259

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

Attendu que Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse, le seul hebdomadaire francophone de la province, s'est récemment célébré le 60e anniversaire; et

Attendu que cette publication a joué un rôle principal dans la protection et la promotion de la langue et la culture acadienne à travers la Nouvelle-Écosse; et

Attendu que les centaines d'anciens propriétaires, gestionnaires et employés ont contribués au maintien et épanouissement d'une présence francophone visible parmi les médias communautaires de la Nouvelle-Écosse;

Par conséquent, qu'il soit résolu que cette Assemblée félicite Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse pour son engagement fidèle de présenter les informations aux Acadiens at Acadiennes et de les représenter au monde entier.

[Page 1164]

Monsieur le président, je demandrais une rénonciation d'avis sans débat.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 260

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

Whereas partners Dale Lowe and Craig Gerrard have been forced to turn away business from their company known as Westside Stevedoring; and

Whereas this Liberal Government is presently involved in contract negotiations with American based Ceres Corporation and their lawyer, Willie Moore, to lease and manage the facility; and

Whereas considerable concern exists that if Ceres is awarded exclusive management rights, Westside Stevedoring, which currently assigns 85 per cent of the stevedoring work in Sheet Harbour, will be forced out of business;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism stop having his arm twisted by his Liberal Senate buddy, Willie Moore, and stop attempting to allow the expansion of an American business interest into Nova Scotia, at the expense of local Nova Scotia companies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

On an introduction, l'honorable le député d'Halifax Chebucto.

MR. JAY ABBASS: M. le président, je voudrais vous presentez, dans la galerie de l'est, un group d'élève de la cinquième année qui viennent de l'École St. Catherine de la ville d'Halifax. Ils sont en compagnie de leur enseignante, Madame Diane Losier, aussi Mr. Holloway et Madame Tousignant. Je crois qu'ils sont des élèves qui sont inscrit au programme d'immersion totale en français. Je veux demander au group d'élèves de se lever pour accueillir l'applaudissement de mes collègues. (Applaudissements)

[Page 1165]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 261

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

Whereas on Sunday, May 4th, hundreds of people in Halifax, Sydney, St. John's, Fredericton and Charlottetown will participate in the Super Cities Walk for multiple sclerosis; and

Whereas these participants will stride, stroll, step and wheel to raise money for finding a cure for multiple sclerosis; and

Whereas 80 per cent of all the funds raised will be allocated towards multiple sclerosis research and services;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House commend the participants, organizers and sponsors of the Super Cities Walk and wish them the best of luck in their efforts against multiple sclerosis.

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. 262

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 looming election date has convinced the Prime Minister that over $6 billion in federal cuts to health, education and social transfers is all that Canadians will tolerate; and

[Page 1166]

Whereas the Prime Minister's attempt to undo some of the damage his government has caused to social programs by its devastating cuts to social programs was announced yesterday in Halifax; and

Whereas that is no coincidence, since the Halifax seat is about to be lost by the Liberals to the national Leader of the New Democratic Party, the former member for Halifax Fairview;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interests of forcing the Liberals to undo the damage they have caused in other areas like unemployment and taxes, this House express the hope that there are many more seats the Liberals are about to lose to candidates from the New Democratic Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 263

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

Whereas parents of children attending Bridgeway Academy, Landmark East and Thomas Aquinas Centre, as well as members of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association rallied today at Province House to protest provincial cuts to special education; and

Whereas these children need the personalized services offered by these institutions; and

Whereas the Liberals are able to find more than $700,000 extra for their communication directors in departments such as Education, Community Services, Economic Development and Tourism, and Communications Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals re-prioritize their spending habits so that the children in need come ahead of public relations experts and Liberal propagandists.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 1167]

RESOLUTION NO. 264

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 condition of the Monte Vista Road in Enfield has reached such a deplorable state of disrepair, the President of the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department recently wrote a letter to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works expressing the department's grave concern over the condition of the road; and

Whereas the president of the fire department said the road is now nearly impassable and department response time has increased to over an hour from then normal 14 minutes to 15 minutes; and

Whereas in the letter to the minister, it was clearly pointed out that the fire department president actually feared that lives could be lost because of the disrepair of this particular road;

Therefore be it resolved that since the member for Hants East so proudly displays, in as many local papers as possible, each and every road announcement for his constituency, he immediately bring this letter to the attention of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works so that immediate attention can be brought to this very serious situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 265

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

Whereas last year Nova Scotia earned an 'A' from the World Wildlife Fund for efforts to establish protected areas; and

Whereas this year Nova Scotia's grade has dropped from 'A' to 'C-minus'; and

Whereas this loss of credibility is directly proportional to this Liberal Government's decision unilaterally to remove Jim Campbells Barren from the protected areas roster;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government be condemned for failing to ensure that decisions respecting protected areas be made in a public forum, rather than as a consequence of clandestine back-room lobbying and closed-door Cabinet meetings.

[Page 1168]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 266

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

Whereas Nova Scotians, like all Canadians, voted for the Chretien Liberals in 1993 because they expected them to attack chronic unemployment in this country; and

Whereas the Liberals have failed to put a dent in the chronic unemployment rate of nearly 10 per cent across Canada and nearly 13 per cent in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Atlantic Canada has been especially hard hit by the Liberal's economic failure with the disappearance of 12,000 jobs since 1993;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the devastating impact of failed federal Liberal economic policies on the people of Nova Scotia and all of Atlantic Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 267

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

Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources, the member for Cape Breton Nova and others have stated that it is premature to raise the issue of the transfer of Donkin coal leases from Devco to a private company; and

Whereas the chairman of Devco indicated clearly in remarks reported in the Cape Breton Post on April 26th that he considers the transfer of the leases for $1.00 a fait accompli; and

Whereas Nova Scotians who have seen this government hand over our offshore natural gas to Mobil and Shell for a pittance cannot afford another resource giveaway;

[Page 1169]

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand from the Minister of Natural Resources that she carry out her duty to protect the coal resources of Nova Scotia from the politically driven privatization schemes of David Dingwall and Joe Shannon.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

We will now revert to Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, Maritime Medical Care Incorporated, a Nova Scotia company, has advised the Department of Health that it intends to purchase a majority of the ambulance operations in this province.

The company has also reached an agreement with the government to take over its role in administration of contracts related to a central dispatch for ambulance operations, acquisition of new vehicles and a group purchase of ambulance supplies.

This is good news for Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. It has been the intention of the Department of Health to move towards consolidation of ambulance operations since the state of the province's emergency health care system was examined in detail in a report in 1994. The interest shown by Maritime Medical Care has accelerated the process and will result in improved emergency services sooner rather than later.

Let me explain, Mr. Speaker, why today's announcement will mean better service for Nova Scotians and better working conditions for the men and women who provide life-saving care in emergency situations at the roadside, the workplace and in the home. There will be one standard of care across the province, a high-performance standard with better trained emergency medical technicians and more life-saving equipment. Regional differences in the quality of service will disappear. A central dispatch centre will mean better co-ordination of vehicle use. A more efficient emergency health service will mean more lives will be saved.

As recently as last September there were 54 separate ambulance companies operating in Nova Scotia. Each operator was monitored separately for costs, safety standards and quality of care. By the end of June we expect there to be fewer than 10 ambulance operators in the province. The money that we spent monitoring the 54 companies, and I might say the administration costs involved in those 54 companies, will be re-invested in more appropriate wages and working conditions for ambulance workers, improved training for those same workers and better equipment for our state-of-the-art ambulance fleet.

[Page 1170]

I have received assurances from Maritime Medical Care that a top priority of the company will be to address problems in some regions related to wages and hours of work and working conditions for the ambulance workers.

Training programs will be provided and there will be opportunities for advancement at Maritime Medical Care, one of the country's top private sector medical insurance companies, and, I might add, a Nova Scotia company, Mr. Speaker. Maritime Medical Care is indeed a Nova Scotian company with a 50 year proven track record. For the past 25 years, in partnership with the province, the company has operated the system which pays our doctors.

Maritime Medical Care is financing this business expansion on its own with no government money whatsoever. Further capital requirements of the emergency health system as Maritime Medical Care raises its standards will be assisted by the Immigrant Investors Fund, further reducing the requirement for government spending in this area.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a little about the Department of Health's role in today's announcement. Ambulance operations are private businesses, but they perform an important function and that is where the government comes in. As I have said before, the role of the Department of Health is to pre-qualify companies interested in operating an ambulance business in the province. We also have to approve business plans because we are paying for the service. Finally, perhaps the government's most important role is to monitor performance levels, which we will continue to do.

Other operators have the choice to remain in business in Nova Scotia after Maritime Medical Care completes negotiations with those interested in selling. All operators will be held accountable to the same high standards of care at comparable costs. The operating agreement reached with Maritime Medical Care is no different than what is available to other operators.

What really makes for top quality emergency care in Nova Scotia is the calibre of the people who work every day in ambulances across the province. They are committed professionals who save lives. Today's announcement is good new for them and indeed good news for every Nova Scotian who may ever need an ambulance to respond to a medical emergency.

Emergency care is a vital link in the network of services we call our health care system. That link has been strengthened with today's announcement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1171]

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, we have an announcement by the minister today about an issue I raised last week in the House and he told me he knew nothing about it. He knew nothing about Maritime Medical Care becoming involved in taking over any of the ambulance services. So all of sudden within the last week he has learned something that he didn't know a week ago.

Yesterday, I met with rural EMTs across the province, and the Minister of Health did as well, and they told me the ambulance system in the rural area today is not as good as it was three years ago, that they are not able to protect the lives as well as they were three years ago. When the minister talks about, there will be one standard across the province, the rural EMTs yesterday told us that Dr. Mike Murphy and Terry Degen told them that was never intended to be and no matter what system they had in place, that there would not be the same level of care in the rural areas as there is in the urban areas. The EMTs said to us yesterday, are the lives worth more in the urban areas than they are in the rural areas? That's what they asked yesterday. They said that this government is not as committed to the rural areas as they initially said that they would be. (Interruptions)

I am talking of what the EMTs said, not what I said and I do not believe, Mr. Speaker, that one of those EMTs that came here yesterday lied; not one of them. They told it how it was.

When this government put in the legislation they promised the ambulance operators nothing would change. The ambulance operators came to this House and the rural members and everybody met with the ambulance operators and said, you will have an opportunity to be part of this wonderful system. Well, they aren't going to be part of this wonderful system and when the minister says that they are going to buy out those that are interested, as I talk to the operators, they are being forced out by this government and the methods of this government and that is why somebody else is taking them over.

When we talk about the central dispatch, the EMTs said yesterday, they don't know what is wrong with the system we have today. This government is bent on spending a lot of money that never reaches the individual who actually needs the service.

You know, it is kind of interesting that the government is not putting any money in it. Of course, they are putting money in. Maritime Medical have to make a profit, everybody that runs an ambulance system has to make a profit. The EMTs told me yesterday that they were in negotiations around the province. One in the Valley, the operator in the Valley was told you cannot make a commitment to the EMTs for any money, none at all, because we may have somebody else take over the whole system in the province. So the government says, we are not meddling with the private entrepreneurs when the EMTs and the private entrepreneurs tell me that the government is meddling, that they can't make agreements with these EMTs to give them decent pay for working 100 hours plus. Many of us were told yesterday that they

[Page 1172]

were working in excess of 100 hours and they are expected to drive that ambulance and if it goes off the road, it is driver error.

Mr. Speaker, many of these EMTs that came here yesterday say that Nova Scotians are at risk because of the policies of this government. I want to know what this government is going to do about it. I want to know the details with Maritime Medical because there has to be a commitment by this government to write off that capital debt over a period of time. Even though money is coming from the Immigrant Investors Fund, this government will have to pay back to Maritime Medical that capital cost over a period of time.

So, Mr. Speaker, yes, I respect Maritime Medical as a private company. Yes, they have a good track record but this government has a poor track record. The problem is what kind of a commitment are we making to a company that will take over the total ambulance operation of this province without one tender, without anybody else being given an opportunity to move in the direction that this company has moved in? Any company, if you are given a priority and you don't have to tender and you are told that all your capital costs can be claimed over a period of time, we will cover your operating costs so that you have a profit, what company in the world wouldn't start, whether you are a Nova Scotia company or not, wouldn't get involved in a business like this?

Mr. Speaker, as the EMTs said yesterday, we don't even have defibrillators in all of our ambulances in this province and not all of the EMTs can start an IV. What they are saying is this government has not made a priority with the training of the EMTs that they promised and they have not put the equipment in the ambulances that they promised and they have misled Nova Scotians who believe and are told by this government that they have a first-class system when, in actual fact, the EMTs said yesterday that is not the case.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that I hope for once the minister is right when he says that this, in fact, will be a good deal for Nova Scotia. We have heard this Minister of Health, and the former Minister of Health, say that a lot of the decisions they were making relative to the emergency health system in the Province of Nova Scotia were going to be good news for Nova Scotia. In fact, as recently as a few days ago this minister, and other members of their caucus, stood up and talked about how the emergency health system in the Province of Nova Scotia was world-class; it was so good that we were selling training programs around the world. Well, what we do know is that this government has spent well over $1 million on shiny new ambulances and invested very little, if any, in their staff, in the people actually delivering the service.

As the speaker mentioned earlier, when this government makes this kind of statement, when they say, in the statement, "What really makes for top quality emergency care in Nova Scotia is the calibre of the people who work every day in ambulances across the province.",

[Page 1173]

when you realize how these people have been treated over the past two years, waiting patiently for this government to fulfil its promises about bringing forward a world-class emergency health system in the Province of Nova Scotia, you can only understand just how cynical many of those workers are.

If this government is truly committed to ensuring that those workers are able to deliver that high-quality service in the Province of Nova Scotia, they will begin immediately by overturning the exemption that is in the minimum wage order, Mr. Speaker. That can be done by an Order in Council, and they will begin immediately to bring forward amendments to the Labour Standards Code and the Workers' Compensation Act which exempt those emergency medical technicians from protections that will keep them from working 90 hours a week and being paid, in effect, minimum wage or less throughout that period of time.

Yes, some progress is being made, Mr. Speaker, but it is unfortunately the workers who actually deliver the service who have been left out, who are the last ones to have any attention paid to them. We would hope that this government, if they are truly sincere and serious about these kinds of statements about the calibre of the people who work every day, then they will move immediately - not next week or next month, but immediately - to show that kind of good faith by bringing in changes to the minimum wage order and the Labour Standards Code and the Workers' Compensation Act.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to whether or not the changes this government is bringing about in the administration of the emergency health system in the Province of Nova Scotia, through Maritime Medical Care, we will have to wait and see just what kind of impact that is going to have and how quickly changes can be made to truly bring fairness and equity to the workers delivering the service in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 Queens will debate at 6:00 p.m:

Therefore be it resolved that the federal government be condemned for its decision to close the salmon hatcheries in Nova Scotia.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased, on behalf of the Premier, the member for Dartmouth South, to introduce our visitors in the west gallery. They are a Political Science class from Dartmouth High School and they are here with their teacher, Francis Lefort. I would ask them to receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 1174]

MR. SPEAKER: We will now commence with Question Period which today will last for one hour. The time now being 12:45 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 1:45 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE COMPENSATION - EXPEDITE

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. I am sure that the minister is well aware that a young man attempted suicide through a drug overdose, one of the victims of abuse awaiting compensation. The Department of Justice who is handling the claims made by the victims of abuse have been somewhat tardy in resolving those claims. The department has admitted that the victims themselves were not to blame for the abuse they have suffered. They have apologized and they have offered to pay some compensation. The difficulty is the fact that the department has said, yes we are doing these things but however, it has failed to generate the response that the victims are waiting for and that is a cheque.

I was wondering if the Minister of Justice would tell the House today and the people of Nova Scotia and the victims that are out in the public exactly what he is doing to expedite the process to get the compensation in the hands of the victims as soon as possible?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, this situation in whole is a very unfortunate one that all Nova Scotians feel very concerned about and it is very regrettable when one of the victims of abuse, for whatever reason, is traumatized in that way and takes that form of action. However, as I mentioned the other day, Nova Scotia and this government was the government that decided that some action had to be taken to deal with this problem. We put a process in place and have been overwhelmed with the number of people that have come forward. It would have been preferable if we could walk in one day and settle them the next day but that is impossible.

What we have been doing is working very diligently to make sure that this process is successful. We have allocated as much resources to the process as necessary to make sure we can deal with these claims and compensate them all at the earliest opportunity.

[Page 1175]

The process is working, it will take some time. We will take whatever time is necessary to make sure it is working and to make sure that everybody is fairly treated and to make sure that those who are entitled to compensation receive compensation.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we know there are about 990 claimants out there whose claims are still in the resolution process. To date, they have resolved approximately half of that number. At that rate it is going to take two to three years before these claims are through the process and that is just simply not good enough. How many more young men are going to take the same way out as this gentleman did who was waiting for compensation.

The minister said yesterday that there was a process and that it was a fairly involved process. I would remind the minister that in point of fact this is not a star chamber process he is going through, this is a matter of determining the facts and if the people were there and they were abused you pay the money. Somehow the lawyers within the Department of Justice and the lawyers who represent the claimants seemed to have gotten into a great legal hassle. The result has been that while everybody else is doing fine, thank you very much, the claimants themselves are not receiving the satisfaction that they should be. My question to the minister is why not use a system similar to automatic assumption where you have some parameters that you lay out and if the person meets those basic parameters and you can do that in an hour, then pay the person, why not?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish that it were that simple but this is a very complex and difficult situation. A number of other provinces have had to deal with that. I believe that Ontario and New Brunswick had somewhat of a similar system. We looked at that and the system that we have devised, we believe it is probably the best in the country. It is the fairest, it is the one that is going to be the fairest to the victims both in having them receive compensation and doing it in a humane and understanding way.

Since I have come to the department I have to tell the honourable member that I have been very, very impressed with the staff who have been putting in long hours and working diligently to make sure that this program is a success. I would like to commend the staff for the efforts that they have being putting forward in this regard, Mr. Speaker. We believe it is a good process. We are working very hard. It is going to be successful. We will take the time and make sure that it is successful.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not denying that the staff in the Department of Justice are competent; I am not saying that for one moment. What I am saying is that the process that the Minister of Justice had put in place to resolve these claims is much too slow. It is just unconscionable to wait for two or three years to get a legitimate claim paid, and, I say to the minister, the people are not going to accept that.

[Page 1176]

Will the minister today, in the House, make a statement that will satisfy the claimants and the people of Nova Scotia that these claims will all be fully finished, completed and done with within a period of, say, six months?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the efforts of this government to deal with this problem. This is a problem that has been around for years. The Opposition, when they were in government, had 15 years to deal with it. They never dealt with it and they never looked at the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why didn't you fellows deal with it?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, this government, when we came to power, recognized there was a problem. We undertook to find out what the problem was, to devise a system that was going to be successful in making sure that people who were entitled to compensation received it. I want to tell the honourable member that this system is working. One of the things that I, as minister, do is sign a letter of apology to those people who have received an award. Today, I signed 12 letters, so those are 12 that are settled. The system is working. We are working our way through it. People who are applying, their claims are being considered; they are being settled. This is an ongoing process, and we are doing everything we can to make sure it is settled, as it should be and as it will be. (Applause)

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

FIN. - PUB. SERV.: PAY NEGOTIATIONS - FUNDING

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. Last week, the Premier and, in fact, I believe, the Minister of Finance, on one occasion when we were talking about, asking where is the money in the budget, has the government set aside some money to deal with negotiations when they resume with public servants in November of this year, where is that money - the Premier, I think, referred to me as prattling on, but, anyway, I won't talk about that - he referred me to Page 29 of Government By Design, where it says restructuring costs, $31.5 million. What we know is that in that restructuring cost, the $31.5 million includes early retirement incentives and provisions for contract negotiations. Our understanding is that of the $31.5 million - and this was confirmed in the budget lock-up - there is only $6 million that is not accounted for. In other words, the remainder of the money is for the Early Departure Incentive Program.

I want to ask the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker, can he confirm that the amount set aside for negotiations in November of this year is in fact $6 million?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, in the Main Estimates themselves for the fiscal year 1997-98, it is no secret. The member seems to think he has some big secret that he has pried loose. But right on Page 1.4 of the Main Estimates, under Restructuring Costs,

[Page 1177]

there are three items there, which include Provision for Contract Negotiations, and the total is $31.510 million. So the money is there, but I am not negotiating on the floor of the House with the public servants of Nova Scotia; it is the responsibility of the Minister of Human Resources to do that and I am sure both sides will sit down at the appropriate time. The honourable member, being a former union rep himself, knows there are certain protocols you go through to do that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, yes, the minister is quite right. On Page 1.4 of the Estimates Book for 1997 it says $31.510 million for Early Retirement Incentive Program, Provisions for Contract Negotiations and Severance Packages. If you look at the similar page in the 1996 budget, you will see a similar line for Restructuring Costs which says, Early Retirement Incentive Program, and Severance Packages $38.600 million. The difference, of course, in the 1997 budget document is the addition of contract negotiations. Of course we also note that it is $7 million less.

Anyway in my first supplementary to the minister, I am trying to find out how many public servants will it be expected will be fighting over the crumbs that may, in fact, be set aside. I pursue this because we asked the Minister of Education about this last week and he told us that if there are to be any salary increases for teachers and other school board staff, that it will come not from the school boards or municipalities or, in fact, in his budget, but it will come from the Minister of Finance. Apparently the Minister of Finance has a pot of money squirrelled away somewhere in order to handle that.

I would like to ask the Minister of Finance, will he confirm that in addition to those public servants directly employed by the Province of Nova Scotia that the fund that he has set aside will also include teachers when they come up to their negotiations in November 1997?

MR. GILLIS: I believe that teachers are included, but I am sure the honourable member may want to direct that to the minister responsible for those negotiations, just as he might want to direct questions on negotiations with the Public Service and the Civil Service to the minister responsible.

MR. CHISHOLM: You see, what we are trying to get at here is the whole question of whether or not we are, in fact, dealing once again with a phoney balanced budget. Only two possibilities present themselves with respect to the answers we have gotten on this whole issue. One is that this is another phoney balanced budget in that it totally underestimates the impact of wage negotiations. The other possibility is that this government has no intentions of negotiating with public servants when the wage freeze comes off in November 1997.

I want to ask the minister to explain to members of this House exactly what possibility we are dealing with here. Do we have another cooked budget or are they going to turn thumbs down to public sector workers who have given so much in the past four years to this government's deficit reduction strategies?

[Page 1178]

MR. GILLIS: I said in my Budget Speech that the province is prepared to sit down when the collective bargaining resumes for the final five months of the year. Remember, we are not talking about 12 months of the year, so certainly whatever monies are put aside would be less, they would be five-twelfths of what they would be on an annual basis.

It really galls me to hear this honourable member coming from the NDP talking about phoney budgets. Am I missing something or was it B.C. that before an election said the budget is balanced. We have a balanced budget. Afterwards, it turned out (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, you know that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the flat-earthers are hurting when you tell the truth about their colleagues. They came in with $0.5 billion or $750 million deficit. That is phoney budgeting, if I ever saw it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: AMBULANCE ATTENDANTS (TRINIDADIAN) -

TRAINING CONTRACT

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I learned yesterday that while there is an ambulance service here in metro that provides defibrillation, intravenous treatment, intubation and so on, that many calls in Nova Scotia are being responded to by ambulance attendants who have not had training in these three very vital disciplines. Then I was also distressed to learn that despite the fact that these emergency technicians are anxiously awaiting the training, that the province is now contracting to take its training team and provide training sessions for ambulance attendants in Trinidad.

Will the minister confirm that the province is entertaining providing training to emergency technicians in Trinidad before all of the emergency technicians here, particularly those who are providing services in rural Nova Scotia are completely trained? Will he confirm that?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all let me say that implicit in the honourable Leader of the Opposition's preamble, and I might say the earlier comments by his Health Critic, suggests that somehow we have had ambulances in the past all equipped with defibrillators, all equipped with intubation devices, all of these things and suddenly they have disappeared. What has happened is that we have made tremendous advances in terms of the vehicles and the equipment in those vehicles over what existed when that Party was in power and when the former minister was responsible, tremendous, tremendous improvements.

[Page 1179]

We are moving ahead as quickly as we can to do two things, to make sure all of the best equipment is in all of the ambulances across the province and I might add, this announcement that we made today will go a long way toward hastening that process and secondly, bringing training to all of them.

He asked particularly about a potential contract in Trinidad. Moments earlier his colleague scoffed at the possibility of any other country in the world perhaps being interested in what we are doing here. The fact of the matter is there are countries all over the world who are recognizing what we have done here in Nova Scotia in emergency health services and some of them are very anxious to have our expertise. If we can sell our expertise, based on the experiences that we have and bring the money into our system so that we can improve it with money from Trinidad, rather than money out of the taxpayer's pocket, I am all in favour of it. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, well that was just absolutely amazing. This government still wants to compare itself with 20 years ago. This government has been redesigning the ambulance service in this province for three years and that is the kind of an answer that the Minister of Health is prepared to give us. Yesterday we and the minister had opportunity to meet with ambulance attendants who are distressed that they are not getting the training after three years of a program that they are dispensing in rural Nova Scotia ambulances which are being manned by people who are not trained yet to provide these disciplines that really do make sense. You get it in metro, you don't get it in rural Nova Scotia. How many ambulances does the minister know are being dispensed in rural Nova Scotia to deal with heart attack victims that still have not been provided with defibrillators? Does the minister have any idea?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I can answer that, a heck of a lot more than there were when his government left office, a heck of a lot more. But I will get the specific figures for the honourable Leader of the Opposition. But let me say this, I met with the emergency medical technicians for quite some time yesterday. They met in my office and I think they probably met with me before they met with the Opposition. We had a very long discussion on it and I don't know that the sense of the discussion I got was similar to the discussion presented by the honourable Leader of the Opposition and his Health Critic.

I think there is a clear recognition by those ambulance operators that both the equipment and the training and in fact, the service being delivered now is tremendously improved over what it was. Now that brings with it problems because of the increased level of service, it is not just load and go anymore, you are actually supposed to help the patient. Because of those additional service improvements it has put greater demands on ambulance attendants both in terms of hours and in terms of training requirements. So there is a significant challenge that has to be met and that will be aided by the announcement we made just earlier in the day.

[Page 1180]

Those attendants themselves will tell you and I ask anyone who is interested to talk to them about the tremendous improvement in both equipment and their capability in delivering emergency health care to Nova Scotians.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister clearly doesn't get the message. Yesterday the message delivered by the ambulance operators from rural Nova Scotia is, in fact, that while all of the new ambulances in the province look the same on the outside, in fact, what is inside is very different depending on chance as to whom might be on duty, or which ambulance happens to respond to the call.

The minister made a point and he said, I am going to give you specific figures. On December 3rd, I asked the minister a question and I wanted to know if there had been a change in policy as to the number of ambulances that were going to be provided to the ambulance operators. He said, I will get back to you with the answer. Originally, it was going to be 150 and then we heard rumours that negotiations were going on with the ambulance operators that, in fact, the province was trying to distance themselves from that figure and they wanted to provide something less than 150 ambulances.

Will the minister now provide the figure that he promised me on December 3rd and has, to this date, failed to produce, as to how many ambulances the department is planning to provide the ambulance operators in this province to provide emergency service?

MR. BOUDREAU: Just to give some information to the honourable member before I address specifically his last question, as of April 11, 1997, the province has delivered 96 van-style ambulances, Type 2, and 5 of a potential 12 critical care transports, Type 3, to communities around the province. I might add as well - and this was on April 11th, so there may be additional numbers, but I will give you the information as of April 11th - 52 new defibrillators have been placed in communities across Nova Scotia. As of April 11th, Mr. Speaker, there were 52 more than there were simply four years ago when this honourable Leader of the Opposition's Party was in government. Not 20, but 4 years ago. We know how many there were. It is not hard to calculate. I could have had the answer to that one just off the top of my head.

How many ambulances? That is an ongoing process. We will have as many ambulances as are required to service the population of this province. That final number is not determined, even as we speak. That may, indeed, be affected by some of the reorganization that is occurring in the system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1181]

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERV.: MARITIME MEDICAL CARE - TAKEOVER

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health and this government made the commitment when they closed the hospital beds in this province and they tore the health system apart, that they would make sure every ambulance in this province had a defibrillator. Everybody in this province thought that every one already had it. In actual fact, they misled the general public.

When this government put through the legislation for the new emergency health care system in this province, when the operators came down here to meet, they were told, and they had been told all along, even by the department, that the ambulance operators would have an opportunity to put together a company and take over and they would still be part of the system in this province. The operators, with the blessing of the Department of Health - because nobody, as I understand it, could take anybody over without the blessing of the Department of Health; no one could be bought out unless the Department of Health agreed. I would ask the minister what has changed his mind that the operators of this province were not capable of moving in the two year time-frame that his department had given them to do just what he had asked them to do one year ago?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I realize the honourable member is Opposition Health Critic, but when he talks about system collapse, people at great risk because there are only 52 defibrillators as of April 11th, you really have to wonder what kind of risk they were at when there were none. I think people will judge that. We are putting them out as quickly as we can. We have made a major improvement in equipment, training and all the rest of it. We are going as quickly as we can. There will be units in all ambulances.

He seems to object that the consolidation process has gone faster than he wants. Is that what he is saying, that we shouldn't do it? Should I issue an order to the ambulance companies not to sell to Maritime Medical Care? Which company does the honourable member want me to tell that they cannot sell to Maritime Medical Care? Please, tell me.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, as the minister has said, the people of this province know what happened to the health care system and they will be the judge when it comes election time. If you ask Nova Scotians, over 78 per cent think that the system is worse today than it was when they took power.

Now I would ask the minister, what criteria was used to pre-qualify Maritime Medical? All of a sudden somebody has to be pre-qualified by the Department of Health, which over a week ago didn't know anything about it. I would ask the minister if he is prepared to table in this House what pre-qualified Maritime Medical to move into the ambulance system across the province and put out of business the other operators who have done a very commendable job with limited resources in this province of providing the emergency health care system?

[Page 1182]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is still - when he mentions election, then you really get a sense of what his real motivation is in these questions. He keeps using the phraseology, the rhetoric, put somebody out of business. Which ambulance company is being put out of business by Maritime Medical? That's all I want to know. Or which one does he want me to tell, order not to sell to Maritime Medical? It is a simple question.

MR. MOODY: This government has been a government in the last three or four years that keeps all the information of taxpayers' money away from them. They will not disclose anything that the people should know about the taxpayers' money they use and they decide how it will be spent.

My last supplementary to the Minister of Health is this. We had to get through an emergency health care Act in this province. The Minister of Health of the day in 1994 said that bill had to pass. To my knowledge, and I believe this to be true, the Act has not been proclaimed. I am asking the Minister of Health, is the Act not proclaimed because he had a different plan than the previous Minister of Health who would operate ambulances in this province?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we have a situation in this province where we find a willing buyer and a willing seller, willing to complete a transaction. I don't intend to interfere with that. I might say that that is not the government selling or the government buying. That is a private sector owner selling to another private sector owner and, as I announced today earlier, not one cent of government money is going into that. That is the case.

The honourable Health Critic says yes, but who is going to pay for it eventually? Well I think the taxpayers are going to pay for ambulance service the same way they always have. Is this magic, Mr. Speaker? We have private sector companies now negotiating with one another and there is no coercion by the province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Show us the deal.

MR. BOUDREAU: When those deals and if those deals come to a conclusion, then we would be more than happy.

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

HEALTH: C.B. REG. HOSP. - UNIT CHANGE (MEDICAL TO NURSING)

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is also to the Minister of Health. I wonder if the minister could indicate to us if he has received or his

[Page 1183]

department has received a request from the Cape Breton Regional Hospital to turn a medical unit into a nursing unit? If so, can he advise if he supports such a plan?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that some discussion has taken place. I have not seen a formal proposal on my desk. There may or may not be one at the department but I am aware that some discussion has taken place. I could not make a judgment on it at this stage.

MR. MACLEOD: Again to the Minister of Health, I would ask the minister if he believes that there is an overabundance of community medical beds designated at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital? If not, is he prepared to tell the hospital that he will not support this proposal and turn it down, so that the units don't become part of a nursing home?

MR. BOUDREAU: I am not sure I understood the question, Mr. Speaker. He is asking me, I think, if I will turn down in advance a proposal that I have not seen yet. I don't know, Mr. Speaker, that that would be a prudent course of action.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. MACLEOD: Well, I have to congratulate the minister on being one of the better step dancers in the House who has come out of Cape Breton Island in a number of years, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter) He bounces around the question, but he never actually answers the question. (Interruptions) Well, there you go, it wouldn't be hard to baffle the government benches of this House.

Could the minister tell this House the formula for allocating community beds? Is it based on an historic patient demand; is it based on a certain number of beds per patient population served? How exactly are the number of beds determined and would the minister table this information in this House?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the reference to my prowess as a Cape Breton step dancer, but I think I could never claim that title as long as a former Cabinet Minister, well known to all of us, resides in Baddeck. I think he has been and will always remain one of the finest step dancers I have ever seen in this House of Assembly.

I am perfectly willing to even enter a discussion at some length or have people from the department enter a discussion at some length with the honourable member to discuss the factors which must be taken into account with respect to hospital beds. The regional health board will determine what is an appropriate figure.

To answer the question very simply, which is the only way we can answer it here, is that we respond to the needs in the community as determined by the regional health board.

[Page 1184]

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

ENVIRON. - HRM LANDFILL: OTTER LAKE - ASSESSMENT

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment, of course, is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that, in fact, the Environment Act is met, all the terms and conditions, and to ensure that standards and the guidelines in his manuals for siting landfills also are met.

The minister will know that there have been very serious concerns raised about the Otter Lake site. The site selected for the landfill for the HRM concerns a deal with things such as high water tables, concerns with things like the fractured structure of the rock beneath it, the grade of the ground which is 10 per cent or more, Mr. Speaker, and many other items.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister has a very real responsibility in this regard. I know that the municipality has requested a permit for that area. My question to the minister is quite simply, will the minister guarantee that before any permit or any approval is granted for that site, that there will be a full environmental assessment conducted by the environmental control panel with public hearings to make sure that all of the concerns and issues that have been raised by residents in the area are addressed and addressed first?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will address the answer to the question by first saying that we have been fully involved with that whole process with the landfill siting with the Halifax Regional Municipality. I do want to say as recently as this week - and it is only Tuesday - but we have made a commitment, and we reiterated it yesterday, that we will make sure that there is a citizens' monitoring committee in place that will work with both the municipality and with the provincial government before we issue permits that will complete the acceptability of that site.

MR. HOLM: I thank the minister for his non-answer. The minister is taking lessons, I guess, from the Minister of Health and trying to take up step dancing, Mr. Speaker, because he didn't come within a country mile of answering the question. I asked whether or not the minister will live up to his responsibilities and ensure that there is a full environmental assessment with public hearings? That is what I asked the minister. He chose to ignore that; in other words, the minister's answer is no.

Mr. Speaker, back in 1994 and prior to when there had been a proposal to build a waste-to-energy incinerator, the government required that there be a full environmental assessment. That was held. The details came out and this government, his predecessor, rejected that application in July 1994; cost was one of the principal reasons.

[Page 1185]

I would like to ask this minister, why is this government now trying to play Pontius Pilate? Why are you trying to wash your hands of your responsibilities? Why are you not prepared to commit that there will be the full environmental assessment, in other words, do your job?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the pomp and pageantry is quite extreme, but I want to commit to all taxpayers in Nova Scotia that we are not committed to costing them more money to do a process that can be done with more efficiencies.

We have indeed made clear and the honourable member who asked the question has copies of correspondence which I have written to him rather clearly stating the reasons why there is not the necessity for a full environmental assessment at this particular landfill site. Given the procedures that come with the new Act, the new regulations, there is indeed a built-in monitoring process in the evolution of the permits that are necessary along the way. We have had what I would call a positive relationship between all the working partners in that regard. I will repeat that we will not engage ourselves in those measures that cost taxpayers more money and more time with less efficiency while we are trying to make progress for the future.

MR. HOLM: The minister's answer reminds me of that riddle: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. The minister, of course, continues to try to duck his responsibilities. There have been a number of requests made to the minister. There have been letters written asking, for example, for the minister even to meet with the residents' groups, residents and the people of PROBE who have, within that organization, people with expert scientific information who have studies, who have reports, who have something that maybe could open the eyes of the minister slightly, if he cared to listen, to open his eyes and also to see what they have to offer.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. Since he has not bothered to respond to the letters that have been written to him asking for the meetings, I would like to ask the minister, will the minister agree to meet with the residents or is he afraid that by so doing he might find information being presented to him that he would not be able to ignore and that might force him to live up to his responsibilities and to hold the full environmental assessment? Will the minister agree, here on the floor of the House, to set a date to meet with the residents and the representatives from PROBE which, so far, you have refused to do?

MR. ADAMS: I will remind the honourable member who asked the question that my eyes are fully open, as are those of my officials who have been looking very closely and following this process along. We have indeed answered the queries that have come into the department. The MLA for the region has been a constant monitor of that process. He has relayed the concerns directly from the residents to the minister and to my officials. They have been addressed and will continue to be addressed. This morning there were more answers that were addressed by my officials in regard to the same question.

[Page 1186]

I would ask the honourable member not to be casting aspersions and judging others by his own, perhaps, perception of performance. Our performance in this regard is upfront; it is positive; and it is in the interests of the residents of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

FIN. - VEHICLE SURTAX: IMPACT - NEGATIVE

MR. DONALD MCINNES: My question is to the Minister of Finance. There is a large trucking firm in my area which is considering purchasing probably up to 20 new trucks. They would cost approximately $100,000 each. He is considering buying them in New Brunswick. The reason, of course, he is considering buying them in New Brunswick is that he would not have to pay the 2 per cent surtax. The result of this is that a Nova Scotia dealer would lose the business and New Brunswick will pick it up. Not only that, but if that happened the province would lose, in this case, if it happened, approximately $160,000 in lost revenue of tax.

My question to the minister is, did his department consider the negative impact resulting from the 2 per cent surtax on vehicles?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: I am aware. I have been made aware in the last few days of the possible impact from the transition tax on interprovincial truckers. As a matter of fact, I have a meeting scheduled with representatives of one of the firms next week. I believe that the honourable member gave me some information on one in his own area yesterday. Maybe he could confirm it is the same one. I would certainly be glad to meet with that company as well.

I have been working with my colleague, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services and the government is actively pursuing this question to try to see if we can come to a favourable resolution.

MR. MCINNES: I thank the minister for that answer. I am glad to hear that he is going to meet with some of the truckers who are involved and I guess I was told this morning that the minister was going to meet with them. That is very good. We are pleased about that.

Why did we put that 2 per cent surtax on new vehicles when, in fact, Newfoundland took it off before harmonization and New Brunswick does not have the 2 per cent surtax? Why did we do it, as a money grab?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we are now away from the interprovincial trucking question because I indicated that I have a meeting scheduled with the representatives of one of the interprovincial trucking firms and I am offering to the member this particular one. If

[Page 1187]

he confirms that company, if they want to have a separate meeting, I would be glad to meet with them. But he is now asking about the transition tax.

As I understand it, during the discussions around the budget last year - and as the honourable member knows, I was not Minister of Finance - there was concern with the implementation of the harmonized tax which drops the tax on 40 per cent of items from almost 19 per cent to 15 per cent. There was some concern expressed by automobile dealers, in general, that to have such a sudden drop on April 1, 1997, would leave the automobile dealers in a dangerous position financially in the three or four months leading up to it, say, December 1996 and then January, February, March 1997, that with the huge drop, there might be a great drop-off. There would be no business and everybody would wait until after April 1, 1997 when it would drop down.

I am not saying that the automobile dealers sat down at a table and they agreed that this was the way to do it, but there certainly seemed to be a tacit agreement and this was a way to soften the blow and the tax would go from almost 19 per cent to 17 per cent, as of April 1st and next April it will drop further to 1 per cent and then it will disappear the following year. So that is the history of it and this was built into our financial budgets and, unlike the group opposite, we pay attention to balancing our income with our expenditures.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. I know the Minister of Finance was not the minister at the time of the institution of the BST but, however, the question is that it is putting some trucking companies that do interprovincial trucking in quite a bind. We don't want them taking their business outside this province. We want that tax money in the province. I know the minister has agreed to meet with certain companies on this matter, but I hope that the minister will meet with them and straighten it out and see that that tax is lowered to 15 per cent, the same as New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I think in the preamble, the member mentioned that we are looking at it. I don't know what more I can say than to come here today and pre-empt the meeting. I told the honourable member that, in conjunction with the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, we are actively looking at a change in government policy whereby for interprovincial truckers, which are a special case, it might be possible to provide relief so that those companies can purchase their trucks here. That has been actively looked at and we hope to have a decision in the near future.

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

[Page 1188]

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - HRM ACT: RURAL SERV. - AMEND

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I share my colleague's concern about the trucking industry and I hope this government does do something positive for the trucking industry.

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. The minister will know that subsequent to the announcement that this government was forcing amalgamation on the Municipalities of Halifax, Dartmouth, Halifax County and Bedford, the former Minister of Municipal Affairs availed the draft Halifax Regional Municipality legislation to the various units for input, consultation and comment.

Halifax County was able to have an amendment embodied into the legislation that essentially protects the rural citizen, the rural property taxpayer, from paying for services that they do not receive. In fact, Mr. Speaker, Section 82(8)(a) lists the services that the Halifax Regional Municipality can charge to the rural taxpayer. Now the Official Opposition has learned that under the Halifax Regional Municipality's latest tax scheme, which I understand HRM has supported in principle, the rural taxpayer will be required to pay for services that they don't receive, provided this government adopts an amendment. Some of the services that the poor, beleaguered, rural taxpayer may be required to pay for would be municipal police services, municipal signage, municipal plowing and we already receive those services from the province. So my question to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs is simply this, is the minister considering amending the Halifax Regional Municipality Act to placate the Halifax Regional Municipality's latest tax proposal?

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have had a fair number of amendments proposed. We are looking at them but there is no final decision made as to what might be brought before the House. This session may not be a long session of the House, it may not find its way before the House. We are certainly looking at their amendments. The municipal unit has powers delegated within its legislation at this time to address many of its tax needs. If there is any way that we can facilitate or help them in that, if it is necessary but in no way will we be bringing in amendments that will just be against the fairness to all taxpayers within the HRM.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister, I believe, did confirm that he is having some discussions with the Halifax Regional Municipality relative to amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipality Act and I understand there are a number of changes. The rural taxpayer in the Halifax Regional Municipality is very concerned that there may be a proposal articulated to the minister, put forth, whereby the listed services will be removed from that legislation. I have to ask the minister because I think it is appropriate that the minister tell the rural taxpayer, especially in light of the fact this government did create the so-called super-

[Page 1189]

city, will the minister personally intervene if the Halifax Regional Municipality imposes a property tax that is in violation of the Halifax Regional Municipality Act?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that question is really out of order. They have their responsibilities and they have their rights to set their tax rate. Whether you agree with amalgamation or not, it has taken place and it is a fact. There are two or three parts to his question but the initial one was something to do with rural communities.

In the Cape Breton area they set three rates, urban, suburban and rural and they have worked towards a fairness. Certainly, there are mechanisms in place if any action is contrary to the Act; the regional municipal unit will have to function within that. So I don't see what the question is. Will we take some action? That is in law and they will have to do what the Act provides. I am having a little trouble. Amendments are coming forward, we are getting legal opinions and we are working with the municipal unit. There is nothing before the House at this time and when it is, that member will have an opportunity to debate the issue if, in fact, they do arrive.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response from the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs but I also believe the reason there is no amendment before the House is simply because we are on the eve of a provincial election and it will be a very contentious and probably most likely a controversial issue. I want the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs to assure the poor, beleaguered rural taxpayer that he will not support an amendment to the Halifax Regional Municipality Act that will remove the listed services that can be charged to the municipal property taxpayer. Will the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs give the rural taxpayer that commitment today?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that honourable member knows that within the legislation under which currently the Halifax Regional Municipality functions that is in place. It is their responsibility to do that. How can I answer a theoretical question before the House? We will deal with those issues when the time comes.

I will tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, we have had a four year plan in this government and we have not ducked the tough issues. The front bench over there today, again with their health care and all the things and the abuse of the victims that they have ignored and laughed at and made fun of, that came home to roost. This government dealt with them and we have dealt with legislation, we have dealt with amalgamation, we have dealt with the abuse of victims and we have dealt with ambulance services and health care. We are not afraid of that.

Our legislation is not determined by elections. That kind of question comes from that member over there, what if, what if. Well, we will deal with the issues of the day, Mr. Speaker, and that honourable member can go out and spin the stories in his own riding, if he wants to, and really fearmonger among the rural communities. That amalgamated unit is working hard to do what is fair and just. They have had a lot of deliberation. We will support

[Page 1190]

them in any way we can but we will not do the work for them. It is up to them to set their tax rate and they will do it within the legislation. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

EDUC. - SPECIAL: LANDMARK EAST - SUPPORT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In 1993 the Liberal election platform included the words, ". . . the Liberals will establish a policy of interdepartmental cooperation for early intervention and support services at the school level . . . programs and services will be made available to any student in the education system whose needs are not being met by the regular school curriculum.".

Now, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, the supporters of Landmark East, Bridgeway Academy, Thomas Aquinas Centre and the ADD Association have concerns with respect to the province and the needs of special education. The Minister of Education at one time was a supporter of the programs sponsored by Landmark East and facilities such as Landmark East. The Liberal policy in 1993 supported Landmark East.

I wonder if the minister could stand in the House today and tell us why he has changed his mind and no longer supports Landmark East?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to refer this question to my colleague the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for the passionate response. However, the member opposite will know full well that I can stand on my feet in this House and say definitively that Landmark East is a wonderful institution; it has 17 to 19 years of marvellous service to the people of this province.

Not one cent has been removed from the special education budget for learning disabled students. In fact, more money today is being spent than when this member opposite was in government.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister's predecessor removed the funding and placed funding on a global level for school boards across the province. The money that is available for special education is substantially less than it was when this minister took over.

I am wondering, if the minister is telling us there is more funding, then why are the parents at Landmark East and the young students who are going there so concerned and why are they being turned away at the doors?

MR. HARRISON: The issue is whether there is more funding for learning disabled students now than there was in the previous government and last year and the year before. The answer quite simply, Mr. Speaker, is that the money and the responsibility for the

[Page 1191]

education of the children in this province belong in the hands of the boards of this province. That is precisely where the money is. Some 111 students were greeted by 11 new teachers in the area of learning disabilities last year and we will only see upward progress serving the needs of students from one end of this province to the other.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, special education in Nova Scotia is suffering a deficiency of about $33 million at the present time. I would like the minister, if he would please, to explain simply, clearly and concisely to me so I can in turn explain it to the parents who are calling me whose children have been told they can no longer receive any assistance to go to Landmark East. The minister is skating around the issues, he is answering questions not being asked. I want the minister to tell me what I am supposed to tell the parents of children who need the assistance from Landmark East? What am I supposed to tell them, will the minister answer that simple question?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite can tell those parents that after province-wide consultation and after a recommendation from the Learning Disabilities Association of Nova Scotia, the money was placed in the hands of the boards and boards were expected to make application for the delivery of services. More than 11 teachers already have been hired to offer services throughout Nova Scotia to those students with learning disabilities.

The issue of Landmark East and our working with Landmark East is ongoing. There is a business plan that the board of governors have submitted to the province and we are responding to that business plan. The member opposite is making his debut as an Education Critic today. The member opposite will receive from me on this day the guidelines that have been sent to school boards, in fact, developed by them for the provision of services by those boards in the area of special education and more particularly in the area of services to learning disabled students in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: CONSTRUCTION POLICY - RATIONALE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Education. We know the minister has announced that in future all school construction will be financed through public-private partnerships. We also know that the Auditor General in his report describes this method as risky, expensive and unaccountable. In view of the Auditor General's concerns I would like to ask the minister on what basis he has made this decision?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the member opposite is taking comments made in reference to the Highway No. 104 western alignment and applying it to all construction in the private sector or not. Perhaps she could reference the specific area.

[Page 1192]

The answer to her question is that we would never proceed without confirming through auditors, both our own and the Auditor General, that the practices will be both less expensive in the front end, in terms of school construction and less expensive to finance within generally accepted accounting practices.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General reports that in July, 1996 the Executive Council approved the establishment of a public-private partnering task force to champion and guide this process that the minister is engaged in. And he further reports that as of January, 1997 this task force didn't even exist. I guess I would like to ask the minister - I know I would like to ask the minister - does it exist now and if it does, has he consulted with it? If it doesn't exist what does this mean?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of ifs and whats there. The secretariat, the responsibility for public-private partnering does exist. We are in constant consultation with that arm of government to make sure that the financing and the partnerships with the private sector go forward in a proper manner.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I didn't hear the answer very well. Perhaps you could tell me whether it matters?

MR. SPEAKER: Could we ask the honourable Minister of Education and Culture to repeat his answer, please?

MR. HARRISON: My response to her question is, is there a responsibility assigned within government for public-private partnering? The answer is yes. Are we consulting with that arm of government as we move forward on school construction and any other public-private partnership in education? Yes.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister if he would then give this House the name of the chairman of this task force which the Auditor General reported was being appointed? In January the Auditor General said that the government was looking for a chairman for this task force. I would like the minister to let us know in this House who is the chairman of this task force and who are the members of this task force?

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. HARRISON: On a day when there is more time, Mr. Speaker, we can get into more detail. But the assignment of responsibility for public-private partnering is to the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Tourism and the minister coordinates multi-department looks at public-private partnering.

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

[Page 1193]

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, during the Notices of Motion stage of today's order paper, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley tabled a resolution referencing an area in my district, specifically referencing a letter written by the president of the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department. His resolution resolved that the member for Hants East, ". . . immediately bring this letter to the attention of the Minister of Transportation . . .", and also made references to how the Hants East member proudly displays in many local papers each and every road announced in his constituency.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution indicates that I had not brought this letter to the attention of the Minister of Transportation. I wish to advise this House that I did just that. I also wish to advise this House that I spoke with the president of the Enfield Fire Department, so the facts that are contained in this letter are erroneous and misleading. I had brought this letter to the attention of the minister. I want to also point out that the minister took immediate action. He sent his deputy minister to the site to look at it and senior staff were there. There is going to be some action taken on this matter.

I would just like the member, along with my invitation to him to retract this allegation, to also pay serious attention to the fact that the people in his constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley are much concerned with the condition of their roads. They are also much concerned that their member seems to be paying more attention to sticking his nose in my district than to looking after business in his own. I think he should pay very close attention to that also, Mr. Speaker.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. Very quickly, I want to tell the honourable member for Hants East that we receive correspondence in the Opposition from all over Nova Scotia, from all kinds of ridings. But the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been invited, not the deputy minister, and I would like to know how the member and the minister can send the deputy minister out to check all the roads when other areas can't get anybody to look at them.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has received a subsequent letter after the Deputy Minister of Transportation went out and examined the road. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been personally invited by the President of Scotian Homes in Enfield, Mr. Bob Bona, he has been invited by the chief of the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department to do something about that road because it could affect response time should there be a fire or something down that road. That is why we are bringing it before this House and we have a file about that thick regarding the Monte Vista Road. I know the member for Hants East is trying to do the best he can, but sometimes he needs a little assistance.

MR. SPEAKER: The clarification that the honourable member for Hants East brings is certainly in order.

[Page 1194]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak going into Supply. What I want to talk about is health care and I want to talk about the cynical politics that were displayed yesterday by the Prime Minister in Halifax. I also want to talk about the failure of this Liberal Government here in Nova Scotia to have stood up for Nova Scotians who certainly have seen the health care system in this province being devastated, not only because of measures of the provincial Liberals and their ill-conceived and ill-planned so-called health care reform and their failure to follow the recommendations contained in the Blueprint Report, but also to acknowledge that so many of the problems that we are having in this province in our health care and our ability to continue with health care, are as a direct result of the federal Liberals, the federal government, which is now out there pretending to be interested and pretending to be concerned about preserving the Medicare system. Many of our problems have been a direct result of that same federal government ripping tens and millions of dollars out of the health care system here in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

Now, Madam Speaker, in 1993 there was a common chorus from the Liberals, a common chorus in Ottawa being echoed by the Liberals here in Nova Scotia, both in Opposition, both promising, both saying that they valued the importance and the integrity of the health care system in this country and in this province. Both of those governments pledged that if they were elected that they would strengthen the health care system, strengthen the Medicare system, instead of devastating it.

Nova Scotians were encouraged to get onside, be a member of the Liberal winning team, elect federal MPs from the Liberal red team, to send them to Ottawa to stand up and fight for our health care system. What did we get? Betrayal. Madam Speaker, we got a complete violation of the principles and the commitments made by the Liberals - 40 per cent.

[Page 1195]

Yesterday the Prime Minister came into Halifax, and it is a tribute, I suggest, a tribute to the fact that yes, indeed, our former colleague in this House, Alexa McDonough, has been pushing this issue so strenuously on the national stage; and yes, it is a fact that the Liberals now, as they are heading towards that June 2nd date and they know how soft the support is, they are trying to pass out some pre-election goodies and trying to pretend that they are once more moving to the centre and away from their extreme right-wing position because they are being tied in and they can't distinguish them from either the Reform or the Tories on that right.

So now, Madam Speaker, as we head to the election, as we run down that road, all of a sudden they have rediscovered that Medicare and a top quality, affordable health care system, are crucial and essential for the people of this country. What did the Prime Minister announce? Cynically, in the election, after it was already started - Mr. Speaker, the changes in the Chair continue - we have the Prime Minister coming down and saying, what we have decided is that we are not next year going to rip even more money out of the health care system than we have already done; we are going to stop our cuts and that $6 billion ripped out of the health care system is enough. Didn't say that any money was going to be put back, didn't say that there would be any assistance provided to restore the damage that has already been done, and that will continue to be done this year because the government has again, this fiscal year, ripped millions of dollars more out of the health care system here in Nova Scotia and across this country, so the cuts, the devastation will continue and be made worse. There will be more cuts made in the health care system this year. What is being promised is that next year we won't continue those cuts.

Of course they made all kinds of promises before the last election and what did we see happen? As soon as they were elected, that red book somehow got shoved onto a shelf, where it could gather dust, only to be brought out again just before the next federal election when you dust it off and say, gee whiz, what were the important ideas? What were the keys? What were the things that people bought into? What were the things that people were interested in in our red book back in 1993? Whatever they are, if they were a good idea then, maybe we can use them as a good idea again and maybe we can try to recycle what we said then and regain some support.

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotians are not so short-sighted, nor should they be so forgiving. We have in this country a record to be proud of. We have in our country, or I should say that we had, one of the stronger health care systems. It was a system that Tommy Douglas pioneered and the New Democrats pioneered and pushed through and which caught on across the country. It was one of those items and it is one of those items that unite us and bind us. We in this country do not have to depend on how deep our pockets are in order to be able to receive quality health care.

[Page 1196]

We are not like the Americans where, if you cannot pay for it, if you are not fortunate enough to have a medical plan, you are denied it. Here we have had affordable quality health care for all, regardless of your income levels. Forty per cent - put it another way - back in 1993 on a family of four basis, if you are to divide the amount of money that was provided by the federal government for health care, it worked out for a family of four to be approximately $804 a year. Now the federal government has cut that to $552 a year; that is for everything in health care that they provide. They said what we will do is we will leave our cuts at that reduced rate; that is what the Prime Minister's announcement was of yesterday.

To think that just a few short months ago, a couple of months ago, the Minister of Finance and the federal Liberals said, we have no more money; we cannot do anything about it. Well, that is crass, saving it and forcing people to wait until an election is called. Of course, when they made the announcement they said that it had nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with the election. It is just, lo and behold, we have discovered we have more money. I suggest the MP for Halifax was a little bit more up front and honest in her response when she said that there is an election on. Give me a break. In other words, she was admitting that this was a crass election gimmick by the federal Liberals.

The province, the Liberals on the government benches, while all this devastation was being done, with all that was taking place to health care right across this province - we heard about the problems with the ambulance attendants; we have seen and heard all kinds of problems about people who cannot get into hospitals to receive the treatment they need on a timely basis; we have heard about the difficulties at the emergency centres; we have heard about the hospitals; we have seen the increases in the Pharmacare premiums for seniors, and on and on - the Liberals here in Nova Scotia sat on their duffs, sat with their mouths closed because they do not want to stand up for Nova Scotians because it might mean, golly, gee, they were doing their job and they were being critical of their federal Liberal cousins in Ottawa.

Health care is a top priority. This government, both federally and provincially, seems to have all kinds of tax breaks, all kinds of money, tons of it, to give away to the most wealthy and the powerful. In this country alone there are $90 billion - not millions - $90 billion worth of what are called tax expenditures. Those are the tax breaks, the write-offs, the concessions, the boxes in the Sky Dome, the free lunches and so on, to the executives. We have $90 billion. If just 10 per cent of that amount of money was actually being collected in taxes, if just 10 per cent of that $90 billion worth of tax expenditure was collected, not only would there not be a need for a cut, but every single nickel and dime that has been ripped out of the pockets of health, education and social programs across this country could have been restored. Not only restored, it actually could have been enhanced, but, no, you see where their priorities are.

[Page 1197]

Of course, the Reform Party here and across the country say we are going to give more money for health care as soon as we balance the budget and have given tax breaks, again, to the wealthiest, not to the middle- and average-income earners. So you are supposed to wait for more money to be provided to health care until this whatever day comes along if they ever, in their fantasies, got elected. Should that happen, what they are in effect saying is that those people who are sick and who are dying because of the inadequacies in our health care system now, will just have to wait until it meets with our agenda. Of course, what the Tories are suggesting in terms of tax credits, tax points, Mr. Speaker, certainly is not going to benefit Nova Scotia. Instead, that will benefit those areas which have the stronger economies like Central Canada, but certainly not the interests here of Nova Scotia.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we are members of the provincial House of Assembly. Our primary job here is not Ottawa, our primary job is to be standing up and to be fighting and defending the interests of the people who live within the jurisdiction of Nova Scotia. That means that the Liberal Government here in Nova Scotia, if the best interests of the people of this province are being adversely affected by the policies of their federal cousins in Ottawa, that means that they have to stand in their place. They have to stand up and put the people first, not narrow partisan politics. Let's remove that red veil that they use to blind themselves from the truth. Let's make sure that the members of this House remember who they were elected to serve and at which level they were elected to serve and that is the people who live within the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the announcement of the Prime Minister yesterday, while it is welcome to know that the feds do not intend initially to gouge even more from our health care system, that announcement is an insult and it should be condemned by all members of this House. It should be condemned because what it is doing is saying that they are going to stabilize the funding at an inadequate level. They are prepared to stabilize the funding at a rate that is 40 per cent less, in three and a half years.

I don't know about you, Mr. Speaker, and you, obviously, from your position in the Chair, cannot take part in the debate. I am not going to try to attribute thoughts to yourself, but I would think that most Nova Scotians, and certainly people with whom I have spoken over the last day or so since that grandiose announcement where, obviously, the Prime Minister knows that the Liberals here in Nova Scotia are in a lot trouble, as well they should be, coming to Nova Scotia trying to respond and trying to deflect this as an election issue. It ain't gonna work.

Health care workers across this province and across this country, those, Mr. Speaker, who have seen their services cut across this province, those who are on the waiting lists across this province, are going to know about and they are going to remember the betrayal. As the federal Liberals are doing their cuts, if the provincial Liberals want to try to boost your

[Page 1198]

reputation, if you want to boost your image with the people in this province, I suggest that it is time that you start to put your narrow, Liberal, partisan visors aside and to stand up to Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and all the Dave Dingwalls and all of those who have brought this devastation upon us and speak for Nova Scotia and demand that they stop their devastations that are killing the health care system and reducing the ability of the health care professionals to be able to respond to the very legitimate and urgent needs of the people in this province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:04 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Dennis Richards in the Chair.]

[6:04 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman on the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been chosen as announced earlier and won by the honourable member for Queens, who will debate the following motion:

Therefore be it resolve that the federal government be condemned for its decision to close the salmon hatcheries in Nova Scotia.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

DFO - SALMON HATCHERIES (N.S.): CLOSURE - CONDEMN

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic salmon is in trouble. There has been overfishing of multi-sea-winter salmon on the high seas. There have been changes in

[Page 1199]

temperature in the ocean environment which have adversely affected the Atlantic salmon. There have been years of fishing interceptory stocks in Newfoundland, years of net fishing in Atlantic rivers, years of obstruction to fish passages with dams and now, more recently, acid precipitation pollution.

In 1996, federal biologists found that 18 of 33 significant rivers in Atlantic Canada had failed to receive the minimum number of eggs required to preserve Atlantic salmon runs. Nova Scotia is the only region in North America where entire rivers have been acidified by pollution. Of the 60 rivers in the southern upland of western Nova Scotia, Atlantic salmon river specific populations are extinct in 14 rivers and reduced by 90 per cent in a further 20 rivers.

For 129 years, since 1868, Canada has supported salmonic enhancement through hatchery operations. Conservation has been at the heart of Canadian federal policy almost as long as our country has existed. DFO has adopted the UN Environmental Programme definition of conservation, which includes the following statement of fact: "Conservation ensures that the fullest sustainable advantage is derived from the resource base and that facilities are so located and conducted that the resource base is maintained.".

Further, the principles of the United Nations Law of the Sea, as well as those of the international treaty of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization of which Canada is a member, oblige all states of origin to conserve and rationally enhance their salmon stocks. In his 1994 report on the Fraser River Sockeye Public Review, the Honourable John Fraser, now Canada's Ambassador for the Environment, clearly stated that DFO has the constitutional authority for conservation and cannot delegate it.

What have been results of Atlantic salmon hatcheries in our region, four of which - Margaree, Mersey, Collingwood and Coldbrook - operate in Nova Scotia? In 1993, hatchery smolt production was apparently adequate in the face of a deteriorating multi-sea-winter salmon population. In 1975, scientists estimated the multi-sea-winter fish population to be 850,000. By 1993, the population had fallen by more than 300 per cent to 250,000. A minimum population of 200,000 multi-sea-winter salmon is required to sustain a minimum salmon population in North American rivers, according to the Atlantic Salmon Journal.

Why are multi-sea-winter fish so important? It is because they are predominantly female. They are larger and they are two to three times more productive than other salmon. We must ask ourselves, how important have hatcheries been to sustaining this multi-sea-winter fish population? At Morgan Falls on the LaHave River, to give an example, in 1994 a greater proportion of returning multi-sea-winter fish resulted from hatchery smolts of multi-sea-winter parentage than from wild smolts.

[Page 1200]

Since 1982 there has been a successful rebuilding of the Margaree Valley early-run stock, which was on the brink of extinction in the 1970's. This success story was built on smolt production in Collingwood and since 1992 has been sustained by the hatchery at Margaree.

A recent study shows that the proportion of hatchery adult salmon is as follows: 1 per cent to 20 per cent in the Stewiacke, St. Mary's and the Mira; 21 per cent to 40 per cent in the Annapolis, Indian Brook, LaHave, Margaree, Musquodoboit, Petite, Gold and Medway; 41 per cent to 60 per cent in the Grand, Mushamush, Liscomb and the Salmon River in Digby; 61 per cent to 80 per cent in Tusket and 81 per cent to 100 per cent hatchery adult salmon in the Sackville, Mersey, Clyde, East Sheet Harbour and Bear Rivers.

The contribution of Atlantic salmon hatcheries to enhancement and, indeed, survival of river specific stocks is absolutely essential. It can be reasonably argued that to abandon these hatcheries and their central role in salmonic enhancement is to abandon our international commitments and, indeed, possibly, if not probably, breach the federal government's constitutional responsibility for conservation.

To abandon our hatcheries is to abandon Atlantic salmon stocks to extinction. Before we criticize Brazil for loss of the rainforest, let's put our own backyard in order. Beyond the responsibility we bear as humans to sustain our natural resources, we also must ensure that they continue to be available to us to be utilized for sustainable economic benefit.

The Atlantic salmon fishery generates about $1 million in economic activity a year in Margaree. This, in the most economically depressed part of Canada with a jobless rate of over 26 per cent. Province-wide the Atlantic salmon fishery injects about $10 million into the economy annually. In the communities where the hatcheries are located, year-round and seasonal employment opportunities are sustained.

Consider the $500,000 for hatchery operations and that is returned 20-fold in the $10 million value of the Atlantic salmon fishery in Nova Scotia. The cost of operating the four Nova Scotia hatcheries is, as I have said, about $500,000. How can the federal government argue that this funding cannot be sustained when it allows Sheila Copps to give away $23 million for flags?

Consider that $23 million; in 1997 dollars that would operate Nova Scotia's four hatcheries for 46 years! Ask ourselves how this investment compares with ACOA's record. Ask ourselves how it is that Atlantic salmon hatcheries are on the chopping block in Nova Scotia yet Fred Mifflin has plugged $3 million back into the hatchery program in British Columbia. Ask ourselves how is it that the Atlantic salmon hatcheries in Nova Scotia are on the chopping block yet all indications are that Mactaquac in New Brunswick will remain open? Ask ourselves, as has the Queens County Fish and Game Association, to the Nova

[Page 1201]

Scotia Fisheries Minister, "Would you please advise us of your position on the Hatchery Divestiture Program, etc.".

Ask ourselves if the actions of our federal government and the inaction of our provincial government respecting Atlantic salmon hatcheries is in the best interests of sustaining one of our planet's most beautiful species? And then, ask ourselves if Canada can stand proud in the fora of world opinion as a nation which meets its global responsibilities and obligations respecting sustaining our global natural resources?

We must ask ourselves all of these things and then, go figure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on the resolution of the honourable member for Queens, although I am not entirely sure that the resolution is accurate when he states that we condemn the federal government for the closure of the salmon hatcheries. I do commend the member for bringing this resolution forward because there is a move afoot by the federal government to divest itself of the responsibility for these hatcheries.

There have been other groups involved in some discussions with the federal government in that divestiture. The LaHave Salmon Association and the Queens County Fish and Game Association are to be congratulated for their involvement in trying to come up with a plan to continue to operate these hatcheries in Nova Scotia. The member for Queens did mention the Sackville Rivers Association which has done tremendous work in that area to bring back the salmon fishery and bring back that river as a whole, which was not in very good shape over the years, as the member knows and as most members of the House know.

We have had considerable problems in Nova Scotia with acid rain in the past. That combined with overfishing of the salmon by the commercial fishery has done - I wouldn't say irreparable, but has done - considerable damage to the stocks in our Nova Scotia rivers. It is very important that we continue to work toward rebuilding those stocks.

I know and I know that the member for Queens knows, as do most members of the House, that the fish hatchery program in Nova Scotia has gone a long way to bringing those stocks back to a considerable level. Certainly, they are not back to a level where there could be consideration for a commercial fishery on the Atlantic Coast in any event, but it has gone a long way to allowing the sport-fishing industry in Nova Scotia to continue with salmon fisheries in Nova Scotia's rivers.

[Page 1202]

There is a considerable amount of commercial value to the Nova Scotia sports salmon fishery and, as the member has mentioned, in the approximate area of $10 million a year and I do not think that is something that this government or the federal government can dismiss out of hand. Indeed, an amount of $500,000 - I thought perhaps it might be slightly higher, but regardless of whether it is $500,000 or an amount just slightly higher - I think that the federal government should take a look at that and see what the return is in terms of revenue and economic benefit to not only Nova Scotia, but to Canada as a whole.

[6:15 p.m.]

I think this fishery brings in a tremendous amount of not just sport fishers, they come to fish, but they also spend time here as tourists and in our communities and towns, in the Margaree and down on the LaHave. I think there are tremendous benefits to Nova Scotia from this industry, from this fishery.

The member had asked what our minister had been doing in Nova Scotia. I know that our minister takes a strong stance on this as well. The Honourable James Barkhouse has been involved in trilateral discussions, with the Ministers of Fisheries from the other two Maritime Provinces and in discussions with the federal government, to keep these hatcheries open. Their efforts have, I am sure, given the federal Minister of Fisheries, the Honourable Fred Mifflin, something to think about. To date, I am not sure that there has been any decision to close these hatcheries in their entirety.

The environmental pressures of acid rain have been . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Overrated.

MR. HOLLAND: No, I do not think they have been overrated. They have been damaging to this industry in Nova Scotia; There is no question about that. The federal government, along with the American government, has discussed at length over the years - and perhaps not as quickly as we would have liked them to - ways to decrease the amount of acid rain we are seeing in our atmosphere and, as a result, is going into our rivers, and I believe more can be done to diminish that acidity which has a detrimental effect on the salmon fishery in Nova Scotia. I think we should continue to talk to our American cousins and make sure that they understand, which I am sure they do. They have pressures as well that may not be allowing them to move as quickly as they should be in diminishing the problems of acid rain.

The $3 million, if that is the case, to the fishery in B.C., is a sizeable amount of money, but when you look at the fishery on the West Coast there is no question that there is a commercial fishery there as opposed to a sport fishery here. I am sure the return on that $3 million is probably much greater in comparison to the return for the sport fishery here. Having said that, I still believe that $500,000 that would be spent to enhance those hatcheries, to

[Page 1203]

continue those hatcheries, developing seed fish for this industry would go a long way in continuing to see the increases we have seen in recent years in the salmon stocks in our rivers.

The demands on Department of Fisheries and Oceans are - there is no question, I understand and I think the member understands, and all members understand - there are tremendous demands on the federal Department of Fisheries to do research in other fisheries. In the groundfish industry, especially in recent years, there has been tremendous pressure to do more and more research. That research doesn't come cheaply, Mr. Speaker. There is no direct return, so to speak, on the money that you put into that research. We haven't even touched on some of the under-utilized species of fish that we are now starting to develop into a more serious and larger fishery in Nova Scotia, the mackerel fishery and, in more recent years, the tuna fishery, have been getting larger all the time. I know that they have spent virtually no money in research in those areas.

I myself, personally, have put demands on the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to put more money into research. Those demands and those tugs are there. However, they should, I believe, continue on with these hatcheries. I believe they provide a tremendous benefit to the sport angling fishers in Nova Scotia and the salmon fishery. I would encourage the Maritime ministers to keep up the pressure on the federal government to keep those hatcheries open, in particular, in Nova Scotia, so that we can continue to see the economic benefits that we have reaped in the past. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution from the member for Queens. His resolution condemns the federal government for abandoning the fish hatcheries in Nova Scotia, the four of them in Margaree, Mersey, Collingwood and Coldbrook. I am glad I listened to the member for Timberlea-Prospect right to the end because I was having a little bit of trouble trying to figure out whether he was with us or agin us. I was really happy to hear, at the very end, that he does, in fact, agree that the federal government should not abandon these hatcheries. The member for Queens outlined so clearly why that should not be and why the federal government should stay involved.

Obviously, the purpose of these hatcheries is the enhancement and conservation of salmon stocks. There is a great deal working against salmon stocks and other life in the environment these days. It seems to me that if you can spend $500,000 and get back 20 times that much in the course of the year into the Nova Scotia economy, it seems like a no-brainer to me. I don't quite know what the federal government would be up to in this case to take such a small amount of money and to simply take it away when it has such benefits to the Nova Scotia economy.

[Page 1204]

I want to talk specifically about the Margaree. The Margaree, I think, puts about $1 million a year into the economy and jobs. The unemployment rate there is one of the highest in Nova Scotia, I believe around 26 per cent, almost as high as industrial Cape Breton. It just seems utterly senseless, uneconomic and unbusinesslike to refuse to do something that is good business, good economic sense, good job creation and good for the environment, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly do support this resolution and I know some other people who would support it. I want to talk about them for a minute, Mr. Speaker. Of course, that takes us back to the ongoing saga of the Jim Campbells Barren. We have a situation up there where we have this magnificant piece of land which has been, as this House knows and we have been through the history here several times, this land has been delisted from the list of protected places. We have objected in this House to the way it was done, to the fact that it was done without public consultation and we have noted that at other times in the House. The reason for the delisting appears to be, as far as anyone can figure, the whole issue of mining in the Jim Campbells Barren; the whole question of, in particular, one company - Regal Gold Fields - being able to explore for minerals in the Jim Campbells Barren.

The Margaree Salmon Association is one of the groups that has worked diligently to prevent the mining there. It is probably obvious to everybody in this House why. The run-off, the tailings, all the slough from mining, if it goes into the Margaree River, will further damage the stocks there and the other costs of that are enormous. So we have on the one hand the federal government saying, we are going to take this little bit of money, this spit in the ocean, we are not going to give it to the fish hatcheries. We are not going to run those anymore. At the same time, in the Margaree in particular, we have a process going on that is going to cause a degeneration of one of these four rivers where there has been a hatchery.

The Margaree Salmon Association is in the process of engaging all those who are interested in signing a petition so that those who object to further erosion and deterioration of the quality of the Margaree River can make their voices heard. They feel that it is quite urgent and they are working very hard to get that message to the House of Assembly before it rises.

One of the more interesting things that the Margaree Salmon Association has produced is a letter from the New England Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. This is extremely alarming, Mr. Speaker, because it suggests that this problem has even more impact than we might have imagined. The president of the New England Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation has written a letter to the Premier and in that letter he has told the Premier, he has objected and protested the government's removal of the Jim Campbells Barren from the Protected Wilderness Area program. He objects to the mining of the area and refers to the Margaree as one of the jewels of Cape Breton along with the Cheticamp River and says they will be put at risk. He points out that there are numerous examples in his own country where this has happened.

[Page 1205]

He suggests the politicians, if they do not have a concern for the environment themselves, will care about the environment when it comes to votes and money. As I pointed out, this is an economic proposition. These hatcheries are economic. They are profitable and at the same time they restore stocks to rivers that may be in danger.

He goes on to say that if the petition to restore the Jim Campbells Barren is not successful in changing the government's position, this man ". . . will recommend the Atlantic Salmon Federation and all its affiliates support a boycott of travel to or activities in the Province of Nova Scotia. Additionally, we will urge other environmentally concerned organizations . . .", he points out, ". . . such as Trout Unlimited and the Sierra Club, to publicize and take part in this crusade for protection of natural resources.".

I ask you, at the same time that we need to go to the federal government and insist that this small amount of money be left to preserve and enhance the salmon stocks in Nova Scotia, why should we have to deal on the other end with the rather sad fact that this government has not been listening about the environment. I would urge support for this resolution for all kinds of reasons, not just for economic reasons, not just for good sense, not just for employment and profitability, but also because at this time it is so necessary in this province - we are at a kind of crucial point and it is extremely necessary - that at the same time as we preserve and enhance on the one hand, we don't go around doing even more damage with the other. Thank you very much.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's debate.

The House will recess until 6:34 p.m.

[6:31 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:34 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 1206]

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Antigonish Heritage Museum Board Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I move, as a private member, that Bill No. 13, An Act to Incorporate the Antigonish Heritage Museum Board be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say a few words about Bill No. 13 in support of it, of course. I won't keep the House long. I want to say, both as a native Antigonisher and a member of the Private and Local Bills Committee, that I am surprised that this legislation hasn't been along before. I know that this museum has been operating with great success for some time in the Town of Antigonish. For those who don't know it, this museum is in fact the old train station from when we used to have trains in Antigonish. It is a beautiful old building located in the east end of town. In that building there are a number of people who come to volunteer to help out with the work of the museum.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make special mention tonight of a family member of mine who every Wednesday afternoon spends her time in the museum helping out and that is my sister, Mary, who is an employee of the sheltered workshop in Antigonish and who has Down's syndrome. My sister Mary finds a great deal of joy and constructive activity in her time as a volunteer at the museum in Antigonish.

So I am delighted that the government is going to regularize it. I assume that that is what this legislation does is simply makes it all legal. I am delighted to know it is real, since I knew it was already. I take the opportunity to commend all the people in Antigonish who have been so supportive and so energetic in the operation of this local museum. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 13. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 1207]

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[6:38 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Dennis Richards in the Chair.]

[7:54 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 1 - Residential Tenancies Act.

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, Opposition Business tomorrow, we will start with Bill No. 14, the Auditor General Act; and then we will go to Resolution No. 233; and if there is any time we will get into House Orders.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I believe Resolution No. 233 relates to the offshore?

MR. MOODY: Yes.

MR. MANN: It was introduced today and is not on the order paper.

MR. MOODY: It was introduced yesterday.

[Page 1208]

MR. MANN: Tomorrow, I move that we sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. I move that we rise until then.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made.

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

[The House rose at 7:55 p.m.]