Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

Hansard -- Fri., Dec. 5, 1997

Sixth Session

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fish.: Recreational Food Fishery - Restore, Mr. A. MacLeod 845
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 305, Women - Victims of Violence: Silence - Observe,
Hon. F. Cosman 846
Vote - Affirmative 846
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 306, Halifax Explosion (06/12/17) - Remember, Dr. J. Hamm 847
Vote - Affirmative 847
Res. 307, Women - L'École Polytechnique (Montreal):
Tragedy (06/12/89) - Remember, Ms. E. O'Connell 848
Vote - Affirmative 848
Res. 308, Women - Violence Against: Purple Ribbon Campaign -
Commend, Mr. D. McInnes 848
Vote - Affirmative 849
Res. 309, Health - Home Care: Waiting Lists - Ascertain,
Mr. B. Taylor 849
Res. 310, Educ. - Schools: Construction Criteria - Update Table,
Ms. E. O'Connell 850
Res. 311, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Issues: Current - Attention Give,
Mr. B. Taylor 850
Res. 312, Health - Care: Regional - Studies Table, Mr. G. Moody 851
Res. 313, EMO - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment: Rescue Plan -
Absence, Mr. J. Holm 852
Res. 314, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation - Approach Explain,
Mr. G. Moody 852
Res. 315, Health - Amherst: Physician Serv. - Secure, Mr. E. Fage 853
Res. 316, Gov't. (N.S.) - Popularity: Opinion Poll - Findings Approve,
Mr. P. MacEwan 854
Res. 317, Lbr. - Westray Lessons: Implementation Failure - Condemn,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 854
Res. 318, Human Res. - Employment Equity: Efforts - Increase,
Mr. G. Archibald 855
Res. 319, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Mobil Deal -
Pre-Signing Debate Demand, Mr. J. Holm 855
Res. 320, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Halifax (Port): Task Force
(Opportunities) - Support, Mr. G. Archibald 856
Res. 321, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Birch Grove (C.B.):
Sewer Problem - Alleviate, Mr. A. MacLeod 857
Res. 322, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Dynatek: Relocation -
Aid Practice Review, Ms. Helen MacDonald 857
Res. 323, Natl. Unity - Select Comm.: Acadian Members - Rep. Allow,
Dr. J. Hamm 858
Res. 324, Educ. - Schools: Environment - Improvements Action,
Mr. E. Fage 858
Res. 325, Mr. Tony Fitzgerald (Ingonish Beach Firefighter):
Bravery Medal (Natl.) - Commend, Mr. A. MacLeod 859
Vote - Affirmative 860
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 7, Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act 860
Hon. W. Gaudet 860
Mr. R. Russell 862
Mr. J. Holm 866
Mr. J. Leefe 872
Hon. W. Gaudet 877
Vote - Affirmative 879
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. - Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission: Debt - Refinanced,
Hon. W. Gillis 879
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. A. MacLeod 882
Mr. William MacDonald 892
[Adjourned debate] 897
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Dec. 8th at 7:00 p.m. 897

[Page 845]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We can now begin today's sitting of the House of Assembly, commencing with the daily routine.

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 1,100 residents who surround the Bras d'Or Lakes. The operative clause in the petition is, "Petition for the restoration of our recreational 'food' fishery for five cod per day year round.", and I have attached my name in agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

845

[Page 846]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 305

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

Whereas December 6th is Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women; and

Whereas we remember December 6, 1989, and the 14 women who were massacred in Montreal on that date and we remember and reflect on the many women in Nova Scotia, in Canada, and around the world who continue to be victims of violence - six Nova Scotian women have been murdered by family members since we last gathered to observe this day of remembrance; and

Whereas we commit ourselves, collectively and individually, to take action against violence directed at women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House now observe one minute of silence in recognition of all Canadian women who are victims of violence and that we resolve collectively and individually to act against such violence so that it may be prevented in the future.

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

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.

Would all members please stand for a minute of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

[Page 847]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 306

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

Whereas 80 years ago today, the face and future of Halifax and Dartmouth were radically and instantly changed as the Belgian relief vessel the Imo and the French munitions ship, the Mont Blanc, collided in Halifax Harbour; and

Whereas the explosion killed 2,000 men, women and children, injured thousands more and levelled large areas of the city; and

Whereas the tragedy that befell the people of Halifax and Dartmouth on December 6, 1917 will be remembered not only as one of the most deadly explosions in history, but for the outpouring of compassion and generosity from other Canadians and other nations who came to the aid of a devastated city in a time of great anguish and need;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remember with deep gratitude the thousands of people who came to the aid of a community in a time of great despair and great need, and that we remember in our thoughts and prayers the men, women and children whose lives were tragically lost on the morning of December 6, 1917.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 848]

RESOLUTION NO. 307

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 today this House has commemorated December 6th, the day on which 14 women were murdered at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989; and

Whereas Nova Scotians participate in this ceremony to remember this tragic event in the continuing struggle to put an end to violence against all women; and

Whereas in this year alone, the following Nova Scotia women have died at the hands of husbands and boyfriends, or ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends, Lisa Tilley, Wanda Walker, Melissa Ann MacNeil, Deanna Johnson, Linda Pauline Boudreau and Bernice Mill;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remember the death of 14 women in Montreal in 1989 and the tragic loss to Nova Scotia of the many women who have been murdered in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would request wavier 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 member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 308

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

Whereas in Montreal, on December 6, 1989, 14 young women, engineering students, were brutally murdered; and

[Page 849]

Whereas the Purple Ribbon Campaign was born in order to celebrate the lives of those women by raising public awareness about the pervasiveness of violence against women and children; and

Whereas on this sadly special day, we also remember all women who have died violently or continue to live with abuse;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend those who organized the Purple Ribbon Campaign each year and pause for a moment to think about all the lives lost because of the violence of one person against another.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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 member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 309

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

Whereas the Minister of Health was vague when asked if there was a waiting list for Nova Scotians to get home care and ended up saying, "there is a very small waiting list . . . maybe two or three or three or four within an area"; and

Whereas the communications director in the Department of Health was singing a different tune when he said, "there are no waiting lists, the minister wasn't properly briefed"; and

Whereas the Acting Provincial Director for Home Care Nova Scotia said at Wednesday's Public Account Committee meeting, "There's no waiting list for services";

[Page 850]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and his senior bureaucrats get in touch with reality and find out if the left hand does know what the right hand is doing so that people such as Harry Dean are no longer kept waiting 13 days for home care service.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 310

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

Whereas this Liberal Government made an accusation, with which New Democrats agree, that the former Tory Government used new school construction as a partisan political tool; and

[10:15 a.m.]

Whereas the Minister of Education tabled School Capital Construction Committee criteria under the guise of being criteria for priorizing the selection of new schools; and

Whereas these so-called criteria contain no weighting scale and are so vague as to be meaningless, thus ensuring the Tories' practice can continue under the Liberals;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education either table an updated, meaningful outline of school selection criteria or admit new school construction will be announced for the political advantage of government members rather than the most urgent educational needs of children.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works said in this House on Tuesday, "We are doing all in our power to make sure that we look after the roads in Nova Scotia"; and

[Page 851]

Whereas the Cobequid Pass has been closed on at least four separate occasions since it opened on November 15th because of snow not being cleared to allow traffic to travel the expensive tolled highway; and

Whereas following a rash of incidents during Tuesday's snowstorm, the minister finally gave in and added a third plow to be used for snow clearing on the Cobequid Pass;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works stop putting his political agenda ahead of the lives of Nova Scotians and address the issues of the day when they are put to him in the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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

Whereas the President of the Nova Scotia Medical Society echoed the concerns of thousands of Nova Scotians when he said that the regionalization process is deeply flawed and the government erred in allowing regional health boards to become independent of the communities they serve; and

Whereas the President of the Nova Scotia Medical Society said that the regional health boards have resulted in lack of consistency, different levels of service across the province, increased the bureaucracy and contributed to demoralized health care providers; and

Whereas the President of the Nova Scotia Medical Society said the regional health boards simply are not achieving promised savings and haven't made the health system more responsive;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately table, in this House today, any studies or assessments carried out by his department with respect to both the delivery of regionalized service and the cost of implementing a regionalized health care system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 852]

RESOLUTION NO. 313

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

Whereas during last week's snowstorm approximately 100 people, including a bus load of youths, seniors and some people with medical conditions, were trapped between 4:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. on the Liberals' new Cobequid Pass; and

Whereas during this 12 hour period no emergency personnel were dispatched to check on those imprisoned by the severe weather conditions to see if any needed to be evacuated for medical reasons, if any needed food, warm clothing or anything else; and

Whereas the Emergency Measures Organization should have had an emergency plan in place to assist motorists trapped along the Cobequid Pass in severe and predictable weather conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act explain why his government had no plan in place to assist persons trapped on its private-for-profit partners' road and order that one be developed immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas Justice Horace Krever recommended that this Liberal Government work with the federal government to establish the compensation package for hepatitis C victims tainted by Canada's blood scandal; and

Whereas despite the fact that this Liberal Government paid millions to wrongfully dismissed bureaucrats, it claims it cannot afford to do what is fair and right and just for hepatitis C victims; and

Whereas this Liberal Government agreed it was fair, right and just to compensate victims of institutional abuse but refuses to acknowledge the responsibility to hepatitis C victims who had their lives turned upside down and face earlier death as a result of similar system failures;

[Page 853]

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government explain to Nova Scotians, and in particular to hepatitis C victims, its inconsistent and hypocritical approach in providing compensation and, further, that it immediately follow Quebec's lead in accepting Justice Krever's recommendation to compensating the forgotten victims of Canada's blood scandal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas 5,000 to 6,000 residents of the Amherst area will be left without a family doctor when Dr. Bhanot leaves the area on the first of the new year; and

Whereas since June of this year, the region has already lost four general practitioners, one radiologist and one surgeon, having only one of those positions since that time filled; and

Whereas with other doctors also thinking of leaving the area, our region is in critical condition;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to press immediately for its physician recruitment officer to help secure adequate physician services for our region as soon as possible so that those individuals and families now without a family physician will be reassured that help is indeed on the way.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 854]

RESOLUTION NO. 316

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

Whereas the latest Corporate Research Associates Omnibus poll clearly reflects the growing satisfaction of Nova Scotians with the Liberal Government of Premier Russell MacLellan; and

Whereas it is increasingly clear that the Liberal Party will form the next Government of Nova Scotia, and that the socialist hordes will not, and the support for the NDP is actually starting to decline; and

Whereas in the clear choice between Premier Russell MacLellan's Liberals on the one hand and the socialist hordes on the other, the clear place for all Nova Scotians to mark their ballots with confidence and pride is next to the name of the Liberal candidate;

Therefore be it resolved that this House note with approval the findings of the Omnibus survey, which confirms the pattern shown in the four by-elections held November 4th, with the MacLellan Liberals clearly heading for re-election and the forces of political mischief headed for a decisive defeat.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 317

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas five years after Westray and more than four years after this Liberal Government took office, the Minister of Labour only yesterday got around to announcing that it was beefing up workplace safety by teaching safety practices; and

Whereas this new look at safety is an obvious step that if taken years ago may have saved many Nova Scotians from injury or death in the workplace; and

Whereas this government has failed to implement other obvious health and safety changes such as the recommendations of the working groups who examined our labour laws in the wake of Westray;

[Page 855]

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn this government for failing to listen to the lessons of Westray by not implementing many of the most obvious changes to health and safety laws and procedures recommended by its own working groups.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

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

Whereas a press release dated September 7, 1994, stated that the provincial government is stepping up affirmative action to achieve employment equity and ensure that Nova Scotians benefit from a Civil Service that reflects their diversity; and

Whereas the 1996 workforce survey, released as a result of a freedom of information request shows that in comparison to statistics released in 1993, the representation of designated groups as a percentage of the Civil Service has actually decreased for persons with disabilities and other racially visible persons; and

Whereas the representation of other designated groups, including aboriginals, black persons and women show little or no improvement;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Human Resources explain what happened to his government's commitment to step up efforts to achieve employment equity and, further, that he identify and implement a new strategy for ensuring Nova Scotia's Civil Service reflect the representation of designated groups within the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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 Premier and superminister responsible for the offshore has adamantly refused to debate or answer questions in this House about the Sable project and tried to justify this stonewalling by saying he is in the midst of negotiations with the Sable proponents; and

[Page 856]

Whereas members of this House have tried to endure the spectacle of our tight-lipped Premier casually throwing away his negotiating tools; and

Whereas our uncommunicative superminister for the offshore now says he may entertain a debate of the offshore deal in this House after he has a deal, if he gets a deal;

Therefore be it resolved that this House tell the Premier thanks, but no thanks for his offer of an after-the-fact debate and demand that he present the proposed deal between Mobil and its partners for the approval of this House before signing away our non-renewable offshore resource.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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 Port of Halifax makes a vital contribution to Nova Scotia's economy; and

Whereas the Transportation Industry Task Force, made up of representatives of the Halifax Port Corporation, the Longshoremen's Union, the Canadian National Railway, and container terminals serving the port has been established to boost business at the port; and

Whereas this task force will review a number of opportunities including options that would allow the port to improve productivity and to equip the port with larger cranes capable of handling containers from post-Panama ships;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend the task force our full support as it pursues new opportunities for making the Port of Halifax more competitive.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for a waiver of notice which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

No. I hear a No. We do not have unanimous consent.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 857]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 321

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

Whereas frustrations continue to be expressed over this Liberal Government's inaction in attempting to rectify a sewer problem in the community of Birch Grove; and

Whereas a Department of Health study in 1993 showed that 74 per cent of the homes in Birch Grove had a malfunctioning or probable malfunctioning disposal system; and

Whereas frustration and anger have turned towards concern over health problems because of drains of raw sewage creating a stench in the local area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately undertake the Birch Grove sewer problem as a top priority and work towards alleviating the stress being placed upon the residents of Birch Grove.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 322

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in a tradition involving such companies as the Clairtone Sound Corporation and Curragh Resources, successive Tory and Liberal Governments have insisted on throwing millions of dollars at any corporation willing to promise a few jobs; and

Whereas time and time again this style of economic development has proven a failure as many of these companies set up shop in this province only long enough to cash the province's cheque; and

Whereas Dynatek Automation Systems, a company to which Tory and Liberal Governments have handed at least $14.5 million, has now announced it is in such trouble that jobs at its Bedford location are threatened and it is reportedly relocating its head office from Bedford to Toronto;

[Page 858]

Therefore be it resolved that this government finally admit that its tired practice of giving millions of dollars to any big corporation which offers a handful of short-lived jobs is a failure and that this government work with the people of Nova Scotia to develop a sustainable economic development strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 323

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Acadian population previously expressed grave concerns over what would happen to their constitutional rights under an amended Canadian Constitution; and

[10:30 a.m.]

Whereas the federal and provincial governments are once again proposing another resolution to Canada's long-standing constitutional dilemma; and

Whereas these changes will have an impact on the future of our province and country, but perhaps more particularly on Francophone Canadians living outside of Quebec;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier recognize the deep and sincere interest of Nova Scotia's Acadians to have a voice on the Unity Committee, and that in light of his recent refusal to accept an offer by the Official Opposition to forfeit one of its committee members, he accept the common practice of temporarily assigning the ministerial responsibilities of one of his Acadian members to allow for Acadian representation on the committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

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

[Page 859]

Whereas communities across this province are concerned about the future of their schools, whether they are in need of a brand new facility to ease overcrowding and poor conditions or in need of repairs or additions to cope with existing facilities; and

Whereas while this Premier professes to be obsessed with education, school boards and their constituents have been waiting for almost six months since submitting priority lists for any word on where they sit as a priority; and

Whereas the Minister of Education and Premier, although great proponents of public-private partnering, admit straightening out the mess they have created with regard to the financing of these facilities already built, without leasing deals in place, is causing some delay;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, supposedly obsessed with education, realize the poor condition and environment in which so many of our students and teachers are learning and teaching in every day and commit to a speedy resolution of a stalemate that their actions with regard to school construction have created.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 325

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

Whereas Ingonish Beach Firefighter, Tony Fitzgerald will be honoured in the spring, when he is presented with a Medal of Bravery by the Governor General; and

Whereas the heroic act of bravery took place earlier this year on September 15th, when Mr. Fitzgerald guided a small boat through flooded waters to help a woman out of a trapped car stranded on a fallen tree; and

Whereas this heroic act of bravery was carried out in the pitch dark under rushing waters and wind and rain conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature commend Firefighter Fitzgerald for his heroism and wish him well with his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 860]

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act.

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

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of Bill No. 7, Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act. This legislation is a direct result of the Task Force on Licenses, Permits and Approvals or the LPAs, which started work two years ago in the fall of 1995.

The mandate of this task force was to put under the microscope 288 licenses, permits and certifications the provincial government requires of Nova Scotians. Each LPA was then put to a test. The LPA must be intended to regulate behaviour or controlled access to a public resource. The LPA must protect the public or public resource or sustain and enhance the public asset, or track or monitor functions to be used as an enforcement tool. The LPA must not overlap with or duplicate another LPA.

The issue cannot adequately be handled by either changing an existing LPA or another solution such as private self-regulation. The LPA represents the minimum level of government intervention required. The LPA must be enforceable both in principle and in practise.

[Page 861]

Mr. Speaker, with these criteria in mind, the task force went about its work to come up with recommendations that would improve service delivery to the public and business while maintaining reasonable protection of the broader public interest.

At this time I would like to thank Mr. Peter O'Brien, Vice-President of Atlantic Canada for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Mr. O'Brien was a special advisor to this task force and has remained supportive of this process ever since. Last April, my predecessor at Business and Consumer Services, the honourable member for Dartmouth North, Sandra Jolly, and Mr. O'Brien released the findings of the task force. Among the recommendations, Mr. Speaker, was that about one-third of the 288 LPAs be eliminated, combined or otherwise reformed. They also made 36 policy recommendations that aim to reduce the hassle faced by consumers when obtaining or renewing their LPAs.

Since April, departments have been implementing, on their own, the recommendations of the task force, Mr. Speaker. Some licences have been eliminated or combined and others are in the process. In fact, 80 per cent of the report's recommendations can be implemented by policy or administrative changes. The other 20 per cent require legislation or regulatory amendments.

Mr. Speaker, for generations, all government departments have been imposing various licences, permits or other forms of red tape on Nova Scotians. More often than not, there was good reason for requiring a licence or permit - a particular activity had to be controlled or a public resource had to be protected. One thing that was lacking, however, was a coordinated effort to create standards to ensure that all LPAs were administered uniformly and that applicants were treated fairly. There was also need to periodically review LPAs. Until now, if an LPA wasn't being issued or had become redundant, it simply stayed on the books. They were rarely, if ever, dropped or updated.

Mr. Speaker, with this legislation, we hope to turn that history around and set a new direction for the future. The first thing the LPRC bill does is to define the terms, licence, permit, registration and certification. Each term indicates a different form and level of control or protection and the legislation defines when the use of each is appropriate. A specific recommendation of the LPA task force is that all trade related certifications be administered by the Department of Education and Culture and this bill follows through on that.

In my view, one of the most important parts of this legislation allows the Minister of Business and Consumer Services to designate an employee of the department to act as an advisor on licences, permits, registrations and certifications or LPRCs. The job of this advisor would be to develop standard application forms and a process to ensure that the Act is applied consistently across government.

[Page 862]

Each department will have the authority to designate their own staff member to consult with the provincial advisor to ensure that any new or proposed LPRC meets the standards of the Act. Ministers will be responsible for ensuring that information about all their departments' LPRCs is posted in the central registry. Any changes to the conditions of any LPRCs are also to be updated in this registry. Members can view this registry, called the Permits, Approvals and Licences Directory, for themselves on our department's web site, Mr. Speaker.

The legislation sets time lines governing application and renewal of LPRCs. If an applicant has met all of the preconditions for obtaining an LPRC, it is to be issued within 15 days. Quite often, there is no notice provided to the holder of an LPRC that the LPRC is about to expire and should be renewed. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in an individual or business unknowingly going without the necessary licence or permit. With this legislation all LPRC holders will be provided with a 45-day notice that their LPRC is about to expire and should be renewed.

Another common standard to be applied across government is the shelf-life of LPRCs. Licences, permits and registrations will be valid for three years, while certifications will be effective for five years.

This legislation will also enable us to make regulations requiring departments to explain why an applicant was denied an LPRC and to allow unsuccessful applicants to appeal those decisions.

Another important piece of this legislation will allow government to establish a process of continuous improvement where LPRCs are periodically reviewed to see if they are still needed or if their administration should be changed.

This is positive legislation that will serve Nova Scotians well for many years and it has the support of the Nova Scotia business community and will impose on government the discipline that until now has been lacking. I look forward to a positive discussion with my House colleagues on this bill.

I move second reading of Bill No. 7, An Act Respecting Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: It is a pleasure to respond to Bill No. 7. I suppose I should start off by congratulating the minister on taking an idea from the Opposition and trying to frame that into a government initiative. Unfortunately, like so many things that this government does, it just bakes half a loaf; it never goes for the full loaf.

[Page 863]

We have been talking for a long time in this House about the need for deregulation. I was hoping that when the minister established his task force that part of that mandate would be deregulation. This province is buried in regulations. It is buried in policies. It is buried in rules. It is buried in standing orders and other types of red tape that hampers and makes life miserable for the private sector that wants to get on with doing the job.

AN HON. MEMBER: You forgot to mention the debt.

MR. RUSSELL: Mention the debt? How about the $40 million you guys spent yesterday? Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get off on rabbit tracks with the minister opposite. I want to talk about something that is of great importance to the private sector in this province; it is most important, if this government intends, at any time - and I doubt very much if they can do it in the next three months - to create an environment where businesses are going to expand and thus create jobs.

During his opening remarks, the minister spoke at great length about LPAs and LPRTs and other bureaucratic legalese. Why not just call them regulations and permits and approvals? In fact, you do not even need to use the word "approvals", you can simply say regulations and those kinds of things that are put in place as impediments to business; however, in some circumstances, to protect the public good.

This bill does nothing for regulations that are presently in place. I had some experience in government - and it was not long enough, actually, but perhaps we can start off again next year - I know in every department that I went to I could not fail to be amazed at the number of regulations that the departments had. If you had a problem in a department, the first thing that the bureaucracy would come up with, normally the deputy minister or a head of a division would come up with was let's make a regulation because the last thing in our particular Act that we are dealing with will have regulatory powers. Isn't it amazing, Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about Bill No. 7, which in some ways is supposed to be looking after regulations, and what do we find in the last clause? We find that this bill creates at least another 10 regulations and possibly could create thousands of regulations because they have such a widespread power to create regulations.

[10:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I know I can't go through this clause by clause but, for the edification of everybody in this House, that is Clause 11. It says that the Governor in Council may make regulations, and then it goes on (a) through to (j), listing the number of regulations and the types of regulations that can be made under this particular piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: You are making specific reference, honourable member, to a couple of different clauses. As you well know, we stick to the general principle of the bill.

[Page 864]

MR. RUSSELL: Well you know, Mr. Speaker, that is quite true, I am. However, the problem is that there is no principle to this bill, you don't even need this bill. I mean, what do you want it for? If this minister and this government had the guts to do so, they would set up a deregulation commission. It is not something brand new, it has been done in other provinces. They would take every regulation that we presently have in place and go through them and get rid of those that are not required, that are suffocating business, that are suffocating the person in the street, suffocating the person who wants to build a house or what have you. That is what they should be doing.

Furthermore, if they want to go into legislation, legislate that no department may create a regulation unless it has been approved, first of all, by a regulation commission and, lastly, by Cabinet. Mr. Speaker, we have to put a stop to this nonsense in this country, whereby you can't do anything unless you are a lawyer because you have something like this to go through to try and find out if, indeed, you can do something legally.

Mr. Speaker, there is a whole bunch of things wrong with government. One of the big things wrong with government is that government and the bureaucracy of government thinks they have the solution to everything that is wrong, everything that needs to be done within the province. What they do is put licences and permits and regulations to affect how people can operate.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure we can all remember back to the days when (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Education is a great one to be talking because I know something about that department, too, and the rules that that department has are just unbelievable. They are not big on regulations, they are big on regulations in the Department of Labour and the Department of Finance and those other ones. However, the Department of Education is very big on rules.

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to suggest to the minister, quite sincerely, is that he go back to his task force and say, listen ladies and gentlemen, we have prepared a bill but, unfortunately, it doesn't do exactly what we want. What we would like the task force to look at is how we can put in place a secretariat that is going to once and for all look after this bureaucratic maze that we have put in place in this province that, as I say, is suffocating most people in their normal occupation and certainly suffocating business in their desire to expand and to hire more people.

Mr. Speaker, I said a little while ago that this is not you, you don't have to re-invent the wheel. It was done, for instance, in Newfoundland and if I remember, there was something like 7,000 regulations, I believe. They got rid of about, I think, 7,000 regulations.

Now this minister over here is going to say well, we are getting rid of 33 per cent. Well, Mr. Speaker, I will bet you $1,000 to $1.00 that you can't go down to the Department of Labour, for instance, and tell me that they are going to have one-third less regulations and

[Page 865]

rules. (Interruptions) I am not against anything, I am not against anything that is going to provide safety for people and that is why you should have regulations and you must have regulations, to provide for public safety, but you do not need regulations that are going to do things that government should not be involved in. Okay ask me what? Like what?

Okay. For instance, if I want to build a house, how many different departments do I have to run around to get a permit? One of the things that I am going to have to get a permit for in the country is to put in a septic tank. Mr. Speaker, why do I have to get a permit to put in a septic tank? Why can't I just go to a tradesman or a person in the septic tank business and who has been certified (Interruption) You cannot. Well I do not know where you live, but I will tell you something, you cannot do that. You have to, first of all, go to your Department of Health my friend and get a permit yourself.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can go directly to the contractor now.

MR. RUSSELL: You cannot go direct to the contractor. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: Last year.

MR. RUSSELL: Last year?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, they changed it.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, that is all right. That is fine, it is a step in the right direction, Mr. Speaker. I will give credit where credit is due, if that is so, but I will tell you something. I bought a piece of land, not very long ago, in fact, it was last summer and I had to go and get a permit.

AN HON. MEMBER: I have got a bridge for sale too?

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, you have got a bridge for sale, good for you. Mr. Speaker (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Eat some more crow.

MR. RUSSELL: I am not eating crow. (Laughter) Mr. Speaker, the other matter that I would like to discuss with regard to this bill, and why I say it should go back to the drawing board, is that we notice that in this bill, in at least two portions that are of great importance, we have the word may. In other words, we are told that the Minister of Business and Consumer Services may appoint an employee of the Department of Business and Consumer Services to oversee this program. Why may? If he is determined to do something about this problem, and we admit that there is a problem there, why not shall? We are told on Page 2 of the bill, Mr. Speaker, that the minister of each government department may appoint a

[Page 866]

person to oversee the production of regulations, permits and approvals and relay that on to this person, if indeed he is put in place by the minister, for approval.

Mr. Speaker, what I am saying, this morning, is this. This is a step in the right. Everybody agrees that we have too much regulation, and I do not think there is any argument about that. We have to many pitfalls along the way to getting approvals and permits. Why not go whole hog? Why only do half the job? Why not do the full job? Because it is not going to cost anymore money, because we are already going to have, within the minister's department, people who are overseeing the responsibility to this bill, they are already in place. Why not systematically department by department examine each and every regulation and have a yardstick? If it measures up to the yardstick that yes it is required for the public safety, yes it is required for the common good, all right, that is fine. If it does not meet that standard, throw it out. Mr. Speaker, life could become an awful lot simpler.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, I think that we have to do, with regard to regulations and policies, is that we have to write them in plain English. One of the problems with legislation, one of the problems with regulations is, unless you are a lawyer, you cannot understand what the intent is of a piece of legislation or a regulation.

As I say, I am honestly disappointed, because I thought that we were going to get the full whole meal deal and that we would be going into an area that we are rather late getting into. As I have said before, Newfoundland has done this, other provinces have started on that process, we have been lagging, and I think it is time that we got going. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, this bill does not do it. When this bill gets to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, we will be coming forward with certain amendments from this caucus to strengthen this bill. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I begin my remarks, I want to indicate that certainly I will be voting in support of this bill proceeding on to the Law Amendments process. Mr. Speaker, I am not suggesting for a moment that this bill is the be-all and the end- all. No bill ever is but I think it is an important step forward in the right direction. I say that and I was listening intently to the remarks made by the previous speaker and I don't necessarily follow or go down the same road with regard to all regulations.

Mr. Speaker, I do believe that government has an extremely important role of ensuring that we do have adequate and proper regulations in place. Regulations that are in place that are intended to ensure public safety is protected and regulations that are going to be in place where necessary to ensure that there is going to be fair levels of service and competition in different areas. But when one takes a look at what has happened in certain areas of deregulation, not necessarily only tied in with Nova Scotia, I am thinking here of a broader sense, I think we have seen some very negative consequences here in the Province of Nova

[Page 867]

Scotia. For example, I will use one area that has been greatly deregulated and that being the transportation industry. If you look as a result of the deregulation in the transportation industry you will see that many parts of this province that were once served, for example, by rail no longer have that service. When you see with deregulation that many parts of this province are being threatened even insofar as their air service.

One has to be cognizant that there are roles for regulations. Of course, those regulations have to be well thought out. They have to have very specific purposes in mind, Mr. Speaker. I am not going to stand here and say that all regulations should automatically be gone but I am also not going to stand here and say that just like with licences, permits and approval processes they also need to be on a regular and on a timely basis and in an open fashion to be reviewed.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have had the task force report and I am very cognizant of the important role that the small business community, especially, has had in bringing forward recommendations to that task force and the tremendous work that Mr. O'Brien and others have contributed to this process. I am not saying, and I certainly hope that the government is not now of the opinion that we have reached what is the optimum number. I would suggest that wherever it is possible to be combining licences, to be combining approvals, to be combining permits so that you have a neat package and where you have a neat package which is easily displayed so that people will be able to cut through the red tape and know precisely what is required and needed, anything that we can do to advance towards that process is, in fact, desirable.

I agree totally with the previous speaker in his comments when he was talking about plain language. Very often so many of the regulations, so many of the requirements, so many of the permits are written in such fine legalese that unless you are a Philadelphia lawyer, and if you are you will probably have a disagreement with another Philadelphia lawyer on what it actually means, Mr. Speaker, things have to be written in a clear and precise manner. It has to be easily understood by those who are looking, whether it is for opening a business or trying to get a septic system, the example that the previous member spoke of, how do you get the permits for that? If you are a tradesperson, how do you maintain your permits and approvals? There has to be a very clear and precise method for people to go and find out what kind of information is being required.

One of the things that I like in this, and I wish that they would do this - and they do, actually - but I need probably more reminders, the reminders to get your licence renewed or your vehicle inspected. The police do an excellent job reminding those of us if we don't do it on time and, fortunately, I haven't had to have that experience, but I have been awfully close as I have had my vehicle in on the last day to make sure that I get the inspection done.

[Page 868]

[11:00 a.m.]

The point that I am trying to get at here, and something that I do consider as positive, is that those who have permits that need to be replaced are going to have to be notified so many days in advance. Those who are involved in small business, those who have many things on their minds, working for government, being a tax collector and all of the other paperwork that they have to do, sometimes certain things can slip through the cracks, unintentionally. So I think it is a very positive step here to assist those in the business community who will need to have licenses and permits replaced, that they do receive that kind of notification.

I think it is also important that we try to standardize. I think it is very important that the length of the permits, the time for which different things can be issued, whether it be a three year period or a five year period is important, again, because it provides continuity. Of course, a permit cannot be renewed if somebody is operating in a manner that is in violation of the terms and conditions of that licence. Then a proper inspection service would mean that the licence or permit would, in fact, be able to be withdrawn, but it means that business is being given some sense of security and it is something they don't have to constantly be running back and forth with, trying to renew. So it is cutting down or red tape, and anything that will cut down on red tape to assist the business community is welcome, so long as it is still going to provide the protection that the public needs and requires.

We all remember and we all hear this rhetoric coming from all sides of the House, talking about the importance of small business in this province, and it is vitally important. We do know that small business, those who are located in your community and mine and right across this province, they are the generators of the vast majority of jobs in this province. They are the ones who are committed to their communities. They are the ones who employ local citizens and whose citizens those paycheques go into the community, whether it be the community of Mahone Bay, whether it be Yarmouth, whether it be Sydney or whatever part of this province. It could be Sackville and the paycheques that come into my community from these small businesses are generally reinvested within that community. Anything that we can do to facilitate to make it easier, so long as we are not disadvantaging others and so long as we are providing protection for other citizens in the community at large, anything that we can do to facilitate and to assist by cutting down on that red tape, I would suggest is a worthy endeavour.

Unless I hear something to the contrary that would cause me to change my mind, it is my intention, certainly, to be supporting the bill. I would say, however, that there has to be ongoing reviews. This isn't the be-all and the end-all and looking in here there are a lot of different particular types of permits that are no longer required and so on, and things that, quite honestly, some of them I had never heard of before; I didn't even know that they existed. If we are talking, in this day and age of constant changes, I think we should have the ability to regularly review, every other year, particular permits and licences to see if, in fact, certain ones are valid anymore, if there is a need for them, or to determine if there is a need

[Page 869]

to initiate a new type of licence sometimes. With, as I say, the changing technology and the changing world, there may be requirements for new licences to be brought on stream.

I also think it is advisable that all of the trades and so on should be concentrated in one area. In my closing comments, I would say that I am a little concerned about the principle of Clause 11. I am talking about the principle of Clause 11 because under the principle of this clause, it does give tremendous regulatory making powers. Now I acknowledge that when I say that, it seems that every time we stand in this House there is a clause like Clause 11, where the real guts of the bill are left to regulatory powers.

This government is not unique in that. I can remember being advised by a senior member of the current government, when they were also in Opposition, that if you don't know what to say, you can always stand up and look at the last of the bill and look for the word may or shall and you also look to see whether or not there are regulatory powers and, if you ever need anything to talk about, you can talk about may and shall and about what powers are being given to Cabinet.

The reality is, that was valid then and it is valid now. The former government did it, this government does it, all governments do it. It is a major concern that through regulations, without any kind of public forum, without any kind of public discussion downstairs in the Cabinet bunker with the red veil pulled around so that there isn't any light of day being exposed in terms of what is being discussed, government does have the power to make tremendous changes. (Interruptions) Some members on the government benches, on the executive benches are maybe suggesting there could be cameras placed in there to let everybody in on what goes on. The reality is that I don't think that would be approved by anybody in government, nor would I support the idea being floated across.

However, Mr. Speaker, I think there needs to be a formalized process so that regulations being proposed should have to be out there for some opportunity for public discussion and opportunities for feedback prior to the changing or the implementation. There should be a process whereby those who are suggesting that archaic and outdated regulations could also be having those regulations, to have a formalized process to have them reviewed, maybe either altered, amended or scrapped altogether.

Of course one of the things in here, and we talk about taxation all the time and how governments increase taxes. Well, a common technique used by governments to increase their revenue, but without saying that they are increasing taxes, is to dramatically crank up the fees charged for a whole host of things. We have seen the fees, whether it be for drivers' licences, hunting licences, licences and permits to act as electricians and all kinds of other things, have been cranked up dramatically by governments over the years, both this government and the former government, while, at the same time, saying they are not increasing taxes.

[Page 870]

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is a form of taxation, that is a way of raising money and it is done outside of the public forum, outside of the public purview. One of the principles in here that I am talking about under Clause 11, is the one that gives Cabinet the powers, "respecting fees for a licence, permit, registration or certification and the method of payment of those fees;". So Cabinet is, yet again, going to have powers under this to crank up the change, to alter in any way they want, the kinds of fees.

According to this, if they want, government could change the regulations and say that you can't pay by cheque anymore, that you must pay by automatic debit or you might have to do all kinds of things. It is tremendous power that is being given here, Mr. Speaker. All I am saying is that certainly there should be an opportunity for public discussion prior to any kinds of major changes to the regulations.

For example, even under this the Governor in Council will have the ability now to provide exemptions from any requirement of this Act. If we are going to have licences, permits and approvals being required, this legislation, this power under this clause, is giving the Governor in Council, in other words the front benches, the Cabinet, the power to exempt any individual company from any permit, licence or approval that all other companies may have to abide by.

I find that power to be very concerning, that principle, because we have to ensure that all are going to be treated equally. Here, under this provision, this clause - and it is an important principle - I am not saying this bunch who are here on the front benches will do it, but the power is there and this legislation is giving it, that if there is a friend of government, of any government, the government has the power now, if this passes, in secret to exempt.

I am not suggesting, I am not saying that was the intention of why it was put in there. I am not saying that was the intention. I am saying that could be a reality of that clause, of that provision. I put that out there for the minister, and I do not think that was this minister's intention. He was a minister I had a lot of respect for when he occupied your chair, Mr. Speaker, and I think that he did a fine job in that capacity. I do not think that on a fairness basis that is what he is trying to do.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the honourable member would yield the floor just for a moment for an introduction.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MRS. ELEANOR NORRIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite would appreciate having an opportunity to have a little break.

[Page 871]

It is with great pleasure that I ask the indulgence of the House to take note that we have a wonderful Canadian sitting in the east gallery in the person of Mr. Terry Kelly. He is in Nova Scotia this week to honour our great voice of sport in Nova Scotia, Mr. Pat Connolly. He has come to the House of Assembly to witness the proceedings here. He is presently the chairman of the selection committee for the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. He says he is in Nova Scotia looking for a recruit. So if any MLA has some good Nova Scotian sports athletes and people involved in sport they would like to bring to his attention, that is why he is here. He says his last Nova Scotian that was entered in the Hall of Fame, of course, was our own Danny Gallivan.

He is also on the advisory board for the Maple Leaf Gardens and I would like to take the opportunity to wish him luck. I just noticed in the paper this morning the score from last evening. I do not know if you want me to mention that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No. No. Not as a Leafs fan, no. Especially the overturns.

MRS. NORRIE: The shorthanded ones, yes.

Also, Mr. Speaker, as an aside he happened to be a Liberal candidate in Oshawa in 1994. So with that, I know he would stand and accept the warm welcome of the Nova Scotians in the House of Assembly here. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: I hope that our guest is enjoying the other sport that he is witnessing here today. (Interruptions)

I am pleased that he had a limited success in his political career.

I actually was getting close to wrapping up my remarks on the bill. I know that the Minister of Education would like to be - because he is a keen listener and a keen listener would like me to expand a little bit further. On a serious note, Mr. Speaker, I guess I have a couple of final comments that I would make and maybe the minister would like to address these.

One is the kinds of assurances and process that the minister anticipates the government sees for an ongoing kind of review for licences, permits and approvals because I think that there probably is a further distance, in cooperation with the business community and with individuals, that there can be yet further enhancements of the process.

[11:15 a.m.]

Secondly, the whole idea of the regulations that I have talked about and being prepared to look at some of the regulations and trying to put a few more restrictions in the powers of regulations so that they cannot be abused if a government of the day wished to abuse them.

[Page 872]

One of the ways that I think to do that would be to ensure that there is a public process of advertising and having opportunity for feedback, prior to that being done. (Interruption)

Yes, the Minister of Education in a former life used to be Minister of the Environment and when he was in that former occupation or former position, had had the proposed regulations for the Environment Act released for discussion. One would hope that the government would follow that noble practice when it comes to amending and changing the casino regulations. One would hope that the casino regulations and changes will have an opportunity for a full debate and airing on the floor of this House before we give them any more benefits like free drinks and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: You are getting off the general principle of the bill, honourable member.

MR. HOLM: It is connected, we are talking principles of regulations. The final thing is I am not suggesting you can put a finite date in this because I know there are a number of things that have to be done but the last clause of the bill simply says, "This Act comes into force on such day as the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation.". On principle, I don't like to see things left that open-ended. We have legislation that has been passed in this House, for example, health legislation passed in 1994, that still hasn't come into effect.

I would like to see a date attached. I am not saying January 1, 1998 but I would like to see there is a target that has to be worked towards, that it comes into effect on or before a set date. I am not able to stand here today and say what is the exact appropriate date that should be but surely to heavens as a maximum, six months should be enough time to have all of the things that have to be done and put in place before this Act could be proclaimed, to get that done. I would like to see a commitment in the legislation that puts a date at which it must be proclaimed by, for example, it would say it comes into effect on or before June 1, 1998.

With those much more lengthy comments than I initially intended, I will resume my seat and await the comments of other presenters. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to offer a few remarks respecting the bill which is before the House this morning. I don't suppose any of us, as MLAs have had any more complaints about any subject than we have had about regulations.

AN HON. MEMBER: Roads.

MR. LEEFE: Well, perhaps roads and certainly that would be more recent complaints, particularly if one has to depend on the Cobequid Pass.

[Page 873]

That aside, it seems that through the 1970's, through the 1980's and now through the 1990's, consistently citizens on a day to day basis run head on into regulatory regimes which they find vexatious, which they do not understand and which they do not believe really meet the public interest but rather meet the narrower interest of the government which drafted the regulations.

I think to be fair here, we have to recognize that not only in the broad sense are we speaking to regulations created by the provincial government but also the very extensive regulatory regime created by the federal government and, indeed, the regulatory regime which we know as by-laws, which are created by the municipalities. You know, as do I, the frustration of Nova Scotians with respect to coming into contact, and so frequently conflict, with those regulations and/or by-laws and with those whose duty it is to enforce them.

People across this country are very much of the view that they have to suffer too much in-your-face government. Most frequently they experience this in-your-face government by coming into conflict with regulations. Try, for example, to build a wharf and find out how many government departments and different governments one must deal with in order to wend one's way through the regulatory regimes to get approvals.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or to change a bridge.

MR. LEEFE: Or, indeed, as my honourable friend and colleague from Pictou West reminds me, to change a bridge. It is just absolutely mind-boggling what the individual citizen has to go through. In fact, we have expanded regulatory regimes to the point where it is not only a nuisance for the consumer to have to deal with them, but it is in fact very costly for the consumer to have to deal with them.

For that reason, if for no other, I, like I am sure other members of this House, welcome the initiative taken by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, personified in this instance by Mr. Peter O'Brien who is well known to Nova Scotians as a proponent for the cutting of red tape, to bring to government the idea of undertaking certain forms of change which will impose a less stringent regulatory regime on the people of this province. I, along with all members and I'm sure all Nova Scotians, applaud Mr. O'Brien and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for this initiative.

Indeed, I commend the minister for listening to Mr. O'Brien, to CFIB's advice, and for moving forward to draft this legislation and to introduce it here in the House today. He, too, is to be commended. Although I am sure that he would agree with me that very seldom do thrusts to deregulate come from government. Almost always they come from outside. So on that basis, I will say now and not wait until later in my remarks, that certainly I will be supporting this bill as a step in the right direction.

[Page 874]

I suppose there is a certain irony in this legislation in that, while it speaks to deregulation, it makes significant provision for regulations to be created as a consequence of Royal Assent being given to the legislation. That is an irony that I am sure is not lost on any of us.

A couple of observations. One is that many persons who are interested in and are viewers of the legislative process have taken appropriate opportunity, legitimate opportunity to criticize governments across the country for their propensity to put as little as possible in legislation and leaving as wide a door open as possible for government, within the departments and within the context of the Cabinet Room, to make regulations which in effect put the teeth into the legislation which they pass.

My view is and has been for some time, and it actually began with the aquaculture legislation which was first introduced in Nova Scotia - the first aquaculture Act in Canada in fact - back in the very early 1980's, that we should be putting as much as we can in the legislation which is debated in this place and leave as little as is necessary for Cabinet to do in the confines and the necessary secrecy of the Cabinet Room. That perhaps is one reason why this is a very thin bill, because it does in fact leave so much to regulation. It leaves so much to the discretion of Cabinet without any obligation on the part of Cabinet to move forward for the people of Nova Scotia to have a wide-ranging debate on the regulations which will be put in place. That is one general criticism I have to make of governments. I am not directing it solely at this government. Indeed, I would be the first to admit that the three governments of which I was part, from time to time, could have been charged with the same thing. I do want to be absolutely fair in that.

Additionally, Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that this bill seems to be a stopping point rather than a starting point. I think we need to go much further than the government has gone in this useful, but nonetheless still relatively modest piece of legislation. It is my view, and it is one that I cannot say originates with me, but it comes as a consequence of my listening to people in many parts of Nova Scotia and in many walks of life, but I suppose, more particularly, in the business sector.

What we should have in Nova Scotia is a quasi-independent body, perhaps a commission to coin a term, whose function it would be, on a continuing basis, to review government regulatory regimes, to determine which of those regulatory regimes seemed to be out-of-step with the public interest and then to make recommendations to the government of the day to expunge the offensive regulatory regimes from the books. It should not be up to individuals, businesses and the general public to explain to government why regulations should not be in place. It should rather be the responsibility of government to explain to the public why regulations should be in place. The onus should be on government as to why it should be done. It should not be a burden placed on the shoulders of the public as to why it should not be done.

[Page 875]

A commission, such as I suggest, I think, could go a long way in identifying unnecessary regulatory red tape and in speeding up the process of cutting that red tape and cutting it across rather than lengthwise, something for which governments seem to have a propensity. Of course, as you know, Mr. Speaker, when you cut red tape lengthwise, all you would succeed in doing is making the red tape twice as long. So, that is something that I would look for.

I also believe that such a commission should not be restricted to reviewing the province's regulatory regimes, but should also have the full authority to review the by-laws which is comprised of regulatory regimes of the various municipal units. For indeed, those regulatory regimes can be as vexatious as either the provincial or the federal ones. So what we need is an ongoing process which deals with all the regulatory authorities and the regulatory regimes falling under provincial purview which will be all of those owned by the provincial government, as well as those owned by the creatures of the provincial government, of the municipalities.

I have no doubt that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities would be pleased to participate in defining such a commission and allowing it to get to work, because municipal politicians are no different than those of us who serve here in the provincial government. We, too, speak to having an aversion to red tape, although our practices do not always prove that to be the case. I have no doubt that they would be pleased to participate, as well, as partners in causing that to happen.

I will give you a little example of the kinds of red tape and regulatory regimes that drive Nova Scotians around the bend. We all talk a great game about small business. Well, one of the small businesses which is very important to my community is bed and breakfasts. They are an absolutely essential segment of our tourism sector, particularly in the more rural parts of Nova Scotia, where there are not the numbers to warrant building new motels and hotels but where there are numbers to develop bed and breakfasts from family homes of people living in our communities.

[11:30 a.m.]

As you will know, Mr. Speaker, not only Nova Scotians respond well to the bed and breakfast concept but, indeed, visitors to Nova Scotia do as well. Now in many communities in Nova Scotia, many municipal units in Nova Scotia, these bed and breakfasts are assessed a fee for being in business. The irony is that upon application, they can have that fee returned to them.

The question that comes to mind is, if it is going to be returned to them, why should they be assessed it in the first place? Why create all that paperwork on the part of that small business and on the part of the provincial civil servants who are required to deal with those regulations? That is one example.

[Page 876]

Now I will give you another example. A year or so ago the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment took it upon itself, in the public interest, to licence water pump installers. Now I had a local plumber come and speak to me and complain bitterly about this because there are two classes of licences, one for smaller pumps and one for larger pumps. Now here is a man who has a valid licence to be a plumber in the Province of Nova Scotia. Not only did he have to apply for both licences to install something that he had been installing successfully since the beginning of his career as a plumber, but, additionally, he had to take courses before he could write the exams. He was forced to take those courses and, interestingly enough, the courses were not offered until long after the date by which the licences were supposed to be activated.

Again, here is a small businessperson, a plumber who is running a business with his spouse who is keeping the books and doing the office work. He has to go through all of this foolishness to satisfy some bureaucrat in the Department of the Environment who wants to exercise greater control, not for the public interest but, rather, for the interest of the bureaucracy.

I will give one more example. Not long ago my wife went into a coffee shop in the Liverpool area and spoke to the young woman whose business it is and said that it would be great if, in the fall, moving on into winter, if you were able to serve a cup of hot soup here. The young woman said, look, I would love to do that but it would cost me a fortune to put in all the facilities that are required by the Department of Health here in this little coffee shop in order to be able to serve a cup of soup. Nancy said to her, well, why don't you make the soup at home and bring it in here and keep it warm through the day, just as is done in our own members' lounge here, Mr. Speaker. People can then get a cup of soup, it is another service you can offer and people will have another place downtown where they can eat. She said, I would love to do that but the Department of Health won't let me, they say they can't control the sanitary conditions in the home kitchen.

Coincidentally, Nancy and I were in New Hampshire in early October and we went to a little coffee shop that wasn't very different from the one in Liverpool that I just mentioned. I noticed that the shop operator had soup advertised. I noticed there was no kitchen apparent. The soup was in a heated container, just the same as the soup out here is. I said to her, "I don't see a kitchen here, do you cook this on the premises or somewhere else?" She said, "No, no, I prepare it at home and I bring it in."

Well, I looked around and there were not people keeling over from drinking the soup that she had prepared in the home kitchen; the streets were not littered with people suffering from ptomaine poisoning because they had consumed food cooked in the home kitchen. It struck me, why not allow Nova Scotians who are in small businesses such as that the opportunity to prepare certain foodstuffs in their home kitchen and, if the Department of Health is so all-consumed with public protection, all they need to do is to demand of that

[Page 877]

small shop owner that she or he put a sign on the wall that says some of the food available on this premises was prepared in the home kitchen, caveat emptor.

Now that would drive the bureaucrats in the Department of Health right around the bend because they would lose some control but, boy, would it ever please small business and would it ever please the consumers in communities like mine who then could avail themselves of a real, honest-to-goodness cup of homemade soup. Another example of a regulatory regime which militates against small business and which I really don't think is there to protect the public interest, but is there to build up that bureaucratic control that the bureaucrats love so much.

Mr. Speaker, this is, as I say, a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it would appear from the legislation that it, in fact, is deemed by the government to be the beginning and the end of the journey itself. I urge this minister, so long as he holds these responsibilities - or indeed all political Parties, as we move forward to the next election - to give considerations to ways in which we, as government, and we, as members of the Legislature, irrespective of where we may sit in the House, can help to reduce these regulatory regimes which militate against small business, which do not, in fact, serve the public but which, in fact, serve the narrower agenda of those bureaucrats who wish to control every aspect of our daily lives, whether it is a provincial bureaucrat or a municipal bureaucrat, understanding that the federal bureaucrats have to be left to another government on another day to do this.

So again I thank the minister for bringing the legislation forward. I certainly will be supporting it to go to the Law Amendments Committee. I urge the minister to look upon this as a step, a first and necessary step, on a long journey, and I most of all want to commend Peter O'Brien and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for the very hard work that they have done which made it possible for the minister to bring this bill before the House. I will be supporting the bill on second reading, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all the members who have spoken on this bill. I am glad to see that members are supportive of the bill and agree that this is a step in the right direction. As I indicated in my opening comments, 80 per cent of the recommendations from the task force report on LPAs are now being implemented by policy and administrative changes by government departments and, also, I pointed out that 20 per cent requires legislation or regulatory amendments. Today marks the beginning of that process.

[Page 878]

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Hants West made reference to what other provinces were doing in the area of licences, permits and approvals. Well, I am pleased to report that Nova Scotia is the leader in LPA reform in Canada. (Applause) New Brunswick, Newfoundland, P.E.I., Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C. have asked us for copies of our LPA task force report as they approach their reforms in this process.

The member for Sackville-Cobequid raised the questions in regard to Clause 11. There is nothing in the bill permitting Cabinet to exclude an individual or organization from the requirement to obtain a permit or licence. Also, the honourable member raised a question about - I think the honourable member from Queens did, too - the review of the regulation process. Presently there is a steering committee formed that is cross-departmental that will be looking at the licences, permits, registrations and certifications to oversee that reform activities will follow the guidelines set out by this bill.

Again, a number of speakers made reference to Clause 11. While it does create regulations, these regulations are directed toward government and not toward the applicants.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, a question. The minister in his wrap-up remarks did address the issue that I raised about the ability to exempt anybody from the requirements and the permits of the bill.

I am wondering if the minister would look at Clause 11(1)(h) where it gives the Governor in Council the ability to make regulations, "providing an exemption from any requirement of this Act;". If therefore it can grant exemptions from any requirement of the Act, I read that as being able to exempt. It does not say necessarily an individual or a company, but if it is going to be provided in an exemption to an Act, it would seem to me and maybe I am reading it wrong - I am not the Philadelphia lawyer - but I would like the minister to explain why that does not give the ability to in fact do what I was saying that it could.

MR. GAUDET: Clause 11(1)(h) gives the power to exempt a new LPRC from a specific requirement. For example, the 15 day approval period. They may accept a new LPRC that will respond to the applicant in 30 days. So, again, this bill certainly reflects upon new and future LPRCs that will be brought forward.

These regulations are defined to make life easier for the applicant and will require government to act fairly with the applicant. The bottom line is this is a case where regulations are being used to achieve fairness and not red tape.

With these few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading of Bill No. 7.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 7, An Act Respecting Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 879]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Statements By Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have provided copies well in advance in this particular case of the statement. That is the only way it should be; I think people should have a chance to cogitate. I remember times in the past, as Finance Critic - and I do not want to go and harp over old times - when I would not even get the budget until the minister was on his feet. I did not appreciate that a whole lot, so I think at least it should be before the minister gets up on his feet. That is my view of decency.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to report to the House on a major financial achievement for the people of Nova Scotia. Yesterday the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission successfully refinanced its outstanding long-term debt. The new $100 million Toll Revenue bond issue has a coupon rate of less than 6 per cent, compared to the existing term loan debt at a rate of 11 per cent.

[11:45 a.m.]

The interest cost saving on this issue allows the Bridge Commission to rebuild approach decks and expand the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, refinance the old debt, keep tolls the same and still pay off a considerable amount of the $100 million debt over the next 10 years. (Applause)

I am not trying to take credit for it but I want to credit the Bridge Commission itself. This remarkable debt management effort by the administration of the commission closes the book on a very sorry chapter on a financing venture that went badly for Nova Scotia.

Around 1970, a decision was made to finance the construction of the MacKay Bridge with low interest foreign currency loans. That decision allowed the tolls to be kept low. But the subsequent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, vis-a-vis the German mark and the Swiss franc, first wiped out the interest cost advantage and then, added massively to annual debt servicing costs. As a result, at its peak, the commission's debt amounted to almost $125 million, compared to the total cost of construction for both bridges of about $42 million.

[Page 880]

On Thursday, dealers from across Canada, including a number of local brokers in Nova Scotia, sold out to investors, the $100 million Toll Revenue bond issue. To assist the Bridge Commission in meeting its construction schedule, in addition, the province will provide the commission with a supplementary line of credit of up to $30 million. This is sort of a cash flow situation, this line of credit.

The credit rating on the Toll Revenue bonds is better than the province's own credit rating. In fact, the Bridge Commission's credit rating is the highest of any entity in the Atlantic Region. Hence, it was possible to have the commission issue the bonds without needing a provincial guarantee. As the bonds stand on their own, the province's potential liability is limited to a maximum of $30 million on the line of credit and we do not expect that will happen.

Before I close I want to say that when the bonds come due in the year 2007, it is expected that the commission will have put aside enough money to pay back a major portion of the Toll Revenue bond issue. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the minister for providing a copy of his statement, significantly in advance of his rising in the House to deliver it today. This is indeed welcome news and I wish to join the minister in commending the Bridge Commission for the action it has taken in this respect. I think this will bode well for Nova Scotians generally, but particularly for those in metro, so many of whom are dependent upon the bridge for getting to and from work and for moving around the metropolitan area. The fact that the tolls are going to remain the same and not be increased is certainly good news for them.

I noticed that in his remarks, the minister made reference, in a disparaging way, to the decision that was taken in 1970 to finance the construction of the MacKay Bridge with low interest foreign currency loans. Hindsight is always perfect. I don't know if in 1970 the Bridge Commission that made that decision was the Bridge Commission that was appointed by the outgoing Conservative Government or the incoming Liberal Government. But one thing I am sure of is that no matter who those men and women were, they did what they felt was in the best interests of the people whom they served and they took that decision on the basis of the best information available to them, they did not take it in isolation from sound advice. They sought the soundest advice they could in the market place and on the basis of what they knew at that point, not knowing what would happen in the next 25 years. They made a decision which, as it turned out, did not work as well as they had hoped. Let us wonder if the situation had evolved differently and that decision has been seen to be the right one, today we would be applauding them here. So, let's not sell those men and women who served the province well at that time short, irrespective of what government might have appointed them.

[Page 881]

I think it is great and speaks well to the diligence of the commissioners that the Bridge Commission has such a high credit rating and I think all of us could learn something from the example that they set, for not only have they ensured that they have that high credit rating but they continue to provide an absolutely essential and valuable service in a custom which the people in the metropolitan area, as well as across the province, think is a job well done indeed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make a few brief remarks on this as well. I want to say to the minister that I did very much appreciate his providing the remarks well in advance, it is a precedent that hopefully his colleagues, some do follow, but hopefully more will adopt.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I also appreciate the minister's willingness when I went over to ask him about the $30 million, that particular issue, that he did address that, indicating that it was for the short-term cash flow matter and that he did incorporate those added remarks into his statement.

It is certainly encouraging to see the kind of interest rate that is going to be provided here. The 6 per cent, Mr. Speaker, is not bad, not bad at all. Certainly that is going to result in many millions of dollars worth of savings over the life of this bond.

The previous speaker talked about, and certainly nobody wants to be critical of those who were serving as volunteers on the Bridge Commission many years ago when the decision was made to do most of the financing offshore. But the reality is that when you do that financing offshore, then you are always placing yourself very much at risk as you will not have the controls over the currency rates. We have seen, not only in terms of what the Bridge Commission debt mushroomed to, in fact if the interest rates had been financed locally, here in Canada, that debt probably would have been paid off in total long ago, which would have meant that maybe it would have been free or almost free to travel across the bridge today instead of having this debt at the present time and there probably wouldn't have been a need to borrow any money at all.

The other point that I can't help but allude to here, as one compares the interest rate that the Bridge Commission was able to obtain to the interest rate that is being paid for the new Cobequid Pass, Mr. Speaker, where the interest rate on the Cobequid Pass because of the government's private-for-profit partners, the rate that they are going to be paying is in the 10 or higher per cent rate. Which means, in fact, that for the Cobequid Pass we will be paying over the 30 year term bond approximately $60 million more than that same amount of money is going to be costing had it been done at the government rate. Maybe what the government should have done is ask the Bridge Commission to have done their financing and done the work for the Cobequid Pass, because if that money had been borrowed at 6 per cent that road

[Page 882]

could have been paid off in total using the existing toll structure in approximately 10 years instead of the 30 years it is going to be taking at the present time.

So, Mr. Speaker, I very much want to congratulate Mr. Doane and others on the Bridge Commission for their prudence in their financing arrangements. They deserve to be congratulated and certainly the taxpayers in the province very much appreciate the fact that they are saving many millions of dollars by their prudent practices. Hopefully, the government can find a way to get the Cobequid Pass financed at the same kind of rate and then even more dollars will end up being saved, many tens of millions which could be better spent on other very badly needed projects. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Business.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Cape Breton West who has used approximately 14 minutes of his time.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to get back to the business at hand in responding to the Speech from the Throne from this government. Yesterday when I ended up I had been talking about some of the beautiful areas of Cape Breton West as well the volunteers. Certainly those are important parts of the fabric of not only Cape Breton West but all of Cape Breton Island.

[Page 883]

I guess the question asked today is, what has this Savage-MacLellan Government given to the people of Cape Breton West, or to the people of Cape Breton Island? Where should we start when we talk about this, Mr. Speaker? The obvious place, of course, is the Speech from the Throne, and I have with me a copy of the highlights of the Speech from the Throne. In it the priorities of this government are identified. The priorities of the Savage-MacLellan Government are told to us and there are three listed.

The first one, Mr. Speaker, talks about, "A strong economy that advances all regions of Nova Scotia.". I would be quite honest in saying that that is a noble goal. The problem being is that this government is not true to their word. If this government really believed that, we would not be engaged in the selling of the Donkin Mine for $1.00 to private industry. We would be, indeed, making sure that it was part of the Devco operation, making sure that the people who were employed in the Cape Breton Development Corporation had a future.

We all know that Phalen is in serious trouble. We all know that there are a number of people who work there who do not know from day to day if they are going to have a job tomorrow, let alone their lives. This government sits back and allows for the sale of the most important asset of that corporation for $1.00; not an advantage for the people of Nova Scotia and certainly not an advantage for this region.

What about the Ranka group who wanted to come to Cape Breton Island and were told by this government that it was not suitable for there? Who is it that makes the decisions where it is suitable to apply employment situations in this province? Indeed, if this government was true to the first priority of its highlights from the Speech from the Throne, the Ranka group would have been aggressively sought and brought to Cape Breton Island, and let the people decide whether the jobs are worthy of having or not. That was the first priority that they outlined in the Speech from the Throne.

The second one, "An enhanced emphasis on health to strengthen provincial systems of care and build a more secure society.". Well, Mr. Speaker, prior to 1993, many Nova Scotians knew they could go to a hospital, knew they could get service and knew that they could have a doctor, but since this Savage-MacLellan Government has been in place, that is not the case. There have been more bed closures, nurses laid-off and doctors leaving the province, so the priorities they have set for themselves are to bring it back to where it was before they became a member of government, before this government took place. That is the kind of situation that we have before us.

We have less beds, we have spent more money and we have less services. We have a Pharmacare Program that, indeed, needs some overhauling. We have waiting lists for people who need home care. This is all as a result of the policies of this government and then they realize, when they are coming into election, it is a priority to get health care back in shape.

[Page 884]

The third thing that they say they are going to do is, "A vigorous focus on jobs and education, which are vitally linked and key to the future.". Again, a noble statement. Apple pie and motherhood statements that nobody could argue with, but, Mr. Speaker, this comes from the same government that has refused to look at the funding formula that is involved in places like where I come from. The Cape Breton-Victoria School Board is under siege because of the funding formula and this government refuses, time after time, to look at that.

There is a group there called COFFIE who are very concerned about the type of education that their children are receiving. This group, Mr. Speaker, does not want anything more than fairness and education for their children, fairness and education so that they have an equal opportunity in our province. They are not asking for more, they are just asking to be treated equally.

Do you realize, Mr. Speaker, that for the whole County of Victoria, there is one school board member. One person working on a part-time basis, representing all the people of Victoria County. It is no wonder that this government has identified that as an area that has to be looked at.

[12:00 p.m.]

There are less chairs in the community colleges for people to get educated. There is less hope for our young people because of sky-rocketing tuitions and the way our student loan program has been affected. So when you look at the priorities set out by this government, it is to get back to where we were before they took power. This government, each and every member of it, should be hanging their head in shame.

It goes on; the priorities and the highlights from the Speech from the Throne. They go beyond that. They talk about the steel and coal industry which is very important to Cape Breton Island. Something that a lot of people forget to remember is, indeed, if something happens to those two industries, it has an effect on the whole, entire province of Nova Scotia; it has an effect on the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia, and it will have an effect on the social services network of this province.

In the outlines and the highlights they say Nova Scotia is to form an industrial commission and asked the federal government to take part in developing an industrial strategy. Well, isn't that unique; isn't that different? Wow. When is this government going to learn, when is any government going to learn that the solutions are very easy to come by? If you want to find out what has to be done in the coal industry, then I would submit to you that this government has to speak to the men and the women who are involved in the coal industry. Talk to the people who actually go down into the pit and mine the coal and put their lives on the line. Those are the people who will probably come up with the answers to make it a more viable industry and, again, help the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 885]

When we talk about our steelworkers, we should be proud of each and every one of them. We should be proud of what they have been able to do with so little. If indeed there is a life, and there will be life in the steel industry of Nova Scotia, the solutions can be found with the men and women who are working in that industry.

We do not need come-from-aways to tell us how to do things; we need people to put faith in the people who are already in the industries. We need people to listen to the ones whose lives are affected. When you give people the proper tools to work with, they will deliver a good, high quality product, one that all people of the Province of Nova Scotia can be proud of.

One of the things that seems to happen to us when we get in this House is we believe that Nova Scotia is in a one square block radius of this House. That is not true. It is the farthest thing from the truth. There is a big world out there, a real world, a world where a lot of people are suffering. For this government to speak about their three priorities, for this government to say that this is what is going to bring us back when it was this government, with the help of the members in the government benches who tore apart the fabric that people understood and loved in Nova Scotia, those are the people who are going to be affected.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you go into hibernation five years ago?

MR. MACLEOD: Was I in hibernation five years ago? No, but five years ago I could get a bed in a hospital and my child could go to school and feel good about what they came out with. This government should be ashamed, each and every one of them, and the members across in the government benches should be ashamed of what they have done.

AN HON. MEMBER: I'll get you a bed in a hospital, tout de suite.

MR. MACLEOD: Going to get me a bed in the hospital, tout de suite, are we now? I would hope that would be a bed that was highly reinforced.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right here in the Halifax area.

MR. MACLEOD: I hear the Minister of Community Services saying that we could get a bed right here in the Halifax area. That is part of the problem, because if you want service you have to come to Halifax, but people live in Amherst, people live in Cape Breton and people live in Yarmouth, and they deserve the best quality care they can get in their own communities, not just in Halifax. That is what this is all about. The minister said come to Halifax and we will give you service. I say come to my home community and I will get service. That is what it is about.

[Page 886]

You know, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things that have affected the people of Cape Breton. Cape Breton County was affected by amalgamation, brought in by a former minister of this government. Indeed, those people suffered higher taxes when they were told there would be no increase in their taxes. They have lost their identities in their communities. People in the Town of Louisbourg feel they don't belong anywhere. They feel that it is the third siege of Louisbourg, because of amalgamation.

You know even things like the 911 number, do you know what they have done? In a community like Big Pond Centre, they have taken it off the map because it was too cumbersome for their program. So they take a community that people have grown up in and they say, with the slash of a pen, no more Big Pond Centre, you don't live there any more, you now live in Big Pond.

AN HON. MEMBER: I know where it is.

MR. MACLEOD: You may know where it is but, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that because of programs like that, without thought for the community, without thought for the people who live in those communities, it is being torn away and shredded. A place like Big Pond Centre does not exist in the government's mind but it exists in the heart of the people who live there. This government should be ashamed for taking that privilege and right away from those people.

Then we can talk about school board amalgamation. Mr. Speaker, Big Pond Centre is only one community. If these people who are on the government benches go through their areas, they will find that small communities in their areas, small hamlets that people have lived in all their lives have had the names changed so that 911 can exist. 911 is a good program, it is an important program, but it is not important enough to take away a person's identity. That is what this government has done.

School board amalgamation; well, we spoke a little bit about that earlier. It is another one of the legacies that this government has left this province and will be a legacy that people will not soon forget because the children, the very future of our whole province, are the ones who are being affected.

We sit back and say well, it is the right thing to do, bigger is better. Mr. Speaker, I say to you, without any feeling of being wrong, that big is not always better. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, sometimes the rabbit tracks are hard to not follow in this House but we are not going to let that happen today because there are a lot more important things that have to be dealt with.

I want to again touch on Donkin Mine which is located in Cape Breton West. The Donkin Mine has seen large sums of federal money pumped into it to be developed. It was an insurance policy built for the Cape Breton Development Corporation. It is an area where

[Page 887]

we could go and mine coal. We have seen over the last few weeks that there have been great problems identified at the Phalen Colliery and even the management there is not sure of the lifespan. Now they want to give away Donkin for $1.00.

Mr. Speaker, my question to you and to all members of this House would be, if, indeed, we do that, who are we serving? The money that was spent there was spent on behalf of the Cape Breton Development Corporation. If, indeed, there is an opportunity to make some money back, should it not go back to the shareholders of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, that being the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia and Canada? I would say that that is where the money belongs. If there is easy mining to be done, let us do it; let us have the men and the people who are working in that industry show Nova Scotians that, indeed, they can do the job well.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move on now and talk a little bit about the infrastructure programs that have been offered across this province, programs that I think are worthwhile. They are cost-shared by the three levels of government and, indeed, they enable some of the smaller municipalities to do some of the things that they would not be able to do without the help of the other two levels of government.

In Cape Breton West, Mr. Speaker, we have been waiting way too long for some help with the infrastructure program regarding a sewer project in Birch Grove. Birch Grove has been identified by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality as a high priority. It is an area where there is a concentrated population with no sewer system. The local septic tanks are malfunctioning and there is, indeed, a stench in the air in that community. If this government is sincere about helping people and looking after their health and setting priorities, Birch Grove is an area where they could come in, supply their funding, and encourage their federal counterparts to do the same.

Then we move on to the area of Sydney River, a large bedroom community for the City of Sydney, a place where, indeed, sewage is starting to become a problem. We have many homes in that area of Sydney River. Actually, Mr. Speaker, one-third of the population of Cape Breton West lives in a three-mile stretch and that area has no sewer system. If indeed the government wants to do something with their infrastructure programs, there is an area that can be identified and worked at. Why don't we be proactive and do something about that now before it becomes a major problem like we have in Birch Grove? If this government is serious, this is the time to move. This is the time to be proactive and do something before we are in an emergency crisis.

Part of growing an economy involves the infrastructure of the area. A major part of that infrastructure is indeed the roads that service a community. In Cape Breton West we have a highway known as Highway No. 4 that travels along the Bras d'Or Lakes from Richmond County right through to Sydney. The highway from the East Bay Church of St. Mary's right through to St. Peter's could use some work. It is a tourist highway that has seen a lot of

[Page 888]

traffic. It leads to the area along the Bras d'Or Lakes through the village of Big Pond which has a high traffic volume because of Rita's Tea Room. It is an area that has seen no significant work done on that road since the 1950's in that area. It is not a road that can be done all at once but it is a road that needs to be prioritized. A start, wherever the location would be, would be a welcome addition to the people who travel that road. Indeed, I do not see anything wrong with starting in East Bay and working toward the Richmond County line because that would serve the greatest number of people who travel that road.

We have, located along that road, one of the only ski hills on Cape Breton Island that sees a lot of traffic during the winter. We have one of the finest beaches located along that road. Indeed, it is a road that I am sure will see some priorities put on by the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

There are other roads in the constituency of Cape Breton West that need some attention, Mr. Speaker, one of those being the Back Pit Road - that is the local name - a road between Birch Grove and Port Morien. In the old days it was a back way to get into the pit but today it is like a pit, not a road. There are holes in that road the size of your fist and some of them the size of my belly, so you can imagine the problems that would incur. (Interruptions)

The Minister of Community Services says that there is a class comment. I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, those that can laugh at themselves can laugh at a lot but those that take themselves too seriously will never be considered much by anybody else.

There are other highways in Cape Breton West that have to be effected and have to have help. Highway No. 327 that leads to Marion Bridge is another road that has been neglected for a long time. The Louisbourg Highway was rebuilt back in the 1960's. It was built with a combination of funds from the federal and provincial governments, because it leads to one of the most important national historic sites in this country. If people are serious about making sure that the benefit from that historic site is met, then indeed that road has to be upgraded.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that leads me to my next highway, the Fleur-de-lis Highway. The Fleur-de-lis Highway was an initiative, and I will give credit to the former Minister of Transportation that he took upon himself to build, and we need to make sure that we get a commitment from the current minister that highway is going to be completed, that highway will be finished into the Village of Louisbourg, so that Louisbourg is not just a day trip from Sydney, but it is an overnight destination, a place where people can come to visit and stay.

AN HON. MEMBER: How come your Party always criticizes our highway?

[Page 889]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, one of the honourable members is wondering why our Party always criticizes that highway. I think if that honourable member would look back in history, he would see that we criticize the way that it was funded, but not the need that was there. I have always been on record has being supportive of the Fleur-de-lis Highway. As a matter of fact, the former Minister of Transportation produced a letter in this House to that very fact when he was justifying what he did.

Mr. Speaker, roads and infrastructure are very important. They are important for growing the economy, they are important to make sure that people can travel safely, but there are other things that are important, and one of those is a safety concern. In our constituency, we have two roads that should be looked after purely from a safety standpoint, and that would be Shellar Drive and the new Boston Road. These are two streets that need the attention of this government.

So let's move on, Mr. Speaker, to other areas. Let's talk about the BS Tax, and let's talk about the effect that is having on seniors in the Province of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: What tax?

MR. MACLEOD: The BS Tax.

AN. HON. MEMBER: What does that mean?

MR. MACLEOD: The blended sales tax. The Minister of Community Services doesn't even know what tax she has voted for; it is terrible the way the poor Minister of Community Services has been left out of the loop. Mr. Speaker, the BS Tax is not good for this province. The BS Tax is not good for the people who live in this province. There have been a number of people who identified it as being a hindrance to them.

It is a problem when you are going out to buy your heating fuel, because your fuel costs more, Mr. Speaker. It is a problem when you look at buying school supplies for your children, and it is a problem when you buy clothing for your children. Electricity is more because of the BS Tax, and this government brought it in when many other parts of this country would have nothing to do with it, nothing at all . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: They did not have an 11 per cent Provincial Sales Tax either.

MR. MACLEOD: . . . nothing at all to do with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: We didn't either, until you guys came into power.

[Page 890]

MR. MACLEOD: Now the government members are talking about the tax and thinking how great it is, Mr. Speaker. Well the people who have to pay it do not think it is a great tax. The people who notice that their electric bills have gone up $30 and $40 a billing do not believe it is a great tax. The people who have to turn their thermostats down and cannot stay as warm as they would like to because of this tax do not think it is a great tax. The people who cannot go out and buy clothing for their children do not think that this is a great tax. Indeed, there is something wrong with a tax that makes it cheaper to buy a fur coat and more expensive to buy a child's coat. There is something wrong with that and this government should be ashamed of themselves. (Applause) (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, the honourable member has the floor.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, you know, the tradition of this House is usually that the person standing is the one that has the floor and has the ability to speak. I would like to see that tradition remain, if we could. (Interruption) Well you know, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to be taken away by that rabbit track either.

We should talk a little bit about the offshore gas. (Interruption) It would be more than a snare for that rabbit. Mr. Speaker, the offshore gas in this province is a very valuable asset. It is an asset that should not be taken lightly by anybody in this House, an asset that we should all be sure that Nova Scotians get the best deal. We, who live on Cape Breton Island, we face a double-edged sword. We wonder what the impact of the oil industry is going to be on coal. We wonder, indeed, if this government has given any consideration to what will happen to the coal industry.

What will happen to the 2,000 jobs that are associated with the coal industry? Has anyone given it any thought? Has anyone ever asked what will be the impact on those people? Has everybody or anybody looked at a plan, in case that industry is destroyed by natural gas? My question to the government members of this House is what is the plan? What is the plan for Cape Bretoners if, indeed, natural gas does away with that industry? What is the plan for Nova Scotians, if 2,000 people are put out of work? Those are the types of answers that the people of this province want and deserve from this government.

What about a lateral to Cape Breton Island? I want to look on the bright side, let's pretend that this gas industry will have no effect on the coal industry on Cape Breton Island and I hope it doesn't. Let's hope that we stabilize the coal industry and keep those people working. Let's hope that we get the steel industry stabilized and we can keep those people working. We still have the highest unemployment rate in all the province on Cape Breton Island and if anybody would need the advantage of a lateral, it certainly is the people of Cape Breton. But what is the plan? What is this government's plan when it comes to putting a lateral into Cape Breton? Nobody knows, nobody is saying. Why is it that we always have to wait? Why can't we be up front and tell people what the plan is, what the hope is? Why do we always have to give people despair and why don't we start giving them some hope.

[Page 891]

What are we going to do about jobs for Cape Breton? What is it that we are going to do, not as members of the governing Party, or the Opposition Party, or the Third Party? What are we all going to do about jobs? What is it that we can do, as a group of people who have the faith of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia put in them, to bring jobs? Not just to Cape Breton Island, not just to Halifax but to every part of the province. What is the plan of this government and why is the plan being kept secret again? Those are the questions on the lips of a lot of Nova Scotians.

How is it that when we talk about jobs for the offshore and locations for those jobs, that people never talk about Sydport? Why is that, Mr. Speaker? Or Point Tupper, areas that are close to the development of the gas, areas that have the workforce, areas that have the space, areas that have the expertise available to them. Why is it that when we hear about placing jobs at different locations they are always around Halifax Harbour? Can anybody answer that? What is the plan for the other part of Nova Scotia? What is the plan to help everybody feel that they are equal in this province? We have to be more forthcoming with the plan.

What about a petrochemical industry? Is there going to be a petrochemical industry at the Strait of Canso? Or are we going to let all that gas flow through the pipes and away we go, or let the liquids go to Point Tupper and put them on a ship and away they go. What is the plan for making things better for the people of Nova Scotia?

We hear that Sable gas is important, we hear that Sable gas is our future but yet nobody will share the plan with the people. Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is acceptable and I don't think the people of the Province of Nova Scotia believe it is acceptable. The people of this province want hope, they want to believe that there is a future here. I personally believe that a lot of our future may hinge on gas but only if this government makes sure they get the best deal possible. That deal should be spread around so that people understand what the plan is, so that they will know that maybe they are not going to get a job in 1998, but in 1999 or in the year 2000 there is hope for those people. This province, this House of Assembly has a job to do, and that job is for those people out there who have lost hope.

There are many other things I would like to touch on but it all comes back to the same thing, that if the people involved in this House do not get together, do not put forward a conscious and comprehensive plan as to where we are going and how we are going to get there, there are going to be a lot of Nova Scotians left without a job; there are going to be a lot of Nova Scotians left without hope and, Mr. Speaker there are going to be a lot of Nova Scotians leaving this province. That is not the thing that anybody in this House wants.

Mr. Speaker, we have to become more open to the people we represent. We have to tell them what the plan is. We have to tell them that we do have a future and we have to show that our children have a future in this province. There is no more valuable resource than our children but we have worked tooth and nail, government after government, in destroying that future.

[Page 892]

The time has come to make sure that we put the plans in place so that these children have a place to go and grow up. The Nova Scotia that I was fortunate enough to grow up in was good to me and, as I look around this room, I would say it has been good to a lot of people; but things have changed. We have to make a difference if we can. We can talk about the Speech from the Throne and we can yell rhetoric back and forth across the House floor, or we can get serious and do the business we were sent to do; we can try to work together to make Nova Scotia a better place. In order for us, in the Opposition benches, to be part of that, we have to be part of the plan. You and your government, Mr. Speaker, have to have a plan.

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting against the Speech from the Throne. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank. (Applause)

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to rise again in this historic House of Assembly to address a few remarks in reply to the Speech from the Throne. First, I would like to thank my wife and my sons Thomas, Michael and Shawn for their support over the years. It is certainly important to me.

[12:30 p.m.]

I would like to begin, Mr. Speaker, by extending sincere congratulations to you on your election as Speaker. Your talents and abilities as a moderator have been evident - that is what you told me to say, isn't it? - since you have taken your place in the chair. I look forward to participating in the activities of the House under your guiding hand.

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker is never to react to any kind of comment in here, but that one really caught me unaware. Continue, honourable member.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: I am sure you must find life a little different sitting in the Speaker's chair than you found way back in the days when the Toronto Maple Leafs were winning the Stanley Cup. For Mr. Kelly's benefit in the gallery. I was born Michael Thomas Joseph MacDonald, Liberal, Leaf fan. I was told Max Bentley was the best stickhandler and I still believe that.

November 4th of this year was a significant day in the life of this Assembly. On that day, as we all know, four new members were elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. To my four new colleagues I extend my congratulations on their victories at the polls. Speaking of polls, I notice this morning in the paper there is some very encouraging polls for a few members of this House. One particular Party has risen quite sharply since May. Actually, it looks like Mount Everest on the charts.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which Party is that, Bill?

[Page 893]

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: You know.

Just so the members for Cape Breton The Lakes and Cumberland North do not get carried away with their best wishes, I want to send a special congratulations to the Premier and the honourable member for Halifax Citadel who have become the latest members of the Liberal Party team in the House.

Despite the predictions and doom and gloom forecast by the supposed experts, the government won two seats. The government's victory in these seats is an example of the confidence voters have in the Liberal Party and the leadership of our Premier. The people of Nova Scotia will renew that confidence when the general election is called in the spring by re-electing the government under the outstanding leadership of our Premier. This has given a great openness and comfort to people of Nova Scotia that they appreciate.

I also would like to extend congratulations and best wishes to my colleague, the member from the Eastern Shore, on his election as Deputy Speaker. I know that he will carry his new responsibilities in a cordial manner.

Last but not least, I want to congratulate his honour the Lieutenant Governor on his delivery of a most excellent Speech from the Throne. The Lieutenant Governor's speech reflected the government's agenda in a compassionate yet realistic manner.

The riding of Sackville-Beaverbank is composed of a mixture of suburban and rural residents, mainly Beaverbank, Sackville, Lucasville, Hammonds Plains and a small part of Bedford better known as Bedford East. It is a rapidly growing riding with the fastest growth being experienced in the Hammonds Plains and Sackville areas. Speaking of Hammonds Plains, I want to remind the Minister of Education of the current need for new schools in the community at both the junior high and elementary levels. Also, there is need for schools in the Millwood area which is a fast growing part of Sackville. There are new homes being built every day. I await positive announcement in the near future. In order for the communities to continue their growth, adequate schooling is a necessity.

I want to express my thanks to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works on the construction of John Gorham Drive which is now open. John Gorham Drive which connects Glendale Drive in Lower Sackville to Duke Street in Bedford is a welcome addition to the network of roads servicing both communities. Now that the road is open residents of both communities have better access to Highway No. 102 and it will allow for commercial growth in Glendale Park in Lower Sackville. This road will provide an economic boost to both communities.

Speaking of roads, I am pleased to note that the Pockwock Road, which serves Upper Hammonds Plains, will be paved this spring. Actually, it was ready to go last year but there was a possibility of sewer and water going in that particular area, so the Department of

[Page 894]

Transportation held off on that project until we could get the sewer and water finalized. It will certainly be welcome news for the residents in that part of the constituency. Hopefully, there will be other paving projects announced for the spring.

While on the subject of Cabinet Ministers, I would like to thank all ministers and their departments for the help they have given me over the years. I extend congratulations and a special welcome to our new Cabinet Ministers: the Honourable Francene Cosman, Minister of Community Services; the Honourable Bruce Holland, Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat; the Honourable Ed Lorraine, Minister of Agriculture and Marketing; the Honourable Ken MacAskill, Minister of Natural Resources.

Thanks to the infrastructure agreement between Ottawa, the province and the Regional Municipality of Halifax, water and sewer projects were completed in Beaverbank and Lucasville, as well as expansion of the Mill Cove Sewage Treatment Plant. Sackville is the largest user of this facility, by the way, and I think it takes about 75 per cent of that plant to service Sackville and the balance goes to Bedford. These projects were badly needed in these areas. Their completion will give a strong boost to the residential construction business in both communities. I look forward to further projects being undertaken in Hammonds Plains.

I was very pleased on December 2nd, during the present sitting of the House, to introduce a bill to change, for election purposes, the configuration of the name Beaver Bank. The bill is commonly known as the Beaver Bank Act. Beaver Bank is spelled as two words with a capital "B" in bank. Actually, you have to watch this, it sounds like the Royal Bank or the Beaver Bank; so we had to be pretty careful, we could be developing a bank and nobody would know.

Sackville Heights Junior High School, which was built over 35 years ago, is in desperate need of repairs and renovations. Prior to the recent budget restraints, it was at the top of the priority list and is presently in the design stage, with construction scheduled to commence in the spring. I will tell you that the residents of Sackville are very pleased to get this. It is the junior high school handiest Millwood Subdivision and, as I said before, it is growing very, very fast. The need for the expansion of this school will take some of the pressure off the elementary school in Millwood and will hopefully give us a chance to look at other school projects in the community.

The Cobequid Multi-Service Centre is an integral part of the community. Use of this facility is increasing at a staggering rate. Some services have increased by up to 30 per cent. I know of late that just in blood tests, that department alone has gone up 30 per cent. A lot of people in the catchment area, and there are about 101,000 in that particular catchment area of Sackville, Fall River, Hammonds Plains and those areas but, of late, some of the residents of the Halifax area have been going to the Cobequid Centre where the care is quicker, more efficient and actually it is much cheaper than getting it done in Halifax hospitals. It is a

[Page 895]

growing concern and we really have to look at that and be careful not to overload it and ruin the effect it has had on the community.

We have talked to the Central Health Board about that and they are looking at that very carefully. There should actually be an expansion, and I think if the Liberals had been elected in 1988 we would have seen a hospital or something in the Sackville area but, unfortunately, you know what happened there.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what should have happened, Bill.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: That is right, it should have happened. It still might happen, we never know. With this government, we have going for us, the good moves and understanding they are showing and a Premier who understands the people very well. (Applause) Certainly, the Premier and all members of the House I find here are very cognizant of what the people want and try to accommodate them within the budget and they have been doing that quite successfully.

This past year I witnessed the passing by this House of a much-needed amendment to the Tenancies Act. The amendment I refer to is the one which states that mobile home park owners cannot increase rents or pad fees without justification.

Sackville-Beaverbank has the greatest concentration of mobile homes in mobile home parks of any constituency in Nova Scotia. On behalf of all the mobile home residents in my area, I want to thank the former Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for supporting the bill I introduced and steering it through the House. It has certainly made it much easier for the owners of mobile homes in mobile home parks to plan their budgets and family financial affairs. (Applause) I think that was known as Bill's bill. No longer can the owners of parks increase rents without justification. In fact, this is in effect already and they are having some hearings and that is quite positive for people I represent.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to also advise the members of this House that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs has authorized an expenditure of $147,000 which represents the province's contribution towards the final development of the commons in Millwood Village assisting in the provision of tennis courts, a basketball court and other facilities. This will certainly be welcome news to the residents of Millwood. The Housing Commission has also supplied tons and tons of fill for this particular area that was concave and while developing in the Millwood area there was a lot of surplus fill, so the Housing Commission put this fill in to help the Millwood commons. I am told the fill is probably worth $30,000 or $40,000. So, you are getting pretty close to a donation from the province in the vicinity close to $200,000.

[Page 896]

I thank the minister for making this grant possible. As you know, Millwood continually grows and grows. They build a house there every day, I think, in the subdivision. The Millwood commons is an area developed by the Department of Housing over the last 15 years to develop affordable housing for the people of Nova Scotia and there is a good gentle mix of housing in there. Most houses can be purchased for under $100,000 and some two-unit dwellings certainly can be purchased at a little lesser amount. There is a great mix, a good community in there, one real nice elementary and hopefully another elementary in the near future. I thank, again, the minister and all the former Ministers of Housing who have spent a lot of time looking at the Millwood project, and I think we will continue to look at that as one of the fastest growing parts of the Maritimes. When we started out it was AHOP housing, now the lots are mainly constructed by the Housing Commission and sold off to developers who build reasonable housing. It is very positive and we all appreciate the help of the Housing Commission on that.

I have attended many anniversaries, benefits and meetings in all communities in the constituency. I very much enjoyed these opportunities to meet with constituents and to have a little chat and work with them on many concerns and programs. I was very happy to attend the Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Beaverbank and Sackville. That was quite an event. I think Beaverbank is in the fourth year for it. The first couple of years there was half a dozen people, I think this year there was 300 or 400. I attended Beaverbank then I went down to the Sackville one and that one had close to, I guess, over 2,000 people and alone there was 1,200 students, so that bodes well for the information that the Canadian Legion is putting forth to keep the war effort alive. I think that is very positive, and I think it will grow.

They have a monument at Sackville right now that took about five years to construct. They wrote to all the countries that were involved in the war, Belgium and all the countries that helped. They all sent a stone from these different countries. They waited quite a while to get them all together. They put all these stones in this monument. I guess there were 20 or 30 different countries that donated to it, so it is very positive. I thank the Canadian Legion for keeping the war effort alive.

[12:45 p.m.]

Learning centres have been functioning for a number of years, in the communities of Lucasville and Upper Hammonds Plains. They have reaped great dividends in the communities. I extended my thanks to Human Resources Development Canada and the provincial Departments of Education and Community Services for making these learning centres a reality. These two communities needed some help and are getting it. In fact, in one of the communities that they have helped, they have 14 people going to Dalhousie University right now who never would have had a chance before, without the different departments of government looking at these communities. Also, there is some sewer and water work going on. They are rebuilding the recreation centre and many things are going on in these

[Page 897]

communities that will make them better places to live. I know the people there appreciate all the help from all the different groups.

Mr. Speaker, as you well know, representing a fast-growing, rural/suburban area presents many challenges. However, I want to assure you that I welcome those challenges and will continue to meet them head-on, to make life better for the citizens I represent. The success of any community is mainly due to the dedication of the many volunteers who serve the community. You would be surprised sometimes to see who works in the community, unnoticed and unannounced, in that they very seldom are chosen or given a speck of recognition. A lot of them don't want any, they do it just because they like their community and want to work for it.

The citizens of Sackville-Beaverbank are very fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers who go about volunteer tasks because they believe in their community and want to make it a better place in which to live. Certainly I would not be able to accomplish all that I have without the help of these volunteers. They are the lifeblood of their communities. To each and every one of them, I extend my sincere thanks for their efforts, which will always be remembered and appreciated by myself and other members of the community who reap the benefits from the things these people do. As I said before, it is unbelievable what they do and it is not always recognized.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the chance to reply to the Speech from the Throne. I will be voting in favour of the motion, in support of the Speech from the Throne. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, following the daily routine on Monday, we will be dealing with bills, Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill No. 8 and Bill No. 9 and as well the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne will be continued.

I move that due to the time the House do now rise and sit again between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House now do rise and meet again at 7:00 p.m. on Monday.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 12:48 p.m.]