The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.
























HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1994



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Second Session



12:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mr. Gerald O’Malley






MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will call this afternoon’s session to order at this time and
commence the daily routine of business.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 4,229 people. The
question, in the petition, was asked, do you feel that North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash
provides you with the services essential to your health? It goes on to talk about what is being closed at the
hospital and the people who signed this petition obviously are in favour of services being kept at the North
Cumberland Memorial Hospital. I, too, have signed the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to table a petition signed by close to
4,000 people in Cumberland County who are very concerned about the closure of their hospital and the
withdrawal of health services to the people of their area. I will be pleased to affix my name to that petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



4907

 

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 144 persons, most
of those signature collected in the Eastern Shore area of the Province of Nova Scotia. The signatories to the
petition have signed to express their opposition to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia and to oppose
any change to the legislation which would permit casinos in Nova Scotia. I have signed the petition as well
and wish to table it.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by some 1,200
constituents of mine who are voicing their opposition to the establishment of casinos. (Applause) I have
carefully reviewed the list and I find that neither Elvis Presley, Wayne Newton or John Savage are
constituents of mine.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by in excess of 1,000
people, primarily in the Halifax area, who oppose the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia and oppose any
change in legislation that would grant or permit casinos in this province. I have signed the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to have the opportunity to table a petition on
behalf of well over 450 Nova Scotians. Those who have signed it come from many different areas. Kings
County is mentioned, Annapolis County, Lunenburg County, Halifax, Timberlea-St. Margarets and a number
of areas across the province. These are people who are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia
and oppose changes in legislation that would permit the establishment of casinos. I, too, am proud to sign this
petition and to endorse that which they are requesting.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition primarily from the Digby-Annapolis area and I can see the communities of Princedale and Weymouth, Freeport, Clementsvale, Bear
River. All 994 signed the petition and they are opposed to the establishment of casinos in the Province of Nova
Scotia. I also signed the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to table on behalf of upwards of 600
Nova Scotians from various parts of the province, including the metro area, Annapolis County and Kings
County. These individuals who have signed this petition are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova
Scotia and hereby oppose any change to the legislation that would permit casinos in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker,
I have affixed my name to the top copy and I would so table.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of some 2,000 people
who are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia. Most of these individuals are from the Halifax
Chebucto constituency. Of course these 2,000 signatures are part of the overall 41,000 people in Nova Scotia
who have signed the petitions. Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition signed by 43 Nova Scotians who are
opposed to the establishment of casinos. This petition was collected in Timberlea-Prospect and I have signed
the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: I would also like to table petitions with several hundred names of
Nova Scotians, representing a dozen or more constituencies in different parts of the province, the southwestern
part of the province, Cumberland, Colchester, Annapolis Valley and the metro area. I have been pleased to
lend my support to this petition against the establishment of casinos and any legislation that would facilitate
the establishment of casinos in this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by in excess of 300
people, primarily from Inverness County. They are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia.
I was pleased to sign that petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by some 134 people, largely
from the City of Dartmouth although there are Nova Scotians from other communities. They register the
petition with respect to their opposition to the establishment of gambling casinos in Nova Scotia.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition primarily signed by people
from the Cape Breton North area of the province; North Sydney, Bras d’Or, Sydney Mines, Lingan. This
petition containing 336 names. They are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia and they
oppose any change to legislation that would permit the development of casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia.



I have, also, signed the petition and I give great pleasure in tabling it.



[12:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



I have earlier ruled that a member can only gain the floor once for the tabling of petitions. I will
recognize the honourable member for Hants West, but would ask the members that have more than one
petition to table, to table them at one time.



The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition signed by approximately 175
people, primarily from Cape Breton, there are a few, I think, from Guysborough, but mainly from Cape
Breton, who are opposed to the establishment of casinos in Nova Scotia and I have signed the petition.



MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 127 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 103 of the Acts of 1981. The Union of Nova
Scotia Municipalities Act. (Hon. Sandra Jolly as a private member.)



Bill No. 128 - Entitled an Act to Provide for a Farm Registration System. (Hon. Wayne Gaudet)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.






RESOLUTION NO. 1072



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 Minister of Finance has demonstrated his callous disregard and contempt for all Nova
Scotians who oppose his plan for casinos in Nova Scotia; and



Whereas despite the largest petition in the history of this province being tabled in this House, this
minister simply pooh-poohs them; and



Whereas the Minister of Finance is pushing through casino gambling legislation which strips
Building Code provisions, environmental and legal checks and balances in order to create casinos
untouchables;



Therefore be it resolved that this Minister of Finance drop the charade and admit to Nova Scotians
what he is really creating in this province is Las Vegas Maritimes, which might bring big money to his
friends, but will leave many Nova Scotians destitute and change the social fabric of this province forever.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



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



Whereas the Education Minister has declared that the minimum $2 million, one time cost in higher
annual operating costs of his changes in teacher education are not a concern because he will take the money
out of other university programs; and (Interruption)



Whereas the minister never once told Nova Scotians that by shutting down the Nova Scotia Teachers
College . . .



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Absolutely not true!



MR. SPEAKER: It appears that there may be a breach of order.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, if I might. The honourable member
is putting forward some statements in this House which are absolutely wrong. I want that stated on the record.
The honourable member should check his records, get some research that makes a difference and stop
promoting such foolishness. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: It appears that the proposed notice of motion contains inflammatory material which
is stirring up a state of disorder in the House. It would appear, therefore, I have not read it, I would like to
read it before it is read into the record.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on that point, I have not read the resolution yet either in
this House. It is the Minister of Education who stood up and started yelling and screaming about this
resolution; it certainly was nothing that was in the resolution. What the Minister of Education does and how
he contains himself or not is not a reflection on me and my resolution. I have a right to introduce this
resolution in this House and I ask you to consider that fact.



MR. SPEAKER: There is no unchecked right of members of the House to read off material into the
record that is of an inflammatory character and is of a nature that is a breach of order. I would like to read
the proposed . . .



MR. CHISHOLM: Regardless of whether I have had the opportunity to read a resolution into the
record, if some member of government decides that they do not like the tone of it or the tenor of it, regardless
of what the content is, they can stand up and start yelling and screaming and I am told to sit down, Mr.
Speaker, where it the fairness in that?



MR. SPEAKER: It is not the matter of the tone of the resolution at all but whether it conforms with
the standards of parliamentary practice as laid out in Beauchesne, and I wish to read the proposed notice of
motion and then, if it is in order, you may certainly read it.



MR. CHISHOLM: Is it not appropriate for me to read it into the record first, Mr. Speaker, . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I have not seen it. I would say that it would not be if would appear to be of a
character designed to incite disorder in the House.



MR. CHISHOLM: But how would you know that unless I read it?



MR. SPEAKER: I would want to read it first.



MR. CHISHOLM: Well, can I read it in the House?



MR. SPEAKER: I wish to read it silently first. Please bring it to me.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It is absolutely unheard of in this or any other
Parliament that the Speaker would review a notice of motion in advance of it ever being offered to the House.
(Interruptions)



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respectfully request where the authority is required
to have the pre-approval of the Speaker before a resolution can be read in this House. It has always been my
understanding that resolutions, even if they are to be ruled out of order, which has happened on occasion in
the past, the right of a member to read that resolution on the floor has been paramount and then after the
reading the Speaker would make the decision.

 

 

MR. SPEAKER: I would suggest that that is normally the convention and certainly will remain the
convention; however, when any member gets up and reads something that provokes a state of tumult or
disorder in the House, it is the duty of the Chair to investigate the matter. I have investigated the matter and
I will now recognize the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic to read his resolution.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.






RESOLUTION NO. 1073



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



Whereas the Education Minister has declared that the minimum $2 million, one-time cost and higher
annual operating costs of his changes in teacher education are not a concern because he will take the money
out of university programs; and



Whereas the minister never once told Nova Scotians that by shutting down the Nova Scotia Teachers
College and amalgamating other teacher education, he would drive costs so high that other cuts would become
necessary; and



Whereas the enormous price tag of this so-called efficient Liberal amalgamation sends a dire warning
to Cape Breton and metro taxpayers;



Therefore be it resolved that this House opposes any Liberal amalgamation that does not, as a
minimum, freeze or lower the cost of the services that are to be provided after amalgamation.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 1074



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



Whereas yesterday’s change of leadership in the New Democratic Party caucus has caused some
confusion, begging the question, who is really on first?; and



Whereas the member for Halifax Atlantic is now on second, possibly aspiring to be on first; and



Whereas the former Leader is now on third, acting as if she is still on first;



Therefore be it resolved that the New Democratic Party caucus meet in the nearest telephone booth
to determine who in caucus is really on first.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 1075



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



Whereas the problem with the Premier’s current tendering policy was never the content but, instead,
the lack of enforcement behind it; and



Whereas originally the problem was incredibly that Liberal Cabinet Ministers did not even know the
policy existed; and



Whereas the Premier’s solution to the many woes of this Liberal Government and its tendering
disasters is to loosen the policy’s guidelines;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier rethink his very hasty decision to allow his current Cabinet
Ministers any further leeway on the tendering of public money within their departments.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 1076



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 has confirmed that his idea of improving the Liberals’ fairness in government
policy on open tendering is to make it less fair and more ambiguous, so that untendered contracts to Liberal
contributors and supporters will be lost in the muck; and



Whereas the Premier, whose sole source of public support has been the impression that he is firmly
opposed to patronage, has travelled a long road in the 18 months since he won a mandate to, among other
pledges, require open tendering for all goods and services valued more than $5,000;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to reconsider his suggestion that laws and
rules be rewritten to fit whatever action, however wrong, at whatever cost, his Cabinet Ministers may take.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 1077



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 Municipal Affairs has shown total ineptitude in her government’s decision
to merge the four metropolitan municipal units into a super-city; and



Whereas the latest example of how much the minister doesn’t know about her government’s super-city plans occurred in Seabright, Halifax County on Sunday afternoon; and



Whereas following this meeting, the President of the Halifax County Fire Chiefs Association said
the minister clearly was unable to answer a wide variety of concerns put forth by the Halifax County Fire
Chiefs Association;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs make attempts as soon as possible to
provide information to Halifax County fire departments, so county residents can be assured they will continue
to benefit from the services of top-notch volunteers.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 1078



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 Western Valley Economic Development Authority is diligently working to ensure a
prosperous future for Annapolis and Digby Counties; and



Whereas the Western Valley Economic Development Authority is seeking local input on ideas on
how economic activity can be boosted in the Annapolis and Digby Counties; and



Whereas residents in these counties have been led astray by the Savage Government on two separate
occasions; the first on the promise to create jobs if elected; and the second, that CFB Cornwallis would be kept
open if, in fact, they were elected;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend members of the Western Valley
Economic Development Authority for their tenacity in overcoming the extreme adversity placed before them
by this Savage Government.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 1079



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



Whereas in this province and most others, arm’s length officials such as the Utilities and Review
Board, Auditor General and Ombudsman are appointed for a fixed term and cannot be removed from office
by Cabinet; and



Whereas these fundamental safeguards of independence have been scorned and rejected by the
Finance Minister in connection with the proposed Gaming Control Commission; and



Whereas this government provides the best example of the temptations that confront politicians
desperate for tax revenue, goodies for loyal supporters, or some small chance of re-election;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Cabinet and caucus to maintain the minimum
standards long established in Canadian democracy to protect the independence of arm’s length and quasi-judicial officials, such as the member of the Utilities and Review Board.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 1080



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 October 27th Liberal convention and leadership review was cancelled, on the urging
of the Finance and Transportation Ministers, because they claimed that Liberals who are not true Party
loyalists could take over the meeting and dump the Premier; and



Whereas the mayor of Halifax and the executive of the Cape Breton West Liberals have now publicly
joined their Party colleagues who want a leadership review; and



Whereas this further resolves any doubt as to whether the only threat to the Premier comes from
outside the Liberal Party;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to return to Plan A and schedule the
dreaded Liberal Party convention, when this government and Premier must face some form of democratic
process unless they get their constitution amended first.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



[12:30 p.m.]



RESOLUTION NO. 1081



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



Whereas Liberal MLAs are complaining publicly that the member for Cape Breton West is making
them look bad by voting against a so-called service exchange which imposes major new municipal taxes while
leaving municipalities with the costly, inequitable two-tiered social assistance; and



Whereas it didn’t take the member for Cape Breton West to make the rest of the Liberal back bench
look bad; and



Whereas even in a parliamentary democracy, MLAs are expected to vigorously defend and represent
the wishes and interests of their constituents;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Liberal MLAs who wish to look good, at least for once
in this Legislature, to vote on the basis of their conscience and certain knowledge of how legislation will affect
their constituents.



MR. SPEAKER: I consider that resolution to cast aspersion on members of the House and I would
ask the Clerk to bring it up here for consultation.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 1082



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



Whereas ATV reported on Saturday night, incorrectly, that I have resigned as Leader of the Nova
Scotia NDP because I have cancer; then reported on Sunday night, incorrectly, that I have resigned my seat
as MLA for Halifax Fairview; and



Whereas these two errors appear to demonstrate how ATV can not manage to report the news
accurately without the experienced support staff who are locked out by the station owners and managers; and



Whereas the locked-out support staff seek only the same non-sexist terms and conditions of
employment that are enjoyed at other CHUM-owned stations;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges ATV management to reach a fair settlement with the
Halifax support staff, granting them the same treatment as all other CHUM stations’ support staff, so ATV
can resume accurate and responsible news coverage.



I would ask, Mr. Speaker, if the House would be willing to waive notice and to pass this motion
without debate.



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 Pictou East.



MR. WAYNE FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to the House
the presence of Elmer and Peggy Williams in the Speaker’s Gallery. Mr. Williams was a long-serving member
of the Pictou County Council. I would ask Mr. and Mrs. Williams to please rise for a warm welcome by the
House. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. this
evening and the winner today is the honourable member of Kings West. He proposes a resolution for a
discussion at 6:00 p.m. as follows:



Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Premier and his Ministers of Government Services and
Human Resources start to enforce the government’s tendering policy, not relax the policy and, along with it,
the purse strings of all Cabinet Ministers.



We will hear on that matter at 6:00 pm. So that brings to a conclusion the daily routine; we now
advance to Orders of the Day. The time now being 12:34 p.m., one hour would take us to 1:34 p.m. so that
will be the length of the Oral Question Period today.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



SUPPLY AND SERV.: TENDERING - CHANGES



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Premier. Once again the
Premier is making announcements in the media and not in the House. The latest announcement concerns
softening of the tendering guidelines. Last year, on November 18, the Premier stated in this House and I will
quote, “it is our intention to enforce the policy that we stated quite clearly in the election. Any errors or things
that have happened in the meantime are those that obviously require investigation . . . I am prepared to tell
you that by Monday the policy will be in place, clearly understood by all departments . . .”.



Over a year later, it isn’t understood at all and now you are going to change the rules. Will you
confirm today that you are about to break another election promise?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, what I will confirm today is that, as of
yesterday, I have struck a Cabinet committee consisting of the Minister of Supply and Services and the
Minister of Finance. The purpose of this is to look at all the exceptions and to report back to Cabinet.



The indication that I gave was that we would look at it. At no point in time did I say we would revert
to the kind of way that it was done in the past at which, obviously, untendered contracts were, as reported by
the member for Halifax Fairview in her correspondence recently, when they were, in fact, daily fare. So it is
perfectly obvious that the people in the desks opposite have a real understanding of untendered contracts.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I think you should know that the former government established
the guidelines that you are having such a great deal of difficulty following. You cannot depend upon your
ministers to follow those guidelines, so will you state clearly to us, so we will understand, how you are
planning to change these guidelines so that your ministers can, in fact, follow them?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the final figures for untendered contracts are being collected now and
we would be very happy to share them with members of this House. There are very few untendered contracts,
particularly in terms of services. The vast majority, perhaps 95 per cent at an initial count, show that they are
being tendered and that they are, in effect, going to the process that, indeed, the previous government called
for somewhat late in their mandate in 1992. We are following that. The exceptions that there are, are indeed
exceptions that we will be looking at and all we are talking about is clarifying it.



But, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to understand that the difference between the way this
government goes after tendering of contracts and the previous government did is like night and day. The
world, even the member for Halifax Fairview, has recognized that.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the document, in my view, needs revision is what he said
yesterday, and that is not what he is telling us today. I really suspect that the only change you are trying to
make is so it is easier for you to get your Liberal friends jobs and loosen up the guidelines. When will you
have these new guidelines available for scrutiny of the Legislature?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, talking of revision indicates that the greatest revisionists of all are
on the opposite benches. What I said was it needed to be revisited and revised. I did not say tightened,
loosened. I said it needed to be revisited. I think, in all fairness to the people of Nova Scotia, we have to look
at a government that in 18 months has put through 95 or more, the actual sum, 95 per cent of them, in effect,
tendered and the other 5 per cent, maybe less, I do not know the figures yet, but we will get them for you.
(Interruption)



Once again, quoting from the member for Halifax Fairview, untendered contracts are now considered
a scandal, they used to be daily fare. Oh, my.



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



MUN. AFFS. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COMMISSIONER (MR. GRANT MORASH) - DECISION



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is quite simple and direct to the Minister of Municipal
Affairs. I would just like to ask the minister, why didn’t she tell this House that the decision to appoint Mr.
Grant Morash as the coordinator for the metro amalgamation was made on November 1st, when she met with
the Priorities and Planning Committee?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, as I had said on a number of occasions, I had wanted to
appoint Mr. Morash as the coordinator. I had gone through a number of processes and discussions in order
to do that. In actual fact, a contract was not approved by the Priorities and Planning Committee.



MR. HOLM: I would suggest to the minister, through you sir, with respect, the people in the province
deserve the full and whole truth. I am not asking the minister about a contract. I am asking the minister about
a decision to appoint.



My question is quite simple. Was the decision made at the November 1st meeting of the Priorities
and Planning Committee, at which you attended, to appoint Mr. Morash to the position?



MR. SPEAKER: Now I wish to caution the honourable member, the honourable minister, too, that
I believe the Priorities and Planning Committee is chaired by the Minister of Finance. I believe that he would
be the proper one to ask this question to. But the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs may respond, if
she wishes, on the basis of her own knowledge.



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think I have answered a number of these questions in the last two weeks,
that there was a misunderstanding by myself in the decisions that had been made through a number of
discussions.



MR. HOLM: My final question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and I am sure she can answer
this question on her own, why did the minister contact Mr. Morash and tell him that he was to be appointed
to this position on November 1st?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I have answered these questions for the last two or three weeks. Yes, in
fact, I contacted Mr. Morash. I asked him if he would consider to have his name stand for the coordinator and
he said yes.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



PRIOR. AND PLAN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

UNTENDERED CONTRACT (MR. GRANT MORASH) - KNOWLEDGE



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I wonder if
he would tell this House whether he knew in advance of the November 4th Minister of Municipal Affairs’
public press release, that she was going to announce the untendered appointment of Grant Morash as
commissioner?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: No.



MR. DONAHOE: Did the Minister of Finance have any personal knowledge, before November 4th,
that the Minister of Municipal Affairs had been in contact and in discussion with Mr. Grant Morash about
the possibility of him being appointed as commissioner?



MR. BOUDREAU: Yes.



MR. DONAHOE: Could the Minister of Finance tell us just when it was, then, that he learned that
Grant Morash was to be appointed the commissioner?



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the last question deserves a little more length in my
response. I was aware at the Priorities and Planning meeting which was referred to, I think, on November 1st
that the minister was considering a number of names with respect to this position. She obviously came to raise
that matter and to discuss it with her colleagues involved in the Priorities and Planning Committee.



That discussion took place. No decision was either sought or given at that time but we were certainly
aware of who the names were.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



PRIOR. AND PLAN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COMMISSIONER - DISCUSSION



MR. JOHN LEEFE: My question, too, is for the honourable Minister of Finance. Through you, Mr.
Speaker, did the minister discuss the appointment of a commissioner for metro with any person not in
government?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: That is a difficult question. I may well have, it has been quite a
topic of discussion.






MR. LEEFE: Well, perhaps I can ask a question with narrower parameters, which may be more
helpful to the minister with response to a definitive answer. Did the minister discuss the appointment of a
commissioner with any person having an interest in Deloitte & Touche and, if so, with whom?



MR. BOUDREAU: I think the timeframe is relevant on this but it may well have been that I did. The
person whom I would obviously have had discussion with is a personal friend who is involved in that firm.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t catch the very last of the minister’s answer. Would he be kind
enough to repeat it for me?



MR. BOUDREAU: It may well have been that I had a discussion with a personal friend of mine, Mr.
Unsworth, who would have been interested in the subject, I am sure.



MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister for his answer. Did the minister, as Chairman of the Priorities and
Planning Committee, discuss the appointment of a commissioner with the Minister of Municipal Affairs
before November 4, 1994?



MR. BOUDREAU: I think I have answered that question already, in responding to the honourable
Leader of the Opposition, but I did indicate there was some discussion of that general appointment which
occurred in the meeting of November 1st.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens on a new question.



PRIOR. AND PLAN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COMMISSIONER - MEETING AGENDA



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Again to the Minister of Finance, notwithstanding the minister’s absence from
the November 1st Priorities and Planning Committee meeting, was the Minister of Finance aware that the
appointment of a commissioner for metro was on the weekly agenda for that meeting of the Priorities and
Planning Committee?



[12:45 p.m.]



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes, I believe I was.



MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister. My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Premier
could advise - it is to the Premier but on the same subject - the House whether in fact he attended that
November 1st meeting of Priorities and Planning as is indicated on his scheduled itinerary which was
provided to all members?



THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance, again, with respect to the same
matter. Did the minister communicate in advance of this selection with any or all of the proposed candidates
for commissioner?



MR. BOUDREAU: Did the minister communicate, referring to myself?



MR. LEEFE: Yes.



MR. BOUDREAU: No.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



EXCO.: HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION (COMMISSIONER) -

 

UNTENDERED CONTRACT



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the
Premier. I would like to ask the Premier, when did he first learn that the Priorities and Planning Committee
had decided on November 1st that Gerald Morash should be appointed as the amalgamation commissioner
without tender?



THE PREMIER: Do you want to rephrase that question, Mr. Speaker, to get it accurate?



MR. CHISHOLM: I just asked the Premier, Mr. Speaker, when he first learned that Priorities and
Planning, on November 1st, had decided that Grant Morash should be appointed as the amalgamation
commissioner without tender?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said last week, repeatedly, as I have said to the public, it was my
impression that the meeting in question ended with a call for proposals. It was not, in effect, a sole-sourcing.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you, and to the Premier, perhaps, that in fact the
decision was made at Priorities and Planning on November 1st to break his tendering directives and give the
job to the one person. My question to the Premier is, why did he not move more quickly to ensure that that
particular action was not taken?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have explained that there was, for want of a better word, a series
of unfortunate miscommunications. Indeed, Ms. Jolly left a meeting with one impression and I left it with
another. That has been explained in this House last week regularly. I have done it everywhere I have been.
The explanation lies in the different interpretation. Minutes are not kept in Priorities and Planning meetings
and therefore the interpretation with which I left was that indeed there was a call for proposals. That is why
I followed up subsequently.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, perhaps in order to clear up some of the confusion, the Premier, in
his statement, in this House on this issue last week, gave us all kinds of information about the November 8th
Priorities and Planning Committee meeting. Perhaps he would agree here today, in order to provide the other
half of the truth, that he would tell us exactly what took place at the November 1st Priorities and Planning
meeting as it related to the decision to appoint Grant Morash to the position of amalgamation coordinator?



THE PREMIER: Let me first of all say I can give you no information about the November 8th one
because I was in China. On the November 1st one, my understanding on the November 1st meeting, I have
said repeatedly, is that we discussed a whole series of names. It was my impression leaving that meeting that
in effect there was to be a call for proposals. At no time did I understand it to be sole-sourcing.






MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



PRIOR. AND PLAN.: HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION -

 

COMMISSIONER SELECTION



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I wonder if
the Minister of Finance would indicate to this House whether or not he communicated with any or all of the
candidates subsequent to the November 4th, Sandy Jolly press release announcing Grant Morash’s
appointment?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder if the Minister of Finance might tell us whether or not his
communication with one of the candidates was, in fact, to candidate Grant Morash?



MR. BOUDREAU: Yes.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder, by way of final supplementary, if in light of the fact that four people
have advised me of a communication from the Minister of Finance to Mr. Grant Morash after the
announcement of November 4th, if the Minister of Finance would indicate to this House that his form of
communication to Mr. Grant Morash, after Minister Jolly’s announcement of Morash’s appointment, was by
way of sending to Mr. Grant Morash a handwritten congratulatory note, a card such as one would buy at a
gift shop with a pig depicted upon it, with a handwritten message from the Minister of Finance to Mr. Morash
in the following words, congratulations, we finally landed you the big one or, failing that, congratulations,
you have finally landed the big one?



Would the Minister of Finance indicate that that was his form of communication to Mr. Grant
Morash?



MR. BOUDREAU: It was not.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



SUPPLY AND SERV. - TENDERS: PROJECTS - GUIDELINES



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Supply and Services.
I understand the minister and the department have been working on new guidelines for awarding engineering,
design and architectural contracts. Could the minister tell the House whether the qualifications-based selection
process he and his department have been working on have been finalized, as yet?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the question. I will answer the question by
saying that it is not finalized at this point in time, but we are moving rather rapidly to concluding those
findings.



MR. ARCHIBALD: There has been some delay and so on. Could you give an indication and a reason
why it has not been finalized up to this point?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am rather amused that the question would even come because it is
quite often that the members opposite who complain that we do not consult in this government, but I want
to say that the benchmark of this government is consultation. We have taken our time to consult with the
practitioners in the field so that we can come together and have a policy that addresses their industry.
(Applause)



MR. ARCHIBALD: Could the minister give us an indication of when it will be finalized?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I do not have a deadline at the present time, but I do know that it will
be soon and I will say, perhaps, by the first of the new year we will have something to present.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North on a new question.



SUPPLY AND SERV. - TENDERS: GUIDELINES - DECISION



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is for the Minister of Supply and Services. Who is
involved in the final decision in determining these guidelines?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the minister is certainly involved.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Can you give me your timetable and when you are going to have this completed?



MR. SPEAKER: You must address the Chair, honourable member for Kings North, please.



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat the answer to the question he asked earlier. We did not fix
a timetable, but we wanted to have it done this year and I would say by the end of this year, certainly by the
first of next year. It is going to depend on the ratification of what I find, what my senior staff find and my
colleagues in Cabinet. We do not sole-source our decisions either.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I am just wondering, the sector organizations that you have been dealing with,
could you give us an indication of what advice you have been receiving from them, if you have been doing
all this consulting?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the advice has been resoundingly positive, I must say. I would be
prepared to table a document that would compile the results of what the industry has had to say, particularly
in comparison with the past and the present.



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



MUN. AFFS. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COORDINATOR (MR. GRANT MORASH) - NEGOTIATIONS



MR. JOHN HOLM: My question through you, sir, is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. My first
question to the minister is why did she tell Mr. Morash on November 1st that the government had decided
to appoint him as the coordinator on a sole-sourced, untendered basis?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think I have answered this question a number of times. I
spoke with Mr. Morash on November 1st, asked him if he would allow his name to come forward as the
coordinator. I had a meeting with him on Wednesday, November 2nd.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my second question to the minister is, when exactly was it decided, the
minister met with Mr. Morash she indicates on November 2nd, when exactly was she informed or told to
contact others to seek their interest in acting as coordinator? When exactly was the minister told not just to
sole-source but to seek others to apply for the position?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think as I have stated on a number of occasions, I talked about a number
of different individuals who could be considered as the coordinator for this particular project. There were a
number of names discussed at the Priorities and Planning meeting on November 1st. A reminder of that was
brought to my attention on the morning of Wednesday, November 2nd.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, who brought the reminder to the minister’s attention on November 2nd
about what was decided at the Priorities and Planning meeting on November 1st? Who was it who told the
minister now what she should be doing?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think as I have explained on a number of occasions it is important to
get out the fact that I left the Priorities and Planning meeting early and I left with the understanding that I
would be able to approach Grant Morash. I think it has been clear and it has been stated on a number of
instances, on a number of occasions, that there was a misunderstanding by myself with regard to the direction
that I had received or the direction that I had taken from that meeting.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



FIN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

MR. GRANT MORASH - MIN. COMMUNICATIONS



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister
of Finance a few moments ago indicated to me that he did, subsequent to the November 4th press release from
the Minister of Municipal Affairs, communicate with Mr. Grant Morash. I wonder if he could tell the House
just exactly when it was relative to the issue?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this morning.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I take it, so that there is no confusion about it, that the Minister of
Finance is suggesting that that is his first communication with Mr. Grant Morash, subsequent to the Minister
of Municipal Affairs’ press release of November 4th?



MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, yes.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, I wonder if the Minister of Finance
can tell me if either prior to November 4th, on November 4th or subsequent to November 4th, if the Minister
of Finance has had communication with his friend and partner in Deloitte & Touche, Mr. George Unsworth,
relative to the Minister of Municipal Affairs’ announcement of Grant Morash’s appointment?



MR. BOUDREAU: I think that was likely, yes.






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



JUSTICE - RES. NO. 855: JUSTICE MIN. (CAN.) - SEND



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Justice. The
Minister of Justice’s federal counterpart spoke in Annapolis Valley on Saturday and said that he was presently
examining legislation that would overturn a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that presently allows
intoxication and drunkenness to be used as a defence against spousal assault.



The Minister of Justice, I am sure remembers, it was Resolution No. 855 passed unanimously by all
members of the Legislature on November 2nd calling upon this House to appeal to the federal minister to
enact legislation ensuring individuals are held accountable for their actions. I wonder has the Minister of
Justice sent his federal counterpart a copy of this province’s resolution yet?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, no I haven’t sent a copy of that resolution. Normally,
resolutions are sent by the request of the members through the Speaker. That is the normal procedure. I
haven’t undertaken it but I would certainly be prepared to forward a copy to the Honourable Allan Rock.



[1:00 p.m.]



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would thank the Minister of Justice for stating that he would do so
and I surely would hope that he would. I also wonder if the Minister of Justice has had an opportunity yet to
reinforce with the federal minister Nova Scotia’s position on this very serious issue?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have had discussions on this and certain other matters with my senior
officials. Another case that comes to mind is the DNA evidence, the admissibility of DNA evidence. I know
although in this case I haven’t actually put something in writing to the Honourable Allan Rock about the so-called drunk defence, my officials have talked to the senior officials in the Department of Justice of Canada
and I am certainly prepared to write to Allan Rock on the so-called drunk defence, just as I have on the
admissibility of DNA evidence.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is again for the Minister of Justice. With the
events that transpired in Pictou County on Saturday evening and the cases of spousal abuse in Nova Scotia,
I wonder if the minister is prepared to get a copy of spousal abuse cases for the last three years which have
transpired in Nova Scotia and include them in a package, clearly stating Nova Scotia’s position on this very
serious issue, to stress to the federal minister that he must do something and it must be done sooner than later?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we are certainly prepared to do anything we can to help prevent spousal
violence. There is certainly a protocol involving the police. Again, I have had my officials talk to the officials
in the RCMP, to see that proper procedures in the protocol that was adopted several years ago. In fact the
former government adopted protocol to try to lessen dangers, particularly to women in violent situations
whereby the offending partner can be removed from the home.



I have asked for a report as soon as possible, as soon as the RCMP complete their review. I think that
is to be done shortly but anything else I can do, I am certainly prepared to do it.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



PRIOR. AND PLAN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

MR. GEORGE UNSWORTH - DISCUSSIONS



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister of Finance. I wonder, in light of the fact
that the Minister of Finance advises us today that he did communicate with Mr. George Unsworth about the
Minister of Municipal Affairs’ announcement that Mr. Unsworth’s partner, Mr. Morash, was to be appointed
commissioner, if the Minister of Finance would tell this House just when, relative to the November 4th press
release from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, his communication with Mr. Unsworth took place?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I am afraid I can’t recall.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder if the Minister of Finance can recall the form of communication with
Mr. Unsworth, as to whether or not it was a telephone conversation, a meeting on a street corner or perhaps
a written communication to Mr. Unsworth?



MR. BOUDREAU: No, I think I can assure the honourable member it was not a written
communication because it was nothing formal. It was a casual comment, I am sure, but I can’t remember
exactly the circumstances.



MR. DONAHOE: So that I am clear, then, the minister is saying that he can’t remember when, in
relation to the November 4th press release, his communication to Mr. Unsworth might have taken place? I
will put the proposition to the Minister of Finance through you, Mr. Speaker, that it is likely and it is
appropriate and reasonable for me and all Nova Scotians to assume that that communication was either
contemporaneous with or immediately following the November 4th press release from the Minister of
Municipal Affairs and that it was, in fact, in the form of a congratulatory communication from the Minister
of Finance to Mr. Unsworth, to wish him well on the fact that his partner was undertaking this $225,000
untendered contract?



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, the honourable Leader of the Opposition can speculate on what it may have
been. I assume that the matter had come up and I may well have made some comment by way of
congratulations or whatever, I don’t recall specifically but it was a very casual contact.



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



MUN. AFFS. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COMMISSIONER (MR. GRANT MORASH) - APPOINTMENT



MR. JOHN HOLM: My question is through you, sir, again to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. My
question very specifically is this, what information were you given on November 1st at the Priorities and
Planning Committee meeting that led you to believe that you had the authority to sole-source the appointment
. . .



MR. SPEAKER: The question has to be addressed to the Chair.



MR. HOLM: . . . to Mr. Grant Morash?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question I don’t know how many times.
As I have told the honourable member before when he has asked me this question, I had a mistaken
impression coming out of the Priorities and Planning Committee meeting.



MR. HOLM: Well, obviously the minister hasn’t answered the question. My first supplementary to
the minister is simply this, who was it on November 2nd who told her that she had a mistaken impression
coming out of the Priorities and Planning Committee meeting on November 1st?



MR. SPEAKER: Have I not heard that question earlier this afternoon?



MR. HOLM: No, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: No? I thought I had.



MS. JOLLY: Well, as I had stated I think earlier today I was made aware by Ms. Brenda Shannon.
Actually I wasn’t directly contacted by Ms. Shannon, she spoke with my deputy minister on the morning of
Wednesday, November 2nd and reminded the deputy that we have had a discussion in the Priorities and
Planning meeting about the contacting of other individuals and that was the message that the deputy provided
to me.



MR. HOLM: My final question to the minister is quite simply this, since she had been told that she
had a mistaken impression and that had been brought to her attention, who told her then to announce the
appointment of Mr. Morash on November 4th when she had already learned that she did not have the
authority to do so? Who told her to make the announcement?



MS. JOLLY: I think again I want to try to clarify this for the honourable member because he keeps
asking the same questions. There were a number of individuals that I ended up contacting on Wednesday to
see if they would allow their names or were interested or would be available to stand for the position of
coordinator. Those individuals were contacted, discussions were with those individuals and as I have said,
I don’t know how many times, that I made the decision that Mr. Morash, of those individuals contacted, was
the appropriate individual to move forward to be the coordinator. I made that decision and announced that
on November 4th when I met with the metro mayors. I think as I stated on a number of occasions that in
actual fact it had been my intention to have Mr. Grant Morash do that job. I felt that he was the appropriate
person for that job but in actual fact, Mr. Speaker, I had made a mistake in making that announcement before
there had been a final contract or a final approval given for that name.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



PRIOR. AND PLAN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COMMISSIONER - NOTIFICATION



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister
of Finance has just indicated to this House today that he acknowledges that it might well have been more or
less contemporaneous with the press release of the Minister of Municipal Affairs of November 4th advising
that Grant Morash had been awarded this untendered $225,000 contract, that he, the Minister of Finance,
made his communication with his friend, Mr. Unsworth, a partner at Deloitte & Touche. I wonder if I could
ask the Minister of Finance, through you, if he would explain to this House why rather than make his phone
call to Mr. Unsworth relative to this matter, he did not make the phone call to the Minister of Municipal
Affairs in his capacity as Chairman of Priorities and Planning to the effect that she had broken the rules and
that changes were going to have to be made because we had been told earlier that none of that got discussed
until there was an international conference with the Premier during his time in China? Why did he not go to
the Minister of Municipal Affairs as opposed to Mr. Unsworth?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understand the question, but I am sure
the honourable member will clarify it in his first supplementary. What I have said is that sometime subsequent
or coincident with the announcement that was made, it is my recollection that I had some sort of a casual
conversation with Mr. Unsworth. This would have been a matter of some importance or interest to him and
I am sure that was not the sole purpose of the conversation, whatever it may have been, but, in fact, it took
place, to my recollection.



MR. DONAHOE: Will the Minister of Finance confirm for this House that this conversation that he
describes between himself and Mr. Unsworth took place sometime between, either contemporaneous with or
between the issuance of the press release by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the international telephone
conference involving the Premier which took place, as I understand it, on November 8th. Was his contact with
Unsworth between November 4th and November 8th?



MR. BOUDREAU: I have already informed the honourable member that the contact was of such a
casual nature I do not recollect the details of it, but perhaps if I put my mind to it I may get some better
recollection.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder if the Minister of Finance would be able to inform this House if he has
any personal recollection at all of ever, at any time, in conversation with George Unsworth, expressing
congratulations to George Unsworth that arrangements had been made resulting in the untendered $225,000
contract being awarded to the firm in which Mr. Unsworth was a partner?



MR. BOUDREAU: I think I have already answered that as well, Mr. Speaker, but I will try again.
I would say on the basis of some casual nature, I may well have a casual conversation with him that referred
to that contract, to the fact that it appeared that Mr. Morash would be doing the work.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



ERA - VILLAGE FAIR: PROMOTION - COST



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal
Agency. I recently noticed a release that you put out on the Village Fair tourism promotion. I want to know,
as well as M. Hennigar of Bridgewater, what the breakdown was of the cost of the Village Fair promotion,
what did the binder cost and the artwork, copywriting, advertising, et cetera? I might say that the lady got
three copies of this binder.






HON. ROSS BRAGG: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to get that information. I am sorry, I do not
have it at hand and I will get it. I can tell the honourable members that the Village Fair program this summer
was one of our most successful campaigns, participated in by almost every municipality across Nova Scotia,
every small village with banners and the binders that he talks about that contain the kits of information to
make sure that they had a program that they could follow. I spoke at a meeting of the municipalities and the
people that participated in it and the feedback was tremendous, that it was a very well-executed program and
I will undertake to get that information. (Applause)



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the honourable minister that I really was not
criticizing his program, I wanted to know basically what the costs were. I want to know how you are going
to measure the success or failure of that program during the winter months and what you are going to do about
next year, as well?



MR. BRAGG: I appreciate the member opposite is not being critical because I think that it has been
a very well-executed and a well-delivered promotional and marketing campaign for the Province of Nova
Scotia.



Some of the measurement that he talks about, we have already done. The inquiry numbers from our
advertising that went out on the Village Fair, the inquiry numbers from people across North America who
responded to the ads and called our machines and our answering service that we have contracted out to
Corporatel, the calls are up a tremendous amount. Now we all know tourism was up this year, but the inquiries
generated because of this campaign were up, in some cases, 20 per cent and 25 per cent on specific parts of
the campaign. It has been very successful. We are going to analyze the results through the winter months.



Mr. Speaker, let me tell you this, we are going to continue that campaign again next year. So it was
not a case that we did it just for one year and had all the expenditures of banners and posters and binders. This
program is a multi-year program, will be used again next year to get the best advantage of the dollars and I
can tell the member opposite that it was done within the budgets of our department and was not over-budget
as a programmed expenditure. (Applause)



[1:15 p.m.]



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister’s answer and we want to do all we can to
promote the tourism industry, an $800 million industry to Nova Scotia and get as many people here as
possible.



If I could, at last spring’s session, I raised a question with the minister about what extra promotion
they were doing in the United States or the New England States because of the dollar value of the American
tourists coming into Nova Scotia. Has the minister looked at that?



MR. BRAGG: Mr. Speaker, yes we have done that and the member opposite is right, we had a great
opportunity with the status of the dollar to take advantage of our American tourists. One of our biggest
markets is the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. We have put extra advertising in there and I can get the
member opposite those numbers but specifically we did some targeting in some markets like Jacksonville,
Florida, where we had a good response. We have done some analysis of that and we know that we don’t get
a good response out of the Miami area but in Jacksonville and some of those other areas along the seaboard,
we have got good responses, we did do some extra effort in those and our numbers show us that we had more
American tourists coming this year than before and that they spent more money. Not only when the tourists
are coming from the United States are they coming in increased numbers, they are spending more money. It
is a sign of the recovery in the economy that this is happening.



Because of the dollar we have also been able to keep Canadian tourists at home instead of going into
the United States and that has helped our industry even more. Mr. Speaker, it has been a great year in tourism.
We believe this year it should approach the $900 million mark in the industry. Hopefully next year and my
staff tell me I am being overly optimistic, tourism may be a billion dollar industry for the Province of Nova
Scotia. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



SUPPLY AND SERV.: TRURO-BIBLE HILL HIGH SCHOOL - CONTRACT



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Supply and Services.
I wonder if the minister would advise the House, through you, whether any commitment has been made by
him or his department as to who will design a new high school to be constructed in the Truro-Bible Hill area?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, did I understand the question as who is designing the new
school?



MR. DONOHOE: Has a commitment been made to a designer for that school, yes?



MR. ADAMS: At this point I have to take it under advisement, I am not too sure about that particular
one. I know there are some that are going out to private contractors for partnerships and some are being done,
as they have been done, by Design and Construction through our department but that one in particular I have
to check it out and get back to the member.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, If I may by way of supplementary, indicate to the Minister of Supply
and Services that when he consults with his officials in his department he will find that a Mr. Tom Connell,
who is an architect, a sole practitioner in Truro, has received a commitment, from his department, to design
a new Truro-Bible Hill high school worth $15 million, the consulting fees on which would be something in
the order of $900,00, almost $1 million and that the commitment made by his department, he will find from
his officials, was sole-sourced.



I wonder if the minister, with me helping him with those names and those numbers, dredges up any
recollection of any such commitment to Mr. Connell in Truro?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, no.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Minister of Supply and Services will make a
commitment then to this House here today that when we return tomorrow and embark upon Question Period,
he will, prior to Question Period, table the answers to the questions which I have just now put to him. Whether
or not Mr. Connell has been retained, whether or not the value of the construction is in the order of $15
million and whether or not, in the normal course of events, the commission or fees would be in the range of
ballpark figures, $900,000? Would the minister give me that undertaking?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to do the best I can on that request, yes.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



PRIOR. AND PLAN. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

UNTENDERED CONTRACT - INFORMATION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the
Premier. I would like to ask the Premier, was the decision on the November 1st Priorities and Planning
meeting to not sole-source the appointment of the commissioner for the amalgamation of the metro
municipalities?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have repeatedly said that I left that meeting with the impression that
we were, in effect, calling for proposals.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am not looking for the impression, I am looking for the decision.
I am looking to find out what was the decision actually made at that Priorities and Planning meeting. I would
like to ask the Premier if he could indicate to me and all Nova Scotians today that, in fact, the decision made
at Priorities and Planning was to not sole-source the appointment of the commissioner of the metropolitan
amalgamation here in Halifax.



THE PREMIER: I can only recall and repeat what I have said before. I left that meeting with the
distinct impression that we were going to call for proposals. New names were offered in addition to the ones
on the letter that you have. The impression I left was that this was going to be for a call for proposals. That
is what I have said and that is what I continue to say, Mr. Speaker.



MR. CHISHOLM: Perhaps I could ask the Chairman of Priorities and Planning if he would give us
some indication of how the decision or the impression that was left with everyone at that Priorities and
Planning meeting on November 1st with respect to sole-sourcing, was conveyed to the Minister of Municipal
Affairs and/or Grant Morash?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well I think there is more than one question there. Let me answer
the last part of it first. I am told, as has been the honourable member, that the decision was conveyed to Mr.
Morash, in whatever form, by the honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs. I think that is clear.



But let me get back to the first question you asked, with respect to the process for a decision. The
process for a decision in Priorities and Planning comes by way of memorandum and a decision is made. There
was no such memorandum, there was no such request for a decision, nor was one made; the memorandum
and the request for a decision came in the week following.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



SUPPLY AND SERV.: HEBBVILLE SCHOOL - CONTRACT



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister of Supply and Services. I would ask
through you, if I may, to the minister, whether or not the Minister of Supply and Services will tell this House
whether a commitment has been made as to who will be designing an addition which is planned for the
Hebbville school in Lunenburg County?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Again, Mr. Speaker, the answer is very similar to the first one.
Specifically, I can’t give him the names of the schools and who is doing what, but I can find that information
for him.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder if the minister would give me an undertaking similar to the one I asked
for a moment ago, in relation to the Truro-Bible Hill situation, that he might advise this House by way of
tabling the information tomorrow, before Question Period, who has been committed the design work for the
addition to the Hebbville school, the cost of that project and the estimated fees to be paid to the consultant;
would he give me that undertaking?



MR. ADAMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder if the Minister of Supply and Services would, when responding in both
cases, making good on both undertakings which he has given to me here today, in relation to tabling that
information tomorrow, would he be prepared to indicate when doing that, whether or not the decisions to go
with Mr. Connell in Truro-Bible Hill and Mr. Dumaresq in Hebbville, whether those choices or selections
were made following the new guidelines for awarding engineering design and architectural contracts which
are being worked on in the Department of Government Services?



MR. ADAMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that would be in the context of the whole question.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



NSLC - IDENTIFICATION CAMERAS



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister responsible
for the Liquor Control Act. I want to know, as does Mr. MacGillivray of Pictou County, where the
identification cameras have gone that used to be in the Liquor Commission stores? They were there to take
identification pictures and they are gone. I am wondering where they went?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question.
Quite frankly, I don’t know. I will take the question on notice or get some information from one of my
colleagues who may be better informed. But I certainly will respond.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Just in a general way, do items that are no longer considered necessary go
through the same process as surplus government equipment?



MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, it is my understanding that through the Department of Supply and Services
normally there is Crown assets disposal. I can determine, specifically with respect to the Nova Scotia Liquor
Commission, if those cameras were owned by the Liquor Commission, where they went. I will certainly
respond to the honourable member.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.






MUN. AFFS. - HFX. METRO AMALGAMATION:

 

COMMISSIONER - PREMIER DIRECTION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier, would the Premier
confirm that he, in fact, gave Brenda Shannon the direction to contact the Minister of Municipal Affairs on
November 2nd, to tell her that the appointment of the commissioner to handle the amalgamation was not to
be sole-sourced?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, at about 6:50 a.m. that morning, I spoke with Ms. Shannon and I
wanted it to be made clear that sole-sourcing was not to be done, that it was indeed a call for proposals, as I
indicated and as I said on the previous speaking.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to put my first supplementary to the Minister of
Municipal Affairs. Would she please explain to members of this House, and all Nova Scotians, why it is, after
receiving clear direction from the Premier through Ms. Shannon to not sole-source the appointment of the
commissioner for amalgamation, why did she ignore that direction on November 4th, announcing that Grant
Morash would, in fact, be appointed?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question in any number of ways
over the last two weeks. As I have said on a number of occasions, there were four individuals who were
approached, who were contacted, who were asked if they would consider having their names stand forward
for the coordinator for the amalgamated metropolitan area. I have tabled that information, I have tabled the
CVs from the four individuals. I have tabled quite a bit of the information that has been requested. So, in
actual fact, I have answered that question on a number of occasions, that there were four individuals who had
been approached with regard to the position of coordinator for the new metropolitan amalgamated area.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister could indicate to us today whether, in fact, she
had gotten a final answer from those other people who were approached to consider taking on this position
before she made the decision and the subsequent announcement on November 4th, that Grant Morash would
be the individual appointed to this position?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, that was an extremely long question. I believe what the individual is
asking is were the four individuals contacted prior to the announcement of the individual who I announced
on Friday, November 4th. In actual fact, I think as I have tabled in the House, the names of the individuals,
I think I have answered in a number of the questions that we approached four individuals, one of whom was
out of the country at that particular point in time and a message was left to ask the individual to return a call
when that individual got back into the country. So, in actual fact, three of the individuals were directly
contacted on November 2nd.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



HOUSING AND CONS. AFFS. - DIAMOND ST., WESTVILLE:

 

SUBSIDENCE - STATUS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.
It is now 21 months since the homes on Diamond Street in Westville have been affected by subsidence. Two
of the families have propped up their homes and are now occupying them with temporary repairs having been
made. But one family has been unable to return. My question to the minister is, what has the government done
and what is it prepared to do in the future to help these people stabilize and re-establish their homes on
Diamond Street?



[1:30 p.m.]



HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. First
of all, the three families that were involved, Nova Scotia Housing and Consumer Affairs offered alternate
housing for them in the short term and we wish they had accepted the offer. In the long term the Government
of Nova Scotia over the past two or three months has set a committee of individuals from my department as
well as the Department of Natural Resources to look at programs in the United States and we hope to have
a report completed to take to government some time within the next month, I guess would be a fair statement,
to try to arrange for a long-term program for people having that problem in Nova Scotia which would be one
of the first in Canada.



DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for his answer. The minister did make reference on April 27th,
that he was putting together the working committee and that they would be looking at what is happening in
other jurisdictions. I am sure that the minister while he is not prepared to release his report at this point has
some information. In view of the information that he has and in view of the fact that the government has seen
fit at an earlier time, in a moral way, to recompense flood victims in Antigonish, what is the minister’s current
thinking? Does he feel that there will be a positive response to the people on Diamond Street in Westville in
terms of getting them back into their homes?



MR. BROWN: If you say anything positive at this stage it would be very misleading to those
individuals, so all I am saying is that we have taken the initiative for the first time in this province to try to
develop a program and we will put our hearts and souls into that program and the government will make a
decision in due course with regard to this program and others.



DR. HAMM: I thank the minister, the minister has made reference that a decision is coming. My
specific question then I think on behalf of the people on Diamond Street in Westville, would the minister give
us a date that he would be prepared to give his decision and this government’s decision on the question of
recompense to subsidence victims in Westville? The exact date, something they can look forward to.



MR. BROWN: I appreciate the question and it is really involved. We have had officials from my
department, the Department of Natural Resources with their mining background, they have now put their
report together or are about to finalize it, the report will go to print hopefully in the near future. We will have
the municipalities which I believe have a major role to play as well because they are the ones that issued the
building permits in all cases like this, we don’t issue those. I believe that Nova Scotia has to come to grips
with this major problem in our mining communities and, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that we will come to grips
with some sort of a program. I don’t know if that program will be acceptable to the honourable member and
all Nova Scotians or not but we want Nova Scotians to have some type of program with regard to this issue.






MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. Now, we
have a number of distinguished visitors in our midst today and various members have contacted me asking
if they could introduce guests to the Assembly after Question Period.



The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.



MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me today to rise in my place to introduce
the very prominent and active member of my community, Ms. Helena Poirier. I would ask Helena to rise and
take the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, as has already been said there are a number of very distinguished
persons joining with us in the gallery today and none more distinguished than a former member of this place
and a former Minister of the Crown, accompanied by his wife, Carolyn. Of course I am referring to the
Reverend Laird Stirling and Mrs. Carolyn Sterling. I would invite them to rise and have the House extend a
warm greeting to them. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would certainly like to echo and add my words of welcome
to those who have already been introduced. I think it is worthy to note, too, that Mrs. Poirier was also once
a municipal councillor in Halifax County.



I also want to introduce, because we are certainly honoured today to have within our galleries a
number of individuals, and I won’t try to mention all their names, who have come here to express their
concern and opposition to the establishment of gaming casinos in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would like
those who are present here to express their opposition to the establishment of casinos to please rise and be .
. .



MR. SPEAKER: No, there must be individual introductions, not group. (Applause)



Are there any further introductions of individual guests here this afternoon? If not, I will call on the
honourable Government House Leader.



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



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



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 122.






Bill No. 122 - Workers’ Compensation Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview. I do not
know exactly how many minutes she had used up, but I will get an estimate. (Interruptions) All right, 10
sounds like a fair estimate from my reading of Hansard, so you will have 50 minutes if you wish to address
the amendment.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, when I rose in debate last night it was not to address
Bill No. 122 itself but, rather, to address the amendment introduced by my colleague, the member for Halifax
Atlantic. This amendment - which I am struggling to put my hands on a copy of but it is very much on the
record - is an amendment that would propose that the subject matter of Bill No. 122 ought to be referred to
the Human Resources Committee for further careful study and consideration.



Mr. Speaker, we know that there is a crisis with respect to the current unfunded liability of the
workers’ compensation program in this province. When we introduced this amendment not only did
government members quickly reject the proposal that it go to the Human Resources Committee, but we heard
several arguments against it being referred to the Human Resources Committee from Official Opposition
members and, of course, they are eminently capable of speaking to their reasons for doing so.



Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that I find it very disturbing that the main gist of the argument for why this
bill should be rushed through, why this bill should go to the Law Amendments Committee and, in a sense,
be fast-tracked, is because this mess has been around for so long and this crisis has been growing for so long
that we just don’t have any choice but to get on with it, to get it over with, to make the changes and somehow
this is an appropriate and adequate solution to a very serious problem.



Well, let me say in the first place, Mr. Speaker, it is true and I certainly acknowledge that there has
been a very serious problem mounting with the Workers’ Compensation Board and not just however with the
growing unfunded liability of the Workers’ Compensation Fund, but there have been problems with the
workers’ compensation begging for government attention for a very long time. If we ever had a case of where
an ounce of prevention would have provided a pound of cure, this surely is it.



The reason we are in the position today of addressing this bill is because the government never did
take seriously - going back, literally, several decades - the need to put preventive measures in place with
respect to proper occupational health and safety provisions, with respect to proper rehabilitation programs as
they related to preventing injuries and diseases and, in far too many cases as well, Mr. Speaker, work place
deaths that were avoidable. So, we have had this growing problem; we have had far too many injured and
diseased workers, and deceased workers, than should ever have happened in this province or needed to happen
had there been appropriate preventive measures taken.



Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we have had far too many workers who have been injured or diseased on the
job for whom there has been no proactive program of providing for the work place re-entry, the work place
return of those injured and diseased workers, in some cases to jobs that were perhaps less demanding in terms
of certain physical requirements of the job, as a result of injuries and diseases that had been caused through
no fault of the worker’s own actions, but that nonetheless would allow injured and diseased workers in this
province to continue to work with dignity, to make their contribution, to be able to resume active employment,
provide for their families and get on with their lives.



So, Mr. Speaker, it has been a growing problem and it may seem to unfairly place the burden, but
I think there has been far too little attention to what the toll has been on the lives and the dignity of injured
workers and their families, as this problem has mounted. But so, too, has there been very little regard,
absolutely no responsibility taken over a period of many years. We are talking going back to the 1970’s to a
problem that has grown and worsened over the decades.



There has been very little responsibility taken for what the financial implications would be and what
financial implications were mounting as a result of the irresponsible management of this whole problem. The
financial management, as well as the absence of preventive measures and rehabilitative measures through
appropriate occupational health and safety provisions and appropriate rehabilitation programs.



So, Mr. Speaker, how then do we end up in this crisis today and what do we do about it? Some would
appear to be arguing, and I think this was the gist of some of the arguments made by Official Opposition
members, that this is a bill, the principle is sound, there is not much wrong with it. Let’s get it into Law
Amendments Committee. Let’s get it over with. I don’t want to suggest that they were not open to there being,
through the normal Law Amendments Committee process, an opportunity for people who have concerns about
the bill to express them. I think we all know, as a result of the long-established practices in this House, and
particularly as it relates to Law Amendments Committee, that there are not a great number of examples of
where major changes have really been permitted as part of the Law Amendments Committee process. Once
the government gets its legislation through second reading and into Law Amendments Committee, there are
not very often major changes.



So, Mr. Speaker, we have to be concerned about whether or not the bill, in its current form, is the
best that it can be with some possible refinements that we might expect could come from Law Amendments
Committee.



Mr. Speaker, what I think has not been acknowledged here by the government or to any degree that
I am aware of by the Official Opposition, is that this is a bill that will introduce massive changes as they relate
to injured and diseased workers and as it relates to the survivors of workers who die as a result of work place
injuries or diseases. I am talking both about work place fatalities and about workers whose lives will be
shortened, who will end up leaving, in some cases, widows and families, children, far sooner than would
otherwise have been the case, as a result of work place injuries and diseases.



Mr. Speaker, that brings me back to the amendment and why we would propose that this bill be
referred for further detailed public scrutiny and consultation. I briefly dealt last evening with the question of
whether the Human Resources Committee is up to the task of dealing with this matter. I think there are
reasons to have concern about the competence of the Human Resources Committee on the basis of the rather
unfortunate record, since that committee has been actively involved in dealing with the agencies, boards and
commissions appointments process. Perhaps, what is needed is for the Human Resources Committee to have
a challenge, to have a focus, to deal with a matter other than the appearance of carrying out the government’s
supposed non-patronage appointments process and deal instead with one of the areas of responsibility that
properly belongs in the domain of the Human Resources Committee as assigned by the Rules of this House
and this is issues that fall within the Labour portfolio and that affect the lives and well-being of workers in
this province.



[1:45 p.m.]



I think it is a responsibility of ours to ensure that the Human Resources Committee does act
responsibly and competently with matters that are within their jurisdiction and it is certainly clear that
workers’ compensation is a matter that is of immense importance to the workers of this province, falls squarely
within the responsibility of that committee because it pertains to labour legislation and the labour program
as it relates to compensating workers.



I am not going to deal further with the inadequacies of the Human Resources Committee, I suppose
someone could argue whether we here in this House of Assembly have shown ourselves to be totally competent
to deal with lots of things but I don’t hear anyone arguing that we should suspend democracy because we don’t
think we are doing a very good job of dealing with all matters that come before us. I don’t think you can use
the inadequacies and the demonstrated difficulties with the Human Resources Committee by extension as an
argument for suspending their responsibilities, their activities and thereby argue that labour matters will not
have a committee within the standing committee structure of the House, where a matter like workers’
compensation can be appropriately addressed.



So, I want to come back then to the argument of why a proposed referral to a committee at all? I want
to say clearly that I think it is cause for concern that not a great many people recognize the extent to which
Bill No. 122, if it were to be implemented in its current form or not with the benefit of any major revisions,
would massively alter the benefits to workers in this province who suffer work place accidents or diseases or
the survivors of workers who are killed through no fault of their own, in work places in this province.



It is further a concern and I don’t hear any members of this House acknowledging in this debate so
far, other than my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic, that if Bill No. 122 supposedly reforming
workers’ compensation in this province were to be adopted in its current form or largely unamended, we would
have in Nova Scotia, the worst piece of workers’ compensation legislation in the country. That is cause enough
to be concerned that that legislation should go out to a committee for further public consultation, for further
detailed scrutiny, for further detailed analysis before we inflict on the workers of Nova Scotia, the worst piece
of legislation, the worst workers’ compensation program in this country.



I think that unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the problem has been around for so long, the growing
unfunded liability has not been adequately addressed for so long that there is a kind of comfort in the notion
that if we could just get this piece of legislation through, the situation is somehow going to be improved. But
I think it is the responsibility of the Human Resources Committee, with its responsibility for labour, and I
think in a broader sense its responsibility for the well-being of Nova Scotians, as represented in several of the
other departmental areas that fall within Human Resources, to focus in a very particular way on how workers
are going to be served by this legislation, how the working people of Nova Scotia are going to either benefit
or be penalized by the massive, sweeping changes in this legislation and how the further victims of work place
injuries, diseases and fatalities are going to be affected, namely, the surviving families of those who ultimately
lose their lives as a result of work place conditions or accidents that occur in the work place.



Mr. Speaker, you and I both know that is really not the job of the Law Amendments Committee, that
in fact, if Law Amendments from time to time is urged by members of the general public who appear before
it or by Opposition members of the government that strenuously argue for this, to do massive rewriting, major
overhaul of legislation that the government has brought in, has sponsored, has gotten through second reading,
been approved on principle and gone to Law Amendments Committee, what usually happens is that the
Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee or the minister whose legislation is before Law Amendments,
screams and yells and says it is not the job of Law Amendments to engage in that kind of massive overhaul.



It is not the job of the Law Amendments Committee, for example, as it relates to workers’
compensation, to conduct a detailed analysis of whether workers in the province are going to be severely
impacted by the sweeping changes contained in this bill. I don’t serve on the Law Amendments Committee
any more but I have in the past. My experience with Law Amendments is that the government more or less
regards the Law Amendments process as a fine tuning of legislation that goes through this House.



In fact, Mr. Speaker, if it is the view of a given minister, in this case the Minister of Labour, that
there are major changes in order and that he or she is, in fact, prepared to sponsor major amendments that
would fundamentally alter the bill under consideration, that it is I think not only the custom but also the
responsibility of the minister who is sponsoring that legislation, to clearly indicate at the second reading level
what kinds of major changes they are prepared to sponsor.



Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour did not indicate, did not make any clear, firm commitment to
major changes that he would entertain as the minister responsible, certainly did not signal that although I was
not able to be in the House. I was in Law Amendments Committee on another matter when the minister
introduced this bill but my colleagues tell me that he made no firm commitment to specific amendments that
he was prepared to sponsor. In fact in my view, the Minister of Labour, based on at least my second hand
account and I asked an hour ago whether yesterday’s Hansard was in yet so I could read his comments, so I
would know exactly what he said. It is not available yet so I have only to go on my colleague’s account.



HON. JAY ABBASS: Just to help the debate along, I just want to point out to the member opposite
that Hansard is available. I have read it myself and if she did care to read it, she would find that I did commit
to lending a very open ear to any comments that the opposite side had.



I have staff members here hanging on to your every word or her every word, as they were last night
hanging on to the words of her colleague in the front bench of that Opposition Party. We have yet to have one
single solitary suggestion for how we can improve upon the appeal structure as proposed. We are waiting.
(Applause)



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think that was a point of order. I certainly don’t object in
any way to the intervention but I think the Speaker would be the first to rule me out of order if I began talking
in any kind of detail about how I thought particular clauses or specific provisions of the bill ought to be
changed. I am not speaking on the bill at this point. I am speaking on the amendment. The arguments that
I am making pertain specifically to the issue of whether the next stage, the next step in the process of
overhauling workers’ compensation legislation in this province can be best served by referring it to Law
Amendments, which is what would happen in the normal course of events if this amendment weren’t on the
floor before us. Or whether the reform, and one would have hoped refining and improving of workers’
compensation in this province, would be best served by referral to the Human Resources Committee as my
colleague the member for Halifax Atlantic has proposed.



I am held within the confines based on the rules and dimensions of this House to address that very
particular proposal, that amendment by my colleague the member for Halifax Atlantic. The point I am making
is not about individual specific provisions at this point because I am not permitted to do that when addressing
the amendment. Perhaps inadvertently or perhaps even in an attempt to be helpful the Minister of Labour’s
intervention does help to make the very point that I am trying to make as an argument for why this matter
ought to be referred to the Human Resources Committee. Because, in fact, this is an immensely complicated
piece of legislation. It is a piece of legislation that is extremely detailed and extremely complex. It is a piece
of legislation in which such sweeping changes are proposed, as they relate to injured, diseased and deceased
workers, that it is incumbent upon us to be very clear what the implications of those changes will be.



I know that arguments have already been advanced but meanwhile the workers’ compensation appeal
backlog isn’t being properly dealt with and is growing. Arguments no doubt will be made yet again, they have
already. Look, there has been all kinds of consultation with respect to workers’ compensation. Mr. Speaker,
if there had been sufficient consultation on the provisions of this bill then I would suggest that there would
not be an argument for referral to the Human Resources Committee. But, let us be very clear that a good many
of the provisions in this bill which are extremely damaging to injured workers and their families, which are
extremely onerous to people who will endure the pain, the suffering, the hardship and the indignities of being
rendered, in many cases, disabled to do their job, these matters have not been fully taken into account. That
is why there are a great many concerns being expressed by people that are directly affected or representatives
on behalf of workers who will be affected in the future by the provisions of this legislation.



Maybe the Minister of Labour, if we were free to have a wide-open exchange here, which we are not
and is always a frustration I think to members, maybe the Minister of Labour would want to suggest, but we
don’t need to have this referred to the Human Resources Committee because, after all, we had consultation
during the summer; that is what was promised by the Minister of Labour here in this House during the
session. Assurances were given that would be done, but what actually happened?



[2:00 p.m.]



What actually happened is that the government went ahead and put its legislation together and then,
because there was criticism that the consultation had not taken place, because there was an outcry that the
minister has not carried through with the consultation that was promised, then the government, more or less
after the fact, put out a discussion paper. Now, the minister is the only person, I suppose, that knows in this
House for sure - maybe his whole caucus does and some of his members will speak to it - how far advanced
the workers’ compensation legislation was, how final the decisions were before that discussion paper was put
out.



I don’t know the answer to that because I am not in the Cabinet and in the caucus when the
legislation that is now before us is actually brought to be caucused. (Interruption) I do know that some
legislation, somehow, slips in here that hasn’t been fully caucused from time to time but I don’t have any
indication, I haven’t heard that this legislation hasn’t been properly and fully caucused. I find it surprising that
if it had been properly caucused - or let me put it this way, I don’t want to be unfair - I would strongly suspect
that there are a good many members of this government on the caucus benches that are quite dismayed by the
restrictive and Draconian provisions in this bill. If that is not the case, then some of those caucus members
have had an astounding change of mind and change of heart about where they stand with respect to what is
fair and what is not fair in the treatment of injured and diseased workers.



That is really not my point - I followed the rabbit tracks and I ought not to have done that - my point
is that this piece of legislation was introduced and contains a number of measures that go so far beyond what
was proposed in that discussion paper, or so much at variance with what was proposed in that discussion
paper, that there is no basis for saying the legislation was a good faith effort to come up with a legal
framework, a bill that is a good faith response to the discussion paper, and a consultation process that followed
the discussion paper.



Now, I don’t know whether the Minister of Labour thinks that is unfair for me to suggest, but if there
has been extensive consultation with injured workers, with labour representatives, with workers’ organizations
of one kind or another since the discussion paper came out, then I know the minister would have told us about
that, or will yet tell us about it. If he is going to tell us about it, I hope he will use the opportunity to explain
why a number of the most onerous, the most repugnant elements of this bill were not contained in the
discussion paper and, after he finishes telling us why they weren’t contained in the discussion paper, maybe
he can tell us where they came from and whose interests he thinks they represent, because they certainly don’t
represent the interests of injured workers.



I don’t want the House to think that this is just sort of idle speculation on my part, that this legislation
was already drafted, in the main, before that discussion paper even went out. I want to say clearly and, I think,
without fear of contradiction by the Minister of Labour because, he told me this himself in a personal
conversation, when I contacted him early in the summer about the very serious problem of the growing
backlog of workers’ compensation appeals, the minister indicated that the legislation was ready, it was drafted.
Yet, considerably after the point where the minister told me that, this discussion paper appeared, more or less
at the last minute in terms of any kind of consultation process that would have been meaningful.



So, Mr. Speaker, it is those events, the absence of a proper process, the inadequacy of real
consultation and scrutiny, that leads us to introduce an amendment to propose a referral to the Human
Resources Committee so that these matters can be thoroughly aired and reviewed and discussed, and can be
the subject of further consultation by all of the parties who will be affected. I don’t want to say that the only
party whose interests should be represented in that process is that of injured workers themselves or workers
who will potentially be affected by the legislation in the future because they may become the victims of work
place accidents or diseases or, God forbid, fatalities.



The point is, Mr. Speaker, this is a piece of legislation that affects the interests of employers, it affects
the interests of taxpayers and, from our perspective based on our analysis of the bill, it reflects an over-representation, an over-preoccupation of the concerns of the taxpayers and the employers, and insufficient
concern and attention and care to its negative consequences and adverse impact on workers themselves.



Surely, a piece of workers’ compensation legislation that purports to be a massive overhaul and
reform, should have as its principal concern the workers themselves who will be affected by it, and its most
important priority, trying to improve those benefits and provisions that affect the workers who will be so
profoundly affected by this legislation. Mr. Speaker, that is why we have proposed the amendment that this
bill be referred to the Human Resources Committee.



Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments that were made, not just by the minister himself when he
introduced the legislation, the few comments that I was able to hear, and the minister may be quite right that
Hansard is now available but it wasn’t available an hour before I had requested, to know, in order to have the
benefit of his comments. He and others who have commented have talked about how really severe the problem
is to find the right balance between the interests of the employers and the interests of the workers. There has
been a kind of suggestion that maybe the government got it right. If nobody is totally happy and everybody
has some criticism, then maybe that means that the government did a good job in striking the right balance.



Let me just say, Mr. Speaker, that I don’t hear the same kind of concerns, either in terms of their
tenor or their substance, coming from employers that I am hearing in increasing volume and increasing
numbers coming from injured workers and representatives of workers. And that should not be surprising,
because this is a piece of legislation that provides a number of cushions and considerable comfort to the
employers who will be affected by it and very little protection, and precious little comfort, to workers who will
become adversely affected and whose families will become adversely affected by the legislation, if it is
permitted to be implemented in its current form.



Mr. Speaker, again, I know I am not free to talk in considerable detail about the provisions of the bill
that are so repugnant to injured workers and representatives of workers because the rules of debate on the
amendment don’t allow me to do that. I know the minister has asked that I address that matter. So, in order
to stay within the rules, let me suggest what some of the items are that do need to be the subject of further
detailed scrutiny, consultation and analysis, in support of my argument for why this is an amendment that is
responsible and that deserves the support of members of this House.



The proposal that the three day waiting period be imposed on workers is a proposal that may not
seem so onerous to people whose incomes allow them to have some room to manoeuvre, if they suddenly go
without their pay for three consecutive days. It may not seem a very serious problem to any member of this
House because, first of all, we are highly unlikely to be in the position of having that penalty imposed upon
us.



But that harsh measure can be very onerous and severe to a family whose income does not allow for
much margin for error. Whose ability to pay the bills at the end of the month is already strained by their
income circumstances. Whether it has been because they have not had a raise for years and years to keep up
with inflation. Whether it is because they are among the many workers who have had their full-time jobs
carved up and fragmented into part-time jobs so they are earning less on a daily basis. Whether they are
workers who have been subjected to the cutbacks that have been imposed in a number of different ways by
public and private employers, by the public sector leading the way and private employers being delighted to
latch on to that example that has been set by governments.



For whatever reason, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of families who would be adversely impacted by
discovering that as a result of a work place injury that makes it impossible for them to return to work the next
day or the next week, that they would suddenly lose three days pay. That can be a very serious financial
burden.



Mr. Speaker, the reason we argue that this and other provisions of the bill deserve to be given closer
scrutiny and more fully considered at the Human Resources level, is because this is not even a proposal that
was contained in the government’s discussion paper. Had it been contained in the government’s discussion
paper, there would have been at least fair warning that this is what the government intended to do, but it was
not even proposed as an option in the government’s discussion paper.

 

 

Mr. Speaker, I am not certain whether I am correct on this point or not and I will certainly stand to
be corrected if I am not right. I will not pretend that I have had the chance to do the kind of detailed scrutiny
analysis, and that is exactly our objection here, but I believe I am correct in saying that this provision would
make Nova Scotia, if not the only province in Canada with a three day suspension of any compensation as a
result of a work place injury, it would make Nova Scotia, if not the only province with such a repugnant
provision, certainly one of the few provinces. I hope the minister will take the opportunity to clarify that and
I will certainly also, trying to determine if that is an actual fact. I am sure my colleague the member for
Halifax Atlantic, who has done a lot of work on this issue, may very well know the answer to that himself,
but he is in the Law Amendments Committee at the moment.



Mr. Speaker, I do know for a fact that the unbelievable proposal is contained in Bill No. 122 if
adopted into legislation in this province that there will no longer be an external appeal process. It will give
Nova Scotia the dubious distinction, and I would say the much-earned reputation for being an extremely
mean-spirited and unfair government, as it relates to the rights and protections of injured workers by being
the only province in Canada where there is no provision for an external appeal process.



[2:15 p.m.]



Now, Mr. Speaker, I have been told that the minister has given some indication that maybe this issue
of whether it can be permitted, whether we could actually bring ourselves in this province to bring in a piece
of workers’ compensation legislation that annihilates any provision for an external appeal process, that that
is something that maybe should be considered further at Law Amendments Committee.



But frankly, I don’t have confidence in that kind of a vague suggestion that this might be further
considered. This is a very onerous item, the wiping out of any external appeal process, that was also not
contained in the discussion paper. Again, Mr. Speaker, one has to ask the question, if this was the
government’s intention, and the Minister of Labour made it clear that the government’s legislation was pretty
much formulated before the discussion paper ever went out, why wasn’t it contained in the discussion paper?



Further, Mr. Speaker, given the fact that it wasn’t contained in the discussion paper and has, instead,
been sort of snuck in here at the eleventh hour without there being any real warning to people who will be so
adversely affected by that. Is it not only fair and reasonable to say that that being the case, this matter surely
needs to go out for further public scrutiny and consultation? The implications of that wiping away of an
external appeal process altogether are very severe and very profound.



It is not possible to know where that really came from, but given the fact that it wasn’t in the
discussion paper, at the very least, Mr. Speaker, there is a heavy onus on the government to give a more
adequate explanation of what we have here now, in the form of these Draconian provisions. As distinct and
different from, what was proposed in the discussion paper that people have thought was a good faith gesture,
to actually seek input and come to a balanced kind of workers’ compensation reform bill.



Mr. Speaker, those are all reasons why this matter should be referred to a standing committee of the
House for further scrutiny. Anybody who says, including the Official Opposition members, who have said,
well, that will be looked after at Law Amendments Committee, is either forgetting how really inadequate the
law amendments process is to deal with such major issues, or they are prepared to more or less turn a blind
eye and a deaf ear to the fact that those concerns are not likely to be dealt with at Law Amendments
Committee. There really is not the wherewithal, in terms of staff resources, in terms of a timeframe, to allow
for the consideration of those kinds of major changes and to allow for the detailed analysis of how adverse
those consequences will be.



Now, Mr. Speaker, maybe the government’s reason for not being receptive to this matter going to the
Human Resources Committee for further consideration, is that the government is not really keen for Nova
Scotians to understand how adverse the consequences can be. For example, of having proposed the elimination
of the survivor benefits for children. Maybe they are not really crazy about the possibility of various people
who could be adversely affected in this way coming forward at the Human Resources Committee and having
Nova Scotians fully consider what the implications of that are.



Maybe the suggestion will be, well, somebody who might be in that position of considerable hardship,
already suffering the heartache of a premature death as the result of an injury or disease from the work place.
Maybe they should come to the Law Amendments Committee.



Mr. Speaker, anybody who has ever appeared before the Law Amendments Committee knows that
it is a fairly daunting kind of situation to come before a committee that is primarily dealing with the sort of
legal question of whether this legislation adequately expresses the government’s intention with respect to its
legislative agenda. That is not the kind of hearing that we are talking about when we say that there needs to
be more careful consideration, greater care taken and, frankly, more exercising of compassion, some
demonstration that people understand that we are not just talking here with legalisms and we are not just
talking here with complicated language that will allow for adjudications. We are talking about policy issues
that will have a profound impact on the lives of workers and their families who have been unfortunate enough
to suffer a work place injury or disease.



Mr. Speaker, that is why we think this matter should go to the Human Resources Committee. For
it to go, instead, as would happen if members are not prepared to support this amendment, straight to the Law
Amendments Committee, also, it seems to me, ignores the fact that there is, in this legislation, an almost
unprecedented interference with the rights of workers to negotiate within their respective collective
agreements, provisions that will supplement the existing workers’ compensation benefits in this province.



Mr. Speaker, that is not just a legalism, that is not just some little policy change. I do not know of
any other province, maybe New Brunswick will turn out to be the exception in regard to some of these matters
but other, perhaps, than New Brunswick that this government seems intent on emulating, in terms of those
areas where it has the most Draconian legislation, but appears intent on evading where, in fact, there are some
positive, progressive measures that are worth emulating from New Brunswick.



The Speaker has indicated that I have reached the end of my time in addressing this amendment so
let me just conclude by saying that there are these and many other reasons for this matter to be referred to the
Human Resources Committee. I hope others will speak to that and I genuinely urge every member of the
House to consider the merits of such a referral for the benefit of the injured workers and their families in this
province.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the amendment to Bill No.
122, the amendment effectively reading, “the subject matter of Bill No. 122 be referred to the Standing
Committee on Human Resources.”.



Last evening, in speaking on behalf of our caucus, the member for Hants West indicated in his place
that this caucus feels that while the bill as presented by the minister is not a perfect bill, but that it has,
certainly, a great deal of merit, in addressing a problem that certainly faced the previous government and is
facing the present government, that problem being the very serious unfunded liability in the workers’
compensation program in this province.



It is obvious that in a perfect world, a perfect solution could come forward. Well, if there is a perfect
world, I think it certainly has escaped us here and, certainly, we are, in terms of providing a satisfactory
workers’ compensation program for workers in this province, a position of compromise will have to be adopted
in a great many of the programs that the workers’ compensation must provide.



There is a certain degree of urgency to this problem because, obviously, each and every day that goes
by that the problem is not addressed, that unfunded liability is growing . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: . . . $90,000.



DR. HAMM: . . . by $90,000 dollars per day. That is not an insignificant amount; $90,000 a day
growth in the unfunded liability and I think we have to take that into consideration as we decide how we
should position ourselves in terms of designing a better Act.



Now, there are a great number of things that I will have opportunity to mention when I speak to the
bill itself, because there are problems with the bill, but I have listened to the minister and I believe he has
made a legitimate commitment to listen to what the Opposition says, to go to the Law Amendments
Committee and to listen to suggestions and he will come forward with some amendments. Having accepted
the commitment of the minister as being legitimate, it certainly will expedite things to handle changes in the
bill, utilizing information that comes forward at the Law Amendments Committee rather than going to a more
protracted, prolonged process and that would be referral to the Human Resources Committee.



While I have not had the opportunity to serve on that committee, I have had opportunity to serve for
a short time on other committees. The committee system, while it serves a very important function, grinds
along rather slowly and is not want to come up with quick solutions. Bearing in mind that, it is certainly our
contention that the Law Amendments Committee process which, in fact over the next several days, once we
get that process working on this particular bill, will provide a lot of useful information.



So, it certainly is, from the perspective of our caucus, one of those situations that we would be
prepared to, as much as possible, de-politicize in an attempt to come up with a real solution to the program.
It is, with having made that decision as a caucus, we are quite prepared to go along with the Law
Amendments Committee process as being quicker and equally as effective as a referral to the Human
Resources Committee.



In speaking directly to the amendment and only to the amendment, it certainly is our opinion that
the amendment is not in the best interests of a quick passage of a better bill and we will be voting against the
amendment. Thank you.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to take my place this afternoon and to
differ from the previous speaker and to indicate that I have every intention of voting in support of the
amendment that is before us on the floor for consideration this afternoon.



The amendment and the issue to which we are addressing ourselves - and I will, as I go along,
attempt to be as observant of the rules as I possibly can and keep pulling myself back, and if I don’t, I am sure
you will help me to make sure that my comments are germane. I am just trying to outline the parameters of
how I am going to go about my comments - is very simple and I want to read it and it is, “That the words after
`that’ be deleted and the following be substituted: `the subject matter of Bill No. 122 be referred to the
Standing Committee on Human Resources.’”. So, what we are talking about is the subject matter and the
importance of referring that to the Human Resources Committee. So, when I talk about some of the items
concerned within the bill, you will realize that what I am really trying to do is to talk about how and why it
is important those concepts, those areas should be referred to the Human Resources Committee for their
consideration.



[2:30 p.m.]



Now, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I think is crucially important for us to reflect on - I think
I am getting some - I don’t think it is intended to be helpful advice - or heckles from across the way from the
Minister of Transportation and Communications. He is asking me some questions which he says are very
serious questions. I would say then to the minister, because I, too, consider the subject matter of this bill and
what we are doing to be extremely serious. Therefore, I would hope that the minister and his colleagues, if
they also consider it extremely serious, will step back a little bit and in, I might say, an uncharacteristic way,
listen to some of the things actually being said. Then they have every right to put forward their own views.
That is what debate and dialogue is all about.



Now what we are talking about is a workers’ compensation system which is supposedly intended to
provide a worker in this province and their family - that could be their spouse, their children, anybody who
depends upon them for an income - with a replacement income if they become injured as a result of something
that happens at the work place. It is a very simple concept. It came about because we wanted to do away with -
I think the first legislation was introduced way back in 1910 - the adversarial system. To protect workers to
ensure that they would have an income and be treated with respect so that they could live in a dignified way.
Also, to protect the employers so that the employers didn’t need to worry about the costs of insurance and the
fact that litigation and actions could be taken against them as a result of an injury that occurred at the work
site.



Now, Mr. Speaker, the government has said that it was keenly interested in consulting with Nova
Scotians, consulting with workers. The Minister of Labour didn’t have much time to do that in the early stages
because he was given another job to do. He had to spend much of his time during the summer travelling
around the province consulting with Liberals on ways to try to save the Premier’s job.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party will realize that
yesterday his colleague the member for Halifax Atlantic took the same tack in his debate, outlining the
activities of the minister during the past number of months. I outlined to him that he was out of order in doing
so because that could be pure conjecture on his part. There is no proof or substantiating evidence that what
is to be said were indeed the facts and, nonetheless, they were not germane to the motion, nor to the bill. He
just very clearly outlined what is meant by the subject matter in the amendment. The subject matter is the
principle of the bill, not the content of the bill, the principle of the bill. He just clearly outlined, indeed, what
that was. I would ask him to stay within that clarification.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, in that parameter that you have set, I think, and I certainly am not going
to be disruptive or try to challenge your ruling, I am too respectful of you and your position to do that. But
what I am talking about here is referring it to the Human Resources Committee so that the Human Resources
Committee can do the kind of consultation that the minister was unable to do during the summer.



Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not, when I am saying this, trying to divert at all. But I am going back and
I am reminded of this minister and this government’s assertion that they wanted to consult broadly on this.



HON. RICHARD MANN: I wonder if the honourable member would entertain a question? The
honourable member is up saying that this now is about consultation. I ask the member if, in fact, he is against
the principle of the bill?



MR. HOLM: I want to assure the Government House Leader that when we get to the stage where we
are talking about the principle of the bill, I will be happy to expound even more at that time, Mr. Speaker. I
would hope that the principles in the bill will be strengthened greatly because I am hopeful that government
will accept this proposal to refer the bill to the Human Resources Committee.



HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, he is not indicating whether or not he
is against the principle of the bill. I would point out that Paragraph 676 of Beauchesne states that unless he
is opposed to the principle of the bill, then in fact this amendment is out of order.



MR. SPEAKER: The amendment, of course, is an amendment to refer to a committee and,
consequently, it is an amendment which has a higher degree of specificity than a reasoned amendment which
leaves two alternatives, as the member is so well aware. So, we are dealing with a very high level of specificity
in this amendment and it is the subject matter which is the principle of the bill. The honourable member has
outlined that very clearly. We are, in essence, in the amendment still talking about the principle of the bill
under the term subject matter, which should, according to the amendment, be referred to a committee.






MR. HOLM: I want to say then, maybe a little bit more directly to the Minister of Transportation,
the point man for the government, that I am very much opposed to what seems to be the guiding principle of
this bill and that is to save money at the expense of the workers.



I am opposed and I will underscore that, Mr. Speaker, so that the minister cannot confuse it. I am
sure that some members may, if they want to be mischievous, they may wish to alter words. I am opposed to
the principle that is being put forward by this government, the principle being that it is trying and its principal
purpose in this legislation is not reform, but the principal purpose of this is to save money on the backs of
injured workers in the Province of Nova Scotia.



Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister may not share that view, the government may not share that view.
Even if they do, they may not be free to express that opinion. But I have to ask, if this government was so truly
committed to consultation, why was it that the discussion paper was not put out until, I cannot remember the
exact date, but it was some time in September. Excuse me, October 6th. Now, the minister responsible had
months to consult with Liberals about the safety of his Leader’s seat, but only in October was the discussion
paper put forward and what we have before us is a pretty complex piece of legislation.



Many of the more Draconian measures that are contained in this legislation weren’t even in that
discussion paper. This government may think it can walk on water, that it has the ability to do anything and
everything under the snap of its fingers, but I can’t believe that it was able to develop this whole piece of
legislation after it put out the discussion paper. So, I really have to be somewhat skeptical as to how serious
they were about hearing the views and getting the feedback from those who are knowledgeable of this system,
when that discussion paper was put out.



I think and I had the privilege, and I am not sure you may also have been on the committee, I can’t
remember if you were or not, you might have sat in I believe on certain of the hearings in any event. That
when Bill No. 99 was referred to a committee another important piece of legislation that would affect the
lives, and we are talking about the lives of workers in this province. That committee did hold public hearings
to get the feedback. Now the government can, of course, use the argument that they do time and time again,
is this all you are doing is again asking for consultation? The time has come for action because we have
tremendous backlogs in the Province of Nova Scotia.



But there is no question we do have tremendous backlogs. We have workers, injured workers in this
province who have been denied justice because justice has been delayed. We have horrendously long waiting
lists for those who are waiting to have their appeals heard. Mr. Speaker, you don’t have to have this piece of
legislation to resolve that problem. The minister knows and his colleagues know, that had advice been
followed - in other words additional staff provided - then those backlogs could have been cleared up before
and still could be. So, we have the ability, the government has the ability to provide proper staffing to address
those backlogs so that workers will not continually be treated in an unjust fashion by having delays for long
periods of time. And still this legislation, this subject matter could be put out for more broadly-based
consultation.



That I would suggest would be a reasonable and certainly a very responsible thing to do. When I take
a look and I go through the bill, place after place and I am not identifying the clauses because that is
inappropriate. Those clauses are what we are talking about, what we see being done is the government talking
about removing the right or the ability for the workers to receive an independent appeal by an external body.
Talking about reducing the level of benefits that a worker will be entitled to receive if they have become
injured on the job. Talking about reducing the benefits provided to a spouse and the benefits to children of
a worker who is killed, who loses their life on the job, is that what we are talking about as a compassionate,
fair, just society? Is that what this government is saying it wants to do, to reduce the level of the underfunded
liability on the backs of people who are going through tremendous personal pain and suffering? Is that what
you want to do?



[2:45 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, this being done, and I think that the minister himself knows and certainly the members
of the Official Opposition know, that the underfunded liability which this government in this legislation is
telling workers that you have to pay for, came about because, in part, politics and mismanagement. I will say
yes to this government, no, not totally by your Party. The former Conservative Government certainly bears
a great deal of responsibility for the tremendous underfunded liability.



Certainly, Mr. Speaker, and these are points that have been made over and over again, time and time
again these points have been made. We had compensation rates reduced back in the 1970’s and also in the
1980’s. That is what led to the underfunded liability, that was that the government did not ensure that the
premiums, the rates coming in, were sufficient to match the legitimate, proper claims on the system.



So, Mr. Speaker, now (Interruptions) It is sort of interesting, you know the old saying and I am not
going to try and get rabbit-tracked off but I am already getting answers in the way of rabbit tracks, which
explain why it is that this government appears unwilling, in a meaningful, open, honest way to consult with
the people of this province. The Buchanan Government used to brag about Nova Scotia having the lowest rates
in Canada. That is what they used to use as an enticement to attract businesses to Nova Scotia, supposedly.



Now, Mr. Speaker, we are having government members across the way saying, through their heckles,
that we have to keep the rates down or else we won’t be creating any jobs. So I guess the government’s plan
of action is now to move forward together to create employment in this province, has its second plank, the first
was the casino, now the second one is to reduce the benefits to which workers should be rightfully entitled if
they are injured as a result of their work. In other words, make those who are already suffering, suffer more.
That is their plan. I think it would be cruicially important for this government then to take that plan on the
road, through the Human Resources Committee, and let people pass their verdict on what they think of what
this government is doing. (Interruptions)



I am not finished, Mr. Speaker, but as some other members have said when they heckled across the
floor, this is, indeed, a very serious piece of legislation. I am trying to keep my comments to the thrust of that
because I consider this to be an extremely vital piece of legislation for every man, woman and child in this
province who hopes to work in this province and who will have to depend, should they become injured, on
what benefits they will or will not receive in the way of compensation under this particular bill.



What we have in the Province of Nova Scotia at the present time and how novel . . .



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have been listening very carefully and
I have been looking at Beauchesne and the referral of subject matter to a committee. This amendment does
not allow for a travelling road show, this allows for the committee to examine the subject matter. It cannot
attach other conditions to the bill which would be done here in a reference to go and have a travelling road
show. I would ask the Speaker to consider that.



MR. SPEAKER: I suspect, in reference to the matter that the honourable Government House Leader,
that he is referring to Page 201, Paragraph 674 and I will read that, “The House cannot, under the guise of
referring the subject-matter to a committee, refer also certain provisions of the bill itself. This is going beyond
a reference of the subject-matter. It is an Instruction to consider certain provisions of the bill, which can only
be done after the bill has been read a second time and referred to a committee.”. This, I presume, is the section
that the honourable Government House Leader is referring to. I have been listening to the debate very
carefully to determine whether if in fact there are provisions of the bill going to be recommended to the
committee and I would rule those out of order.



What I am listening for now is the subject matter of the bill and the subject matter of the bill has been
clearly enunciated by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party when he stood to begin his debate.
In my judgment, at this point in time, he is still dealing in a general way but I have already admonished him
for not being specific enough in terms of this kind of a motion. This kind of a motion is more restrictive than
a reasoned amendment and I would ask the member to just keep that in mind.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am trying, quite honestly. There are some times when I can occasionally
try to be a little mischievous but this is not one of those occasions, I assure you I am not.



Now, I want to continue. We are talking about specifics and I am not trying to only concentrate on
specifics but if I can give an example of what I am trying to do and it is very brief. When somebody makes
a loaf of bread there are a bunch of ingredients that go into making that loaf of bread whether that be milk
and flour and sugar and so on. They are all important, as part of what the final quality of that loaf is going
to be. In the legislation and what I am trying to do here to explain it to you, Mr. Speaker, is to point out since
we are talking about the substance matter of the bill being referred to a committee, that some parts of that,
when we are talking about this, are examples as to why the whole content, subject matter, of the bill should
be referred.



What we are looking at is the whole subject matter and I am not certainly going to be trying to go
through as a clause by clause, item by item, but the principles of that subject matter are what I am really trying
to deal with. I think that that is within the overall parameters of what I am permitted to do.



MR. SPEAKER: I think the analogy of the honourable member is reasonable, just as long as he refers
the whole loaf of bread to the committee and not the ingredients that go to make it up.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t suggesting that we just sift the flour or the sugar through the
committee. Certainly it would be up to the committee as to what decision it was going to take, whether or not
it is going to go on a travelling road show going around the province and so on. So, that is a red herring and
I won’t get into that red herring that would be thrown out.






Now, one of the important principles and one of the important sections of this loaf that needs to go
as part of the whole loaf, so that the Human Resource Committee can consider it, is the decision in this
legislation to abolish the independent Appeal Board. Under current legislation, under the current Act, you
go through several stages, but if a worker and a workers’ counsellor feel that the decision that has been made
at the adjudication level, or let’s say the internal process is not fair or if they feel, Mr. Speaker, and they have
new medical information which they know or have probable reason to believe could change the decision about
whether they are or are not entitled to receive benefits or the amount, they have the ability to take their
request, take their appeal to an independent.



I know that is a foreign concept to this government, given the casino things and others, but the
independent - and I am trying to show a pattern here that I do not think people support - an independent
Appeal Board, that independent means, Mr. Speaker, that they do not represent the injured worker, nor do
they represent the workers’ compensation system. They are an independent tribunal, independent board. A
novel concept; radical. So radical that this government wants to chop it. Maybe the reason that they want to
chop it is because so many workers who have had their cases go to the independent Appeal Board are
successful.



Could that be the reason? Could the government want to be cancelling this, eliminating it so that
those workers who are unjustly treated, improperly treated - I am not saying intentionally, Mr. Speaker, but
who have not received fair justice - have no external route to which they can go as an independent appeal; in
other words, so that this government can find another way to save some money at the expense of the injured
workers?



I suggest let’s get on improving the system so that workers can be assured that they receive fair,
proper treatment and justice within the system. Then, Mr. Speaker, the Appeal Board, if it still exists, is not
going to be overturning, because the workers would have received justice in the first place.



But, no, this government is talking about chopping, cut it off, eliminate that possibility. Of course,
the Appeal Board is currently still subject to the court, so that even provides some latitude and protection for
the government and for the board. Should they feel that the external appeal was not correct, the government
would have a recourse.



What about the adversarial system? Is that really what the government wants to do as this legislation
would have us believe? Why don’t they send the whole bill and try to get some comments, observations, input,
reason from the general public, from those who have a knowledge about this system, about what the
government is doing here? Because they are setting up, in place of a system which is non-adversarial, they
are trying to establish a system that is bound to increase costs, that is bound to increase delays by making it
an adversarial system where you will have the employers and the workers coming forward, and you know, we
had the comments about, he said, she said. Some members were even told to take some papers down about
what he said, she said. Well, what we are setting up here is an adversarial system which is designed, I would
suggest, to try to make it possible to eliminate workers on the basis that the workers are going to have to be
challenged constantly. And that is going to mean increased costs for the legal representation, increased
medical costs to get, again, more and more supporting documents. It is going to result in increased delays in
justice.






[3:00 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, when you are holding back the benefits for a worker who has been injured on the job
so that they are not getting any money, the dollars are not coming in because the pay cheques have been cut
off, that worker suffers. But what about their children? Who is providing for them? Who is providing for the
spouse, especially if it is a single bread-winner family, or even if it is two? This is aimed at penalizing
workers, making it more difficult for them to be able to go through a process to receive justice and it can, in
fact, force many workers - it may well force many workers - to return to work when they are not medically
able to do so. It is certainly going to be expensive and it is inconsistent, this whole appeal thing, with the
principles upon which workers’ compensation is based.



Mr. Speaker, what this legislation is doing is also aimed at eliminating many of the benefits that
workers have gained over the past 20-some odd years.



In terms of the way in which incomes are going to be treated, currently under the present legislation,
a worker who has a valid claim is entitled to receive benefits based upon their gross income; 75 per cent of
gross. Now it is going to be net. That is going to work out, I would suggest, a reduction in the take-home for
injured workers entitlements; it could very well be by 25 per cent. That is an important part of that loaf of
bread. How much flour or how much sugar are you putting in? If you don’t put enough ingredients in, Mr.
Speaker, that loaf will fall flat. This legislation is designed to make it fall on the workers.



It is not as if there is trying to be an equal sharing of responsibility between all of those who have
benefitted from the workers’ compensation system over the years and who will. It is not as if there is an equal
spreading out of that pain. This is aimed at making one segment, one section alone bear the full cost.



You know, 75 per cent; now if you are sick or injured for a long time, of course, it can go up to 85
per cent, but only after you have been out for over 26 days. I can’t remember the exact statistics but the vast
majority of those who are going to receive benefits under workers’ compensation are for a very short-term
duration.



The most publicity is about those who have been fighting for years, those who are permanently
disabled and have been fighting to gain recognition of their disability, without much success, for many years.
But those, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the percentage of the numbers who are injured, are small. The vast
majority of workers who are injured, they may be off work for a day or two. Let’s say that you cut yourself or
whatever, or you may be off for a week or so. But, you know, I ask you, I ask members opposite, how many
of you would notice if they were to reach into your pocket and rip out three days’ wages. Many families are
very much on the edge; the working poor, those who are living from pay cheque to pay cheque to pay for their
groceries, to pay for their children’s glasses, to pay for a roof over their heads, for heat, electricity and all the
essentials.



Now they are struggling without any latitude or having any cushions and they get injured on the work
force. According to this, the government now will not allow compensation payments to be provided to them
until three days after the last remuneration that they would have received from their employer. So the person
who is working, maybe in a loading dock, and he is at work during the day and a box falls on his foot - I am
using a male situation here in this example - I hear the glib remark, well, so his foot is sore. Well, maybe it
is so sore, Mr. Speaker, that he is going to have to be off work for a number of days. So maybe that injury
occurred on a Tuesday and the doctor advises him to stay home until Monday. On Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday he is not being paid. But he is paying the full shot, to save money for the government and for the
program.



A woman who may be working in some business or some industry, the same thing; she can be
injured, she could be cut, she could sprain herself, who knows. We have a whole range of varieties,
unfortunately, of tragic injuries that occurred. It could be a single parent, three days, you eat the full cost, no
compensation, an injustice that had been known and recognized it was in the Act and was corrected only a
few short years ago.



The minister had asked me earlier, am I opposed to the principle. What I am opposed to is the
principle that all of the cost-savings are to be made on the backs of the workers. That is why the subject matter
of this bill should be referred to the Human Resources Committee, so that they can have an opportunity to
come forward and be heard.



There are to be reductions in this bill, according to this bill, to the total temporary disability
compensation, so that if an injured worker is going to suffer long-term, permanent injury, if a worker loses
an arm, they may still be able to earn the same income as they had before, but that injury resulted from a work
place accident and I have to ask, do they not and does the government not believe that they deserve proper
and fair compensation for the loss of their arm and for the total discomfort and pain and suffering and loss
of quality of life that they will suffer and endure for the rest of their living days? That is something as part
of this bill that should be referred to this committee, as part of that loaf in keeping with what I had said.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member will recognize that that was the very point that I made and
Beauchesne makes in Section 674, that parts of the bill or components of the bill cannot be referred to a
committee, under the guise of referring the subject matter of the bill. They are to be distinguished one from
the other in the resolution and in the procedure of referring it to a committee.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed I am very aware of that and I guess the only point that I would
make, is that parts are part of the subject matter and I am talking about the subject matter. I am not suggesting
for one second that only individual sections - not at all - that is not the motion that is before us. I am asking
for the whole loaf to go to the committee and when the whole loaf is there at the committee, they can dissect
it, they can look at the individual parts. I am only trying to suggest some reasons why I think that whole loaf
should go there, so there is an opportunity to slice it up and see what the individual slices are composed of.



Certainly there are going to be major changes in this whole loaf in terms of what is considered to be
earnings and how earnings are going to be calculated. Including things like Canada Pension, Unemployment
Insurance, including deeming, all of which have the impact or the effect of penalizing injured workers.



I am trying to skip through certain things in terms of points that I want to touch on, because I don’t
think I have enough time to touch on all aspects of the loaf that I want to deal with.



Another very important thing is if a worker, and we all know people who become injured but not
injured necessarily because of one single event. Some could suggest, I am trying to insert a touch of levity in
the House, that you, Mr. Speaker, should certainly be eligible for stress leave on the basis of having to listen
to us each and every day, but it is not one event, it is cumulative, it builds up.



Many workers on a work force also, whether it be a stress in terms of emotional pressure, or strains
of the job or the stress that results from a constant perpetual motion; whether that be working with your hands
on a typewriter, doing many kinds of things, we know that many injuries result as a result of the cumulative
effect of doing something. Now, that is not allowed, so the worker who becomes injured and is unable to
continue to work at their job and is going to suffer lost income because of giving years of dedicated service
doing the same kind of motion over and over again, which has finally put the strain on a part of their body,
which means that they are unable to continue to do it without the proper treatment. Sorry, it is not a single
traumatic event. Is that fair? Is that justice or is that an attempt to save money at the expense of long-serving,
dedicated workers? I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is more the latter than it is the former.



[3:15 p.m.]



There is no question that the system does need to be reformed, but let’s do it in an honest, respectful
way. Let’s, Mr. Speaker, have some consultation, through the very reasonable process that was suggested by
the member for Halifax Atlantic, by referring the subject matter of this bill for some final dialogue with the
committee. There, no, they cannot make any changes to the legislation. Of course they cannot. I have been
around this House long enough to know that that is not possible.



But surely there, not operating under the shotgun approach and the time restraints that this
government is trying to impose, there is an opportunity for a more reasoned and rational consideration than
in the Law Amendments Committee where what the government is trying to do is to feed the legislation in
without giving adequate notice to the citizens for a chance to come forward to have their concerns heard and
even to address, to evaluate, to assess the very complex formulas that are laid out in this bill. They want to
get it in and get it back here and get it out before that consultation that we were told the government wanted
can take place.



As I say, there was time for consultation on saving the Premier’s job, travelling the province in the
summer. I suggest the lives of the workers and their families are more important than the job of one.



AN HON. MEMBER: Is this on the subject matter?



MR. HOLM: We are talking about compensation, I say to the member for Hants East. (Interruption)
I will not say, on a point of order, that a member is not allowed to speak unless he is in his or her own chair,
right, Mr. Speaker? (Interruption) I am sure, in that case, he will obey the rules.



Mr. Speaker, under the current situation where a worker dies and if the family has been in receipt
of permanent or partial disability, the payments received from compensation will equal three times the
monthly payments that would have been paid to the worker had that worker lived. In other words, if a worker
is receiving compensation and dies, then the family would be given a three month equivalent of what they
would have been entitled to to help them with those costs.



Now remember a worker who has been off on compensation, particularly those for a long time, would
not have had the opportunities to build up their reserves and so on. They are going to have costs, many serious
costs related to funeral expenses and all kinds of other things. What does the government decide to do? That
assistance is cut. It is gone, according to this bill.



So what this government obviously considers it is appropriate to do is to penalize by making changes
in the Act, those families that are in greatest distress, I would suggest that as part of this loaf of bread, it
should be going to this Human Resources Committee to be studied. That is one part that they might want as
they are looking at the whole thing - so I will not be called to order, Mr. Speaker - that is certainly one thing
that I would hope would be given some consideration. Because how much more Draconian, how much more
heavy-handed can you get than trying to penalize those who have, in fact, depended upon the worker who is
receiving benefits, to have those benefits cut off at the time of their death and to remove those death benefits?
Presently the spouse of a worker who is receiving compensation, who is totally disabled - and if that person
who is on a disability were to die - the spouse would continue to receive benefits that are close to the amount
that the worker would have been receiving up to a maximum of about $740 a month. Or excuse me with a
minimum I should say in that range. That is being replaced and reduced.



The benefits for dependent children again, are under attack. The members opposite may not think
that it is important to listen to these kinds of concerns, these kinds of issues. They may say and may try to put
forward the argument that it is so crucial that we get on with reform that we need to act immediately and we
haven’t got any time for consultation. We have to clear up the backlog. We know that can be done, the backlog
resolved by giving the minister some additional staff, or the minister giving some additional staff.



We know that the unfunded liability which was brought about because of mismanagement and
politics has to be addressed. But is it unreasonable, is it such a foreign concept to this government - and I
would say to the Official Opposition, which have shown that they have the ability to change their minds on
a lot of issues? Because they are now in favour of a lot of things that when they were in government, they were
opposed to. So, even the Conservatives have the ability to change their minds, I hope on some things and I
hope they will on this. Is it so unreasonable to think that all Parties would be treated respectfully and that all
Parties should be asked to share in finding the resolve to the problems that are facing them?



Why is it the government, we saw the Steen bill and wage roll-backs, we know that they aren’t the
friend of government or a business I should say - or excuse me, correction, take that back - not the friend of
workers, I want to retract on what I said? They haven’t shown themselves to be the friend of workers, but they
have shown that in some cases they can have some sensible approaches or take some sensible approaches
when it has been beaten into them enough. Like for example, the Venture Capital Working Program, where
workers are going to set up a Venture Capital Fund with their monies to help small business in the province.
And they have been pushing the government to get involved and that goes back for a lot of years. Now, Mr.
Speaker, here is another chance. If the government is truly not as anti-worker in this province as they show
by their actions, if they believe in fairness, if they believe . . .






HON. JAY ABBASS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, just following up on what the member
opposite said about working ventures and how the government has been pushed by organized labour to help.
As the member opposite knows and I think he would want to clarify this for the viewing audience, the
government has, in a previous session, brought forward a piece of legislation which enables something called,
labour-sponsored Venture Capital Corporations. This is very much something that labour and government
cooperated on, so he might wish to clarify that for those who might have been misled by what he just said.



MR. HOLM: Thank you and, yes, indeed, I will happily clarify that. The government did bring that
forward at the previous session, Mr. Speaker. It is also true that they had resisted that when they were in
Opposition and during the election campaign. We had campaigned for it. I am delighted, and I congratulate
the government for finally having come to their senses when they agreed to go down this very sensible route.
I have no hesitation saying that is the point I am getting at, that this government can sometimes see the light.
The light came on over there on that occasion.



Well, I am asking for there to be somebody home on another occasion. I am asking for there to be
somebody at home when it comes to looking at fairness, when it comes to genuinely consulting in a broad
way. Not, Mr. Speaker, putting out some discussion paper after the legislation was already written. A
discussion paper which, some might suggest, was slightly misleading because it does not contain some of the
heavier programs or heavier measures that are contained in this legislation.



Well, Mr. Speaker, I hear the member opposite asking for another hour. I am not going to trespass
and ask for that extra hour. I am sure I have another hour in me later on if this amendment is not adopted
when we get to the principle of the bill.



Mr. Speaker, I would hope that those who are over there trying to throw less than helpful hints,
suggestions and heckles, I would sincerely hope, that they would start to treat this as a serious matter. Yes,
I know, my time has almost expired. This is not a game. The lives of thousands of workers and their families
are dependent upon decisions that are going to be made in this Chamber over the next short period of time.
I am suggesting that maybe it would be prudent to step back just a little, to give an opportunity through a
proper process to review this legislation. Because once this goes through, railroaded through, unamended as
it is, it is going to take many years to undo the damage that has been wrought by this government. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I will speak a few moments on this amendment. I will not
be in favour of this amendment, although, I have some mixed feelings I have to tell you, and I think every
member of this House recognizes that Bill No. 122 is a piece of legislation that is going to affect a lot of
people in this province. I have to tell you, it is a bill that is absolutely needed. We could not continue under
the present legislation.



I guess the argument will come from all sides of the House about whether or not the government has
put forth a piece of legislation that fully addresses everyone’s concerns. That is probably unlikely, in all
fairness, Mr. Speaker, that we will ever get a piece of legislation that everybody in the province that it affects
will stand up and say that it truly reflects what I hope to see in the piece of legislation.






[3:30 p.m.]



One thing, I don’t think sending this off to a standing committee is going to achieve any more than
we hope to get from the Law Amendments Committee. I guess we have to ask ourselves, what do we expect
to get from the Law Amendments Committee or from any committee of this Legislature. Well, Mr. Speaker,
maybe I have expectations that won’t be fulfilled by the Law Amendments Committee. Maybe someone could
stand up and argue that the Human Resources Committee is going to make recommendations that would be
accepted by this government that the Law Amendments Committee wouldn’t make. Well, I don’t think that
in reality that would happen. I think you will find that the government has a majority in the Law Amendments
Committee, has a majority on the Human Resources Committee and that is not going to change.



Mr. Speaker, what are we going to get from the Law Amendments Committee? Well, traditionally
we have seen over the years some changes in legislation, some clauses that better reflect, maybe, what a
majority of Nova Scotians have to say. I can’t at this point, in the history of this government stand up and
praise this government for the kind of changes it has come in with from the Law Amendments Committee
on its legislation. It is a track record that is yet unproven.



Now I know this particular minister is probably one of the most sincere ministers this government
has. I think he works hard at his job and I think he wants to put forth legislation that does try to reflect, in
some manner, what a lot of people are saying. I know he has a difficult job, there is no question about that,
there is no question that this legislation has some shortcomings.



Now the other day the minister gave a commitment that I have not heard from the minister over there
in their time in office, that was a commitment that he would go to the Law Amendments Committee and he
would listen and he would make some evaluations himself, along with staff, on what it is and the kind of
amendments that may be put forward. To me that is the kind of commitment I have not heard from any other
minister of this government. I can cite you many pieces of legislation that have gone to the Law Amendments
Committee and the same commitment has not been made, so I believe this minister. (Interruptions) It is not
shame. I think it is a good minister with good concerns.



I know the Minister of the Environment did go with his and I commend him on that because not all
the other ministers have. (Interruptions) I don’t want to start naming names.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MR. MOODY: I am off track, Mr. Speaker. I have been swayed by other members over there and
I apologize to you for that. (Interruptions) I think there are some pieces of this legislation that I hope to see
amended. I think in the area of appeals, and we were one of the few provinces that had independent appeals,
that this government felt that independent appeals should take place. I think every member of this Legislature
has had the pleasure, or whatever you want to call it, of dealing with somebody on workers’ compensation over
the years who have had some difficulty. You could not be an elected official of this House and not have been
involved in some cases.



Mr. Speaker, I think we all felt that regardless of the merits and demerits of the case of an individual,
we all had the feeling that somehow if it got to an independent appeal, the person would be used fairly. We
know that this legislation does not allow that to happen. There is going to be an internal review, an internal
appeal and it is not at arm’s length. Hopefully the Law Amendments Committee can deal with those kinds
of issues that have to be dealt with.



Whether you deal with the environmental problem that we have, environmental illness has not been
adequately dealt with, only by the Appeal Board and I don’t know what this legislation does to that decision.
I will be the first to stand up here and I am sure I will learn something as I listen to the Minister of Labour
take us through this legislation. There are parts of the legislation that I am not fully versed on and have
difficulty trying to follow and I would be the first to admit that. So I am having difficulty in some areas, trying
to appreciate exactly what is being done. That is being honest, Mr. Speaker.



I do have a concern about death benefits and I know these things will be dealt with. I don’t want to
get into all the areas that I will deal with on second reading, but I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Official
Opposition, and we may be accused of saying, yes, we will wholeheartedly support this legislation. I cannot
think of an MLA standing up in this Legislature and saying, we do not support new legislation coming
forward. I cannot believe anyone would do that. We do not want to unduly hold this process up in second
reading, whereby there will be an opportunity for all those interested to go before the Law Amendments
Committee and make their points. Then, fair enough, the government will argue and we will all argue about
what points are valid and what points are not valid, and I understand that process.



Mr. Speaker, I can only plead that the Law Amendments process will not be pushed through quickly.
Because, as we know, sometimes the Law Amendments Committee can get to the point where there might
be 50 people or 50 groups that want to make a presentation. As long as all those groups are fairly heard and
it is not pushed into a small timetable so everybody is exhausted, then I have no difficulty with it going to the
Law Amendments Committee and the process being open and the process of consultation taking place.



If that does not happen, then I will, when it comes back to the Committee of the Whole House on
Bills, may unduly hold up this House from a point of view of fighting for what I believe should be changed.
But I am ready and willing to allow that process to take place and that is why, Mr. Speaker, I oppose this
amendment and why I will be supporting this legislation to go on to the Law Amendments Committee. Then
I will make my decision on what parts of the bill I support and what parts of the bill I do not. Until that
happens, I think that I am going to put my trust in the minister and allow that process to take place.
(Applause)



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this amendment is fairly clear. It is to refer
the bill to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, and I assume that the purpose of that would be so
that committee would hold public hearings and possibly travel around the province looking for comment and
advice from various groups.



Mr. Speaker, I think we have all seen the document, the minister’s proposal, at least, that was put
forward on October 6th, and in that document the minister was very clear. He listed about, I think it was, 26
different committees, commissions, individual persons and select committees and what have you that did tour
the province. There has been a considerable amount of consultation regarding the Workers’ Compensation
Board and certainly the need for that particular organization to be overhauled.



If this bill was to move on to the Law Amendments Committee, it will provide an opportunity, and
I think it is time that the bill did go to the Law Amendments Committee, for people, not only to make their
views known to the committee, but to make their views known to the minister, Mr. Speaker. It is a chance for
something to be done constructively. Let us get the bill over to the Law Amendments Committee. Let us listen
to the presenters and perhaps there will be some amendments. I certainly support Bill No. 122 and its
principle.



I do have to comment, Mr. Speaker, before I sit down, that I listened to the honourable Leader of the
recognized Third Party, and I surely heard his many concerns that he has. However, I am not quite sure how
well-founded and legitimate his criticism of the previous administration was because the previous
administration did hire a general manager to look into the Workers’ Compensation Board and they did hire
a chairman of the board. That went out by way of public advertisement. They advertised through the proper
channels.



I think it is time we got on with it. We have been dealing with the Workers’ Compensation Board
for years and years now. (Interruption)



MR. JOHN HOLM: A question, Mr. Speaker, to the member from the second Party, I wonder if the
member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley could indicate whether or not the underfunded liability and the
mismanagement of the fund was noted in actuarial studies, and so on, during the time when the Conservative
Party was in office for the last 15 years?



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as you can appreciate, and I thank the honourable Leader of the
recognized Third Party for that question and I am not trying to be evasive, but we have to do something, I
think the minister and this government is attempting to do something to solve, first of all, the unfunded
liability.



We have something to take care of, Mr. Speaker, those injured workers out there. Those 1,800 or
2,000-odd people that are sitting around at home at the present time wondering what is happening to their
appeal. Some of them, their appeals have actually gone through the adjudication process, but they still do not
know whether or not they have won their appeal because somebody is sitting around somewhere.



We have members, Mr. Speaker, I am told, of the legal profession, lawyers, who are doing work that
a secretary could do, writing letters and making telephone calls and charging it up at something like $40 or
$50 an hour and that is wrong. The problem has to be addressed. So I will be supporting the bill. I will not
be supporting this amendment.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the bill which is currently before the House is a bill of not just
significant import, but of great import. It reflects many of the kinds of changes that my colleague, the member
for Hants West, had put before this House, I think in 1990. Changes, which upon reflection, had they been
enacted then with the support of the various communities which expressed interest in workers’ compensation
amendments, might well have made the problem less worse today than we find it.



There has been a tremendous amount of public discussion with respect to this document. The
minister has made it his business to endeavour to consult widely and I think that both he and the Minister of
the Environment are to be commended for that.



The amendment which is before us today would cause us, if it were passed, to go for further
consultation. My very strong sense of where I believe we should go with respect to this, and I think where my
constituents would want us to go, is to get to Law Amendments Committee, where all of those groups, which
have a very particular interest in this matter, have the opportunity to come forward and to make their
presentations.



I am, indeed, hopeful that this minister, as was the case with the Minister of the Environment, will
see that not as a challenge to the ideas that he has encompassed in legislation, but rather an opportunity to
fine tune and amend that legislation in the Law Amendments Committee process, in advance of it coming
back here for Committee of the Whole House.



Now, that said, it may well be that during the Law Amendments Committee process, substantial
argument is put forward by various groups for delaying passage of the bill and for having a further public
process with respect to it. There is nothing which will prevent the House, if it so wishes, at the committee
stage, from determining to recommit the bill, for example, to Law Amendments Committee. Or there is
nothing to prevent the House from committing the bill to a committee of the House in order that further
hearings be conducted. It would be an unusual practice for this place, but, nonetheless, the rules fully allow
that course of action to be taken if the House so desires.



So while I do not rise in support of the amendment today, I do understand what the mover of the
amendment hopes to accomplish. I am sufficiently optimistic to believe that the Law Amendments Committee
will be able to deal satisfactorily with the concerns of the various communities which will want come forward
to express their points of view with respect to this bill. Should the case arise after the Law Amendments
Committee has dealt with this bill, that one or more of those communities is able to put forward substantial
argument for more public consideration before the bill is brought forward at third reading, then I would be
fully prepared at that juncture, I believe, if those arguments were, in my view, sound, to support a further
public process.



At this juncture, sir, I think the best thing to do is to move it along to the Law Amendments
Committee where the public can have its first crack at the bill as legislation, understanding that certain
segments of the public have had an opportunity to deal with the conceptual building and construction of the
bill, in advance to it being introduced here. While I understand the amendment, I understand the purpose of
it and the seriousness of it, I will not be supporting it at this time.



[3:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I rise just very briefly to comment on the amendment
that is before us now and indicate that I share the views of the members of my caucus who have addressed the
amendment, thus far.



You will be aware, Mr. Speaker, as will any in the province who have followed the rather chequered
career of the Workers’ Compensation Act and legislation, generally over the years, that it has been subjected
to more review, analysis, examination and cross-examination over the last number of years. I honestly believe,
I may be wrong, that if we were to support this particular amendment, we are, frankly, simply delaying, I was
going to say, the inevitable. We are certainly delaying the passage of an improved piece of workers’
compensation legislation.



I am not satisfied and will speak to that as the debate here, in the Committee on Law Amendments,
in Committee of the Whole House on Bills and elsewhere, unfolds. I am not at all satisfied that the bill is in
any way, shape or form perfect. The minister has already acknowledged publicly, if I understand him
correctly, that he has got some fairly considerable amendments that will be shared at the Law Amendments
Committee and in debate along the way.



I guess I am really persuaded that we do a disservice to thousands of people who are dependent upon
the workers’ compensation system if we approve of this particular motion, have the matter referred to
committee which will do, in my opinion, not an awful lot more than consume many months of further
discussion, debate, analysis and, probably, there will be some rancorous comment both ways.



I think our best bet in ensuring that we at least get out of the 19th Century and get into the 20th
Century and, may I say, late 20th Century, and prepare for the 2000’s, I think we should have the bill debated
fully here in this place, that we should have it in the Law Amendments Committee. I expect that the time in
the Law Amendments Committee will be lengthy. I expect that the time in the Law Amendments Committee
will result in a considerable number of proposals and amendments being suggested which, if the minister is
a man of his word and I take him to be that, the minister has already indicated he is prepared to take the most
open and compassionate view of the proposals and amendments which are forthcoming through the Law
Amendments process and the other elements of debate in this House.



This is only 1994 and we have had nine different analyses or studies or reviews. My colleague, the
member for Hants West had occasion to come forward with a package of workers’ compensation legislation
which in itself was subjected to considerable analysis. Some of it was found wanting and offensive to certain
elements of the commercial and industrial and business community and by using those words I include the
labour community.



But, I really think that if there is a spirit, a willingness on the part of all members of this House, the
members of the Law Amendments Committee, a willingness particularly on the part of the Minister of Labour,
to be as open as possible to the amendments which will be forthcoming, then I believe that we can, coming
out the other end of the Law Amendments Committee and Committee of the Whole House and third reading,
we have the opportunity, if we approach it with a proper and open spirit, we have the opportunity to come out
the other end with a piece of legislation which greatly improves the circumstances both for the workers of
Nova Scotia and the employers who are paying the price tag at the Workers’ Compensation Board.



It is my understanding and I may be wrong again but it is my understanding that the unfunded
liability rises at the rate of something like $90,000 a day as we speak about it. Frankly, I think we owe it to
those who are paying those bills but as important and perhaps may I say more important, we owe it to those
who are current claimants and future claimants that we get on with it and get to the system, get to the point
where there is a far more rational system in place than pertains today.



We need change, we need improvement, we need refinement, we need greater clarity, we need much
of what is contained in the legislation. There are some elements of the legislation which, quite frankly, we
find problematic and we are going to be addressing those.



I won’t go on further, Mr. Speaker, I just think that rather than do a service to the workers of Nova
Scotia and the employers of Nova Scotia, to have the matter referred to committee, further deferred it would
be referred to committee if the motion were to pass. That would take some many months and that would get
us probably down into the late summer. It would be next fall at the earliest before we would be back here with
a modified legislative package and I don’t think that we would do the workers of Nova Scotia a service to have
as much as another year pass before that would happen.



I repeat, there is a very substantial onus on the shoulders of the Minister of Labour. He has said
publicly that he will be as open and as accommodating in response to all proposals which are heard at Law
Amendments Committee and in debate here in this Legislature. His response and his willingness to support
amendments to the legislation will be the test of his word. I expect, knowing this minister, that he will make
a very serious and legitimate attempt to respond as fulsomely as he can to the improvements that will be
recommended.



So, on that basis, I will simply close by saying that I really don’t think we do the workers of Nova
Scotia, the unions of Nova Scotia, the employers of Nova Scotia, a service at all by having very much needed
change and improvement and stability brought to the workers’ compensation system. I fully recognize that
there are individuals in the labour movement, there are particular unions in the labour movement of Nova
Scotia, who have already indicated, even through today and the last day or two that perhaps it would be
desirable to have this matter referred elsewhere. The concern is expressed by some that if you don’t do that
and if you don’t support the steps that make it possible to have it referred elsewhere, to other committees and
so on, you really can’t be on our side, you can’t be on the side of those of us in the labour movement who don’t
really think this is the best piece of legislation we have ever seen.



Well, I repeat, I share that view. I share their view. I don’t think it is the best piece of legislation that
I have ever seen either. But the trouble, I find, and the reason that I frankly feel we should not support the
legislation is what that sentiment that I just referred to, I think, fails to recognize. That, despite the best
intentions, this legislation and any other piece of legislation that might come forward, even after 6 or 8 or 10
or 12 months of delay and further discussion, is, by definition, going to be imperfect because it is going to be
the creation of those of us who are human, and we have yet to find the perfect human. We have certainly yet
to find the perfect environment in the dynamics of a somewhat adversarial and partisan legislative and
Legislature setting, where we are going to produce a piece of legislation which every person who ever reads
it is going to say, boy, we have the perfect piece of legislation. That is not going to happen.



What is going to happen if we allow the motion to pass and the bill to be referred? I really do think
what we are going to allow to happen is the unfunded liability to rise at something like $90,000 a day, 1,800
claimants not have their claims resolved as quickly as they should be, and many of them will be tied up in
much of the bureaucratic red tape and mess that I really, honestly believe the bill attempts to respond to and,
at the same time, leave the employers in some state of limbo because, in fairness to them as well, there are
certain elements of this legislation including, if I have the expression correct, experience-based ratings in
place. I think those are fundamental issues and fundamentally important to the employers of the Province of
Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, I really think we do a disservice to the thousands of Nova Scotia workers, the thousands
of Nova Scotia injured workers, the thousands who are in the system now and those who will be in the system
in the next 6, 8, 10, 12 months, we do them a disservice if we simply put the matter on the side burner and
have further discussion and debate which I guarantee you, while it will be interesting debate and while some
of it may well produce new legislative language, or proposals for new legislative language, it will not produce
perfection because this bill is never going to be perfect, just as I would suggest that we have yet to find the
perfect piece of legislation relative to any public policy issue of any significance, be it health or education or
economic development, or you name it.



So I think the time has come for us, in as cooperative and collegial and mutually supportive a spirit
as we possibly can, as 52 legislators, to get on with it, to agree that the object of the exercise is, within the
limits of our human frailty and our partisan difference, within those limits and within those parameters, to
make the best attempt that we all can here in this House, at the Law Amendments Committee and when the
bill comes back, to produce what we think is as close to perfection as each of us individually can move this
bill.



If that spirit exists - and again the onus is so heavy on the Minister of Labour and many people are
counting on him, myself included - I really believe we can at least come out of here in a relatively short time
with a piece of legislation that we can all say has, at a minimum, dramatically and drastically advanced the
cause and the well-being of the workers of Nova Scotia, the injured workers of Nova Scotia and the employers
of Nova Scotia. For that reason, I resist the amendment before us and, for those reasons, we will vote against
it.



MR. SPEAKER: There are no further speakers on the motion.



A recorded vote is being called for.



Ring the bells. Call in the members.



A reasonable length of time, I would think, since all members are present within the parameters of
the Legislature, would be a five minute period. It will, of course, be subject to ratification by the Whips.



[4:00 p.m.]



[The Division bells were rung.]



[4:08 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied? Are the other Whips satisfied? Is the New Democratic
Party Whip satisfied?



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Just one second, Mr. Speaker. Yes, it appears everybody is here.



MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question. A recorded vote has been requested. The
question is:



“That the words after `that’ be deleted and the following be substituted: `the subject
matter of Bill No. 122 be referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources.’”.



[The Clerk calls the roll.]



YEAS NAYS



Mr. Holm Mr. Barkhouse

 

Mr. Chisholm Mrs. Norrie

 

Ms. McDonough Mr. Downe

 

Dr. Smith

 

Mr. Boudreau

 

Dr. Savage

 

Mr. Gillis

 

Mr. Bragg

 

Ms. Jolly

 

Mr. MacEachern

 

Mr. Mann

 

Mr. Casey

 

Mr. Gaudet

 

Dr. Stewart

 

Mr. Harrison

 

Mr. Abbass

 

Mr. Brown

 

Mr. Lorraine

 

Mrs. Cosman

 

Mr. MacAskill

 

Mr. MacKinnon

 

Mr. MacArthur

 

Mr. MacNeil

 

Mr. Rayfuse

 

Mr. Richards

 

Mr. Surette

 

Mr. White

 

Mr. Holland

 

Mr. Mitchell

 

Mr. Moody

 

Mr. Russell

 

Mr. Leefe

 

Mr. Archibald

 

Mr. Taylor

 

Mr. McInnes

 

Dr. Hamm

 

Mr. M. MacDonald

 

Mr. Fogarty

 

Mr. W. MacDonald

 

Mr. Fraser

 

Mr. Colwell

 

Mr. Huskilson

 

Mr. Carruthers



THE CLERK: For, 3. Against, 43.






MR. SPEAKER: I declare the question resolved in the negative.



The House will now return to the main motion, the second reading of Bill No. 122.



The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to the main motion on the bill
to introduce a new Workers’ Compensation Act for the province. We have just had opportunity to have some
considerable debate as to what is the best way to proceed. The recorded vote, obviously, was a decision to
proceed with debate on the bill and eventually a vote to send the bill off to the Law Amendments Committee.



The provision of workers’ compensation benefits in this province certainly has been a controversial
issue for a great number of years. While the intent of the legislation has always, I think, been very clear and
that is to provide a cushion and a protection for a worker who was injured in the work place, regardless of who
was at fault in terms of causing the accident and for the right to receive guaranteed compensation, workers
of this province have given up their right to seek legal redress through the courts from their employer, who
may have been responsible for their accident.



The nature of the work place today certainly, even under close scrutiny by the Department of Labour,
is not a completely safe place. There are industries and occupations and businesses in which we engage in this
province that, even under ideal conditions, create a danger for workers. Even, in fact, if everything is done
right, accidents will occur because human error, even under the most closely scrutinized situations, can occur.



I think it behooves the government and the legislators in this place to try to create as adequate a
protection for a worker as is humanly possible, bearing in mind that for certain reasons a tremendous
unfunded liability has developed in the program which actually provides the monetary protection for workers
in the work place.



[4:15 p.m.]



It would make a very interesting debate as to why the liability has been allowed to grow as big as it
has. There are a great number of reasons for this, not the least of which, of course, is some actuarial
misinformation which had been given to the board and, I think, allowed a problem of this magnitude to be
created in a relatively small program and in a relatively small province. But it won’t do any of us any good,
I think, to look backwards. I think we have to look forward, in terms of legislation. Obviously with that kind
of an unfunded liability before us, any resolution of the problem will obviously be one filled with compromise.
In terms of how to fund the unfunded liability, compromise on behalf of employers and, needless to say,
compromise on behalf of workers.



Obviously, in a perfect world, a perfect solution would come forward, in which it would be very easy
for the government to come forward with a plan that would, in fact, satisfy everyone. That is not going to be
possible. So then, as Opposition, we are charged with the responsibility as to how can we influence the
government, and its present Act, which is certainly filled with some inadequacies, how we can influence this
bill and make it a better solution for what is a very big problem.






We have wrestled with this at caucus, we have discussed it and decided how can we, as a caucus of
eight, influence a government with 41 members, in terms of creating a better Workers’ Compensation Act.
Philosophically, we are in agreement with the government that something has to be done and with reasonable
speed. We have allowed ourselves to be influenced by a belief that that certainly is the case. We have also
allowed ourselves to be influenced by the fact that the minister has come forward and said, in no uncertain
terms, that he is prepared to listen to what we are saying here in this Legislature. He is prepared to listen to
what will be said at the Law Amendments Committee. He is prepared then to introduce amendments to his
bill and to take ideas that he hasn’t heard before, to make that part of his legislation.



I think that is a legitimate way for a minister to approach this House and this legislative procedure
that is set up here in this province. To make a bill that is full of compromises perhaps somewhat better. I
certainly believe that process would be much better than a further four or six months delay in asking a
committee to look at this bill.



I think over the period of the next two to three weeks we will be able to make significant
improvements in the Workers’ Compensation Act. To come back here for third reading and go through it
clause by clause and eventually pass, certainly a bill of compromise, but also a bill that will be perceived as
being fair and workable. The last thing we need at this point, I think, is to delay and delay and allow the
unfunded liability to grow in leaps and bounds.



Now having taken the position, as an Opposition, that we will speak to send the bill on to the Law
Amendments Committee, that must not be confused by the government to suggest that there is not a lot in
there that we expect to be changed when it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee. Already a
considerable amount of information has come to our caucus office. It has gone to the caucus office of the New
Democratic Party, I am sure, and also to the caucus office of the government and, also, I am sure it has
reached the desk of the minister and the deputy minster. Already, it well may be that they are formulating
some ideas for change that can make this, in fact, a better bill.



One only had to have a little bit of experience, which I had before I became a member in this House,
I had the opportunity to deal with the Workers’ Compensation Board and to work with the injured worker in
terms of trying to keep him and his family afloat following an injury and in terms of actually receiving
benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Board. There have been numerous difficulties in the administration
of claims. Many of these difficulties were, perhaps less the result of the actual legislation in place, but more
in the realm of the way in which the Workers’ Compensation Board functioned at the bureaucratic level in
terms of dealing with individual workers.



Unfortunately, over the years, a confrontational kind of relationship developed between the board
and the injured worker. The injured worker very soon on, in terms of initiating a claim with the board,
developed the attitude that the board is not on my side. While it may not necessarily be the board’s function
to be on anyone’s side it certainly, I think, behooves the board and it would be in the board’s best interests to
attempt to form a better relationship and a better interface with injured workers. From the perspective of an
injured worker, the attitude was very early on created in any claim that, in fact, the board was there not so
much to provide benefits, but to put road-blocks in the way of an injured worker.



That, of course, leads us up to the very real problem that is faced by in excess of 1,800 Nova Scotians
who are waiting to have a claim resolved, a long-term claim in terms of a permanent disability claim against
the board. The appeal process, as it was set up under the previous legislation, while there was an element of
fairness to it, there was certainly no efficiency involved. Injured workers would be forced to wait many months
in their attempt to have an appeal heard, an appeal which many of them still feel they have a significant
chance of winning and yet, month by month, they are watching their personal assets disappear as they wait
for the process to unfold that will allow their appeal to be heard, adjudicated and finally reported. Even the
reporting of the appeal proceedings is one that is fraught with difficulty in terms of time and in terms of the
length of time it takes to notify the injured worker as to the result.



There are a lot of problems that must be solved by this new bill which not only relate to the specific
clauses to the bill, but in terms of how the Workers’ Compensation Board relates with and interacts with
injured workers. Certainly, the experienced legislators in this place and the experienced MLAs representing
their constituencies over the years have had to meet with many disgruntled constituents who are involved with
problems with the Workers’ Compensation Board, the problem mainly being delays in either payment or
delays in the hearing or reporting of an appeal process. So for many workers, dealing with the Workers’
Compensation Board has been an exercise in frustration.



So, looking at some of the specifics of the legislation, it is quite a lengthy bill, 94 pages and 257
clauses. It deals with quite a number of problems and one of the problems facing the minister when he was
designing a bill is in terms of employer assessments. We have been told that the only way to create jobs in this
province is to create an environment in which business can flourish and if business flourishes, the jobs will
follow.



Certainly, I belong to a Party that talked extensively, prior to the last election, that in fact it was very
difficult for a government to create real jobs but it was possible for a government to create an environment
in which business could flourish. If one listens to some of the criticism of doing business in Nova Scotia, I
think the payment of workers’ compensation assessment by employers is one of those costs that in fact makes
it, perhaps from some perspectives, difficult to do business here.



The minister has chosen to freeze the average level of assessment for businesses for the next few
years. Making that decision, there will be a corresponding effect and a limitation on the level of payment that
can be made by the board to injured workers. No doubt, when we go to the Law Amendments Committee, we
will hear from both sides of that question in terms of whether or not that is the proper balance, whether or not,
for example, we should be lowering employer assessments, or should we be raising employer assessments or
maybe, like Baby Bear’s porridge, things are just right.



One of the ways in which the bill is attempting to address the payment of compensation was moving
from the payment based on net income rather than gross. This certainly makes some sense. However, there
has been some comment from the Federation of Labour and from the Halifax District Injured Workers
Association as to whether or not that would be fair because, in many instances, this will result in a lower
payment to the worker and will create a hardship in terms of maintaining his family and himself during the
period that he is off on compensation. There has been considerable comment on the three day waiting period
for injuries which are not longer than 30 days. The comment has been made as to whether or not any other
jurisdiction has a three day waiting period.



Perhaps the most controversial principle addressed in the new bill is the appeal process. Bill No. 122
introduces a somewhat different appeal process than the previous Act. We are all familiar with the external
appeal process and apparently for a number of reasons that have come about as the result of poor decisions
the external appeal process has become bogged down. As a result some 1,800 or 1,900 cases are waiting for
review and the appeal process has been relatively ineffective in dealing with these cases. It has been pointed
out that the external appeal process was introduced into the legislation, if I am correct I believe it was when
the Honourable T.J. McKeough was the Minister of Labour in this province quite a number of years ago. It
was he that introduced the external appeal process, well received at the time. I think under the first couple
of chairpersons that the process was able to keep up. In fact, the long waiting list and the number of
unresolved cases has been a relatively recent phenomenon as the process became more and more complicated
as it tried to respond to various decisions that had been made in the courts.



[4:30 p.m.]



One of the principles of the bill that must be brought to the minister’s attention certainly is the appeal
process. It is certainly one that is very internal and even to someone as uninstructed in the ways of the law
myself can see that it is inward looking and incestuous and certainly very suspect. One which does not seem
to follow any rule or law of natural justice, when we have appeals being heard by people who sit side by side
in the same department. Who are, of necessity, and by nature of their employment, tied into the policies of
the board and therefore would not be able to give an open and unbiased opinion as to previous decisions made
by their co-workers.



I think the whole issue of the appeal process in this bill must come under review. We will certainly
have something more to say about this if in fact it comes back from the Law Amendments Committee without
significant change in terms of the appointing of hearing officers and appeal committees and so on. The other
principle too, in terms of the court of final appeal for the process, is going to the Nova Scotia Court of
Appeals. Well, if in fact the internal process that is being set up by this legislation is as ineffective in resolving
almost all of the cases that come before it, then it will certainly create a tremendous backlog of cases for the
Nova Scotia Court of Appeals. Now, I can’t quote chapter and verse of the cost of appeals to the Nova Scotia
Court of Appeals, other than to comment that it would be my understanding that this is a very expensive
process. One that is not geared to hearing a great number of cases that could possibly be generated by the
internal appeal system to the Workers’ Compensation Act.



It would certainly be worthwhile for us as legislators to look at the costs of running an appeal system
which seems to lean very heavily on the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals and to see if in fact that would be a
wise way for us to go. We should be looking at an appeal system that certainly is more divorced from the
board than the one that is proposed in this legislation and I think one that can resolve, by and large, the vast
majority of cases without going out to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals.



The other interesting thing, and I can’t say that I have a solution for this, of course, is that as a result
of a court decision, the so-called Hayden decision in 1990, is that all decisions from 1990 are made on the
basis of a court decision and previous decisions, unless the government legislates otherwise, will continue to
be adjudicated under the old method. This is something that injured workers are having a great deal of
difficulty accepting. In other words, the fact that there is no retroactivity to the court decision, even though
it very clearly makes it advantageous to the injured worker to be adjudicated under the new program and
under the terms which were directed by the court when they made their decision. It is very hard for them to
accept this.



While this Opposition has felt that it is more responsible to participate with government in drafting
a proper and appropriate Workers’ Compensation Act, that is not to be interpreted by anyone in this place that
we feel the last word on this bill has been said, either by ourselves or by workers or employers. There is a great
deal more to be said on this bill and certainly a lot of it will be said in the Law Amendments Committee.



However, we do feel that it would be irresponsible for us to suggest further delays. It would be
irresponsible for us to allow the unfunded liability to grow week by week, month by month, while we sat and
wrestled and argued and would, in all likelihood, not do any better a job, in terms of the legislation, than we
can do by following it into the Law Amendments Committee and listening to what was said there, bearing
in mind that we do have a commitment from the minister.



Therefore, this legislation is certainly needed. It is going to affect the delivery of workers’
compensation claims, I am sure, for decades to come, as did the previous Act. It is not one that we are going
to be changing dramatically, although the minister has guaranteed that there will be an automatic review, and
I can’t recall exactly, was it three years or five years, I have forgotten. But anyway, he has guaranteed a review
and certainly I think that will allow any of the rough edges that are allowed to slip by to be smoothed out at
a future time.



I have considerable optimism that by following the procedures that we have decided to follow, it will
result in an appropriate Workers’ Compensation Act for Nova Scotia. I will be voting for the bill to go on to
the Law Amendments Committee when the question is called. Thank you.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to have the opportunity
to speak on second reading of Bill No. 122. I, too, like my colleague, the member for Pictou Centre, will be
supporting this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee for perhaps some much needed amendments.



Mr. Speaker, it is time to get on with it. Governments have been dealing with the Workers’
Compensation Board for years and years. One of the concerns I have is the administration of claims. The
Workers’ Compensation Board functions at the bureaucratic level are very cumbersome and it goes without
saying that it is most time-consuming. There are, I am told, some 1,800 to 2,000 people waiting for word on
just what is happening with their claims. As MLAs, we are all getting our fair share of calls from the injured
workers.



Some of the injured workers are facing a very real financial hardship. Mr. Speaker, the injured
worker, it goes without saying, the same as many of us do have to put groceries on their table. They do have
car payments, mortgage payments, education costs, if they happen to have children, and so on, et cetera.



We are also getting some calls, Mr. Speaker, from employers. Employers call and some of them are
concerned with the rate that they are paying. For example, I got a call from a forestry employer, a harvester,
just a couple of days ago. He told me that his secretary and his office staff are paying the same rate as the
people out doing the logging and doing the cutting. Unless the sky falls in they probably would not be
subjected to anywhere near the same danger as the labourer out in the field. That is an area that I am
concerned that needs to be addressed.



Another area of concern is that many of the employers are very safety conscious, but there does not
appear to be any incentive, Mr. Speaker, and having said, that when I am speaking about incentive, I am
speaking about a safety incentive where an employer, based on their good record of safety would receive a
reduction in their rate. Thereby, their contribution would be somewhat less than somebody that perhaps is a
little more accident-prone and perhaps is a little more careless.



As the minister had stated in his opening comments, respecting second reading, that the Workers’
Compensation Act goes back to 1917 or thereabouts. It is certainly a very old Act that has really never been
re-written. As I understand it, it has certainly been tinkered with and amended and what we have is a bumble-jumble, so to speak, of legislation that is very difficult to read for the worker. It is also very difficult for the
employer to understand. I do compliment the minister on bringing this forward. I am sure he worked very
hard and it must have been quite difficult to try to frame, so to speak, the workers’ compensation legislation,
Mr. Speaker.



I am certainly aware that the Minister of Labour does expect that there will be a lot of presentations
from different groups who do have some concerns. They can express the concerns they have, Mr. Speaker,
at the Law Amendments Committee. Some of the groups that do have concerns are certainly represented by
the Federation of Labour, the Nova Scotia Council of Labour have concerns, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union
have many concerns. The Metropolitan Association of Police Personnel and the Police Association of Nova
Scotia, many organized workers in the province have a lot of concerns.



Mr. Speaker, a lot of injured workers’ groups have shared in some of the same concerns in regards
to this legislation. They are very interested in this legislation. It is very detailed and somewhat complex. It
is certainly far too detailed and complex to be shoved through the House without receiving the proper
attention, and without the Law Amendments Committee I would have some very serious concerns. I am quite
hopeful that the Law Amendments Committee will allow and enable those different presenters to come in and
their concerns have got to be taken very seriously. I have been told by my colleagues, that the Law
Amendments Committee, I would expect through its Chair, will be making amendments and allow some of
the people to bring forward their very legitimate concerns.



There has been some talk that there has not been enough consultation to this point with the different
groups and that may well be, Mr. Speaker. The thing is that there are so many people out there that are sort
of sitting back, waiting and wondering just what is going to happen to their claim and that is of a major
concern. I think we have to get on with it, but we do not want to get on with this legislation, Bill No. 122, just
for the sake of shoving it through. It has to go through the process.



With those very few brief comments. I will be supporting this legislation and I look forward to it
going to the Law Amendments Committee. I should mention again, and I think it is very important that we
realize that members of the legal profession, again I have to emphasize, are doing the work that secretaries
could do. They are writing letters, they are making telephone calls and I understand they are charging over
$40 an hour for doing some of those types of duties.






[4:45 p.m.]



So the problem of the board itself, the Workers’ Compensation Board and the composition of that
board has got to be addressed as does the unfunded liability. So we have to do something to solve those
problems. But the major concern I have is for the worker who is sitting home, the man or the woman or the
boy or the girl that happens to have, for example, a bad back. We get a lot of calls from workers that have
back trouble. They get turned down. They go talk to their lawyer. They appeal and they wait for that decision
to be written up. It just seems like it drags on and drags on forever.



So, Mr. Speaker, again, with those few brief comments, I will pass this debate along to one of my
colleagues. Thank you, very much.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it is with some difficulty that I do rise and speak on this
bill today because this bill is probably, I should not say it is the most important bill, but there are not any bills
that we are going to discuss this session of the Legislature that are any more important. I will put it that way.
Because worker’s compensation is the very fundamental, it is the very beginning and it is the end of what is
important to the people in Nova Scotia.



Workers’ compensation in Nova Scotia, I guess, has a long history. I think it is 75 years old or
something like that and it is here because of the early difficulties that employees had while they were working
for somebody. The only avenue for recourse if you were injured on the job or you were hurt while doing the
work, was you had to take the person to court and sue him, the company. In many cases, it would put the
company out of business and in other cases, it would be very difficult for an hourly paid wage earner to even
fight and even take his employer to court. In many cases, the employer would have been a large national, or
perhaps international company even, or even some of the larger Nova Scotia companies were big enough that
it was difficult for the workers to receive the justice that they really are entitled to.



So we have Workers’ Compensation and for the last many years it has been there for the workers.
Now, in many cases, the workers would say it is excellent. But, Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that, I guess
outside of student loans, I receive as many calls about workers’ compensation as anything else as an MLA.
That is just a guess. It may not be completely accurate, but I say that by the way so you will know that as an
MLA, I receive a great many inquiries concerning the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Workers’
Compensation Appeal Board.



One of the difficulties that this bill does not address that I wish it had, is the difficulty we are
undergoing at the present time with the appeal process and the appeals that were heard last March, last
November, still have not been written up and adjudicated and finalized. This is real hardship for people sitting
there waiting and waiting. The decision has been made, but all decisions must be written in a totally and
completely legal type definition so that if somebody challenges the decision at a later date, the decision will
stand up in a court of law.



That may be all well and good, Mr. Speaker, but, by gracious, it is very difficult for the people who
have been waiting for 12 or 14 months to hear what their decision is going to be. The bill really should have
addressed that and it is unfortunate that it did not. I think one of the ways it could have addressed that was
simply to say, you no longer have it. You no longer have to have a legal presentation in the decision.



Years ago, the decisions were all made relatively quickly. The board sat on the appeal and they made
the decision. They jotted off a note to the person and said, yes you got it, no you do not. But today, we are
waiting for a year and a half to get the legal opinion and that is too long for the workers to wait and that is
not fair. It is unfortunate that this bill did not address that glaring problem that we have today.



Now legislation is absolutely necessary because of the difficulty that the workers of Nova Scotia have
been experiencing, the difficulties that the employers of Nova Scotia have been having because of the
uncertainty. When you have uncertainty, you have a problem. When you have uncertainty, you must solve the
problem.



A few years ago, a new general manager and a new chairman of the board were both hired for the
Workers’ Compensation Board so that they could make recommendations to government so the government
could get to the bottom of the difficulty and the bottom of the problem. The record keeping was not up-to-date.
The policies were not up-to-date and, really, we were not in the 20th Century.



So now the staff are bringing the Workers’ Compensation Board up to the speed the people in 1990
expect. The biggest difficulty, of course, is the unfunded liability. When you have unfunded liability, it means
that the pensions of the workers may or may not be paid. So the unfunded liability had to be addressed. All
provinces in Canada are addressing those very problems at the present time. Nova Scotia’s problem of
unfunded liability is, certainly, not much worse than anybody else’s, but it certainly is no better than anybody
else’s. So that must be settled. I think that is really the driving force, that this bill must be solved, this bill
must be passed in some form or another.



For some time now, we have been asking for the minister to table the bill so we could have the
summer months to look at it and to meet with interested constituents and labour people and business people.
The organizations that are going to be funding, the people who are paying the bills, they are the people I want
to talk to, to find out more about this bill.



One of the comments I heard yesterday was, look, we want to come in to the Law Amendments
Committee and make a presentation, but the difficulty is that we are running short of time. Organized labour,
some of them are very busy at the present time, particularly when you think of the folks from Cape Breton,
the Phalen coal miners. Those fellows have their hands full now with the layoffs, the cutbacks and the bumps
and explosions that are taking place in the coal mine at the present time.



They need some time because they are so darned busy trying to figure out whether, in fact, they are
going to have a job for any coal miners and what is the future of the coal industry in the province. Those
people want to come in and make a presentation and they need some time to make a very serious and very
well-researched critique of this bill because we have had an assurance from the Minister of Labour that he
will be sitting in the Law Amendments Committee the entire time that this bill is being discussed. This could
have been avoided had the minister been able to put the legislation out last spring, so then we could have had
the summer and fall months to look after it.






One of the things very early in this bill that is bothering workers is the inability for the decisions of
the Workers’ Compensation Board to be appealed. Most of the time if you don’t like a decision, you can go
to court. However, you cannot go to court to talk about a decision of this board because the bill says you can’t.
No right to court appeal; you can talk about fairness, you can talk about the Canadian Constitution all you
want, but when the bill says there is no court of appeal, there is no court of appeal.



One of the things in the bill that is causing some concern to all of us is when a person is on
compensation and their injury begins to deteriorate or it gets worse as time goes on, there is not anything in
the bill at the present time that will account for a deterioration over time. This is a serious thing because some
people may start out with a very slight deterioration. I know people who work in the poultry industry and most
of them have had operations on both wrists for this carpal tunnel syndrome because they are doing repetitive
motions. Now what happens to those people as the deterioration increases? I know some of those people who
have told me that, look in the morning when they get out of bed their arms are just seized and they have to
roll to get their arms moving and so on. This is a deterioration that is going to get progressively worse. We
should perhaps be thinking that there should be a section in this bill that will allow for an accelerated claim
as time goes on and people do get worse.



We have received many representations regarding this legislation and, I think, one of the most
detailed has been from some of the organized labour groups that are operating in Nova Scotia. I want to bring
forth just a few of their thoughts and concerns regarding this bill. I do not advocate and I do not agree with
all of the things that organized labour have to say about this bill because they have their point of view,
business has their point of view, and in the middle, I am sure, we can find a compromise. In all honesty and
in all sincerity, we must think of the workers first. They are the people that are on the front-line receiving the
benefit of this program and they share with the employer in the cost of this program.



We need to give opportunities for organized labour and business to appear at the Law Amendments
Committee so they can discuss the points of the bill that are of interest to all of us. They will be there, I know
this bill will have a very long session when it arrives in the Law Amendments Committee and I expect there
will be many hundreds of people in to discuss, lobby and to make suggestions.



Each year in Nova Scotia there are a great many injured workers and they deserve the very best
program that we can afford. I think the important thing is we have to make this program affordable. We have
to make it as good as possible, but it must be a program that labour and business can afford. If we set up a
program that we cannot afford, we will not have the program. It is very important that we are careful with this
legislation and it be important that we try not to make any mistakes.



One of the things it is difficult for us to accept is the elimination of the Appeal Board. The Appeal
Board, I mentioned a moment ago, has some difficulty in that they are so darn slow and it is taking much too
long for appeals to be heard and adjudicated upon. The difficulty could have been eliminated in this legislation
by simply saying, you no longer need the legal written decision. It can simply be on a decision that has been
made, passed on and let us get on with it and you cannot challenge it in the courts. Certainly, they have said
you cannot challenge the new decisions in court, why could they not have said you could not challenge the
old one in court?



The independence of the Appeal Board was an attractive feature of the former Act. Now, we no
longer have an area or appeal and that, to me, is not really in the best interest of the workers, I think, in an
Appeal Board situation would be better. Now, if you want to appeal the decision of the board, you go back and
appeal it to the same people that made the decision in the first place. Their decision may be a little bit clouded
and their thoughts and their ideas may certainly be in favour of what they have already told you in the first
place.



Now, when it comes to the payment schedule the injured workers are now going to be paid on a basis
of any other earnings that happen to be coming in will be subtracted from the payment they receive from the
Workers’ Compensation Board.



[5:00 p.m.]



Now, I know organized labour is not in favour of this. What it means roughly is if you are an injured
worker and you are on unemployment insurance, the compensation doesn’t take over until the unemployment
insurance has run out. There is also the fact that people have to wait three days without receiving any benefit
from the Appeal Board unless you have been injured for some considerable period of time, 30 days. So, the
first three days, the worker has to just get along without three days pay. The workers aren’t really thrilled
about that idea and I can certainly understand why they don’t like that. So, that is a great area of concern. If,
however, there is a long-term disability, retroactively those three days will in fact be paid.



There was a great deal of interest for a long time regarding the new bill that has been introduced,
Bill No. 122, and there are a few points that even the workers have said that they like with regard to that. The
earnings lost benefit for workers who suffer lost earnings and the introduction to the right to re-employment,
certainly are things that the workers’ spokespersons are indicating is a good idea. The cut in benefits, the
reduction from what the people who are injured are receiving now, is not in favour with the union people at
the present time.



An average between provinces, Nova Scotia is certainly not the lowest but we are not the highest
either. I think that goes in hand with what the board and what the minister is trying to do. He is trying to
bring in a piece of legislation that we can afford. It may not be one that we all like, it may not be one that we
all would have brought in, but it is one that he feels that the employees and the employers can afford within
the province. That is something that we may not all like but I think we have to respect the idea that he is
working under.



The Unemployment Insurance Commission is going to be very busy in the near future because when
this bill passes, there is going to be a lot of changes and a lot of opportunities for them to go out into the
community and explain some of the changes they have made between this bill and the last bill.



The worker who is penalized for three days and that three days of non-payment amounts to several
million dollars in the run of a year and that will help very greatly to reduce the unfunded liability. None of
us like the idea but if it is the only way they can find, economically, to help with the unfunded liability, it just
may be that it’s one of the avenues you have to accept, not endorse it, not like it, but it may be one of the
things that organized labour and business is going to have to accept whether they like it or not, simply so that
this policy can continue.






I don’t think any of us would advocate that the Workers’ Compensation Board carry on the way it has
been going for the last several decades because it was on the road to disaster and we had to make changes,
as legislators, and we must work together to do that. But we also must keep in mind the important people who
are involved in this, the people that can’t be here to speak for themselves in this Chamber and that is the
workers and the employers. Those people must be represented by us. I know that each member is interested
in treating all segments of society equally and it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fact of who we are
here to represent.



The workers’ compensation legislation affects each and every one of us and I hope that each and
every one of us will study this piece of legislation so that when we are asked questions, we do have an
understanding of it because it is not something that is easily understood and it is not something that any of
us use particularly, unless we are injured whilst we are working and then we want to find out everything we
can as quickly as possible.



One of the other difficulties that the petitioners are going to be saying with this bill is when you reach
age 65, you no longer are in receipt of benefits. You receive a 5 per cent annuity which is a 70 per cent
reduction in pay. In years gone by, you always received the full payment until death but now, when you reach
age 65, it stops. That may or may not be completely fair but it is in the legislation and that is what the
government is planning to do. So, it is up to the employees and the employers to iron that out at the Law
Amendments Committee and make recommendations because the Minister of Labour indicated he would be
there and he would be listening and he would be making changes.



There is a reduction as well in the spousal benefit side when an injured worker passes away, I think
it is about a $4,000 reduction from what it used to be. That, of course, is causing some consternation among
the employees because they do not like that. Why would they like it? It is another one of the things that is in
the bill and if it is there, we have to talk about it and we have to explain it. The government must stand up
and tell us why they are doing it.



In Nova Scotia the maximum payment is $36,000 a year and that compares, really, favourably with
other provinces. Alberta, which is the richest province in Canada, their maximum is $42,000 a year. The high
for all of Canada is Ontario with $54,000 and Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are in the same
ballpark as we are. Hopefully, as the unfunded liability gets in line, Nova Scotia’s payments could increase
as well because the choice and the alternative is terrible. The alternative is no workers’ compensation and we
cannot live with a situation like that. We have to sort of run a balancing act between what we can afford and
what we really would like to have. I think all of us would prefer to have a system that was paying more money
and was fiscally sound but, unfortunately, we have to make sacrifices and this seems to be one of the ones we
are making.



For many years we have all been, as members of the Legislature, dealing with workers’ compensation,
trying to solve the problem. About three years ago, we brought in a piece of legislation and the legislation was
to fix the problems, but we ran into so many difficulties and so many problems and it was so unpopular, at
the time, it was just not done. We had opposition to it from all corners of the province.



So really for the last three or four years, there has been an attitude adjustment and an attitude change
between Nova Scotians because we have all realized that the status quo was not in the cards. We had to make
the changes. By updating staff and updating the record keeping, making the changes that have been made in
the last three years, means that the Workers’ Compensation Board now will be a program that will become
funded and it will be a program that will last for many years to come.



We are all talking about attracting new businesses that are operating in other areas and other
countries. That is one of the considerations they have when they come to Nova Scotia is how much do we pay
for workers’ compensation. What are your rates? We have to keep the rates in Nova Scotia in line with rates
in other provinces in Canada and other provinces in Atlantic Canada. There is no way a company is going
to come here if they say, my goodness, your rates are too high. So that has to be factored in as well. At the
same time, you have to make sure that your employees are treated honestly and fairly.



This bill is not perfect by a long shot. There are many concerns that organized labour and employers
and boards of trade, there are many problems with this bill. But if the Minister of Labour will do as he said,
listen and make the amendments, and he has made a commitment that he is going to have amendments. Now,
was the commitment real and is he really going to make the changes that people are going to be asking him
to, or was the commitment there just to help whisk it through second reading and get it on?



If the amendments are made while it is in Law Amendments Committee and it comes back to the
House so people can support it, it will have a much easier ride in Committee of the Whole House on Bills. If
the amendments that we are going to be asking for are not included, it will take a very long time because the
amendments will be made in this Chamber.



So, Mr. Speaker, with those few words I will take my place in the House and I anxiously await the
comments of other members. Because, as I said at the beginning, there is not a bill that we are going to be
discussing in this Legislature during this session that is more fundamental or more important to Nova Scotia
than this bill that we are discussing.



It is not just because of the unfunded liability and the debt that we, as Nova Scotians, share, but it
is the right and the demand that we have a good workers’ compensation system. So that when injured workers
need help, help is there for them in a financial way. We cannot abandon the people that are doing the work
for us in this province and we do not want to. We need a program that we can afford and we need a program
that they will support.



So thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I am anxiously awaiting other speakers so that I can learn more
about Bill No. 122, the Workers’ Compensation Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to enter the debate at this
point on Bill No. 122, second reading debate, which is on the principle of the bill that is before us, specifically
the bill to bring in a new Workers’ Compensation Act in this province.



Mr. Speaker, as some will be aware, the pleadings of my colleagues, the member for Halifax Atlantic
and the member for Sackville-Cobequid, as well as my earlier interventions. (Interruption) That was a rather
selective hearing on the part of the Government House Leader to suggest that the NDP caucus interventions
are bleatings. What I was referring to was the pleadings from all three members of the NDP caucus that we
recognize that this is a bill, that if implemented in its current form, will have a profound effect on the workers’
compensation benefits of workers in this province for a very long time to come. I will have an opportunity to
speak about some of those effects, as I proceed through my comments.



I think I want to say, again, that I am very distressed that there seems to be a rather simplistic notion
here that, because the workers’ compensation unfunded liability is such a serious problem, that that warrants
our simply pushing this through in a hurry, getting it on to the Law Amendments Committee. Getting it
passed and proclaimed and somehow this is going to solve the problems that have amassed over time with
respect to workers’ compensation in this province. It clearly is going to do no such thing. Not if the bill goes
ahead and is implemented in its current form.



[5:15 p.m.]



I have now had an opportunity to read the comments of the Minister of Labour, when he introduced
the bill. I had not been able to do so, previously, because I was in the Law Amendments Committee when he
made the comments and then the Hansard record was not available before I spoke earlier on the amendment.
I have now had an opportunity to read the minister’s comments on introducing the bill. I must say, Mr.
Speaker, that having read his comments, I am more persuaded than ever, that there has not been sufficient,
appropriate consultation take place on the provisions that are contained in this bill.



I do not think anybody could take my comments and construe them to mean, that I do not think we
have a problem with the unfunded liability in this province with respect to the Workers’ Compensation Fund,
because we do. When I spoke in addressing the amendment, introduced by my colleague for Halifax Atlantic,
proposing that the subject matter of this bill be referred to the Human Resources Committee, I absolutely
acknowledged that we have a serious problem. How could you not acknowledge an unfunded liability of $416
million? I believe that is the most up-to-date figure. When that clearly is a problem in terms of the fund, and,
ultimately, is a debt that has to be handled in one way or another. The question is what can be done to deal
with that problem? That is one of the aspects of this legislation.



When I listened to the comments of the minister, when I hear some of the arguments from the
Official Opposition, the Tory caucus, who in fact were in power in this province during most of the time that
this problem was mounting and worsening all the time, what concerns me is that it seems to me, that the
principal focus that they have chosen to give to this debate, in the same manner that the government has
chosen to make the principal focus of the bill, is this problem of the unfunded liability. I would not, for a
moment, want to be guilty of saying, that is not part of the problem that has to be dealt with.



Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I think that those who have, in advance of the introduction of this bill,
expressed their worst fears, that the government would decide that the injured workers of this province should
be the ones to pay the heaviest penalty and carry the heaviest burden in discharging that unfunded liability.
That their concerns, in fact, have fallen on deaf ears and that their worst fears have been realized.



There is no question, Mr. Speaker, that debt has to be addressed. I would defy anyone, on going
through the measures of this bill to come to any conclusion other than the conclusion that has been expressed,
by worker after worker, labour organization after labour organization, injured workers’ group after injured
workers’ group. All of whom have said, we accept that the unfunded liability is a problem. We accept that you
cannot simply have employer premiums with respect to workers’ compensation, go completely out of sight.






We are pleading the case of injured workers when we ask that they not be the ones to bear the bulk
of the burden for the mismanagement of the workers’ compensation program in this province over time. For
the fact that workers’ compensation premiums were kept artificially low for many years contributing to the
unfunded liability. As a result of the persistent refusal, particularly of the Buchanan Government over a period
of more than a decade, to do anything meaningful about occupational health and safety legislation being
brought in. Enforced in an effective way, as a preventive measure, as a way of preventing work place injuries,
diseases and fatalities. Also the persistent refusal of the government to give any leadership in ensuring that
there would be an effective program for the rehabilitation of injured workers.



All of those voices have been raised, Mr. Speaker, they may have different perspectives, there maybe
different types of injuries, diseases and so on that different groups who have spoken out are, particularly,
vulnerable to. They may have different concerns about aspects of this bill that is now under debate. There is
one thing they hold in common and that is a very strong belief that the government has chosen to heap the
bulk of burden, for the mismanagement of workers’ compensation in this province over time, onto the backs
of the injured workers and those, in future, who may become injured, diseased or whose families will suffer
from work place fatalities and in the end, will not be fairly compensated.



I know that the minister when he rose to introduce the bill talked about this being one step in
reforming the entire system. It was only fair to recognize that the bill that is before us now in the form of Bill
No. 122 is not the only piece of the puzzle, if I can put it that way I do not think the minister used those
words, but I want to acknowledge that this particular piece of legislation cannot be seen in isolation, should
not be seen in isolation from other reforms that are needed and some other reforms that have already been
undertaken. I do not want to spend a lot of time in my comments on the principle of the bill because first of
all, I would be out of order and secondly, it will not get to deal with everything that concerns me about this
bill.



I do want to acknowledge, to be fair, both to the minister and, in particular, to the workers’
compensation staff at both the board level and at the Appeal Board level that there have been some earnest
attempts over the last couple of years to deal with some of the accumulated problems of the Workers’
Compensation Board. With less success, but no less earnesness, I think, attempt at the Appeal Board level to
try to deal with the horrendous backlog which is absolutely crippling for families and injured workers who
are caught in that backlog.



I think there is a legitimate basis for saying that the earlier stage of reform with respect to the
administration of the Workers’ Compensation Board is underway. I want to pay fair recognition to those who
have attempted to give some leadership to that. Sometimes it is a little bit overwhelming to be on the receiving
end of the, sort of glossy, presentation of the reforms that were underway. I do not want to minimize them,
I think they are important. I think that we have seen some devolving of responsibility and authority to a
regional level so that there is just a more human element and there is more human interaction between the
Workers’ Compensation staff and the injured worker and that is important.



I think there has been some streamlining that provides for better continuity in the service that is
provided so that people do not get constantly bumped from pillar to post and the buck gets passed and people
do not know whether they are is nothing more than a number. I want to be fair, I think those improvements
are important and I think there has been an earnest attempt to address the issue of client service. That is at
the board level. At the Appeal Board level I have watched from a distance trying to make sense out of it,
trying to bring pressure to bear on the minister to address this crisis. Also, from time to time giving the
Appeal Board some grief in pressing for some urgent response to the accumulated backlog.



I have heard proposals that have been brought forward to committees in writing and so on from the
chairman and the Appeal Board to say we cannot deal with this, but we recognize what a serious problem it
is, and additional resources are needed and some new structures are needed to deal with this crisis.



So I do not want to pretend that there has not been some recognition of the problems that could be
dealt with and a lack of sensitivity on the part of staff struggling with them, but what is clear, Mr. Speaker,
is that the government has simply not assigned the priority that was needed to allocate the resources to deal
with that backlog and now we are being told, at least in part, the reason for haste, the reason to push this all
through in a hurry is because, my goodness if we don’t, the backlog is going to continue not to be dealt with
or, perhaps, God forbid, even accumulate worse.



Mr. Speaker, that is not necessarily so. That will not be so unless the government chooses that shall
be so, because there is nothing to prevent the government from doing what they were urged to do by the
Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board itself, by its chairperson, when a proposal was brought forward some
time ago suggesting ways in which that backlog could be expedited and the process could be streamlined.



So there is no argument to be made that if one is looking for a more comprehensive process of
consultation and review around this bill than would be contemplated by the normal, speedy passage through
here, through the Law Amendments Committee and back to the House and out before this session ends, there
are other ways that that backlog can be dealt with.



The same argument that the minister uses and that the members of the Official Opposition on the
Tory bench use for getting on with this, namely that it is such a mess and it has been a mess for so long that
we need to get at it, could be turned right around and the point could be made that there have been so many
problems for so long - I think it is 79 years since there was a massive, total overhaul, if I am not mistaken,
of the workers’ compensation system in this province - then I think the argument could be made, with equal
effect, with equal weight, that if we are finally going to deal with it, let’s get it right, because if we do not get
it right and what we do is shift the bulk of the burden for the problems that have accumulated on to the backs
of injured workers for a very long time, then it surely fails to meet what the minister stated as the principle
of the bill.



Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether I am missing something when I go through this bill and let’s be
honest about it, it is 94 pages; there are five major sections to the bill, five full pages just of definitions, before
you even get your head into what it really means. The fact of the matter is that it is immensely complicated
and so you go looking for what exactly is the principle of the bill and you try to find it in the wording that is
there in the bill itself and you cannot find it. I cannot find, clearly, what the government intends to be the
principle of the bill.



I do read the minister’s introductory comments and I want to, not in any way misrepresent them, so
I will refer to the minister’s actual comments as recorded in Hansard, where he says that, “The new Workers’
Compensation Act . . . will form the foundation of a new system that is fair to injured workers, affordable for
employers and secure into the next century.”. I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, whether I am correct in interpreting
that that is really the principle of the bill, that it really aims to achieve those objectives because, otherwise,
I cannot find a clearer statement of the principle of the bill.



So, in second reading debate, and as we deal with this bill through the stages in the legislative
process, it surely is proper that we put the bill to the test of whether it does meet what the minister has stated,
upon its introduction, as the objectives for this bill. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that when I finish trying to
understand it - and it is immensely complex - I don’t think it does meet that test of whether it is fair to the
worker and fair to the employer, in equal measure, that there is an equal sharing of the burden, that there is
equal sensitivity to the impacts, positive and negative, of this legislation should it be implemented in its
current form.



[5:30 p.m.]



Mr. Speaker, when the minister introduced this bill on first reading, as is customary, he had a press
conference. At that press conference he said, and I think he used the words again in introducing the bill on
second reading, that this was going to bring an end to rough justice. I suppose that was an attempt to give it
a kind of summary of what the government’s intention was. Well, I have to say that it doesn’t surprise me that
by and large, the voices speaking out on behalf of employers and employers’ organizations are saying, we are
reasonably happy with the bill because their interests have been very well represented, thank you very much.



They have been well represented by the government Party in the legislation now before us and the
interests of the employers and the employers’ organizations have been well represented by the Tory Opposition
in this House. Why would we be surprised, Mr. Speaker? I don’t want to go off into a rhetorical flourish about
why that would be absolutely predictable and why that would be a track record that you would expect to
continue here.



I do want to say that I think the fact that both of the other Parties represented in this House, which
I guess think of themselves as the First Party and the Second Party, since they always refer to us as the Third
Party and that is fair game, that they would take the view that this bill, there is really nothing wrong with it,
that maybe a little fine-tuning will do it and we could do that at the Law Amendments Committee.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, the honourable member is attributing to the
Opposition things that we have not said. We have not said that we agree entirely with the bill. We said we
agreed with the principle of the bill and it should go to the Law Amendments Committee for further
discussion. That is my point of order, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, the honourable member has made his point.



MS. MCDONOUGH: I will accept the point. I note that the Speaker isn’t really ruling but I will
accept it as fair commentary, that I certainly did not say that the Tory Opposition has said they agree with
absolutely everything in the bill. What I did say was that they are in agreement that it go directly to the Law
Amendments Committee, rather than it be dealt with in some other way because by and large, they think there
is not a lot wrong with the bill and it can be fine-tuned and dealt with there.






Mr. Speaker, my point is that that is an understandable point of view from the perspective of
employers. I think when you look at it from the point of view of how the interests of workers are served by
this bill, you have to come to the conclusion that their concerns have not been adequately addressed.



Am I saying that, Mr. Speaker, because that is the conclusion that the New Democratic Party caucus
reaches when it reads the bill that workers’ interests are not adequately represented? Well, yes, our reading
of the bill would lead us to that conclusion, that we think the decision, for example, to put a freeze on
indexing of the bill, on the one hand, which means that workers will be losing compensation in each year that
there is any inflation whatsoever, and, on the other hand, a freezing of premiums for the employers over a
period of several years, which means they won’t be losing under this bill, does not represent the kind of
balance that could be thought to be fair, nor does it measure up to the minister’s own stated objectives, what
he said the bill aimed to do.



Mr. Speaker, I could go through several additional examples of where it is primarily the workers who
are being penalized. It is not surprising that employers would say, we are quite happy if there isn’t an external
review process because that means that, at least based on past experience, the incredible numbers of situations
in which the Workers’ Compensation External Appeal Board found that the Workers’ Compensation Board
itself had not fairly addressed the interests of the workers, had not fairly awarded benefits to which those
workers were entitled, that the employers of the province won’t have to really anticipate that any more. Not
only will they no longer have to anticipate that 93 per cent of the decisions that go to appeal will be decided
in favour of the worker, they won’t have to bother with any appeals whatsoever.



So, Mr. Speaker, one can’t come to any other conclusion about the balance or, I guess, the imbalance
in this upon reading the bill from the perspective of workers, but let me say that it is not just the New
Democratic Party caucus with what some members may think is too much of a pro worker or bias that is
coming to this conclusion.



Far from what was initially reported, and I think it was not meant in any way to misrepresent the
situation, but I think that in the very earliest stage of the bill being brought forward before people had had a
chance to analyze it in all of its complexity, there were some spokespersons on behalf of the injured workers
and on behalf of labour organizations who said, well, it is a tough thing and it maybe looks like an
improvement and I think maybe we can get some more changes and maybe we can live with it. I think that
there were such statements made initially because people had not understood the extent to which the minister
and his government had ignored and rejected the feedback and the input that injured workers and labour
organizations had given in the limited consultation process that took place in response to the discussion paper.



But as those workers and their representatives have begun to analyze the complexities of this bill -
and it’s immensely complex - they have come to the conclusion not only that there is a severe imbalance in
terms of the interests of the workers but they have gone through an agonizing process of illustrating and
demonstrating and preparing documentation to point out the many elements of this bill that are absolutely
Draconian and that will be extremely harsh in their application to some injured workers.



Let me be very clear about this and let me be fair. It is not the view of the New Democratic Party
caucus nor, as I understand it, the view of many of the critics of this bill in the labour movement that there
aren’t some good things in this bill. No one is saying, not the harshest critics as far as I know, that every
worker will be worse off as a result of this bill. There are some workers who will be better off in some respects
as a result of this bill.



But there are also workers who will be unacceptably penalized by the provisions of this bill if one
accepts the principle of the bill as enunciated by the minister and the stated aspiration, and that is to fairly
compensate the workers in this province. What we have to be concerned about is two things, those who are
being unfairly penalized by these changes and, secondly, I think we have to be concerned about some
fundamental flaws in the bill as they relate to a fair and proper and comprehensive system of workers’
compensation and appropriate review of workers’ compensation decisions.



That is why there are many critics of this legislation that are pleading with the government to
recognize that it is not good enough to just fine-tune the bill at the Law Amendments Committee level.



Accepting what we understand to be the principle of this bill, we could not vote for this bill in its
current form to go to Law Amendments Committee, period. We could not possibly pretend that the bill is
sufficiently balanced and sufficiently fair to workers, such that only really fine-tuning will take care of it.



That is the viewpoint that has been expressed and I know this isn’t a comprehensive list because there
are many from whom we haven’t heard. But in the short time that people have had to analyze this bill in its
complexity, in its entirety, at least the following have made it clear, that just dealing with it at the Law
Amendments Committee level is not good enough because it is not going to deal with some of the most severe
flaws in the bill and some of the most Draconian measures. You would have to change the principle of the
bill in order to get the changes that are needed. The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the Nova Scotia
Council of Labour, the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, the Metropolitan Association of Public Personnel, the
Police Association of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Auto Workers
Union, the United Mine Workers of America.



Those are just some of those who have had the opportunity to take this bill and analyze it as it affects
the injured workers or regrettably, future injured workers whose interests have to be fairly represented in this
legislation. (Interruptions)



That was a really helpful and enlightened intervention from the member for Cape Breton South. They
can’t be very concerned about it today. Now, I suppose I can only speculate on what the member is trying to
say. He says I just want to hold it up for two more years. That would do a lot of good, that would be a really
helpful contribution to the debate, to say, let’s just obstruct it and let’s just hold it up forever. That would really
be helpful to the injured workers of this province who need reforms.



Of all the things in this House that are really hard to keep one’s temper about, it is when
backbenchers snipe and carp and hurl comments like that that are absolutely unfounded in fact, and that show
such a lack of courage that it is pathetic that they cannot stand on their feet and represent the concerns and
the needs and interests of the injured workers and those who regrettably will face injury in the future or
fatalities or premature diseases.



MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member please address the principle of the bill.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, that is right, it is not hard to stray from the principle of the bill
when you hear that kind of garbage that keeps coming from the back benches. From someone who would have
you believe that he has deep roots in the labour movement and is concerned about working people.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That has nothing to do with the principle of the bill.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, then he should stop making those comments. Mr. Speaker, it is the view
of at least a half dozen of the organizations who have had an opportunity and frankly who have the expertise
and the resources to do the kind of detailed analysis that is required of such a complex bill, that this bill
proposes a major redistribution of resources, within the workers’ compensation system, away from all the
present benefits paid under the Act, to permit the financing of a new earnings-loss benefit, without any
increase in assessments to employers.



That is a mouthful but what does it really mean? It really means that this bill is failing to serve the
workers in a manner that is fair and balanced as it relates to the interests of the employers. Mr. Speaker, again
it seems reasonable, given the complexity of this issue, to recognize that in its current form, with as many
shortcomings as there are, that this cannot be reasonably dealt with at the Law Amendments Committee level.



[5:45 p.m.]



Let me just read briefly, and I will happily table for the record, some of the concerns that have been
expressed in the same way we are here expressing them, by workers themselves and representatives of workers
on the principle of the bill and on how much it falls short of that test of fairness and balance that the minister
said was important when he introduced the bill.



The President of the United Mine Workers of America, these are strong words, Mr. Speaker, but they
were printed in the newspaper article which I am going to read and I think they honestly express the concerns
of the membership of the United Mine Workers of America: The proposed changes in the Workers’
Compensation Act, if approved by the Legislature, will rape the injured workers of Nova Scotia. Stephen
Drake, the recently elected new President of the United Mine Workers went on to say: Nova Scotia
Governments, since 1971, have used a low compensation assessment rate as a ploy to attract new businesses
to the province. Provincial governments, he said, have been aware the assessment was too low to cover
compensation costs. Of course, recent studies have documented that that was indeed true.



Mr. Speaker, there may be some who think that this is a rather silly notion that the government kept
the premiums low, kept the compensation rates low in an attempt to attract new businesses to the province,
but let me say, and I have no doubt that all of those, including yourself, sir, who were on the Opposition
benches at the time, will remember how outrageous it was when the Buchanan Government literally conducted
a campaign and wrote into their own literature - which I would describe as propaganda - trying to attract
businesses to Nova Scotia that one of the things that Nova Scotia had to boast about and could offer businesses
from elsewhere were the lowest workers’ compensation premiums, the lowest rates in Canada.



We said at the time, Mr. Speaker, that is not only very ill-advised in terms of the liability that the
Workers’ Compensation Fund is accumulating - in other words it puts that fund in jeopardy, that it is
underfunded - but we said that is sick; that is perverse. That is like using your workers in this province like
raw bait, the fact that you are not going to adequately provide for benefits in the instance of work place
injuries and diseases and fatalities because you are deliberately holding down those rates. We felt it was
perverse then, we felt it was ill-advised then, and we said so and the government simply did not deal with the
problem.



I want to be fair to the current minister and to the government in recognizing that that is a problem
that they inherited. I think there are some areas in which the government hides behind that excuse as a reason
for not doing what needs to be done in a number of other areas, but, in the instance of workers’ compensation,
it is an undisputed fact that the previous Tory Government was absolutely irresponsible and derelict in its
duties in terms of dealing with this issue. But, Mr. Speaker, that does not justify the current government doing
what it is doing in this bill, and that is saying we inherited a mess and we know that we can get away with
forcing the injured workers to carry the heaviest burden in getting us out of this mess. It doesn’t justify it, Mr.
Speaker, it isn’t going to wash and, understandably, injured workers themselves and those who represent the
interests of workers in this province, who are most vulnerable to work place injuries and diseases and
fatalities, are not going to sit by idly and let that happen without a fight. We are not prepared to do that either.



I won’t go through all the details, Mr. Speaker, in the critique of the mine workers of this legislation
because they are very capable of doing it on their own and have done so and will continue to do so. I am sure
that every member here will want to listen very carefully as to how adverse the implications of this legislation
will be, in the instance of those who will literally suffer, in some cases, a 40 per cent reduction in their
benefits while employers are being comforted by a freeze on their assessment over the next five years. By the
fact that really eliminating any kind of an external review process that could be thought to be remotely
independent will make people very subject to arbitrary decisions without there being any meaningful recourse
and any independent appeal.



I want to go on, Mr. Speaker, to quote briefly from concerns expressed by the Nova Scotia Nurses’
Union. I am sorry I am dealing in this case with some comments from a conversation that took place with
Nurses’ Union representatives around the real implications for nurses in this province but not only nurses, for
many people, the largest number who have been identified in health care institutions, but in other work places
as well, who have been suffering environmental illnesses, who have been suffering adverse illnesses as a result
of the environmental conditions in their work place.



As has been pointed out by the Nurses’ Union, in the absence of having an independent appeal board,
there would not be to this day in Nova Scotia, any recognition whatsoever of the existence of environmental
illness as a work place condition that needs to be recognized and addressed in our compensation system.



Mr. Speaker, that may not be a concern that affects any member here in this House. Members of this
House may not be aware of how widespread those concerns are but persistently the Workers’ Compensation
Board itself has refused to deal in any way effectively, has refused to acknowledge the work place illnesses
that have resulted in literally hundreds and hundreds of health care workers being rendered disabled, for the
purposes of doing their jobs and, in some cases, for up to two or more years.



Under the current system, the Workers’ Compensation Board has simply said our policy does not
acknowledge it, we are here to apply existing policies and we will not, under any circumstances, compensate.
So in the tiny number of cases that have ever made it to the appeal level, which is practically none, very few
of workers afflicted by such environmental illnesses, there has at least been an independent body that is in a
position to address that matter and adjudicate on it.



Further, Mr. Speaker, there is some avenue to appeal that further and, in the most extreme cases that
arise that plead for justice, then actually go to a court of appeal. What will we have violating that very
important principle of having an independent review of an administrative decision under this new legislation?
We will have no such avenue. We would have, in the instance of those who have been struggling for
recognition and compensation under the current conditions in this province, who are suffering from
environmental illness, no recourse to be able to pursue any kind of compensation.



Now, that is a very strange conundrum. For hundreds of workers who were sufficiently ill in their
place of employment, the Camp Hill Hospital as part of the new Camp Hill health care centre, that they were
so sick that they were not able to go to work, absolutely recognized by their employer, absolutely recognized
by the health professionals treating them, and yet the Workers’ Compensation Board at the board level said
we are not prepared and able to deal with that or in a position to compensate because policy doesn’t really deal
with it.



At least, Mr. Speaker, they had some independent avenue to pursue. What we are saying and what
the Nurses Union is saying and what the Canadian Auto Workers are saying and what the Canadian Union
of Public Employees are saying, all of whom represent workers who were similarly afflicted in various health
care institutions, is that that is not good enough. It doesn’t meet the test of any kind of reasonable and fair
review to completely eliminate any external appeal board.



They’re not exactly alone in this view. This isn’t just some peculiar view of a small number of
workers in Nova Scotia. I think I am correct in saying there is only one other province in this country that has
eliminated any meaningful and effective external review process and that is the Province of New Brunswick
and God forbid that we should look to New Brunswick these days as a model in terms of labour relations and
fairness in dealing with workers in that province.



Another concern that has been expressed which goes to the absolute heart of what workers’
compensation reform in this province needs to be, if injuries and diseases in the work place are not to continue
to mount and to continue to occur where they could have been prevented, and that is in regard to the virtual
silence or at least the total ineffectiveness of the very limited provisions in this bill to do with the whole issue
of prevention. Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ health and safety representative has
written to the minister to outline in considerable detail what a very serious concern this is.



If this is truly part of meaningful reform with respect to workers’ compensation, with respect to health
and safety in this province, then this bill has to be altered significantly to build into it provisions that will deal
with this whole aspect of prevention.



Mr. Speaker, I have noted your signal that the hour of Adjournment has arrived and will at this point
adjourn debate and continue my comments following the one-half hour debate that is now scheduled to take
place.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member after the moment of interruption will have 17 minutes
remaining. We have now reached the moment of interruption. The winner of the draw today is the honourable
member for Kings West, who is yielding to to his friend, the honourable member for Kings North, who wishes
to debate the following:



[6:00 p.m.]



Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Premier and his Ministers of Government Services and
Human Resources start to enforce the government’s tendering policy, not relax the policy and, along with it,
the purse strings of all Cabinet Ministers.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



SUPPLY AND SERV./HUMAN RES.: TENDERING POLICY - ENFORCE



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, you see how fortunate I really am to win this second
hand, I guess is the way it operates. I rise tonight to speak during the late show with a great deal of concern
over what has transpired very recently about the government’s tendering policy. I am alarmed, and many Nova
Scotians are alarmed as well, at the government’s cavalier attitude that we see exemplified towards tendering.
Why do you think the previous government opened the public tender office in 1991? All government tenders
were going through that office. We did it so the public would have some assurance and some feeling of good
that their dollars were being spent properly.



Tenders were going through there quite smoothly until June, 1993, and like so many occasions we
have seen, the government says one thing while doing something else. This government has side-stepped the
rules concerning tendering and I have a list that will both shock you and inform you and these are just the
ones that we know. How many tenders have we not caught up with that have been awarded that we do not
know; how many contracts have been let that we do not know anything about yet?



We are still gathering and we still waiting and, as time goes on, I am sure we will find more that
have evaded the tendering policy. The Minister of Human Resources admitted last week she agreed to pay
Berkeley Consulting of Toronto $40,000 without seeking bids; that is $40,000, taxpayers’ money. The
Minister of Health paid $15,000 to a London consultant for public relations advice and then when the
consultant left, she took the computer with her. IBM, $250,000 to study computerized health tracking system
for Nova Scotia. No tender, no call for proposals; Proactive Consulting, $10,000 to do that 30-60-90; Bluenose
II repairs, untendered, $14,000; Synerlogic, $68,500; Earth and Oceans Ltd., $48,000 gold field data system;
Indeva Energy Consultants, $20,000 to provide a second opinion on the oil company in the province.



The list goes on and Premier Savage indicated that he regrets the reliance or untendered work, but
argues the hirings would not have cost the taxpayers any money or displayed any favouritism. Well, I am
comforted that the Premier feels that but, really, we have public tenders so that we know it. In the 18 months
since this government has taken over, they have made a mockery of the public tender office.






During Question Period today, the Premier told us that only 5 per cent of the tenders let by his
government have been untendered. We do not know how many contracts have been let without tender. All
Nova Scotians want to know, and they have a right to know. They are paying the bill; they have the right to
know.



The facts speak for themselves. The list of projects that I read a moment ago all cost in excess of
$5,000. Why, all of a sudden, is Priorities and Planning allowed to make recommendations to Cabinet, have
Cabinet award tenders and the Minister of Supply and Services does not know a thing about it. The job of the
Minister of Supply and Services is to make sure that the tendering process is followed to the letter, and he did
not know what Priorities and Planning were doing.



For a moment, stop and think of the 1993 election campaign. Read from their platform. What they
said and what they are doing are two entirely different things. In November 1993, the Minister of Supply and
Services was on CBC television and he was unaware of the government tendering policy. I have to ask the
question, does the right hand know what the left hand is doing? It appears no, Mr. Speaker.



While we are talking about the right hand and the left hand, take a look at comments made by the
Premier earlier today in Question Period. He said changes to the policy had to be revisited. Changes to the
tendering policy had to be revisited and revised. He did not say they had to be tightened or loosened, but
revisited. I ask you, what did the Premier mean when he said that today, Mr. Speaker?



For the last few days, we have all been interested in tenders. Today, the headline in the newspaper,
Grits might soften tender rules. What feeling of comfort does that give Nova Scotia taxpayers who know they
are the ones that are going to be picking up the bills? The “. . . Liberals might loosen - not tighten - their
tendering guidelines in light of the Sandy Jolly affair.”.



This document, in my view, needs revision. The public tender document was there as a safeguard,
Mr. Speaker, so that politicians would not make mistakes, so that politicians would do things in the open and
they would be so transparent that all taxpayers would realize that their best interests were being taken to heart.



“. . . there are serious errors that Cabinet Ministers must not make - they must not be involved in
fraud, they must not be involved in personal gain, they must have an integrity . . .”. That is what our Premier
said. Our Premier has gone on record, Mr. Speaker, supporting, vigorously, the public tender policy,
vigorously supporting the fact that things must be done according to Hoyle as it were. Things must be done
properly that is what our Premier said, and I honestly and sincerely believe the Premier when he says that,
but what are his ministers doing behind his back? Why do the ministers totally disregard what the Premier
has told them they must do?



The Premier has put a set of clothes on for them to wear and they refuse to wear them. They prefer
to make up the rules as they go along and then duck when they are found out. One of the ministers, last week,
said the tender could not be called, it had to be just kind of an under-the-table contract because it was an
emergency. We said, well, what was the emergency? Define the emergency. There was no emergency.
(Interruption) If there was an emergency last week because the deputy minister was not there, there is no
deputy minister on the Priorities and Planning Committee. Is that an emergency to find a replacement? I think
not. The emergency was more in the mind of the beholder than in actual fact. It was not a reason, it was an
excuse to pad some friend from Ontario $40,000 to $50,000. (Interruption) Well, that is not good enough.



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE:  On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I take exception to the allegation that
was just stated by the member opposite. There was an urgency in the Department of Health when the Deputy
Minister of Health resigned. We went to firms in Nova Scotia to find qualified expertise to help us fulfil the
needs of the Department of Health, and we found no one in Nova Scotia. We found Berkeley Consulting
which that member opposite knows full well about Berkeley Consulting through a furniture store operator or
through a municipal councillor or a PC caucus research officer or whatever his designation. (Interruption)
His name is Dan Boyd and he has in his possession the same as I have here, the expertise that Berkeley
Consulting firm has to do the job that we have hired them to do and they are not friends of any government.
They are good qualified people doing a fine job and I take exception to what that member has just allegated.
Thank you. (Applause)



MR. ARCHIBALD: I am greatly relieved, at last, the minister is trying to furnish us paperwork to
tell us why she hired Berkeley. We asked, we demanded, we begged for paperwork. We begged for the
information that the minister (Interruption) Why did you hire? She still has not told us what basic
information. Why were there no Nova Scotians qualified? There was not a single piece of paper tabled in this
House that would support that thesis. There is not a single shred of evidence that it could not have been done
in Nova Scotia. There is not a single shred of evidence anywhere that indicates that there was an emergency
in the Department of Health. The only thing that we have evidence of is that an untendered contract for
$50,000 was let to an Ontario company who furnished about three pages of paper, and said, we are qualified
and we can do the job. If the minister wants to defend this (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member’s time has expired.



The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate or intervene in the debate. I have
to start my remarks by referring to some remarks which came from the honourable member for Kings West.
He exclaimed how alarmed the public and he had become, about activities taking place at the Public
Tendering Office and the process of public tendering. He also went on to use the words that this government
has made a mockery out of the Public Tendering Office.



I think that the honourable member should really think twice about when he was in the ministry or
in the Cabinet, that he would remember well, as do the public of Nova Scotia, that it was that government who
played a role in making a mockery of the public tendering activity. In that, toilet seats became a vivid example
of the kind of mockery that that government exercised.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I rise on the point of order and it
is a simple point of order. The former Premier Donald Cameron brought in a tendering policy that was
adopted by government and then it was adopted wholeheartedly by the government of Premier John Savage
in 1993. Now, if this government wants to say something about past history, past deeds, as an excuse for
absolutely anything, the bottom line is, the Premier adopted the policy. And if this minister can’t stick to it,
then he should tell us he can’t stick to it and why.



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the response is to be expected, the truth does tickle sometimes. The fact
of the matter is, the only mockery in modern memory would certainly be the fact that, the toilet seats is a vivid
example of the mockery of the public tendering process in this province.



I am pleased, and I will stand loud and tall any day, to say that I am pleased to be part of a
government that has taken the responsible action to not only follow the government’s procurement policy as
left by the former government, but we are embarking to improve on that policy and we have been since we
have arrived. We have addressed, my colleagues, in terms of how we would work with the procurement policy
on the premise that public tendering is an important principle of this government, as it should be of all
governments, that every business has an equal opportunity to do business with the provincial government
because it does belong to the public.



Tendering should also be used for procurement wherever possible or feasible, whether or not it is
required by the government purchasing Act or the government procurement Act. The principle of open
tendering must be rigorously applied in all departments.



Mr. Speaker, there has been a great deal of discussion on the how-to and where do you get the license
to go the sole-sourcing route. I want to suggest today that sole-sourcing is not anything new. I am aware, from
past practices of the former government, that was the way of life. That is no longer the way of life, but there
are times when one must go to sole-sourcing for services, whether they be goods or services. We have had the
examples of urgencies, emergencies, particular circumstances where time factors do not allow for the
advertisement, and they are all clearly outlined in the Premier’s directive on public tendering.



I want to refer to another exercise in the procurement of public services; professional services by
architects, engineers and the like. I have a letter addressed to myself from the Nova Scotia Consulting
Engineers Association. This may shed just a little bit of light for the members opposite, in the terms of the
direction we are going with our process. I will just read one paragraph, if I may. The Nova Scotia Consulting
Engineers Association would like to make several points regarding the methods used to select consultants to
perform work for the Department of Supply and Services. The selection method preferred internationally, is
qualifications-based selection. This method of selection recognizes that the best, overall design and lowest
total life-cycle cost is achieved for a given project if the most qualified engineer is appointed for the project.
On the project where the consulting engineer fees are typically less than 10 per cent of the total project cost,
selecting a consultant on the basis of lower cost, rather than best qualifications, does not necessarily decrease
the total project cost. In fact, the opposite is usually the case. The consultant selected on the basis of cheapest
price may be least able to provide the service required to minimize the total project cost. Finally, we wish to
point out, in the same letter, Mr. Speaker, consulting engineers have always enjoyed an excellent relationship
with your department and support its generally existing practices for selection of consultants.



[6:15 p.m.]



That is only one area, Mr. Speaker. The kind of reaction that we are getting from the community in
which we serve, the business community. We have had broad consultations with practically every practitioner
in the professional services and we are doing the same with the construction association and their relevant
members.



Mr. Speaker, the comparison between the way it was and the way it is, is quite drastic. I was asked
earlier today a question along that line, I think from the same honourable member and I would be delighted
to table the difference. (Interruption) I answered your question at the time. If I might address the Chair.



Mr. Speaker, a letter from Robert Ojolick, “The Department has continued to exhibit a fairness in
its selection and engagement of design professionals, and has taken considerable care to ensure that as many
firms as possible registered with the NSAA are considered for design commissions.”.



Mr. Speaker, that is all in saying that we are not off the track with our public tendering policy. We
recognize that it is not an easy process, it is very difficult. But we are mindful that we will be careful as we
take steps. I am pleased that we have, as of yesterday, the Minister of Finance and myself, will lead an
exploration of our existing policy on public tendering, procurement. We will come forward with a stronger
policy that will be followed by all members of our government.



I am sure that members opposite will, perhaps, find some things wrong with that. But at the same
time, I want to say that it is a positive step, it is a positive effort. It is better and it is onward. We are going
to display all the integrity that we can as human beings because we want to be honest in our efforts to serve
the public of Nova Scotia.



As stated earlier in Question Period, Mr. Speaker, we talked about the Nova Scotia Association of
Architects and the written policy which is coming forward. We hope to have that in the hands of all
concerned, certainly by the first of the year. But if we can, before this year is over, we will. But we have
advanced it to my senior people and the Premier has perused a copy. I am very positive about that.



I am sure, Mr. Speaker, in all that we are doing and all that we are trying to do at this point in time,
it probably pales by comparison to what we did see in the past. I know the honourable member gets very
bothered by us referring to the past, but it is the past that cost taxpayers of this province some $9 billion, a
lot of it through untendered contracts, contracts that went through the Cabinet as, this is my friend, this guy
is good, he can do the job and we have not stooped to that position. This government will not stoop to that
position and we will move onward as credibly as we can in the future.



I want to let this member know that the Department of Supply and Services, being the instrument
that drives the public tendering process, is not an embarrassment upon the construction or trades industry of
this province and there is no exercise of mockery at the public tendering office.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to rise to say a few words this evening
on this topic. I have to say, first of all, that there is no doubt at all that anybody who takes a look at
newspapers will know that, yes, indeed, the government does do some tendering. But if the minister who just
spoke would have Nova Scotians believe that all is well in the State of Denmark concerning this government’s
public tendering and proper open tenderings of contracts, he would also, I would suggest, have Nova Scotians
believe that the tooth fairy is alive and well.



Mr. Speaker, what a load of bunk we have heard this evening. I appreciate that the minister is in a
difficult situation because the minister is responsible for the public tenders office. That minister is, as some
would suggest, the fall guy. The minister is the one who is supposed to be ensuring that it is being done
properly, but if his Cabinet colleagues don’t follow the rules, don’t follow the directives laid down clearly by
this minister and also by his deputy minister and, I might add, by the Premier, and he is not informed, well
then, this minister would either have to stand up wearing it, in other words hang alone or he is going to have
to hang and go down with the rest of them because I would suggest to this minister that nobody is buying what
they are being told, on the basis of the information coming out.



Let’s take a look at certain things, Mr. Speaker, and I refer the minister and his colleagues to the list,
and it is not even a new list but it was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, to a long list of
contracts worth approximately $1 million, that were awarded without tender. I have yet to see, from the
Minister of Human Resources who stood in her place and expressed indignation tonight, table in this House
anything, despite the fact that the paper of August 8, 1994, states that any sole-sourced contract must receive
the approval of Priorities and Planning and, according to the document that was provided by the Premier, the
directive, that spells out quite clearly that when you have sole-sourced contracts, there must be written
explanations by the deputy minister on a one-page sheet provided and that must be made available to any of
the public who want it.



I haven’t seen it, Mr. Speaker. There is no figure about $50,000 or $40,000 for untendered contracts.
Priorities and Planning have to approve any contract over $150,000 but they have to approve all contracts,
all that are sole-sourced. That information was not provided. Why not? This fiasco, and that is the only way
you can describe it, with the metro amalgamation coordinator, it is not proper for me in this House to say
exactly what I think we have been told by ministers because that is unparliamentary to say it in here. But I
would suggest that I am not alone in having certain inner feelings, that Nova Scotians share those views.



Then, Mr. Speaker, we have a Premier who says we are talking about reviewing our tendering
policies. Premier Savage says there are times that the rules might not work in this province’s best interests.
I wonder how one determines what is the province’s best interests and how the government hives that off from
what is in the Liberal Government’s and the friends of the Liberals’ best interests.



“`This document, in my view, needs revision,’ he told the Daily News yesterday.”. Yes, indeed, Mr.
Speaker, we heard criticism from members of the government to the members of the Second Party, pointing
out what the Tories had done while they were in government. So what we have, quite clearly, is you guys were
bad so we don’t have much in the way of standards to live up to, so we will live down to the standards that
you set.



Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister says, no, no, it is a big difference. Well, if it is, why isn’t it being
followed? Why aren’t the policies laid down? And yes, there can be examples and situations where you haven’t
got time to tender because of emergencies or an environmental emergency or some other thing of that nature.
And there can be good reason, solid reasons given as to why the lowest tender bid should not always be
accepted. I would never, for a moment, suggest that the lowest tender bid should always be accepted because
you have to consider the qualifications and the experience, the expertise, what the person or company that is
bidding on the contract will bring to it. Sometimes you can be penny wise and pound foolish if you are trying
to save a nickel or a dime, so to speak.



But, surely tender proposals can be written in such a way by a point weighting system and the
minister knows that, it has been done on other things. Other tender calls that have gone out where you can
have a weighting system, where you put proper weight on experience, expertise, as well as on costs. So, the
contract will not necessarily go to the lowest, in terms of price but it will go to whoever it is who is going to
be able to provide the best goods or services to the province at a competitive price. Nobody is saying for one
minute that it has to go to the lowest price, but what people are saying and what this government promised
to deliver, and in fact what the Premier promised almost a year ago to the day, and that is that the tendering
policies of this province as clearly articulated in his directive of November 23, 1993, would be followed, that
is what the Premier said.



I would invite the Minister of Transportation and Communications to check Hansard and he will see
that in fact that is exactly what the Premier did say. Rotating lists, preferred lists for professional services are
notorious, no question about that. Under the Conservatives that was done. They would rotate sometimes so
that they could share their business among their friends, rotating wheel like the roulette wheel maybe of the
government’s new casinos.



The Honourable Wayne Adams, his name is on the memorandum dated November 29, 1993, effective
immediately all departments of government are to withdraw views of any and all existing preferred lists of
services and supply contractors. Has that been followed totally, Mr. Speaker? My information is that it has
not. Some agencies, corporations, are still doing that. This was dated November 29, 1993, where has the
minister been? I can’t expect the minister to run out quite honestly, I am not trying to lay this simply on this
minister’s head, this minister cannot go to each and every department, corporation, agency, and say, let me
see all of your books and let me check to see if you are following our directives to the letter. The ministers are
responsible for doing that and head should roll when those who knowingly break the rule, like the Minister
of Municipal Affairs, and I don’t back off from that. Mr. Speaker, “Grits might soften up tender rules,”. No
need to soften them, they are so soft right now they are marshmallow because they have no substance
whatsoever, if there is no will to enforce them.



I see you are telling me I have only got a moment left. I urge this minister who I believe to be
honourable and reputable, and quite honestly, and I say this sincerely, I believe that he is genuinely concerned
to ensure the proper tendering practices are followed in the Province of Nova Scotia. I don’t hesitate saying
that. I urge the minister then to blow the whistle on his colleagues. You have a responsibility to do that when
you find them in violation of the clearly defined tendering practices that are defined for the Province of Nova
Scotia. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Now, we have about 15 seconds before 6:30 p.m. at which time we will resume
debate of Bill No. 122.



[6:30 p.m.]



We will now resume debate on Bill No. 122.



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



Bill No. 122 - Workers’ Compensation Act. [Debate resumed.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview to resume debate on Bill No. 122,
15 minutes remaining.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: I am using the next 15 seconds on this debate, am I. I just want to say
how much I support my Leader in everything that he said on this subject of what a farce our tendering policies
are when they are unenforceable and now they are going to be weakened.



HON. RICHARD MANN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, if the member for Halifax Fairview had
gotten that kind of support she would still be the Leader.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Is that support from my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid or from
the Speaker? Well, I know that I only have a very few minutes left in my second reading intervention. At this
point, I just want to finish the point I was making when the House adjourned for late debate and that is a
concern expressed by the health and safety representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Mr.
Rob Wells, that, in fact, there is a serious omission on the government’s part here as it relates to what he calls
the sorrowful lack of attention to accident prevention in the workers’ compensation bill that is before us.



He, better than most, Mr. Speaker, is painfully aware of how irresponsible the previous government
has been with respect to occupational health and safety. It is fair to say he is one of the outstanding experts
on the subject of health and safety who has kept on the government’s case, who has, I think, created the
awareness of workers about occupational health and safety legislation. He also has been very much involved
in joint labour-management endeavours, to try to deal with the whole problem of coming up with occupational
health and safety legislation that would begin to put in place a truly preventive program.



I think his point is well taken, Mr. Speaker. He basically is of the view, and expresses that view in
a communication to the minister, that the absence of that kind of preventive orientation and some nuts and
bolts that would have some kind of meaning with respect to prevention of work place diseases, illnesses and
fatalities is one of the fundamental flaws in the legislation itself. That, alone, is sufficient reason why it ought
to go back to the drawing board, and I want to say, in recognizing the contribution of that member to the
debate on this legislation, that I think his contribution on the broader issue of health and safety is one that has
earned him a great deal of respect. It is a reason why the government should be prepared to listen and act on
the concerns that he has expressed.



Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier that there have been a large number of organizations and labour
representatives who have already come forward to express their disappointment and their dismay at what is,
clearly, a bias in favour of the burden of the mismanagement of the past being carried by the workers of this
province rather than by it being shared in some fair and equitable way by the employers of this province. I
have talked about some of the examples of that already. Let me just quickly detail some of the others, all of
which really violate, I think, the basic principle of this bill as enunciated by the minister himself.



In the past legislation there was a very important concept, that the benefit of doubt in the instance
of weighing evidence about the condition of an injured, disabled or diseased person should be given to the
worker herself or himself. Effectively, Mr. Speaker, this legislation removes the benefit of doubt provision.



It is also, I think, a fact that this legislation is something of a step backward, in terms of labour-management relations. I know the managers are saying, well, we are happy that we are protected from further
hikes in premiums, we are happy there are going to be certain protections for us. But I think they, too, are
being short-sighted in not recognizing that there is something of a shift in the whole basis for the workers’
compensation system in the past. I am not arguing that because it is the original basis for the system, that is
reason enough to perpetuate this basic element of the system. But I think it is fair to say that we are really
seeing in this legislation a shift to a more adversarial system, as it relates to workers’ compensation, than we
have had in the past.



In the past, it is true that employers had an opportunity to enter into a process of appeal, as it related
to the situation surrounding a work place accident or injury. But there were, in fact, appropriate limitations
on the participation of employers in being able to interfere with the awarding of benefits to a worker. I think
the fact that the government has effectively removed that and really said, take the gloves off here and the
workers and employers can fight it out, in the attempt of a worker to gain appropriate compensation for an
injury or a disease or, worse still in the instance of a family, compensation in the instance of a fatality.



Mr. Speaker, I have already referred to the fact that the abolition of any right to appeal to an
independent tribunal is one of the most repugnant elements of this legislation. It really violates the very
concept of basic justice for there not to be some avenue of appeal to an independent body. That has been an
extremely important element in our current system when it comes to there being some level of confidence on
the part of workers in the process of workers’ compensation.



I think it is fair to say that under the improved administration that is there now, no question, under
the current administration which I think has tackled, in a conscientious way, some of the issues of
rehabilitation, of improved client service and so on, that there is a reasonable basis for a higher degree of
confidence in the current Workers’ Compensation Board administration. The problem is that a lot of workers
in this province have an accumulated experience with the Workers’ Compensation Board that gives them no
basis for confidence. In fact, some of the worst practices of the past have made workers extremely distrustful
and suspicious.



I think that, too, Mr. Speaker, makes it very difficult for them to be expected to just accept, well, we
are going to wipe out the external appeal, now you are going to be fairly treated, now the board itself is going
to treat the workers with the respect that is due them and somehow justice is going to emerge. It is just not
reasonable, in process terms, and frankly, it is not reasonable when it comes to the kind of psychological
mindset that one would have to have in order to arrive at that level of confidence and trust, after so many
adverse experiences in the past.



Mr. Speaker, there are other elements and I have again touched on them briefly, the cuts in benefits.
Now I know that the point has been made that long-term, permanently disabled workers will, in many
instances, be better off. So what if you lose three days of pay before you ever receive any benefits? Well, as
has been pointed out, that can have very adverse consequences in the case of workers earning at the
inadequate levels that so many workers are earning at. The loss of three days pay can be devastating when
you have families struggling at the best of times, with their current levels of pay.



Then, Mr. Speaker, the reduction to 75 per cent of net, rather than the old formula. Again, the
suggestion is made that somehow there is a rich kind of package here, too rich for our blood and we cannot
afford it any more. But in actual analysis of benefits for injured workers on temporary disability, would
indicate that Nova Scotia has the second lowest weekly benefits for temporarily disabled workers and any
suggestion that we are going to further erode those benefits is just unacceptable.



I have already spoken about the unbelievable decision to eliminate death benefits for the children of
deceased workers. Again, Mr. Speaker, there is just no argument that can be acceptably made to defend that
measure. Problems with the definition of loss of earnings and what is included in the calculation of earnings,
all of which are restrictive on the side of workers, not on the side or in terms of their impact on employers.



Mr. Speaker, when you add together all of these adverse implications in the bill and I have not had
the time in my allotted hour to touch on all of them, you cannot come to any conclusion other than that this
bill is flawed and is not in any kind of shape to go to the Law Amendments Committee without there being
very major changes.



So, with that in mind, Mr. Speaker, and because I do not think we should have to inflict upon the
injured and diseased workers of Nova Scotia and the survivors of deceased workers who lose their lives as a
result of work place accidents or injury that we can just sit by idly and inflict that on such workers.



I propose the following amendment. That the words after “that” be deleted and I send this up to you,
Mr. Speaker . . .

 

 

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member, before she reads the amendment, see that it is fully
circulated and then read it, so that all members have it.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Undoubtedly, the Page will want some extra help in getting that around, as
she seems to be alone in the Chamber.



MR. SPEAKER: I am sure some of the members would help the Page move it around the House. We
will just hesitate for a moment until all members have that, including the member for Hants East.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I am just concerned that I have the opportunity to read my
amendment.



MR. SPEAKER: I will see that you do.

 

 

MS. MCDONOUGH: Thank you, because my time could expire while it is being distributed.



MR. SPEAKER: I will give you the additional time to do it.



MS. MCDONOUGH: I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker. I believe it has been fully circulated and I will,
therefore read the following amendment for the benefit of all members.



“That the words after `that’ deleted and the following be substituted: `that the introduction and
prosecution of Bill 122 violates the fundamental principle that workers’ compensation should fairly
compensate workers and their surviving family members for workplace-related injuries, diseases and
disabilities.’”



I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This matter has puzzled me for some
time. First, what is the wording of the full resolution prior to the amendment and what is the effect of an
amendment like this? My understanding is that the full resolution would be, resolved that the bill be now read
for a second time or something of this sort.



So the purpose of this amendment is to delete that part of the clause that it be read for a second time
and substitute some other words. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is out of order. My
understanding of the basic principle of parliamentary law, is you cannot have an amendment which is
contradictory to the main purpose of the main motion and the main motion is that this bill now be read for
a second time.



If one wants to move that it should be read a second time at a later time, six months hence, or that
it be referred to a committee prior to being read for a second time, that may be one matter. But when you have
this sort of an amendment, you are defeating the whole purpose of the particular motion. The reason why such
a motion is out of order is that when the motion comes before the House, you can vote yes or no. If it defeats
the whole purpose of the main motion, then you vote yes or no and when the motion comes forward, you are
voting on the exact same question you have already considered and voted on, and that is contrary, I submit,
to parliamentary law.



I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that this particular amendment should be ruled out of order for the
reason that it totally contradicts the main purpose of the motion.



[6:45 p.m.]



AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I have the point of order to answer. I would refer the honourable member to Page
200, Paragraph 670 of Beauchesne, Reasoned Amendments. A reasoned amendment must fall into one of the
following categories - “It must be declaratory of some principle adverse to, or differing from, the principles,
policy or provisions of the bill.” - which was what the main motion was based on. So, in point of fact, the
amendment must, in order to be in order, be contradictory to the main bill, just the reverse of your statement.
So, your point of order is not a valid point of order.



I want to recess for just two moments until we have an opportunity to examine this bill in detail.
Could I have the Clerks join me, please?



As I have just quoted from Beauchesne that an amendment must be - as I am sure the honourable
member is very much aware because she was ready to respond in the same manner as I was - that it must be
adverse to the principle proposed in the bill or differing from the principle, the policy or the provisions of the
bill. I have judged that the bill put forward by the honourable minister is, in the judgment of the minister, a
fair compensation, a system of fair compensation for injured workers.



This amendment is suggesting that a fundamental principle that workers’ compensation should be
fairly compensated is, indeed, exactly the same position as taken by the proposer of the bill and is not in
adverse position to that position. While it may disagree with the principles espoused or the format of the
process espoused by the proposer of the bill, is not in contradiction thereto and therefore it is out of order.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, just on that point for some clarification. You are
suggesting then in order for it to be adverse that we have to know what the person who is introducing the bill
has defined as the principle and what, in fact, the principle means? What this amendment is suggesting, is
that whereas the Workers’ Compensation Act should be representative of a balance and a level of fairness in
terms of the provision of compensation to injured workers, that it does not do that. But we are arguing on any
one of those either adverse to the principle or adverse to the provisions, any provision of the bill that, in fact,
what we are suggesting here is that it is very much adverse to what has been presented in this particular bill.
I don’t understand how, therefore, that could be considered not adverse.



MR. SPEAKER: I will indicate to the honourable member first of all that the Speaker’s ruling on the
motion is final but in fairness and justice to the House and with all due respect to the honourable member, the
matter of what is fair and just in compensation is a matter for debate, final vote and resolution by the House.
What was being espoused by this amendment, is exactly the same thing being espoused by the bill itself and
therefore it is out of order. There is no more debate on the Speaker’s ruling.



The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I have the greatest respect for your decisions, I wasn’t up to
dispute your ruling at all. I was listening to what you were saying. I get up to debate Bill No. 122 on second
reading and to make a few comments regarding this document because honestly, that is what it is, it is a pretty
thick document. That is one of the thicker pieces of legislation that we have had for a while.



I guess one has to ask oneself, why are we here to debate this bill? Are we here strictly because of
the unfunded liability, is that what drove us to this legislation, is that what drove the minister to come up with
this legislation? Or were there other reasons that caused this government and governments across the country
to introduce legislation respecting compensation for workers.



The other legislation, obviously, has been around for many years, (Interruption) about 80 years as
my learned friend says and that is true. One has to ask oneself today, is trying to run a system the same as it
was primarily run for the last 80 years - and we are now in the 1990s - is that the kind of system we want in
the year 2000 and beyond?



I know that I may differ from a lot of members of this House on my views on how a system should
work to protect injured workers. Our system, albeit it was set up to protect injured workers has had some
flaws. I don’t know if you can always blame it on the legislation or blame it on the system. I guess many of
us have often heard from people that fell through the cracks. We probably didn’t hear about the hundreds or
thousands that didn’t fall through the cracks that were able to reap the benefit of the previous legislation.



I do know that there were many times that I had people come to me waiting for an answer. It would
be an individual with a family, small children and waiting for an answer. They were unable to work, thought
they had all the medical documentation needed, had gone to see all kinds of specialists and were still waiting
for approval for workers’ compensation to come through. Obviously, for some of those families, it was a very
difficult time.



You have to ask yourself a number of things; will this legislation protect workers better - because that
is what the program is all about - than workers have been protected in the past and will this legislation look
after the unfunded liability? You can have the best protection in the world, Mr. Speaker, and if there are no
funds there to pay the workers, then obviously you are going to have some difficulties. So you have to wonder,
is this the best way to deal with it?



The minister said we are going to look after the unfunded liability over a period of 45 years. Well,
Mr. Speaker, obviously a lot can happen in 45 years. The government is putting in, I think, about $4.5 million
a year to help solve this problem. We all know that the Teachers’ Pension Fund had unfunded liability. We
all know that this government and I think any government would have been faced with coming up with
funding. You can say well, the Teachers’ Pension Fund was the unfunded liability problem, and you can blame
anybody but it stops short of government. That happened not in five years. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the
problem we have is this workers’ compensation unfunded liability didn’t happen in a year either. But we do
know that the unfunded liability is growing fast and whatever legislation we have has to stop that. But in
stopping that unfunded liability, we also have to make sure that the injured worker is protected and treated
fairly. I guess you can get into an argument on whether, what is fair and whether or not the appropriate
protection is there.



Now this legislation does change that a little bit, in that I think I read that for the first three days the
person won’t get paid unless the person is injured for 30 days or longer. For some injured workers and for
people who are having a difficult time, three days pay can be substantial. We all know that waiting for the
system to kick in can also be substantial. I am not sure in any way, regardless of where we end up and I will
talk about the rates a little bit, will this legislation allow claimants to have their claims dealt with quickly. I
am not sure it will, and the claimants are not always at fault.



I know this is funded by employers but I have known cases where employers failed to fill out papers,
failed to document, failed to do certain things. Then when the poor, injured worker goes to collect or report
that the first accident happened on such and such a date and he gets re-injured, there is no record of the first
injury. So we have to make sure that as part of this whole process that things are done in such a way that the
claimant is not waiting a long time to get their claim.



As I look through this legislation, and I know in the earlier parts of the legislation, in Clause 5, it
talks about volunteer firefighters. Having chaired a Select Committee on Volunteer Firefighters, the volunteer
firefighters from the western part of Nova Scotia always used to opt for a private plan versus the workers’
compensation plan. The reason they did that was because they felt they would be treated more fairly and more
quickly by not having to deal with the Workers’ Compensation Board the people have known in the past and
from whom they felt they might get the runaround.



[7:00 p.m.]



I honestly think that somehow it may cost the government or it may cost somebody, because volunteer
fire fighters, I suppose, are deemed to be employed by the municipal units, even though many of them do not
get paid. But they provide a service to us and to a lot of Nova Scotians, that if you started paying them for
their work and their training and all the rest, it would cost the taxpayers of this province a great deal of
money.

 

 

I do not believe in this legislation that we are talking about minimum and maximum earnings and
I do not know how the firemen are going to be treated because I suspect it is related to their actual job because
they are not paid for fighting fires. So I am not just sure how some of this is going to work because I am told,
in this legislation, it goes, I think maybe, over a period of three years instead of the last year, to look at
earnings.



Someone may have been a casual worker, because I am not sure if this legislation deals in a way with
casual workers. It could be a casual nurse, it could be a casual construction worker and then you get into UI
and what this takes into consideration. A person might be earning $15 an hour, it could be $20 and because
it is done over a three year period, you could get down into $6.00 or $7.00 rates per hour and that is what the
workers’ compensation then would be based on.



I have to ask myself, Mr. Speaker, if you were a casual worker when you were working making $15
or $18 an hour and then, all of a sudden, you ended up with workers’ compensation, because it was evaluated
over a three year period, you ended up with a $6.00 or $7.00 an hour rate and then you are based on 75 per
cent of that, then the casual worker could be taking a big hit, the way that I see the present legislation.



So I am hoping, at some point, that there will be protection for casual workers because we have a raft
of them, a large number of them in probably high risk areas, in construction and seasonal work. So a lot of
these people might end up getting hurt and, obviously, will lose much more than a permanent employee whose
rate of pay can be easily established over that period of time.



So as I see the legislation, there has to be some, and it might be there and if I am missing it, I would
appreciate if at some point the minister, as I said before, could enlighten me because if I am misinterpreting
this, I apologize and it may happen.



I am not sure if this legislation, Mr. Speaker, addresses environmental illness. Environmental illness,
as we know it, has not been accepted by the board itself. I think it has been accepted by the appeals division
and I am not sure of the status. I am not sure, under this legislation which gives more power to the board,
whether environmental illness will become part of their program. We do have the Minister of Health moving
with an environmental clinic. So it is recognized and paid for by government. I am not sure if it is paid for
by MSI at this point and that may be a kicker. But I think it is very important that environmental illness be
part of this whole program.



I want to talk a little bit about the appeals process because, Mr. Speaker, and I sort of alluded to this
when we were having the debate on one of the amendments. This does not allow for an independent appeal.
I have to say that I would not advocate or promote the appeals system as we now have it. Because the appeals
system, as we now have it, I don’t think there is any MLA in the House who does not understand the length
of time it takes to get the appeal, first of all, and then the length of time it takes to get the decision and that
is just unacceptable. I would never want to see any appeal system go the route that this one has now gone.

 

 

I will not get into the debate on why it has gone that way, it was not always that way, but I think most
members know why it is there. That has to be corrected, but in correcting that, there has to be an independent
process, whereby an injured worker, who may fall through the cracks, can have a legitimate appeal. I do not
think we need to involve - and I do not want to offend - the minister as one of them. I do not think we need
to have a raft of lawyers involved in these appeals.



We now have a mechanism in place that is very expensive. It is not as productive as it could be. It
is very costly and I think it is costly from the fact that it is taking money from the workers, because the
government’s program for workers’ counsellors is almost what they are going to put into this program. If you
do away with paying the legal fees for appeals, it is almost a neutral cost to government to take that money,
and now that is the $4.5 million, because I think it is almost $4 million they are paying for legal fees now.
So, it does not have to be new money that is going into the workers’ compensation to deal with the unfunded
liability.



There has to be a process, Mr. Speaker, that is independent and that people feel comfortable about.
You know, courts are costly and it has to be one that is fairly tight, that we cannot have appeal after appeals.
I have to admit that the way it is now, people have an appeal, they wait so long, they have another appeal,
another appeal and I know that is not a good system. If there were some mechanism that could be put in place
through the Law Amendments Committee that we could come up with that would allow an independent
appeal. Keep it simple and yet the person has a chance or an opportunity to be heard.



Take your medical documents and allow a process where the person says, well, even though they
think they have been unfairly or unjustly treated by the board, they would have that, at least, independent
opportunity. I think that is pretty important, because I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, most people say, workers’
compensation is no different than government. They think it is all the same. Maybe in perception, it may be
whatever, but it is out there. I have had people tell me this, well, it is government. What is wrong? Can’t you
do something? I am sure other MLAs have heard that, and people find it hard to distinguish even though it
has not been something that government has funded. It was intended to be separate from government,
obviously, and to be funded by the employers and to protect the employees. Obviously, we have gotten to that
point. I think if it is going to have credibility, it obviously has to be independent and has to be at arm’s length
and it has to be a very simple process.



One other area that I am concerned about, and this has to do with where we are trying to tighten up
areas because of the unfunded liability. I hope that our whole approach on correcting this legislation is not
that we have got our heads around totally the unfunded liability and we cannot get our heads around the
people that this legislation is to protect and help.



Another area where there is a great loss is the family death benefits. Someone with three children
could lose up to $11,000. Heaven knows, we never want another Westray explosion. We never want another
major disaster, but we do not know. We do not know when disaster is going to strike, unfortunately. We live
in a time, yes, things can go along very well, and I like to be an optimist. I do not want to be a pessimist, but
we could have a disaster. If we have a disaster, and we have a lot of people that have to live on death benefits,
should they have to live in poverty? Should they not, at least, be treated in a way that is reasonable?



We may get into an argument on what is reasonable. I admit that, but I think we have got to be
careful that we are just making this legislation work, totally as I said, for the unfunded liability. We want to
make this legislation better and I think the government wants to make it better, because every one of us knows
that there are faults in the system. The system, as we know it, is not working as the way we would like it.






Yes, the unfunded liability has grown, but also there is a problem in dealing with workers. That is
the problem. The rates for the businesses are going up and everybody says that is a problem.



Somehow government has to come in and say, look, we have to help all sides in this issue. We have
to help the injured worker. If the government does not help the injured worker, who is going to look out for
the injured worker? Is it going to be business? Well, you would hope, but remember they are tied to the rates
so they are going to be careful. There is going to be somebody who is going to be the brother and the keeper
of the injured workers, it has to be done in this legislation to give them that protection.



Yes, we have to make it so that businesses will come to this province. I understand that balance. I
do not think we have quite reached that balance in this legislation, but that does not mean our side is not
willing to try to work to make that balance. I know that the unfunded liability is still in mind when we are
trying to make that balance work. I think that is very important.



As we go through this and I know some people have said that we are trying to go quickly or
whatever. Well, I do not think that getting it off to the Law Amendments Committee is moving it along
quickly. I think that we are faced with a piece of legislation that has to be dealt with. I would have loved the
minister to have been able to keep the commitment that there would have been more time this fall and I think
he would have liked to have kept that commitment. I do not think when he made that commitment that he
realized how much work there was to drafting this legislation. There was a lot of work to it. If you go through
the legislation you can understand why.



There has to be an opportunity for all those affected by this legislation that have an opinion and I
talked to a group as of today. They are still going through the legislation trying to make sure they understand
exactly how this legislation is going to affect them as workers in this province and that is pretty important.
It is pretty important that we listen as groups make presentations about certain clauses of this legislation, that
we fully understand what it is they are saying and fully understand how it affects them because that is the
important part of this legislation.



This legislation is just words, but the words do have meaning and do affect a lot of people in this
province. Nobody wants to be on workers’ compensation, nobody. Unfortunately, people get hurt and maybe
we can do a better job and I think that there is a lot of interest in trying to improve the safety of the work
place. If you can improve safety in the work place, there will be fewer accidents and fewer costs.



That is a task that we have to work at and I know the Minister of Labour has a section in his
department that is continually working on that. I think there has to be some incentive and I think one of the
problems is, I have heard employers say, I spend extra money to be safety conscious but somebody down the
street does not, we get the same rates because we are in the same business. There has to be some incentive.



But you have to be careful with incentives to make sure that people who have legitimate claims get
their claims heard because you do not want people sending people off and saying we will cover you in sick
time, do not report it. That will not work either. We have to make sure that the system is in place.



You know, Mr. Speaker, I often thought that the time had come for a complete change, a change
where workers and employers contributed to a plan together that fully addressed this issue, but yet allowed
the employees the right to go to court to sue. I know that is a variation from this, but I often thought that
principle might work better where both people had a vested interest in the plan from the point of view of
contributing but, yet, gave that worker the right to go to court so they could prove negligence.



[7:15 p.m.]



We have come a long way with all this legislation, Mr. Speaker. I don’t agree with every clause, but
I do think it is a starting point. If we didn’t have a starting point, we would still be waiting if we went out and
discussed it further. The big test will come, whether truly this government is willing to listen, when people
make their points at the Law Amendments Committee. If this government is truly willing to listen at that
point, then there will be some changes when this bill comes back to the Committee of the Whole House and
before we have third reading. At that point, I will know whether I can support this bill in totality or whether
I can’t or whether there are clauses that will bother me, as there are now.



Some of them bother me from the point that they will need some clarification - and I know we will
get that - and some bother me because it is not quite well-balanced. But I do hope that people will come
forward and make their points of view. I think that is where we are going to get a better bill. For anybody to
say let’s continually hold this bill, I am not sure that would help us either, but if we get people coming forward
and saying look, we think this will improve the working of the board, then I am all for it.



With this legislation, the board will have more decision-making power. Some may say that is good;
others may say that is not so good. That is why I think an arm’s length appeal process would give a lot of
credibility.



I think it is in Clause 17 that the employer no longer has the right to request a medical exam; the
employer must have the approval of the board to request a medical exam. There are things like that that I am
sure we are going to hear people say whether yes, that is right, or no, that is wrong. Any changes that are
different, whether it is from the coal miners on the Automatic Assumption Program, and I remember that
debate very well and I remember the committee that reported to this House and I remember this place being
full of miners. I think anybody who was elected in 1978, I think it was around the early 1980’s that the
changes came. We all know why it came and we all know that, and some might say, well, that was the right
thing to do or not the right thing to do, but I think if you talk to coal miners they will tell you it was the right
thing to do. So where this leaves them, I am not quite sure.



As has been said before, it is a different way now to work out benefits, and whether we compare
ourselves with other provinces, and I think we are looking at 75 per cent, and a lot of other provinces go to
80, 85 per cent to 90 per cent, are we doing this because of our unfunded liability or are we doing this because
it is in the best interests of the workers and everybody concerned? I think that is the kind of thing we have to
judge.



It is not going to be easy, but let’s, for Heaven’s sake, not continually say well, we are going to make
it the lowest because we have a large unfunded liability. That is the wrong reason, Mr. Speaker. We have
bailed out others, whether we like it or not, and now let’s be fair to these workers and do something that is
reasonable. Let’s not put all the onus on them and take all their benefits away to make this thing work. What
I am looking for is a balance. Yes, no matter how you cut the cake, the worker will lose something. But
doesn’t someone else have to lose, too? Isn’t that what this is all about, to make it fair so that there is a
balance. If the worker is prepared to lose and prepared to sacrifice, who else is prepared to lose and sacrifice?
That is what you have to ask yourself and that is where you have to get the balance.



I am not quite clear in my mind yet where that balance is or who is making all the sacrifices and I
don’t think the $4.5 million the government is throwing in is the total sacrifice that government should make
to make this thing work.



I have to ask myself what is fair. We should not be the highest, but we should not be the lowest either
when you look at benefits for workers. We have to find that balance. What I think Nova Scotians feel pretty
proud about is that we are usually somewhere in the middle and we pride ourselves in treating our workers
fairly. Nova Scotia is a good place to live so we have got to keep that balance, Mr. Speaker. So that is pretty
important.



So as we go through this legislation and as we go from the Law Amendments Committee back to
Committee of the Whole House and as we look at this clause by clause I think I will, as a member, get a better
feel for the government’s motives as to what they have in mind in totality for this bill.



As I said earlier today, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and I will. But at that time
when it comes back, Mr. Speaker, if we really have not found that balance and some changes are not made
to the bill, I will have some difficulty with it. But at this point, I am willing to vote for it, send it on to the Law
Amendments Committee and see what happens.



So, Mr. Speaker, I do not have any more comments at this time. I will later. I thank you for your time
and the time of the House for being able to speak on Bill No. 122 in second reading.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I am sorting through the mountain of papers here on my desk,
I will try to get organized and take part in the debate this evening. (Interruptions) I hear some people
suggesting it is tough being Leader. Maybe it is tougher, not necessarily being Leader but in being
disorganized, in terms of going from one Chamber to the next and trying to get your papers in order as you
are getting ready to speak.



Mr. Speaker, I want to make a number of remarks, if I might, tonight on Bill No. 122, dealing with
workers’ compensation. As I begin, I had been going to pull out some remarks by a very learned member of
this House who is very familiar with workers’ compensation and worker compensation issues because of the
involvement that he has had over the years with workers’ compensation cases.



I was thinking back to the days when the former government introduced legislation in this House in
1990. Far more articulate and certainly better able to express the importance of the workers’ compensation
situation or the importance of the legislation. I would invite members to go back and listen to what members
of the Liberal caucus, including the current Speaker, the member for Cape Breton Nova had to say about the
vital importance of workers’ compensation in the Province of Nova Scotia. That debate took place, I believe
it was, in June 1990.



Mr. Speaker, workers’ compensation is a system that was put in place where the purpose of it is to
provide some security, to provide some comfort, to provide some remuneration and also some training and
other kinds of help to those who have become injured at their place of work. It was intended to be a system
that would treat workers respectfully, in a respectful manner. It was intended, and still should be I would
suggest, to be a way for employers to know that they themselves will also be protected in the circumstance or
in the event that a worker becomes injured at their place of work. So, therefore the worker cannot turn around
and seek legal action against their employer and to sue them and possibly even put the business out of business
to pay for the claims that are brought against it as a result of a worker becoming injured on the site. So, it is
intended to be a no fault system to provide protection and security to the employer and protection to the
worker and the worker’s family.



Noble causes, valuable and valid concepts. It is a system that currently in the Province of Nova Scotia
has many flaws. It is in need of reform. I don’t think that you will find a single member of this House who will
deny the need to reform the workers’ compensation system in the Province of Nova Scotia. I can assure you
that I am not going to deny that need and that I, like many others in here, have been extremely frustrated and
quite frankly, angry, that many constituents on whose behalf I have tried to get assistance, have run into the
stone wall and the delays and that therefore, in effect, they have been denied justice because they have not
been able to have their claim heard. So, there are needs for reform to make it fairer, to make it faster.



There are also needs to reform the system because of the tremendous unfunded liability, over $400
million and if measures are not taken there is no question, the unfunded liability will continue to grow and
that has got to be addressed. I would suggest to the minister, through you, sir, that nobody knows that more
than the workers and the workers’ representatives. They also know, as I do, as we all should because of the
actuarial studies that were done, was that the problem of the unfunded liability did not develop overnight. It
developed over years and years of neglect and mismanagement.



I am not saying that this bunch, the red team, deserves all the credit for all of that mismanagement
because I am not all that unfair. In the 1970’s, they were part of it and I think that they would acknowledge
that mistakes were made under the former Liberal regime in the 1970’s and that some of the unfunded part
started. But it certainly also continued under the blue team that took over in 1978 and carried on until 1993.
So, both Parties, the red team and the blue team have some responsibility for the unfunded liability having
developed to the level it was. (Interruptions)



I am not going to be side-tracked by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker. I am sure the Minister
of Finance has the ability to read Hansard. He also will have the ability to read the actuarial studies that were
done which will show some of where the unfunded liabilities had started. Also, I would suggest that the red
team alone is not responsible for all of the mismanagement or the politics that were played with it. We
certainly know that the blue team played some politics with this by trying to discount and show any concern
with the unfunded liability, by trying to keep the rates artificially low and, in fact, bragging, as the former
Premier - now Senator, he got his reward, he is not having to pay the costs - by saying that Nova Scotia had
the lowest rates in the country. Even using in their literature to try to promote Nova Scotia supposedly as a
good place to do business, not considering the costs that are going to have to be paid down the road.






[7:30 p.m.]



So, Mr. Speaker, we acknowledge that there are problems. All reasonable, responsible Nova Scotians
know that there are problems. Is it fair for those who have been involved in the mismanagement to decide that
one party, the workers, should pay, should bear the major brunt of the efforts to reduce the unfunded liability?
What is wrong with the idea of a more level playing field? What is wrong with the idea of sharing the pain
around equally, between all those who were involved?



I would suggest it wasn’t the workers who were the ones who set the rates. They don’t set rates. They
were not the ones who benefitted for many years from the low rates. That wasn’t the case, Mr. Speaker, yet
this minister, and I would like to think that this minister, and I will say to you on a positive note to the
minister something kind I would like to say, that is that I very much appreciate the minister’s commitment
that he will be willing to look at some amendments at the law amendments process. I hope they are going to
be positive ones. Maybe he has learned from his seatmate, the Minister of the Environment, who did agree
to do some of that and did do some of that. Hopefully that is going to be the case. Certainly we have many
examples where ministers, when the legislation is in the Law Amendments Committee, just flatly refused to
accept amendments that will make it any better.



Now, Mr. Speaker, many things have been said about this bill and I am sure that many more will be
said. On November 10th, the minister pointed out that certainly the legislation is very complex and that it is
the complexity of fixing a system now faced with a $460 million unfunded liability and an Appeal Board log-jam of 1,800 injured workers. Well, certainly it is but we don’t need that legislation to correct that log-jam.
It is not required. Additional staff is required and had, in fact, additional staff been provided when it was first
brought to the minister’s attention that there was a major log-jam, I would suggest that that logjam would have
been reduced substantively by now.



It could have been done if the resources had been put in place because as you are delaying justice .
. .



HON. JAY ABBASS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Again, just so that the viewing audience is
not misled by the member opposite, perhaps he could explain that in the last sitting of the Legislature I did
go to his Party and suggest a solution which had been suggested to me by the Appeal Board chairman, which
would have resulted in a quickening of the hearing of claims. He should not mislead the House in this way.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, there may be a difference of views between the two members but there is no
point of order. The honourable member has the floor.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, indeed there is very much of a differing of views between the two of us.
Yes, indeed, the minister did approach our Party with a recommendation which we found totally unacceptable.
Yes, indeed, that is a fact and yes, indeed, it would not have provided the kinds of protections and so on to
the workers that the workers deserved and needed any more than this system does, in fact even less, excuse
me, I should not say even less, I will say any more than the system that is being proposed in this bill because
what this minister and this government is proposing to do in the bill, as we all know, is to do away with one
of the most fundamentally important principles in the whole process. That is the independence of an
independent Appeal Board because the board is to be eliminated (Interruption) That is the red team trying to
do that I am told by the member for the Second Party, a member of the blue team, a new member of the blue
team because he doesn’t want to be associated with the old members and the old actions of the blue team from
what they have done before.



Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to read some of the articles in some of the papers. Things that have
appeared in the newspaper talking about how this legislation will be setting back the workers’ compensation
system by 50 years. It will have the effect of eliminating top-ups. Many contracts, many employees and
representatives negotiate with their employers contractual arrangements so that if a worker is injured on the
job, their salaries or incomes would be topped up so that they are not going to have a net loss as a result of
their injury.



This government, of course, isn’t known for having a great deal of respect for signed contracts. In
fact, sometimes quite honestly they don’t seem to have much respect for contracts at all, even necessarily how
they are awarded . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Those remarks were not on the principle of the bill, nor any latitude
that may be considered acceptable related to the principle of the bill. I would ask the honourable member to
restrain himself to the principle of the bill with the latitude that is allowed therewith.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, and that also gave me a chance, I appreciate that because when I sat down
I had a chance to pick up the piece of paper that I had wanted that had fallen to the floor because I want to
refer to that as well. The point that I am trying to get at here in terms of the principle that what this legislation
does in effect is override some contractual provisions that exist in some collective agreements that have been
signed that are in place. That’s the principle again that I am referring to. Therefore, I would hope you would
agree it is actually germane and not off the topic, I wasn’t straying as you may have thought that I was or at
least I didn’t think that I was straying.



Many members like the member for Cape Breton Centre and Cape Breton West and others who have
a large number of constituents who are involved in the coal mining industry, I am sure that these members
would be concerned about how this legislation can impact upon their constituents who live a very hard life.
Being a miner can be extremely dangerous, a very challenging job but it also can, in fact, result often in
injuries and sometimes those injuries are as a result of a direct trauma, a direct incident. Sometimes they can
be things that can be cumulative.



I think, Mr. Speaker, that maybe the members who represent the miners should know what the
leaders of the United Mine Workers of America have to say about the bill. For example, the proposed changes
in the Workers’ Compensation Act, if approved by the Legislature, will rape the injured workers of Nova
Scotia, says the President of District 26, United Mine Workers of America. That is not myself, those are strong
words and feelings about this legislation. (Interruption)



The socialist from the Valley is trying to help me, Mr. Speaker, but I will ignore the member for
Kings North, the member of the Second Party. (Interruption)



He said, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotia Governments since 1971, that was in the days originally of
the red team and into the blue team, have used a low compensation assessment rate as a ploy to attract new
businesses to the province. Sounds familiar to something of the view that I hold and certainly that the rates
of compensation were too low, or excuse me, the rates that were collected for compensation purposes were
too low to be able to cover the costs of the legitimate payments that had to be made.



The major concern of the union, of the United Mine Workers of America, which I am sure that the
member for Cape Breton Centre would be concerned about as well, and he and other members may get a
chance to speak on this bill, their major concern is that it would cut benefits to injured workers in the province
by about 40 per cent while, at the same time, it is freezing the contributions being made by employers. A
common story.



All who have looked at this legislation, and you can understand why some, one side, certain backers,
I do not know, maybe the government had a consultant write the bill for them (Interruption) The Minister of
Transportation said that it was probably untendered and sole-sourced, maybe. He is a member of the Priorities
and Planning Committee. I am not, Mr. Speaker. He would know, I wouldn’t. Maybe I should ask him that,
I cannot. (Interruption) He is not on the Priorities and Planning Committee, I cannot ask him that question
tomorrow.



Mr. Speaker, maybe it was written by somebody else. Who was the government listening to? Why
is it that they only seem to be aiming their cost reduction at the expense of the workers, not others?



They are also concerned about the elimination of the Appeal Board. I can understand, Mr. Speaker,
why those who are trying to cut costs and to create an increased unfairness, who want and are opposed to
accountability, those who would not want accountability, I can understand why they would want to eliminate
the Appeal Board. Now if this legislation goes through, you have a situation where, if a worker becomes
injured and they feel that they have not been properly treated, they feel that the medical information that they
have and that was provided, and I can assure you, I have seen reports from doctors, including specialists,
which have said that workers are unable to return to work and where, in the initial stages of the application
for compensation, they were turned down. The workers were turned down in direct contradiction to the advice
given by medical specialists.



I know you may be waiting a long time because of the backlog, but if that eventually makes it to the
Appeal Board, those kinds of situations are normally successful in winning their appeal because the medical
evidence backs it up. Now, who do they appeal to? Nobody. You appeal to the same people who make the
decision in the first place. There is no outside appeal, independent process, according to this legislation. Even
in the legal system, you can go to appeals. If you do not agree with something you can go to different levels
of court.



[7:45 p.m.]



If it is isn’t the intent of the government to cut off the opportunity to appeal and for the workers to
obtain justice, why would they be eliminating the external Appeal Board? There has to be some reason for it.
It cannot be the fact that 93 per cent of those who appealed to the external Appeal Board were successful. I
am sure the government’s motive would not be to cut off that 93 per cent of the workers who have been shown
to be successful at the external Appeal Board.



Of course, what the government needs to be doing and there is some progress being made in this
regard, to their credit, and this is fact, and that is that some policies and so on are being written more clearly
so that not as many cases will have to go in the future, one would hope, to an external Appeal Board because
the policies and directives will be clear and clearly defined. Even if you have those in place, the government
has clear tendering policies in place, but they do not necessarily follow them.



What recourse do we have? We have the recourse, the ability here to ask questions, but we do not
necessarily get answers. What is the situation going to be here? I am making a comparison. You can have the
best policies in place in the world, but if they are not going to be followed and if some injured workers are not
going to be treated fairly or they feel that they are not being treated fairly, where are they going to turn to have
that decision assessed in an independent manner.



The government has decided, in their wisdom or lack thereof - and I underline lack - that an injury,
if you are going to become an injured worker or if you are going to be qualified for assistance under workers’
compensation that your injury is going to have to result from a traumatic event. In other words, if you are out,
if you are a delivery person and you are involved in an accident, somebody runs into your vehicle, you may
qualify for workers’ compensation. If you are working in a hospital, and when you are trying to lift a patient,
you wrench your back - as is very common in hospitals for nurses and nursing assistants and in nursing
homes, you injure your back - that then could be a compensable injury.



Mr. Speaker, if the injury results from a long-term exposure or a repetitive motion, for example, if
it can be shown that your back has been injured and you are not able to continue to do the kind of work that
you are doing and if it is determined, by medical specialists that the probable cause for that is that you have
been required, on a regular basis, to be lifting, and lifting patients, that now is not going to be compensable.



We are living in the 1990’s. The Minister of the Environment, I am sure and the Minister of Health,
I am sure, would know or should know about the growing awareness and probably even the growing numbers
of people who are suffering from environmental illness. Environmental illness . . . (Interruptions)



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



MR. HOLM: Now, it is late and certain members are up past their bedtime, I guess. I want to say,
however, to those members opposite and yes, indeed, I don’t profess to be the most articulate person in this
House and sometimes I fumble with some words, but what we are talking about here tonight and what I would
hope that members opposite appreciate, is an extremely serious piece of legislation that will affect every
working man, woman, and in future, child, because they hopefully will be moving into the work force down
the road. Even if they don’t move into the work force, this legislation can affect the children of today because
this legislation will affect what the parents - if a worker becomes injured - are able to bring home to support
their family. Also, if an injured worker should pass away while they are in receipt of workers’ compensation,
this government has decided to victimize them, pick on them, by eliminating the death benefits that would
have occurred to them at that time.



How will this legislation, I ask the minister, affect the hundreds of workers at Camp Hill Hospital,
who have suffered from environmental illness? I wonder, and we are hearing more and more about
environmental health concerns in schools, how will this affect them? It won’t affect the teachers and it won’t
affect the students. But there are others who work in the education structures, the schools, the caretakers and
others, who fall under workers’ compensation. Teachers wouldn’t be covered because they have a different
program, they are not under workers’ compensation but how will it affect them? How will it affect thousands
of workers who are working in sick buildings?



I would suggest that the whole environmental illness issue is an excellent example as to why the
Appeal Board was necessary, because it was necessary for those who suffered from environmental illness at
the Camp Hill Hospital and elsewhere, to go to the Appeal Board to get recognition for their illness and to
receive compensation. Hundreds of workers whose lives were devastated and now the government would,
without any consideration, and I would have to suggest based on the amount that they seem to pay attention,
with very little concern from some, eliminate the body that made it possible for those workers who became
desperately ill, through no fault of their own, working at Camp Hill Hospital, to receive justice.



So, if this bill goes through, if another Camp Hill Hospital situation develops and the lower bodies
are not prepared to provide compensation, they won’t have the opportunity to receive justice by going to an
Appeal Board.



The minister has said that he may be willing to accept some amendments. I truly hope that this is
one of the areas that the minister will look at very seriously because it is an important principle and this is
a bill which is supposedly one of principle, one that is aimed at providing, supposedly, some justice and some
fairness to workers who become sick and injured working at the work place.



What this government’s bill is doing is making the Workers’ Compensation Board, I would suggest,
a law unto itself. They set the rules, they set the policies and they make the verdict on eligibility, the amount
of eligibility and there is no appeal. I would suggest that is a travesty of the highest order.



This system the minister proposes is aimed at establishing an adversarial system, where you are
setting up in the process a battle between employer and employee. Of course there is one positive feature here,
that the rates the employers pay will depend, in part, upon the safety record at their work sites. That can be
positive. But, Mr. Speaker, if you are going to be setting up an adversarial system before the board, then those
employers, for financial reasons, financial benefits, it is going to be to their advantage to go in and challenge
at every turn, every point, what the workers are saying, and those who are bringing forth information and
evidence on behalf of the workers who are trying to receive compensation, to keep that employer’s rates low.



I would suggest that not all, in fact, I would say that the vast majority of employers would never do
that, but some will. I am not trying to paint all employers, by any stretch of the imagination, with the one
brush, but a few will, so we are setting up a system aimed at creating increased adversarial roles. What will
that result in? It certainly will result in delays. It is also going to result in increased costs and increased pain
and suffering for that injured worker, their spouse, their children and any dependant who counts on the
income brought in by that injured worker. I can’t support that principle. I can’t support a bill aimed at
punishing primarily one side. I can’t support something aimed at creating and increasing the amount of
adversarial conflicts between the injured worker and the employer.



Mr. Speaker, you are asking me to adjourn? Yes, the time is getting late and, at your request, I will
move the adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 122 at this time.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 122 has been made.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is Opposition Day and I don’t see any Opposition
House Leader there, but he did advise by note that we will be debating Resolution No. 979 and Resolution No.
1052 and then doing some House Orders, time permitting. Do I get to set the hours, too, I wonder?



The hours will be 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.



Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m tomorrow.



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



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



[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]