The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Apr. 3, 2000

First Session

MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Yarmouth: Roads - Maintain, Mr. R. Hurlburt 3055
Agric. - 4-H Programs: Support - Continue, Mr. B. Taylor 3056
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. Of the Workers' Compensation Board, Hon. A. MacIsaac 3056
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 981, Educ. - Queen's Univ. Natl. Debating Comp.: Joanna Langille
(QEH School) - Winner Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 3056
Vote - Affirmative 3057
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 39, Public Services Protection Act, Mr. J. Pye 3057
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 982, Human Res. - Pub. Serv.: Non-Privatization - Promise
(Premier)Fulfil, Mr. Robert Chisholm 3057
Res. 983, Econ. Dev. - Electronic Data Systems (C.B.): Credit
(NDP [MPs-C.B.]) - Condemn, Mr. Manning MacDonald 3058
Res. 984, Health - Yar. Reg. Hosp.: Upgrade Designation Initiative -
Employees Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 3058
Vote - Affirmative 3059
Res. 985, Health: Cancer Month (Apr. 2000) - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 3059
Vote - Affirmative 3060
Res. 986, Health - Care: Facilities Review - Promise Unfulfilled,
Dr. J. Smith 3060
Res. 987, Econ. Dev. - Truro C of C (Business Person 1999):
Eric Jennings (Masstown Mkt.) - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 3060
Vote - Affirmative 3061
Res. 988, Justice - FOI: Gov't. Prog. List - Release, Mr. Robert Chisholm 3061
Res. 989, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Controlled Access
(Businesses) - Review, Mr. K. MacAskill 3062
Res. 990, Member for Lun. W. - Surplus (N.S.) None: Realization -
Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 3063
Res. 991, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Antigonish: Bypass Blue Route -
Implement, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3063
Res. 992, PM (Can.) - Visits (N.S.) Many: Premier (N.S.) -
Acknowledge, Mr. R. MacLellan 3064
Res. 993, Fin. - Casinos (N.S.): Agreement (Construction) -
Signature (Lib. Gov't. [N.S.] Former) Condemn, Mr. B. Taylor 3064
Res. 994, PC (N.S.) MLAs (3) - CA Leadership Rally: Association -
Explain, Mr. John MacDonell 3065
Res. 995, Educ. - Rhodes Scholarship: Jennifer Smith
(Dal. Univ. Biochem. Grad.) - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 3066
Vote - Affirmative 3067
Res. 996, Commun. Serv. - Child Tax Benefit (Natl.): Clawback -
Restore, Mr. J. Pye 3067
Res. 997, NDP (N.S.) - Leadership Selection: Job Creation -
Stance Reveal, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3068
Res. 998, Econ. Dev. - Electronic Data Systems (C.B.): Success
(NDP [MPs-C.B.]) - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 3068
Res. 999, Educ. - Graham Creighton JHS: Closure Temporary -
Restore, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3069
Res. 1000, Educ. - Yar. Cons. HS: Van Licence - Resolve,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 3070
Vote - Affirmative 3070
Res. 1001, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3071
Res. 1002, Sports - Hockey (SEDMHA Internat. Tournament 2000):
Success - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 3071
Vote - Affirmative 3072
Res. 1003, Fish. - Cod Groundfish Quota (Scotia Fundy): Increase -
Success Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 3072
Res. 1004, Eastern Shore & Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury MLAs -
Backbenchers (PC): Reason - Remind (Premier),
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3073
Res. 1005, Health - Ross Ferry Commun. Ctr.: Commun. Health Clinic
(25/03/00) - Volunteers Congrats., Mr. K. MacAskill 3073
Vote - Affirmative 3074
Res. 1006, Sports - Basketball (N.S. Junior B Girls Champs 2000):
Lun. HS - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 3074
Vote - Affirmative 3075
Res. 1007, Gov't. (N.S.): Priorities (Election 1999) - Fulfil,
Mr. John MacDonell 3075
Res. 1008, Educ. - Marine Atl.: Jobs (N.S.) - Training Progs. Commit,
Mr. B. Boudreau 3076
Res. 1009, Health - Gambling: Addicts - Recovery Progs. Funding,
Mr. J. Pye 3076
Res. 1010, Lbr. - Safety: Offshore Facilities - Ensure, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3077
Res. 1011, Premier (N.S.): Promises - Fulfil, Mr. D. Dexter 3078
Res. 1012, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Approach Alt. (CCPA) - Study,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3078
Res. 1013, Petroleum Directorate - Maritimes and NE Pipeline:
Licence - Withdraw, Mr. J. Holm 3079
Res. 1014, Educ. - Queen's Univ. Natl. Debating Tournament 2000:
Students (QEHS & St. Pat's. HS) - Success Congrats.,
Mr. H. Epstein 3080
Vote - Affirmative 3081
Res. 1015, Lib. Party (N.S.): Trust Funds - Forfeit, Mr. H. Epstein 3081
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 30, Flea Markets Regulation Act 3082
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3082
Mr. J. Holm 3083
Mr. B. Boudreau 3090
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3102
Mr. K. MacAskill 3105
Ms. E. O'Connell 3107
Hon. M. Baker 3109
Vote - Affirmative 3109
No. 34, Health Authorities Act 3109
Hon. J. Muir 3110
Mr. D. Dexter 3114
Dr. J. Smith 3126
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3142
Adjourned debate 3151
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 4th at 12:00 p.m. 3151

[Page 3055]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

4:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from approximately 2,700 residents from the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth. It reads as follows, "We the undersigned do hereby petition the Government of Nova Scotia to develop a 'master plan' and 'timetable' that will ensure the Department of Transportation has adequate funding to allow them to properly maintain, reclaim, refurbish our roads that are in dire need of attention." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

3055

[Page 3056]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of approximately 100 citizens and the prayer on the petition reads, "The 4-H programme has benefited thousands of Nova Scotians in the past seventy-eight years. The resources provided by the Provincial Department of Agriculture have helped to develop rural leaders and responsible citizens. We, the undersigned, ask the Nova Scotia government to continue this support of rural youth development." I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia for 1999.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 981

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

Whereas Grade 10 Queen Elizabeth High School Student Joanna Langille recently won first place in the National Debating Competition hosted by Queen's University on March 24-25, 2000; and

Whereas this talented and determined young lady was one of 140 high school students from across Canada who took part in this competition; and

Whereas Ms. Langille earned a $1,500 scholarship for her efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Joanna Langille on winning first place at the National Debating Competition at Queen's University and wish her well in all future endeavours.

[Page 3057]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 39 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Protection of Public Services in the Province. (Mr. Jerry Pye)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 982

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

Whereas on July 24, 1997 the Premier signed his commitment to, "a provincial public service will not be privatized or contracted to the private sector without public consultation and without demonstrable evidence that privatization will lead to improved services for Nova Scotians"; and

Whereas he also committed to a full and open review by an independent and mutually agreed upon review agency or individual with a full cost/benefit analyses and comprehensive impact studies; and

Whereas this commitment was reaffirmed in the 1998 and 1999 Conservative election campaigns;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to keep the one and only specific privatization promise that he made by implementing without delay, his agreement to public services protection and improvement.

[Page 3058]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 983

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

Whereas NDP MP, Peter Mancini, is claiming credit for the Electronic Data Systems by saying he and MP Michelle Dockrill were working on the project for months before the centre was announced by Prime Minister Jean Chretien; and

Whereas the very idea that two MPs from an insignificant national Party would hold any influence over the decision of EDS to come to Cape Breton is ludicrous; and

Whereas the NDP has always been opposed to assisting large multinational corporations;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn the NDP for trying to take credit for a project that they had very little to do with and a project they would not support if they were elected to office.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 984

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

Whereas the helipad at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital was certified in January 1998, making it one of the first in Nova Scotia to meet stringent regulations; and

Whereas the helipad of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital has been a part of 61 air ambulance missions in the past 12 months alone; and

Whereas the professionals at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital are working hard to see the designation of the hospital upgraded this fall from an emergency care facility to a district trauma centre by offering the services of the helipad and by proving that they can handle a variety of surgical needs and emergencies as required for the designation.

[Page 3059]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Yarmouth Regional Hospital employees, especially those who have worked directly on this initiative, as they contribute to the betterment of health care delivery in our region.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour

RESOLUTION NO. 985

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

Whereas April is the month traditionally set aside to raise awareness and funds to support cancer programs; and

Whereas cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas almost everyone can tell you about a loved one, family member, or friend, who has battled this disease;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize April as Cancer Month and thank all the many volunteers who raise money to help find a cure for this terrible disease.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3060]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 986

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

Whereas Nova Scotians trusted the Tory Party during the election when they promised to conduct a comprehensive review of all health care facilities; and

Whereas the promised review was to be completed within 90 days of forming government, with recommendations implemented immediately; and

Whereas it has now been 250 days since the Tories took power, with no word on the health care facilities review;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government admit it has broken another promise to Nova Scotians and commit to releasing a status report on their health facilities review.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 987

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

Whereas Eric Jennings of Masstown, Colchester County, was recently honoured by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce as their Business Person of the Year for 1999; and

[Page 3061]

Whereas Mr. Jennings operates his business known as the Masstown Market; and

Whereas through his business, Mr. Jennings employs 48 people during the summer tourist season and 26 people during the late fall and winter;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly offer our congratulations to Mr. Jennings on being named, Business Person of the Year by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce, and remind all members to ensure the future success of the Masstown Market by continuing to make it a stop along the way, as you travel through the beautiful County of Colchester.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 988

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

Whereas today marks the start of Information Rights Week; and

Whereas this occasion has been hailed by the government; and

[4:15 p.m.]

Whereas this government and Premier have denied a freedom of information request for the list of government programs that was prepared last September;

Therefore be it resolved that if the government is going to mark Information Rights Week, it should practice what it preaches by immediately releasing for all Nova Scotians' benefit the famous list of government programs that are provided by and for the people of this province.

[Page 3062]

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 989

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

Whereas Highway No. 105 through South Haven, Victoria County, is a controlled access highway; and

Whereas it is the only highway through parts of that community; and

Whereas this current situation leaves no room for development of any businesses in the area to have access to any highway;

Therefore be it resolved that this government should have a review of all controlled access in order to allow businesses to better develop, grow and create jobs for Nova Scotians.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 3063]

RESOLUTION NO. 990

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

Whereas during this weekend's Liberal Annual Meeting, the former Finance Minister and potential candidate for the Liberal leadership announced that he did feel that there was a deficit situation in this province; and

Whereas this same member, while serving as the former government's Finance Minister, declared to the people of this province that Nova Scotia was, in fact, in a surplus position; and

Whereas while, unfortunately, the member will still only admit to a deficit of $200 million instead of the figure as stated by our government, which is nearing $800 million;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the former minister for finally realizing there is no surplus, while encouraging him and his Party to come to their senses and realize once and for all that there is a tremendous financial burden on this province which must be addressed immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 991

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation has chosen to not believe his own department officials who have chosen the blue route in the Antigonish area highway dispute; and

Whereas in an attempt to appease the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister of Transportation is wasting $40,000 of Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars to hire consultants from Ontario; and

Whereas this is nothing but an attempt by the Minister of Transportation to deflect attention away from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who is supported by a few Tory bagmen in Antigonish and not the majority of the townspeople;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation immediately implement the decision of his own department and start construction of the blue route, leaving the Minister of Municipal Affairs to explain the decision to his cronies himself.

[Page 3064]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 992

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

Whereas last week the Premier was quoted in The Toronto Globe and Mail as saying that the last time the Prime Minister came to Nova Scotia was to simply play golf; and

Whereas the Premier is once again playing fast and loose with the facts since he well knows that the Prime Minister visited our province with the entire federal caucus last August; and

Whereas the Prime Minister returned to Nova Scotia for a memorial service on the anniversary of Swissair Flight 111, the tragedy that occurred there; an event the Premier himself attended;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier acknowledge the many visits the Prime Minister has made to Nova Scotia and had better stick to the facts before making blatantly partisan comments.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 993

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

[Page 3065]

Whereas this province is out the expected $10,000-a-day penalty for delay in construction of a promised permanent casino, as it would appear the agreement signed by the former government with Casinos Nova Scotia does not have any legs to stand on or teeth to bite with; and

Whereas our Finance Minister put it aptly when he stated that we were snookered; and

Whereas the former Liberal Government in its demented lust for casino gambling has ignored all the good advice along the way;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the members of the former Liberal Government for signing this province into an agreement which has shown time and time again just which side is the winner and which side comes up the loser at every turn.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 994

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

Whereas almost half the funding for 900 new call centre jobs in Cape Breton is from this provincial government; and

Whereas the federal Leader of the Canadian Alliance, Deborah Grey, attacked the call centre Friday, saying Cape Bretoners deserved better than this; and

Whereas also on Friday, the members for Preston, Dartmouth South and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley attended a CA leadership rally;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls on these three members to explain why they associated themselves with a Party that is fighting their own government, a Party that Conservatives are supposed to treat as "no name nobodies".

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 3066]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

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

Whereas federal Tory Leader Joe Clark plans to sue anyone who tries to borrow the good "Conservative" name; and

Whereas the Conservative name has already been tainted by the likes of John Buchanan and Brain Mulroney; and

Whereas the Conservative Reform Alliance Party - CRAP - is starting to attract Nova Scotia Tory MLAs like the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley;

Therefore be it resolved that all Tory MLAs oppose the move by their federal Leader because a CRAP by any other name still smells like a Conservative.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to take a look at that resolution.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 995

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

Whereas Valley, Colchester County and Dalhousie biochemistry graduate Jennifer Smith is the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and will be attending Oxford University in England this fall; and

Whereas Ms. Smith is planning a career in medicine, specializing in epidemiology and public health; and

Whereas the $30,000 a year prestigious scholarship awarded to Ms. Smith is the 6th one in the past 10 years to go to a Dalhousie University student;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the significant achievement accomplished by Ms. Smith and wish her the very best in the coming years.

[Page 3067]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 996

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

Whereas the previous provincial Liberal Government clawed back the National Child Tax Benefit from the poorest Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this present Tory Government criticized the previous Liberal Government and stated that they would give back the Child Tax Credit to the poorest of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas in the recent federal budget it was announced that there will be an increase in the Child Tax Credit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government keep its grubby hands off the increase and live up to its commitment and immediately restore the National Child Tax Benefit in its entirety to the poorest Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 3068]

RESOLUTION NO. 997

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

Whereas NDP Leadership hopeful Kevin Deveaux and Cape Breton Centre MLA Frank Corbett recently criticized provincial government incentives that brought hundreds of jobs to the Staples call centre in Sackville and support from their Leader and House Leader; and

Whereas those same incentives were essential in drawing EDS and 900 jobs to Sydney, in announcements supported by NDP MPs Michelle Dockrill and Peter Mancini and on which Mr. Deveaux and Mr. Corbett were silent; and

Whereas the NDP are in favour of incentives for business when they are of benefit in their own backyards, but opposed strongly when the projects are initiated elsewhere;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the NDP explain to the people of Nova Scotia, especially as they embark on a leadership selection process, their full-time stance on job creation in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 998

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 MLA for Cape Breton Nova judges Cape Breton Members of Parliament by counting the number of new jobs; and

Whereas the March 31st federal-provincial announcement of a 900-job call centre met with approval from that MLA and every other Liberal; and

[Page 3069]

Whereas this one project offers the largest number of sustainable jobs to be established in Cape Breton in the generation since former MP Andy Hogan fought successfully for investment and jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Members of Parliament Peter Mancini and Michelle Dockrill for their successful advocacy of sustainable investment in the Cape Breton economy to start replacing the thousands of jobs lost since 1981.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 999

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

Whereas Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook has been closed for the past several months while work is being carried out to remove mould and PCB contaminants from the building; and

Whereas students from Graham Creighton Junior High must attend classes from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Cole Harbour District High School, thus depriving them of the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities and other important educational opportunities; and

Whereas the usually vocal honourable member for Preston has been unusually silent on this issue which affects hundreds of his constituents;

Therefore be it resolved that despite the inaction of the member for Preston, the Minister of Education take immediate steps to resolve the facility problem at Graham Creighton Junior High School.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 3070]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1000

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

Whereas through the extraordinary fundraising efforts of the alumni of the Yarmouth Consolidated High School, a van was purchased to transport students to and from extra activities and events at the school; and

Whereas currently the students are unable to use the van because the issue of licensing the vehicle remains before the Utility and Review Board; and

Whereas the issue has dragged on because of miscommunication of information of all parties involved regarding the application of safety regulations and the intended use of the van;

Therefore be it resolved that the Utility and Review Board, along with the alumni of Yarmouth Consolidated High School, the Southwest Regional School Board and the Department of Education come together and share all relevant information to determine if the students of the Yarmouth Consolidated High School can benefit from this most generous gift.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3071]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1001

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

Whereas every day in the Province of Nova Scotia, six more children are born into poverty; and

Whereas since August 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,380 children have been born into poverty; and

Whereas this heartless Tory Government would prefer to talk about only one kind of deficit, a budget deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education, and social deficits faced by the 1,380 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I here several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1002

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

Whereas the SEDMHA International Hockey Tournament was held in Dartmouth this past weekend; and

Whereas there were 191 teams competing in the event, the 23rd Anniversary of the tournament; and

[Page 3072]

Whereas the Dartmouth Whalers as host team as well as all coaches, volunteers, sponsors, family supporters and fans contributed to stage an exciting weekend of hockey throughout the Halifax-Dartmouth metro community;

[4:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize and congratulate all organizers and players for making the 23rd SEDMHA International Hockey Tournament a huge success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1003

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

Whereas the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the fishing industry lobbied the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to reconsider the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council's recommendation of 4,000 metric tons of cod for fishing area 4X off southwest Nova Scotia and choose a more suitable quota of 6,000 metric tons; and

Whereas the department and industry concluded that a 6,000 metric ton quota would provide a viable mixed groundfishery while promoting strong conservation measures; and

Whereas late Friday federal Fisheries Minister, Honourable Herb Dhaliwal, announced a 6,000 metric ton quota for cod groundfish stocks in the Scotia Fundy Region;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the success of the industry and the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for working together to achieve this balance and positive result from the federal minister.

[Page 3073]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1004

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

Whereas two Tory backbenchers went to Ottawa in December; and

Whereas these two Tory backbenchers went to support funding for a road that is not a priority of their own Party; and

Whereas these two Tory backbenchers did not even think to make an appointment with the Minister of Transport before they left Nova Scotia and therefore did not meet with him;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier remind the members for Eastern Shore and Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury that they are on the backbenches for a reason.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1005

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

Whereas the Ross Ferry Community Centre hosted a successful community health clinic on Saturday, March 25th; and

Whereas this clinic had a variety of displays as well as testing for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol; and

[Page 3074]

Whereas the clinic was made possible through the generous help of the Ross Ferry Volunteer Fire Department and the ladies auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the many volunteers who brought this community health clinic to the people of the area and wish them luck as they plan for others in the future.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1006

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

Whereas the Lunenburg High School Junior Girls' Basketball Team completed a perfect 16 win-no loss season by winning the Provincial Girls' Junior B Basketball Championship at home on March 4, 2000; and

Whereas the team was coached by Trish Skerry; and

Whereas the provincial championship represented the completion of a season of hard work for this team;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Lunenburg High School Junior Girls' Basketball Team for winning the Provincial Girls' Junior B Basketball Championship for the year 2000.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3075]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1007

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

Whereas the Cameron Conservative Government created a record of budget freezes, broken promises, attacks on public servants, expensive experiments in privatization and locked gates at Province House; and

Whereas the Savage Liberals followed by creating a record of broken promises, budget freezes, attacks on public servants, expensive experiments in privatization and locked gates at Province House; and

Whereas the Premier says that he is making a change in direction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to break with the status quo by sticking to the priorities he outlined to win power, namely: health care first and foremost, increased investment in education, and new investment in communities while respecting and protecting public services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 3076]

RESOLUTION NO. 1008

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

Whereas Premier Hamm has made a commitment to train Nova Scotian workers to qualify for jobs on the Marine Atlantic ferry in North Sydney; and

Whereas on Thursday the Minister of Education tried to shun responsibility by saying that people who want training should simply contact the community college; and

Whereas the Province of Newfoundland has already begun training their workforce for these jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately fulfil his commitment by making sure every person in Nova Scotia who wants this training has the assistance needed to take it.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1009

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

Whereas since the introduction of VLTs and casinos, more Nova Scotians have become addicted to gambling; and

Whereas gambling addiction is known to cause untold hardship to some Nova Scotians, their families and communities; and

[Page 3077]

Whereas gambling addiction is considered a health problem and the Conservative Government has stated that, in everything we do we will put the health care needs of Nova Scotians first;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government live up to what is outlined in their plan, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, by ensuring adequate funding for addiction recovery programs and expanded treatment for addicts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1010

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

Whereas the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board has issued new conditions of authorization for the operation of Sable Offshore Energy Incorporated's offshore facilities at Thebaud and Venture; and

Whereas these new conditions refer specifically to the fibreglass reinforced plastic firewater systems installed on the two platforms offshore; and

Whereas the operator is required to fully demonstrate its plans for meeting the requirement by September 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour advise this House and all Nova Scotians what steps his department is taking to ensure that this directive will be met and assure the workers on the platform that working conditions are safe.

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

[Page 3078]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1011

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

Whereas the Premier said in an interview that what he liked about Mike Harris is that at least he did what he said he was going to do; and

Whereas the Premier also said, I would hope that when my political career is over that a few people at least might say the same of me; and

Whereas during his time in Opposition, the Premier said he would do away with Pharmacare fees for seniors, provide fair compensation to all sufferers of hepatitis C and spend all revenues from licensing and fuel taxes on provincial roads;

Therefore be it resolved that as soon as the Premier does what he said he would do, we will be pleased to say, you are just as likeable as Mike Harris.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1012

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

Whereas earlier today the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Nova Scotia Chapter released a background paper for an alternative approach to Nova Scotia's provincial budget; and

Whereas this report, A Better Way: Putting the Nova Scotia Deficit in Perspective, points out that program spending is not the root cause of Nova Scotia's deficit and debt; and

[Page 3079]

Whereas it also convincingly argues that while the deficit is a problem it is nothing near the crisis the Hamm Government has tried to promote as a justification for the program cuts they are about to force on Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs on all sides of this House take the time to study this important piece of analysis as we prepare to debate the merits and implications of the choices that will be made in the much-anticipated Hamm budget.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1013

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

Whereas Cape Breton is once again being treated as a second-class citizen in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this is being allowed to occur by this Tory Government granting a licence to Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. despite the expressed concerns of the NEB; and

Whereas this Tory Government is setting Cape Breton and Chedabucto Bay up for another environmental disaster;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government immediately withdraw this permanent licence for Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. until they address the safety and environmental concerns expressed by the NEB.

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

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3080]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1014

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

Whereas Joanna Langille, a Grade 10 student at Queen Elizabeth High School, placed first at the Queen's University national debating tournament; and

Whereas Joanna paired with Chris Arsenault, also of QEH, to finish second in team debating; and

Whereas Zack Abrahams and Tessa Lewis of St. Pat's placed third in the team category and also each finished in the top five individually;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Joanna Langille, Chris Arsenault, Zack Abrahams and Tessa Lewis for their outstanding debating skills and wish them well in their future endeavours.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

I am going to call the question again.

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3081]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1015

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

Whereas it is amusing to watch the various factions of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party fighting over allocation of their infamous trust fund; and

Whereas the main fact about the Nova Scotia Liberal Party trust fund is not whether some of the income is capital or realized capital gains, but that there has never been an independent public review of the source of the fund; and

Whereas no Party should have access to any funds that cannot be specifically attributed to a named donor;

Therefore be it resolved that all of the Liberal Party trust funds be turned over to Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province; that is be forfeited as tainted by source.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The resolution introduced by the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, I am ruling out of order because of the wording used in it.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3082]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: 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. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 30.

Bill No. 30 - Flea Markets Regulation Act.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying on Friday, to respond to your inquiry (Interruption) If the honourable Leader of the socialists would like to make an intervention, I will certainly entertain a question; otherwise I will consider it as a hollow echo.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, in response to your concern on Friday about my comments about break and enters into homes and the impact that it has on the legal system, the costs of the policing, our judicial system and so on, and your suggestion that correlation be made with respect to this particular piece of legislation, I think it is a very important one. Given the fact that under Clause 8(1)(d), the fact that the government is making provision by regulation . . .

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Will the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I know all members of the House will be interested that a former member of the House is with us today, and over the weekend, he was selected as the new President of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, Dr. Ed Kinley.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to welcome Dr. Kinley, because I am sure being a heart surgeon he would find it heartbreaking to find how many people are seeing that break and enters are increasing under this present regime.

[Page 3083]

The cause and effect relationship to this particular piece of legislation is quite evident. The fact that people are bringing stolen goods to flea markets to sell to raise money, whether it be for a drug habit or for whatever the reason may be, certainly, there is a cause and effect relationship, Mr. Speaker. That goes right to the heart of your concern, on Friday. I wanted to bring that out, and that is clearly identified in Clause 8(1)(d), whereby the government has the authority to completely reshape this particular piece of legislation by regulatory process. So, in essence, we cannot, in all conscience, clearly identify the full dynamics of this legislation unless we know for sure that the fundamental principle is not going to be changed by regulation. I see the Minister of Justice concurring to that effect, and I support (Interruption)

That is certainly an issue that we can deal with at the Law Amendments Committee. I concur with the Minister of Justice on that. Certainly it is an opportunity for the Minister of Justice to perhaps provide these regulations so that all members will have an opportunity to review this legislation in its true form because we have six subsections of the bill which is essentially the main component of the bill that refers to the legislation being designated and prescribed by regulation.

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely imperative that the government either clarify the terminology in the legislation or at least provide a draft copy of the regulation so that all members of the House and, indeed, all the stakeholders that are affected, would have an opportunity to review this particular legislation and the full scope of the legislation. With those comments, I will certainly wrap up, but I do implore the minister to take notice of Clause 8(1)(d) because it is critical that we not bring in a piece of legislation that allows the Governor in Council to completely change the legislation without the full consultative and legislative process. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand in my place this afternoon to say a few words on the legislation that is before us, An Act Respecting the Sale of Certain Items at a Commercial Flea Market. As I do, I want to say at the outset, in terms of the overall principle of what this bill is trying to achieve, I am in support of the overall principle.

However, Mr. Speaker, having said that, I must say that I have some difficulties with certain aspects, and certain principles that are contained within this bill. I know that this legislation is one that has been supported by the Small Business Association in this province, and is something they have been trying to get measures put in place that would be aimed at trying to curb the theft of a product from retail outlets and other outlets.

[Page 3084]

Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate the fact and I support them in their efforts in anything that can be done reasonably to cut down on that kind of theft. I also recognize that at some flea markets that it is possible to go into those flea markets and purchase from some, new products, the source of which is very questionable, I am not suggesting that this is a widespread problem, but it does happen from time to time, and that those particular products are often being sold at prices less than the wholesale price that regular businesses can purchase them for and then resell them.

Mr. Speaker, my concerns with this bill have nothing to do with what the principle is and what they are trying to achieve, but I do have some difficulty with part of the structure, the way that this is laid out. I don't know if you ever frequent a flea market. I don't know how many members in this House ever frequent flea markets. There is going to be one - I might put in a plug - for Fultz House Historic Society a little later on this spring, I could take out my schedule and look at the date that it is being held, I think it is on May 27th, with a rain date the following day. Just if people want to check, if that is correct, on Saturday and Sunday, and of course, anybody who wishes to go to that to support this worthwhile cause would be encouraged to do so because they do great work within the community of Sackville in trying to restore their history.

You have flea markets like those that are put on by volunteer organizations, aimed at very specific worthwhile goals. We also have other commercial flea markets. I know, for example, that there is a flea market run on a regular basis in the community of Bridgewater. I know in my community of Sackville there is a very large flea market held every week that attracts literally thousands of individuals, and each and every time that they set up there are literally hundreds of tables with people selling a whole host of different products.

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that those items being sold, if I can put it bluntly, are not hot, that they are not items that have been stolen, so that those who are selling the product would have to be able to provide paper, if it is a new product, to show that, in fact, it is items that they have purchased themselves for resale. If you go to flea markets, we have a lot of people, a lot of jobbers, that is how they make additional money. They purchase product in bulk and they then set up at a flea market; all totally legitimate. They have the paper for it and everything. I have no difficulty with the vendor, the person who is selling the new product, new materials to be required to have the paperwork that shows that what they are selling is, in fact, legitimate.

Where I do have the problem is holding the operator of that flea market liable for each and every item that each and every vendor at that flea market sells. That is the way, as I read this legislation, it is written. So that means, if, for example, and I will use my community of Sackville - and if any of you have driven through Sackville on a Sunday afternoon and if you see the parking lots just filled with tables, new and used items, individuals and small entrepreneurs selling their products - the way this legislation reads, the person who operators that flea market is required to have checked what is being sold by each and every individual

[Page 3085]

at that flea market and they are required by this law to have the paperwork that shows that what they are selling, if it is new, is legitimate.

Mr. Speaker, they have to set up a filing system that will contain all of those records from each and every Sunday that that market is sold, for each and every one of those vendors for a period of two years. Now let's get serious. That is an impossible task.

I say to the Premier, who is in his seat, and I say to others on the government benches, I have no difficulty whatsoever in requiring a person or a group of people who are selling a product at a table at a flea market, if they are approached to be asked, do you have the paper and can you show us a paper that clearly points out that you have purchased that material for resale? Show us the paper. But to turn around and go to the operator, has anybody here ever gone to a flea market when they are setting up?

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, yes.

MR. HOLM: I see the Premier even nodding his head. Mr. Speaker, even my riding association sometimes contacts members and says, do you have any items at home that you would be happy to part with for the good of the common man, that you would like to donate to the Sackville NDP so that we can take it to a flea market, sell it and make some money to run the next campaign so that we can beat the Tories? Do you know, we get a lot of donations.

If you go when a flea market is setting up, to any one of these larger flea markets, the vehicles are lined up the street. The vehicles are packed with goods. It can take literally several hours for them all to get in and get set up. Even before everybody is set up, people are running around trying to buy products from each other. Now what this legislation is saying, somehow the operator of that flea market has got to be there and able to inspect and check each and every item that is being sold to see if there may be a new item there because if there are new items there, we need the paper, and that the operators - not just the vendors but the operators themselves - can be held liable if something is found to be fenced or sold illegally at that flea market. That is wrong. It is an impossible thing. It is just not practical. It can't be done.

Now when I am saying that, Mr. Speaker, I am not trying to, in any way, suggest that we shouldn't be trying to do something to curb the illegal activity. For some it can be a very profitable and a large business. Do you know, it is not only new items that are sold sometimes illegally, but those who have had their homes broken into or their businesses broken into, it is a common thing that happens to that material as well, it is sometimes loaded aboard a truck and it is being sold at a flea market somewhere else in another location.

[Page 3086]

I truly believe that the vast majority of those who are selling are totally legitimate. Same thing, I believe that the overwhelming majority of other businesses, whether they be located in a shopping centre or in a strip mall, are also legitimate businesses selling legitimate goods. But Sobeys, for example, in my constituency, Sobeys own the Atlantic Shopping Centre, there are a bunch of stores, businesses in the Atlantic Shopping Centre. Do you know where the flea market is held? Whose parking lot? It is the Sobeys' parking lot where it is held.

[5:00 p.m.]

Here we have a situation. It is possible, and I am not suggesting that there are any, but it is possible that at some time a retailer in one of those shops in the Sobeys mall could possibly obtain or be given or have their hands on some product, some good that had been stolen and they sell it out of the retail operation. The Sobeys interest that own that mall, they themselves will not be held liable as the operators of that mall, they themselves will not face charges or fines because a tenant in the mall might happen to be selling something that was illegal, unless they knew it was being done and I am sure they wouldn't. They cannot be held liable, nor are they required to keep the paper on file for all of the product that is being sold in that mall. In fact, the retailers would object strenuously to the mall owners having copies of all their invoices telling them what they paid for the particular items, because that can be giving away competitive information.

Even though the owners of the shopping centre cannot be held accountable, the operator of the flea market that is operating in that very parking lot, according to this legislation, can be held accountable for actions of a particular vendor. That is wrong. It is going overboard. I would sincerely hope that the Premier, who I know is listening to every word that is being said here and that the Premier who comes from a rural community and in the rural community would be familiar with flea markets because they happen in the Pictou area, as I am sure the Premier knows, and he might himself have had the occasion to visit a flea market where he obtained a product for a very good new-to-him item that somebody else had done away with or supporting a charity by buying a product at a particular flea market, as I have done. I am sure the Premier would not want intentionally to be driving those flea markets out of business, because they are afraid that they can be charged with an offence under well-meaning legislation but is set up in such a way that the operator can be held liable.

Clause 2,(b) says, "operator means a person who leases or rents or otherwise provides a table, selling space or facility to a person for the purpose of conducting sales of tangible personal property subject to . . ." and so on. Clause 4(4) goes on to say that, "No operator shall operate a commercial flea market at which prescribed goods are sold or offered for sale unless the information required to be maintained by a vendor pursuant to this Section has been provided to the operator." That means that the operator has to know that each and every vendor has the appropriate papers and is providing it to the operator. If some vendor out there is selling goods illegally, is he going to tell the operator? Look, I want to confess, I don't have the papers to these goods. Not likely.

[Page 3087]

I guess the operator, according to this legislation, the government has this Big Brother attitude that somehow Big Brother is going to be all wise and be able to see through it. I don't know, when you were down in your bunker, down behind the blue curtain, I am sure you took down the red curtain and replaced it with a blue curtain down in the bunker, down in the shadows where you discuss these deep and heavy things, I don't know, was this bill caucused? Did the member, for example, for Kings West, I don't know if there are flea markets in Kings West, were you consulted about this bill? Did you look at it and did you see the provisions that are in this? And did you give your approval to this bill?

The Government House Leader, I wonder if he did? He is a very astute politician who has been around for a long time and he would normally, one would expect, catch items like this. I know there are flea markets in Windsor and he would want those to continue. They provide very valuable sources of income for many people and he would not want those businesses and those individuals to be compromised because of sloppy legislation that has been introduced by his government.

I feel very confident that this government will not, yet again, now that this has been pointed out to them, disappoint Nova Scotians and others and that they therefore will be willing to make amendments to relieve the operators of the obligation to do that which it is not really practical or possible for them to do. At least not unless you are going to have five hour line-ups to get into the flea market and you are going to have all kinds of little snoops who are going to be standing there going through everybody's vehicle, checking every item that is going onto the site to find out, oh gee, does that look like a new item and do you have the piece of paper to show where you bought that? It is just not practical, counting the number of widgets and gidgets that they are bringing in and then checking it against the invoice to make sure that they have the right number of gidgets and widgets, and that they have not slipped a few more in. This is not common sense.

Mr. Speaker, in my saying that I will be supporting this legislation to go on from second reading, I say so with the expectation that somebody over there will shake their heads, on the government side, dislodge a few of the cobwebs and look at the reality. Imagine the bureaucracy. Here, the blue team that wants to cut the red tape. The kind of bureaucracy and minefield that you are setting up in this legislation, absolutely ludicrous. Yes, hold the vendors accountable and require that if somebody is coming around, whether it be the police or some inspector, that they have with them the paperwork that shows that what they are selling, if it is a new product, that they actually have the receipt for what they are selling. Don't hold the operator responsible, any more than you would hold the operator of any other business - whether that be a shopping centre, a strip mall - accountable for the actions of tenants. The vendors are tenants.

I don't know if there are others who want to speak on this; I know the member for Timberlea-Prospect, who is certainly very heavily involved in his community, was one who worked very hard through the Lions Club and others on the development of the sports facility

[Page 3088]

and arena out in that community. I would not be surprised that they might have even used flea markets from time to time to raise public monies to help out a local cause.

Mr. Speaker, I would welcome the Premier entering this debate. I know it may not seem to be one of the biggest issues on the plate, but this is a form of restructuring, Mr. Premier, being initiated by your government. It is a restructuring of responsibilities of how flea markets are run.

Surely, there is a way to compromise and to get a blend between that which is practical and possible and doing what is intended, and that is, if possible, to eliminate the theft from many businesses and the resale of those products at different flea markets across this province. That, I believe, is the intent, and to do that intent, I am certainly prepared, and I will do whatever I can reasonably, to try to ensure that our small businesses, which are in fact the backbone of this province, that we all depend on, that the majority of the men and women of our communities work in, I am more than happy to try to bring forward and support measures that are aimed at trying to protect them. But this goes too far, simply because it is not practical, it is not workable unless massive bureaucracies are created at tremendous expense and you are holding people accountable for actions of others over whose actions really they have no way to have any positive control.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, and this has been referred by others in this House, particularly the member for Halifax Chebucto, I believe it was, who was talking about a power that the Governor in Council has under its regulatory powers. I have seen a lot of legislation come and go here in this House, and I have seen governments try to put forward shelves of legislation and to give all the meat to the regulatory power, because then there is no requirement that those regulations be debated on the floor of this House, but here, the government is giving itself the power for, Clause (8)(1)(d), "re-defining or further defining any word or expression defined in this Act;".

This means, in reality, through that regulatory power, the Governor in Council, our fearless Leader, the Premier, can lead his band of 11 merry men and women down to the bunker, behind closed doors without any public input, and they can totally rewrite this legislation without any public consultation, without any debate on the floor of the House by simply defining any term, any expression that they wish. Maybe behind their curtain or veil of secrecy down in the bunker, they could solve some problems by redefining who an operator is, so they could redefine an operator to mean the same thing as a vendor, for example. So you are responsible for your own actions, not for the actions of others. Maybe that is the route we will hope to go, but I hope not.

I hope that they will have the courage to acknowledge that what they are saying just doesn't make sense. I hope that when the Minister of Justice wraps up, he will say that he has heard the comments of members opposite and that he has taken the concerns under advisement, and that he and his blue team are prepared to do the right thing. We are prepared

[Page 3089]

to support amendments, either in the Law Amendments Committee process or in the Committee of the Whole to correct these glaring problems with the bill. That would be a responsible thing for the government to do, and let's face it, we are supposedly in a representative, responsible government system, although you wouldn't know it from the actions of what we have seen in this place over the last few decades. (Interruption)

The Minister of Health says (Interruption) I am talking about that bunch, meaning the Liberals, obviously. (Interruption) You know, Mr. Speaker, I am glad he is not the Minister of Finance. (Interruption) I am glad he is not the Minister of Finance because a couple of decades sounds like more than six years to me. I somehow think the blue team was here before the red team. There is the old saying, the Libra-Tory party. It is sort of interesting when you watch political Parties, when the Tories are over on this side they like to sound like they are progressive; when they get over on that side, they sound very conservative. Only they are not conservative in terms of conserving and protecting the key fundamental principles and values that society holds highly.

The Liberals, well, Liberals are Liberals, what can I say? The Liberals will say and do whichever they think is the appropriate thing when they are in Opposition if it will win them support. Anyway, that is beside the point.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you. You had every right to reprimand me for transgressing from the main principle of the bill, because I did stray and I apologize to you for that. I would say the Minister of Health made me do it, but that wouldn't be totally correct, because I have been here long enough to know that I am not supposed to follow rabbit tracks like those that were put out by the Minister of Health.

The reality is, in all seriousness, and I say to the Premier, I hope that you will speak with the Minister of Justice. I don't know if he is able to hear, as I am sure he is tied up in some important business at the moment. Mr. Speaker, I hope he will pay very close attention to these concerns, so that he does not, in an attempt - and I say in a valiant goal - to protect businesses and to stop the illegal sale of goods that have been stolen, at flea markets. I hope in so doing he isn't going to have the reverse effect of actually killing those flea markets that provide, not only my dad not only the opportunity to buy, but an enjoyable outing for an awful lot of people. It is a very enjoyable outing and people enjoy roaming through those and in a lot of ways can often serve a community centre, where you meet people within your community, and friends. You often have a chance to support local agricultural operations at the flea markets in the summertime by buying fresh produce and fresh plants that have been grown, and transplants and shrubs for your gardens. If the government gets too heavy into its red tape bureaucracy, then you will have the reverse effect of killing those.

[Page 3090]

I am sure the Premier has seen the errors of what is being proposed here. The original principle is good and so, Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in support of this going forward. I just hope that my comments weren't so harsh that it will persuade government members to actually vote against the government on this legislation. I doubt that that will happen. I hope that it has persuaded them enough to get the ear of Premier and of the Minister of Justice and suggest some positive changes and, basically, just to eliminate the very onerous task, an impossible task, that is being placed on the operators of these flea markets.

With those few brief comments, Mr. Speaker, I will be resuming my place so that others who wish to take part in this debate may do so. Thank you.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I rise today and am looking forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee, that is for sure. I believe the bill has some very serious flaws in it. I believe the bill is designed to protect large retailers from shoplifters by eliminating their ability to resell the stolen goods. I don't really believe that the purpose of government is to provide security for large shopping malls or large retailers. I think, basically, it is the responsibility of the individual store owners to provide their own security. I am a little amazed by this bill, actually.

The bill also places restrictions on individuals who wish to sell new merchandise at a flea market. To my knowledge, at least in Cape Breton, many individuals use flea markets as an opportunity to create an opportunity for themselves in the business world. I have some difficulty with that. It requires vendors to supply receipts to the operators for all new merchandise, only new though, it is only new merchandise that they wish to sell. The operators of the commercial flea markets, of course, are then liable for what the vendors tell them.

There are a lot of problems that I see with the bill itself. There is no deterrent for individuals who sell any other stolen goods such as jewellery, stereos, TVs or any other item that is stolen from a home invasion. There is no deterrent whatsoever for these individuals who are doing this. That, as I am sure everybody in this House is aware, does occur on a regular basis.

The government had an opportunity to keep one of its promises in the beginning, to create solutions to the problem of home invasions, which they promised in the last election, of course, in the Tory blue book. They made a commitment. I believe the government should expand this bill so as to make it more difficult for people to make a profit from stolen property, Mr. Speaker, acquired during a home invasion. I think it is rather easy to do that at this time.

[Page 3091]

As well, the government has said that they will introduce the regulations after the bill is passed, what goods will fall under the Act, after consultation over a few months. In other words, the government will bring in the regulations after it is passed by the members of this House. Now, if that is not putting the cart before the horse, I don't know. I am told that we support the fact that apparently, according to what they are saying, the government is prepared to go out and consult with the operators of these flea markets. The only problem I have with that, Mr. Speaker, is that I feel that it should have been done prior to tabling this bill here in this House.

We must demand that these regulations be put in place before members of this House actually vote on the bill, even if it means that the bill is left on the order paper for a number of months. In fact, I have a responsibility as an elected representative of the people that I represent to ensure that I know what I am voting on before I vote on it. How can I vote on it if I am not familiar with and I am not made aware of any regulations that are pertaining to this bill. It is insane. I have a great deal of difficulty doing that on behalf of the residents that I represent. I think that fair play should come into play here in that Nova Scotians be told what the regulations are prior to this bill going into effect. I think that is only a reasonable request.

There is also proceeds of crime legislation in effect now. This bill duplicates that of course. To my knowledge - and I have done a little research on this item - the federal government does have some responsibility in this particular issue. Areas along the South Shore, Eastern Shore, the Valley - they have a long tradition of roadside flea markets. What has the government done to ensure that these people are not harassed? It is quite clear, when the government indicates that they are going to provide the regulations after consultation, that they haven't consulted with those individuals yet. I would suggest that it is a rather easy manoeuvre to go out and communicate with the people who are involved in these flea markets and consult with the community before the bill is introduced and put into law.

It is only common sense, Mr. Speaker, you create a bill, you put it in this House, you pass it, and then you sit down and you set the rules and the regulations. It is insanity. People want to know what direction the government is going with this bill. What effect are they going to have on the operations of a flea market and the people who use that? I would suggest that many flea markets are used as fund-raisers within communities. They are very worthwhile events. They are used by charities and sports teams to fund various items. It could be equipment or it could be trips, the cost of travel that they must incur to attend a tournament, or whatever. I am sure we are all involved with teams and sports events in our communities where we are aware that that takes place. These are very helpful events to many organizations throughout the Province of Nova Scotia. Has the government thought out very clearly the hardship this bill may cause to these groups?

[Page 3092]

When I look at the fact that the process is set in stone here by the government, of course, that they are going to create the bill, they are going to pass it in the House, then they are going to go out and consult with the community and create the regulations. For me, that is backwards. I believe the consultation process should be put in place prior to the creation of the bill so that these groups and individuals have an opportunity to have an input, Mr. Speaker, into the direction that their government is taking society throughout the province in regard to this bill.

I think we are all very much in agreement that some sort of regulations have to be put in place for flea markets. I believe every member of my caucus agrees with me on that point. However, I believe that we have to put a process in place that is fair. Fair government is what I heard, Mr. Speaker, all last spring and last summer during the election campaign. This Premier, this Cabinet and this government were going to provide fair process to residents of Nova Scotia. As I stand here today, I am not here to embarrass anybody or anything, but I have not seen that direction yet. I think there is an old saying that I have heard since I was a small boy, practice what you preach. Go out, consult with the community, discuss this issue with the operators of these flea markets, and come back and create a reasonable bill that will benefit everybody involved.

For me, at least as an individual member of this House and a new member, Mr. Speaker, I might add, that is the process that I assumed as an ordinary citizen out there on the street prior to my being elected to this House, that is the process that I always understood government took before it came in and created a bill or a law to control the industry of flea markets because that is really what it is, it can be an industry. It is a very viable industry within this province for groups, individuals, sporting groups, teams, hockey teams, charities and whatever have you.

We all have them in our communities. I do not have to sit here and explain to you that there is a hockey team from Cape Breton that will sponsor a table at a flea market to create revenue to come to the mainland, to pay such things as travel, gas, insurance, hotel expenses, meals, that sort of thing. We are all familiar with the costs of these events and we are all familiar that these flea markets are a very important tool to these individuals within society. So for the government to come in here and blindside, create a bill without any real thought, no dialogue, no consultation, no communication, just come in here and write a bill on a piece of paper because they believe it is fulfilling a commitment they made in an election campaign, I suggest, is wrong.

[5:30 p.m.]

I believe that the thrust of the bill is essentially good, but there are many loose ends. It is nothing more than, legislation like this is a rush job, purely a rush job. I am a little baffled at that because I know it is obvious the minister, with the number and amount of duties he has pertaining to his responsibilities, he is a very busy individual. We are all very aware of that.

[Page 3093]

My colleagues, being former ministers, are obviously sometimes very sympathetic to them with their duties and responsibilities, but in all fairness they have very capable staff within these departments that have proven time over time again that they are very capable of handling such a situation and, making a suggestion, perhaps the Civil Service and the bureaucrats within the Justice Department should go out and consult with the people, consult with the communities, consult with the operators and the individuals who use these flea markets and report back to the minister who then should take it to Cabinet for a proper discussion, and bring the bill to this House with due process in mind.

Mr. Speaker, in the last election the Tories promised stiffer penalties for home invasions. What have they done? Obviously one of their priorities is to get out and attack such issues as flea markets. As I indicated before, I think it is fair for me to say that my colleagues are concerned about the flea markets also in the province, but is it a priority? Which is more important, regulating a flea market that we don't even know what regulations are going to be for months down the road, or deal with the immediate issue of home invasions that are affecting Nova Scotians today, in every part of this province, time and time again?

I would remind the minister, if he is not aware of it yet, and perhaps his staff should direct him or advise him that home invasions are really an issue surrounding federal responsibility, and perhaps the government with this bill has an opportunity to drop the ball here, to begin a consultation process with the federal government to deal with it all in one slap in the proper form, through consultation, communication with communities and groups and individuals. That is what I would suggest as an ordinary Nova Scotian. Many people, at least I always thought that was the process when I was an ordinary person working in a service station, actually. I always assumed, Mr. Speaker, that the government was doing proper process, that they would communicate, negotiate, expand on their ideas, and really use the asset that it is most important.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, a question for the honourable member. I thank the honourable member for entertaining the question. He is talking about the cause-and-effect relationship with flea markets and going to the source of the problem. He made reference to home invasions being a major problem. Is he suggesting that the home video of the Minister of Justice advising seniors on how to lock a door is not the solution to the problem?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, any of the seniors I am aware of know how to lock doors and they know how to lock windows. I think when I refer to the home invasion issue, it is no secret at least in Cape Breton, where I come from, that home invasions are, people who do this sort of thing, they use home invasions to steal items to sell at flea markets and throughout the community - not only at flea markets - for the benefit of many things, such as what was in an article I read in the paper just this week.

[Page 3094]

It was in one of the Halifax newspapers, when the federal minister, Jane Stewart, visited Dartmouth High School over the weekend. What the students at that particular school indicated very clearly that they felt the problem was drugs, mainly, on the street. People go out and steal things and resell them to support their habits, whether it be alcohol or drug abuse. That, I would suggest, in conversation with many police officers throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, is a major problem. People on drugs and alcohol, they need money. Of course, everybody is well aware of the unemployment problems we have throughout the province. They have to fund their habit somehow.

I would suggest that this is an avenue that this government, in particular, because this is the Government of Nova Scotia, if they have realized that yet since last July; they are the government over there, they are not in Opposition. I am not sure if the Premier told his backbenchers lately if they really are part of the government or not but I think it is about time he has.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I understand that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes is a new member in the Legislature, but I wonder if he would try to focus on the principle of the Flea Market Regulations Act, Bill No. 30.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that is what I am trying to do, sir. This bill provides a chance for the province to tie it together, to deal with the proper issue here. I think what we are all concerned about here is the type of merchandise that is being sold at flea markets. Stolen goods, now whether it is new or used is not really the issue here. It doesn't matter if it is stolen from a department store or stolen from your next door neighbour's home during a break and enter; a stolen good is a stolen good whether it is new, used or old. I think it is time that somebody around here started pinching themselves to wake up and realize that a stolen good is a stolen good, not just something out of a department store that lacks security for such things as shoplifters.

The responsibility of the taxpayer in the Province of Nova Scotia is not to provide security against shoplifters, and that is what I believe the content of this bill does. It should deal with what it is intended to do and that is to deal with stolen goods; new, used or old, it doesn't matter. It could be re-stolen six times but a stolen good is a stolen good. This deals with nothing but a new stolen good. I guess if I happened to steal something from one of my colleagues here, I would have to claim that it was new, or the police would have to claim that it was new, if I was pretending to sell it at a flea market. Before the police could actually lay

a charge against me, they would have to first declare that that item was new and not used, or old. That, for the life of me, I can't figure out.

We are talking about a Justice Department here and a minister that has a lot of assets at hand. All he has to do is talk to his people in his department. A stolen good is a stolen good. It doesn't matter if it is new, used, old, broken, it doesn't matter. If it is recycled, stolen and repaired, a stolen good is a stolen good, in my opinion. So if I steal a pair of tires from

[Page 3095]

a local service station while I am filling up my car and I put them on my car and I drive around for two weeks, take them off and take them to the flea market, I cannot be charged, according to this bill. That is the way I understand it, Mr. Speaker. After I use it, it is not a new stolen good.

If I steal a radio out of a department store and I take it home and I plug it in the wall - that is what the instructions tell me, make sure it is in the AC/DC and all that, 110, plug it in the wall - turn it on and it isn't new anymore. It just simply isn't new anymore, it is used. But, if I am a stupid thief and I turn around and I take it and I put it in a box and I take it down without plugging it in and using it, then I could be charged under this bill. It is insane. It is an embarrassment. It is about time we started talking sensible here and responsible. But this is crazy. If I stole the darn thing, I wouldn't have much of a receipt, unless I stole that too, Mr. Minister. I would have to steal the receipt along with it.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that all of these concerns that I have and I am confident in standing here before you today to indicate that many Nova Scotians have concerns about this bill and, hopefully, during the Law Amendments Committee, we can straighten much of this out. This bill really hinges on irresponsibility, at least in my opinion. I am certainly no lawyer; anybody that knows me, knows that, that is for sure. There is not a thing in this bill to make sure that the proceeds of these crimes have a more difficult time being fenced. It doesn't say anything, not a darn thing.

The government has also pledged to cut red tape for business. For a government that has made a commitment, it is ironic that they would be introducing more red tape, Mr. Speaker, not less, more. That has me concerned. What I see here is the government making a commitment and coming in here in a rushed, unthought out process to try to fulfil a commitment that they made last summer, so they could stand up and say - I think they only acted on about three promises that they made out of 243. (Interruption) Oh, we got number four. I would suggest that, in conversations and I admit here today that I certainly don't know the Justice Minister on a personal basis. Having short discussions with the individual and listening to him in the House, he is a responsible individual and I wouldn't say he is all dumb. It amazes me when an individual such as I can recognize that this bill is wrong. It is wrong. There has been no thought put into the process, there was no prior planning, we don't even know what kind of regulations are going to be put into place here - it is just totally against what I believe democracy stands for. This bill hinges on insanity, it really does.

[5:45 p.m.]

The proper process would be for the minister to direct the staff of the Justice Department to get the heck out, and I am confident in saying they would be eager to, particularly with the stress levels down there today, get out in their community and consult, communicate and allow input, get advice regardless of what this Premier and this government may think about individual Nova Scotians outside those walls, there are many of them that

[Page 3096]

I am aware of, who can provide real advice and some input in many issues, not only on this issue.

It amazes me. What kind of direction does this caucus have in dealing with their Cabinet Ministers? I can't imagine some of the guys that I speak to on the backbenches and I know some of the guys over there, I get to have a coffee with them the odd time, but in all fairness to them, they have flea markets in their communities, they have sports teams that use these events for fund-raisers. I am not the only guy standing here who has groups like that in his community and I would suggest that these guys were not even consulted to come in here with a piece of paper like this. These guys never had an opportunity to discuss this bill themselves and if one of them wanted to stand up and take a question from me, I would love to ask the question because I am willing to bet my week's pay that the Justice Minister didn't go to caucus and say, guys, here is what we are going to do, how about giving us some advice and how about going out to talk to your constituents and how about going out to consult with ordinary Nova Scotians and communicate with us.

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is the difference between Liberals and Tories because in my Party that is how the process works. That is how my Party deals with those issues, particularly when new laws created in this process under the former Liberal Government, communities, individuals were consulted prior, not after the fact.

I believe that in borrowing from those opposed to such laws, you risk turning law-abiding citizens into criminals and that is possible under this bill. Mr. Speaker, I am looking forward to the bill going to the Law Amendments Committee because I agree and as I indicated before, I believe all my caucus member agrees, that some control has to be put on these flea markets, but don't come in and put a bill before this House just to say you did it. Go out and consult with the people, democracy is obviously if I know it, there is many individuals, particularly on that side of the House which is familiar with it. Go out, consult, allow some input, take some direction, what is wrong?

As individuals in a community where they have experience sponsoring flea market events, what is wrong with taking advice from these people? It is not just Tories that know things in this province, particularly 30 of them. Now, we have almost a million people in this province and thanks to recent years - and I won't say it, Mr. Speaker, I know you are looking at me, you thought I was going to say Liberal years (Laughter) - but thanks to many hard years in shoring up education levels in this province, we have many well-educated people out there on the streets who could easily provide some input to the minister and his staff on this particular issue.

I cannot see, and I cannot for the life of me understand what is wrong with that. What is wrong with doing your consulting prior to shoving a bill down the throats of Nova Scotians? Because that is basically what they are doing, Mr. Speaker. They are going to throw this on the floor here. It is going to come to a vote, and yes, the numbers are there, you

[Page 3097]

are going to win the vote, that is obvious. It is obvious that the result of the vote will be that this law will be passed and put into effect. What assurance do we have, what assurance do the members of this side of the House have that there is going to be due process, that this government will go out and consult with all areas of this province, consult with the individuals, the residents; the people that use these flea markets, the communities, the organizers, all these people, what guarantee do we have that that will happen? We do not have any guarantee.

In my opinion, the members on this side of the House are being bushwhacked. I believe the people out there who use these flea market events for their benefit, for the benefit of youth, the charities and the seniors in this province, what assurance are we giving them? What confidence is this government providing for Nova Scotians when they see that you are going to pass a bill, put it into law, then say, I am going to go out and consult, take advice and direction, and then we are going to regulate it.

I would suggest that if the government was so interested in regulations, and I do not have the right to debate it today, but if you want to start regulating things, maybe the people out there in the communities would prefer to see gas and heating oil regulated. If you want to put regulations into effect. This is a democracy, and I am shocked that a minister of his calibre, of what I thought he was, would come into this House and present the likes of this. Is he testing the intelligence of all Nova Scotians? I should hope not.

This is a very important issue. I know many of the backbenchers on the other side were municipal politicians, as I was. We are familiar that these events are a very positive, important tool for many things within our community; as I said, sporting events, travel trips, charities. We all have them, and municipal councillors are involved in those events. That is why I do not believe that this minister even consulted with his caucus before he walked in and presented this. I find it hard to believe that these individuals sat there and allowed the minister to come in here with this. This is not the type of government people want in this province in the year 2000. The Premier promised us better than this, I believe.

Mr. Speaker, hopefully when this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee the government will keep an open mind and take the bill seriously. As I indicated before, we realize we have to put something in place for the protection of these flea markets. I agree, but let's not slam someone over the head with a hammer. Let's do it right. Let's take the suggestions of the people who use these flea markets to benefit our communities.

They are not all money-making events. Let's really consider all the community organizations such as hockey teams, football teams, soccer teams, that use these flea markets as a basic tool for the benefit of children and seniors. There is much benefit here. Let's not hamper their ability to go out and have an honest fund-raiser.

[Page 3098]

How many fire departments struggle in this province, particularly in rural areas? It is important to recognize most fire departments in this province struggle with the budgets they receive and they use these events to help protect the community. Many of these firefighters now are trained as first responders and they try to assist paramedics, right across the province, in any emergency. They use these events, at least the ones I am familiar with in my area on Cape Breton Island, to buy equipment.

I know there are a lot of smiles and gibing coming from over there, but I would hope that this government and its members in the backbenches, their caucus, take this - this is a very serious bill. Tell Nova Scotians what you are going to do before you do it. Planning and organization is what I am suggesting. I am sure Premier Hamm and his Cabinet, certainly since July, Mr. Speaker, have a handle on understanding what planning and organization mean, surely.

When I look over there, and maybe they aren't, but I thought they were all pretty decent - ordinary Nova Scotians is what I heard here during the first session of the House last fall - and for you to come in here with this kind of bill and the process that you are doing here, oh my nerves, I really can't believe it. I look over there and there are school teachers and doctors and lawyers. (Interruption) I didn't say liars, Mr. Speaker, I said lawyers. I have a lot of respect for the individuals in these titles. I am starting to lose a lot of this respect, and I am quite surprised. Then I look at the caucus back there, the backbenchers, and I am shocked that they would allow one of their ministers to come in here with the likes of this, without even discussing it with them. I know when I indicated before that when the caucus members said that they consulted with the caucus before they brought this bill in here, well, I would suggest that he better not tell his constituents that because . . .

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, who does have the floor, would get out of the Tory caucus and back on to the flea market bill, please. (Interruptions)

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will, I would not want to be in the Tory caucus to start with. I would be more than welcome to do that. (Interruptions) It is unfortunate when you take offence to discussing caucus, in my opinion at least, and the people I represent, this caucus will be held responsible for what this government does also. We, as citizens of this province, are looking forward to the input these caucus members are going to have in this bill and many others to come. We have been promised a bright new future here in this province, and I want to see where it is at. I haven't seen anything to date. That is coming from a guy who isn't a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer.

[Page 3099]

I would suggest that there are many people outside the walls of this great House who can recognize the same thing that I can recognize, and would have the same advice that I would have today for this government: slow down, consult with your people, allow a communication process, take some direction and advice from the people that are involved in these things. I would suggest that this current Justice Minister has never been involved in a flea market, never. (Interruptions) What knowledge does he have of this thing? What knowledge does he pretend to have regarding flea markets? Every time I pick up a piece of paper around here, it is better, better. Well, let's get better. Let's give the people of this province the government that they promised. They promised this stuff to people.

Mr. Speaker, as I said and indicated before, I am looking forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee. I will be there. I can tell you, I will be there. I can tell you, I will be there and I will be looking for the backbenchers too, because I am looking for something here, I am looking to see the kind of direction they promised people in this province, that they were going to have an input in this government. I don't even know if they have access to the government let alone input. (Interruptions)

When I think about this bill, this bill hinges on insanity. As I indicated before, I am doubtful if this minister, the current Minister of Justice - and I do have a lot of respect, I don't have a problem saying it, for the individual, not just the title, many people respect titles, I respect the man, but I have a great deal of difficulty, that this minister would come in here with this bill and present it in this House in the form of law, the way he did. It is unbelievable.

To put a piece of paper in front of the people of Nova Scotia - particularly the people I represent, and I don't have a problem saying it - to say here, here you are going to abide by this and we will back months from now to consult with you. That is how insane this is. I don't know what kind of nightmare the police are going to have to try to enforce this. If that is not a waste of taxpayers' dollars, this is crazy. I would suggest that it was the people on the mainland, in particular, that accepted the word that the Premier was going to provide responsible government. Somebody should have told the Premier that it is a four year or a five year mandate and it is responsible government all the way through, not just at the end.

Mr. Speaker, I noticed the room over there got awful quiet, because I believe they know I am right. I hope that this minister would listen and consult with Nova Scotians prior to the passing of this bill. (Interruption) We have some socialists who are trying to get in on the discussion, but, as far as I know - is it true? Do I have the floor here at the moment?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, "The Governor in Council may make regulations (a) designating prohibited and prescribed goods for the purpose of this Act; . . . (d) re-defining or further defining any word or expression defined in this Act;". It could be a whole new bill. That line gives this minister the authority to go out and rewrite the entire bill, without the

[Page 3100]

approval of this House. Does that sound like responsible government; bright, new future? I am shocked at this. I am really shocked, as an ordinary Nova Scotian and, as I have indicated before, I regard myself as one and I will say it and I don't have a problem saying it. I am not a doctor. I am not a lawyer and I am not a teacher. I am not calling anybody a liar. I am certainly not doing that because I am not qualified to call anybody a liar. I don't have those qualifications.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is becoming a bit repetitive. I wonder if he would try to get back to something new relative to the principle of the bill.

MR. BOUDREAU: That is why this bill shocks me as much as it does, because, when I read lines like that, it really scares me. I scares me, Mr. Speaker, because I know that the backbenchers over there are not going to have an input. The individual MLAs over there on that side are not going to have any input. The MLAs on this side of the House certainly won't have any input. The people that they represent won't have any input. How could they take one individual out of almost 1 million people, when you look at the population figures in the province, you could take one guy, sit him down and give him the authority to rewrite this bill, almost in its entirety, without any consultation, any debate in this House, anything.

Mr. Speaker, the bill, as I indicated when I first rose to speak, is just an indication that this government wants to be able to stand up and say, we just fulfilled another promise, another commitment, number four, I believe it would be.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has made that point several times during his contribution to this debate. Obviously, I have extended the honourable member a lot of latitude and leeway and I am asking him once again if he would please try to come forward with some new material relative to the title of the bill.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your advice. I do not know if it is advice or direction, but I will accept it. I have not even begun discussing the costs.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. BOUDREAU: That is what I would like to know, how much? What really concerns me is how much Nova Scotians are going to pay before they really see that this is wrong. I think they see it now. I think this minister sees it now and, hopefully, he will recognize the need for some changes in this bill. As I indicated before, when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee, the minister can be assured that I will be there.

There are so many questions I have. This wording in the bill, does this indicate that there will be a new board set up here? Are there going to be new boards? More political appointments? There are so many questions there it is remarkable. It is remarkable that the

[Page 3101]

Leader of a political Party with the responsibilities to govern the Province of Nova Scotia would come forward and present a bill in the form that this bill has taken. It is shocking.

Mr. Speaker, I believe this is a bad bill. It has some merit. You could build on the foundation as a setting, you know, it sets the foundation for the creation of something real if this government is serious and allows the proper process to proceed. When this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee, I would suggest it is the responsibility of the government to recognize the presentation that is put forth at that committee and make the changes that will make the bill work for what it is intended and what the need is. We all recognize the need for this bill, but we need a bill that is going to have the proper positive impact into the operation of flea markets in the Province of Nova Scotia from one end to the other, right across the board. What is good in one area is good in the other. That, I would suggest, is the only manner in which professional police forces can even consider to go out and enforce this bill because that is really what it is. Once it is passed by this House and put into effect, we are going to one man to create the regulations and write with whatever he wants to create the bill, but how do we know what the final paper will say? The minister, after it is passed in this House and months go by as is indicated, after months of consultation, the minister will then turn around and say I am regulating. Here are the regulations, one, two three. We don't know whether it is going to have 2, 15, 8, and it could be a politically appointed board to oversee the operation.

[6:15 p.m.]

The bill lacks credibility right from the outset. I would suggest if the minister is serious about this bill, he will get serious about presenting it in a proper form and being responsible to the other members of this House in providing a document that at least has some detail as to what it means. This is an open-ended process that is unacceptable to Nova Scotians. That is what it is, and the scary part for me, I believe, is that the members opposite are not aware of that, but they don't care. I certainly would suggest that that is not the intention the Premier indicated last year when he promised new government, new responsible government, new direction, a bright future. Remember all that?

I would suggest that the minister here has an opportunity to create a bill that will have some meat. There are many police officers themselves who are familiar with the operation of these flea markets, and they have not even been asked to a comment on this bill, to my knowledge. The police departments we have across this province are very professional, well-trained individuals and they are committed to what they do; at least the ones I know are. There is nothing wrong with picking up a phone, writing a simple letter and asking these people for some advice. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that was the intent when this great House was created; that was the intent from that day until this. I certainly can't comment on anything that happened in 1960 or 1830 or whatever, but I certainly know what is going on here today. I don't like what I see, and I don't believe the people of Nova Scotia like what they see.

[Page 3102]

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is drawing to a close and, in closing, I would say that I am looking forward to this bill at the Law Amendments Committee. Hopefully the minister will come to his senses and really take this bill for what it is in all seriousness. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, that's like hitting clean-up after Roger Maris, in one of his good years. With my critic responsibilities, I had the opportunity to attend the bill briefing, and I question that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes was on the same planet, let alone at the same bill briefing.

Now it seems to me, and I want the Minister of Justice to know that there are some very credible parts to this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. That was not very parliamentary, and I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that statement about being on the same planet.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Okay, Mr. Speaker. I want to go back. As a critic. I take my responsibility seriously. I attended the bill briefing and at the bill briefing I met numerous people from the business world who were there, who were, in my opinion to the minister's department, attention and credit, were consulted, and it seems to me that if the member for Cape Breton The Lakes goes on at length in that manner, I question, honestly, whether he attended the bill briefing, but furthermore, there were some suggestions that there was no consultation, there was no input. Mr. Speaker, that is just not true and I don't want to have to come to the defence of the Minister of Justice on this matter, but let me tell you that at that bill briefing we all had an opportunity as critics and as members to speak to these businessmen, to hear their points of view, particularly when it comes to flea markets.

Mind you, some of this legislation is like killing a mosquito with a hammer. There is a bit of an overkill here, but let's get it straight. There are some parts of this bill that do certainly have our support and I look forward to hearing from the people at the Law Amendments Committee who I am sure are going to point out some of the flaws.

Mr. Speaker, the example I want to use, and I told the member for Victoria, this is not an attempt to filibuster or kill an hour, this is an attempt to tell the Minister of Justice a few suggestions which we should have for this bill. In particular, I want to point out the onus upon the operator when it comes to a flea market is going to increase many times over and it seems to me that is unfair. We do know that there are flea market operators, for reasons only they know, they are suspect in their operations. Yet, the huge majority of flea market operators, are very credible people and business people who deserve our respect in our various communities.

[Page 3103]

I want to take for example the Sunday flea market which is at the St. Margaret's Arena. The operator, this industrious young man, has gone out of his way, he has encouraged people to come in there - I have gone to that flea market on Sundays and it is a pleasant place to go and to look for a bargain and do some shopping. Now, if that operator has a particular vendor, a vendor who is there and perhaps unwisely, has made the call that he is going to and I don't like to use the word fence, but he is going to have stolen goods available, you are telling me that the operator must be responsible? I say no because if we are looking at cutting down on red tape, if we are looking at trying to make this an event where we are going to enjoy ourselves and the operator is not going to be absolutely worn down with more and more paperwork, then we have to make sure that the vendor is the responsible operator.

I point to in particular Page 2 of the bill, Clause 5. I hope that the minister, after the complimentary beginning that I add, is going to look at the fact that Clause 5 should be seriously looked at. It says, "An operator shall maintain the information provided to the operator pursuant to this Act for a period of not less than two years." Mr. Speaker, we are talking flea market operators, commercial flea market operators. Commercial flea market operators are going to have to have a ready-made photocopy machine at hand to maintain these records and they have to maintain the records if you look at what it says in Clause 5, for two years.

I consider that unreasonable. I consider that when we go through the Law Amendments Committee procedure - and I look forward to going to the Law Amendments Committee with the Minister of Justice - I hope that the Minister of Justice remembers the lesson that he received in the fall, that it is at Law Amendments Committee that amendments are brought forward. In the spirit of co-operation, I hope the Minister of Justice at that time is willing to consider amendments from this Party and amendments from the learned member for Cape Breton The Lakes because I look forward to at that stage seeing in writing some of the suggestions and improvements that he has to a bill that in many ways, is very credible.

Mr. Speaker, there needs to be some thoughtful consideration, that is the Law Amendments Committee procedure. There will be people who will appear in front of the Law Amendments Committee, I am sure, and they will make sure that their views are known. There are people out there, there are sports teams, there are Lions Clubs that operate commercially. They go out and they make sure they are operating a flea market that is credible. After all, the customers do not come back unless they know that they are getting not only a good buy but a buy that is not going to be seized by the police as being stolen. It seems to me that in that situation, we are punishing many for the few who have after all abused the system.

I know from speaking to the people at the bill briefing that we are dealing with a minority of the operators. It seems to me that we are out punishing many of them when we should be dealing with the few. Many of these are the vendors themselves. It seems to me that if there is a suspect operation underway and the police come in and say to the vendor, where

[Page 3104]

are those receipts, then that policeman or policewoman is doing his or her job, but to make the operator responsible for that, that is an onus upon a person who in many ways has lots of other responsibilities on flea market day, and to have these receipts which he or she must have available at a beck and call, and then, according to Clause 5, they must be maintained for two years. That seems to me to be a bit heavy-handed. We certainly have to cut the red tape. Is this cutting the red tape? I say no to that.

More importantly, and I come to a theme that on occasion we speak to in this House, and members in the back row, will of course say they were consulted on this, well, if you were consulted and I hope you were, I want you to explain to the flea market operators in your towns, in your areas, this weighty imposition upon the operators. I would hope that the caucus members opposite, backbenchers, would make their views known, saying is Clause 5, in particular, really the sort of way that we want to cure the problem that is being addressed, overall in a very credible manner, by this minister who has brought this bill forward?

The Law Amendments Committee will be a good time to test this out. I am sure that at that time business people from throughout Nova Scotia will take the initiative and will appear, because there is no doubt that there is a problem when it comes to stolen goods being fenced - and there is that word again, and it is not a term that I like to use, being fenced - through flea markets. It seems to me that if we are going to deal with the problem, we have to make sure that the vendor is ultimately responsible. After all, you come in, you set up, and I have been involved with my Lions Club in this sort of operation, you are helping people, people are coming in, they are putting things out, and then it begins to operate. As my learned friend, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, said, sometimes one vendor is buying from another vendor. In the midst of that, before those doors open, is the operator to go over and check the table and say, do you have receipts for this, do you have receipts for that?

Some flea markets that we have, and perhaps in your area, are big events. They are major productions, whether they are held on Sunday afternoon like in my community or any other day of the week. It could be a situation where the operator has to say, no, no, keep it closed, no one is allowed on the grounds or no one is allowed in the hall until I have these receipts, I have to have receipts from this vendor or that vendor. That is the sort of red tape that these operators do not want to have to put up with.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of people about flea markets and how they operate, because I think it is important when you come into this House not to waste the time of the House, to come forward with suggestions, to say that when a piece of legislation that is coming forward has some validity, to say that. Generally, I will say, this bill does have some credible, valid points. There are some points that I look forward to having corrected during the Law Amendments Committee, and I hope that at that stage the Minister

[Page 3105]

of Justice will be willing to accept some of the amendments offered. I am sure that when we come back into this House we will have a piece of legislation - if all of us as legislators are listened to, if the people who appear in front of Law Amendments in the Red Chamber are listened to, Mr. Speaker - we will have a piece of legislation that will reflect that we have a problem with some, and I repeat that again, some, flea market operators. That we are not again going to have to kill a mosquito with a hammer to solve a problem with the fencing of goods when we have a flea market that is operated in a very responsible and a very accountable way.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your time. I look forward to working with the Minister of Justice as he chairs the Law Amendments Committee and I look forward to hearing the member for Cape Breton the Lakes as he takes part in that Law Amendments process. That is the challenge that we have as legislators; let's make it work and let's make this flea market legislation, when it comes back to this House, have the approval of all members present. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will take but a few moments time of the House this evening to make a few comments on Bill No. 30, An Act Respecting the Sale of Certain Items at a Commercial Flea Market.

I want to say from the very beginning I certainly will be supporting the bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee and I am sure there is room on this bill for changes to be made at the Law Amendments Committee. As we all know that is the great role of that committee, to make changes and correct laws that are in any piece of legislation that comes to the House for approval.

Mr. Speaker, the government's intent is good. I believe their intent to correct a wrong that has taken place in many different ways in terms of theft, in terms of the effects that flea markets and the selling of new and even stolen property, adds greatly to our underground economy which many of us believe is running rampant today and out of control. This bill is intended to require vendor supply receipts for operators on all new merchandise that they wish to sell. Indeed that is a very good point and I think if this is our intent - to get at those people and this merchandise, then I think the bill is on the right track. It requires vendors to supply receipts and I think that is good. However, that is only as good as the enforcement that follows it.

I do not think it is right that the operators of commercial flea markets are then liable for their operators. I think that is something that has to be corrected because an RCMP or any police officer can go to any place in our province today, whether it is a flea market or any other establishment, and retrieve stolen goods if they have evidence that that is the case, that the goods are stolen. Of course we believe there is no deterrent for individuals who sell other

[Page 3106]

stolen goods, such as furniture or appliances, that are retrieved through home invasion. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, this is an area that we should be focusing more and more on today, rather than our flea markets and their operators.

Mr. Speaker, the government had an opportunity to keep one of their promises and begin legislating solutions to the problem of home invasions. I believe that the government should expand this legislation so as to make it more difficult for people to profit from stolen property acquired during a home invasion. As well, I believe that the government has said that they will introduce the regulations for this bill, i.e.: what goods will fall under this Act, after consultation over the next few months. In other words, the government will bring in the regulations to this Act after it is passed by this Legislature. I believe that is wrong, I believe that is too late, and we will be demanding that the government put forward its regulations before it passes in this House, even if this means that this bill will be left on the order paper for months to come.

Mr. Speaker, this is the way I believe this legislation should proceed through. Let's see the regulations and then we will pass the legislation. I also believe, and we believe in this caucus, that there are already proceeds of crime legislation, and I think this bill duplicates some of that, and I believe, clearly, that there is some federal responsibility here, that we may be overlapping or we may be duplicating. As I said earlier, the failure to provide regulations in this bill is a serious flaw at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, many of us are unsure, because all of us who sit in this House are very familiar and indeed support flea markets for various reasons. We have our fire departments, we have our churches, and Lord only knows how many different avenues of fund-raising events, whether it be for church or charity, there are many dollars raised through legitimate flea markets. It is a great way to raise money, and many organizations clearly rely on that for fund-raising. For the fire departments, it is probably at the very top because there are a lot of us who have furniture and appliances that we have no further use for, for whatever reason, and I think we allow fire departments and other charities to utilize the abilities to fund-raise with such things as appliances or furniture or anything that people want to donate to charities for flea markets.

We have to be very careful that we are not attacking flea markets as such. We want to make sure that what we are trying to get at here is the illegal use of flea markets for the sale of new goods stolen from whatever places available to the thieves for that type of activity. Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government has clearly thought out some of the undue hardships that this bill may cause many charities with this type of legislation. As I said earlier, the trust of the legislation is essentially good, but its implementation and the loose ends make it look like this legislation was probably premature and probably a rush job, to some degree.

[Page 3107]

We are asking the minister to clearly look at it, and we are certainly asking the Law Amendments Committee to make some changes, and probably before the House closes in August or September, whenever, that we will have this piece of legislation passed.

Mr. Speaker, in the last election, the Progressive Conservative Party promised to seek stiffer sentences for home invasions, and indeed, this is where we would like to see more of a focus. If any part of this legislation is to attack or to correct the home invasions, then it certainly is a move forward, and it is a good move. I believe we are not clearly focused on that. This may have a detrimental effect on some of our flea markets.

As we get into warmer weather, we all know that flea markets are going to be popping up all over the place. We know the areas along the South Shore and the Eastern Shore and Annapolis Valley, and indeed in Cape Breton, we have large flea markets at the mall in North Sydney, which draws a lot of people and where there is a great wealth of goods that they change from one flea market to the other. So we want to be very careful that we are not creating red tape for the operators of flea markets, that they are allowed to continue to provide for charities and fire departments and other organizations who raise their funds through these activities.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in the bill that makes sure that the proceeds of these crimes - and we are talking about home invasion - would have a more difficult time being fenced. The government has also pledged to cut red tape for businesses. I believe for a government that has made this commitment, it is ironic that they would be introducing more red tape for honest Nova Scotians and this is what we see, or at least I see, this bill as being a bit misleading.

Mr. Speaker, to borrow from those opposed to other such laws, you risk turning law-abiding citizens into criminals. As I said at the beginning, I will be supporting this bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee and, hopefully, we will see some changes. Again, I think the minister is probably trying to do what is right by bringing the bill to the House and have it passed and the changes made will be of some benefit to many Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this bill and we hope, when we see it back from the Law Amendments Committee, there will be significant changes and we will all be pleased that this bill has made it through second reading and through the Law Amendments Committee and comes back here in a much better form. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Bill No. 30 going beyond second reading, to the Law Amendments Committee. I intend to be, what I would describe as mercifully brief.

[Page 3108]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause)

MS. O'CONNELL: I thought that might impress the members on the other side. I rise only because I had a phone call on this bill. I only had one phone call, but this phone call, I think, is significant because I think it represents the spillover effect of the loss to the economy and to the communities of the sale of stolen goods at flea markets.

I had a call from the man who is the owner of Shoppers Drug Mart in Halifax-Fairview. He lives in the constituency and he has a thriving business in a community that doesn't have a lot of really big, thriving businesses, Mr. Speaker. His message to me was that the loss from his store is massive and devastating. This is one store in one community, in one constituency, so this means that all over Nova Scotia, all over the communities that we represent, businesses are losing - as well as homeowners - that money because of stolen goods; in this case they are new goods.

I take what he says very seriously, and the reason I do is that the business owner is the person who is at the heart of the matter, who knows the extent of the losses, who knows what that costs the business and, therefore by extension, the number of employers; by extension the consumers in higher prices; and by extension the community in the social costs related to the crime of theft. I take him incredibly seriously because of his knowledge of what his own losses are.

The reason I stood up at all, Mr. Speaker, was to add my voice to those who say that this bill should go indeed to the Law Amendments Committee because if I have a call from one business person who has been suffering losses at a great rate and whose goods turn up, to his certain knowledge, at flea markets, then what better place than the Law Amendments Committee for other business people and other community members to come and raise those concerns? So I would certainly support the moving of this bill on to the next phase which is the opportunity that the public has to come and speak to it, all members of the public: business owners, consumers and others. I do also support the opinion expressed by my colleagues here that it seems to me that we are putting an incredible onus on the operators of flea markets.

[6:45 p.m.]

I am no expert on this sort of thing, Mr. Speaker, but I would expect that one of the opportunities we would have in the Law Amendments Committee is to seek ways that are perhaps more efficient and more enforceable for policing the sale of stolen goods at flea markets. I think it was my colleague, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, earlier who talked about the size of some flea markets and . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Have you been to Sackville?

[Page 3109]

MS. O'CONNELL: Yes, I have indeed been to the Sackville flea market and it is big. There are others just as big all over the province and the enormous complications that would arise, not to mention the legal burden that befalls the operator of a flea market who must enforce on behalf of the government this legislation which I think is needed, Mr. Speaker. So I certainly support it going on. I certainly want to hear, as I expect other members do, from flea market operators, flea market vendors, business owners who lose goods, members of the community and all of those who have something to say on this subject. So I will just join my voice with that of the other members of my caucus and propose that this bill does indeed pass second reading.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my very great pleasure to rise to close second reading on this bill and hope that this bill will be forwarded to the Law Amendments Committee by the House. I can say that I have heard what honourable members opposite have said and I believe that there is no bill that cannot be improved. I am prepared to consider any amendments remembering, as I have told other members at other times, that it cannot compromise the fundamental principle of the bill which, of course, is to stop the sale of stolen goods at flea markets. Given that the principle cannot be compromised, I am interested in any amendments that may be suggested which would facilitate the matter and would look forward to the approbation of the House.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was just going to ask the minister if he would entertain a question before he moved it, but he has already moved it so I will speak to him privately.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 30. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Health Authorities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 3110]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today for second reading of Bill No. 34, An Act to Provide for Community Health Boards and District Health Authorities and Respecting Provincial Health-care Centres. When I tabled this bill last week, I said it was an important health care announcement, I said it was ground-breaking legislation.

It is, Mr. Speaker, important and ground-breaking because it gives communities a greater role in health care decision making. The regional health board system which we intend to replace had no clear connections to communities and furthermore it had no clear accountabilities linked to the Department of Health. The new Health Authorities Act creates and cements these missing links. Essentially, Bill No. 34 gives communities a stronger voice to improve local health care, balanced with the accountabilities to support effective decisions in management throughout the system.

The Health Authorities Act first legislates community health boards for the first time which has been widely sought by the members of the community health boards since they were formed. It establishes new district health authorities to replace the regional health boards. It defines the roles, responsibilities and relationships of and between the community health boards, the district health authorities and the Department of Health. It also addresses the role of the provincial health care centres, the capital health district and the Nova Scotia Hospital. It provides for an annual planning and accountability process. Finally, Bill No. 34 addresses financial management.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation sees community health boards get the recognition they rightly deserve as community health planners. Their role of representing the health concerns of their community for the first time is legitimized. In the past it was sometimes difficult to mobilize communities for community action. Now they have the support of legislation to give them the credibility they need to get the job done. And what is that job? The job is to improve the overall health of individuals and communities.

How do they plan to do that job? Primarily through the community health plan, they prepare and submit to the district health authorities. They accomplish this task in a variety of ways, including creating partnerships with residents, organizations, agencies and others. Examples of community health board initiatives include organizing flu shot clinics, ensuring people have proper signage for 911, generating awareness of existing programs, identifying and responding to the unique needs of seniors and youth.

As I mentioned in the bill briefing last week, there are currently 34 community health boards across the province and their membership consists of more than 400 volunteers. There are three more community health boards being established in industrial Cape Breton which will mean that all areas of the province are covered. We established a Community Health Board Advisory Committee to help ensure community health boards had the opportunity to tell the department what they should look like under the new structure. We used and valued

[Page 3111]

their input. We were very fortunate to have members of the committee join us last week when Bill No. 34 was introduced. They have all worked very hard and long to bring us this day.

To garner input from communities, a survey was developed and circulated and a consensus conference held in February. The group will continue in an advisory capacity on such issues as selecting district health authority members. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say that we have accepted all of the recommendations put forward by the community health boards. They wanted to ensure that their community health plans were a formal part of the business planning process. Bill No. 34 will make that happen. Community health boards ask for the support they need to achieve their objective. Bill No. 34 will commit district health authorities by law to provide community health boards with technical and administrative support.

Mr. Speaker, never before in Nova Scotia have communities had such a strong voice in health care decision making. To demonstrate this point even further, in accordance with Bill No. 34, community health boards will also have a solid input into the make-up of the district health authority under which they operate. Two-thirds of authority membership is made up of community health board nominees.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation also establishes district health authorities to replace regional health boards, and at the same time responds to many of the criticisms the Auditor General had of the former structure. In his most recent report, the Auditor General wrote, "Due to recurring deficits, we believe that there is a need to ensure strong financial management practices in organizations responsible for the delivery of health care, particularly at the Board level." The Auditor General has also said, ". . . that it is important for the Board to ensure that annual budgets do not include projected deficits.", and that ". . . there is an urgent need for the Department of Health to complete a strategic direction for the health system, and to clarify how the business and strategic planning processes should occur in the health sector."

Mr. Speaker, each and every one of these recommendations and more have been addressed in the Health Authorities Act. As you know, this government assumed the debt of the IWK-Grace, the QE II, the Cape Breton Health Care Complex, the Nova Scotia Hospital, and the four regional health boards last year, and the figure was $280 million. We cannot allow this to happen again. Accountability for the money spent must be improved. This is why we are increasing the emphasis on financial management and on accountability by ensuring monthly and quarterly financial statements and that audited year end financial statements are provided to the Department of Health. We need to identify any problems early so that they can be addressed accordingly. Deficit planning is not allowed, and borrowing must be consistent with an approved business plan. Mandatory recovery of deficits in one year is required. We are working today to address the problems of yesterday.

[Page 3112]

District health authorities must also submit annual reports which will include progress on their business plans to be tabled in the Legislature on an annual basis. This will ensure accountability, through this House, to the people of Nova Scotia. I can assure you that this legislation is aimed at spending more dollars on patients and less money on paperwork. Our new district health authorities will generally be smaller than the regional health boards, and they are more closely connected to their communities. We will have tight controls, including the rigorous monitoring to be sure administrative costs are kept to an absolute minimum.

On that note, I would like to comment on some of your concerns about how much the transition will cost. This government will not allow the transition to district health authorities to cost more money. The transition will be properly managed. In accordance with the legislation, we can ensure consistencies in administrative structures to avoid the problems encountered with the former structure. There will be increased opportunities to share programs and services within and beyond the district boundaries. We are introducing district health authorities to move away from the chaos and confusion of the former structure. We are moving to smaller districts to ensure greater community input. Another exciting initiative that will now be possible by the Health Authorities Act involves the IWK-Grace, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, the Nova Scotia Hospital, and the Cape Breton Health Care Complex.

Mr. Speaker, the legislation recognizes a provincial and regional mandate for specialized services which are available at these facilities. Under the former structure, these facilities were known as non-designated organizations. There was no mechanism in place to facilitate or require them to work with the regional health boards. As a result, they were not a formal part of the business planning process for the central area, and opportunities for coordinated planning and integration were missed. This had to change and it will change with the passage of Bill No. 34.

[7:00 p.m.]

Now a capital health district will be established, governing the same area as the formal Central Regional Health Board. The same people will sit on the managing boards for the Nova Scotia Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and the capital district board. They will, however, remain separate entities with their own legislation. The new approach to shared governance will facilitate the development of a joint health services business plan for the capital health district. The IWK-Grace will retain its current board and will participate in partnerships and joint business planning.

Mr. Speaker, there is considerable overlap and interdependence in patient population and service delivery in the capital area. Health services should be planned, delivered and coordinated in the context of health promotion, disease and injury prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and continuing care. Therefore, the planning structures must be brought in

[Page 3113]

inclusive and not solely focus on acute care. The Health Authorities Act will help make that possible.

The goal is simple. We want these hospitals to continue to deliver their specialized health services, but there are areas of administration where we can find savings, savings that can be better spent on patients, plus a better coordination of plans for the local delivery of service. Bill No. 34, Mr. Speaker, is a significant step forward to a more accountable, sustainable and responsive health care system for all Nova Scotians. We will also be strengthening the role of the Department of Health, including, but not limited to, providing strategic direction, standards and provincial policies. We must respect local decision making and planning, but we must also recognize each health authority is part of the provincial system and that there needs to be accountability for the whole system, from Sydney to Yarmouth, in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

My department has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring quality. We will look after monitoring, auditing and evaluation. We will also allocate resources and manage departmental programs. As Minister of Health, I have a direct role to play in the establishment of this new system. As a government, we believe in a coordinated and effective approach to health system planning.

Mr. Speaker, before I close, I would like to place this legislation in the larger context to the government's vision. On March 30th, the honourable Premier announced an initiative which will transform government in Nova Scotia. The four guiding principles of the new direction are reflected in the legislation we are debating tonight: quality of service, fairness to regions and to people, value for money and improved accountability for spending. The people of this province have told us that they want a more open and accountable government. They have also said that government must change the way it works to better serve its citizens and that we must improve access to health care. This legislation provides for all those things.

Mr. Speaker, I am not only pleased to bring this legislation forward, I am proud to do so. I am proud to introduce a statute which gives communities a stronger voice in local health care and balances that voice with strong accountability measures and with the recognition of accountability of government, for overall coordination and leadership.

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate and thank the staff and members of the regional health boards for the service they provided to Nova Scotians under that system. They certainly displayed the utmost dedication and commitment to the job they were given to do. The people were great, it was the system that was flawed. As I said, when introducing this bill earlier this session, we are taking a significant step forward toward a more accountable, sustainable and responsive health care system for all Nova Scotians and I ask for the support of all members of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I move now that this bill be read for a second time. (Applause)

[Page 3114]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to respond and to debate this bill, Bill No. 34, the Health Authorities Act.

As I was listening to the Minister of Health I was struck by some of the language he used because he talked about what was in the best interests of Nova Scotians. Whenever you hear that, whenever you hear that something is in your best interests, when people talk about interests, the function of talking about interests is a dehumanizing one because the reality is that interests are not people. Interests are not citizens, interests are not partners, they are not employees; they are just interests. That is the whole point. Whenever you hear somebody say, this is in your best interest, you should know that you are being counted out of the process. That is what this bill is all about.

This bill does not take into account what it is that the people of Nova Scotia have been telling the Department of Health, this Minister of Health and previous Ministers of Health, for many years. Where, I ask, did this bill come from? I ask this because it is contrary to the recommendations of the Goldbloom task force; it is contrary to the blueprint that was issued in April 1994; it is contrary to the Report of the Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Health Care; it is contrary to virtually every piece of public consultation that has gone on in this province for the last 15 years, Mr. Speaker. So it is very difficult to understand where this bill comes from.

I want to say, also, I believe that it is contrary to the promises made by the government during the recent election campaign and I will tell you why. Does the principle of this bill go about achieving decentralization? Does it allow Nova Scotians to actively participate in a decentralized, locally controlled health system? A system that meets provincially described standards for programs and services? No. Does this legislation support, rather than impede, the devolution of responsibility to communities over health care decision making? No, clearly it does not. Does it legislate the authority of community health boards to identify and plan programs to meet local priorities? No, again, it does not. Does this legislation mandate the development of regional funding envelopes and health service plans that are based on an effective system of primary health care? Again, it does not. This is a failure on all of those counts. Does the bill achieve cost savings, is that the principle that this legislation seeks to achieve? Well, Mr. Speaker, I think not. It may be an objective of the government, but I think it fails also on this count.

What it does is it creates nine administrations to replace those four which operated the regional health boards, so it fails to reduce the size of the administration which is part of what the Minister of Health and his colleagues told the people of Nova Scotia over the extended period of the election campaign that took place in June and July of last year. What it does do is set up a system whereby the administrations increase to take up more of the resources that

[Page 3115]

would otherwise go directly into health services. That can't be helped. It is a simple fact that you can't replace four administrations with nine and have it cost less.

You may remember as I do, Mr. Speaker, the way this usually goes. The way it usually goes is the government starts by saying this will be cheaper and more cost-effective, and then it says, well, the savings we thought we were going to realize were not achieved, and then they say, this system will at least cost no more, and then when the numbers finally come in the government is left admitting that they tried, but the administrative costs exceeded what their expectations were, and that the whole system is worse off as a result.

Transition costs are inevitable because most people will tell you that when you take an organization the size of the health care delivery system in this province and you disrupt that organization, you take it apart, you put it back together in some other form, it takes anywhere from 5 to 10 years for that organization to settle out so that the lines of communication that the reporting authorities are established and maintained, and that process costs money and is by its nature inefficient. You have to be somewhat foresighted to look down the road and say, well, we are prepared to live with those costs for a period of time until the efficiencies in the systems kick in and we achieve a better delivery system as a result of the reorganization.

The fundamental point with this, Mr. Speaker, is that this never happened with the regional health boards. In fact, the regional health boards never got far enough down the line to be able to achieve what they were set out to achieve which was a better health care delivery system at a cost that could be afforded by Nova Scotians. We said when the regional health boards came along that they were not going to be cheap to set up either. It was clear, and I think it has always been clear, that these mergers take a long time to settle out.

This bill is a product of a work group that was set up by the minister. Of course, these people came together at the behest of the minister. They were drawn, as I understand it, from the regional boards. But I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that there were many communities that were left out of this process. There were people who felt disenfranchised, and I have to say there were people who I spoke to over the last number of months, who felt a fair degree of trepidation around the whole process because all of these communities, all of these people - not interests, communities and people - employees, partners in the health care system, all of these people knew and understood that the implementation end of this process is the budget.

Those who were excluded felt it was because the services in their communities and their facilities were going to be adversely affected. I don't think that was an unfair assumption on behalf of these people and it certainly should not have been an unexpected assumption by people when they go to a meeting and are excluded because it appears to them that the representatives on these work groups have already been selected in advance and whether that is true or not, that is the way they felt about it. So when they look at this legislation, they look at it as the product of something that they did not have a hand in, that they were not consulted about.

[Page 3116]

[7:15 p.m.]

At this point what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, is to try to give those people an opportunity to review this legislation, an opportunity to have a look at it and to see what it means for them, their families, their communities, for the delivery of health services where they live. Of course, we do not know what the implementation of this is going to mean as yet. We will see that when the budget is tabled.

Mr. Speaker, if the real principle of this bill is not a decentralized health care delivery system, then what is it? It does not place control in the hands of communities, so what does it do? Does this bill enshrine the values of cooperation and team building, of consensus building, of openness, does it do any of that? No, not at all. In fact, the reality of this legislation is that it does quite the opposite. What this bill does is it enshrines the principle that the Department of Health and the minister will determine what services are going to be available in your community. It is a reinstitution of the hospital-based illness-treatment model rather than concentrating on health promotion and wellness. This is an unfortunate retreat.

MR. MUIR: Exactly the opposite.

MR. DEXTER: I can hear the minister and he says, no, it is quite the opposite but, you know, Mr. Speaker, I have gone through this bill in as much detail as I can. I have consulted with many people and the reality is that the transfer of power to the minister in this bill is nothing short of astonishing. What this bill does is it provides that every single decision that could otherwise have been made by local community health boards will, in fact, have to be approved by the minister, all business plans. Does it attempt to try to develop a funding envelope that is going to be passed down to community health boards, give them the authority to make those decisions in their communities? Absolutely not. In fact, that is exactly what this bill does not do. What it does do is it establishes that power solely in the hands of the minister.

I will give you an example. If you serve on your local community health board under this legislation, Mr. Speaker, what is going to happen is some dedicated volunteers no doubt are going to come together. They are going to develop a plan for the delivery of services in their community and then what is going to happen to it? It is going to be sent to the district health authority. The only provision in here after it gets to the district health authority is it has to be considered. What does considered mean? I guess that is the question. Does it mean considered like the people of Glace Bay will consider the Tory candidate tomorrow? I think that would be a short consideration. Or will it be considered in the fullness of the meaning of that word, meaning that everything that is in the plan will be examined and given weight.

Mr. Speaker, we do not know, because there is nothing in the bill that says what weight it carries with the district health authority. Then the district health authority goes through its own process and forwards it along to the minister. The minister then reviews what he receives

[Page 3117]

after these first two stages of the process, and he says, yea or nay to the business plan that is put forward. If he doesn't like the business plan, it is sent back, and the district health authority must - must - come forward with a new plan that meets the approval of the minister and takes into account the recommendations that he makes.

We have just been through a process where the Department of Health refused, I think for three years, to approve a business plan. Does this not just set the Minister of Health up for, again, the embarrassing position of being told by district health authorities instead of the regional health boards that the provision of services in these communities require the spending of x number of dollars, the approval of a business plan that requires a certain funding level the minister is not willing to accept, which means that it will sit there, unapproved, year after year, until someone else comes along? Perhaps sometimes what they do, Mr. Speaker, is they change ministers, and then the new minister can come in and say, well, we are going to start a clean slate, so we will deal with that and we will start over again. Certainly, to some degree that is what this minister has done, assuming the debts of the regional health boards and of the non-designated organizations and setting himself up with a clean slate so that he can be, in the jargon of the day, in a go-forward position. I think that is what they say these days when they have nothing else to say, I guess.

Mr. Speaker, if you live in a rural community, this bill tells you that the bureaucrats on Hollis Street in Halifax know more about your health care needs than the people, the citizens, who live on Main Street in your community. That is what this bill tells you if you live in Liverpool or if you live in Guysborough County or if you live anywhere in this province outside of metropolitan Halifax, outside of what I now understand is going to be called the Capital District, well, Mr. Speaker, I hope that the members who represent those rural communities who are sitting now in the backbenches of the government have, in this instance, the fortitude to get to their feet and discuss the principle of this bill and to discuss it with the people in their communities. The people in their communities will tell them that this bill does not advance health delivery, system planning in their communities or, indeed, anywhere in this province. I think it is unfortunate because the minister had an opportunity here. The minister had an opportunity to take the community health boards and fulfill the promise that was made in the blueprint.

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, why it is that the principle of this bill does not include that most basic, most fundamental, most profound principle, which is to transfer this authority and responsibility to local and community health boards. I guess I come to the conclusion that this government lacks the will because if you remember, as I remember, in the blueprint in April 1994, what this plan said, I have it here, A Nova Scotia Blueprint for Health System Reform, what this document says is that what it is going to take to reform the system is leadership from the Minister of Health and the political will of elected representatives. As the member for Kings North used to say, these rascals over here, they are the ones that they are talking about, they are the ones who have to have the political will to actually reform the system so

[Page 3118]

that it fulfils the promise of decentralization, that it fulfils the promise of truly responsive local community health care delivery.

So, Mr. Speaker, this legislation, it doesn't use the word merger, but that is what this is about. In the Capital District, this is a merger and it is a merger of the health care delivery system in the Capital District. I don't know if you have followed these mergers, but I think experience tells us all that in a merger, the larger institutions fare well and smaller institutions do much less well. It is not lost on any of us that the resume of the Deputy Minister of Health, when he was hired, included his experience in mergers of health care institutions. In fact, that was the major thing as I recall when we reviewed his résumé that was there. So it doesn't surprise me that this is a merger, a consolidation of health services. I believe that is one of the fundamental principles that is set out in the 126 paragraphs that make up this legislation, much of which, of course, is the revocation of authority for individual institutions.

I think it is clear, and here is this word again, that the interests of smaller institutions will ultimately be sacrificed to the interests of the larger institutions within the district. I think that is unfortunate because as I have mentioned before, on this principle, people, employees, and citizens get excluded and that is not what real health policy reform is about. I know I couldn't help listening to the Auditor General's comments, but the reality is the Auditor General is not responsible for health policy in this province. This is not simply an accounting exercise whereby we look at the bottom line and say this is all we have to spend on health care and if you fall outside the box, it is too bad until the next year and that is what the minister and his colleagues would like us to believe.

Can you imagine if this bill does what the minister says it will do, that you arrive in January or perhaps February or perhaps earlier at an institution and it says, I am sorry, the budget is gone. The minister will not allow us to run a debt and we are closed, you are going to have to go somewhere else. I think it is terrible that we just witnessed the shame of having beds closed in Yarmouth, as an example, because they don't have enough nurses so they have to close the beds in order to allow the nurses to go on vacation.

That is the kind of principle that is enshrined in this legislation. That is why I think it is ironic because it is Orwellian in many ways. It wants to make you convinced that black is white, that we are through the looking glass on this kind of legislation. The reality is that what it does is it consolidates, in the hands of the Minister of Health, the power and authority to make decisions about health care delivery throughout the province; it does not transfer that to the community health boards.

[7:30 p.m.]

You only have to look at the way in which the community health boards are structured and how the district health authorities are structured to find out that all those people are going to be there at the discretion of the minister. First of all, he gets to appoint the first third and,

[Page 3119]

then, the other two-thirds are chosen from a list that is submitted to him. So, apparently, if he doesn't like the list, he sends it back and waits until he gets another list that he does like. Community health boards can only submit a list, they don't get to actually choose the representatives that are going to be on the district health authority.

That has always been a dodge, Mr. Speaker. We have recognized that on this side for a long time. We saw it with the previous government; we saw it with the previous Conservative Administrations, but nobody is fooled. We know that it is not the real constitution of community health boards as was envisioned in the 1994 blueprint, as it was stressed in the various reports that have made up consultation in this province over the last 15 years.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that struck me about this - and I realize that this is something that comes out of my background, having served on a hospital commission - I find it very disturbing that part of what this bill does is it goes after the funds that were set up to support local institutions. It goes after the foundations to make the money in those funds part of the capital budget process that the Department of Health is going to go through. Let me tell you how that works. The community health board, part of what they are charged with doing is their consultation and their establishment of a capital plan. What they do, what the district health authority does is it has to set up that capital plan that includes anything that they intend to acquire or otherwise deal with, whether under the authority's budget, or through donations given or purchases made by foundations.

What is going to happen, Mr. Speaker, is that, under this bill, the foundations that were set up as private institutions by people who work in volunteer capacities, set up to receive bequests from people, community minded individuals who wanted to support their local hospital, by and large those foundations were set up to help the hospital achieve some value-added services, to perhaps buy pieces of capital equipment that were not otherwise within the budget of the hospital. Well, not anymore under this legislation. What happens here is that the invasive hand of the Minister of Health now reaches into the foundations and takes that money and makes it part of the capital budget planning.

I am sure the minister is, of course, a smart fellow and I am sure he knew that when he read this, that that is, in fact, what would happen as a result of what is contained in this legislation. So these are the kinds of things, these are the kinds of interests that are being sacrificed as a result of this legislation. I am sure this will give the minister something to think about and I know certainly people who I have talked to already are not very happy about it.

So what does this all mean to the other people who are going to be affected? What does it mean to employees? Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, there is very little in this bill about the protection of the employees. In fact, I believe it fails to bring forward the proper employee protections. What you are going to see in addition to the chaos that is going to be attended upon just the service end of this, the break up and the putting back together of the various

[Page 3120]

organizational structures that go along with the nine new administrations, but you are going to see chaos and consternation among the employees who, quite frankly, have already been put through enough. We know and we have seen that the morale of these people is at an all-time low and yet they are going to be asked to be subjected to yet another round of who represents who, labour relations chaos, and a substantial upheaval in terms of who represents who.

This does not make for an atmosphere of cooperation. It does not make for a good work environment and, in fact, if anything, it is unhealthy for an institution to go through this kind of thing yet again and that is why we had said for some considerable period of time that if there is one thing that the health care system needed, it was a rest, Mr. Speaker, that is what it needed. It needed a time to get back on its feet and the principle of this bill is not to allow that to happen.

I think, Mr. Speaker, and we said many times during the election campaign, that what really ought to be done is that the mandates of the community health boards ought to be brought in and they ought to be allowed to function and to fulfill the objectives of the original health delivery planning document which was the blueprint and, unfortunately, for whatever reason, the minister - I guess I should not say for whatever reason, now that I think about it, because the reason is pretty clear really. They made this promise after all, you may recall, to eliminate the regional health boards. It does not make any difference whether it makes sense or not. It does not make any difference whether it is a good promise or a bad promise, we are going to get rid of the regional health boards.

I said to the minister at the time when he announced this, Mr. Speaker, that it was a bad promise. That is all it was. It was a bad promise. It was a mistake and they should just recognize that and recognize that all of us who come here to work in this place understand that sometimes you can make a mistake and this was a mistake. A bad promise, and I said this before and I will say it again, is simply better broken because the people of Nova Scotia in the end are going to pay for the intransigence of the minister when he comes forward with a bill like this which I believe he knows in his heart that this bill does not fulfil the needs of the people of the province. It does fulfil certain interests, the needs of the people of the province. It does fulfil certain interests. The interests of the government, the interests of a political Party that has apparently staked its reputation on fulfilling even a bad promise.

It strikes me as odd at a time when, not only is there no money for Pharmacare, no money for many of the other things the minister and his colleagues said they were going to do, that they will, instead, proceed with something that is going to have with it attendant costs, transitional costs that are going to be very large; a piece of legislation that doesn't protect the employee, it doesn't in any way, shape or form cause to stabilize the health delivery system.

[Page 3121]

What about employees' benefits and entitlements in the transition period? Does the legislation say anything about that whatsoever, Mr. Speaker? Is that part of what this bill is about, trying to make the health care workers believe that during the course of this transition that they don't have to worry, that they are going to be secure in their positions? No, that is not here. I think it is a shame because it was an opportunity, even if they were going to pursue this single-minded obsession with getting rid of the regional health boards, even if they were going to pursue that, they could have done it in a way that would have taken into consideration both the citizens and the patients who were being serviced by the system, and the employees, the dedicated men and women who work in the health delivery system every day. They could have done that, but, you know, this bill doesn't do it. I think that is a terrible shame.

Now the minister says, well, this isn't going to cost any more. Transition costs, we will not allow transition costs to cost more money. So how do you do that? There is only one way I know, Mr. Speaker, only one way that you can go through a transition and not allow the transition costs to accrue, and that is by taking them out of the budgets of the district health authorities in the year that they are set up. That means that money that otherwise would have gone into the actual service delivery in the communities is used up in transition.

What does that do, Mr. Speaker? I will tell you what it does. What it does, is it further strains the resources of the authority. I can tell you, most of the people that I have talked to are already waiting with bated breath for the budget that is going to be introduced by this government, because they already feel that their particular institutions are going to be put under a great deal of stress and strain. Some feel that it may mean the elimination of their individual facility. Certainly, we know it means the downsizing of some facilities that were on the drawing board, much like as in Cumberland County, and we know what has happened there, the upheaval of the local community. I think they have made that perfectly clear to their members on the government's side.

What this means is that there is going to be a greater strain because the money for the transition costs is going to be taken directly out of the budgets of the district health authority unless the minister has some other pot of money that that can be taken out of. It certainly is a mystery, I think to most of the people who operate in the system today, that there can be some other source of revenue to fund the transition costs.

What is going to happen to the other organizations that are involved in health care delivery in the province? As an example, what is going to happen with organizations like the VON? How do they fit into this puzzle? I must say at a time when home care and regional services in the communities is something that people are desirous of and people want, they want to stay in their homes longer. So how does that fit in in this legislation? Well, we don't know and I understand that the idea of the legislation is not to address every single circumstance.

[Page 3122]

[7:45 p.m.]

Is it any wonder, Mr. Speaker, when they see this kind of legislation, that there is a great deal of concern in that community about what is going to happen with them. I say that there is no wonder. They look at this and they understand that the Minister of Health is now going to be Big Brother standing there and looking over every decision, deciding in every instance what can go on in their individual institution, what goes on in their community, that there is a system which essentially pays lip-service to the idea of community health planning and doesn't address the notions, the ideas, the commitments that were made in the original health care blueprint.

This was a universal thing with almost everybody I spoke to, Mr. Speaker, that the power that the Minister of Health has taken back in to the Department of Health is something that people really don't understand. Why is it that the community health boards now are going to remain only advisory in nature? Why is that? That is clearly not what was envisioned when the blueprint said that decentralization of health care delivery was the key to strengthening the system. It is clearly not what was intended. It certainly wasn't what was intended by all those who attended the workshops, who participated in the discussions, who provided the advice and the consultation to the government on this issue. So it is a shame.

In all of the meetings that I undertook and all of the deliberations that we held, we never heard a single, solitary person support the principle of district health authorities. I want to say that. This is a throwback to the hospital boards that existed in the 1980's. It was seen as flawed and wrong then and the people of the province don't see it as any improvement on the regional health board system. What people did want was the community health boards to be given a mandate, to be strengthened and to have a real voice in the planning of the delivery of health care services. That does not happen as a result of this legislation.

So, what perspective do we see in here? What we see here is, essentially, a hospital-based system where all of the focus is going to be around individual institutions. What you have is a system that is not set up to promote wellness, that is not set up to promote the health of the community. I have always thought it was ironic, Mr. Speaker. We have a system and we have frequently, in this province, declared healthy communities and talked about the value of having healthy communities and then we bring forward pieces of legislation like this that don't address the question of how to make communities healthy at all. What they do is they set up models of delivery of service that are based on illness treatment and that, at the very best, is ill-advised.

Certainly, we have to have a system whereby people who are ill get the treatment they need, but that is not enough. You have to be supporting the kinds of programs that encourage people to have the kind of lifestyles that will let them make good decisions and live healthy lives and that will cut the strain on the health care system. That is what community health boards were going to do; that they would have strengths in this area, know their communities,

[Page 3123]

know their citizens, know the people who live in the regions in the communities and be able to promote the general health of the people in those communities and to know what services that they required.

One of the other principles in this bill - and we will see if the Minister of Health can prove us wrong - but I believe that one of the other principles enshrined in this legislation is secrecy because once the health services business plans are propagated by the, I was going to say perpetrated, but that would be wrong, it is propagated by the district health authorities, they are submitted to the minister. The minister, at that point, doesn't have to make them public. He can send them back, make recommendations and then the district health authorities have to reconsider them and at some point in time, it is very clear, the message is crystal clear, to the district health authorities, you must do what it is you are told by the Minister of Health.

You do not have the autonomy to make the kinds of recommendations that you truly believe are appropriate. You must adhere to the recommendations. Indeed I think they are more than recommendations, I think the legislation says recommendations but that is not what they are, they are orders. You must adhere to the orders of the minister and you must submit a business plan that contains the improvements. I believe it may say improvements, whether they are improvements or not, the new business plan has to adhere to the orders of the minister and then that business plan, once it is accepted and approved, is made public.

That is a far cry from accountability. That is a far cry from the kind of real input that communities expect. It is a far cry from the kind of decentralized decision making and authority that people expected for community health boards and for the health authorities whether they were regional or district or any other modifier that you wanted to use. The reality is that people expected to have a real voice, a substantive voice in the delivery of health care in their communities and they don't get it in this bill. They don't get it. What they get is an opportunity if they are lucky enough to be appointed to the community health board by the minister, if they are lucky enough to be appointed to the district health authority by the minister, if the minister decides that they like the capital improvement plan or whether they like the health service business plan, if the minister decides to accept the recommendations they get to advise - they certainly don't get to make the decision.

The only requirement from the district health authority and the only thing they can do is to go back to the community health board and to say, well, folks, we appreciate your time and effort, and we appreciate the fact that you spent many hours examining the profile of the community, trying to determine what it is that was important and needed in this community, what was required by the citizens, by the people who live here, but that doesn't fit the budgetary considerations of the government, so better luck next time. I will say this, Mr. Speaker, they get to make those recommendations year after year because this legislation calls for a yearly planning process.

[Page 3124]

I do think it is interesting that the minister talks about the cap on administrative costs, the ability to cut down on administration because, of course, one of the things that the district health authority is going to have to do is it is going to have to provide the funding to administer the community health boards. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, Mr. Speaker. If you have a commitment to community health planning, if you have a commitment to hearing from people in communities, if you have a commitment to acting on the recommendations that they make, then you have to fund the mechanism that is going to make their voice substantive. It is not a bad thing, it is just a reality that these mechanisms cost more money; they cost more. You can't say that we are going to put more money into the administration, but the budget can't increase, because the only thing that can result from that is a decrease at the point of service. I think that is what people in communities like Liverpool and Guysborough are concerned about.

I really do hope that over the course of this debate the member from Liverpool, for Queens, will finally find it in himself to get on his feet and tell us what the people who support the Queens General Hospital Foundation think. Mr. Speaker, I will give you an example. I talked about the principle in this bill that takes the money from the foundation, and in that community, every summer, they have the hospital hustle and they raise money and they do a heck of a job up there trying to raise money to support their local hospital, but the reality is that, under this legislation, the work of those people is going to result in money being put into a foundation which the minister will be able to, essentially, appropriate for the purposes of the capital budget, whether the individuals who make up the foundation like it or not.

That is, I think, truly unfortunate, and I think that when the member goes back to his community, back to Queens County, that they will tell him that. That is what I believe. I certainly look forward to seeing him get on his feet to discuss the principle of this bill. I know he is a capable member, but we just haven't seen him on his feet to discuss this or other pieces of legislation, as of yet.

So, where does that leave us? What has the Minister of Health given us that is of value in this legislation? Has he provided anywhere in here a real voice for communities in the planning and delivery of health services? No, Mr. Speaker, he has not.

We are not going to shut the door on this legislation yet, what we are doing is trying to provide the minister with some advice. I know, even now, you will notice, for example, one of the things that is required in this legislation, in Clause 80, and I guess for the purposes of speaking to the principle of the bill, we probably shouldn't be referring to individual clauses, but the reality is it is one of the principles in here. They require the provision to the district health authority of the audited year-end financial statements of the foundations. Why, Mr. Speaker? Because one of the principles of this bill is that the Department of Health wants to make sure it knows what funds are out there to be able to support a capital budget which they clearly have no intention of funding themselves. I think that is the unfortunate part of this kind of legislation.

[Page 3125]

[8:00 p.m.]

It will be interesting to see what it means to the Queens General Hospital, to the Roseway Hospital, to all those other institutions across the province that depend on their individual foundations for support and for assistance. What happens, of course, is when the government gets into the business of dipping into those foundations, when it takes them over, the people who were involved in them start to feel like fund-raisers for the government, not their hospital. They start to feel like they are being taken advantage of instead of actively pursuing goodwill on a voluntary basis. What that can ultimately do is harm the foundation itself. It takes away the basis on which they are founded. I had the CEO of the hospital to say this to me, Mr. Speaker, he said in some ways that this kind of stuff is a double-edged sword, because what it ends up doing is actually killing the foundation that was set up to support the hospital. That is not me, but that is clearly what I heard from the people that I talked to about this bill.

When it moves into the Law Amendments Committee, perhaps adjustments can be made and perhaps this is one of the things that I have peaked the minister's interest in enough to want to fix so that people who work with those foundations can feel some measure of comfort about what they fear. Mr. Speaker, when we are looking at legislation, of course, we are looking at it to see what can happen as a result of a particular piece of legislation and to try and advise the minister how to avoid the worst-case scenario and make sure the legislation works in the way that it is supposed to.

Mr. Speaker, I guess I am running short, I have two minutes I am told. I want to just sum up and reiterate by saying that there was an opportunity I think was lost in this legislation, it is least lost as the legislation exists in its present form. We need to see a piece of legislation, that in a substantive way, allows people to participate in the planning of the delivery of health care services in their community. This bill does not do it. What this bill does is it takes back, it takes back the authority, it takes back the responsibility for decisions to the Department of Health, to the Minister of Health, I mean, if you have had a look at the legislation, the duties of the Minister of Health are exhaustive. I say that is never what was envisioned or planned, either in the blueprint or in the Goldbloom task force or in the Royal Commission.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to further opportunity to debate this bill, an opportunity to hear what Nova Scotians have to say when it comes before the Law Amendments Committee. With those words, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for your indulgence this evening.

[Page 3126]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member from Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 34, An Act to Provide for Community Health Boards and District Health Authorities in Respecting Provincial Health-care Centres.

Mr. Speaker, in opening comments, the minister said that this was groundbreaking legislation. I think what I would propose to call it is trust-breaking legislation. It is breaking trust with decision makers and health care across this province, and to the caregivers within this province.

Mr. Speaker, I think we will be hearing quite a bit of this bill during this session of the House. I know it may be overshadowed a bit by the budget, maybe that is the wish of the government, to have it overshadowed by something else. The fact that we are even here debating this bill that really enables this government to keep an election promise, probably a promise to some elite group of people somewhere I don't know, friends of the Premier or others, I am not quite sure. Really, as the previous speaker has mentioned, this really goes against the Royal Commission, the blueprint, the Goldbloom report, you can just go on and on. When I say decision makers and health care providers in this province, I include people that have had impact on those types of groups.

Mr. Speaker, in my time this evening I want to discuss in some way, the issues of governance around this bill as I debate the principle of this bill and where the power and control will actually abide. It is interesting when you read the press releases when legislation like this is introduced, you look for the highlights and the highlights is, decision-making back to the communities. I would suggest that this bill has turned that exactly right upside down.

We know all too well how this government, last year, in the dark of night, in the dungeon of the Cabinet, took away the powers of the regional health boards, unbeknownst to them. It was only later, when it was publicly known, that they even received a phone call. That is how boards are dealt with under this government, there is not even a need for a gag order, and there are some things here I would like to point out that I think is really a type of a gag order,. When you act like that with volunteer people across this province. I am sure there will be people who come forward to allow their names to stand and I hope the good people that are involved will continue.

So we have the disbandment of the regional health boards. It is something the Goldbloom report said was starting to work; there were flaws, there were difficulties in communication but there was a system of accountability coming forward. I also want to say what concerns me about the lack of flexibility, because the disbandment of the regional health boards saw the power revert back to the deputy and we have known from last week, and that we have certainly discussed that issue of the power surrounding the deputy minister's office,

[Page 3127]

the enlargement of that office and other matters. This legislation gives power back to that group. I think the debate over the next few days will demonstrate that.

So, the removal from the community - the opposite of really what is being proposed or being said to be proposed, because we have been waiting and we applaud the legislation governing community health boards. As the minister at the time the Goldbloom report was appointed, I would have appointed community health boards at that time and legitimized them, brought them into legislation, but I thought that that would be inappropriate at that time to do so. So we waited for the report which confirmed, which we pretty well knew as well, that the regional health boards were starting to work. We have to remember that they haven't been in operation for any length of period of time, but that they were starting to work well.

We have less than 1 million people here in Nova Scotia and we have divided that into four regional boards, that seems reasonable to me, with some modifications from time to time, with improvements in communication. Communication is not new, the problems of communication did not arise with the regional health boards, that has been a problem in health care throughout the years, particularly when we had 32 or 33 facilities in the province. A province of 1 million people competing with scarce health care dollars. We know that and this is our concern, that we are moving to four (Interruption) Yes, some areas were a bit cumbersome, the western part of the province seemed to be a large unit where you had people from Bridgewater, not necessarily wanting to go to Kentville, but a great regional centre there, but some areas were just against the traditional way that people accessed into the health care system. There were some difficulties there and it needed some work, but that was coming and people were quite appreciative of the care they were receiving in that particular region.

We have grave concerns in the last five months whether the spirit or actually the legislation of the Canada Health Act is in fact up and functioning well - and I will comment on that later - but the issue of credit and the lack of a functioning board in place I think has to be a concern. These are ethical issues as well, Mr. Speaker. There are choices in health care and how we make those decisions, how we develop best practices, how the dollar is followed through funding formulas, and how that dollar follows the patient throughout the continuum of care. These are ethical choices that we have to make. We will be seeing that when the budget is brought down relative to Pharmacare for seniors, programs for children, mental health, those types of issues.

The transition costs. We heard tonight - it was little comfort to hear - but the transition costs will not be increased. So, again, I guess we are sticking to this, that the health care system can be fixed for $46 million that will not be coming from any new money, that that will be saved within the administration, within the system. So I guess the transition costs will be flexible, I would gather, and that there will be no new costs. That is very interesting, but something is going to have to be impacted and that something, Mr. Speaker, I believe, will

[Page 3128]

be patient care, when those scarce dollars are used to keep a Tory election promise to fund the transition costs.

The concerns of assets within the region and how that will be developed, that is really a matter that I think will need some close work and will have to be watched very carefully. I think it is going to be a difficult exercise.

Mr. Speaker, I just briefly outlined some of the things that I would like to touch on in my time allotted on second reading of Bill No. 34. I feel it is probably the worst example that we are going to see in this spring session of the House, the worst example of the Tories introducing a bill simply to fulfil an election promise.

The election promise was made without sufficient facts, obviously. Their own Royal Commission, back in the old days, I think it was $3 million spent - around that number - that charted the direction toward the regional health boards, the blueprint committee and the Goldbloom committee that have really supported the system as it was. The system had already gone through change, and change is never easy. It is impacted with much difficulty with the health care providers, and the nursing profession, particularly, has undergone a lot of the stresses and strains. So, now we propose, to keep an election promise we are going to have some more changes.

These changes, I believe, Mr. Speaker, were made without consideration of the cost or the consequence, both the consequences of the transition costs, but also the consequences and the impact on health care and the health of Nova Scotians. I believe it is a knee-jerk reaction, this bill, and we are going to bring our concerns before the House and we will be hearing, I think, quite a bit in this spring session on Bill No. 34.

[8:15 p.m.]

The fear-mongering that was done during the election particularly I think was disturbing. Professional people with supposedly some knowledge of the health care system said that the regional health boards were not working. That is not true. There had been administrative savings. There was regionalization of a system, less than one million people in four regions. Surely to goodness we should be able to function and administer health care in this province within a four region framework.

The people of Nova Scotia I think know and they will figure that out, but the people in the regional health boards, they knew that they were starting to work well. It was a growing process. It was a learning process. It is like everything else, Mr. Speaker, these systems are very politicized. They are very subject to pressure and the perceptions are sometimes greater than realities but, however, the system was coming in place and it was a learning process of how to make it better. We were beginning, I believe, to build a system that all Nova Scotians could be proud of and I think they have been. So the cart has been now put

[Page 3129]

before the horse in more ways than one, but come hell or high water, the Tories are going to dump the regional health boards. That was an election promise and that is what we are seeing here today as Bill No. 34.

Mr. Speaker, they did this without even waiting to see the results of the Goldbloom report and those were good people on that committee - and I would defy anybody - it was non-partisan, people of all political stripes were there. It was fair. They took their work seriously and I think they did a good job. That was the Task Force on Regionalized Health Care. I left that, I could have announced that during the election, probably got a few brownie points out of it, but it was our decision that this was too serious to play politics with like the Leader of the Tory Party was doing at that time, and so we left it and I passed it on to that person, now the Premier, that report. However, they have ignored it and I think that is a shame. They took power away from the boards without telling the people, as I mentioned earlier, I addressed some comments to that. I think they did everything wrong and it will only get worse if this bill proceeds.

It was not too long ago, Mr. Speaker, that the Tories were in third place in this House and while they were in third place, and Third Party, they demanded that regional health boards be reviewed. Almost daily in the House the Leader of the Tory Party cried for a review of the regional health boards. The Tories said, we need a review to see if the regional health boards were working. That was the cry. I remember down there on that side, right over there to my left, every day there were cries coming across the House, we need a review to find out, to see if the regional health boards were working.

Well, that review has come in and it has come in by a very competent and world-renowned physician, Dr. Richard Goldbloom, and a committee of distinguished Nova Scotians who knew the problems of decision making and delivering health care to the people of Nova Scotia, but they did not want to hear of that review, they have ignored it, because they had said that the review would prove that the Tories knew better than all the health care providers who are working in the system and they have gone ahead. They have put their heads down like stubborn oxen and just bulldozed their way forward, not like the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is going to get that bulldozer out on the highway, up on the Valley road, he was going to come out with the bulldozer the next day, but something like that. The day after the election, if it was not being worked on by the feds, he was going to do it himself. That sort of thing might have been a way to bulldoze through, but not to bulldoze through this kind of legislation to keep an election promise.

The government of the day commissioned a review to settle the question once and for all. That is what we did in response to the wishes of this House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, for which I have great respect, but they did not wait. The Tories did not wait for this review. They did not care what Richard Goldbloom, as I mentioned, the respected chairperson of the task force, had to say. The Tories had made up their minds that they were not going to listen. They were not going to pay attention to the review that they had asked for. So be it. They are

[Page 3130]

not going to listen to the hospital administrators. They are not going to listen to the health care providers, and worst of all, they are not going to listen to Nova Scotians. They are not going to listen to the decision makers in the health care system, and they are not going to listen to the people who provide health care to Nova Scotians.

Dr. Goldbloom and his task force spoke with many individuals and groups involved in the system. They spoke with the health care providers, and they spoke with the public. The Goldbloom report confirmed what just about everyone in the health care system already knew, that the system was working, Mr. Speaker. They knew that, and Nova Scotians knew that.

The Executive Summary of the Goldbloom report has an outline of recommendations. The first recommendation, Mr. Speaker, if I may, says, "Continue the Process of Regionalization", continue the process. The task force felt very strongly that their recommendations must be adopted in its entirety. The report went on to say, "The Task Force is convinced that regionalization must be strengthened if it is to be continued. To reverse the process at this stage would further disrupt the system, increase costs, and lead to a more fragmented system of health care."

The Goldbloom report says that taking power away from the regional health boards will do three things. It will disrupt the health care system, already recently gone through change. Number two, that it will cost taxpayers more money. It always does. Ask the people for HRM. Any transition period costs more money where you maintain your costs, you add new costs, and that whole system is an add-on. But, number three, Mr. Speaker, to create a more fragmented, less-effective system of health care. That is what we are seeing as we move into more administration, more boards, more administration costs. It is just unimaginable that you can administer nine units as well as you can administer four to say nothing about a capital region that I would like to comment on later.

I was hoping that in the opening statements of the minister tonight, he would shed some light on some of the strengths, and I am not convinced that anything I have read in this bill or I have heard from this minister, really encourages me that there is a system here of accountability. That integration that he talks about, the responsibility to provincial programs, that is already there to a large extent, the QE II and the IWK-Grace and Nova Scotia Hospital. They have responsibilities. That is why their budgets are difficult to control, because when people get sick in Nova Scotia, and they really get sick, then they end up at those institutions. There is no question, they cannot turn people away. Sure they can send them back when they are stabilized, back to the regions, but they can't refuse. That is what they say at the QE II, our doors are open, and the people just arrive.

Mr. Speaker, those are the three that disrupt the health care system, the change that this bill will do. It will cost taxpayers more money. There is absolutely no question on that, and create a more fragmented, less-effective system of health care. This bill will destroy any

[Page 3131]

progress that we have made in the health care system. Yes, there are issues of access into the health care system, I know that. There are issues of primary care in the team approach at the community level that must be addressed. The salaries of physicians, particularly generalists, family practitioners, must be addressed. Nurse practitioners, that whole issue, and that $250,000 that we were able to get when we were in government from the federal government to set up the primary health care demonstration projects, they must be extended, and that will be the way of access to the future to build a continuum of care.

Now that whole system, this control, this flow of patient care, the way the money flows through the province, the funding formula which is very complex, needs revision. I have not heard too much about the funding formula, but that is the key. That is what follows. That formula determines who is going to be treated where; where the best practices will be and where they can be funded. That will be sought out by those people who administer these regional boards. So we have nine new regional boards, Mr. Speaker.

Community health boards deserve legislation, but not this legislation. I really support that part of it, it is overdue. Had we not appointed the Goldbloom report, we would have brought in legislation at that time. I didn't want to pre-empt what they might be suggesting and I guess it didn't matter anyway. We probably should have done it before the Goldbloom report. Had I known that the Tory Government was going to disregard that report, that would have been the thing to do. However, it will be done not perhaps the way that we would do and we will be commenting on that because I have some real concerns. It seems to me that there is more thou shalt not direction within this bill to community health boards than there are facilitating the community decision. The irony is that this is supposed to bring decision making, health care administration and the governance, if you listen, of health care back to the community. It does exactly the opposite. It is filled with thou shalt not.

The community health board shall not manage, the community health board shall not have a budget other than some administrative budget that will be decided by somebody else. We will follow that with much interest, but right now it does not look good for the governance of the health care system in the province. This is rubbish in the press release, about the decision making going back to the community, back to that area, when the minister receives a list for the membership of those community boards that will sit on the regional boards and if he doesn't like it he will send it back and if he doesn't like that list, then he will appoint them himself.

That sounds very familiar to the 1980's to me. We know what was happening and we know who was doing it to the people of Nova Scotia during those days when health care was politicized far more than anyone could ever imagine could have happened in this province.

The changes that have happened have been some difficult changes, there is no question, but we have moved toward a system of regional health boards that is functioning and now in a short period of time, even measured in months not years practically, we are going to disrupt

[Page 3132]

that system again. The Goldbloom report is telling us, the decision makers are telling us and the health providers in this province are telling us that is wrong-headed, is wrong spirited and it is just stubbornness. It is going to really set back health care. We are going to lose the patient care effectiveness and it is going to cost us more money.

I feel as I stand here tonight and I was trying to be as positive on the issues as I could be, particularly on the community health boards, but I just would feel to say otherwise to get up here and say yes, this is a great thing, back to the community, that is just not here. This is not in this bill, Mr. Speaker. This bill allows, like the previous speaker said and I would agree with my colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, the control was wrenched, ratcheted, ripped back from the communities into the Department of Health, into the deputy minister's office where it has remained to this day, five, six months later and now it is going to stay there. That is where it is and this Bill No. 34 is how they are going to achieve that.

Mr. Speaker, this bill lacks flexibility. The rigidity of the system. Legislation reflects policy and policy must reflect the wishes of the people and the needs of the people who need health care, but it also is a function that is built in both the policy and within the legislation. It is very hard to spell that out sometimes; the spirit of how this would operate, how the units would work together, how the nine units would share or not share as we had seen in the previous days and there is no secret about the competition between hospitals. Previously, each had a board, each is out there to get the CAT scans themselves. The lack of sharing at the regions was legend and was crippling and had brought the health care system in Nova Scotia to its knees. That was changing. The spirit of cooperation within regional hospitals within the regions and with each other and this population of less than 1 million people was starting to work and now we are drifting back, we are going out with the tide. Goodness knows if we will be able to see over the horizon of where we are going.

[8:30 p.m.]

This bill, I believe, does lack flexibility. That is the first thing that I felt about it. There is a rigidity to it. There is a Tory philosophy to it. There is a hanging on and not giving up. Put out your press releases in glowing terms, nicely written, some of the best wordsmiths in the province did that, I am sure, and I give them credit for trying to put a nice message on something that is really very destructive, very disruptive, and very wrong. The lack of flexibility to adapt to the change. The health care system isn't static, it is changing. When I was minister, and although they made fun of me for being a part-time minister when I was in Justice, but I took that with great pride. One thing I want to point out to the Chamber, Mr. Speaker, too this night, do you notice that there are ministers over there with double portfolios, but rarely do you hear us - I don't think ever, and I would be embarrassed if we said that - make fun of a minister because they were a part-time minister. I guess of all the personal things that I have suffered the slings and arrows of political life, that was the thing that bothered me the most, as hard as I was working, and that people called me part time. I

[Page 3133]

don't have the luxury of the Minister of Tourism who can go around the province eating at nice barbeques, with fiddle music and all that stuff. We were busy.

While I address the principle of the bill, you might think I am drawing a long bow here, Mr. Speaker, but the point I was making was the difference in departments. Being a Minister of Justice and Health on the same days, it always amazed me. I could deal with issues like the Corrections Officers threatening to go on strike, the (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member mind laying the bow down for a minute and yield the floor for an introduction.

The honourable member for Yarmouth on an introduction.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the time. In the gallery, I would like to introduce a well-known businessman and a personal friend of mine from Yarmouth, Byron Boudreau. (Applause)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thanks for the moment it gave me to reflect. Maybe I should stop where I was going and stop while I was ahead.

MR. SPEAKER: Another introduction.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much to the member for yielding the floor. Mr. Speaker, in the gallery, we have visiting us this evening, two members of the Community Advocates Network and the North Branch Library Women's Group, Marg Dwyer and Amy Moonshadow. I would ask them to stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome guests to the gallery and to the House.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, and I welcome a friend, the businessman from Yarmouth. I hope he was in the construction business, and I hope he got some business out of that nice hospital there. (Interruption) He didn't? He is probably just laying down pavement with the honourable member's company now that he is not able to be there.

Mr. Speaker, the point I was trying to make with the difference in the ministries, is that as busy as you might be, say in Justice, with the strike of the Public Prosecution Service and the Corrections Officers threatening to go on strike - very stressful and very demanding as a minister - I was always amazed at however bad Justice might be in any one day, Health was always more demanding, and every day there was something that the minister had to address. That really highlights it.

[Page 3134]

It is a system that is in flux, that is in change, and it is not rigid and stable. There has to be flexibility built in. I don't think this bill that brings the power and control in governance essentially back to the deputy minister's office, really allows that flexibility. That is not realistic and it doesn't adequately address the issues of funding, demands in the system, the improvements we need in access to the health care system, particularly at the primary care level, at the team approach, at the community, and all those initiatives.

In the northern region, for instance, Mr. Speaker, I give a lot of credit to Dr. Rippey when he was there. That was my concern the other day, that Dr. Rippey was spending two days in the Department of Health and who was really administering the northern region? The understanding that that gentleman had, that physician who was involved on school boards, I believe, a great community worker, that he was able to bring mental health programs into rural communities in that northern region.

Every region has its strengths and I think the strength of the northern region while operating under very difficult circumstances, particularly with the Amherst Hospital being as antiquated as it is and waiting for a replacement and waiting and waiting, Mr. Speaker, they were able to bring in community programs; that so directly impacts on community health boards and it is so important, but we are not going to see that under their governance. We are going to see the governance of those particular issues back here in Halifax and that does concern me.

There is also, as I mentioned, I believe serious problems with the make-up of the community boards. From the onset the bill limits the talent and skills of people who are allowed to sit on the boards and maybe somewhere the minister can be more specific on addressing that issue. The Health Authorities Act says that any member of a board of directors of any organization is not permitted to sit on a community health board. I think that needs further discussion. It just does not really seem to make sense to me.

I hope this does not reflect that this bill has just been thrown together without thinking these things out because a rushed bill often leaves holes like that and I just ask why that is so. What about democracy? Have we thrown that away and why would certain people with skills and many talents not be allowed to sit on the boards? I think there would be some areas where there would be conflict, obviously, but I think this limits the ability of the board to have the best and the most talented people. There are thousands of Nova Scotians out there who would love to serve their community on their local community health board, but since they might serve on another board, the Tories say that they are not good enough for that.

Mr. Speaker, I think we need clarification on that and perhaps sticking to the principle of the bill, maybe when we get down to clause by clause, we can, or certainly in the Law Amendments Committee, I hope the people will come and address that. I hope it is not a plan that the Tories are going to go back to the old days, stacking the board with their poll captains. Well, I think they better do it soon because after the budget they might have some

[Page 3135]

trouble identifying those poll captains, but I will cease that line of pursuit because that is a little partisan I know.

I keep thinking back to those lists that the minister is going to be handed on the members of the regional boards and he will send them back if he does not like it. So he will be looking for the poll captains I am sure; well, maybe not him. They might be like the old days. He might have a staff member over in administration whose whole job is to pick members for boards. That is what we found when we went in government. There was a staff person, that was the job. Anyway, I hope we do not go back to those good old days.

There are also, Mr. Speaker, I think, serious problems with the power to be given to the Minister of Health. He seems quite jolly this evening and I think maybe that might be explained by the fact that he is going to be so much more powerful than he had been previously. We have seen how the Minister of Health and his Deputy Minister of Health are building their own little empire. We identified some of this last week here in the House during Question Period. Under this bill the minister may remove or suspend any member of a community health board. He can also reappoint, reinstate and replace that member. So we can go on and I think that is getting a little too specific, but I just really hope that that does not mean that this is a further attempt for a gag-order government.

We have seen letters going out from bureaucrats with the approval of the minister telling people, or asking them, or ordering them really to cooperate with government and that that would be an order. It is subtle, but if you had been here in the 1980's to see a government that really was truly a gag order, like, we will give you the money, we will let you have two hospitals in one city, or one town, and everything, but you just keep quiet and you do not criticize us and we will give you the money. I mean it was a model after the Duplessis Government in Quebec, but that was what we inherited when we came to government. Mr. Speaker, some of this really smacks of that. There is just a hint of it. It is not blatant. It is not open, but it is there. So, in other words, if you say something we don't like, just watch out.

Another clause of the bill states that the minister may, if he feels it appropriate, convey some or all of the minister's responsibility for the deliverance, governance or management of the health services to the board. Yet, another clause states that the minister may dismiss the members of the district health authority and replace them with an official administrator that the board requests, if the minister considers that the board has ceased to function or if the board has failed to comply with an order of the minister or the minister's delegate. So I would repeat, if the board has failed to comply with an order of the minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if all honourable members would try to turn the volume down just little bit so the honourable member can be heard.

[Page 3136]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate it. It was getting a little out of order. The backbenchers are restless. They are always restless on Monday night. They must go home and hear from the constituents the difficulties and concern about the budget. I think they are getting a little nervous about the budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is probably a full moon.

DR. SMITH: And a full moon. Thanks to the other member for the help. I would repeat, or if the minister considers that the board had ceased to function or if the board has failed to comply with an order of the minister or the minister's delegate, whoever that is. So there is a question again, is this a gag-order government? I don't know. We will be watching that. Who, Mr. Speaker, is the minister's delegate? I think we need some clarification on that. (Interruption)

This is the principle - the principle of the gag-order government. This is the principle of that. On one hand, the minister is trying to seize all the power for himself but, at the same time, he is divorcing himself of all the responsibility. So we talk about accountability, my goodness. The minister is not being accountable. He has opted out. He is going to delegate that. But that is no real surprise, Mr. Speaker. The minister and his deputy, the highest paid deputy minister in the history of Nova Scotia, have not been accountable since day one. Five months ago, the minister took all the power away from the regional health boards and moved it into that deputy's office in the Department of Health. For five months, all control of the delivery of health care has rested in downtown Halifax - five months, moving into the sixth month.

For the first time ever in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, for this past five to six months, there has been no public input. There has been no public consultation and there is no accountability into the delivery of health care systems. That, to me, is a clear, if not an exact violation of the Canada Health Act, it certainly violates the spirit of the public administration part of the Canada Health Act. We know that people came into this province, an accrediting body came in and would not move towards evaluation, the qualification of accreditation within a health unit because there was no board in place. There had to be arrangements made to meet that criterion of the accreditation system, the regulatory bodies of accreditation, to even accredit a regional health board that had been disbanded. That is a concern and that is the first time in the history of Nova Scotia, since we have had a system that we can call the health care system, that this has taken place, that there has been no public input, no public consultation and no accountability into the delivery of health care. It is a violation of the Canada Health Act, in my opinion.

Some of the areas we will also speak on is that health care must be administered by a public body. I am not quoting a clause of the bill. It is the Canada Health Act, Section 8(1), if the minister would like to check what he is in violation of. The Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, does not fit that description and this bill does not fix the problem.

[Page 3137]

The Health Authorities Bill does not give Nova Scotians back their say in the way that they receive health care. The bill keeps the power in the hands of the minister and of the deputy minister.

[8:45 p.m.]

Just look at some of the clauses such as Clause 46, I am not going to refer to it any further, but I refer members to that. It does say, in fact, that, "A community health board shall not govern or manage the delivery of health services." Here we have this great openness, this moving towards decisions bringing health care administration close to Nova Scotians, and it is filled with thou shalt nots. They shall not govern or they shall not manage the delivery of health services. Pretty clear, pretty all-encompassing, pretty - you talk about giving empowerment, allowing people to empower themselves for their health and take responsibility. This bill goes to great lengths telling what the community health boards shall not do. Is that what we want? Is that what this bill is promising? Is that what the press releases of the day are saying? I don't think so, Mr. Speaker, but we will come back to that later.

I think it means that the Tory Government does not want to hear what Nova Scotians have to say. They do not trust Nova Scotians to make their own decisions about health care. The Minister of Health is saying, don't complain, we know what is best. It is very interesting. Again, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, picked that up and I have it in my notes because we talked about that earlier, when we were discussing the bill in caucus amongst our staff. We know what is best - gag-order government on one hand, telling you we know what is best for you for the other. I do not always agree with the socialists, but I do tonight.

The Tories - I have been getting concerned about the sidling up and the coziness between the Tories and the socialists here. I don't know what deal they have made for Glace Bay, maybe they are sacrificing some votes down there to help each other a little bit (Interruptions).

Mr. Speaker, in summary - and I will not follow those rabbit tracks, or, as the Minister of Agriculture would say, the panther tracks - but the Tories are taking the power, in my opinion, and they are not assuming the responsibility. For example, the Health Authorities Bill also says that any borrowing carried out by a district health authority for working capital is the responsibility of the district health authority. There is no question that we need more accountability. The development of business plans that we were doing, that are being developed, and this wasn't easy because it is very difficult to get those back in a timely fashion and have them mean something. I know what the minister is speaking of there - but they are working, they are realizing. The regions and the non-designated organizations, as we called them, the tertiary care hospitals, have come to realize that this is a way of doing business and putting accountability into the system. That is part of the criteria.

[Page 3138]

We know through this that accountability might be brought into this legislation, that the district health authority working capital is the responsibility of that district health authority. This seems in one way to allow the district health authorities to run a deficit, and where is that accountability? There are also some major problems that are not even addressed. Never mind, Mr. Speaker, that Premier Hamm promised to solve the problem of the health care system with only $46 million - remember that promise? That he was going to save by cutting the fat out of administration. They said that they could find the money through cuts to that administration. Instead of cutting administration they have added the most expensive deputy minister in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia, as well as a growing, high-paid staff for the new deputy. We don't know where that is going to end.

Now the Tories are saying that they want to take the four regional health boards and turn them into nine boards. This is not cutting administration, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely not. It is going to cost the taxpayers more money, it is going to disrupt the system and it is going to impact on best practices and negatively impact on patient care in Nova Scotia. Its math is simple and I don't think that this government can either add or subtract, but we will be watching how they make out on the budget. I believe - and we believe - that the nine boards, the health authorities, will cost more than the four. I think it is unavoidable, but there are bigger problems and there are bigger problems as to how the assets of the four boards are going to be divided fairly among the nine boards.

That is not going to be easy. I wish people well on that; those people, the administrators, the CEOs, who will be faced with those decisions. It really opens up, in my opinion and in our opinion, quite a legal can of worms, on how the disposition of those assets, that are now in place - some have been funded through foundations, some through fund-raising and various community events. Where does that ownership and where does that governance follow the assets? These are areas where there will be overlap. New boards and the former boards, and how will they be split up? How will the assets be split up?

Mr. Speaker, this bill should be spelling matters like that out. There should be a clear statement in this bill, as to how this will evolve and the process for addressing it. This bill was thrown together. There are quite a few pages here, but I have the sense that the more you read it, the smaller it gets, it keeps shrinking because of major issues like that. One of the major problems is going to be to divide the assets from those four regions into the nine authorities, and that is not addressed in that bill. Also, there will be costs and there will be expenditures associated with the creation of the nine new boards. Sure, there are not going to be high salaries for those people on the boards, that is spelled out, other than expenses, but there is more administration, and those boards will need support and they will need administration.

It is not clear to what extent the government has allocated for the transition funds, although we heard that it wasn't going to cost any more money, but remember, we heard that about health care. Just cut the costs in administration, no new money, $46 million will correct

[Page 3139]

the system. Well, it hasn't worked. I don't know when this government, this minister and the Premier, figured that out, but I don't think it took very long. I think they knew before the election that that was not possible, it couldn't be done, and it wasn't done, because the $208 million was put in the old system.

Here we go again. Wind her up and turn her loose, and here we go. It is not clear where those funds are allocated and where they will be, but we will be watching them. Will they be coming in the budget? We will be looking for that.

Mr. Speaker, we feel there are many other problems with this bill, but the biggest problem of all, in the long run, is that the bill is not needed. The bill is not needed, and that is the shame of this. The regional boards were working, even the Department of Health said so. In the latest issue of the Department of Health's newsletter, there is high praise for the Eastern Regional Health Board. During some of my visits to areas like the Glace Bay Hospital and New Waterford, to go in there and look around, we were down to the western region, just for the minister to take care of Bridgewater and all of the other areas now, and don't allow them to close; maybe that honourable member was the one who went into the Premier's office when they found out they were going to close the emergency department overnight at the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital, that was in his area. Did he send somebody over to the Premier's office to prevent that? That is what the word on the street is, however, that may be inaccurate because I don't think they would even contemplate that, surely.

The latest issue of the Department of Health's newsletter had high praise for the Eastern Regional Health Board and the work that they have done in that community in recruiting physicians, recruiting cancer specialists, psychiatrists, general surgeons, family physicians, community-orientated family physicians. They are down there running smoking programs in a much-needed area. The progress that has been made in that area, circling the Cape Breton Health Care Complex and the ring of hospitals around the northside, in New Waterford, Glace Bay, the progress in the last couple of years, I think it is immeasurable, it just boggles my mind, the amount of positive change that has taken place in those communities. A lot of it has been the work of people like John Malcolm, Dr. Naqvi and others, who have really dedicated, taken all the experience of the years that they have had and gone into that community, and they are developing, under the Eastern Regional Health Board a workable system. This is what I could report on that. The eastern region in the Department of Health's own newsletter, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is a great example of good work that the accreditation appraises the Eastern Regional Health Board client centre focus. The Canadian Council and Health Services accreditation congratulated the Eastern Regional Health Board on its commitment to monitoring and improving the quality of health care and services within the region. This is the Canadian Council and Health Services accreditation, the one that demanded, that found it so difficult to evaluate without a board in place and pointed that out to this government . . .

[Page 3140]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

DR. SMITH: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North on an introduction.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Monique Laroche of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, the mother of Jean Laroche, a well-known and very well-respected journalist and his dear wife, who has the lovely name of Catherine, Catherine Buckie. I would ask the two of them, Monique and Catherine to stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

DR. SMITH: I am certainly pleased to be able to yield to such distinguished Canadians, but not to wash his mouth out with soap, he hasn't been that bad lately.

Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the Department of Health, recognizing the great progress that has been made under the regional health boards, and their own newsletter and, I am sure, with the blessing of the minister, but the accrediting body in all of Canada goes across the country offering accreditation to hospitals or facilities and boards and, in this case, the regional health board, where I congratulated the Eastern Regional Health Board on its commitment to monitoring and improving the quality of health care and services in the region. The report praised the region's client-centred focus, client feedback was cited as very positive in all aspects of care and of service. The three-year accreditation was achieved through the combined efforts of the Eastern Regional Health Board governing body and management, clinical and non-clinical staff, and with their voluntary assistance from residents of the eastern region communities. A three-year accreditation is the CCHSA's accrediting body's most desirable award.

Mr. Speaker, that is not given lightly, and that is high praise for a region that to me has pulled its socks up greatly. (Interruption) The regional health board. I am thinking the staff has got it right for the minister; I am sure they have. Congratulate the Eastern Regional Health Board in answer to the query. I know I shouldn't be talking to the minister, but I want to help him as much as I can, because there are some days I think he needs a lot of help and I would like to help him with whatever I can.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen this introduced as groundbreaking legislation. We don't think it is groundbreaking, we think it is trust-breaking, the trust in the face of the people of the province who have dedicated so much time and energy into trying to build a system that is sustainable, that uses best practices, that functions in decision making in an ethical and fair and open manner. We think this is a step away from that. We think it flies in the face of recommendations and wishes of the decision makers and caregivers within the health care system of this province. This accountability was developing I think strongly with a business

[Page 3141]

plan, going through some growing stages, but really maturing and when everyone was realizing, the decision makers were realizing, that accountability was an issue and the business plans were a way of achieving that. That can be developed under a system of four, we don't have to go to nine health authorities to achieve that, Mr. Speaker.

For many things, we are a region of one and I expect the government has realized this and I think this is really what in some ways, they have done. The administration from the deputy's office being administered as a unit of one with some boards out around giving the people who were complaining about wanting to go back to the good old days, when every poor, little hospital had a board. Some poor, little hospitals didn't seem to have a board, so now the compassionate, caring Tories are going to give everybody a hospital board.

[9:00 p.m.]

That is fine, that is good, but in some ways the fund-raising initiatives I think suffered a bit in some communities, no question. The minister is over there shaking his head, the member and I know that is true and there are some benefits to having more boards perhaps, but it is also more administration, more costly and not likely to be focused on patient care to the extent that it could have been.

We look at the community involvement, the community health boards and I have spoken on that here tonight and we will be redressing that. I was looking for the legislation to be much stronger. I think it is weakened legislation; it is really a put down to the community boards. It is some window dressing and the legitimizing, no question, must be done, has to be done, could have been a bill by itself but it is incorporated in this larger bill and I think that is not necessarily bad. It can stand alone within the context of the overall restructuring, but how they will have decision-making ability at the regional health boards.

What exactly the recent governance issue of how strong the regional health boards will be in determining a budget, what goes into that community is certainly not clear and I don't think it is clear to the minister and I don't think it is clear to this government either and that is why they have, as one of our members said today, escape clauses all over the place. If things aren't going the way that this government wants, then they can pull the rug out of underneath appointments and if they don't like one list, they can get another and if they don't like that they can get another or they can just say we are going to intervene and we are going to make the appointments.

I think the government, in the press releases they are talking about community involvement, but the bill is talking about governments going back to the Department of Health. Is that what we want? You could argue there is only 1 million people, not the size of a good city perhaps on a world scale, but if you are going to do that, let us not window dress it up and say in other ways. If it is power and control back in the Department of Health you

[Page 3142]

want, then I think that this bill should say it and the press releases should say it as well. We believe it will cost more money, Mr. Speaker, be more boards, more administration.

One thing that I haven't addressed and perhaps in the days ahead it would be interested with this capital region and I think that really deserves a look at. To me, right now, it is a huge endeavour, I think it is commendable, but when you talk about integrating the QE II under a board, that board was having problems with acute care hospitals. There was no question in my mind and to have one board responsible is going to be really an onerous task and I hope it can be integrated. There is no question that it has to be, that the non-designated organizations as we knew them, the tertiary care hospitals must have a closer link, the accountability is there, it has really improved under Bob Smith, I have absolute respect for that person and I would almost trust him with any recommendation he makes; however, there must be accountability into that system.

The IWK-Grace seemed to have escaped this and some days probably in years to come over a glass of hot chocolate, I would like to hear the conversation of Joe MacDonald and the Premier on the issue of the IWK-Grace being outside. I have nothing but respect for Mr. MacDonald, he is the Chairman of the Board there and he is a great person. I know he is a strong Tory and he is proud of that, it stands out as clearly as his bow tie. But I would be very interested some days to be privy as to why the IWK-Grace is out and the others are in. I think it is probably good at the time that they are because they have major significant issues. The Premier promised, when he became Premier, he was going to give them that $14 million that they got from other provinces. So I am sure they are waiting and they are outside the door with their little basket waiting for that $14 million. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired. (Applause)

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I find myself in agreement with the honourable member for Dartmouth East, given that he was the Minister of Health and we didn't agree on very much at that time, I am a little worried maybe I am turning into a Liberal, but I don't think so. I think Bill No. 34 could very well be the most important piece of legislation we will see in this session. That is because of the implications that it has for health care services in Nova Scotia and, indeed, for the health status of Nova Scotians, ultimately.

The other Parties here in the Legislature like to rib members of my caucus from time to time about our socialist values, but, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to health care and the need to maintain health care services with a strong, public ownership for all, regardless of who they are, regardless of the amount of money they have in their pocket when they need health care services, then members of our Party are proud to wear the socialist label because that is what public health care is all about. It is about socializing the cost of needing to see

[Page 3143]

physicians and others in the health care system and being able to get those important services, whether or not you have the personal individual means to pay for those services or not.

Mr. Speaker, we have a real problem with health care and it is no surprise to anybody here in this House tonight that health care is the number one issue for Canadians and for Nova Scotians. In Nova Scotia, we have a particular problem and that problem is that we spend more of our public resources, per capita, per person, on health care than any other Canadian province, yet we have one of the lowest health status in terms of rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses, than in any other Canadian province.

So we have to ask ourselves, Mr. Speaker, what is wrong with that picture and how can we improve that picture. In this province, for example, today, we spend about $1 billion in the tertiary care sector in hospitals and we spend a mere $175 million in primary health care, which was the point that was made in the Royal Commission back in 1989; it was that we had to turn this ship around. We had to do something about the way we spent our public resources in the health care system. So legislation such as this is really important because it contributes to the direction that we are going to take our health care services in Nova Scotia and, ultimately, affect the health status of Nova Scotians.

We all know that the determinants of health play a very big role in the health status of people in our province. When we talk about the determinants of health, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about things like biology, the genetic make-up of the population, the physical and social environments in our province, the distribution of income, employment status, education, housing; all of these things contribute to the population's health, lifestyle and indeed health care services.

For some time we have been moving at a snail's pace, many would say, towards delivering health care services in a decentralized and regionalized way which was one of the key recommendations coming out of the Royal Commission on Health Care back in 1989. Beneath this move to regionalize and decentralize health care was the fundamental belief that the only way to improve the health status of Nova Scotians was to put more control, responsibility and involvement in the community and that in that process we would foster a stronger primary health care system, one that would lessen the demand and the pressure for acute care services in hospitals, one that would lead to savings in health care expenditures, one that then would allow our acute care system to be more focused in terms of the services it provided and through that process we would actually end up with a sustainable health care system which is a concern to everybody in all Parties in this House and I think throughout the province generally, how we are going to build a sustainable health care system.

This legislation, this bill, Bill No. 34, is a little piece in how we approach that objective of finding sustainability for our health care system. It is one of the tests that we have to be very cognizant of as we look at whether or not this bill is going to move us towards greater sustainability in our health care system or whether it, in fact, will impede that goal that we

[Page 3144]

have, that is more than a goal, Mr. Speaker, that has to be an absolute priority. So I think, in the time that we all have in debating Bill No. 34 there is an enormous onus on us to explain this legislation to Nova Scotians, many who have not as of yet had an opportunity to look at this bill, to work through it and to understand and grapple with the implications of the various pieces of this bill.

The central concern of most Nova Scotians is that they get health care services when they need them and where they need them. I am sure for many Nova Scotians they wonder what we are on about in the Legislature when we spend so much time talking about structure, organization, organizational charts and what have you, but I think it is very important that we are able to demonstrate as we look at this particular bill how embedded in the new structure that is being proposed here is power and authority for the allocation of resources, the allocation dollars for health care and for where decisions will ultimately rest in terms of what services will be available in your community, Mr. Speaker, and in the communities of other members of this Legislature.

[9:15 p.m.]

I have to say that when I read Bill No. 34, I get pretty nervous about the implications of who will be making decisions about the allocation of health dollars, what services will be provided throughout this province, and how they will be provided. It seems to me that this bill as has been pointed out by previous speakers is one that is taking us back to a previous era in health care provision in Nova Scotia, one that did not place responsibility for decision making in the community.

The minister can stand on his feet in his place and tell us that this is a bill that will bring more community control and have a clearer connection to communities, but, Mr. Speaker, I think that when the discussion and the debate has been had and we will have a chance to hear from members of the public and many members of the public who are intimately knowledgeable about the delivery of health care and the whole process of health reform we have gone through in this province, I think the message we will find is that this, indeed, does not move health care services closer to communities, that in fact, it centralizes and concentrates the control and the decision making for the provision of health care services with the Minister of Health and with the Department of Health, with communities playing a very token role through the provisions in this bill to recognize the important role that community health boards have attempted to play in the reform process to date.

What I would like to do is talk a bit about the four major thrusts of this bill, that being to set up district health authorities, to set up community health boards, to provide powers and duties for the minister, and to create these provincial health centres which essentially is the continuation of amalgamation and the continuation of merging of major health care facilities in the acute care sector in Nova Scotia. I think those are the key components of this particular bill.

[Page 3145]

First off, with respect to district health authorities, Bill No. 34 will result in the setting up of nine district health authorities. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am not sure, for a province of our size, this is necessary, that we need nine district health authorities. The Royal Commission on Health Care back in 1989 indicated that probably four regional health authorities would be appropriate for a province of our size. The Goldbloom Task Force on Regionalized Health Care, I think indicated in its recommendations that, at this time, the boundaries of the four regional health boards should basically remain in place. I have seen no information from the minister or from the government that would indicate on what basis they have arrived at this decision to introduce nine district health authorities. You have to wonder what the rationale could have been, what evidence, what information, what were the features that they considered when they decided that nine district health authorities was the optimum size.

Mr. Speaker, all I can conclude, as by way of trying to find an explanation for this, is that back - and this is in the Royal Commission Report in 1989 - at the time of the Royal Commission Report, in fact the province at that time was divided into nine hospital regions. The Royal Commission Report said that the Royal Commission has observed that the existence of far too many regions unnecessarily complicates service delivery. The Royal Commission goes on to say that most of the non-hospital regions lack sufficient population to support a wide range of specialized medical services on a 24-hour basis. Rationalized regional boundaries should also redistribute some medical speciality services outside of the metro area and provide for an adequate population base to support these services. The Royal Commission suggests four regions, and it goes on to talk about why it reached this conclusion.

I would remind members here that not only was this a very comprehensive and expensive Royal Commission, but it was one that drew on an extraordinary information base and a lot of expertise as it went about its work. Mr. Speaker, I can't imagine what has changed since that report was done in terms of the population size hasn't changed significantly, and the nature of the needs of Nova Scotians haven't changed all that significantly, so all I can conclude that what this government is doing essentially is that they are retreating to the old configuration of hospital regions that were in place at this time. They are now constructing around the district hospitals, district health authorities.

This could be very problematic in terms of the focus of health care delivery in Nova Scotia. We really need to be careful and think carefully about whether or not we are going to be able to move toward a community-based, primary health care system if we structure our health care delivery and our organizational structures in this way. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that a lot of people whom I have been speaking with and members of our caucus have been speaking with, with respect to Bill No. 34, are very concerned that this will indeed undermine the very clear need for our province to move away from acute and tertiary care that is not sustainable towards a more primary-care-based health care system.

[Page 3146]

There are other aspects of these district health authorities that cause some concern I would say. These authorities, according to the bill, will roughly have a membership of 12 members. The bill indicates that one-third of the members will be appointed by the minister and two-thirds will be appointed by the minister, but nominated by community health boards. A certain number of non-voting members will also join the district health boards.

In this process it would appear, Mr. Speaker, that the minister has an extraordinily large amount of power in determining the membership of district health authorities which I think undermines, or certainly casts a suspicious light on the minister's claim that this legislation is really about community control. It certainly suggests nothing of the sort. It suggests ministerial control, the same kind of control that was exercised by the former minister with respect to regional health boards that we were critical of and that basically the public was very critical of. Certainly if there was anything that undermined and contributed to the criticism of the prior four regional health boards, it was the fact that they were not democratically elected, they were all appointed. The appointments were not in any kind of an open or a transparent manner or method and they operated with very little accountability in terms of having open meetings, having their minutes available to the public, and this kind of stuff.

Bill No. 34 does make some provision for two public forums a year by the district health authorities but, Mr. Speaker, two public forums a year can hardly be characterized as open, transparent, accessible, in terms of community control and involvement. I hasten to say that most organizations that operate in an open manner, each time they meet, they are open to public participation, especially when it is as important as health care. I use, for example, school boards and at a very bare minimum, transcripts of minutes and what have you should be made available to people.

The extraordinary amount of control that the minister has with respect to district health authorities and what it is that district health authorities are empowered to do or not do is quite amazing, Mr. Speaker. If you look at the legislation that this particular bill is replacing, the old Regional Health Board Act, the scope of duties, responsibilities and powers that the former regional health boards had in comparison to what is being proposed to the district health authorities is quite striking. It is interesting that there are measures in this legislation that restricts district health boards from running any kind of an operating deficit, and if there is a need for an operating deficit, it will be applied against the next year's budget. This has been tried with sort of checkered results in other jurisdictions, and I would hope that the minister would tread quite lightly here in his approach to dealing with district health authorities in this manner.

[9:30 p.m.]

I have, as I am sure many members of the public, especially members of community health boards, some mixed feelings about the provisions of Bill No. 34, that set out the role of community health boards. There are approximately 34 community health boards in Nova

[Page 3147]

Scotia, and there are many men and women who have dedicated countless hours to developing community health plans and community health profiles for the districts that their community health board covered.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is much too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside please. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So, many of the men and women who have served on these community health boards certainly put in long hours and developed very good profiles and plans for their regions. They did so without pay, and they did so quite often without any recognition. They sought legitimacy and legitimating of their role as the foundation for health care planning at the community level, and as the member for Dartmouth East indicated, they had hoped they would receive recognition and legitimating of their role in health care provision through a piece of legislation that would clearly define their work, that would allocate to them responsibility, authority and resources so that they could see that all of their work would actually result in change for the health care system.

These groups are people in communities who have been involved in community-based work around the determinants of health for many years. I have met many of these people, some of these people I know. For example, in an area where there may be a high incidence of teenage pregnancy, these people would recognize that, they would recognize the need for a parent resource centre or a teen health centre or some type of program that would intervene at an early stage in a population that is often at risk. All of the research tells us that if you intervene at an early stage with populations that are at risk, then you divert them from what become very costly requirements, particularly in the health care field down the road. These community health boards would look at their communities, they would know their communities, and they would identify the various segments of the population in their given area, if it was a high seniors area, if it was an area where there were a lot of youth and teenagers, if it was an area where there were many single parents, if it was an area where there was an African-Nova Scotian community that had very little access to the appropriate kinds of racially-sensitive services.

They would build their profile and then they would build their health care plan. They would assess what resources were already existing in the community to meet these needs. They would identify the gaps in the services. They would priorize what needed to be done first. They would set about looking at the most appropriate ways to develop these services. Quite often what they were using were real fundamental community development approaches to health care building. That is what health care services in a community, at the community level are all about. This is about people taking responsibility for their own situations, for looking at the solutions they know will make a difference, and for having the commitment then to follow through on these programs.

[Page 3148]

This, Mr. Speaker, is a process that we will never get out of the Department of Health. We can never get that kind of planning for health care services, we can never get that kind of provision of health care services if we concentrate the decision making in the Department of Health. There is no way that that can happen, and that is what this bill does. This bill puts the strategic planning for health care delivery back with the minister and back with the faceless bureaucracy of the Department of Health, and it rips it away, it rips the decisions away from community-based organization that knows its community, that can define the solutions that are needed for health care delivery in the community. That can, in fact, mobilize the resources of the community to ensure that these services unfold in a way that will make a difference in the community.

So, I again say, Mr. Speaker, that I have some mixed feelings about these provisions, and I know how long community health board members have struggled to see legislation come forward, that sets out the parameters of their work and that validates their commitment and their place in the provision of health care services. But I feel so disappointed when I read what it is that community health care boards will be asked to do, will be permitted to do, will be supported to do, because this is not what the Blueprint Committee on health reform envisions for community health boards, at all.

There are many women and men in this province who will commit themselves. They will give 150 per cent on health care issues, on health care provision in their communities because they are so committed to working in their communities and to making a difference.

This is truly a disappointment, when this is all that this government is prepared to allow people at the community level to do and they are not prepared to trust people in the community with the ability to define their own issues and to develop their own solutions and to carry those solutions out. It is a real shame and it is a breach of trust, as the member for Dartmouth East said, in terms of the work that many of these fine men and women have done over the last two or three years.

Now, we have heard from previous speakers that there is quite a significant clause in Bill No. 34, that expands the powers of the Minister of Health in terms of the amount of control that he will have over the operation of district health boards and of regional health boards. I know that when we have an opportunity to go through this bill clause by clause, we will be able to outline in more detail what the problems are with these particular sections of the bill.

I would just like to say briefly, Mr. Speaker, that it is of some concern to me, and I am sure to other members of this House, that the minister seems to be of the view that centralizing power at the top of the hierarchy like this is the most appropriate way to go about building the kind of working relationship that we need as we try to solve the problems in our health care system. The last thing we need in terms of the provision of health care services in this province is a dictatorial, authoritarian approach.

[Page 3149]

I think what the Royal Commission on Health Care set out very clearly was the need to build a consensus in Nova Scotia around the provision of health care services and what were the appropriate roles for the community for the various professions and for government. This does anything but set up a process of consensus making or consensus building. A big piece of this bill is about telling people in the health care system what to do, how to do it, how high to jump, when to jump, when to come down. It removes so much of the responsibility and the decision making that people already have been exercising at the regional level and I am sure that for some people it may be a relief to have some of this responsibility lifted, given that quite often the resources that they required to move forward with their responsibilities were not forthcoming. I think at the same time, it will be a real source of frustration at the district level when you cannot move, you cannot make a move, you cannot make a decision because you know that you are going to be or you could be second-guessed, that you have no right, you have no authority, you have no responsibility, you have no business making these basic decisions that are so important right at the stage at which you need to be able to make decisions about the health care services that are available to people in your district. This is a real step backward from the process that we had wanted to see occur, which is a decentralization of power and control.

[9:45 p.m.]

I think one of the other things that we need to talk about when we look at Bill No. 34 is the new provincial health care centres, the ongoing process of amalgamation. I don't think there is any other way to characterize this piece of this particular bill. We are seeing this government move toward amalgamation of several different hospitals under the rubric no doubt of the QE II, and one can only imagine what the implications are for employees in these settings as we move in this direction. I have to say that if I was a person who worked in one of these hospitals, if I worked in the laundry room or in purchasing, payroll, finance, human resources, the organizational development department or communications, I would be very worried about my future and about what this piece of this particular legislation will mean for me and for my family.

I think it is pretty clear what we had under the former government, we had project Quest, which was the big scheme to amalgamate and downsize, try to find efficiencies by contracting out and privatizing certain pieces of the services. I think that underneath this particular part of Bill No. 34, we are looking at more of this kind of development. We are looking at more privatization, more contracting out and more downsizing. We are looking at job losses in the public sector, and not necessarily seeing an increase in service with respect to waiting times and stuff like that.

I know that when we have an opportunity to move into the Law Amendments Committee, we will hear from quite a few groups. We all know that the old system, there were people who didn't like the four regional boards, and we know that there were people who lobbied hard for a different model from those four boards. No doubt there are people

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who will come and tell us that they have no difficulty with having more power and control back in the minister's hands. There will be people who will tell us that the old system excluded providers as board members in the regions and that these things are all now taken care of, but Mr. Speaker, we know that old system wasn't perfect and we know that that old system needed some revision and we participated in the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very hard to hear the speaker. I think we are going to put the Sergeant-at-Arms to work here in a minute. Nine more minutes, if you can bear with us. The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, ultimately, when we get into the debate in the Law Amendments Committee and we hear from the public, I think that we will be looking for the minister to answer some really tough questions. This bill is not going to get a free ride by any way, shape or form. I think that we need to know, for example, how many people it is going to take to run this new system. We need to know where is the evidence that nine district regional authorities will give Nova Scotians a sustainable health care system and will ensure better health status for Nova Scotians. We want to see the evidence. We want to know that the minister didn't just click his heels twice and make a wish that things could be different and this is how they will be different. We need to know precisely where is the evidence that this is the approach that will get us the results that so many committees and so many task forces have been pointing us in a particular direction.

We need to know how Bill No. 34 is consistent with getting us in the direction all of these other reports have pointed to. For example, I am very puzzled when I read through this bill about the status of the Dartmouth General Hospital and what will happen to the Dartmouth General Hospital and what are the implications for physicians there?

There are many things we need to be talking about when it comes to health care and health care delivery. I was speaking with the president of the Medical Society today and he told me that it used to be that, in our province, 30 per cent of the physicians were specialists and 70 per cent of the physicians were GPs, were family practitioners, but today 54 per cent of physicians in Nova Scotia are specialists and 46 per cent are family physicians, or GPs. He tells me that a significant number of specialists are providing primary care, and of course, what this means is primary care is being provided at a much higher cost. We really need to be dealing with this kind of situation. We cannot afford to have specialists in our province providing primary care and I don't think anybody would disagree with that. The question is, how do we deal with that and are we going to deal with that?

My real fear around Bill No. 34 is that this bill has very little to do, and it will not result in improvements in primary health care. What this bill does, unfortunately, is once again place acute care hospitals at the centre of our health care system. The $1 billion cash cow that is almost insatiable in terms of the needs for public resources has become the centre of our health care system in this bill, and the result of that will be no sustainability. It will mean that

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health care in Nova Scotia as we currently know it will not be sustainable. It will mean that the health status of Nova Scotians already at the bottom of the barrel in this country in many respects will stay right there, and we will know who will be responsible for that set of circumstances if that occurs, Mr. Speaker.

I think that this is a bill that has many, many problems as the member for Dartmouth East says, the more time you spend reading through this bill, the more you see to disagree with, to ask questions around, to be concerned about. If there is anything that all members of this House know, and I think know very clearly, that is that we have a tremendous responsibility to do something about sustaining health care in this country because while there are many, many disagreements among members here and in our community about what our priorities should be, there is consensus, there is absolute consensus in this province that health care needs to be our number one concern in terms of sustainability and making sure that services are there where people them when they need them.

With that I will move adjournment of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment of the debate on Bill No. 34. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will be from 12:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and the order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will continue with Bill No. 34 and when we have completed that we will go on to Bill Nos. 29, 31 and 32.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]