The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Apr. 5, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 3259
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of Dept. of Housing and Municipal Affairs,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3260
Anl. Rept. of Dept. of Labour, Hon. A. MacIsaac 3260
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1039, Health - Emer. Med. Serv. Week (Can.): Professionalism -
Acknowledge, Hon. J. Muir 3261
Vote - Affirmative 3261
Res. 1040, Commun. Serv. - Metro Food Bank: Campaign Chairman
(Jim Mills) - Success Wish, Hon. P. Christie 3261
Vote - Affirmative 3262
Res. 1041, Educ. - French: Parents (Cdn.) For - Efforts Recognize,
Hon. J. Purves 3262
Vote - Affirmative 3263
Res. 1042, Culture - Amethyst Scottish Dancers: Anniv. 15th - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3263
Vote - Affirmative 3263
Res. 1043, Tourism: Tall Ship 2000 Comm. - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3264
Vote - Affirmative 3264
Res. 1044, EMO - Emerg. Serv. (911): Cumb., Col. & Hants E. -
Anniv. 4th Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 3264
Vote - Affirmative 3265
Res. 1045, Educ. - Acadia Univ.: E-Commerce Degree - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 3265
Vote - Affirmative 3266
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 40, Moratorium on Medicare User Fees Act, Dr. J. Smith 3266
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1046, C.B. East - By-election (04/04/00): David Wilson -
Victor Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 3266
Vote - Affirmative 3267
Res. 1047, NDP (N.S.) - By-elections Future: Dream Team - Improve,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3267
Res. 1048, Educ. - Literary Prog. (Adopt A Library For):
Pictou Co. Police - Role Congrats., The Premier 3267
Vote - Affirmative 3268
Res. 1049, Fish. - Offshore: Exploratory Drilling - Compromise
Acknowledge, Hon. G. Balser 3268
Vote - Affirmative 3269
Res. 1050, Commun. Serv. - Cuts: Women Victimization - Continuance,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3269
Vote - Affirmative 3270
Res. 1051, C.B. East - By-election (04/04/00): Electorate -
Vision Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 3270
Res. 1052, Educ. - Voc. Training: Summer St. Indust. -
Serv. Excellent Thank, The Premier 3271
Vote - Affirmative 3271
Res. 1053, Commun. Serv. - Soc. Assist.: Clawback -
Continuance Justify, Mr. K. Deveaux 3271
Res. 1054, C.B. East - By-election (04/04/00): David Wilson -
Victor Success Wish, Mr. P. MacEwan 3272
Res. 1055, Health - Care: Delivery (Bill No. 34) - Applaud,
Mr. D. Morse 3272
Res. 1056, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3273
Res. 1057, NDP (N.S.) - C.B. East By-election: Result Unofficial -
Review, Mr. B. Boudreau 3274
Res. 1058, Volunteerism - Parrsboro Vol. Of The Year: Margaret Ling -
Congrats., The Speaker (by Mr. B. Taylor) 3275
Vote - Affirmative 3275
Res. 1059, Sports - Softball (Enfield): Graham Isenor -
Contribution Recognize, Mr. John MacDonell 3275
Vote - Affirmative 3276
Res. 1060, NDP (N.S.) - C.B. East By-election (04/04/00): Result -
Note, Mr. P. MacEwan 3276
Res. 1061, Justice - Burnside Hosp. & Correctional Facility:
Commun. Liaison Comm. - Success Wish, Mr. T. Olive 3277
Res. 1062, Coast Guard (Can.) - Yarmouth: Emerg. Helicopter Serv. -
Reprieve Thank, Mr. R. Hurlburt 3277
Vote - Affirmative 3278
Res. 1063, Nat. Res. - Offshore Exploration: PanCdn. & Rowan Cos. -
Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 3278
Res. 1064, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Solutions - Concentrate (MLAs),
Mr. B. Barnet 3279
Res. 1065, Econ. Dev. - Stora Enso: Contribution - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 3280
Vote - Affirmative 3280
Res. 1066, Justice - Crime Stoppers (N.S.): Contribution - Salute,
Hon. J. Muir 3280
Vote - Affirmative 3281
Res. 1067, Gov't. (Can.) - Shipbuilding Policy (Natl.): Address - Call,
Ms. M. McGrath 3281
Vote - Affirmative 3282
Res. 1068, Agric. - Fruit Grower's Assoc. (N.S.): Uniroyal Golden
Apple Award - Mr. Charles Embree (Pt. Williams) Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 3282
Vote - Affirmative 3283
Res. 1069, Sports - Judo (Belgian Ladies Open Judo Comp.):
Amy Cotton (Judique, C.B.) - Silver Medal Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3283
Vote - Affirmative 3283
Res. 1070, Educ. - N Queens RES: Sc. Video Contest -
Prizewinners Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 3284
Vote - Affirmative 3284
Res. 1071, Timberlea-Prospect MLA - Boston Bruins: Ties - Retain,
Mr. B. Taylor 3284
Vote - Affirmative 3285
Res. 1072, Human Rts. Comm'n. (N.S.) - Black Loyalist Heritage Soc.:
Human Rts. Award - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 3285
Vote - Affirmative 3286
Res. 1073, GG (Can.) Caring Award: George & Marion Christie
(Bedford) - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 3286
Vote - Affirmative 3287
Res. 1074, St. Ann's Parish Variety Concert (Thorburn) - Success:
Volunteers - Commend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3287
Vote - Affirmative 3287
Res. 1075, Beaver Bank-Kinsac Vol. FD & George Hall: Service
(35 yrs.) - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 3287
Vote - Affirmative 3288
Res. 1076, Sports - Special Olympics (N.S. Male Coach of Year):
Alan Fredericks (Kings Hants Area) - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 3288
Vote - Affirmative 3289
Res. 1077, Econ. Dev. - Pictou Indust.: Yacht Building -
Workers Recognize, Mrs. M. Baillie 3289
Vote - Affirmative 3290
Res. 1078, Econ. Dev. - Woodworking Contest (Natl.):
Leonard Grant (Brooklyn) Winner - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 3290
Vote - Affirmative 3290
Res. 1079, Sports - Hockey (Bantam AA Champs): Shel. Co. Flames -
Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 3291
Vote - Affirmative 3291
Res. 1080, Culture - Highland Dancing Champs. (N.S.):
Port Hawkesbury Hosts - Applaud, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 3291
Vote - Affirmative 3292
Res. 1081, Heroism - East Chezzetcook Rescue (01/01/00):
David Young & Brian Mason (East Petpeswick) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Dooks 3292
Vote - Affirmative 3293
Res. 1082, Sports - Baseball (N.S. Intermediate League):
Pictou Albions, League Exec. & Players - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3293
Vote - Affirmative 3294
Res. 1083, Sports - Hockey (Midget "A" N.S.) Tournament
Yar. (Apr. 2000): Success - Recognize, Mr. R. Hurlburt 3294
Vote - Affirmative 3294
Res. 1084, Educ. - Brookfield Mem. School: Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 3294
Vote - Affirmative 3295
Res. 1085, Sports - Weightlifting: Gregg Ernst (Lun. Co.) -
Accomplishments Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 3295
Vote - Affirmative 3296
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 397, Fin.: Budget (2000-01) - Delay, Mr. Robert Chisholm 3296
No. 398, NSLC - Privatization, Mr. R. MacLellan 3297
No. 399, Human Res.: Public Services - Morale, Mr. Robert Chisholm 3298
No. 400, Commun. Serv.: Secure Treatment Centre (Truro-Bible Hill) -
Status, Dr. J. Smith 3299
No. 401, Human Res. - Pub. Serv.: Privatization - NSGEU Contact,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 3300
No. 402, Justice - Home Invasions: Seniors - Safety Ensure,
Mr. M. Samson 3302
No. 403, Health - Illness: Terminal - Assist, Mr. D. Dexter 3303
No. 404, Fin.: Harness Racing - Subsidy, Mr. D. Downe 3304
No. 405, NSLC - Privatization, Ms. E. O'Connell 3306
No. 406, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Call Centre - Assist. Amount,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 3307
No. 407, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): Pre-Arbitration - Settlement Offer,
Mr. J. Pye 3309
No. 408, Sysco: Credit Line - Cessation, Mr. Manning MacDonald 3310
No. 409, Health - Valley Reg. Hosp.: Beds - Shortage, Mr. D. Dexter 3312
No. 410, Agric. - 4-H Programs: Support - Continuation, Mr. D. Downe 3313
No. 411, Health - Long-Term Care Beds: Adv. Comm. Chairman -
Conflict of Interest, Mr. D. Dexter 3314
No. 412, Lbr. - Elevators: Inspection - Requirement, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3315
No. 413, Status of Women - Family Law: Mediation Prog. -^
Study (THANS), Ms. E. O'Connell 3316
No. 414, Educ. - Teachers (Term/Probationary): Employment - Future,
Mr. W. Gaudet 3317
No. 415, Justice: Family Law - Mediation Process, Mr. H. Epstein 3318
No. 416, Tourism - Resorts: Privatization - Advantage Explain,
Mr. K. MacAskill 3319
No. 417, Commun. Serv.: Social Assist. - Workfare, Mr. K. Deveaux 3320
No. 418, Sports: N.S. Boxing Authority - C.B. Rep., Mr. B. Boudreau 3321
No. 419, Women, Status of - Poverty: Causes - Review,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3322
No. 420, Educ. - School Board Boundaries: Task Force Report -
SW Reg., Mr. W. Gaudet 3323
No. 421, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Petitions - Process, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3324
PREVIOUS POINT OF ORDER:
Imputing Motives upon Premier [Comment by Mr. F. Corbett p.2947]
(Point of Order by Hon. R. Russell p.2956)
Apology and Withdrawal by Mr. F. Corbett 3325
Vote - Affirmative 3325
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 803, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on):
Deficit - Address, Mr. K. Deveaux 3326
Mr. K. Deveaux 3326
Hon. P. Christie 3328
Dr. J. Smith 3331
Mr. F. Corbett 3334
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 39, Public Services Protection Act 3336
Mr. J. Pye 3336
Hon. R. Russell 3339
Mr. P. MacEwan 3341
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3344
Ms. E. O'Connell 3345
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3347
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Agric. - Farms: Reduction - Labour Issues:
Mr. J. Carey 3349
Mr. John MacDonell 3351
Mr. D. Downe 3354
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 6th at 12:00 p.m. 3357

[Page 3259]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to 40 Grade 8 students from Graham Creighton Junior High School who are here today to watch the proceedings. They are accompanied by Karen Dumay, Andrea Banks and Bruce Nunn. I would like the House to extend a welcome to them as they join us today to watch the proceedings. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery, it is my pleasure to introduce a former member of the Legislative Assembly, a great representative for the Yarmouth community and I would like the members of the House to give warm welcome to a good friend of this Legislature, Mr. Richard Hubbard. (Applause)

3259

[Page 3260]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce to the House, in the west gallery, a most distinguished guest, Municipal Councillor Vincent Hall of District No. 9 in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality which takes in such distinguished areas as Grand Lake Road, Mira Road, Reserve Mines, Bridgeport and MacKay's Corner. So perhaps Councillor Hall could stand up and receive the approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to introduce the President of the Nova Scotia Goverment Employees Association, Joan Jessome, in the Speaker's Gallery. Joan Jessome, of course is the President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and some 16,000 members union strong. It gives me great pleasure to introduce such an individual. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The winner of the late debate this evening is the honourable member for Kings West:

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the serious labour issues relative to the loss in the number of farms in Nova Scotia.

This debate will be heard this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Labour.

[Page 3261]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1039

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

Whereas this is Emergency Medical Services Week in Canada, a time to recognize all the people who work in our EMS system; and

Whereas the province recognizes the difficult and challenging job they do throughout the year; and

Whereas we are fortunate to have so many skilled people working in our pre-hospital health care sector;

Therefore be it resolved that the province acknowledge the hard work of these health professionals and offer our gratitude for their dedication to patient care.

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1040

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

[Page 3262]

Whereas the Metro Food Bank Society has launched its capital campaign to raise $950,000; and

Whereas the funds raised will be used in part to provide a refrigeration system, so that the food bank can store perishable food;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend best wishes to campaign chairman, Jim Mills, for a successful campaign for this worthy cause.

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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1041

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

Whereas the Canadian Parents for French has undertaken a project to gauge the state of French second language in Canada; and

Whereas every student in the Nova Scotia school system is involved in the learning of French, from Core French to the French Immersion program; and

Whereas the Department of Education is giving its support to the State of the French Second Language in Canada in Canada 2000 project;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature recognize 23 years of hard work by Canadian Parents for French and their efforts to ensure that every Canadian child has access to French second language programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3263]

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 Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1042

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

Whereas the Amethyst Scottish Dancers are celebrating their 15th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Amethyst Scottish Dancers have become one of the province's foremost companies of highland dancers; and

Whereas through the group's numerous performances, both here at home and abroad, the troupe has gained an international reputation for high standards and creative and innovative work;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate and thank the troupe for their highland spirit and performances that always touch the hearts and souls of those who see them.

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 Minister of Tourism and Culture.

[Page 3264]

RESOLUTION NO. 1043

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

Whereas as many as 150 sailing vessels are expected to tie up at the city's wharves from July 20 to July 24, 2000; and

Whereas up to 100,000 will be on the waterfront at any give time when the fleet, drawn from more than 20 countries, is in port; and

Whereas the attraction will be a fleet of ships up to three times larger than that of the Parade of Sail the city hosted in 1984, possibly the largest gathering of such ships in modern history;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Tall Ships 2000 Committee and extend best wishes for what I am certain will be a spectacular and successful event.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1044

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

Whereas April 1, 2000, was the 4th Anniversary of 911 service to Cumberland, Colchester and Hants East; and

Whereas that service was the first of what would become a province-wide 911 system, the first of its kind in Canada; and

[Page 3265]

Whereas in the four years it has operated, Nova Scotia's 911 service has received more than 600,000 calls;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express appreciation to the 150 call takers who provide such a valuable service for the health and safety of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1045

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

Whereas Acadia University will introduce the first Computer Science based E-commerce undergraduate degree next September; and

Whereas this unique program will provide graduates with the needed skill sets and knowledge for electronic commerce; and

Whereas the E-commerce program is a product of Acadia's commitment to providing its students with the best possible educational experience through innovation and excellence in teaching, research and services;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate Acadia University and the Jodrey School of Computer Science for launching a specialized degree designed to train students to meet the demands of the mushrooming field of E-commerce.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3266]

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. 40 - Entitled an Act to Impose a Moratorium on User Fees in Medicare for Nova Scotia. (Dr. James Smith)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1046

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 people of Glace Bay have spoken with the by-election decision of April 4th in Cape Breton East; and

Whereas the candidates, Brad Kerr, Cecil Saccary and David Wilson, worked hard during the campaign for their respective Parties; and

Whereas the people of Cape Breton East look forward to this government's attention to its important community needs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the people of Glace Bay and congratulate David Wilson on his victory. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3267]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1047

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

Whereas true to form, the NDP brought in come-from-aways to boost their chances in the Cape Breton East by-election; and

Whereas the rare appearance of federal Leader Alexa McDonough in Nova Scotia, who flew in on the taxpayers' dollar, did little to improve the NDP outcome; and

Whereas even the eleventh hour arrival of the Nova Scotia NDP Leader could not save their sagging fortunes;

Therefore be it resolved that perhaps next time the NDP should try to import a more impressive "dream team", like Bob Rae, Glen Clarke or Hinrich Bitter-Suermann.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I just would like to point out when Alexa McDonough at least went to Cape Breton, I do not think she played golf with the Prime Minister during his visit.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order.

[The notice was tabled.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1048

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

[Page 3268]

Whereas the Adopt a Library for Literacy Program was launched recently by members of every municipal police force in Pictou County, together with the local RCMP, spearheaded by an idea of Stellarton RCMP Constable John Kennedy; and

Whereas the program has already raised more than $25,000 worth of contributions to promote literacy and increase library inventories for the benefit of children within the Pictou-Antigonish library system; and

Whereas the program, which can serve as a model for other communities, will be officially launched in early June;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the municipal police and RCMP of Pictou County for their role in creating the Adopt a Library for Literacy Program, and thank those whose contributions have made this long-term program such an immediate success.

[2:30 p.m.]

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 Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1049

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

Whereas the future of the oil and gas industry in Nova Scotia is closely linked to the need for fisheries and environmental concerns to be allayed; and

Whereas the recent report Environmental Assessment of Exploratory Drilling in the Nova Scotia Offshore Area has been hailed by Brian Giroux of the Fundy Mobile Gear Fishermen's Association as a document fishermen can live with; and

[Page 3269]

Whereas Mr. Giroux went on to state that oil companies seem to realize that there are areas of oceans that fishermen seem to hold dear while there are other areas where we can work something out;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the first step to reaching a compromise between the oil industry, fishermen and environmentalists is to approach the problem with an open mind.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1050

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

Whereas a new report titled A Report Card on Women and Poverty has just been released; and

Whereas this report shows that about 2.2 million Canadian women, almost 19 per cent of them, are poor, the most in two decades; and

Whereas this report also shows that government policies discriminate against women by including social cuts and employment insurance rules which further foster poverty by women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and all its members recognize that cuts to funding in areas like community services will only continue the victimization of women.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 3270]

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1051

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

Whereas it has been said that Cape Bretoners should get a chance to cast their vote the day after an election; and

Whereas the people of Cape Breton East had a chance to vote the day after and soundly rejected the majority Tory Government; and

Whereas not even the attempt to seduce voters with promises of a Cabinet seat could make voters forget user fees, attacks on charities, seniors and the disabled;

Therefore be it resolved that the good people of Cape Breton East be congratulated for casting their votes with vision and foresight, and not succumbing to the eleventh hour temptations offered by the Premier.

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 Premier.

[Page 3271]

RESOLUTION NO. 1052

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

Whereas the management and staff of Summer Street Industries, a New Glasgow vocational facility for mentally challenged adults, have excelled in the field of vocational training for more than 30 years; and

Whereas Summer Street Industries has recently expanded its facility, creating positions of another 23 trainees, in addition to those 123 already in training; and

Whereas the number of positions will again increase with another expansion planned for the year 2003;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank all those who have contributed their excellent services to Summer Street Industries for more than three decades, and wish them, as well as those who have been trained and educated there, every success in the coming years.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1053

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services met recently with the Shelburne Poverty Action Group, where he was asked some hard questions by the group who are mostly students at the Shelburne Regional High School; and

[Page 3272]

Whereas this group wanted to know what the government was doing to eliminate the social assistance clawback; and

Whereas in the Tory blue book of promises, this Tory Government pledges to work towards the elimination of the clawback provision of the National Child Tax Benefit;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of the minister trying to justify continuing the clawback that he should be working towards the elimination of this unfair tax grab as outlined in the Tory book of promises.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1054

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

Whereas yesterday the voters of Glace Bay, Cape Breton East constituency, demonstrated great wisdom in renouncing Hammism and all its works; and

Whereas yesterday the voters likewise showed very sound judgement in refusing to be impressed by the nattering nonsense put forward by the New Democratic Party; and

Whereas yesterday the voters made the prudent choice and supported responsible Liberal representation, realizing that it is through the Liberal Party that good government is most attainable;

Therefore be it resolved that the voters of Glace Bay be commended for re-electing Dave Wilson as MLA for Cape Breton East, and that this House wishes Mr. Wilson many years of continued success in his sustained capacity.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1055

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

[Page 3273]

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Liberals preferred bureaucratic, unaccountable regional health boards over community-based health care; and

Whereas the New Democratic Party supported the Savage-MacLellan Liberals in their approach of putting the needs of bureaucrats ahead of the needs of patients; and

Whereas the current Progressive Conservative Government is honouring the commitments made to Nova Scotians by creating a health care system that puts patients and communities first;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the current direction for health care delivery in this province as outlined in Bill No. 34, which keeps this government's promise to legislate the role of community health boards and bring fiscal accountability to the system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1056

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: 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, 1,392 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 1,392 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

[Page 3274]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for wavier.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1057

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

Whereas New Democratic Party mishandling of the Reeves Matheson affair caused the people of Cape Breton East to go without effective representation for a year after the 1998 election; and

Whereas last night the people of Cape Breton East had the final word in a by-election forced upon them by the NDP; and

Whereas the result of last night's vote will not be official for 14 days;

Therefore be it resolved that no doubt the NDP will spend the next two weeks trying to dig up over 400 counts of voting problems in order to continue the undeserved suffering of the people of Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 3275]

RESOLUTION NO. 1058

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

Whereas Margaret Ling of Parrsboro, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, has been named as Parrsboro Volunteer of the year; and

Whereas Margaret has filled positions such as President of the South Cumberland Memorial Health Care Centre, President of the Parrsboro Lioness Club, President of the Trinity United Church Women, Chair of the local Arthritis Campaign for 20 years and many more organizations; and

Whereas on Wednesday, April 19th, Margaret Ling will be recognized by the Town of Parrsboro for her strong community commitment at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony to be held at the Parrsboro Fire Hall that evening;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature congratulate Margaret on her untiring commitment and love for her community and wish her all the very best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1059

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

Whereas unselfish giving is the cornerstone of volunteerism; and

[Page 3276]

Whereas Mr. Graham Isenor of Enfield is recognized not only for his contribution to the promotion of softball but also for his personal value to those who while under his tutelage identified his large heart and soft interior beneath a gruff and large exterior; and

Whereas Graham's efforts are being praised by an appreciation night, Saturday, April 8th, organized by the beneficiaries of his efforts, the former members of the Enfield Elite and Mariners Softball teams;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Mr. Graham Isenor for the good he has fostered in his community and offer best wishes and congratulations to Graham, his family and all organizers of and participants in his appreciation night.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1060

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

Whereas the poll-by-poll results in yesterday's by-election in Glace Bay show that the NDP vote there dropped, from 3,699 in 1999 to 3,609 this year, for a net loss of 90 votes; and

Whereas the Liberal vote for David Wilson in the same election increased from 3,704 last year to 4,017 this year, for a net gain of 317 votes; and

Whereas the Glace Bay by-election was caused by the NDP, which was not satisfied with the 1999 results and spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs to obtain the by-election it felt it had to have;

[Page 3277]

Therefore be it resolved that this House express hope the NDP has now learned that the people of Cape Breton do not seem to particularly need the NDP in their ongoing effort to obtain fair treatment from government and an improved economic future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1061

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

Whereas a seven member Community Liaison Committee has been established to assist government in keeping local residents informed about the construction of the new forensic psychiatric hospital and correctional facility in the Burnside Industrial Park; and

Whereas the Community Liaison Committee will be the communications bridge between the local community and government; and

Whereas this consultative process will ensure the government acts with the best interest of the community at heart;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish the members of the Community Liaison Committee well as they begin on April 13th their important role on behalf of the people.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1062

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

[Page 3278]

Whereas members of the government caucus have called on the federal government to maintain the emergency Coast Guard helicopter service based in Yarmouth; and

Whereas the federal government recently announced it had granted this important service a reprieve; and

Whereas this announcement is reassuring for fishers and others who navigate the unpredictable waters off Yarmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the federal government for taking the advice of the provincial government and recognizing the importance of the emergency helicopter service to the area.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1063

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

Whereas the Rowan Gorilla V, the world's largest jack-up drilling rig, is headed for the Panuke oil field to carry out drilling; and

Whereas both the Gorilla V and the Gorilla III will be involved in six months of drilling off Nova Scotia's coast; and

Whereas some industry analysts have suggested that the PanCanadian discovery could rival the Sable Island gas project;

[Page 3279]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating PanCanadian and the Rowan Companies as they continue to help develop Nova Scotia's offshore oil and gas industry.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1064

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

Whereas last Friday, a join federal-provincial announcement brought good news of up to 900 jobs for Cape Breton; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas both the Liberals and New Democrats took turns taking credit for this good news, while also taking the time to deliver blows to each other over this announcement; and

Whereas the economy of Cape Breton is in desperate need of all-Party support and attention;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House spend less time taking credit and laying blame and more time finding solutions to the economic challenges facing Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 3280]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1065

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

Whereas nearly 10 million copies of the Canadian Tire 2000 catalogues were printed exclusively on paper produced at Stora Enso's supercalender paper machine at Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas Jack Hartery, President of the Port Hawkesbury mill, praised the employees saying, our employees are certainly up to the challenge of making the best supercalender paper in North America; and

Whereas Stora Enso's Port Hawkesbury mill is the largest forest products company in Nova Scotia, employing 850 people;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Stora Enso for its contribution to the development of the Nova Scotia economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1066

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

[Page 3281]

Whereas Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers held its 14th Annual General Meeting, March 31 to April 1, 2000, in Truro; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers fights crime through a community-based effort which provides authorities with the information needed to lay charges and arrest those who have committed crimes; and

Whereas it is important to note that the Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers organization is staffed by volunteers with only one paid employee who is part time;

Therefore be it resolved that all members salute and support the contribution of Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers as they continue to pursue their goal to make Nova Scotia communities a safer place to live and conduct business.

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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1067

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

Whereas the shipbuilding industry employed 70,000 nationally following the Second World War but only 5,000 currently work in Canadian shipyards; and

Whereas the once vibrant shipbuilding industry has been floundering while foreign shipyards receive financial incentives that give them a competitive edge; and

Whereas despite the urging of the Council of Maritime Premiers, the Marine Workers Federation and others, the federal Liberal Government did not address the problems of Canada's shipbuilding industry in its recent budget;

[Page 3282]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House agree to call on the federal government for a national shipbuilding policy, a policy which will address the difficulties faced in Nova Scotia shipyards.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1068

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Fruit Grower's Association has established the Uniroyal Golden Apple Award as a way of recognizing individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the apple industry; and

Whereas past recipients of this award have included such well-known individuals as A.R. Stirling, David Crowe, A.D. Picken, Rick Whitman, Laurie Hennigar, George Foote and Ken Sanford; and

Whereas this year's recipient of this award is Mr. Charles Embree, a celebrated research scientist and tree fruit physiologist living in the community of Port Williams;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Mr. Charles Embree on obtaining this well-deserved honour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3283]

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 Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1069

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

Whereas Amy Cotton of Judique, Cape Breton, competed at the Belgian Ladies Open Judo Competition along with 10 judoka and two coaches from Canada; and

Whereas Amy Cotton, competing in her first senior international competition in Europe, winning the silver medal in the 78 kilogram division; and

Whereas this talented and determined lady extends her thanks and gives credit to her coach of many years, John Angus Campbell, for his dedication and training at the Mabou Judo Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Amy Cotton for her outstanding achievement in Belgium and extend our best wishes to her at her next competitions taking place in Philadelphia on April 8-9, 2000, followed by the senior nationals in Montreal on April 15-16, 2000.

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 Queens.

[Page 3284]

RESOLUTION NO. 1070

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

Whereas under the leadership of Grade 5 teacher Angela Burke, of North Queens Rural Elementary School, students entered a video contest sponsored by the Discovery Centre and Pratt & Whitney and won first place; and

Whereas the entry submitted by the students highlighted the properties of and changes in materials when solids turn to gases;

Whereas this video production obviously enlightened students scientifically, with subsequent test scores on the material following the project ranging in the area of 90 for the majority;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate both the contest sponsors for their achievement in raising the awareness for science, as well as for the donation of $500 for the purchase of science materials, but also applaud the initiative of Ms. Burke and her students, who not only achieved by winning the award, but who succeeded in furthering their interest in learning.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1071

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

Whereas the member for Timberlea-Prospect has been publicly contemplating about cutting all of his ties to the Boston Bruins; and

[Page 3285]

Whereas the Bruins have now been officially eliminated from a run at Lord Stanley's mug, marking only the second time in 35 years in which they have failed to qualify; and

Whereas the member for Timberlea-Prospect should reflect on the many accomplishments of great Bruins, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and company, to reconfirm his Bruin loyalties;

Therefore be it resolved that before casting his famous Bobby Clarke smile and jumping ship to the Philadelphia Flyers, for example, he reflect upon the glorious days in May 1970, when Bobby Orr and company teamed up on that Stanley Cup winning goal that has proven to be so memorable.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1072

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Black Loyalist Heritage Society was recently honoured with a Human Rights Award presented to the society by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission; and

Whereas the award signified the society's contribution towards promoting human rights and dignity of all persons; and

Whereas the Vice-President of the society, Lawrence Bruce said, he feels the society's work has already promoted better race relations in Shelburne County;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our warmest best wishes to Lawrence Bruce and members of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society for their dedicated and ongoing efforts to improve race relations in this province.

[Page 3286]

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1073

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

Whereas George and Marion Christie, of Bedford, were recently presented the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award for their lifelong contributions to their community; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. Christie have given leadership to numerous recreational, historical, education and religious aspects of community life for more than seven of their nine-plus decades to help make Bedford a better place to live; and

Whereas the Christies remain active, participating in various community events and are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to their hometown of Bedford;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank George and Marion Christie for their past and continuing contributions to their community of Bedford, and congratulate them on being honoured with the Caring Canadian Award, an award that speaks volumes as to the generous character of this special couple.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice, and I might add, before sitting down, they made another contribution to this Legislature.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3287]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1074

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

Whereas the St. Ann's Parish Variety Concert was recently held at the Thorburn Consolidated School; and

Whereas funds from the concert are to be used to assist with the purchase of a new snowblower for the Thorburn church; and

Whereas many entertainers, including local recording artists, the Pictou County Oldtime Fiddlers, assisted with the fund-raiser which, from all accounts, was a great success;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend all volunteers who participated in making this event such a great success.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1075

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

[Page 3288]

Whereas the Beaver Bank-Kinsac Volunteer Fire Department provides a valuable top quality service to the communities of Beaver Bank and Kinsac; and

Whereas this year they will celebrate 35 years of stellar performance in the protection of health and property; and

Whereas Mr. George Hall of Beaver Bank has been with the department for all of the 35 year history of the department, demonstrating his commitment to his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Beaver Bank-Kinsac Volunteer Fire Department and Mr. George Hall for 35 years of dedicated service.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1076

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

Whereas Mr. Alan Fredericks has devoted much of his time to coaching athletes from the Kings-Hants area in order to train these athletes to participate in provincial and federal special athlete games; and

Whereas earlier this year in Ottawa he coached the Nova Scotia floor hockey team to a gold medal win; and

Whereas at the recent Nova Scotia games Alan Fredericks was recognized as Nova Scotia Special Olympics Male Coach of the Year;

[Page 3289]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Alan Fredericks and in thanking him for all his efforts in helping Special Olympic athletes from the Kings-Hants area.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1077

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Pictou Industries Limited has long been an industrial cornerstone in the Town of Pictou; and

Whereas the employees of Pictou Industries Limited are currently busy working on an order to build six 75-foot luxury yachts, the first to be delivered this summer to the Mediterranean, a second to be delivered this fall to California, and a third to Florida; and

Whereas management expects the current workforce of 30 to 35 people to expand to between 80 and 85 by summer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the hard work and dedication of the men and women working at Pictou Industries Limited whose craft and skill will be displayed on a global stage when these luxury yachts set sail for their new homes around the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 3290]

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1078

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

Whereas Brooklyn resident, Leonard Grant, was one of only five winners in a woodworking contest which attracted over 600 entries; and

Whereas Mr. Grant's entry, a 17-foot cedar and pine kayak, took four months of hard work, detailed task work, achieved with some help from local woodworker, Martin Huntley; and

Whereas the Canadian Home Workshop magazine contest awarded Mr. Grant with more than $3,000 worth of tools and building supplies;

Therefore be it resolved that members congratulate Leonard Grant on this national recognition for his woodworking skills.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Shelburne.

[Page 3291]

RESOLUTION NO. 1079

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Shelburne County Bantam AA Flames recently won their second consecutive Nova Scotia championship at the provincial tournament held in North Sydney; and

Whereas the Flames defeated Cumberland County twice to win the championship after finishing the round-robin portion tied with two other teams at 3 to 1; and

Whereas the championship team has dedicated the victory to their late team-mate, Justin Kenney, who was killed in a car accident in early December 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that members acknowledge the efforts, teamwork and dedication of Coach, Andrew Holland, and his players which led them to their second consecutive Bantam AA hockey championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1080

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

Whereas Port Hawkesbury had been chosen as the host town for the 2000 Nova Scotia Highland Dancing Championships that are scheduled for April 29th; and

Whereas approximately 80 dancers will participate in six divisions; and

[Page 3292]

Whereas from this championship, a shortlist of members will be selected for the Nova Scotia team who will participate at the Canadian National Highland Dance Championships later this summer in Edmonton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud organizers of this event for providing Highland dancers in Nova Scotia with the opportunity to perform and excel while wishing all every success as they compete this month to represent the province nationally.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1081

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

Whereas a 46 year old Eastern Shore man got lost while walking in the woods near East Chezzetcook on January 1st;

Whereas East Petpeswick residents David Young and Brian Mason braved 70 kilometre winds and -13 degree Celsius weather to search for the man; and

Whereas the rescue operation was a success thanks to the quick thinking and wilderness first aid training of Mr. Young and Mr. Mason;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Young and Mr. Mason for their heroic rescue operation and commend them for their success in saving the life of a fellow Nova Scotian.

[Page 3293]

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1082

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

Whereas indoor training camps are continuing as the newly reformed, yet historic Pictou Albions prepare for play in the fledging Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League this summer; and

Whereas Russ Ohemen and Dan Devine are leading the way in re-establishing the Albions, while also bringing both new and old memories of baseball to Pictou County; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League besides the Albions will consist of four other teams from Maccan, Sackville, Hantsport and Windsor;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate the Albion and league executive as well as players from all teams as they look forward to a challenging season of intermediate baseball.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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.

[Page 3294]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1083

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

Whereas by all accounts, the Midget "A" Provincial Hockey Tournament held this past weekend in Yarmouth was a resounding success; and

Whereas a group of dedicated volunteers helped make this possible including Tournament Chair Curt Goudy, Yarmouth team Coaches Brian Trask and Yvon D'Entremont, and the families and friends of the Yarmouth players; and

Whereas the teams from Antigonish, Cole Harbour, New Waterford, West Hants, along with the host team from Yarmouth battled for the provincial crown, New Waterford emerged the champions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the players, coaches, parents, hard-working volunteers and the many fans whose spirit of cooperation and sportsmanship helped make this event a great success, and congratulate the championship team from New Waterford.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1084

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

[Page 3295]

Whereas Brookfield Memorial School in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is celebrating its 50th Anniversary; and

Whereas the school is dedicated as a memorial to the men and women of Brookfield and area who gave their lives in the two world wars; and

Whereas construction of the school began in the summer of 1949 under the leadership of contractor Owen Fisher at a cost of $53,000;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend birthday greetings to Brookfield Memorial School as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1085

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

Whereas Gregg Ernst, farmer and blacksmith of First Peninsula, Lunenburg County, was the Canadian Strong Man Champion for 1991; and

Whereas Mr. Ernst held the world record for the largest live weight lift and the largest weight lift, among other weightlifting accomplishments; and

Whereas Gregg Ernst's feats of strength and humility have made him an outstanding representative for Nova Scotia and all of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Gregg Ernst on his accomplishment as a strong man and thank him for representing Nova Scotia abroad.

[Page 3296]

Mr. Speaker, I request 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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:04 p.m. and will end at 4:34 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

FIN.: BUDGET (2000-01) - DELAY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to direct my question through you to the honourable Premier. The Premier's secret list of 1,126 programs was completed in September. Four months ago, his government announced that the budget was well under way. February, then March and the first week of April were flagged as budget time.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, to explain to members of this House why his government can't seem to find the courage to complete and present its next budget?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I am not sure to what the member is referring when he says the budget was flagged. It is the prerogative of the Minister of Finance to decide when the budget will be brought forward and to this point he has not indicated or flagged any date publicly when that will occur, but I anticipate he will do so very soon.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier, they have been making all kinds of noises to Nova Scotians about the budget coming down, and let me tell you that Nova Scotians, in particular people working in health care and education, are very concerned about what this budget is going to look like and they want to see it. The Premier and his colleagues have refused to open up the budget process, refused to share information and options, have refused to consult in any meaningful way.

[Page 3297]

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why is your government so afraid that no one will like what it is that you have cooked up in the back rooms?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that there are certain responsibilities that government has to observe relative to the secrecy of the budget. The Minister of Finance has followed those traditions and I believe he is doing exactly what he should do; be responsible in the way he introduces the budget and that is to do it on budget day.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians who are trying to recruit new physicians to the province, Nova Scotians who are working hard on school boards to deliver a quality education in this province, are waiting with great fear and trepidation for the budget as a result of all the noise, and there are other members of this Premier's own caucus who, likewise, are living in fear and trepidation.

I want to ask the Premier if he would tell this House why Conservative MLAs, like those from Kings County, are saying publicly that gallows will be set up for them once Nova Scotians see the budget that this government is preparing?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the New Democratic Party never fails to amaze me, and many other Nova Scotians, with far-reaching allegations which, unless he is prepared to table some documents, have absolutely no basis in fact.

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

NSLC - PRIVATIZATION

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. The minister has stated that the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission will be privatized, by saying that the workers will be treated fairly. I want to know from the minister why his government is, in fact, privatizing the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is wrong. I did not say that.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is to the Premier. The Premier has stated that there will be job cuts in the Civil Service and he said, in a promise to the NSGEU, that there will be five points followed. The Premier has stated that, in fact, he will abide by that because it was in his blue book. He said it again in an article in the paper, that he will follow those five points. If that is the case, why has he been negotiating since before Christmas on how those five points would be implemented?

[Page 3298]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has undertaken to set up a process with the union representing the Nova Scotia government employees, and when that process is in place it will allow us to effectively address the five point plan then it will go forward. It is a commitment of the government, but it is a commitment that we can only keep with the cooperation of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

MR. MACLELLAN: The five points are very clear; they are very straightforward. Supposedly the civil servants will be let go, and in accordance with these five points. I do not see what the discussion is unless, and I would ask the Premier, why won't he tell us the discussion is really about cutting back on those five promises that he made to the NSGEU, and what is his problem with keeping the commitment as he stated and reiterated on two occasions?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite had an opportunity to read the five point plan and it involves a cooperative approach by government with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. We are in the process of having meetings with the union to set up that process and, when the process is established, it will move on to look at the cooperative way in which we as government can work with the union to minimize the effect of downsizing on the public sector.

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

HUMAN RES.: PUBLIC SERVICE - MORALE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Premier. The Premier's officials opened up a discussion forum supposedly to involve public servants in a transformation of government. What we hear on that forum are comments like I am now becoming discouraged; this is all smoke and mirrors; and tell us what is going to happen so that we can get on with our lives. Morale has gone to the pits as we go through this process and people are afraid. I want to ask the Premier, why is it he has let morale in the Public Service slide so badly, instead of providing the strong leadership that he promised?

THE PREMIER: It is very difficult for government to say to public sector workers that we are in a position to protect all of your positions; that is simply not possible. It is not possible because of the situation in which we find ourselves. What we are prepared to do is work with the public sector to minimize the impact of what we have to do as a government, to minimize that impact on the public sector.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Let me just say that the problem is because this government does not have the courage to tell people what it is that they are doing, the weak and inconsistent messages from this government. Let's not forget that in the election campaign the Premier said that his first and foremost priority was health care, but the MLA for Kings South has announced that health care will be one of the biggest cuts. I ask the

[Page 3299]

Premier, is health care going to take the course that the Premier promised in the election or is it the course outlined by Tory MLAs?

THE PREMIER: The course that this government has taken since the election is the course that was outlined to the people of Nova Scotia before the election. If the member opposite is having difficulty in remembering what it is we said, I could refer him to the member for Dartmouth North who does have a copy of our platform.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Another reason for the poor morale is the misleading peek-a-boo approach that this Premier and this government have taken. They warned that 1,500 jobs will be eliminated, yet the 9th annual reorganization of government departments has no job numbers attached at all. Why is it? Nova Scotians want to know why it is that this government cannot be clear and specific about the plans it has made for the Public Service of Nova Scotia.

THE PREMIER: The government, I can remind the member opposite, has been very clear and very specific as to what it is it is going to do. It has been, in a stepwise fashion, moving towards delivering those commitments it made to Nova Scotians. It is committed to a balanced budget; it is committed to good, accessible health care; it is committed to lifetime learning; it is committed to looking after those Nova Scotians who are disadvantaged; it is committed to providing an environment to let this economy grow. Those are the commitments of this government and those are the commitments that this government will keep.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

COMMUN. SERV.: SECURE TREATMENT CENTRE

(TRURO-BIBLE HILL) - STATUS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. During the election campaign the Tories, particularly the Minister of Health, made promises to spend $1 million on a secure treatment facility for the youth in conflict within society. The current Minister of Health promised this facility would be located in Truro, in fact. As we know, this is not only an issue of Health but also of Justice, Education and Community Services.

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is, could the Minister of Health please advise on the update of the status of that $1 million commitment to a secure treatment facility?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that particular facility is under the purview of the Minister of Community Services and I will refer that question to him.

[Page 3300]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the question is a very important one that the member for Dartmouth East raises. Our government has indicated that we are committed to moving on with a secure treatment facility. At the present time, that is still in the design stage, the design and deciding what services it will provide, and that is where it stands at the present time.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do apologize, I should have known. I guess I see it as a health issue, but I apologize for addressing the wrong minister. Anyway, in Opposition and again during the election, particularly the Minister of Health, they bragged about the number of times that they had raised that particular issue to us in the House and it is time, I believe, that this government stopped using the welfare and the personal safety of people as a political carrot to dangle in front of voters, in the constituency of Truro particularly.

To the minister, the question is, why is this minister and this government dragging its feet over an issue that was of such paramount importance during the time of the election, and is the issue of a secure treatment facility on hold or not?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, with a secure treatment facility there is a lot of planning and a lot of work to go into that. What we have been doing is coming out with other facilities that have been coming out for the use of our youth in the province. What will happen in terms of this coming year, the budget will reveal our plans as to where we are going after that.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as far as I could determine, that was a yes, it is on hold. So my question to the Premier, very briefly, is when is this Tory Government going to honour the promise they made to the people in Truro-Bible Hill? Now you can argue whether that is the right place or the wrong place, but they made that commitment. So when will they keep their promise to the people in Truro-Bible Hill and to the youth who are currently being sent out of Nova Scotia at the expense of Nova Scotia taxpayers? When will this Tory Government keep its promise?

THE PREMIER: I thank the member opposite for the question. It is obvious that he doesn't really expect a date to be given. On the other hand, the member asked the question in such a way that he does not doubt for one minute that we are going to deliver on the promise, his only question is when. If the member opposite is patient, he will learn when.

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

HUMAN RES. - PUB. SERV.:

PRIVATIZATION - NSGEU CONTACT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to go back to the Premier. The Premier went on at some length in response to my last questions about all the commitments

[Page 3301]

that he has made and how he is going to keep them. I want to ask a question about the privatization of services. The government has been publicly discussing privatization of services since December. Why is it that the Premier and his officials have not met with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union to discuss his election commitment on privatization?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will remind the member opposite, he said we have been discussing that since December, as a matter of fact, back on October 18th, I, with two officials from my office, met with the President of Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Mr. Ian Johnson and Mr. Dane Percy. We had a meeting, we discussed privatization, we discussed the five point plan and within eight days we exchanged letters naming the persons who would carry on the discussions. So those discussions with the NSGEU started very early.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier if he would table those letters, that exchange that he made reference to, for members of this House because that is in complete contradiction to what the President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union had to say and I think it is important, given that, that he table that information to support his assertions.

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary, the Premier knows that the Liberal privatizations were wasteful, inhuman and expensive. That is why he signed that five point plan. That is why he made that commitment. I want to ask him why he hasn't put his commitment to protect public services into action and put it in the form of a specific proposal in consultation with the representatives of the provincial government employees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite will realize, having read the document, that the document talks about a cooperative process and until we get the process established, one that is agreeable to both parties - and we are working toward that end - then obviously the commitment cannot be completed. We are in those negotiations with NSGEU. We anticipate that we will come up with a process that will work to the advantage of both parties, the party of government that represents all taxpayers and the NSGEU that represents the interests of the public sector workers.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: The document that he refers to, the five principles, contains a couple of other things. They talk about ensuring that an independent review is conducted. They talk about a demonstrably improved service. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he ensure that his government will fulfil all of the commitments that he made when he signed those principles to ensure that public services in the Province of Nova Scotia are protected? That was your commitment.

[Page 3302]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite doesn't seem to realize that we have been in the negotiating process as early as last October and to indicate the commitment of government, I can also tell the member that the last meeting on this issue was only seven days ago.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - HOME INVASIONS: SENIORS - SAFETY ENSURE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. All Nova Scotians were saddened to hear that last night another home invasion took place in Spryfield. That is two this week and Nova Scotian seniors are afraid. In the worst case of partisan posturing, the Tory Party campaigned to seek stiffer sentences for home invasions, knowing full well that Nova Scotia already has some of the toughest laws and toughest sentences in the country. In fact, the minister has admitted to this since entering office. My question is, what is this minister doing to ensure the safety of Nova Scotian seniors from these cowardly acts?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the member asked the question. That is why on Monday of this week, this government unveiled a comprehensive initiative to communicate with Nova Scotians through a video program to be released to police officers all across the province. That is why this week this government issued a directive to the Public Prosecution Service with respect to home invasions, so that we could be assured that this government would be doing something on this issue. I might add, that is why this government has pushed the federal Attorney General to introduce a separate crime of home invasion in the Criminal Code.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this minister and the Tory Party played upon seniors' worst fears. Home invasions have reached epidemic proportions and this minister is doing very little to ensure the safety of seniors. The minister, as he said in his answer, issued a guide to Crown Attorneys to assist them on this issue, while actually recognizing that the Crown Attorneys had already sought and obtained the stiffest sentences in the country.

Nova Scotians want to know more about what this government is doing to stem the tide of home invasions. My question is, will the minister assure this House that he is doing something concrete, rather than making bold pronouncements with little substance?

MR. BAKER: As I indicated earlier in answer to the member's question, this government has initiated a policy on a broad front, which would enable us to deal with this issue. In fact, we are doing everything we can. In fact, the video is a very effective policing tool, because the police officers at these conferences have indicated that a most effective way in dealing with this crime is prevention.

[Page 3303]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, obviously, the video was of no use to the senior last night who had his home invaded. That video certainly didn't help that senior when his home was invaded. It is a disgrace that this minister would hide behind a video to protect seniors in this province. It is a shame.

Mr. Speaker, in their blue book, the Tories said they would respond to the concerns of seniors by pursuing stiffer sentences, as outlined in PC legislation already introduced. Will the minister be reintroducing this legislation, or was this just another attempt to trick seniors into voting Tory?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, no one has been tricked on anything. Our Party's commitment to stemming these cowardly crimes against seniors is undisputed. Our Party has made a very clear commitment, and our government is clearly committed to ending this cowardly crime against seniors and disabled people. We intend to carry forward with this initiative.

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

HEALTH - ILLNESS: TERMINAL - ASSIST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the Minister of Health the situation of an individual who needs his help. This is a 57 year old woman who is terminally ill with a rare neurological disease, an amputee, diabetic, no money, no family and one month left to live. This woman wants to die in her own home, but the system won't allow that because it is cheaper to send her to a nursing home. My question is, will the Minister of Health commit today that this woman will be provided with care in her home so that she can die in dignity?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would care to provide me with the details of who he is speaking of, then I could provide a response to him in private, or we could discuss it. I can't discuss individual cases on the floor of this House.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to do that with the Minister of Health. Unfortunately, the reality is that it is not an isolated incident. To the minister again, I am left wondering why it is that we have patients at the QE II waiting for months, at $1,000 a day, for a nursing home bed, yet the system can't afford to care for a woman with four weeks left to live at home. This woman is currently spending periods of time on her own, alone in her apartment. All she is asking for is a nurse to administer appropriate medication so that she will not spend her final hours in pain.

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Health explain how it is that our health care system won't let someone die with dignity in their own home?

[Page 3304]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say a few words about Home Care Nova Scotia, because this is what the honourable member is referring to. Home Care Nova Scotia currently provides service to about 12,000 Nova Scotians. Services are provided seven days a week, on an intermittent basis, and include chronic care, acute care, home oxygen and palliative care. What happens is that there are situations where the feeling of those appropriate to make those decisions that the health and safety of a person would be compromised if they stayed in their own home, and in that case, when we reach that stage, options are often presented to them.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this case gives me cause for concern about the health care system in general. Will the minister reassure the people of Nova Scotia that the health care budget will not result in a health care system that values cost savings over human dignity?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question, and I can assure him that human dignity is one of the things of utmost concern to this government, and the policies of the Department of Health are intended to protect human dignity. If we don't have a sustainable health care system, the types of situations that the honourable member refers to, although I don't really know the details, could very well become the rule rather than an exception. I would not want that to happen.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN.: HARNESS RACING - SUBSIDY

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The member for Colchester North announced, according to the Saturday Truro Daily News, that $1 million more would be going into the harness racing industry now that the deal between ALC and industry has expired. We have already put $1.7 million into this industry, and we have absolutely nothing to show for it.

At a time when charities and not-for-profit organizations are being cut and as programs are being cut, the government is tossing away another $1 million without any accountability, without any reports back from ALC or anyone involved in the harness racing industry about why this industry is failing. My question to the Premier is simply, why are you spending another $1 million on an industry that has already put millions of dollars in and has no accountability as to what the future will be for it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the minister responsible for ALC.

[Page 3305]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find this whole statement by the honourable member ridiculous. This is the government that put in place the program that was administered to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation to subsidize harness racing. The way it was programmed, there was very little control over that and costs which were estimated to be very low grew to large levels. I believe in this last fiscal year over $2 million within the ALC was provided to the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation through a fund administered by the ALC, plus $1 million to the Department of Agriculture.

What this government has done, Mr. Speaker, is to offer assistance of $1 million total, not $3 million that was in there last year which was started by that group of gentlemen across the road. For us, what we brought about is some accountability, and that will be administered through the Department of Agriculture.

MR. DOWNE: I think the Minister of Finance is drawing a long bow here. The reality is that there was a two year or three year plan. The ALC has already spent all their money allocated for the harness racing industry. We have not had the report back in this House as to where those dollars went. What is the future viability of the harness racing industry in the Province of Nova Scotia? That is what we are waiting for.

Mr. Speaker, I think that Cyril Ready of Truro Raceway was campaign manager for John Hamm. To me, the reality of why you are putting $1 million into this program is no more than absolute patronage for the campaign manager. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Question please.

MR. DOWNE: My question to the Premier is, how can he explain to the House why his government is forking out $1 million to the Premier's own campaign manager when the rest of rural Nova Scotia is going through a financial crisis in the Province of Nova Scotia.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer the question to the minister responsible for ALC who will try to explain to the member opposite, who contributed $3 million to the program, why we are contributing so much less.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman who has asked this question is so uninformed that it boggles my mind. We have brought about a reasonable level of assistance to the harness racing industry to make it viable. We are going to administer that through the Department of Agriculture through the exhibition commission and other groups, whereby they will be in control of their own industry. For this gentleman to impute motive to the people who will also work in that industry that they have something to gain, I think is a gross distortion of fact.

[Page 3306]

MR. DOWNE: If the shoe fits, you may as well wear it and that is exactly what they are going to be doing. Every time there is going to be one bed closed in the Province of Nova Scotia, every time there is going to be one school or one teacher let go, Nova Scotians remember this $1 million payoff for a campaign manager for the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia.

My question is, can the Premier stand up straight-faced in this House, not the Minister of Finance because he has not been straight-faced, and explain to Nova Scotians why they are putting $1 million into a program when money has been spent for two years without the accountability of that brought to the floor of the House. Can he stand up and be honest about it to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: It would be very difficult for this Premier to get up and explain why for years that government allowed $3 million of expenditure on the harness racing industry of Nova Scotia without any accountability, because that simply is what the member opposite has just asked.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

NSLC - PRIVATIZATION

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act. Yesterday, I tabled a letter in which the current Premier told the NSGEU, "Based upon evaluation of current information, it is the position of this Caucus that Nova Scotia liquor stores should not be privatized.", but the minister proceeded in his response to directly contradict his Premier's stance by saying he is considering privatizing liquor stores. I want to ask this minister, why is he considering breaking the Premier's promise not to privatize liquor stores in Nova Scotia?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Yesterday, the honourable member asked me a hypothetical question and in return I gave her a hypothetical answer.

MS. O'CONNELL: I do not think there was anything hypothetical about it at all. If there was, all the affected groups all around this province would not be getting together and talking to us about how concerned they are about privatization. I have spoken to affected groups all over this province and they are very concerned. I want to ask the minister, who is it who is telling him it is a good idea to privatize the liquor stores?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: The honourable member knows full well that this has been in circulation in the newspapers the last few months and she is well aware of the parties who are bringing this issue forth and it is one she has been bringing forth the last few days. It is not I that brought this forth, it is her.

[Page 3307]

MS. O'CONNELL: The minister is considering privatizing liquor stores, he has not denied that, but he has not made any information public that he has to support the decision. He says there is just chatting about it in the public. If the government is not simply operating on some ideological whim, it would have done a socio-economic impact study. I want to ask this minister, would he table that study in this House today?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Again, the member is raising a hypothetical question. Nothing has taken place as yet.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in response to the member's question, she can be assured that whenever this government does whatever, it is going to do it in the best interests of Nova Scotians and to be fair to whatever workers are involved.

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B.: CALL CENTRE - ASSIST. AMOUNT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. I think the minister will agree that Friday's announcement of a call centre that could employ 900 or more people in industrial Cape Breton is good news but, at the same time, it is only a piece of a solution to a much larger economic problem. Curiously enough, the government did not issue a press release or issue a ministerial statement indicating how much the province is injecting into the project. As a matter of fact, when they went to the event in Sydney, they sort of snuck in and snuck out without saying anything.

AN HON. MEMBER: Snuck?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Snuck in and snuck out, yes. I would like to ask the minister what type of assistance is being rendered and what amount is coming from the $12 million committed to ease the Devco transition?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member opposite that this is a good-news announcement. Certainly in terms of how the information was conveyed to the public, we participated as a full partner with our federal counterparts in the announcement. In terms of the provincial contribution, we are relying on a program which rewards success and that is the Payroll Rebate Program. When jobs are created and sustained, only then is the province obligated to contribute funds. The evidence clearly indicates that this program is very effective. As to the dollar amount, $8.9 million over five years to create 900 jobs is a good investment. So we are very confident as to how this works.

[Page 3308]

In relation to the third question that he asked, as far as how it affects the $12 million the province is contributing, this contribution is over and above the province's contribution for this year which would be $3 million.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the minister is aware, a good number of people are involved in the project, from municipal people to the federal government to the fine staff in your own department, Mr. Minister. I have a picture here of two very happy NDP Members of Parliament, who are latching on to the Prime Minister here trying to get membership cards to the Liberal Party, going around Sydney saying that they had direct input into this particular project. (Laughter) I would like to ask the minister what role (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South, would you repeat the question? (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South, would you repeat the question, please?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to ask the minister again, what role did the two federal MPs from Cape Breton have in negotiating with your department for this project?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order. Order, please. The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite again for the question because it does give me the opportunity to express my thanks to all the people who made this possible and particularly to the people at Economic Development, Francis MacKenzie at Trade Investment because they were the lead agency in terms of bringing this forward.

As to the participation of the federal members for Cape Breton, I believe at least in one instance she was involved in another difficult file, Scotia Rainbow. (Laughter) So they didn't really participate to any large degree. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. My final supplementary, 900 jobs is an important piece of the economic puzzle. (Interruption) I sure know how to get the Leader of the NDP's attention. All you have to do is mention NDP members and you get his attention immediately, like his attention yesterday in Glace Bay when he went down there.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, we already know that 900 jobs is an important piece of the economic puzzle but I want to ask the minister about the 500 jobs for Glace Bay that seemed to have slipped away with the loss of the Stream call centre. I want to ask the

[Page 3309]

minister, we have received information that those jobs have been diverted from Glace Bay to Kentville, which happens to be a Tory riding. I want the minister to answer me whether or not the Stream jobs that were supposed to go to Glace Bay are now going to Kentville?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again I would thank the member for the question. The department is negotiating with any number of companies at any given time, and Stream is one that is involved. As to the relocation of that, that particular opportunity to another part of the province, that decision has not been made. We are continuing to talk with all of the various companies that have expressed an interest in exploring opportunities in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

FIN. - CASINO (HFX.):

PRE-ARBITRATION - SETTLEMENT OFFER

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be speaking to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance and the Premier like to talk the tough talk about the casino. They remind me a little of the big, bad wolf. They huff and they puff about being tough. Then last Friday, they got blown away by the arbitrator's ruling. We have today confirmed that. Before the arbitrator's ruling, there were urgent settlement discussions between the province and the casino. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what did the minister know about this settlement negotiation, and when did he know it?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the arbitration case that took place between the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation and in regard to MEG, which is the Metropolitan Entertainment Group, there was a position taken by this government that we would go to arbitration, because we felt in our hearts that a deal was a deal, and that the $10,000 a day penalty should be paid to the province. There were some discussions that took place between the Gaming Corporation - because I don't direct the Gaming Corporation what to do - and the casino regarding the possibility of doing such, however, those discussions didn't go anywhere. We proceeded on to arbitration.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, we have reason to believe - that is this Party - that in these settlement negotiations, the casino offered a cash payment to the province, but the province refused. Shortly after the negotiations broke off, the arbitrator issued his decision and the province walked away with nothing. My question to the Minister of Finance is, why did the province gamble with taxpayers' money when it could have reached a negotiated settlement?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will be very clear to the member. I am not aware that an offer was made between the Metropolitan Entertainment Group and the province. I am being very clear about that. I have also taken a position to give considerable latitude to the

[Page 3310]

people who run the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. I, for one, have been a critic in the past of government interference in the operation of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. While in government, I am practising what I preached in Opposition.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have plenty to apologize for when it comes to the casino, but this failed settlement happened under this minister's watch, this Minister of Finance. My question to this Minister of Finance is, when will you stop blaming the Liberals and finally take responsibility for your government's weak-kneed casino policy? That is the answer I want.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have been very candid with the member. I am not aware that an offer was made. I have also been very up front in saying that the position of this government is that we were owed $10,000 a day for every day that it was late. We said that while we were in Opposition, we are saying that when we are in government, and we went to arbitration. The member has made some statements here, I have said very clearly that I am not aware that happened. I will also talk to staff, to the members of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation to first of all see whether there is any validity to them. But I will say, in any case, it is my opinion that we would have held out for the $10,000 a day because I firmly believed, and I know that my caucus firmly believed, that that group owed us $10,000 a day. However, when you go to arbitration, it is arbitration and there are no guarantees that you will win.

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

SYSCO: CREDIT LINE - CESSATION

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Tories promised in the election campaign that they would protect Sysco workers and secure their pensions. Now we find that the government, last Friday, announced that it will be paying out Sysco's credit lines in the amount of $79.1 million to the Royal Bank and $75.2 million to the Bank of Nova Scotia. My question to the Premier is, did the banks request that those credit lines be paid out now or was it the decision by your government, Mr. Premier, to do it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, these lines of credit were due to expire on March 31st. We were contacted by the banks in regard to that; obviously, we would expect them to contact government and to ask. We have stated up front that we would not be increasing that line of credit and, as such, it was our position that we should fulfil our obligations to those two banks and pay them off.

[Page 3311]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about increasing the lines of credit. We were talking about continuing the lines of credit past March 31st. Not only is that move an insult to Sysco workers, that the credit lines were paid out immediately, it is an insult to the 300 Royal Bank employees who were recently laid off. Maybe the bank will take that $39 million and hire them back.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that the Royal Bank and the Bank of Nova Scotia are friends of the government. They just received a windfall from the government. Paying out those credit lines means that the government has sold or will soon close the mill, by cutting the cheque.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: What guarantees can you give Sysco workers that they will continue to receive paycheques while the mill is still operating, now that the lifelines have been removed? That question is to the Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is being unusually convoluted, but what he seems to be saying, will Sysco workers be paid; yes, they will. I will answer another question that will probably pre-empt what the member will ask next, will they be treated fairly; yes, and they are going back to the negotiation table next week.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it means that if the workers are going to be paid, then it is obvious if the lines of credit are cut off, then the government is going to put more money into Sysco over the next few weeks and months to make the payroll. That is what he just said. (Interruptions) Well, how are they going to be paid? You are the ones who own the steel plant. How are they going to be paid?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Was that your question?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My question to the Premier again, when will the Premier live up to his commitment, instead of the rhetoric that he is exposing here, to the Sysco workers by signing the collective agreement that they have offered to the government and by living up to their obligations to secure an adequate pension plan for the workers at Sydney Steel, when?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite gets so red in the face when he hasn't a point to make when he is on the floor of the House. The point is this government has said it will be fair to steelworkers. This government will do what it said it is going to do at Sysco and it will keep its commitment, not only to steelworkers, but to taxpayers. (Applause)

[Page 3312]

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

HEALTH - VALLEY REG. HOSP.: BEDS - SHORTAGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I told the Minister of Health that the Valley Regional Hospital had to postpone six operations last week because its beds were full. I was truly disappointed when I heard the Minister of Health respond that the hospital has the beds and equipment it needs. Well, I want to tell the Minister of Health that today three more surgeries were postponed and two others were put on hold because, once again, the beds at the Valley Regional Hospital are full. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how it is he can say there are enough beds at the Valley Regional Hospital when they had to postpone 11 surgeries in just the past eight days?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will give the honourable member the same response I gave yesterday. Sometimes there are situations in Nova Scotia where things have to be postponed. I think the comforting thing is that when people are in need of immediate service, or immediate surgery, they get it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, front-line health care workers of the Valley Regional Hospital are demoralized to hear the minister say that people in that community who need a CAT scan could simply go elsewhere. Yesterday the Minister of Health said that he has not received a request to replace the CAT scanner at that hospital. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am going to make that request now. Yes or no, will the Minister of Health commit today to immediately replace the outdated CAT scanner at the Valley Regional Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if that request comes from the appropriate people, then it will be dealt with in an appropriate fashion.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I am supposed to take that personally or not.

The member for Kings South stated publicly that there will be gallows awaiting him in Kentville when people learn of this government's cuts to health care, but health care workers in the Valley say that Valley Regional can't handle any more cuts. Does the Minister of Health understand that any more funding cuts will threaten Kentville's ability to function as a regional and community hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, like all health care facilities in the province, the folks in the Valley Regional, which I might add is a very fine institution with a dedicated workforce, but sometimes there is a difference between wants and needs, and our government is taking that into consideration.

[Page 3313]

What we are trying to do through a number of initiatives that are ongoing, including the clinical services review, the facilities review, and the mental health review, is to try and determine what services are needed in this province in some sort of an objective basis. One of the things that has been sadly lacking in Nova Scotia, indeed right across Canada, has been an adequate health information system, and we are trying to remedy that in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

AGRIC. - 4-H PROGRAMS: SUPPORT - CONTINUATION

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I realize the Minister of Agriculture is not here, but I think this is an issue that the Premier really should be addressing anyway. I realize the Premier comes from a rural part of Nova Scotia, and one that realizes the importance of agricultural programs, not only agricultural programs for farmers but for farm families and for rural communities, and that is why I want to ask the Premier this question. Will the Premier stand in this House today and reaffirm to members of this Legislature and to all Nova Scotians, that the provincial government will continue its support at the current rate of financial support for the 4-H programs throughout Nova Scotia in the upcoming years ahead?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I share the concern of the member opposite. I, too, am a supporter of the 4-H programs and the details of the support of the government will be part and parcel of the budget process very soon.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I know the Premier understands, and I know many members in the Conservative Government understand the tremendous importance that 4-H has played to the cultural and to the building blocks of rural communities and the people involved in it and the youth. I know as I stand here today, after talking to 4-H leaders around the province that they are scared to death this government is going to be cutting the program to the extent where it will be reflective of that of New Brunswick or even worse. That is unacceptable to this Party and to the 4-H members in the Province of Nova Scotia.

My question to the Premier, although he cannot give specific numbers because it is in breach of budget security, will the Premier commit to this House and to the 4-H leaders and the 4-H families in the Province of Nova Scotia, his absolute commitment to retain the current level of support for 4-H, fiscally and morally by this Conservative Government?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the honourable member has asked a specific budgetary question.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

[Page 3314]

MR. SPEAKER: It is a specific budgetary item that you are asking about, so you could re-word that, and if you could shorten it up a little bit into a question, please.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, will the Premier commit his, and his caucus', full support to carry on the 4-H movement in a very dynamic way as it currently is in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[4:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, having been, and I understand still is, a successful member of the farming community, knows full well the importance of the 4-H program in the development of our people. That particularly argument is not lost on this government.

MR. DOWNE: Just a comment then, Mr. Speaker, I was actually wanting the Minister of Agriculture but he is away but I will say to the Premier and to his colleague and his caucus that we are going to be very strong on the issue of 4-H and I will look and wait with interest for the budget. I thank the Premier for his commitment and comments here today.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE BEDS:

ADV. COMM. CHAIRMAN - CONFLICT OF INTEREST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health. The Advisory Committee on Long-Term Care Capital Infrastructure is chaired by Mr. Brian MacLeod. Mr. MacLeod will oversee the development of policy recommendations to the provincial government on how the new long-term care beds will be allocated in this province. Mr. MacLeod owns five for-profit homes in this province. Mr. MacLeod stands to benefit a great deal from this committee's work.

My question is what consideration did the government give to this obvious conflict of interest before Mr. MacLeod was appointed?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can say in response to the honourable member's question that Mr. MacLeod's name was verified or checked against many people who operate long-term care facilities in this province. He and his group, I guess, are extremely well respected in the long-term care area in this province. I can say for the honourable member's information that not only were for-profit institutions, members for that, on that committee but there are representatives from private-not-for-profit as well as for public-not-for-profit. There is a wide variety of people on that committee.

[Page 3315]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the top three private-for-profit nursing home companies in this province are represented on this committee. You don't deal with conflict of interests by having three foxes guard the hen house. What steps has the government taken to make sure that these companies cannot use this public committee for private financial gain?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised to hear the honourable member question the integrity of the people on that committee. I am shocked by that because the members of that committee are good people. I would say that the report is going to be presented to the minister and our department people will examine that report and use it as is appropriate.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, nurses aren't on this committee, nursing home staff aren't on this committee, seniors aren't on this committee, when will the Minister of Health replace the private self-interested operators on this committee and ensure that the committee is truly representative?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am satisfied with the membership of that committee and I look forward to its report.

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

LBR. - ELEVATORS: INSPECTION - REQUIREMENT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. The Elevators and Lifts Act of Nova Scotia comes under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Labour. I would ask the minister as to how often, by law, are elevators required to be inspected?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that very uplifting question. (Laughter) I can tell the honourable member that the elevators are inspected quite often. They are not done on an annual basis however.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: I do not know what to say to that one. Mr. Speaker, given the fact that there are some 2,300 elevators in the Province of Nova Scotia that are operating presently, can the minister confirm if all of these elevators have been inspected and approved according to the requirements of the Elevators and Lifts Act?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge the elevators are being inspected to the requirements and if I learn otherwise, I will certainly let the honourable member know, but as far as I know they are still going up and down.

[Page 3316]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can help the minister on this one. I guess my question would be, why is the minister, himself, using an elevator on a daily basis to get to his office that has not been inspected and does not carry a licence according to the Elevators and Lifts Act of the Province of Nova Scotia? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that information and, obviously, I was mistaken when I assumed that that elevator was operating properly and would have been inspected under the previous minister's control. I will certainly ensure that the negligence of the member for Cape Breton West is looked after as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

STATUS OF WOMEN - FAMILY LAW:

MEDIATION PROG. - STUDY (THANS)

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. Yesterday the Minister of Justice said that the report on mediation that was put out by THANS was inaccurate and flawed. As the Minister responsible for the Status of Women may be aware, this report is called qualitative research. It is not about the numbers, it is about the actual experiences of abused women who have gone through mediation. So I want to ask this minister, does the minister agree with the Minister of Justice that the women who participated in this study provided the researcher with inaccurate and flawed information about their experiences?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, my position on that study, and I did meet with the women from the transition house together with members from the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, is that the women who gave their stories to the researchers were being accurate and honest. The methodology of the study is not really the issue when coming to the evidence presented by these women.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, what might be the issue here is that after the minister met and corresponded with this group, they were put on a committee and the committee has not met since, so they have had no discussions at all of any value with the minister. I know the minister has spoken out about violence against women and I know that she recognizes the seriousness of all forms of abuse. I also know the minister values hearing from abused women and their experiences and that she encourages them to speak out. Now I want to ask the minister, now that the abused women have spoken out, now that you know what they are saying, what steps will you take to ensure that the Department of Justice does not ignore their concerns?

[Page 3317]

MISS PURVES: Members of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and, I believe, a representative from the transition house continue to meet with a representative of the Department of Justice. The issue here, Mr. Speaker, is not really that anyone in government believes that abused women should be entering into mediation or forced into mediation. Neither the transition house people, nor people in the Department of Justice, believe that, but there are other issues in mediation where the Family Court is not necessarily involved, where there are issues to be worked out.

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I got some of that, but the rest of it, I don't have a clue what she was talking about. It seems to me that the minister has agreed that there should not be mediation in this situation. I want to ask the minister, will she request that the Minister of Justice place an immediate moratorium on the referral of women to mediation who have been abused, until that program is cleaned up?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice does not believe that abused women should be involved in mediation, so there is no issue here.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - TEACHERS (TERM/PROBATIONARY):

EMPLOYMENT - FUTURE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. There are approximately 1,700 classroom teachers in Nova Scotia who are working on their term or probationary contracts. Most, but not all, of these teachers are recent B.Ed. graduates who have been hired during the past couple of years. My first question to the minister is, does the minister consider these term and probationary teachers to be effective and necessary elements of the province's education system?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can't speak for every individual teacher in the system, there are about 10,000 teachers in Nova Scotia, but yes, most of the teachers in the system are necessary and effective parts of the system.

MR. GAUDET: My supplementary question to the minister is, each year school boards across the province must hire new term and probationary teachers to replace teachers who have retired or moved on to other assignments. Madam Minister, will the school boards still be able to hire new teachers in the coming school year?

MISS PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, they will.

MR. GAUDET: My final question to the minister is, will the minister ensure that the new term and probationary teachers presently teaching in the schools of Nova Scotia will not be laid off in the coming school year?

[Page 3318]

MISS PURVES: The honourable member, as a former Minister of Education, should know that school boards hire and/or lay off teachers. I can't give that blanket guarantee now, or I could not have last year nor can I next year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE: FAMILY LAW - MEDIATION PROCESS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Justice. Yesterday the minister attacked the voices of abused women by saying that their words were flawed and inaccurate in their description of the mediation process. I believe that the minister has an apology to make to abused women in this province.

I would like to ask the minister if he stands by his statement that the Family Court does not refer women to mediation where there is abuse, where there is an inequality of bargaining power, in his words?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I will repeat what I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker. It is not the policy of the Government of Nova Scotia or the Department of Justice to refer women in abusive relationships to mediation. It has never been and it is not now the policy of the Department of Justice.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I think this is undoubtedly a case where the minister is splitting hairs. What he is saying is that a woman being abused today will be screened out but a woman who was abused one month ago will not be and that that is okay. Senior staff in his department admit there is no clear screening process for past abuse and for emotional abuse.

I want to ask the minister, what steps will he take to listen to what women have said about this flawed process and ensure that all abuse is screened, so that mediation can be an effective forum to resolve Family Court issues?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Again, I will try to make it clear. The Government of Nova Scotia makes sure, through the Department of Justice, that mediators in the Family Division of the Supreme Court receive adequate training. That training includes clear directives that in abusive relationships, those individuals are not satisfactory candidates for mediation. The unfortunate part of the report was that it did not draw a distinction between mediation conducted by the Department of Justice and mediation not conducted by the Department of Justice, but by other individuals over which the Department of Justice has no control.

[Page 3319]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice and the women who are actually involved in this are obviously using different meanings of what abuse is, and I prefer the view of the women. What I want to do is move now for my final supplementary to the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. I would like to ask her if she finds this piffle from the minister acceptable, and I want to ask what she is going to do to represent the voice of abused Nova Scotia women to her Cabinet colleagues?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, I have met with transition house representatives. I have read that report. The Advisory Council on the Status of Women has prepared a response which I am prepared to table at a future date. The council and myself care very much about abused women. The issue here, though, involves more than that particular initiative of the Family Services Division, and I believe that what is being asked of the Minister of Justice is actually beyond his purview.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

TOURISM - RESORTS:

PRIVATIZATION - ADVANTAGE EXPLAIN

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Tourism. I would assume he is responsible for the provincial resorts. Mr. Speaker, everyone knows big business friends of the Tories are calling for the sale of provincial resorts, and it is a good thing the Digby Pines is in the minister's backyard or the for sale sign would be up and it would be full throttle ahead. Mr. Speaker, in the restructuring document released last week, the Tories plan to turn over the resorts to private sector managers. My question to the minister, can he explain how private managers will be an advantage over managers that are now in place?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member for the question as I know it is very near and dear to his heart with the Keltic Lodge. We feel that it is in the best interests to pursue a private sector management contract for a couple of reasons. Number one, it would bring significant marketing power to the table, not only for the resorts but for the province as a whole, and that is with an international or national chain. As well, Mr. Speaker, we feel that it would be in the best interests for Nova Scotians as well from the financial aspect.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that Keltic Lodge is one of the top tourist destinations in Canada. It employs over 150 people, it has an excellent management team, and they are turning a good profit. Mr. Speaker, private managers don't have this kind of track record in Nova Scotia when it comes to running hotels. Will the minister guarantee the employees of Keltic Lodge this move to private sector management will not result in layoffs?

[Page 3320]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member is that this year the resorts will run as they have in the past. I would be pre-empting the negotiations with a private sector management international and national chain, so I cannot give that guarantee on the floor of the House. But I thank the honourable member for the question.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that there is a long-standing agreement in place regarding the province running the resort on federal parkland. I am sure the minister also knows that under the agreement, Keltic Lodge cannot be sold, or its land and all capital developments would revert back to Parks Canada. Will the minister explain how bringing in private managers fits in with the terms of the federal-provincial agreement?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: I thank the honourable member for the question. The honourable can be assured as we do not own the resort that before any such contract would be negotiated we would definitely be dealing with the federal government as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

COMMUN. SERV.: SOCIAL ASSIST. - WORKFARE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Outside this Chamber on Friday the minister would not deny to the media that his government is seriously considering a workfare in the Province of Nova Scotia. In particular, it seems that this Minister of Community Services is, (Applause) Well, I am glad to see some of the members are applauding workfare, it is nice to see that from the Tory benches - the Minister of Community Services seems more bent on balancing the books quickly than in actually helping people who are on assistance get off assistance. My question to the minister is, will this Minister of Community Services stop acting like an accountant and will he start acting on behalf of the people he represents as the Minister of Community Services, the people who need help?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: I will say to the honourable member to perhaps let me remind him of a few things that have happened that perhaps indicate that I am not such an accountant. Let me remind him that this government just not so long ago hired 71 new social workers to work in child care. (Applause) Let me remind him that we have put training into people for long-term care and we have put money into foster care. I hope that will suggest to the honourable member that we are concerned about children.

MR. DEVEAUX: The minister can talk about the rhetoric, but the fact is and he knows this as an accountant, the bottom line is what counts. It will be how many people are actually kicked off welfare that this minister will have to stand in judgement for. In particular, this

[Page 3321]

minister has suggested that they will increase subsidized day care seats by 50 or 100 in this province in the next year. The fact is, there are thousands of single mothers in this province that if this government is serious about workfare, that will need subsidized day care. My question to this minister is will this Minister of Community Services ensure that no one who needs subsidized day care in order to seek employment will be forced off welfare unless they have a subsidized seat given to them for day care?

MR. CHRISTIE: The honourable member mentions the additional day care and yes, we did announce last year in the budget that there were 50 additional day care seats. The people who give us advice on day care are the Nova Scotia Council Round Table. We will continue to take their advice and continue to work with those people as we arrive at our day care requirements.

MR. DEVEAUX: There is a saying that has been going around Canada now for a few years. Workfare is neither work nor fair. Why is this Minister of Community Services continuing to pursue a Harris Ontario agenda that has been a proven failure?

MR. CHRISTIE: I will have to ask the honourable member to table the piece of information that he has that indicates we are pursuing that particular piece that he is talking about. I have no knowledge of what he is speaking of.

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

SPORTS: N.S. BOXING AUTHORITY - C.B. REP.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Sport and Recreation and I would appreciate if the real minister would reply to the question. Two members from the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority are from Cape Breton, one is from Glace Bay and one is from Sydney Mines. These Cape Breton members are missing Boxing Authority meetings because they are being told there is no funding available to pay for their travel and their expenses. Will the minister explain why Cape Breton is being denied representation on this committee?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to get that information back to the honourable member (Interruptions)

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

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I do not know the answer to that question. I will find out the answer and tell the honourable member.

[Page 3322]

MR. BOUDREAU: It is obvious the minister has money for her official stand-in, the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank to travel around when the minister indicates she is busy. There is also money for the Tourism Minister to take his executive assistant on helicopter rides in Cape Breton. I would like to ask the minister directly, is this a snub of Cape Bretoners, another example of how the minister feels about Cape Breton Island?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, far be it from me to pick a fight with the honourable member. (Interruptions)

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

MISS PURVES: I will endeavour to check, as quickly as possible, into the operations of the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the reply by the minister. My last question, will the minister commit to making sure the funding is made available so that Cape Breton Island will have representation on this boxing authority?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said in my previous answers, I will look into what is going in the boxing authority.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

WOMEN, STATUS OF - POVERTY: CAUSES - REVIEW

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the multi-faceted Minister responsible for the Status of Women and the boxing authority. (Laughter) A report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives states that almost 19 per cent or 2.2 million Canadian women live in poverty, an increase from 1980 when 1.8 million Canadian women lived in poverty. This report blames government cost cutting at the expense of poor people, especially women. It is clear that what is required is a comprehensive understanding of the causes of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask this minister, what steps is she taking to initiate a comprehensive review of poverty affecting women in this province?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the effects of poverty on all Nova Scotians, including women, is a very serious one. We will be taking steps, as will be revealed in the budget, to help with certain initiatives that do address the issue of economic independence for women.

[Page 3323]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, poor women live in dire circumstances. Given this report and its implications, the role of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women becomes even more important today than it ever was, and yet we are told that the advisory council will be downgraded or perhaps even done away with in the upcoming budget.

My question to the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, what assurances will she give today that the Advisory Council on the Status of Women will be maintained and not weakened in the upcoming budget?

MR. SPEAKER: Again, I believe that question is a budgetary question. You are asking a specific question about the budget.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am asking for some assurances that in the future the advisory council will not be weakened.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the honourable member that the advisory council will be maintained.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, that is a start, given that in two decades, the number of women living in poverty has been steadily climbing in the country that the United Nations says is the best in the world to live in. I would like to ask the minister responsible to assure women, not just to maintain the advisory council, but to give poor women in Nova Scotia some assurance that they will not be victimized by the government's deficit panic.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

[4:30 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, our government is doing its best to make sure that the citizens of Nova Scotia are not further victimized by debt.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - SCHOOL BOARD BOUNDARIES:

TASK FORCE REPORT - SW REG.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. In the Report of the Task Force Review of School Board Boundaries, several recommendations are made concerning the operations of school boards in Nova Scotia. One of the task force recommendations specifically concerns the Southwest Regional School Board.

[Page 3324]

My first question to the minister is, does the minister agree with the task force statement that the Southwest Regional School Board should be taking a broader, regional perspective in its decision making?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, since I have no direct knowledge of the operations of the Southwest Regional School Board or any other school board, I accept the report from the task force, their point of view. (Laughter) I accept that they reached that conclusion after interviewing all the appropriate people.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I think I would suggest to the minister maybe she should contact these school boards to find out what they are all about.

Mr. Speaker, my next question to the minister. The task force further discussed a pilot project that would see a Southwest Regional School Board composed of two appointed members from each of the five counties served by the board. My question, has the minister considered this as a solution of the problems of the Southwest Regional School Board?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have considered a number of solutions to the southwest issue and we will be informing this House and members of the board of our solution very soon.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister. The recommendation of the task force with respect to the Southwest Regional School Board is that a pilot project be implemented in the region whereby the elected board be replaced by a site-based management model commencing in November 2000. Is it the minister's intention to implement this recommendation?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is not the intention of this government or this minister to replace elected school boards.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: PETITIONS - PROCESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation. Throughout this province and throughout my constituency, people are sick and tired of petitions and no paving. Can you explain to us the petitioning process in your department?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would have thought that the honourable member would be more interested in the paving process in the Department of Transportation.

[Page 3325]

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

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege and honour to introduce the young people in the gallery. I want to bring to the attention of the House that they come from that legendary Brookside Junior High School that you have heard me speak about. I would like to introduce first of all (Interruptions) - they have never heard of it - it reminds me of a class I once had, doesn't it, over here? I would like to point out that we have parents Mrs. Ulrich, Mr. Peters, Mrs. LeFort and we also have Rebecca Stone, staff member, and her legendary father, I believe. I would ask these Grade 7 students from Brookside Junior High School to stand and receive the recognition of our House. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say in this House that last week I may have made a suggestion impugning the Premier's motives, that he did something for personal gain. That was said in the heat of debate and I certainly would like to apologize and withdraw that comment now. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: There was a point of order raised at that time. Is it the unanimous consent of the House . . .

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his gesture.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the business has been circulated to all sides with the time allocations.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 803.

[Page 3326]

Res. No. 803, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit - Address - notice given Mar. 27/2000 - (Mr. K. Deveaux)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, this is a resolution that I introduced I think on the first day the House opened, on March 27th, and it is something that we have been doing on an ongoing basis. There is a very good reason for that, because child poverty in this province is an issue that is continuing to grow in importance and that is mainly and primarily because the number of children in poverty is growing in this province. It is really a provincial shame and a national shame that we have not dealt with child poverty. Maybe if I speak a bit in the language of this particular government, it is also a fiscal shame that we ignore child poverty as well.

Let me talk a bit about the history of the issue. Let me start by saying, some say it is such a big issue we can't deal with it, it is too complicated. It was only, maybe, 30 years ago or 35 years ago that the governments of Canada determined that they must deal with poverty amongst seniors. That is probably because seniors were and still are a very important political group. They have the right to vote, obviously.

It was addressed through good pensions, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement and CPP that were put in place to ensure that people over the age of 65 would not have to suffer through poverty, that there would be sufficient money to allow them to live in dignity. Unfortunately, we haven't done the same thing for children; maybe that is because children don't have the political power that others do in our society. But clearly if we are able to do it for seniors, it is a simple question, why can't we do it for children as well? Why can't we ensure that we provide them with sufficient resources and provide their parents with sufficient resources, Mr. Speaker, so that they can live in dignity and not in poverty?

I want to also note that back in 1989, Mr. Speaker, the Parliament of Canada, in a unanimous resolution, stated that we must eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. That, I think, was noble at the time and something that people believed, quite frankly, was a clear vision. It was a vision of what could be done. Unfortunately, in that time we have actually seen an increase in poverty rates. The increase in Canada has been 29 per cent from what it was in 1989 to what it was in 1997, and I am sure it has gone up since then in the last three years.

In fact, in Nova Scotia it has gotten even worse. Back in 1989, Nova Scotia was just about at the national average per rate of child poverty in this country and it is now higher, I think about 13 per cent or 14 per cent higher. That's because, though in Canada the rate of child poverty has increased 29 per cent since 1989, in Nova Scotia it has increased 36 per cent.

[Page 3327]

So we are going in the wrong direction, Mr. Speaker. We are going in the direction of more child poverty, we are going in the direction of more children who don't have the resources, who do not have the support, who do not have the ability to, in the end quite frankly, live a healthy, educated life which, in turn, results in better jobs and then, again, fewer children in poverty. It is a vicious cycle, a vicious spiralling down to the lowest common denominator that all governments in Canada, including the one that is before us here, this Tory Government, have allowed to happen.

A couple of other statistics that I just want to note, Mr. Speaker, on the average family. A family that was in poverty in Nova Scotia in 1989 was, on average, $5,830 below the poverty line. That was the average income of a family that would be considered poor. Now, or at least more recently in 1997 it is below the poverty line by $6,987, that is an increase of almost $1,200.

So we are not even saying that the number of children who are in poverty has increased but the level, the depths, of that poverty has increased. It is almost like a three-dimensional horror story. We have gone from the potential to actually resolve the issue of child poverty to making it worse to making it more in depth and to make it more complicated. All these are reasons why it must be addressed and can be addressed.

I think the other thing that must be noted is if you are a family, if the head of the household is native, or the head of the household is a visible minority, the rate of poverty is even greater. I think it is upwards of 50 per cent in those places where it is plus 22 per cent for Nova Scotia generally. That is a real problem as well. Clearly we are in a situation where again the level of poverty has affected even more greatly those who have the least ability to improve themselves.

So we have talked a bit about the history, about where we are now. Let's talk about some of the reasons why we have this problem. Mr. Speaker, I can give you one example right now and that is minimum wage. I know how people feel about minimum wage. It is always a debate amongst economists and politicians as to whether we should be raising it or not, but let's make it quite clear that for the average family to actually live above the poverty line, they would have to work 60 hours a week just at the rate of minimum wage in order to actually live above the poverty line and, of course, most jobs in Nova Scotia and in Canada are under 40 hours a week. Quite frankly, to say that a minimum wage isn't even able to provide a family with an income above a poverty line at your average hours per week I think is despicable and maybe we need to be looking at a minimum wage that more reflects the need for avoiding children and people in poverty.

It is even more important, if you do not look at it that way, Mr. Speaker, look at it this way. In real dollars the minimum wage in Nova Scotia has dropped since 1989. So in real dollars the minimum wage in Nova Scotia is less than it was in 1989. Again, clearly, we are not even beginning to address the issue of poverty by saying we have increased the minimum

[Page 3328]

wage. In real dollars it has gone down and that, in fact, again, shows that we are going in the wrong direction.

Other issues, well, of course, the labour market has changed. No one would deny that but, quite frankly, what we have seen through the changes in the labour market is a lack of full-time work and that as well is a major factor of poverty in families. A lot of people who cannot find full-time work, either on a yearly basis because they have seasonal work, or part-time all year around, are clearly in a situation where their children are less likely to have the resources to succeed.

Also, Mr. Speaker, since 1989 we have seen a reduction in EI benefits. The number of people who get Employment Insurance or Unemployment Insurance, depending on who you talk to, that is how they say it, has gone down. It used to be that if you lost your job, 90 per cent of people in Nova Scotia and in Canada used to be able to get EI. It was good, but now it is changed to only 50 per cent. So how do we deal with this?

Mr. Speaker, there are some solutions. I would suggest education is a key solution. Let's look at both early childhood intervention and let's look at things like a Four-Plus Program that will allow us to interact with families and children on an earlier basis. This is something being promoted by the Nova Scotia Association of School Boards. It is one way in which we can address the problem. It is one way in which we can say we are investing in our children and in a way that maybe, just maybe, not in a year or two because we are worried about balancing books, but in 10 years or 20 years we can begin to address child poverty and address it in a way that ensures that all Nova Scotians succeed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to join this debate today. The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and I had the opportunity to speak on this topic the other night at the late debate and I look forward to continuing.

Mr. Speaker, child poverty in Nova Scotia is a problem. It is a problem all across Canada and it is one that all provinces have to be concerned about as well as the federal government. Child poverty is a complex issue and the honourable member mentioned that it is a big issue. It is something we sometimes look at and say it is too big to tackle, but it is a big issue. That is why the provincial governments and the federal government some years ago got together to start working towards the National Child Tax Benefit for children because it was a big issue.

As we look at some of the statistics of Nova Scotia's and the rate across Canada, those rates and those statistics that we look at are rates from 1997 and 1998. We have not seen the statistics on how the National Children's Agenda has been benefitting children. We know it has been in all parts of Canada, and we know it has been benefitting in Nova Scotia. We need

[Page 3329]

to see those statistics. That is part of the reason we carry on with the research, and we do the evaluation on the National Child Benefit.

[4:45 p.m.]

But there are other areas, Mr. Speaker, and I think we should look at some of the areas where we need to keep going to address child poverty. If you will indulge me with a few statistics. Every year Community Services provides millions of dollars to community-based agencies. Last year it was about $12.7 million to 125 agencies. The purpose of providing that money to those agencies is to provide local agencies that provide services to families. Families need to have different kinds of services to help in the raising of their children, to help with parenting, to help with lifestyle skills. As a Community Partners Program, we have been established to promote and facilitate and partner the establishment of children's prevention programs. It includes projects relating to child nutrition, early childhood language development and comprehensive screening for risk factors and supports to families that are overburdened.

Mr. Speaker, as part of that, the Department of Community Services in the Province of Nova Scotia was pleased, in the fall, to have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Fraser Mustard to get his suggestions and his thoughts in terms of childhood development. What we did learn from him is that those first couple of years in childhood development are very important. As we carry on, the Nova Scotia Council on the Family, the Departments of Health, Education and Culture, and Community Services, along with the health boards, Metro Food Bank, Metro United Way and the Nova Scotia Nutrition Council are working with the Canadian Living Foundation and have formed an advisory committee that will allocate funds to child nutrition programs in Nova Scotia.

I had the opportunity just recently, Mr. Speaker, to go with the member for Yarmouth to visit the Continuing Education for Mature Challenged Students in Yarmouth. I also had the opportunity to go with the member for Queens to a facility in Shelburne called Kids in Need. In both of those places we were talking about this very subject, about people and what they need. It has been part of the ongoing consultation that we have been having. What people were saying, certainly they have different varieties of needs, and certainly they have needs, but people say to us they want to get back to work. That is why we recognize that one of the most effective and immediate ways to reduce child poverty is to get people off assistance and back to work.

Our department, Employment Support Services section, has matched more than 4,000 people on social assistance with employment opportunities in the past two years; more than 13,000 over the last four years, and we will continue to work and strengthen that. We want to build on the success of our Employment Support Services by providing help to people getting into job markets and get the shortest possible time so we can all benefit. Some people have difficulty getting and keeping jobs. This is one of the causes of poverty. Significant

[Page 3330]

programs are underway in Nova Scotia in such areas as entrepreneurial education, literacy, community-economic development and workplace training, all of these key to long-term development and job opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that what we need to do is strengthen and help those people who need to overcome what is referred to as the "welfare wall." Parents on our social assistance system have benefits they would lose if they enter entry-level job positions. We have to look at what supports they need, and could take with them to get them off the system and back to work. We need to identify those barriers to employment. As the honourable member mentioned earlier, one of those is subsidized child care, and that is an important part of helping people come back to work. The licensed child care programs in Nova Scotia are designed to meet the children's development needs. Those include providing nutritional lunches and snacks each day. The total number of subsidized seats in Nova Scotia is now at 2,450, and there are currently more than 10,000 licensed child care spaces in more than 370 centre-based child care programs across this province.

Mr. Speaker, people going back to work from assistance need assistance with Pharmacare coverage. This year, the Department of Community Services, in the year just ending, will spend $29 million for Pharmacare for people on assistance. People say they need to have that assistance as they go back to work. This year we will spend $12 million on special needs, but people say to us when they come from assistance to go back to the work market they need help with special assistance needs as they make the transition.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier in my comments, the National Child Benefit is the program that the federal government and the provinces have started to address this problem. So as we work towards these, the initiatives of the National Child Benefits are to help all low-income families, parents on assistance so they can move to jobs while keeping important financial supports for their children, and parents already working at low-income jobs, to get the support they need to stay employed.

The Nova Scotia Child Benefit is an income supplement given to all low-income families in Nova Scotia, including families on social assistance. Mr. Speaker, that program speaks to 35,000 families, and 59,000 children receive that benefit, so that they can help their families and help the children in poverty.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I would like to say what we need to do on the issue around poverty and children is a national issue. We need to provide support for parents and help children at the youngest possible age. Many departments are collaborating on programs to prevent problems and to help children as they grow older and ensure the healthiest possible outcomes.

[Page 3331]

One example of that is the Children and Youth Action Committee, CAYAC, which was formed in 1996 by the Ministers of Justice, Health, Education & Culture, Community Services, and the Youth Secretariat. The role of CAYAC is to facilitate and encourage a coordinated approach to service delivery for children. CAYAC is implementing an action plan for children and youth that allows coordination of policies and protocols, and provides greater integration of regional service delivery for projects such as mental health services and services to children with special needs.

Child poverty is a national issue and is dealt with most effectively when it involves the efforts of all governments at all levels. Addressing poverty is part of the work being undertaken by the federal-provincial-territorial ministers responsible for social services. The National Children's Agenda, the National Child benefit and other programs that address child poverty are being actively worked by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. We are doing this to make sure that every child in this country has the best chance possible to be what they want to be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for introducing Resolution No. 803, that we could debate this most important issue targetting children within our social welfare programs and within our health care system. Perhaps I could also add Education and Justice at least, because I think one of the issues that we have faced, that any government faces is that of coordinating services within those departments. It was mentioned by the honourable minister, CAYAC being involved with those ministers and other additional staff under CAYAC to try to address issues of children and youth.

I often felt, Mr. Speaker, in times of limited budgets and short resources that if everything kept getting worse, if we could some way target children that in at least some way we would be able to evolve into a society that had its priorities right. I think so many times we have seen programs at the federal and provincial levels that are really more favourable towards seniors perhaps and, although the need is great there as well, things that are done sometimes for certain groups are not done for children as well and we have seen that in national programs, indexing and other types of issues.

There are standards out there, and the United Nations has developed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and issued various tenets of that convention, particularly in areas of nutrition - and we know how important that is, the research is in now - the issue also of literacy that guarantee a minimum standard for children and youth, the issue of shelter and, probably as important as any, the issue of personal safety. Those to me are the four major issues of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that Canada had been a signatory to, and if we hold those before us, those are goals to shoot for.

[Page 3332]

I am not going to deal with a lot of statistics today, I want to talk more about attitudes of government toward people who find themselves in difficult, low socio-economic straits, and attitudes toward people who are in difficulties, perhaps children in conflict with the law, and how popular it is sometimes to be tough on young offenders. I was concerned when I became a minister in 1993 - and that was before the Shelburne situation and all the other issues - about the stories that I had heard about attitudes toward children in those circumstances by people who are responsible within the deputy minister's offices and those levels of government, the attitude that was so negative toward those children at that juncture. I thought, when I looked for reasons how issues of abuse could happen to children, I didn't have to look any further than the Department of Community Services and the attitudes of people who had been there before us. That was a concern that I have never forgotten.

Poverty for most of us who grew up in rural Nova Scotia, even though we grew up poor, we didn't realize that we were poor. I think that speaks of a gentleness or a softness of those times, at the end of the Depression, during the war years, those types of eras. I think poverty is much harsher now, and it is harsher within certain societies, working parents, those types of issues. I think it has become more of an issue, more than just monies and those types of resources, it has become an allotment of time, the caring for children, the parenting, the quality time. I am impressed by how the working families have really struggled to support their children in sports, athletics, drama, in all areas of pursuit.

When we speak in terms of the negative, we shouldn't lose sight of how well people often do on limited resources. Those who haven't done well and don't have parents who care for them, then I think the impact of poverty is tremendous. I think parenting has become more stressful in our families, as they become less of an extended family and if you add poverty on top of that, then it is really a most stressful and difficult situation for the children to grow up and reach their full educational and socio-economic development.

Earlier speakers mentioned Fraser Mustard, and I would add Dr. Paul Steinhauer, those people have done a lot of work and have gathered a lot of information on the development of children, their early development particularly. We know now, the information is in, the impact on pregnancy, the negative impact, and sometimes the poor nutrition - I go back to nutrition and all those other issues that impact so greatly on children.

Sometimes this is a poverty issue, sometimes it is one of a parent who doesn't understand or who chooses to abuse drugs or alcohol, those types of initiatives that we know affect that early development. The matters around delivery, and as Fraser Mustard and Dr. Paul Steinhauer speak of, that two to three year window of opportunity. If there are no early intervention programs, head start programs, the availability of child care, but also other resources within the community, and there are needs of children impacted by poverty and impacted by poor nutrition, lack of reading, literacy within the home, perhaps inadequate shelter and certainly sometimes abuse and the threat to personal safety.

[Page 3333]

So by the time they arrive at the school, they are easily identified. Then we look at a situation within our education system that probably is not adequately funded to provide resources for special needs. The importance of the first four or five years or particularly those first two to three years with that window of opportunity that if we miss - there are changes that take place during that time. Poverty is important, but there are other issues as well that can result in that person never realizing their full development in an educational way or social development.

[5:00 p.m.]

We had debate in this Chamber, particularly this session, on the government taking an attitude of we know what is best for you and we know what is in your best interests. That really concerns me as this creeps into legislation and creeps into attitudes of Tory Governments. That tends to be where I hear it more and people who subscribe to that Party and that philosophy, we know what is best for you. I say that families that we are talking about, they are impacted by low socio-economic status, by children with special needs, whether economic or otherwise of a social and medical nature. We must have programs and services in place, Mr. Speaker, that allow those people to empower themselves. The idea that from the top down we can decide what is in their best interests, that is an attitude that I think is wrong-headed, and often means, like the fuel oil rebate, you bring in a program, you are going to spend millions and millions of dollars and yet it is set to fail immediately because it is a program that the people cannot access for one reason or another - some of it is literacy, the various matters that we are talking here. These whole issues really impact.

The attitude toward poor people is very much of a sensitive issue and that we know what is best. It is very difficult for governments to let go sometimes and have programs in place that are sensitive and meet the needs of people without imposing them on people. I think unless they are accessible, that is very much of a negative and set to fail. We have been seeing enough of those programs.

There is no question that the child living in poverty in Nova Scotia is certainly one too many, and all the MLAs here in this Chamber can think of children and families in their constituency living well below the poverty line. That is debatable. It is not unique as others have mentioned. The problem is with us. Hopefully it is one people working together, agencies and government - I think we have seen some changes. You drive through Nova Scotia, generally the obvious issues of homes, the housing stock is better, and those types of issues. The research we have done on what determines to allow healthy children to grow is well known, and those are issues as I mentioned earlier surrounding nutrition, matters of literacy, shelter and healthy environments and most of all, perhaps, the personal safety of those children. Poverty is only one of many negative impacts, but it is a real one, and it is one that we, as legislators have the ability to (Interruption)

[Page 3334]

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to speak on a topic that crosses partisan lines. I don't think that anyone, no matter what Party you represent in this House, condones poverty, especially as it affects our children. On a personal level, when we talk about child poverty, I find that it is a misnomer because these children do not ask to be brought into this world in poverty. They are born to poor parents and into poor families. At that point, it becomes our collective purpose to help look after those people and to move their lives in a forward, positive direction.

When we talk of child poverty I think we have to talk in larger terms, about poverty and how it affects our whole social fabric because while we may stand here today and debate the overall costs, say, of Community Services budgets, child poverty does not impact on that budget alone. It is the reverberating effect of poverty; it is the knowing fact that if you are born into poverty your chances of having a positive education are limited, your dietary needs are quite often not met properly, and it is a multitude of problems, and we can go to the health realm. We, as legislators, have to get our collective hands on this problem and try to wrestle it. If not, I believe it will have a much greater negative impact on our financial situation than any that we face today, when we talk in many terms if we hear about the government talking about coming down with a budget and needing cutbacks and needing to get their fiscal house in order.

Mr. Speaker, I would make the assumption that as long as we have the poor among us who are this poor and this disadvantaged, that we are going to have a deficit, both financially and morally in this province.

There is not one of us this past summer who went door-to-door campaigning who didn't see severe poverty, poverty that we may have thought, in one way or another, exists, but we certainly came face to face with it. My colleague across the way, the member for Lunenburg West, we were talking just early this afternoon about campaigning in Cape Breton East and about the poverty in sections of that riding. Unfortunately, it is not a problem that is peculiar to one riding, I think it touches everybody in here. So what are we going to do about it? Are we going to have an ongoing battle with the Minister of Community Services and blame him and his department for this? Quite honestly, while a lot of it would rest at his doorstep, I don't think that is the positive way to try to resolve this. As I said earlier, I think it is part of what we have to do as a collective in this House, Mr. Speaker.

I was a little concerned when the minister was up before and talking about the food banks out there and what the United Way are doing. Well, that has nothing to do with the resolve of the problem, it is part of the problem. It has nothing to do with the resolve. We have to attack this problem head-on and, by providing food banks and some redress through

[Page 3335]

the United Way, it is not doing a heck of a lot to resolve poverty, whether it is child poverty or family poverty in this province.

Certainly the education system has to be brought in here because some years ago in my riding there was a report done, I think by Statistics Canada, where they said it was one of the largest per capita areas for single, unwed mothers, especially in the teenage years.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member would mind turning the volume down just a little bit, so we can hear the honourable member who has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You know that statistic, it is certainly not one that anyone would be particularly proud of but the problem is that it is a real statistic. It is a real problem. You can't run and hide from it; it is quantitative and what are you going to do about it?

I go back to the education aspect of it because that, I think, is one of the most important ways to get our way out of poverty. It is a way if we educate our children, if we educate the adults of children in poverty, that we will help move this process along and restore dignity, certainly dignity through the ability to find work. From the federal perspective, certainly a fair line can be drawn regarding the support they gave us last year and then it was clawed back through the National Child Tax Benefit - the clawback that was done to the previous administration - which I had hoped wouldn't happen, but happened. Other things such as the amount of people who are actually available in this province, or can be made available in this province through EI, to me that is certainly just another aspect of the federal government downloading costs on provinces that they have the moral and, I believe, the legal obligation to look after but it is another backhanded way of downloading costs on the provinces. In areas like Nova Scotia that are trying to find their way out of their financial messes, it is certainly a very cumbersome deal to have to carry with them.

Mr. Speaker, is poverty just a drain on the Department of Community Services? While I look at the minister and say it is a major factor to that, I think he understands the other departments that it impacts. I think there was a drain on the health care system; the education system, where we have to go and get these problems resolved and get these people educated; Justice is another one where the budget is truly affected if you extrapolate the numbers, especially in the young offenders that are coming before that court; Economic Development, programs particularly angled at young people that would help them to get motivated and be allowed to get into the workplace.

I know my time is drawing near, but I want to say I believe that it is incentives, and real incentives, that will allow women to have access to child care, that will allow them to carry on with their prescription drugs if they need to, and so on. These are things that need to be done. They have to be done in a progressive way. The old way has been tried; it didn't work. Now we have to try a new way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

[Page 3336]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 39.

Bill No. 39 - Public Services Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise to speak on Bill No. 39, An Act Respecting the Protection of Public Services in the Province. This legislation comes before this House of Assembly in the hopes that all political parties will take debate on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, since July 27th, Nova Scotians and the Public Service employees have been concerned about what kind of a structure Nova Scotia government is going to be. They are concerned because they really don't know what is going to happen to their government. During the election campaign, the Conservative Party campaigned on what was called a Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course. Now they have provided a report to this Legislative Assembly, The Course Ahead. It is no longer clear, it is somewhat foggy. Nobody knows in what direction we are going.

[5:15 p.m.]

Public Service employees in fact are held at ransom, not knowing whether they will be the individuals cut, worried, and unable to spend their dollars. They can't reinvest in their homes; they can't reinvest in their communities; and they can't purchase goods. They are unable to do this. They can't sleep at night, simply because they do not know if they are going to be the individual employees who are going to be on the chopping block.

This government and this Premier signed a five point plan with the Nova Scotia Public Employees. That five point plan is worth the value of a person's name and, particularly when the person puts their signature on that name, we expect the person to honour it. When we come before this Legislative Assembly, and when we elect members to this Legislative Assembly, we expect them to honour their agreements. Their agreement is not only a five point plan to the Public Service employees of the NSGEU or the Nova Scotia Government employees, it is, in fact, a plan for Nova Scotians, because, as I said earlier, Mr. Speaker,

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Nova Scotians want to know what their government is going to look like. Nova Scotians want to have a clear picture of what kind of government is going to be in Nova Scotia, and the delivery of those services and programs.

Mr. Speaker, according to the Centre for Alternative Studies, from 1991 to 1998 in Nova Scotia, government services employees have declined by some 15 per cent, and, government, after government, after government that comes to power indicates that for some apparent reason the economic problems of Nova Scotia are at the hands of government employees. Year after year, governments continue to say that we are going to right-size government, and during that process the very people who are attacked and the very individuals who are focused upon are government employees. Government employees must cringe every time a new government comes to power.

We now have individuals out there who are quite concerned, and I, as the member for Dartmouth North, am quite concerned, with respect to the possible privatization of Correctional Services in the Province of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: One example.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, a very good example, because the jail and forensic hospital unit was located from Bedford, as a political promise, to Dartmouth North, and now as a result the citizens of the constituency that I represent have a grave concern with respect to the privatization of Correctional Services.

There is also the major concern with respect to the privatization of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, a public entity which, in fact, is generating revenue for the public purse so that we can deliver programs to Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the Party opposite that, in fact, they have a member who was a public employee for some 30 years. The member also served on the board of the NSGEU and also served on the Political Action Committee. That member fully understands - that member is the good member for Pictou East - what causes the cringe in the stomach of Nova Scotia employees every time a new government comes to power, because Nova Scotia Government employees are the scapegoats for government's ineffectiveness in delivering the financial resources to this province.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to pinpoint, to the government opposite, some of the failures of privatization in the last few years. One will remember project Quest, the privatization of management of nursing services, some $10 million. Remember them driving up in Cadillacs, walking in the Cadillacs, bringing their reports forward, do you remember? The privatization of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation, under the previous Conservative Government of Donald Cameron, a short change of $140 million to Nova Scotians. Horton High more than doubled its cost as a P3 school, more than doubled its cost in a six month period, some $30 million.

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The privatization of highway, the Cobequid Pass, which, in fact, is a toll road, and I don't suspect there will ever be a Liberal member elected in the northern part of Nova Scotia for some time to come, simply because of the privatization of that highway.

Mr. Speaker, what we have to realize is that there are a number of governmental services that Nova Scotians have come to rely upon. They rely upon these governmental services and the government has never gone to Nova Scotians and asked Nova Scotians what kind of a government they want. Instead, the government has decided that it will deliver the plan to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I looked at the report for alternative study and I was looking at comparable sizes as well in Nova Scotia. I was looking at provinces like Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Manitoba, which shows that Nova Scotia is, in fact, the lowest of those comparable provinces. Nova Scotia only has about 35.2 employees per 1,000 population, compared to those other provinces. This should indicate to the government of the day that Nova Scotians have difficulty with the delivery of their services.

I had a call from a Nova Scotian this morning who, in fact, is a public employee. That public employee looked at me and said, I am quite concerned, my job may or may not be there, even though I have what is called the bumping process, because of the collective agreement, to move down the ladder other individuals. The sad fact about that, Mr. Speaker, is that the employee who relies upon that job at the very end of it, is going out the door. That is the sad fact about that.

It is very easy for us, as members of this Legislative Assembly, to look at figures in a book and at numbers and not put faces and names to those individuals and turn around and take our slash and burn. We can devise any particular agenda we want but we are answerable to Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians say to me that when I call a governmental department they will say if you are looking for department so and so you dial, you push in the number; then you go to that department and they will say if you want to speak with Mr. So-and-So then you push this number; finally, at the end of the day, they are able to reach someone. This is after approximately 15 to 20 minutes of being on the telephone.

Mr. Speaker, what the residents have said to me, is that is not sufficient. They want to be able to communicate with a person the first time they pick up the line. What we have to do here, as a government, is make sure that the Honourable John Hamm, the Premier of this province, lives up to his commitment to the delivery of public services to Nova Scotians and that no Nova Scotian will, in fact, be penalized or lose a governmental service because of what this government does and that all Nova Scotians in the end result are seeking approval.

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I would recommend to this government, Mr. Speaker, in closing, that it immediately build up a consultation process with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, to come to an amicable agreement that all Nova Scotians can accept and that this government can deliver the kind of government that Nova Scotians are expecting.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and have an opportunity to say a few words on Bill No. 39. I read this bill through twice last evening. I read it through the first time and I could not believe what I was reading so I read it through a second time and when I realized what I was reading, my mind immediately flashed back to the Luddites. I presume that most people know who the Luddites were. They were back in the late 1700's, early 1800's, I believe, led by a gentleman called Ned Lud and anything that smacked of progress was vetoed by that political movement. They went around because this was a time of the Industrial Revolution when we were getting into water power for spinning and weaving and these people had been employed in cottage industries doing things by hand. They could not accept progress, they could not accept the fact that the world was changing, so they went around and smashed the machines in an endeavour to stop progress.

That is exactly what these people over there are doing. In fact, I would not be surprised if we don't have a reincarnated Ned Lud over there from Dartmouth North. This Party will come forward and they will say that they are a Party of progress, they will say that they have changed their stripes, that they are now in favour of a certain amount of privatization, they are in favour of smaller government, they are in favour of lower deficits or no deficits at all, they are in favour of allocating money to pay down the debt. These are new careers for the NDP and they came forward in 1998, as most of the members opposite know, they were all around in that election, and they came forward with a brand new platform because they only had four members at that time. They came forward and ran in that election trying to move to the middle, and at that time they changed radically from what they were.

People were fed up with the Savage Government. They had it up to the eyeballs and they had decided that the time had come for a change in government. They were not too sure where they were going to change to, they were not sure whether they were going to change to the Conservatives or the NDP. They decided to park their votes with the NDP because they thought, well they sound pretty safe. When they woke up and found that they had almost elected an NDP Government, they had a heart failure. They said, my God, what have we wrought? That is why in the election in 1999, the people who had parked their votes with the NDP scuttled out as fast as they could and they are reduced now to a rump of 11 members.

MR. JOHN HOLM: A question, Mr. Speaker. I was wondering if the minister in full flight would entertain a brief question. I am just wondering if he, as he was out there pounding the hustings and so on in the last election campaign, was telling people that he was running on a John Savage agenda and that the new Tory Government, if elected, would be

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acting in the same kind of cruel manner towards the public sector and to the important services in this province. Things that he had fought against. Did he tell Nova Scotians that he wanted to restore a John Savage Government under a new name?

MR. RUSSELL: It is peculiar that honourable member would stand up and make that remark. This Party over there was a Party of promises. This Party over there was a Party of promises. We were a Party of commitments and we had the guts. You have a copy of the blue book. (Applause) We were a Party of commitments, Mr. Speaker, and this is the very point. The people knew what they were voting for and the people are now getting what they voted for and they are perfectly happy with it.

Mr. Speaker, we not only had the guts to put our commitments into a document for everyone to see, for everyone to know that we were going to be accountable for those particular promises, we then came forth with a book called The Course Ahead which shows the public of Nova Scotia, all persons in Nova Scotia, exactly what we are committed to. (Applause)

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have never said that we were opposed to privatization. We have never said that we were opposed to smaller government. We have never said that we were opposed to more efficient government.

MR. JOHN HOLM: How many hundreds of millions did that cost?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member over there, he knows better, really he does. He knows a lot better.

Mr. Speaker, we will stand by the commitments that we made in this document and that is the way we are going to go. We are not going to be a government that is going to fumble along the way. (Interruptions) We are going to change the face of government in Nova Scotia. We are going to be more accountable. We are going to put in place a health care system that is responsive to the needs and the wants of the people of Nova Scotia. We are going to have an education system that will be out there to educate the children, not just to keep people in business down in the Trade Mart. We are going to be a government that is going to be here to provide protection to those who because of no fault of their own have fallen on hard times.

I might also mention along the way that we are going to repair the roadway system that these gentlemen left in complete disrepair and disarray. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: You can still give a good rant, Ron.

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MR. RUSSELL: Yes, well, that is all right, I learned from a good teacher. (Interruption) No, Alexa McDonough. I can remember, Mr. Speaker, when this gentleman over there was just a child and Alexa McDonough was in here as Leader of the Party, that lady would get up and she would go on a real rant. Well, I used to sit right opposite her, down there somewhere, and I learned how to rant. Anyway, that is beside the point, isn't it? (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, in this particular piece of legislation that we are debating today, in effect, what that honourable member for Dartmouth North and I presume the caucus over there, to the right of the left caucus, I presume that that caucus endorses what is in this particular bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, they are many things in this bill that we can agree with, but I draw your attention, and I know I cannot go clause by clause, but in here there is an arrangement whereby, believe it or not, before the government can do anything, they have to get a two-thirds majority in this House. Can you imagine a government so hamstrung that they are going to have to get people like those on the other side to agree with what the government is going to do? We cannot even get a bill through on the johns and the jakes.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Just a brief question, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister be in agreement for this bill to pass and go on to the Law Amendments Committee if that particular clause would be amended? We always talk about sending bills forward to get them improved. If you support the basic principles of this bill, will you agree to have it go to the Law Amendments Committee so that those items that you have concerns with can be corrected, but that the main principles of the bill can pass?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that that is nonsense because this piece of legislation is not required. This government is determined to be fair with the civil servants of this province. This government is determined that we will consult with the civil servants of this province. This government is concerned with the civil servants to such a degree that never before has a government done the same amount of consultation as what this government has done.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that if there is going to be downsizing, if there is going to be privatizing, it will be done with the full knowledge of the Civil Service and it will be done in a fashion that will be fair. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that this government is determined to be fair to civil servants. I don't believe that for one moment. We have heard similar platitudes advanced towards the steelworkers at Sydney whom I represent, and I might

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say, sir, that having just returned from my constituency, I certainly did not find any consensus down there at all, that this government was determined to be fair to the Sydney steelworkers. Indeed, sir, looking at the results of yesterday's by-election in Glace Bay, I think that anyone who had a smidgen of sensitivity in their makeup would realize that there was a massive demonstration there, that the people of the part of the Nova Scotia that I represent in industrial Cape Breton don't believe for one moment that this government intends to be fair to the people of Cape Breton or fair to the people of Nova Scotia in any way at all. That is given number one.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the debate on this bill this afternoon anticipates the climate of our debates in this House for the next number of months, and possibly years, as this government runs out its one-term course and is brought to its inevitable moment of reason and common sense when it is defeated at the polls in the next provincial election. In the meantime, it will be necessary to chastise them at every opportunity.

I know that this government is beginning from an assumption, an unchallenged fundamental assumption that I believe is false, and that is that the primary purpose of government is to keep the ledger in balance, the philosophy of Herbert Hoover. We know where that philosophy got Herbert Hoover in the records of history as compared with Franklin Delano Roosevelt who had a much more imaginative outlook and believed in putting the resources of society to work so that people could be put back to useful places and roles in society.

This government has no such vision, Mr. Speaker. This government is absolutely blind when it comes to considerations of that type. They are only concerned with pleasing the bankers and the credit raters and the bonding agencies and so on and so forth, and the people can be - well, I had better not complete that sentence, Mr. Speaker, I might get into some trouble with you - the people can be forgotten on the way to the bonding agencies and the credit raters to make sure that they get an A+ there. They certainly will not get an A+ at the polls because they do not balance their concerns for a healthy state of the Treasury with a concern for a healthy state of the economy and a healthy state of the people.

Governments that do not put people first get into trouble very quickly, Mr. Speaker. I know that for a matter of fact. I can certainly tell you that when you are dealing with a government that is believed to be on the brink of eradicating 1,500 positions in the Public Service, why should they think that is any particular big deal? They are already prepared to eradicate the jobs of the Sydney steelworkers. This government has no mercy, no compassion. You are like a group of butchers, prepared to put the people of this province to the butchery. I certainly am not going to support them in any way, shape or form.

The last time that a government of this kind was in power, we had the privatization of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation, and without delivering a 15 minute sermon on how that affected both the delivery of electrical power, the work force and the economy of Nova

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Scotia, as particularly evidenced in the situation of the Cape Breton coal industry today, let me tell you that the privatization of Nova Scotia Power was no good for Nova Scotia. That is why this Party fought it to the last breath. Certainly, if this government is going to now bring forward further privatization measures and legislation (Interruption)

We looked after the people well, my friend. He did not learn his lesson yesterday. There is none so blind as those who will not see. I do not intend to be distracted by rabbit tracks, Mr. Speaker. I am after big game.

This government intends, we are reliably advised, to put 1,500 jobs on the line at $40,000 average salary per annum. That is a $60 million bite out of the provincial economy, the loss of $60 million of payroll to the economy of Nova Scotia. That is the kind of measure this government is prepared to contemplate in its absurd bid to try to please the bankers and the masters of high finance.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important subject. I don't intend to speak for the whole length of time because we have other members who want to speak on this subject as well. I believe I will go for another three minutes and then the honourable member for Cape Breton West will follow.

Mr. Speaker, with particular reference to the bill before the House, it doesn't particularly impress me. I am not in favour of two-thirds majorities being required in this Chamber to get measures passed. That is anti-democratic, that is not part of the British system of constitutional government at all. I don't support that. It might be acceptable, perhaps, in the United States Senate on a bill to impeach the President, but certainly for the ordinary passage of legislation the requirement of a two-thirds majority in the House is anti-democratic in my view, and not to be supported.

I also do not support Clause 14, which states that, "The Governor in Council may make regulations (a) exempting a service or class of services or a class of public property from all or part of this Act;" When you put a clause like that into a bill, it effectively guts the bill of having any worth or value whatever because if the Cabinet can pass a regulation saying the bill does not apply to people working in the Liquor Commission or doesn't apply to people working in the prisons or doesn't apply to the health care sector or doesn't apply to education or to this group or to that group, you would wind up with absolutely nothing. For those reasons this bill is very poorly drafted and would not, in my view, achieve the purposes that it claims to support or to advance.

I would say in a broad sense, Mr. Speaker, that one is duty-bound to support any measure placed before this House in good faith and conscience, the purpose of which is to bring this government to check, to bring this government under control and to keep this government from running away like a runaway horse and taking all the bounty and good of

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Nova Scotia with it, as it heads towards the brink to plunge over and bring its own political cause, as well as the Public Service of this province, to total disaster and oblivion.

Now I see my honourable friend cannot wait in the box any longer so I would like to defer at this point to the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I concur with my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova. The fact of the matter is that what this government is doing, according to its document, The Course Ahead for the fiscal year 2000-01 for the Province of Nova Scotia, simply put, if they were to remove the "o", I think they would come up with the final conclusion. It is a curse ahead, that is exactly what this government is planning to impose on the people of Nova Scotia.

I listened to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works as he pontificated about all the wonderful things he is going to do to correct the disastrous state that he and some of his Buchananite friends left from the early 1970's. He sat in Cabinet from day one, from 1978 until they threw them out in 1988, he was part of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: 1993.

MR. MACKINNON: We were hoping, we came very close. The fact of the matter is that is when we have the largest single growth in debt in this province, that is why we were spending almost $700 million a year in interest payments, to correct the disastrous state that you left the province in, and you stand here in the House with your colleague, the Minister of Finance, who also was party to that corrupt regime, and say that you are going to solve the problems? Who in the name of Heavens is going to believe that type of fluff that comes from you? I seriously doubt it. You are the one who said with or without the federal support that you were going to pave, you were going to twin Highway No. 101 and you were going to start construction by the end of September 1999. What have you done? Another false political promise. So why would the people in the Valley believe you? Why would the people anywhere in Nova Scotia believe what you have to say?

[5:45 p.m.]

We saw the regressive legislation this minister brought in when he was Minister of Labour - he brought in with 42 members, a piece of legislation - the Workers' Compensation Act and, before the ink was dry, he had to run down Hollis Street with it because it was that bad a piece of legislation. It was that bad that he had to withdraw it from the House. It took two years of public consultation that this government did not provide when they took their actions and now we are seeing the same thing all over again. Those in the backbenches who are following this Tory agenda, this right-wing agenda, are going to rue the day. We saw

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them follow the pied piper philosophy before, they were hit just like they got hit with shells and cannons, they did not know what happened. They could not understand why they were defeated. This is the recipe for a single-term government. If they think the blood is going to die after a year or two of all of the brutal attacks on the people of Nova Scotia to achieve their right-wing agenda, they are sadly mistaken. People's memories are not that short.

It is a known fact that Tory times are hard times. We saw what Donnie Cameron did with Nova Scotia Power and what is happening today? It took less than one year to turn from a loss, to a $110 million profit and no change of employment, no change of corporate structure. Who was moving the numbers on the books? All of a sudden friends of the government starting making big money. Is this what is going to happen with the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission? Every time we have something that can make money, that government sells it off to friends, right-wing Conservative friends, because big business is what this government is all about.

Forget about the weak, forget about the suppressed, oppressed, compressed - it does not matter. This government is only interested in big bucks. Look at the appointments at the Human Resources Committee. Every major appointment has a dollar sign of $1,000 or more attached to it. Is that the type of government we can expect?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: You will forgive me if I feel like I've been attending the regional playoffs of the North American ranting championships. I sincerely hope, Mr. Speaker, that if you are the judge of this rant-off, as we may well call it, that the parties will be notified as to who the winner is so we can bring them in a lovely resolution tomorrow congratulating them on shouting the loudest and making the least sense. I have to say, with all due respect to my elders, that I seriously doubt whether the Minister of Transportation did read this bill, or at least in any frame of mind that made him receptive to it. I have to say that Bill No. 39 is a bill that ought to be debated fairly and squarely and with some good sense and I have not heard any of that except for my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North.

I have noticed, particularly, that the other Parties have not faced the central fact of this bill while they were busy ranting and raving. Now, the central fact of this bill, this is a bill that came about because, before this government came to power and when they were in Opposition, they signed their name. Their Leader, on their behalf, signed his name to a quality five point protection plan for the benefit of all organized workers in the Public Service in this province. I have beautiful, colour photographs to prove it and I could swear, Mr. Speaker, I do believe this would be the Premier sitting down at a table with the now retired president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

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Apart from the fact that there seems to be much too much blue in the picture, I would say that it is a pretty flawless rendition - and I know you can doctor photographs - of two people we all know well. It is an actual photograph of two people, and I have a sequence, I have the then Opposition Leader with his pen in his hand, signing the Public Service five point protection plan. I also have the follow-up, the sequel, if you like, of them about to shake hands on the deal. I am going to table these because there seems to be an incredible loss of memory going around this House.

Mr. Speaker, what this bill does is - I would characterize this bill as a bill about fairness, openness and good financial sense. Imagine that, it sounds good to me and it sounded really good to the Premier when he was in Opposition. I am reading - and I would be happy to table this, although I am sure everybody has it in hand - a letter dated July 5, 1999, my birthday, to the president-elect of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. "My endorsement of the five point quality public service protection plan is intact and unwavering." Well, spare me, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who signed that?

MS. O'CONNELL: This letter was signed by John F. Hamm, Progressive Conservative Leader. What we need to talk about here, instead of screaming and yelling and watching these two Parties go at each other and playing, no, you did it, no, you did it, no, you did it, let's talk about the central fact that this government made commitments before it got elected. It made commitments and this one is in writing and I have highlighted it with my blue highlighter that matches the photographs, Mr. Speaker.

People elected this government on a certain set of premises. (Interruptions) But the premise is as important as the promises. The premise was that this would be a responsible, open and honest government, that things would be done in an open manner, that the public would be consulted, and the five point protection plan is an excellent example of that. What did we get instead? They cannot get into their chairs over there fast enough, but all of a sudden everything is all locked up tight. We don't know what they are doing. We don't know what they are going to do and when we ask them about consultation they make fun of us, they ridicule us as if it were some kind of archaic concept that maybe went out with the Luddites, Mr. Speaker.

What we have here is a renewed paternalism in a government. You know what they are saying to us? They are saying, we know what is best for you - pat, pat, pat - don't you worry your pretty little heads in the Opposition, we know what is good for you. We are just going to go behind the door, we are going to close the door and we are going to make a whole lot of decisions. Then we are going to pop out and we are going to say, surprise, you didn't get what you voted for. Mr. Speaker, the premise this is all based upon is that we don't know what is good for us but that Mike Harris knows what is good for us. That is just shameful.

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At least he had the decency to go to the voters and tell them what he was going to do. This government said we are going to do this, and then they did that, over and over again.

Mr. Speaker, what we are left with is a lot of confused and nervous Nova Scotians who don't know what is going to hit them. They may be nervous. Why are they nervous? Maybe they feel this government is inept because they don't know what it is doing - and indeed it could be an inept government. Maybe it is just because the doors are closed and they can't make a decision. In my portfolio as Critic for the Liquor Control Act, when I go around and I talk to affected groups in every walk of life, whether it is the tourism industry of Nova Scotia, whether it is the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, whether it is the retail brewers, whether it is the lounge and beverage association, do you know what they say? They say, we don't know what is going on, we just keep hearing these rumours - privatization. We don't even know what they mean by it, they haven't even defined it and we don't know what is coming down the pipe and we have no way to say, maybe this is not what all of us together want.

The same thing with the P3. This bill cost calls for a cost-benefit analysis, what a novel concept. Can you beat that? Figure out whether it saves money first, before you jump into it wholesale. What happened with the KPMG report on the P3 schools? They didn't have a model so a bunch of money was blown, Mr. Speaker . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: $89,000.

MS. O'CONNELL: My colleague says $89,000 was blown so that this government could learn it did not have the tools to do the very job that would be done if a bill such as Bill No. 39 were to be enacted in this House. I just fail to see, and perhaps it is just me, but I fail to see why a government should not be open, why a government should not be accountable, why it should not have to explain to the people who hired them whether or not a certain act is going to save money, whether it is going to provide more service, whether it is going to cost the same and provide more service, whether it is going to be more effective, whether it is going to benefit all Nova Scotians or just fill the pockets of a few.

So I stand here proud to support Bill No. 39 and as a side-bar I await your decision on who was the best yeller and screamer during this debate today, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to pass some comments on with respect to the measure that is before us. First of all, I would want to say that it was a great pleasure to hear the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works lead off this debate on behalf of this Party. (Interruptions)

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I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, with the noise level that is coming from across the way, it becomes very difficult to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired.

The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, with a minute and one-half left, since the government has obviously shown that it is so cooperative to try to move progressive legislation forward, we will give them the last minute.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: That is very kind of the New Democratic Party House Leader to give us one minute, actually a minute and one-half.

Mr. Speaker, before I move adjournment, the business for tomorrow will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will continue with the bill of the Minister of Health, that is Bill No. 34. Then when we are finished that, we will go on to Bill Nos. 29, 31, 32 and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill No. 39.

MR. RUSSELL: No, I do not think we will call Bill No. 39, not tomorrow, thank you very much.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and the House will sit until 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The House will rise and sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m.

We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate was announced earlier. The honourable member for Kings West, I believe, will debate the following resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the serious labour issues relative to the loss in the number of farms in Nova Scotia."

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[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC. - FARMS: REDUCTION - LABOUR ISSUES

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, as you know, agriculture is an important part of the history of Nova Scotia and I believe it is a vital part in the future. It is significant that we must look at it. About 50 years ago 40 per cent of the population of Canada was involved in the agricultural business. Today that number is approximately 3 per cent. You can see, of course, the problem we have seen from big business and high tech. Having said that, I think we need to look at the geography of Nova Scotia and see what is happening in every region and try to draw some kind of conclusion that we can encourage the agricultural industry so that it may continue to be successful and continue to grow.

The geography of Nova Scotia over the years, take southwestern Nova Scotia, particularly Yarmouth and Cape Breton where there were numerous small farms and everyone made a living off these small farms. Today, for example, in the County of Yarmouth, we can see what has happened, there are approximately 12 full time-farms, down considerably from years ago. The Cape Breton region has also seen their numbers drop and presently there are approximately 24 or less full-time farming operations.

In the Valley region, certainly one of the better farming areas with Annapolis, Kings and Hants, tremendous soil, some of the best in the world for farming, a good climate because of the location with the two small mountains that it sets in between, we have 40 per cent approximately of the cash crops produced in Nova Scotia coming from that region. Farming, of course, is an integral part of that area.

The central and northern part of Nova Scotia makes up another 40 per cent of the cash crops, and there we have several fine farms, but they are getting larger and many of them are dairy. The other farms are sort of dropping by the wayside. The fact of the matter is that the number of family farms in Nova Scotia is decreasing and the number of large farms continues to grow and get larger. When this happens, we are losing some of our heritage and some of our way of life here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

As with the world, so farming has become high tech. As we become high tech, we must not forget that farming is a labour-intensive industry even with the equipment we have today. Particularly, I can speak of Kings County. We have a tremendous need for seasonal workers. The workforce that comes in place between the first of June and the end of October is of

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paramount concern and a great need to our community, to make farming prosperous. If we don't have these people, then full-time jobs will be lost, because farmers will not continue - one in my area for example grows 40 acres of strawberries - they will not continue to plant 40 acres of strawberries and have them not be harvested and not be able to sell them. They will reduce the acreage and when they do that, we will lose some of the full-time farm workers because they won't have that need. Of course there will be less need for the part-timers and seasonal workers.

We must keep in mind that seasonal workers are minimum wage workers. We need to understand that. Although the federal and provincial government are aware of this, and they are having some consultation, the government in my limited experience does not move too rapidly. We will lose farms and we will lose people in the process if we don't become more active. I think it is a critical situation.

We have people that are so important to us that we need to set up a fairer system of taxation for these seasonal workers. Going out early in the morning and working until late at night in the hot sun and so on for minimum wage has to have some incentives. We have to have our employment insurance system geared so that perhaps the hours that they can put in and collect would be adjusted to what is reasonable. They may be eligible and not lose benefits because they can't get in a certain number of hours. We need to get our able-bodied Community Services people able and encourage them to work on these jobs that are out there for them.

At the present time, for example, the system, when they get to $175 I believe, they are penalized to the fact that of the next $100 the government claws back $75. Now no one is going to go out and harvest in the hot sun for long lengths of time when they are only going to get 25 percent of a wage; it just doesn't make sense. We have to make some concessions for these people. We need to get students back in the fields. Students used to be an important part of the harvest process, and parents used to go out with the student, or as a family unit. I know some used to take their vacations and go harvest strawberries or apples. It was a family unit; it was a growing together; and it was a time when work ethics were taught and people knew what it was like to earn an honest living and they were able to work together and enjoy it. Today that is not happening because of the red tape involved in this type of thing.

The other benefit of having students go out and work in this industry for these low wages is it would encourage some who may think they want to leave school to stay in school, because certainly they would realize that they do need a good education to get higher-paying jobs and to have a better livelihood. This is hard work and the reward is very little.

These people are very necessary, because the crops we are talking about are perishable crops in most cases. We have strawberries that need to be harvested quickly and sent to market; we have blueberries; we have the mixed vegetables; and of course we have apples in the Valley.

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At the present time we have the situation that people are not coming to work. They come and earn this $175, or whatever, and then they fail to return. We have people come and want money under the table and, for the farmer to be above board and be an honest businessman, he can't operate properly but, because he can't get his crop off, he is encouraged to pay under the table; an underground market is there. These people are not going to take their money they get and put it in a Swiss bank account, they are going to spend it and keep it in circulation, and we are going to get tax dollars back immediately. These people are going to be able to buy things they have not been able to have and their standard of living will be improved. We need to help these people do that and give them a dignity they should have.

It is just ridiculous to me that with this critical situation we will continue to debate it and have many discussions while some of our farmers have already reached the point where they have to bring in offshore labour. One of the farmers, at least one in my area - and probably more - brings labourers in from offshore. They bring them in, they plant the crop, they harvest the crop, and they are very good workers but we are taking away from our own people when we do this. These people are not cheap, they get minimum wage, but we are paying their housing for them and their transportation. I don't see it as a benefit to Nova Scotia or to Canada.

I know that now Ontario has a tremendous offshore labour force because they cannot get people to work in the industry. I believe we need to take a serious look at this situation. The loss we will encounter if we don't handle this is that the farmers will grow less, the production will go down, and we will become, instead of an exporter of agricultural goods, an importer. I certainly would not think we want to go that way.

I could go on for hours about agriculture. It has been a major part of my life, and I truly hope we can do something about this situation that I believe is critical at this time. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak to this resolution today. At first I thought the resolution was a little bit vague, but I can see from the direction of the honourable member who spoke previously that I do recognize some of his concerns.

It is important, I think, for all members of this House and for all Nova Scotians to think about, and the honourable member alluded to this about the history of agriculture in this province, the fact that at one point in time, governments really set their agenda based on the concerns of the agricultural sector, simply because most of our population was a rural population and, therefore, their voting power really controlled the agenda for the day. But that is no longer the case. Actually, farmers do not have a lot of political clout as far as the number of votes that are gleaned from rural Nova Scotia. The make-up of rural Nova Scotia

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is such that so much more of the population in some of our rural areas has really become an urban population. Although it may be a distance from the major metropolitan centres, the complexities or the issues that concern this urban population, even though they may be planted in what is basically a rural environment, are not the same as those of the inhabitants that used to be there say 50 years ago.

For farmers to have a voice and to make their concerns known to politicians is relatively difficult. Maybe I am wrong to say that politicians may hear the voice, but it is the many other voices that are competing that are louder that tend to take more of the agenda.

I want to give the members some idea of what has happened to the farming sector over the past number of years. In 1921, there were 47,432 farms in Nova Scotia. In 1996, there were 4,453. Let's say basically one-tenth of the number of farms. Some people right off the bat will say, well, yes, but farms are a lot larger and it is basically the same acreage that we are farming. That is not even the case. The average acreage per farm in 1921 was 100 acres, and the average acreage per farm in 1996 was 237 acres. So by simple multiplication, in 1921 we had 4,743,200 acres that were under agricultural production and in 1996 by multiplying 4,453 by 237, then we had slightly over 1,055,361 acres. By 1996 we really have about a quarter of the agricultural land in production that we did in 1921.

That should be an obvious real concern. Some would say, well, are the store shelves empty? Is there any reason to worry about food? If there isn't, then why should we be concerned? We should be concerned for a lot of reasons. One is just the notion of food security, that Nova Scotia should really have a plan that it will at least produce as much food as its people need, right off the bat, and then think about how much after that we would want to export. One of the reasons, not only just for feeding your people, but also for the creation of jobs.

There are a number of barriers. Economic ones in particular are reasons that drive people off the farm or prevent people from entering the agricultural sector. We used to talk about young farmers once upon a time, but now we talk about new entrants. In other words, people who are going into the farming sector or trying to encourage people to go into the farming sector, who are not young, who are pensioned and have left other modes of employment and are thinking of trying to do something in their later years, and maybe investing in farming might be one of those mechanisms.

I think that if we look at some of the labour issues, and the honourable member mentioned some, I think they are worthy of mention. It may be refreshing to hear members of the government speak about these concerns, and I certainly hope that the member does not take me in the wrong way when I say you are in the driver's seat. Your Party is in government, and I certainly hope that he can bend the ear of the Cabinet Ministers so that some of what he has addressed may be addressed by Cabinet to bring some resolution. As far as workforce issues, obviously employment insurance is a federal concern, but I would say

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I certainly hope they will have a strong voice and try to bring this concern to the federal government so that people do not have to work so long to get unemployment benefits and the benefits will last longer if people are involved in some sectors of the agricultural industry; not all of them provide seasonal work, some of them provide year-round work, but for those who are in those sectors that there is some way to help sustain a workforce. There is a large surplus with what the federal government has in employment insurance, and they have not been really willing to open the purse strings. I think with what they have gleaned from workers in this country, certainly they could start to put something back.

[6:15 p.m.]

I think in some way for people, if they are on unemployment, they could actually earn a little bit while they are working without having to have so much clawed back. It is an incentive for them to learn some skills while they are doing the job. It gives the employer an opportunity to realize whether or not this individual could turn out to be someone they may want to try to keep on in their neighbourhood and on their operation and provide some stability for the operation and, thereby, provide some stability for the individual. I think this would be a positive thing. I think anything that can act as an incentive to keep people working is far better than using a stick against them. Along with doing those things, the government may want to think about things like child care, et cetera; some mechanisms they can provide in the community if people are single parents or whatever, that will make it easier for them to get out and go to work.

The honourable member mentioned the minimum wage and that probably is not an incentive for some people. It is an incentive for people who have not been able to find work and I certainly would encourage the government to look at increasing the minimum wage for farm workers. One of the important mechanisms here, I think, has to be to try to have a system whereby farmers get the most for their crop that they can. In other words, the greater value farmers get in relation to what retailers might get is more important, I think, at the farm gate, for farmers to get the highest value they can because then they can return that to their employees. In other words, the more they get the better off their employees are.

Mr. Speaker, can you tell me how much time I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have until 6:20 p.m.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you. I will try to breeze through my last couple of minutes.

In my constituency of Hants East, we produce about 20 per cent of the milk that is consumed in this province, and that is a lot of milk. These dairy operations are large and they are fairly profitable and the employees in these operations - and some of them have a number of them - are fairly well taken care of in the sense of their salary and their housing, et cetera.

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It is important that these operations have some stability, to have people that once you train them, they stay there and become part of that operation, rather than training them and they go somewhere else; there is no good in that. In Nova Scotia we have over $380 million at the farm gate receipts for agricultural produce and that is close to what we have on Prince Edward Island.

So if we look at Prince Edward Island, it will fit into my school board district twice, then we have a large capacity for growth in the agricultural sector. If we think about what that could mean in terms of employment in the province that is renewable and sustainable, then that means if you can attract people to rural communities that means you can build schools instead of closing them down. That means you can have doctors go there; if you have a young doctor wanting to go into an area and there is no school for his children, he is not going to want to go, so some of these services have to be there. So, I would like the government to look at this on a much larger scale for what it means to rural communities and what it means to the people in those communities and the services they can provide Agriculture is a great vehicle for that. I thank the member for the resolution. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for my voice. I have laryngitis. (Interruption) No, actually I received this from my wife, this parting gift after last weekend and I shall do the best I can.

I want to compliment the member for Kings West for bringing the issue of agriculture to the House. I realized the issue when I read over the resolution. It is an issue, not necessarily for all types of farming in the province but it is an issue certainly in some areas of the agricultural community and within certain production farms, for example in cash crops and things of that nature, so I compliment the member for doing that.

We know, as well as my other colleague who spoke on this issue, there are no easy solutions to how you find more staff or more people, the labour force, to be able to deal with the issue of harvesting, at a time when we need to harvest and at a price that farmers can afford to pay and still have a return on investment at the end of the day.

I guess we all started off by talking about the size of agriculture and its political influence and things of that nature. Back in the 1930's, 50 percent of the people in Canada grew up on a farm and understood agriculture and really we are talking about agriculture awareness. I think kind of separating all these different points then, I just want to say, number one, that I think there is a tremendous responsibility for all members in the Legislature and for the industry, to continue to point out the importance of agriculture from an economic and a social point of view; whether it is food supply, food security, or the fact of economic

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activity in rural communities, it is a fabric and part of our community and our culture and I think we all have a responsibility to promote that.

One area I feel very strongly about, I know members to my left in the House here would agree, is the vital role 4-H plays in promoting agriculture, promoting the awareness of agriculture and helping to bring together and bridge urban and rural youth to understand and appreciate what is involved with the agricultural community. My hope is that we do not get into a situation where that program is going to be damaged or hurt in the next budget. I realize the minister has to make cuts in finance, I understand that and I support that. We have done it and we recommend that more needs to be done, but I think he has to take a very serious look at this very important program for educating our youth and educating our communities in the importance of agriculture.

Some of the suggestions brought forward, and I might say that back many years ago when harvesting apples, we used to import workers from Newfoundland to come here and harvest apples in the beautiful Annapolis Valley. We exported those apples literally around the world, certainly in Europe. The South Shore as well, had very strong orchard operations, the apple industry in Lunenburg County and for that, when we harvested, we had a hard time finding people to harvest apples, so we imported people from Newfoundland to come over. They were excellent workers and worked very hard.

So this problem is not unique and new to the changes in agriculture and the fact that we are more mechanized and larger and so on and so forth. It is some of the reality that we have always faced. What is happening now, which is really interesting, is positive to agriculture, we have diversified our agricultural base and we are bigger into horticultural crops, for example, than we ever were, certainly back in the 1940's and 1950's; we are producing a lot more. We are producing fewer apples, we are producing more horticultural crops and that is very labour intensive. For that we need to take a look at technology and equipment to be able to harvest and when we do harvest, to be able to protect that crop so it can be marketable as well. We also realize that we need to have imported labour to be able to do that.

That is sad in some ways but it is also a reality in another and we have to be aware of that. What we need to continue to do is make sure that the standards for which we treat these people is fair and humane.

I guess the other question that comes back is how can we change, maybe, some of the systems to have more people working in Nova Scotia? I think EI needs some more changes. I know that the original changes to the EI system, we fought very hard against the changes to that program. Our province did and Newfoundland did because we have a lot of seasonal workers and because of the changes in EI, it is not very beneficial to the farm community that needs part-time labour to harvest those crops. So we hope that we, collectively, can come up with some ideas of how changes to EI could actually help benefit the agricultural community

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and help those who are on EI to actually get a benefit out of being able to work and still being able to access proper EI benefits when they require them.

One might think that workfare, and it was kind of floated just recently, might in fact be some of the reality of what we are going to be looking at in the future. I am not against able-bodied people being able to work and I think that is healthy, it is right. It is healthy for them in many aspects of their life. I think what we need to do is take a look at how we can not provide slave labour, but be able to provide opportunities for people to have a reasonable return in regard to income and to see this as a potential future. How do we find ways to provide individuals to work for a month or six weeks, in agriculture and then the rest of the time they stop? We need to take a look at a broader perspective in employment for people who are seasonal workers to be able to bridge over the seasons and the non-seasons, but also to be able to find enough opportunity in other sectors that they can be multi-trained and have full-time employment during these types of activities.

That is really quite simple. If you have a chance to go to work for a month and a half and then you are going to be off work, not everybody wants that. People want a full-time job. They want to be able to have a house, they want to have a car, they want to have a family and things of that nature. So I think what we need to do is take a broader look at how we can - is there any structural way through EI and through employment to be able to show a benefit to these people and give them meaningful employment, meaningful benefits and a meaningful future as well as meet the requirements of the farm community in regard to harvesting?

Price cost squeeze; one of the benefits of supply management has been that although it is changing in regard to geographic locations, when it was originally brought in, was an economic development arm of agriculture in this country. Without supply management we probably would not have poultry, eggs, turkey and dairy production here. It would probably be in Quebec and Ontario. It could very well be centred in Manitoba. So with the vision of the farm community and the government of the day, we developed supply management which has been a very strong benefit to the farm community and to the people who are in it.

What they have done is, farmers who had a reasonable return on investment, certainly not gouging the market or not inflated returns, but they have had a reasonable return and for that they have been able to invest in technology and infrastructure that allows them to be not only more competitive, but also to be more efficient. In our farm operations I used to have four or five people work full time and I had about 13 or 14 part time, I now have two people full-time and on a part-time basis about two more. We are producing more product than ever before and that is great because I have been able to produce a product that is high in quality, but also competitive in price with anywhere in Canada. I have to be able to do that to survive.

Some of these farmers who are into horticultural production have a very difficult time because they are more subject to weather conditions and market conditions that are way beyond their control, other than what we have to deal with. So it is very difficult for them to

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be able to develop the technology necessary to find ways to harvest in a more efficient way, other than labour intensive. So I think what we can do is do more work in research and development which has always been a great asset to the agricultural community.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on a bit, I realize my time is going on, but I think maybe we as a committee or we as a House, should be looking at how we can invest and infuse more dollars in research and development, whether it is to do with technological advances or whether it is to do with ways to be able to harvest that product in a more efficient way, so that we can meet the requirement of the farm community.

I want to close by complimenting the member and the members who are here on the government benches for supporting agriculture and the member from the New Democratic Party because I think that if farmers could get together and talk about some of these issues, people who are sensitive to agriculture, I think we can find some solutions and I compliment the member for bringing this issue forward. We have touched on some of the solutions, maybe what we should do is get together and actually bring something forward that has a little more strength.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the members for the debate this evening on a very important issue in this province.

We stand adjourned until tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]