The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Apr. 7, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Dept. of Agriculture and Marketing, Hon. E. Fage 3475
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1117, Health: World Health Day (07/04/00) - Recognize,
Hon. J. Muir (by Hon. Rodney MacDonald) 3476
Vote - Affirmative 3476
Res. 1118, Culture - Highland Village: Museum Outstanding (N.S.) -
Recognition Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3476
Vote - Affirmative 3477
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 41, Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial Assistance
(2000) Act, Hon. R. Russell 3477
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1119, Previous Question (06/04/00-Bill No. 34) -
Dictatorial Action (PC [N.S.]), Mr. Robert Chisholm 3477
Res. 1120, Health - Care: Fix - Funding Promise Insufficient,
Mr. D. Downe 3478
Res. 1121, Volunteerism - Vols. of Year: Trenton (Ryan Toner),
Stellarton (Anne Green) & New Glasgow (Paul La Lande) -
Congrats., The Premier 3479
Vote - Affirmative 3479
Res. 1122, Gov't. (N.S.) - Power: Centralization - Protest, Mr. J. Holm 3480
Res. 1123, Health - Pharmacare: Seniors - Consult, Mr. R. MacLellan 3480
Res. 1124, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Georgina MacNab-deVries (Inverness Co.) - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3481
Vote - Affirmative 3482
Res. 1125, Health - Bill No. 34: Debate Cut - Regret, Mr. F. Corbett 3482
Res. 1126, Volunteerism - N.S. Reg. Vol. Award 2000:
Marjorie Cunningham (Argyle) - Thank, Hon. N. LeBlanc 3483
Vote - Affirmative 3484
Res. 1127, Health - Bill No. 34: Full Debate - Ensure, Mr. D. Dexter 3484
Res. 1128, Econ. Dev. - Job. (N.S.) Retention - Ensure,
Mr. B. Boudreau 3484
Res. 1129, Volunteerism - N.S. Reg. Vol. Award 2000:
Vivian MacMillan (Windsor), Grant Boyd (W. Hants) &
Craig Cuvilier (Hantsport) - Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 3485
Vote - Affirmative 3486
Res. 1130, Health - Bill No. 34: Closure Motion - Withdraw,
Mr. K. Deveaux 3486
Res. 1131, Agric. - Min.: Remarks ("Chicken Farmers" [p.3394-
06/04/00]) - Condemn, Mr. M. Samson 3487
Res. 1132, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Michelle Wilson (Digby) & Carole Dunn (Digby Mun.) - Applaud,
Hon. G. Balser 3487
Vote - Affirmative 3488
Res. 1133, Gov't. (N.S.): Power - Test, Mr. H. Epstein 3488
Res. 1134, Health: Bill No. 34 - Accountability, Mr. R. MacKinnon 3489
Res. 1135, Health - Bill No. 34: Debate Cut - Signification,
Mr. John MacDonell 3489
Res. 1136, Health - Care: Fix - Facts Absent, Mr. W. Gaudet 3490
Res. 1137, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Simon Sampson (Antigonish Co.) & Lou Palmer (Antigonish) -^^
Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 3491
Vote - Affirmative 3491
Res. 1138, Health - Care: Debate Closure - Explain, Mr. J. Holm 3491
Res. 1139, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Strategy - Rethink, Mr. D. Downe 3492
Res. 1140, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Robert Cleveland (Lun.) & Peter Hall (Mahone Bay) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 3493
Vote - Affirmative 3493
Res. 1141, Health - Care: Facilities Review - Late, Mr. Robert Chisholm 3493
Res. 1142, Gov't. (N.S.): Siege Mentality - Unpromised,
Mr. R. MacLellan 3494
Res. 1143, Volunteerism - Amherst Vol. of Year: Agnes Douglass -
Acknowledge, Hon. E. Fage 3495
Vote - Affirmative 3495
Res. 1144, CBC - First Edition: Continuance - Support, Ms. E. O'Connell 3495
Vote - Affirmative 3496
Res. 1145, Health - Care: Facilities Review - Costs Table, Dr. J. Smith 3496
Res. 1146, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Don Dickie (Truro) & Marg Rovers (Bible Hill) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir (by Ms. M. McGrath) 3497
Vote - Affirmative 3497
Res. 1147, Sports - Hockey (N.S. Jr. B Champs): C.B. Alpines -
Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 3498
Vote - Affirmative 3498
Res. 1148, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atl. Ferry (N.S.-Nfld.):
SW Coast Action Comm. (Nfld.) - Lead Follow, Mr. B. Boudreau ^Res. 1149, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. 3498
Award 2000:
Jim Cheverie (Kentville) & Centreville DPRA - Recognize,
Mr. M. Parent 3499
Vote - Affirmative 3500
Res. 1150, C.B. The Lakes MLA - Success: Definition - Remind,
Mr. D. Dexter 3500
Res. 1151, Fish. - Min.: Comments Chicken Farmers (p.3394-06/04/00) -
Review, Mr. M. Samson 3500
Res. 1152, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Awards 2000:
Fae Farrell, Minnie Atkinson, Jacques Rioux, Ricky Banks &
Cindy Siegel (Shel. Const.) - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 3501
Vote - Affirmative 3501
Res. 1153, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99 on): Deficit -
Address, Mr. K. Deveaux 3501
Res. 1154, Dart. South MLA - Exco Aspirations: House Rules - Learn,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3502
Res. 1155, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
David Harris (New Minas) - Congrats., Mr. D. Morse 3503
Vote - Affirmative 3503
Res. 1156, Educ. - Breton Educ. Ctr. Drama Gp.: Production
'Salem's Daughter' - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 3503
Vote - Affirmative 3504
Res. 1157, Hfx. Bedford Basin MLA - Shipbuilding Policy: Gov't. (N.S.) -^
Urge, Mr. W. Gaudet 3504
Res. 1158, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000: Keith Hamilton
(Col. Co.) - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor (by Mr. W. Dooks) 3505
Vote - Affirmative 3505
Res. 1159, Dart. North MLA - Cdn. Alliance: Free Membership -
PC MLAs (3) Ensure, Mr. H. Epstein 3506
Res. 1160, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000: Troy Hatt &
Julie Crouse (Queens RM) - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 3506
Vote - Affirmative 3507
Res. 1161, Scouts (Can.): Scouters (Dartmouth) Dedication -
Recognize, Mr. J. Pye 3507
Vote - Affirmative 3507
Res. 1162, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000: Sandra Romans
(HRM-Marine Dr. Area) - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 3508
Vote - Affirmative 3508
Res. 1163, Culture - Theatre Live (NSPTA): Contribution - Recognize,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3508
Vote - Affirmative 3509
Res. 1164, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Edward Rattee (Yar.) & Katheryn Sweeney (Yar. Mun.) -
Applaud, Mr. R. Hurlburt 3509
Vote - Affirmative 3510
Res. 1165, Sports - Kenneth Reginald Hamilton Mem. Field:
Recognition - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 3510
Vote - Affirmative 3511
Res. 1166, Volunteerism - N.S. Reg. Vol. Award 2000:
John MacKarney (Westville) & Patsy Rae (Pictou Co.) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3511
Vote - Affirmative 3512
Res. 1167, Fin. - Casino (Hfx.): Deals Future - Better Hands Ensure,
Mr. John MacDonell 3512
Res. 1168, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Theresa Steadman (Berwick) - Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 3513
Vote - Affirmative 3513
Res. 1169, Scouts (Can.) - Scouters (Dartmouth): Dedication -
Recognize, Mr. J. Pye 3513
Vote - Affirmative 3514
Res. 1170, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Wayne MacMillan (Pt. Haweskbury), Judy Jollota (St. Mary's),
Alonzo Reddick (Guysborough Mun.), Michael Breen
(Mulgrave), & Diane Weir (Canso) - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 3514
Vote - Affirmative 3515
Res. 1171, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Betty Ann Battist (Pictou) - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 3515
Vote - Affirmative 3515
Res. 1172, Volunteerism - Multicultural Vol. Award 2000:
Geraldine Browning (Centreville) - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 3516
Vote - Affirmative 3516
Res. 1173, Volunteerism - Volunteer Youth Award 2000:
Amy Heffernan - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor (by Mr. J. DeWolfe) 3516
Vote - Affirmative 3517
Res. 1174, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
Marjorie Duizer (Cumb. Co.) - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 3517
Vote - Affirmative 3518
Res. 1175, Volunteerism - N.S. Rep. Vol. Award 2000:
James Cecil Mosher (Anna. Co.), Herman Rushton (Anna. Royal),
Jim Steele (Bridgetown) & Jan Davis (Middleton) - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 3518
Vote - Affirmative 3518
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 34, Health Authorities Act 3521
Mr. D. Downe 3521
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3533
Mr. P. MacEwan 3543
Mr. F. Corbett 3550
Mr. J. Pye 3562
Mr. J. Holm 3567
Hon. J. Muir 3573
Vote - Affirmative 3573
No. 35, Housing Development Corporation Act 3574
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3574
Mr. J. Pye 3574
Mr. D. Downe 3574
Hon. A. MacIsaac 3574
Vote - Affirmative 3575
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Apr. 10th at 2:00 p.m. 3577

[Page 3475]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing for the fiscal year ended March 31st.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

3475

[Page 3476]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1117

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

Whereas April 7th is World Health Day, aimed to encourage everyone to think globally and act locally on specific issues of global importance for public health; and

Whereas this year's theme, Safe Blood Starts With Me. Safe Blood Saves Lives, is promoting everyone to live a healthy lifestyle which in turn contributes to healthy blood; and

Whereas the global community shares the common life source of blood and the need for voluntary blood donors is a permanent requirement as blood is used around the clock, year in and year out;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize April 7th as World Health Day and encourage Nova Scotians to celebrate this day and that those able to do so continue to donate blood or become a blood donor.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1118

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 Highland Village in Iona is a major cultural institution, promoting and preserving the Gaelic language and culture in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 3477]

Whereas the Highland Village recently received the outstanding promotions award from the Federation of Nova Scotia Heritage; and

Whereas the award follows the selection of Highland Village as the top-rated community museum for Nova Scotia in 1999 by the Nova Scotia Museum Board;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House join with me in recognizing Highland Village as an outstanding museum and congratulating operators and staff for their significant contribution.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 41 - Entitled an Act to Authorize the Town of Hantsport to make a Grant to the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre. (Hon. Ronald Russell as a private member.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1119

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

Whereas on January 26, 1995, the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party was escorted from this House as he protested the moving of the Previous Question before any amendment was before the House; and

[Page 3478]

Whereas the then and now Progressive Conservative House Leader, the MLA for Hants West, protested the fact that a member could rise on second reading and put that same motion and rule out any amendments in second reading, and he called for fairness; and

Whereas this Progressive Conservative Government has now imposed this form of closure twice, seizing the precedent set on that January 26th when closure was used for the first time in generations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House views with alarm the dictatorial action taken by the Conservatives to cut off debate of legislation that is supposed to be fundamental to their first priority, health care.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1120

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

Whereas during the last election the current Premier said, "Nova Scotians can still have quality health care at an affordable price"; and

Whereas when the budget is brought down on Tuesday, we will finally see whether the Premier meant what he had said, but after the last budget there is little chance of that; and

Whereas instead of waiting for Ottawa to rescue him the Premier should invest in health care instead of destroying the system through misplaced cuts;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier finally admit that he had no idea what he was talking about when he promised he could fix the health care system by finding a mere $46 million in the current system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 3479]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1121

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:

Whereas Ryan Toner is being honoured with a Representative Volunteer for 2000 Award at Recreation Nova Scotia's 26th Annual Provincial Awards Day ceremony, for his volunteer efforts within the Town of Trenton; and

Whereas Anne Green is being honoured with a Representative Volunteer for 2000 Award for her volunteer work within the Town of Stellarton; and

Whereas these distinguished Nova Scotians will be joined by Paul La Lande, who is being honoured with a Representative Volunteer for 2000 Award for his volunteer activities within the Town of New Glasgow;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House express their gratitude to Ryan Toner, Anne Green, and Paul La Lande, for their selfless and immeasurable contribution to their communities of Trenton, Stellarton, and New Glasgow.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 3480]

RESOLUTION NO. 1122

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

Whereas former Conservative Leader, Terry Donahoe, fought with all his might against arbitrary limits on the rights of MLAs to seek improvements in government legislation; and

Whereas Mr. Donahoe said, "Robert Stanfield and Angus L. Macdonald were able to conduct the business of this province within the context and the parameters of the rules which this government wants to rip up today."; and

Whereas the imposition of closure less than two weeks into this spring session shows that this government is impatient with democracy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House protest the autocratic, arbitrary, and undemocratic nature of any government that tries to seize and centralize power in the hands of downtown officials without so much as a full debate.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1123

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

Whereas the Hamm Government is considering increasing the cost of Pharmacare from the present $215 a year; and

Whereas promise No. 202 in the Tory blue book states that the government will consult seniors on all government decisions affecting Nova Scotia; and

[Page 3481]

Whereas the seniors of our communities have contributed greatly to the life of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government fulfil its promise of consulting seniors to ensure that they have a representative voice on setting this rate for Pharmacare.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1124

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of our communities; and

Whereas today, the Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards for 2000 will be presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia who have given of their time and energy to the betterment of their respective communities;

Whereas Georgina MacNab-deVries, representing the Municipality of the County of Inverness, will be named Provincial Representative Volunteer for her many significant contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Georgina MacNab-deVries for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2000 and thank her for her continued hard work and dedication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3482]

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1125

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

Whereas the Premier told Nova Scotians that his number one qualification for the job was the fact that he is a doctor; and

Whereas the Premier, in his platform, made 50 health care promises and committed himself to making it priority number one; and

Whereas Nova Scotians would expect that no subject will receive closer scrutiny or a more thorough debate than health care;

[9:15 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this House regret the betrayal of Nova Scotians that took place when the Conservatives moved to cut off health care debate rather than risk exposure of their real agenda to make Klein and Harris look good.

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 Dartmouth East.

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

[Page 3483]

Whereas at the QE II during the election campaign, the current Premier stated, "as we all know now, hundreds of men and women across the province who work at institutions like the QE II had been abandoned by Russell MacLellan and his government"; and

Whereas when the budget is tabled Tuesday, the Liberal caucus will ensure that the Premier will not forget those words; and

Whereas our caucus will ensure that the Tory caucus will not forget that their Leader deceived the people into believing money was not the issue in health care;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier administers one cut to programs and services in health care that the people of Nova Scotia will remember that it is not what Tories promised during the last election.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1126

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

Whereas we can never thank enough the volunteers of this province, for their selfless donations of time, ideas and energy; and

Whereas as we approach National Volunteer Week, we salute representatives of communities across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Marjorie Cunningham has been selected as the Representative Volunteer for 2000, for the Municipality of the District of Argyle;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank Marjorie Cunningham for her individual contributions, and to all those volunteers in her community whose efforts her award also recognizes today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3484]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1127

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

Whereas the Premier was once a backbencher who said, "I can't go to the government caucus meetings . . . the only venue I have is this place, standing behind this desk and speaking to this group"; and

Whereas he said also, "I will do that because I feel no constraint as a member of the Opposition, I feel no constraint that would prevent me from doing just that"; and

Whereas he said further that changes in the way this House operates must be done in a conciliatory way, by agreement and compromise;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should show he is a person of his word by acting immediately to lift the constraints on debate of one of his government's most important and most sweeping pieces of legislation.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1128

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

[Page 3485]

Whereas the current Tory Government is giving away jobs to Newfoundland by not actively pursuing Marine Atlantic jobs; and

Whereas the province has already caved in to New Brunswick by giving away jobs and money to the people of New Brunswick; and

Whereas Tory inaction does not bode well for important negotiations surrounding the Laurentian Sub-basin;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier stand up for Nova Scotia instead of giving away jobs and tax dollars to our neighbouring provinces at the expense of Nova Scotians.

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1129

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

Whereas the strength of a community is often measured by the volunteer contributions made by its residents; and

Whereas today, volunteers from across Nova Scotia are being recognized for their contributions to enhance and better their respective communities; and

Whereas Vivian MacMillan, representing the Town of Windsor; Grant Boyd, of the Municipality of the District of West Hants; and Craig Cuvilier, representing the Town of Hantsport, are being named Provincial Representative Volunteers for 2000, recognizing their significant contributions they have made within each of their respective communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank Vivian MacMillian, Grant Boyd, Craig Cuvilier, and all Provincial Representative Volunteers who have given generously of their time and efforts to the communities in which they live.

[Page 3486]

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

It is very hard to hear the resolutions being read because of the noise on all sides of the House.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1130

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

Whereas a key contributor to Tory coffers in 1999 was the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario; and

Whereas members of the Harris Government of Ontario came to Nova Scotia to play a key role in the Tory campaign, and this government still turns daily to Toronto for its guidance; and

Whereas the Harris Government has set a new low in Canadian history by trampling on the right to full debate and accountability;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should withdraw yesterday's closure motion and instead respect the democratic principles that once made Nova Scotia Tories proud.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 3487]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1131

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

Whereas the Agriculture Minister has shown utter contempt for farmers in this province by questioning the ability of a chicken farmer to comment on public policy issues; and

Whereas the Agriculture Minister should be reminded that members of the Legislature are elected by a democratic ballot and not by one's background or profession; and

Whereas chicken farmers, teachers, doctors or even truck drivers all have the right as members of a democracy and members of this House to express their opinion as freely as anyone else;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn and censure the Agriculture Minister for his disrespectful remarks towards farmers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1132

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

Whereas April 9th to April 15th is National Volunteer Week in Canada; and

Whereas this year Michelle Wilson has been nominated as a Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Town of Digby; and

Whereas Carole Dunn is being honoured for her work within the Municipality of the District of Digby;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs applaud the year-round efforts of these two individuals who are being recognized at the Provincial Volunteer Awards Day ceremony for their outstanding contributions to their communities.

[Page 3488]

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1133

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

Whereas in the 1999 election campaign Progressive Conservatives made much of their claim that the present Premier was such a gentleman that he would not even interrupt other Party Leaders; and

Whereas in this House the present Premier stated that contentious and important legislation is, in his words, "worthy of extensive examination"; and

Whereas the present Premier has stated further, about cornerstone government bills, "All of this legislation is important. All of it needs exhaustive examination by the Opposition.";

Therefore be it resolved that, here and now, the Premier and the Progressive Conservatives are being put to the test of just how gentlemanly they will be while they hold on to power.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 3489]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1134

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

Whereas the Minister of Health has stated, during second reading of Bill No. 34, that the issue of financial accountability was one of the principles of this legislation; and

Whereas the Speaker has ruled against several amendments that dealt with financial accountability;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health please explain why he has misled members of this House on this issue of financial accountability.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to take a look at the resolution and before we go on to the next speaker, the resolution submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth East is out of order because of unparliamentary language.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1135

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

Whereas on January 26, 1995, the now Premier protested closure by saying, "for the first time since 1848, when this place and this province began to be represented in a responsible way by responsible government, the government of the province has had to silence the Opposition with a guillotine motion or guillotine resolution."; and

Whereas that member now heads a government which has imposed the same guillotine twice during its first year in power;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should advise Nova Scotians which of his 243 promises was supposed to be a secret signal that he intended to cut off public debate more ruthlessly than John Savage and Richie Mann.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3490]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1136

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

Whereas the Premier promised to cure what ails the health care system by finding $46 million in the fat of health care administration; and

Whereas the last budget health expenditures increased by over $200 million with no plan and no course of action; and

Whereas the Premier is now blaming Ottawa for his problems even though he said he only needed $46 million, leaving the people wondering whether the Premier was telling the truth in the first place;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier admit to all Nova Scotians that his Opposition promises to fix the health care system by trimming the fat in administration were not based in fact.

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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 3491]

RESOLUTION NO. 1137

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

Whereas two individuals have been singled out within the community of Antigonish to be honoured with the Representative Volunteer for 2000 Award; and

Whereas Simon Sampson has been selected on behalf of the Municipality of the County of Antigonish; and

Whereas Lou Palmer has been chosen on behalf of the Town of Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer our thanks to those two members within my community who have made significant volunteer contributions and who are representative of the work of all volunteers throughout the province who we thank today.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1138

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 Conservatives said, in battling Liberal attempts to curtail debate on unknown and unwelcome legislation, that to impose such a limit would "leave a legacy which is a disservice to those who will follow us as legislators in this place;" and

Whereas five years later, the Conservative caucus is repeating that arrogant Liberal disservice to this place rather than honouring the principles that once distinguished their Party;

[Page 3492]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should explain to Nova Scotians why he and his government believe their health care agenda is so terrible that it could not endure a full debate in this Legislature.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1139

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

Whereas Cabinet Ministers and government backbenchers have taken to leaking details of the budget even though Cabinet members refuse to answer questions in this House; and

Whereas while the details are very scant at this point, we do know that massive cuts and user fees are on the way; and

Whereas the Premier claims to have a mandate for such action, but there is barely a mention of these tactics in the infamous blue book;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the government to rethink its budget strategy before the people catch on to the Premier's plan to devastate government programs and services like health care and education.

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.

[Page 3493]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1140

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstones of every community in this province; and

Whereas this year, Robert Cleveland is being singled out as Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Town of Lunenburg; and

Whereas Peter Hall is being awarded for his work within the Town of Mahone Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature thank these two volunteers for their work for their community which, while being recognized today as we embark on Volunteer Week, is appreciated year-round.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1141

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

Whereas Page 32 of the Conservative platform, entitled How it all adds up!, says, we believe that " . . .health care requires new money . . . "; and

Whereas that platform book has 50 health care promises; and

[Page 3494]

Whereas year-one promises include urgent action to address the critical shortage of hospital and nursing home beds, more long-term care beds, a new Homes for Special Care Act, and adequate nursing home care in each community;

Therefore be it resolved that it is a bad sign that the health care facilities review which was to be completed within 90 days of forming government, actually appeared on April 6th, 234 days after the present government took office.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1142

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

Whereas the Department of Finance has been turned into Checkpoint Charlie, with beefed up-security in anticipation of massive unrest following Tuesday's budget; and

Whereas last week many concerned Sysco steelworkers were denied access to the gallery of their House of Assembly; and

Whereas in an unprecedented, unnecessary and unacceptable move, a police officer was called in to patrol a Public Accounts Committee meeting for "security reasons";

Therefore be it resolved that the paranoid siege mentality of this Tory Government is a far cry from their promise of an open and accountable administration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3495]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1143

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

Whereas Agnes Douglass has been named Amherst's volunteer of the year for the year 2000; and

Whereas Ms. Douglass has been involved with numerous community organizations dating back to the 1970's and will be recognized for her achievements at the Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony and Luncheon today; and

Whereas Ms. Douglass, through her actions and initiatives, is a stellar example to the people in her community and indeed throughout the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the province acknowledge Agnes Douglass for her tireless efforts to enhance the quality of life for so many people in the community of Amherst who depend on her philanthropy and that of thousands of volunteers like her.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1144

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

[Page 3496]

Whereas it was announced yesterday that the CBC may lose its suppertime news hour show; and

Whereas the CBC's First Edition is a valuable piece of culture that contributes to the very fabric of life in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas CBC's First Edition is the one show that can reach all areas of the province without a cable connection;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House unanimously call for the continuation of CBC's First Edition.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1145

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

Whereas when this Tory Government grows up, it wants to be just like its big brothers in Ontario and New Brunswick; and

Whereas Bernard Lord had his 200 Days of Change, the best Premier Hamm could come up with was 250 Days of Delay; and

Whereas the Health Facilities Review released yesterday, being overdue, reveals little that was not already well known within the health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government should immediately table all costs associated with the Health Facilities Review, including printing and writing, so that the people of Nova Scotia will know if they got value for money from this report which is long past due.

[Page 3497]

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 Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1146

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

Whereas the strength of our towns and villages in Nova Scotia is a testament to the dedication of the volunteers who give so much back to the communities in which they live; and

Whereas today the valuable contributions of volunteers throughout Nova Scotia are being recognized; and

Whereas Don Dickie representing the Town of Truro, and Marg Rovers representing the Village of Bible Hill are being recognized as Representative Volunteers for 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its sincere appreciation to Don Dickie and Marg Rovers for their long and continued contributions to their respective communities and congratulate them for being named Representative Volunteers.

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.

[Page 3498]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1147

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

Whereas the Cape Breton Alpines recently won the Nova Scotia Junior "B" Hockey Championship; and

Whereas they are now competing for the Atlantic Junior "B" Hockey Championships in New Brunswick; and

Whereas this team plays to capacity crowds at the New Waterford and District Community Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and give best wishes to Manager Charlie Neville, Coach Ken Tracey and the players as they compete for the Atlantic crown.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1148

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

Whereas the Southwest Coast Action Committee is a community group in Newfoundland; and

Whereas this community group is demanding changes to signs in their province that point the way to the Marine Atlantic ferry; and

[Page 3499]

Whereas this committee believes the ferry belongs to Newfoundland and that signs with the name "Nova Scotia" are unacceptable;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Southwest Coast Action Committee for standing up for their province and urge this Tory Government to follow their lead by protecting the rights of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1149

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 dedication and generosity of volunteers are the cornerstone of our communities in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas today volunteers from across Nova Scotia are being recognized for their valuable contributions they make to their respective communities; and

Whereas Jim Cheverie representing the Town of Kentville, and the Centreville and District Parks and Recreation Association of the Municipality of Kings County are being honoured as Representative Volunteers for 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Jim Cheverie, and the members of the Centreville and District Parks and Recreation Association for their contributions to better the communities in which they live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3500]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1150

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton The Lakes said at the Public Accounts Committee that he continues to be proud of his involvement in the boardwalk project in MacNeil's Cove; and

Whereas the project was condemned by former Bras d'Or North Development Association Treasurer Clifford MacNeil; and

Whereas the boardwalk is closed, partially torn up, without public access and potentially dangerous;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton The Lakes be reminded that 99 per cent of the flight of the Hindenburg was also a success.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1151

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

Whereas the Minister of Fisheries has decried that chicken farmers have no business commenting on any issue other chicken farming; and

Whereas following his own logic the minister, a dairy farmer by trade, has no business commenting on matters dealing with the fisheries; and

Whereas if the minister cannot comment on fisheries' issues then the minister should probably pack it in and give up the Fisheries portfolio;

[Page 3501]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Minister of Fisheries to review his comments yesterday and if he still believes them, immediately resign from the Fisheries portfolio.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1152

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 volunteers are the cornerstone of our communities; and

Whereas today volunteers from across the province are being recognized for the valuable contributions they have made to their respective communities; and

Whereas Fae Farrell, Minnie Atkinson, Jacques Rioux; Ricky Banks and Cindy Siegel are being recognized as Provincial Representative Volunteers for 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the valuable contributions made by these individuals and congratulate them on being honoured with this special award.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 1153

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

[Page 3502]

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, 1,404 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 1,404 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1154

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

Whereas the member for Dartmouth South issued a press release on the issue of home invasions following a resolution he introduced in the House of Assembly yesterday; and

Whereas the member's press release clearly demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly; and

Whereas the backbenchers of the Tory caucus should take care not to be misguided by the ill-informed rumblings of the member for Dartmouth South in his capacity as Caucus Chairman;

Therefore be it resolved that if this member wishes to actualize his aspirations for a Cabinet post, he must first learn the most basic Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly.

[Page 3503]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1155

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

Whereas the generosity of volunteers helps to form the fabric of our communities; and

Whereas today volunteers from across Nova Scotia are being recognized for their dedication within their respective communities; and

Whereas David Harris of the Village of New Minas will be recognized later today as a Representative Volunteer for 2000, following in the Harris family tradition set by his wife, Bev, last year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank David Harris for his generosity and commitment to his community and congratulate him on being recognized as a Representative Volunteer.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1156

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

Whereas the Breton Education Centre Drama Group has just finished a two night production of Craig Sodaro's play, Salem's Daughter; and

[Page 3504]

Whereas we all, in this House, know the importance of the arts in our high schools; and

Whereas these types of activities are important to all students to teach them self-esteem and confidence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the cast and crew of Salem's Daughter, Director Karen DeAdder; actors Linda MacCormick, Michelle Tatlock, and Erin Corbett.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 1157

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

Whereas the member for Halifax Bedford Basin is calling on the federal government to implement a national shipbuilding policy; and

Whereas such a shipbuilding policy would be most welcome for all shipyards of Nova Scotia but would require financial incentives; and

Whereas such incentives are frowned upon by the Tory Party who promised their economic development policy would focus on infrastructure and training;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House encourage the member for Halifax Bedford Basin to urge the provincial government to implement its own shipbuilding policy so that more people can be employed in that industry in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 3505]

[9:45 a.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1158

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of our communities; and

Whereas today, the 26th Annual Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony is being held to recognize valuable contributions made by individual Nova Scotians to their communities; and

Whereas Keith Hamilton, representing the Municipality of the County of Colchester, will be named a Provincial Volunteer Representative for his many generous and valuable contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their sincere appreciation to Keith Hamilton and to all Provincial Representative Volunteers whose contributions have so greatly benefited their communities.

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.

[Page 3506]

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1159

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

Whereas the members for Dartmouth South, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Preston attended a Canadian Alliance speech by Stockwell Day; and

Whereas somehow the member for Dartmouth North has ended upon on a mailing list for the Canadian Alliance and now has a sign-up sheet in order to recruit members; and

Whereas if the member for Dartmouth North signs up five new members, he will get a free Canadian Alliance membership for five years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members for Dartmouth South, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Preston find two more Tory members to sign up with them to take out their CA memberships so that the member for Dartmouth North can get his free membership.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1160

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

Whereas the value of volunteers to our communities is immeasurable; and

Whereas today, volunteers from across the province are being recognized for their dedication and generosity that have helped to build strong communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Troy Hatt and Julie Crouse, each representing the Region of Queens Municipality, will be recognized by the Premier as Provincial Representative Volunteers for 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Troy Hatt and Julie Crouse for being recognized as Provincial Representative Volunteers and extend our warmest appreciation for their continued generosity and community spirit.

[Page 3507]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1161

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

Whereas Scouts Canada has been helping to develop good citizens of the youth in Canada for more than 90 years; and

Whereas this youth movement is run almost entirely by volunteers, who devote many hours to the youth they assist, with little or no recognition; and

Whereas the following Scouters have devoted five years of volunteer service to the youth of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate: Gary Snow, Pat Alexander, Bruce Delo, Cindy Kingwell, Michelle Mitchell, and Robert Anthony, for the dedication they have shown to the youth of Nova Scotia.

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.

[Page 3508]

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1162

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is celebrating its volunteers through the Provincial Volunteer Awards Day ceremony today; and

Whereas volunteers in communities across this province are being honoured for their contributions; and

Whereas Sandra Romans has been selected as the Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Halifax Regional Municipality, for the Marine Drive area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the selfless efforts of Sandra Romans who represents the volunteer work of so many others within her community.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1163

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

Whereas the number of professional theatre companies in Nova Scotia has grown from 6 to 16 in the last 10 years; and

[Page 3509]

Whereas the economic impact of live professional theatre is at least $17 million in an industry employing almost 600 people; and

Whereas the expansion and maturity of live professional theatre has prompted the formation of the Nova Scotia Professional Theatre Alliance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the richness of the contribution live theatre makes to Nova Scotia not only to our economy but to our collective spirit and congratulate the Nova Scotia Professional Theatre Alliance on its work.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1164

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

Whereas the Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Town of Yarmouth is Edward Rattee; and

Whereas this year's Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth is Katheryn Sweeney; and

Whereas these two individuals have been selected within my community for their outstanding contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature applaud these two individuals for today's recognition of their year-round efforts for which they are so greatly appreciated by their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3510]

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 resolution submitted by the honourable member of Cape Breton West, that will be the first one that I want to look at, I am ruling out of order because of unparliamentary language.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Would you be kind enough to assist me and advise what the unparliamentary language is?

MR. SPEAKER: Therefore be it resolved the Minister of Health please explain why he misled the members of this House. Misled.

MR. MACKINNON: I am not suggesting he did it intentionally, I am just suggesting that according to your ruling. (Interruption) I am not suggesting that he did it intentionally or unintentionally. I am simply stating that he misled the House. According to your ruling, he did because he stated one thing and you stated something else. I agree with your ruling.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Although I have never seen a referee on the way to the penalty box change his mind, the legal opinion is that normally what has been acceptable, "misled" would be acceptable, as long as you didn't indicate that it was intentional. The Parliament member did not, so I retract my original decision and will accept it. Thank you.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1165

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

Whereas Kenneth Reginald Hamilton, during his short lifetime, made a valuable contribution to the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea; and

Whereas Mr. Hamilton tirelessly gave of himself and his talents as a volunteer with the Special Olympics, the Lakeside Fire Department, and the Timberlea and Area Lions Club; and

[Page 3511]

Whereas on Friday, March 3rd, the Kenneth Reginald Hamilton Memorial Field was dedicated in this outstanding citizen's memory at the official opening of the Ridgecliff Middle School in Beechville;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the Hamilton family on this special recognition of the efforts of Kenneth Reginald Hamilton.

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. 1166

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 contributions of our volunteers are being celebrated today and all next week during National Volunteer Week; and

Whereas this year John MacKarney has been selected as Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Town of Westville; and

Whereas Patsy Rae is being honoured for her work as a volunteer within the Municipality of the County of Pictou;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature thank these two Pictou County residents for this award as outstanding volunteer representatives for their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3512]

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. 1167

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

Whereas professional gamblers know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away and know when to run; and

Whereas so far government politicians only know when to fold; and

Whereas the ITT Sheraton knew a good bet when it saw it on dealing with the Nova Scotia Government and has left Nova Scotia holding the bag;

Therefore be it resolved that this government realize it bets at the table for all Nova Scotians and Nova Scotians want a better hand dealt to them when this government deals with ITT Sheraton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 3513]

RESOLUTION NO. 1168

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

Whereas the province has a proud history of volunteerism; and

Whereas without our volunteers, our communities would be poorer in spirit and in resources; and

Whereas to honour the volunteer contributions within the Town of Berwick, Theresa Steadman has been singled out as the Representative Volunteer for 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs thank the efforts of Theresa Steadman and applaud all of the volunteer efforts within our communities which, while necessary 365 days a year, are being rightly spotlighted and honoured today and during National Volunteer Week, April 9th to April 15th.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1169

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

Whereas Scouts Canada has been helping to develop good citizens of the youth in Canada for more than 90 years; and

Whereas this youth movement is run almost entirely by volunteers who devote many hours to the youth they assist with little or no recognition; and

[Page 3514]

Whereas the following Scouters have devoted 10 to 15 years of volunteer service to the youth of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate: Dan Driant, 15 years; Bob MacDonald, 15 years; Ron MacLean, 10 years; Mary Jane Hagen, 15 years; Linda Arbuckle, 15 years; John Pratley, 15 years; Betty Pratley, 15 years; and Frederick Donaldson, 10 years; for the dedication they have shown to the youth of Nova Scotia.

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. 1170

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

Whereas Wayne MacMillan, Town of Port Hawkesbury, and Judy Jollota, St. Mary's, are both being honoured today with the Representative Volunteer for 2000 Award; and

Whereas Alonzo Reddick, Municipality of the District of Guysborough, and Michael Breen, Town of Mulgrave, are receiving the award on behalf of their communities; and

Whereas Diane Weir has been singled out as the Representative Volunteer of the Year for the Town of Canso;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank these five fine individuals who have been honoured for their wonderful volunteer contributions to their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3515]

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. 1171

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

Whereas today Betty Ann Battist will be awarded at Recreation Nova Scotia's 26th Annual Provincial Awards Day ceremony; and

Whereas Ms. Battist is being honoured with a Representative Volunteer for 2000 Award; and

Whereas this honour is being extended to this individual for her volunteer work within the Town of Pictou;

[10:00 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the excellent work of Betty Ann Battist as she is honoured at today's ceremony for her volunteer contributions year-round.

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.

[Page 3516]

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1172

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

Whereas Mrs. Geraldine Browning of Centreville in Kings County is to be awarded with the Multicultural Volunteer Award of 2000 today; and

Whereas this distinction is one of the Specialty Awards to be presented at this year's Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony; and

Whereas this honour is bestowed upon a volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding and consistent caring for the improvement of the community around them and who has endeavoured to encompass all inclusive services for community members;

Therefore be it resolved that as Mrs. Geraldine Browning receives this award today, all members of this House applaud her selfless, tireless work within her community which has now been recognized province-wide.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1173

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this year's Voluntary Youth of 2000 Award will go to Amy Heffernan of Brookfield, Nova Scotia; and

[Page 3517]

Whereas this Specialty Award is part of the 26th Annual Provincial Volunteer Awards Day ceremony held today; and

Whereas this honour is given to an individual who has volunteered in both the school and community, making a significant contribution;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute the volunteer efforts of Amy Heffernan which will today be honoured with this distinction and which are also a heartening reminder of the capabilities of our youth today, our leaders of tomorrow.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1174

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

Whereas Marjorie Duizer has been named Volunteer of the Year for the year 2000 by the Municipality of Cumberland; and

Whereas Ms. Duizer has been involved with numerous community organizations, most recently minor basketball as well as little league baseball and will be recognized for her achievements at the Provincial Volunteer Awards ceremony today; and

Whereas Ms. Duizer, through her generosity and giving of herself in all aspects of her life to her community and her family, is a role model for the people of the Municipality of Cumberland and indeed throughout the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the province acknowledge Marjorie Duizer for her generosity, caring, and tireless efforts, and those thousands of volunteers like her who make their communities a better place for all of us.

[Page 3518]

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully 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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1175

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

Whereas James Cecil Mosher is being awarded today as a Representative Volunteer for 2000 for the Municipality of the County of Annapolis; and

Whereas Herman Rushton, Town of Annapolis Royal, and Jim Steele, Town of Bridgetown, are also receiving the award on behalf of their communities; and

Whereas for the Town of Middleton, Jan Davis has been selected as the Representative Volunteer of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute these four volunteers today and thank them for their wonderful contributions to their communities.

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.

[Page 3519]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thinking there are no more resolutions, Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, I think, made a comment that cast chicken producers, specifically, and maybe those in the feather industries, and farmers generally, in a bad light. I think it was a slur on that sector of the agricultural industry. I know that in the heat of the moment sometimes members in the House do say things and the minister hasn't retracted or apologized for the comment. I think, considering his position in the government, it would be appropriate if he was to stand in the House and clarify what he actually intended or meant and should apologize for his comment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly I appreciate the honourable member's intervention, but if the honourable member is cognizant of yesterday, I rose on a point of order, clarified the remarks in regard to the harness racing industry. (Interruptions) Participants are the ones who are offering advice (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing has the floor. Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I only heard half of what the honourable minister said. Would he like to stand and repeat that please, because (Interruptions) Order, please. When there is a lot of noise and I call for order, the member who is speaking, his microphone is shut off and it is not recorded. So I would ask that when I call for order not only the member speaking stop, but as well the members of the House stop speaking as well, please, so we can all hear.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I rose on a point of order yesterday explaining the terminology that welcomed advice from all members, that expertise in the harness racing industry is provided by people associated with the harness racing industry, expertise with the feather industry is supplied by participants in the feather industry, and certainly if there was any misunderstanding given, I apologize for that.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think any of us will assume that when any members of the government seek advice that they will go to people who are knowledgable in that area; I think all of us and all Nova Scotians would appreciate that. I think the minister's comment did cast those in the chicken industry in a bad light, and it was an attack on the member for Lunenburg West specifically.

I think the minister's clarification doesn't address that attack. I think for those in the agricultural sector that he should be more apologetic, and he should definitely clear the air that he didn't intend for his comment to be misconstrued, because certainly what the minister said, I think, hasn't left those people in that sector feeling very well about how he refers to them.

[Page 3520]

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Not wishing to drag this out but, since the minister did not apologize for the remarks, I am wondering if you would just review Hansard in terms of what was actually said, and maybe the minister might want to do that as well - on what was said yesterday - to see if there might be a more fulsome apology that could come forward.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I didn't mean to get involved in this either, but, however, since the honourable New Democratic Party House Leader (Interruptions) Order, please. I forgot . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. (Interruptions) The honourable Government House Leader has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and my apologies to the members for bringing them to order.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you for your assistance. (Laughter)

MR. RUSSELL: As I was saying, I listened carefully to what the honourable Minister of Agriculture had to say a few moments ago, Mr. Speaker, and I clearly heard him say "I apologize," if there was any misconstruing among the members as to what his remarks inferred. I don't know how clear the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid wants, does he want a written confession or something, or what? (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I may. Yesterday the honourable member for Lunenburg West rose on a point of order in this House. I had indicated at that time that I would review Hansard and report back to the House whether I felt or not this was an actual point of order. The only reason I didn't interrupt the honourable member for Hants East, when he rose again on the same point of order, was that I felt that it was going to be resolved this morning. Obviously it hasn't to this point, or at least it is the feeling of some members that it has not been, so I will review Hansard. Hopefully we will have it by noon hour and I will report back to the House this afternoon.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don't know how many times, as I have reiterated that if it was misconstrued, I certainly apologize to the member opposite. I don't know what more I can do, as the House Leader has said (Interruptions) But if there . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order! Would you please let the member speak.

[Page 3521]

MR. FAGE: If there is some type of exacting a pound of flesh closer to the heart, maybe the Opposition have a form that they want to do or those types of things, but I don't know what else I can do, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34. The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

Bill No. 34 - Health Authorities Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place again in this Legislature to talk about Bill No. 34, a bill, that in our view, as I indicated yesterday, is a bill about taking authority and responsibility from communities to, in fact, the minister and the deputy minister in downtown Halifax for the delivery of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is a knee-jerk reaction to a political statement made during the election campaign and prior to that condemning the regional health boards that our Liberal Government had actually brought in and has been proven to be a very effective way of delivering health care in the Province of Nova Scotia.

This government has brought forward a bill that, in our view, has a number of flaws, a number of areas of major concern. Concern not only to the members opposite, members here in this Liberal Party but also to members who are involved in the health delivery system throughout Nova Scotia. People involved with the IWK, people involved with the QE II, in the central region, are concerned about the implications as well, Mr. Speaker. I will go into that in a little more detail a little later on.

[Page 3522]

To me, this bill has not been thought through to the degree that it should. Maybe the Minister of Health was trying to find a new solution to a major challenge in health care but instead has come up short of really addressing the very critical issues in the delivery and the providing of quality health care that will be sustainable, predictable and dependable to the public of Nova Scotia.

This government that defeated a strategy that talked about the realization of the acute care system as an increasing cost to the health care system to the point where it will not be sustainable unless decisions are made to remedy that issue. Under the leadership of our then Minister of Health and our Premier, a program was developed that our government brought forward that brought into account the issue of accountability, the issue of transparency and the issue of developing a program that will, in fact, be able to provide health care in the long term to the level that is required by society today.

What we see in Bill No. 34 is not a bill, in our view, that work long term. It is shuffling the deck. It has developed a monster, in effect. It has not truly addressed the real critical issues in having health care sustainable for the long term in the Province of Nova Scotia. Notwithstanding the fact this is a government that indicated, and sadly so, the big sales story here to Nova Scotians, the big pitch to Nova Scotians during the last election, was $46 million will fix the problems of health care, it will provide sustainability of health care and it will provide the level of health care throughout Nova Scotia that Nova Scotians deserve, Nova Scotians demand and Nova Scotians expect to receive.

That $46 million quick fix, a little bit like a shell game, was brought in by the Leader of the government today, a doctor nonetheless, who indicated that he and his government knew that $46 million that could be attained by the reduction of administrative staff alone would provide sustainable health care delivery to this province, a Leader who is a general practitioner and understands the importance of health care delivery to this province. He is a rural doctor who understands what it means to be in rural Nova Scotia and requiring extensive health care delivery.

[10:15 a.m.]

Yet, he stood in front of Nova Scotians with a commitment and a promise that $46 million will fix the problems, whether the problems are in Shelburne, Yarmouth, Preston, Kings County, Cumberland County, or any area of this province; Cape Breton, Inverness. Bill No. 34 is supposedly the vehicle to make it work. Shame, I say, shame on the government of the day to try to trick, to fool Nova Scotians into believing they will be able to solve the serious problems of health care by a mere $46 million and a few cuts of administrative staff.

I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the New Democratic Party has an introduction.

[Page 3523]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Lunenburg West for yielding the floor so I can introduce some visitors in our gallery. Mr. Speaker, President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Joan Jessome, is here along with the full board of directors of that organization. They were having a regular meeting and came over today to speak with MLAs about such things as the five point plan commitment that the Leader of the Conservative Party signed as I did; the whole question of privatization impacts of the bill that we are debating, Bill No. 34. They are here today to speak with their MLAs about those subjects, and listen to part of the debate as it is taking place on Bill No. 34. I would like to ask all members of the House if you would join with me in welcoming members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, specifically the board of directors. (Applause)

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome Ms. Jessome and members of NSGEU. They are an example, Mr. Speaker, of Nova Scotians concerned about Bill No. 34. These are people who understand what it takes to operate a hospital. They understand the issues and complexities of some aspects of the hospital delivery system. They understand all too well how ineffective and inefficient and how parochial this Bill No. 34 really is.

Bill No. 34 is no more a blueprint to success. It is not an idea whose time has come to help with the delivery of the health care system. It is no more, as I said yesterday, than a political promised used during the election campaign to scare Nova Scotians and to say they had the right fix to the problem. This government is very comfortable doing things like this to win an election. They can be as low as they can be, because all they care about is a vote. They don't care about people. They don't care about how it affects individuals that work in a health care system. They don't care about anything other than winning an election.

A case in point is the Minister of Community Services, the $8 million man, to move a forensic hospital from one riding to another, making a promise saying, if you vote us, if you give us the vote, we will move that hospital no matter what. (Interruptions) We will do anything, as a member of the New Democratic Party is crying out in the wilderness, as many of us are, to the government of the day. They will do anything they can to win a vote.

The only joy I have is that the good people from Glace Bay who had a by-election just this week, the good people from Cape Breton, understood all too well that government of the day is a government of tricks and to some degree, misleading. The Whip of the Conservative Government, who spent a few days in beautiful Cape Breton, stood in this House and bragged that the popular vote for the Conservative Government was 17 per cent, and he was happy. (Interruptions) Wait until this budget comes out, they will be lucky if they are 7 per cent, not only in Cape Breton but everywhere in this province because, as the member for Preston clearly knows, people understand the reality of what this government is trying to do.

[Page 3524]

I appreciate that members of the NSGEU are in the gallery today; they are here to talk to their elected representatives. I trust that representatives of the board of the NSGEU are from every riding, ridings for which the government of the day has an elected representative for which they should be, and will be, accountable.

It is up to these people, as well as ourselves, to continually keep their feet to the proverbial fire. We are going to be watching the Premier of this province, because he has said repeatedly that he is committed to the five point plan. It is almost like he is now realizing that he has put himself in a box because their government do not want to fulfil the five point plan, in my view.

We are going to make sure he keeps up to that five point plan in how he deals with people because I believe we will see for the first time the privatization brought forward in the health delivery system that is going to affect workers across this province. I believe this budget will talk about not only privatization, but user fees. I believe this budget will show that the downloading scenario of this government will be massive in municipalities. I believe that this government is going to be saying that services within the health care delivery system in hospitals will be privatized. Then the question that begs to be asked is, what happens to the individuals working in those hospitals today? How are they going to treat the employees of this province?

This government has done more to undermine the stability of the Civil Service in this province in the last few months than any other government has ever done. They are playing Russian roulette with every single employee in this province. They have used tactics that are so Draconian that were done way back before we had unions in this province, when major corporations dictatorially told their employees and threatened their jobs if they did not bow down to their demands, their threats, their vision and their view of how things should be done, with no respect to health or safety, to values and income, to the individuals trying to provide an adequate living and shelter for their families.

This government started off by saying, we will be smaller, we will be tougher. Then it went on to say that they were going to let their people know and try to work with the civil servants and a few weeks ago, the government came out with a new structure, the new Cabinet as it were. Merging departments, dumping departments, splitting up departments, they did it all, but they did not address the fundamental question that every civil servant was asking: how is that going to affect me? Am I going to have a job? Where am I going to end up? That is a logical thing for people to ask, especially when they go home and they see their children or their spouse or they look at their mortgage and their car payments, they wonder what the heck they are going to be doing.

Now this government went through an extensive review. They have been reviewing and studying more things, and that is fine. I will give them their due for that and I will say that it is good that they did the review, nothing wrong with that. But, in the review that developed

[Page 3525]

this new plan, this new structure of government, new structure of departments, the Premier of the day said, well, we are not here to talk about people, we are not here to talk about what impact that will have, almost leaving us with the impression that the study has not been done. Well, I can say, Mr. Speaker, as a former Cabinet Minister, I am sure this government understands, in spades, how many people are going to be affected by that restructuring. I am convinced that this government not only knows how many will be affected, but to some degree I believe they know who is going to be affected by these changes.

Still, they don't say a word to the government employees of this province. Whether it is the privatization of the liquor stores or the privatization of the resorts we have, or the privatization within the health care system itself, that I believe they will be bringing in, or the restructuring and the letting go - the comments that are out there now - of some 1,500 employees. I think that is absolutely unacceptable, that they have given no confidence or hope or sense that they will be treated with dignity and respect, and yet they want to be treated with dignity and respect as a government. What an oxymoron. They want to be treated with respect in regard to the fact that they want to make bold decisions, but yet they haven't the common courtesy or respect to the employees who helped build this province of letting them know what is really going on and how they are going to be affected.

They say that our generation is living in a stressful time. Our generation has different health requirements because of the fact that we do live in a very stressful time and I agree with that. I can tell you my life is much more stressful now than it was 25 years ago, but I think what this government is doing is creating even more stress than society is putting up with, especially with regard to government employees. For that, I ask that this union, and members of the board, be as vigilant and as strong as you can with bringing forward your concerns to this government. What you are asking for, in my view, is to be treated with respect, with dignity, with a chance to build a course for the future of this province that involves you to the extent that you have helped build this great province that we have today.

This government, I believe, will do everything it can to take away your rights and your ability to go forward and I believe this government will use the high-handed approach that was somewhat Draconian, that was done many years ago to employees. My colleague beside me here is tempting me to get into another direction, and I won't, but I will give an example of what this Liberal caucus is all about. When we sat in this Legislature and debated the issue of the paramedics in the Province of Nova Scotia, and you people in this audience understand all too well, as do Nova Scotians watching this debate today, that it was our Liberal Government, as well, that stood up for the rights of the individuals in the collective bargaining process. We stood up for the rights of those individuals, as I stand here today, and as I stood here, as our caucus stood here months ago, saying that this government, bringing in Draconian legislation, back-to-work legislation, without the collective bargaining process being allowed to go forward, was unacceptable. That is what we will be continuing to do, to represent the workers of this province.

[Page 3526]

[10:30 a.m.]

I want to move on further to Bill No. 34, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated yesterday this government has said during the almost daily debate in the House a little over a year ago, they demanded that the regional health boards in the Province of Nova Scotia are to be reviewed. The cry was daily: Review, to see what is going on, to make sure that the regional health boards are cost-effective, are producing what they should be producing.

As I said yesterday, under the leadership of our Premier and the Minister of Health, we agreed; in fact all three Parties had agreed to do the study, and we did the study. The Goldbloom study was the task force. Dr. Richard Goldbloom chaired it, and he and members of that team went around the province and consulted widely with hospital administrators, with Nova Scotians, health care providers, and the list goes on.

That report confirmed what just about everybody in the health care system already knew, and that is that the system was working. The executive summary of the Goldbloom Report outlined a number of recommendations, and those recommendations were to continue the process of regionalization. But do you know what this government did? After screaming and crying for so many weeks and months about doing the report, they said we don't care about the report, we are going to do what we are going to do because it is politically expedient for us to be able to live up to a blue book commitment. With or without the logic, with or without the study, with or without the rationalization, they went forward on their own agenda, as they are doing today in going forward on their agenda.

The Goldbloom report went on to say that the task force is convinced that regionalization must be strengthened if it is to continue. To reverse the process at this point in time would disrupt the system, would increase costs, and would lead to more fragmentation of the system of the delivery of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia. I will repeat some of those. Disrupt the health care system. Gosh only knows none of us want the health care system disrupted any more. What we have brought in over the last few years is stability in the health care system in a large way.

We have a long way to go. Everybody in this country agrees with that statement. Every province in this country realizes they have problems with delivering the expectation of health care in their respective provinces, whether it is Ontario, Saskatchewan, or whether it is the New Democrats in British Columbia. They understand that health care is a major priority and it is a major issue. Every one of them have said, as the former Minister of Finance understands, when I talked to my colleagues across this country they used the same arguments that we had used. Health care is a major issue and we need to make sure that we have a long-term, sustainable program. They said in the report that it would cost more money for taxpayers to make massive changes, instead this government is going ahead with it, a government fixated on issues of financial concern.

[Page 3527]

Overall, Mr. Speaker, the report, no matter how good it was - and it was hailed as a very good report - this government decided not to accept what the report has to say. As the Leader of the government of the day, the Premier of the Province has said during the election campaign that $46 million will fix our problems. The magic $46 million; our problems are all going to go away for $46 million.

I asked the question many times, why did we spend $208 million more this year than the year previous, in health care? There must be a logical reason why we spent $208 million over the base budget of $1.562 billion. Why, if $46 million would fix the problem, would they spend $208 million more in the budget? There must be a reason. There must be somebody in the front benches although there are only a couple left, there must be somebody there who would be able to rationalize why they said on one hand, only months ago, that $46 million in snip-snip administration, the problem would go away and yet today, they are spending about $208 million more in the budget. But yet, they are quiet, they will not answer that question.

Now we are moving to a bill that says, in fact, we should expand the health boards in the Province of Nova Scotia for no other reason than that was a political promise. It doesn't matter if it makes economic sense or sense in regard to the delivery of health care or the sustainability of health care. It doesn't matter if it makes sense on the transparency and the deliverability of health care in this province. It only makes sense because it was a promise that was not thought through.

The Health Authorities Bill says that any member of the board of directors or any organization is not permitted to sit on the community health board. Now this is one part of that bill that I guess one has to ask the question, where is the issue of democracy and freedom? I think this bill, as you start going through the bowels of the bill, you start realizing that there are some common threads of approach to this bill. We are seeing it in how they treat employees, how they treat a number of areas, and now we see it in the way they want to run the health boards. They want the minister and/or his successor or his mentor, his leader, the $180,000 deputy minister with his entourage of experts - imagine $180,000, is that what it is, $180,000 or $160,000 that the deputy minister is making, $200,000 was it, Tim - so $180,000 for a deputy minister and his entourage - from communication officers onward to actually control it.

I believe what they are trying to do is say, we don't want anybody criticizing what we are going to do. We don't want an objective point of view, we don't want anybody who can think through a process on these boards to find out what is right or wrong. They are afraid to put people on those boards who might be able to ask some tough questions. They are afraid to put people on the board who have a backbone and are prepared to stand up and challenge an issue. They are afraid to bring anybody there who is not part of a blue wave commitment to health delivery. They are afraid of organizations that might ask questions that they cannot answer.

[Page 3528]

They are saying that they do not want organizations, service clubs - I think it was the Shriners. I don't know if they mean this in the bill, but one could look at it and say, this is what they are talking about. They do not want Shriners as part of the boards. Maybe, that is what they are saying. Shriners have gone out, worked and made money for what reason? To help provide health delivery . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Burn care for children.

MR. DOWNE: . . . burn care for children. What about the Knights of Columbus? Gosh only know the work that they have done in helping children and others in health care in this province. But yet they say in their bill that any member of a board of directors of any organization is not permitted to sit on community health boards. I would imagine that would also mean if you are a member of NSGEU, you would not be allowed to sit on there. I would imagine if you are a member of any organization such as churches or whatever, maybe you would not be allowed. Anyway, that is what the bill says. The question is, is it democratic? I question if it is democratic for sure, but, more importantly, I think it exposes what this government is all about, that they want to put their feet, their heel on anybody who possibly could ask a tough question, anybody who could possible challenge what they are trying to do. They don't want an opposition with regard to that. They want to move forward with their agenda no matter what.

I believe there is also a very serious problem with regard to the power given to the minister. We have already seen how the minister and deputy minister are building their own so-called downtown empire. Under the Health Authorities Bill, the minister may remove or suspend any member of the community health board. They can silence anyone who is outspoken on a health board anytime they want. That is a power that could be abused, Mr. Speaker. It could be abused by this administration for anyone that has the ability or the guts or the strength of conviction to stand up and challenge what they are doing. Silence is golden, the Conservative Government is saying. We don't want anyone making waves. We don't want anyone to ask tough questions. We don't want anyone to come up with a better idea because our idea, no matter what, is the only idea, the right idea, to deliver health care in the province of Nova Scotia. It is a gag order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the member yield the floor for an introduction?

MR. DOWNE: Yes.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House two former colleagues of mine in the gallery, Councillor Murray Johnston and Councillor Jim MacEachern. Both are former colleagues of mine and they represent residents

[Page 3529]

in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I would ask the House to give a warm welcome to them, if they would stand. (Applause)

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I realize that the time is rolling along here and I want to get into some of the more detailed aspects of the bill. As I understand it, one of the problems of the bill is the issue of accountability. Accountability means that everyone has to be at the table. Obviously, they are not going to allow everyone at the table, but the issue I am concerned about is that the community health advisory groups to the district health authorities will be establishing budgets. They will be sitting down grappling over how they are going deal with budgets. As I understand it, the Department of Health will not be at the table. If that is accurate, the question really is, how can you make a budget in a vacuum of what the Department of Health is going to have for a budget to begin with. So you establish the budget, only to find out that you are going to be changing that budget because of the fact that the department is not at the table.

One suggestion I would make, I know the members listening to this debate, might take it back, is to look at whether or not, maybe the Department of Health could be sitting at the table when these boards are establishing these budgets for no other reason than it just makes common sense. It also shows credibility or a commitment to the direction those people are taking. I give that little suggestion and see how it flies, but I think it is a reasonable one.

Seeing as I only have a few minutes left, I want to move on to one of the major concerns I have with this bill and that is what is happening with regard to going from four regional health boards and four non-designated boards to somewhere around eight or nine or whatever number of boards they are going to have. The central control, the issue of accountability, the issue of authority. The problem that I see is going to be quite profound within the health care system. The members in rural Nova Scotia should pay attention to this, because I think they have some legitimate concerns or they should have legitimate concerns with regard to how their regional hospitals are going to sustain themselves. Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I should perhaps go to the hospital for a minute to get something for my throat. But, it is more important to be here to debate this bill.

The Central Regional Health Board is really one of the areas I think is a major concern. I question whether or not the Progressive Conservative Government has really thought through this issue. I question whether or not they have thought through it in regard to the fiscal ability, the way it is going to be handled financially, how it is going to be handled administratively, and what impact it will have on some of the more regional health boards outside the HRM area.

[Page 3530]

[10:45 a.m.]

The acute care system is the spike, it is the most expensive part of health care delivery in the Province of Nova Scotia. I could be off on this number, but I understand that the QE II spends somewhere around $400 million a year delivering the acute care system. The QE II will be rolled together. The effect of the regional boards on the other parts of this province could be quite profound because of the fact this government has yet to develop a sustainable plan for health care delivery.

They have masked the issues and they know during the last campaign that we talked about continuum of care and how do we alleviate the spike of costs in health care delivery in the acute care system by moving people into other areas and yet they have not addressed that issue. The reality will be that by bringing together the QE II into this system and taking away the non-designated boards and making the QE II and others, with the exception of the IWK-Grace, part of the regional board system in central Nova Scotia here, they are going to take the largest expenditure side of health care into one facility and it poses a number of questions.

Number one, what is going to happen to the regional health boards like the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater? The Minister of Finance is not coming out with statements that they are going to increase money for health care. They aren't talking about that. They are talking about cutting it back. Then how are they going to be able to control the expenditure of the QE II? They are not. It is going to continue to grow because they have not addressed the fundamental underpinnings of health delivery in this province and where they have not addressed that issue, those costs are going to increase and guess who is going to pay for it? The regional hospitals in rural Nova Scotia will be cut back because Halifax, central office, will control the budget and the agenda.

What effect will that have in Queens County? What effect will that have in Yarmouth? What effect will that have in Amherst? What effect will that have across this province? I think it is going to have a major effect in a negative way in the delivery of health care across this province. Everybody knows we don't want a two-tiered health care system. We don't want a better health care delivery system here than in rural Nova Scotia. We want to be able to, in rural Nova Scotia, have an adequate health care delivery system and I am concerned whether this make-up will provide that.

What effect will this have on the issue of severance for administrations within the health care delivery system in the non-designated boards as we know it in this region? The severance of those administrative staff, how are they going to be dealt with? Who is going to pay for it and where is that money going to come from? Mr. Bob Smith, CEO, and Charlie Keating, president or chair of the QE II, have done an excellent job. They have worked very hard to provide sustainability of the health care system in working with the QE II. I wonder what is going to happen now with this new plan? I should not say a new plan because the question really is, where is their plan? Where is their real plan for health care in this province?

[Page 3531]

All I have seen so far is this bill and a cry to Ottawa begging for more money, when they sold Nova Scotians a bill of goods when they stood up and said $46 million will fix our problems. You don't need to listen to the Liberals and their plan of health delivery. You don't need to listen to the Liberals in regard to what they say is required to make health sustainable, dependable and predictable in the future. Their $46 million quick fix, it is just like everything else they have is a quick fix and a band-aid solution.

The reality of the health care problem will come down and be a burden on their shoulders for many years to come because they have not fixed the problem and they haven't even accepted the reality that they have a problem. Their way of solving problems is to privatize, to slash and burn, to come up with programs such as Bill No. 34 that will actually take away the rural regional hospital capabilities and capacity because the funding will not be adequate to deliver that service in rural Nova Scotia.

Why is it when one-third of the population will have one regional board and the other two-thirds of the province will have eight? Take a guess where the money is really going to end up delivering the system. How will it affect the Dartmouth General Hospital? Our colleague from Dartmouth is probably scared to death, probably concerned what impact that will have. (Interruption) He is not afraid, he is not concerned. Well, I am glad he is not concerned because I think there are some people in Dartmouth who are concerned. People in the health delivery system concerned, people who understand the health care system are concerned, and my colleagues over there from the Valley who have families that are members of the health care system should be concerned about what effect that will have in that regional hospital over there. I, for one, Mr. Speaker, in the South Shore Regional Hospital area have a very serious concern about what the long-term implications will be.

The question again is with regard to the IWK-Grace. The IWK-Grace has been separated from this whole scenario. Do you remember in this House, Mr. Speaker, in December 1996 - I see my colleagues who have been around since 1996, they look younger and brighter and more articulate than they ever did in 1996, but they were here - when we merged the IWK Hospital for Children and the Grace Maternity Hospital? I remember in this House that all Parties praised the approach of the IWK-Grace to provide services to children, women and families.

Many families throughout Nova Scotia have used and utilized the IWK-Grace. I for one have; both my children required surgery at an early age at the IWK Hospital for Children. The question that I have is, what is the future of the IWK-Grace in this monster this Tory Government has brought forward, Bill No. 34? Where will the IWK-Grace end up? Why was it kept out? Why was it left alone and shunted aside? What security do they have in regard to budget allocation? They are a voice by themselves.

[Page 3532]

I can tell this Progressive Conservative Government that that voice of the IWK-Grace is strong in this province because every family directly or indirectly understands the importance that that facility has played and the role it provided to the children, to the women and to the families in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I ask you members to reconsider the fact that number one, you have not addressed the fundamental issues of the health delivery system in this province. Number two, you should confess to the big smoke and mirrors game you did to Nova Scotians on trying to sell them that $46 million will fix the problems. Confess your sin about the reality of health care delivery in this province.

Number three, think through what effect you are going to have in health care delivery when you decide to fire and privatize people at the lower scale of the health delivery costs. For what? Think about how you are going to provide dignity for those people who are going to be affected by this budget that is coming forward, directly in health care and in other departments. I think through the fact that nine boards that you have gone forward with without proper consultation that is against Section 8.1 of the Constitution Act of the freedoms of people. Think through that you have a dictatorial approach without democracy built into it by allowing the minister and the deputy minister of health to be able to control and dictate and drive and shut down anyone who wants to make a point about health delivery in this province.

I ask the Progressive Conservative Government to re-think where they stand on this issue. As I stand here today, the next election will be fought on health care in this province, whether you like it not, whether you agree with it or not. I know you are going to have problems. You had problems with education, economic development, everything else, but this province will put your feet to the fire on how you developed and brought forward a health delivery system to the people of this province. You will have failed the people of this province if you do not re-think where you are going and you do not listen to the people in the health delivery system who know the route and direction you are going is wrong.

You are not fulfilling your mandate to represent people of this province by blinding your vision to the future of health care delivery. You will regret, as I have regretted, the day you were elected by not addressing the health care system and so will the public of Nova Scotia. I challenge you, I ask you to re-think this very important issue. Ottawa will not save your day. You as a government need to think through and plan out how you are going to provide quality health care delivery to the public of Nova Scotia that will be sustainable, predictable, and that we will not move into a two-tiered health care system to meet some of the conservative right-wing agenda approach. That is unacceptable to Nova Scotians. That is unacceptable to Canadians. This government will realize that this side of the House, this Liberal Party, will not allow a two-tiered health care system to come forward when we start asking people to pay for services that people cannot afford to pay.

[Page 3533]

Mr. Speaker, my time is up. I want to thank the members for their attention, and I hope that something positive will come forward from those debates.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes on an introduction.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House that I have another former colleague of mine in the House today. Councillor Claire Detheridge. Claire is a very well-respected member of municipal council down in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. She is also the only female member of municipal council in the industrial area of Cape Breton. I am pleased to see the minister responsible for the Status of Women here. Claire is very well respected and works very hard on many issues pertaining to women and other issues of course, in the municipality. I would ask the House to give her a warm welcome, please. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the guests from Cape Breton. Nice to see you. I rise in my place this morning to address some issues on Bill No. 34. I know members opposite have to endure the occasional rant. Maybe you just heard one. I have a few points which I would like to bring to the members' attention.

Since the introduction of this bill, Mr. Speaker, I have heard from constituents and I want to bring that to the attention of members opposite and to members on this side of the House. I also want to point out some concerns that have been brought to my attention by some health workers. As we look at this important piece of legislation, which at one time I think was actually defined as ground-breaking legislation. The concern I have is that we have broken so much ground with the issue of health care and when it comes to issues dealing with the health system, that there is a frustration and there is an anger and a confusion that has resulted as Nova Scotians respond to this issue.

[11:00 a.m.]

This morning when I dropped in - and I know members opposite do it when they are in their constituencies - for my morning coffee at the local coffee shop, and was asked so what is going on today, aside from the fact that there is to be no picture of me with a Bruins tie on there, the issue of today, of course I said, well, we are going to speak about Bill No. 34. What is Bill No. 34? I explained it to these two gentlemen I am having a coffee with. Their reaction was this, oh no, we are not re-jigging the health system again; that term, re-jigging, says to most people present, must have been someone from down the Shore, who is understanding the facts, another way to tinker with the system.

[Page 3534]

Mr. Speaker, my question to these members opposite, to the Health Minister, is the government actually listening to Nova Scotians and to health workers? That is the concern. Where did this bill come from? It is contrary to the Goldbloom recommendations, it is contrary to the blueprint and, in my view, it is contrary to what the public wants when it comes to health care. More tinkering with the system, does it actually guarantee in the bottom line that there will be money saved when it comes to the issue of health care? That is the question. The bottom line, money in the health system, money in the front-line workers, to make sure that we can maintain the system. Do these renovations save money? We don't know. The answer hasn't been given, and that, after all, has to be one of the principles of why we make changes these days to a system - is it going to save our province money?

The principle of decentralization sounds great. I know there are rural members out there who are saying, our local people are going to have more say. I say, to those members, who live outside metro, you better read that bill carefully because the answer is no. Decentralization as an ideal is great, and I agree with it. But I want to hear from the member for Queens, and I want to know when he stands in his place whether he believes that this will allow the good people of Liverpool to have more say when it deals with health care and health issues in his wonderful town, and the answer, I know the member for Queens, when he looks at that bill, he will say, no, it is not there. Yes, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the member yield the floor for an introduction?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Absolutely.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the interruption, however, I have just realized that a former colleague of mine on the Cape Breton County Council is in the east gallery. He served for many years, before amalgamation, on the Cape Breton County Council. He is a former colleague of mine. He continues to be heavily involved in his community today. He is actually a member of the board of directors of the NSGEU. I would ask the House to give him a warm welcome. His name is Kevin Saccary. (Applause)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, welcome to another visitor from Cape Breton. Is this some kind of trend we are on here, do you need back-up or something? I won't go there. They are welcome. Let's go back to this issue.

I am talking about Liverpool, and I have it as an example because I believe that there

is a major misconception in this bill if members believe that this piece of legislation is going to allow more local input, because that is not the case.

[Page 3535]

I want to use for an example the health care worker who told me of some work that she has been doing in Preston. This health care worker has shown the initiative to go out into that particular community and be involved with some health education in that community, that the community is badly in need of. Without any kind of other community input, it is decided that this is where there should be a particular form of health initiative. Now the member for Preston should well know that that local initiative has to continue to be recognized. Does this set-up allow for the people of that particular community, or the Town of Liverpool, to have that input? I say, Mr. Speaker, it does not. It discourages local input; it is a top-down system which is being recommended here.

Now the intent of this bill, from my understanding, is cost savings but where is the proof? Is it going to cost more money? Let's do the math, history teacher that I was. We have gone from four boards to nine boards; and that says to me that there are going to be added administrative expenses, added bureaucratic expenses, not money that is going to be put in the right place when it comes to health care, it is going to increase costs with further bureaucracy and further administrative costs. That, Mr. Speaker, is not where we want health care to go in this province.

The health system that works best, Mr. Speaker, I think all members would agree, is based upon cooperation, consensus, and consultation. Now let's look at those three C's: - consultation, cooperation, and consensus. I heard my learned friend, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, of course, with his roots in Liverpool, talk about the hospital hustle in that community. Now I think members present should know that it takes volunteers to make many of the organizations in our community run. Without the consultation and without the cooperation and consensus, there are many people who are involved with the hospital hustle who are going to step aside because they are not going to be consulted.

What we do not need in the health system is more confrontation, and in my view this particular piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, is going to bring about confrontation, frustration and anger and people in our local communities are going to say the minister has all the power.

We are not doing clause by clause, I understand, but I encourage members opposite to read carefully that particular piece of legislation and you will see in that legislation that the powers of the minister are absolutely over the top. It is a top-down system where the people on the ground, the local people, are constantly going to be reaching up. They are not going to be treated as equals; it is not going to be a level playing field with this particular system in place.

Mr. Speaker, I want to deal with the disillusionment of the public. There are people shaking their heads about another structural change to health care. As I mentioned earlier in my comments, those two gentlemen I shared a coffee with this morning have one issue, is this going to save money? I say to those two gentlemen, neighbours of mine, I don't believe so, it doesn't seem to me that this seems to be the priority. It seems to be that there was

[Page 3536]

electioneering happening here and for one reason or another we are going to change the seats on the Titanic, we are going to shuffle them on the deck, and we are not going to really put more money in the hands of health care workers that will help people.

Let's talk about those health care workers, Mr. Speaker. The frustration of these people continues. The frustration of these people with the idea being that they are the experts. They are the people who know what is right or what is wrong with the system. I want to make it very clear - and I heard the member for Lunenburg West going on about the previous system - it is not perfect, and there has to be some improvements but you have to make sure that you talk to the people in the know. More administrators, more bureaucrats do not make a better public health system in this province. That's very obvious.

Will these district health authorities just pay lip service to the community? Exactly what is their definition of power? You will find it, Mr. Speaker, to be vague; to be polite. You will find that there will be many questions when you read this legislation over. The DHAs and their powers are far from explicitly explained, unlike the minister's. The minister's powers are clarified. The minister is in charge and the people who after all have the most, and should have the most, say in this system, the health care workers and the people who are out in the public needing that health system, have little or no say.

Specifically the duties of the community health board and the district health authorities need to be clarified. I can assure you that during the Law Amendments Committee we will be hearing from those groups. I look at members opposite, some of them are on the Law Amendments Committee, be prepared, we are going to hear from health workers. We are going to hear from people who are in the health system. They are going to come to the Law Amendments Committee and they will want to be listened to.

Were they listened to? The Law Amendments Committee is a wonderful part of the process that we have in this province, thank God we have it, but this sort of legislation should have been much more open when it comes to consultation in advance, instead of having them parade in front of the Law Amendments Committee with suggested change after suggested change after suggested change. I want the members who are going to be there at the Law Amendments Committee to be listening, because we have gone through Law Amendments before. The Law Amendments Committee before, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, there has been a rubber stamp happen in this province when it came to legislation. I want members there to understand and the members of this Party to understand, that there will be many presentations in the Law Amendments Committee. (Interruption)

I thank the member for Richmond for bringing this forward. I know that when we look at the presentation from the people at the Law Amendments Committee, they should be given suitable time, not five minutes, they should be given time in terms of how much influence they have (Interruption) No, every citizen in this province, every group, every organization that

[Page 3537]

has a vested interest in health care, they should make sure they have their say in front of the Law Amendments Committee on this piece of legislation.

I want to turn to the Yarmouth Vanguard. The Yarmouth Vanguard recently - and I want to congratulate the Assistant Editor of the Vanguard, Bill Hatfield - had a front-page piece - and I can table this, Mr. Speaker - Bed closures coming . . .

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Bed closures coming, I was going to give this speech.

AN HON. MEMBER: So was I.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I thank the member for Cape Breton Nova for giving this advanced notice that he, too, is going to refer to this. I want to turn to the particular section where the western hospital regional coordinator, Mr. Maddalena, speaks at length, and if I may quote before I table this, "We currently don't have the staffing we need to maintain adequate nursing numbers on the floor," Then Mr. Maddalena says, "This is the tip of the iceberg."

There are people in Yarmouth when they read that - and I thank the Page for doing that - who are alarmed about that. The former MLA for Yarmouth was in our gallery yesterday. I had a chance to speak to him and his wife. I want you to know that that past member, Mr. Deveau, and his wife, brought to my attention again the concerns of people in that community because Mr. Deveau and his wife are both employees in the Yarmouth Hospital health system.

[11:15 a.m.]

That concern, Mr. Speaker, comes back to the fact that the people in Yarmouth are not going to be listened to. They have no voice. They will have a voice, Mr. Speaker, when the MLA for Yarmouth speaks up on this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member for Timberlea-Prospect would allow an introduction.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for allowing me this time. In the east gallery we have the councillor for the Municipality of Shelburne visiting with us today, Ray Davis. I would ask that he stand and receive a warm greeting from the House. (Applause)

[Page 3538]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the guest from Shelburne. I have only another 40 minutes so if he can stick around, I would love to hear about what that particular person's view is on the Roseway Hospital in Shelburne in terms of the future of that particular operation.

I want members opposite to understand that it is places like Shelburne, Yarmouth and Liverpool, that we have to hear those members speak up about because when this particular health bill is brought back for discussion through the Law Amendments Committee and into this House, we have to make sure that those members have their say. What is the future of Roseway? What is the future of those hospitals along the South Shore? Those hospitals want to know where their members are on this piece of legislation.

I want to turn now, if I may, Mr. Speaker, to a letter that I believe all received, I have a copy of it. It comes from Estelle Forbes-Doucet who is the President of the IWK-Grace Local of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. It is a copy, it goes to every member. The letter is addressed to the Honourable John Hamm. I want to read this particular paragraph into the record from Ms. Forbes-Doucet.

"I would like to remind you, Dr. Hamm, of the days of when you were a family physician. If your patient was an expectant mother, newborn baby or child, you were a call away from the expertise of the IWK or Grace Hospital. You see Dr. Hamm, I was then a nursing student and I observed first hand your caring bedside manner."

I would like to table that if any members have not received that letter. Let's have a look at that caring bedside manner now that the good doctor is the Premier, Mr. Speaker. Has the Premier, based upon his background in health care, been listening? Are there people at the Aberdeen Hospital who might have, for one reason or another, the Premier's ear on this issue? It seems to me that health workers, like Ms. Forbes-Doucet and like health workers from probably every hospital and health system we have in this province, have major concerns about where this government is going.

I would like to, if I may, point to some feedback that we in the NDP caucus have received from various health workers. Some of them, I should share with you, Mr. Speaker, have said in all confidentiality, Mr. Estabrooks, I would appreciate it if you don't bring up my name. I understand that, but what does that say? That says that health workers who live in my constituency in Timberlea-Prospect will call their MLA, but they are afraid - please, Mr. Estabrooks, don't use my name.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share some of those concerns. People in the health care system feel vulnerable. They are vulnerable about losing their jobs because these people have a fear that is called privatization. One of the health care workers who works in my constituency says, this is the first step towards privatization. That is not the way Nova Scotians want their health care system to operate.

[Page 3539]

Mr. Speaker, there is a proud tradition in this Party of support of health care. We can go back to Saskatchewan in 1944. We can point back to the long national input to Medicare, and I know that the member for Cape Breton Nova will tell me that a Liberal brought that forward, and I will tell you Lester B. Pearson brought that legislation forward. There is a long-standing tradition in this country that there is one health system, whether it is in Shelburne or whether it is in Timberlea, whether it is in Saskatchewan or Ontario. There is no place in the Province of Nova Scotia for Ralph Klein and his particular ideas about health care. There is no place in this province for anything to do with Mr. Harris and his ideas about health care. I know that members opposite will hear from their workers. I encourage them to listen to them. Because this particular worker from Timberlea-Prospect is concerned that this is the first step towards privatization.

Let's look at a couple of particular concerns if I may, Mr. Speaker. I want to talk about this board of directors. This needs to be clarified because my learned friend, the member for Halifax Fairview spoke at length about this issue yesterday. She pointed out in her interpretation who can serve on the local community board of directors. The health minister has told her that she is incorrect. We have looked at the definition. I want this clarified and hopefully the Law Amendments Committee will clarify this. Who can serve on the board of directors locally? Can you be a member of the VON and serve on the board of directors? I honestly believe that throughout this province there is no more noble health group than the VON. But can you allow your name to come forward through this process, that I am going to mention in a moment, about whether you can get on the board of directors?

Can you be the member of a group such as the CACL, which is the Canadian Association for Community Living? I know a particular gentleman who lives in my community and who is a member of the St. Margaret's Bay Lions Club, and he is heavily involved in the Canadian Association for Community Living, and he serves on their board. Does that mean, Mr. Speaker, that because this particular gentleman serves on the board of the CACL that he will not be eligible to get nominated or heaven forbid chosen by the Minister of Health to serve on this board of directors? There is a question which that Lions Club member, when I attend next Thursday's meeting will ask me. I know he would like to have some input when it comes to health care.

More particularly, I notice that you cannot be a senator and be a member of the board of directors locally. Mr. Speaker, senators do not have - all jokes aside about the good member for Halifax Atlantic in a previous life - a full agenda. I can assure you. They in many cases have lots of expertise and they do have, from my understanding, lots of time on their hands. They get input from their community, and it would seem to me to be unfair to suddenly say a senator cannot serve on this particular board.

More particularly, I want to point to school board members and whether they are actually eligible to be on this. This is a question that my friend, the member for Halifax Fairview, brought up. It is a concern for the Minister of Health because we have apparently

[Page 3540]

misunderstood this. If we as legislators have these questions, I am sure that other people have them. If you look at school board members and what they have had to go through in this province, they certainly would have some expertise, Mr. Speaker, in terms of input, clarification and making sure that their local health concerns are listened to.

How do you get on this board of directors? Let's look at this. I hope members opposite particularly look at how you go about becoming a member. One-third are appointed by the minister, the minister's prerogative - I want some good Tories on there, I am going to appoint them - the remaining two-thirds are also appointed by the minister, Mr. Speaker, from a list which is submitted by the community health board. So why don't we just do the math, add the fractions and say it as it should be said. It is not one-third appointed by the minister and two-thirds appointed by the minister from a list submitted, it is three out of three. The entire board of directors is controlled by the Minister of Health. That is the bottom line, fractions added, the lack of local input is obvious.

Are these district health authority meetings open to the public? I ask that, Mr. Speaker, because I know that is going to be a question that comes in front of the Law Amendments Committee. It says, twice yearly the DHA will have public forums. Big deal. Twice yearly? It seems to me that a district health authority meeting must be open to all members of the public at all times. You cannot have open forums when you want them. Twice a year you are going to have an open forum? It seems to me that there have to be other ways for public input if this system goes ahead.

The other concern - and I addressed it earlier - is the vagueness of the duties of the community health board because the omnipotent power in this particular bill rests in Halifax. It rests in Halifax, Mr. Speaker, on the corner here. That is where the power is and the people who are living outside of metro - the people who live in the South Shore, in Cape Breton, Prospect - they are going to say, we really don't have any say because the minister has the clout. It is the minister who has the final say.

The major concerns that I have heard revolve around these four points. The health workers are frustrated, the health workers are concerned. It is their belief - or the ones I have heard from - that this proposal completely fails to ensure workers' rights and workers' benefits. Where do these health workers stand in the view of the people I have heard from and the people I am listening to; health workers are very concerned because they have not been listened to and their particular rights, and the benefits that they have worked so long and hard for, are not in any way enshrined or ensured in this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there will be chaos when it comes to labour relations if this particular piece of the legislation is allowed to go through the way it is, that is obvious. There will be confrontation, difficulty. This is not the way to deal with health workers. This is not the way to make the system more accountable and to make it better. We have to have a proper board

[Page 3541]

that is going to deal in an open and fair way with labour relations when you are dealing with health workers.

Mr. Speaker, there are incredible - and I say that word - discretionary powers given to the minister here. The minister is above everything. It is top-down, as I said before. The minister has centralized, in his hands in Halifax, the power. The communities have been disempowered. The communities, according to this particular renovation of the health system, are not going to be able to have their say. Don't say, well, we will have the local input. How will you have the local input? The minister appoints them all. There are some people who will not be eligible for one restrictive matter or another.

When you look at the bill, specifically, you see clause after clause - I understand, Mr. Speaker, that we are not doing clause by clause but I am just bringing this to the attention of the members opposite, clause by clause - outlining the minister's power, and in turn, the district health authorities, the community health boards, well, they are little bit vaguer there, there is not quite the specifics, they are not quite as cut and dried as what the minister's power is. That concern will be addressed, I am sure, when we come to the Law Amendments Committee.

[11:30 a.m.]

The major concern, and I have said this before, is that this piece of legislation opens the door to privatization. If that is their agenda, if that is where they are going, have the guts, excuse me, the intestinal fortitude to tell the people of Nova Scotia that. (Interruption)

If you, in your heart of hearts, deep out there on the Tory right wing, believe that privatization is the way to go, then say it, and we will have a philosophical difference of opinion. But you are sneaking it in under the door, and you are sliding it past us, oh, no, the minister would never do that, we understand health care and the tradition in this province, we understand about Tommy Douglas, we understand about Premier Lord, right? I got that point earlier incidentally, I want you to notice. We understand what Prime Minister Pearson did, but still there is that agenda there, and that agenda is privatization. You can tinker with various things in this province when it comes to privatization, and we are going to fill Hollis Street and Granville Street with every protester around, but when it comes to health care, that is a sacred trust in this country and in this province.

Under no circumstances can we have any form of privatization, this creeping principle, which I hope members opposite have clear in their heads, because that is the question they are going to get this weekend when they go back to their areas. That is the question they are going to get in front of the Law Amendments Committee, if they are on the Law Amendments Committee. Do you guys/women actually want privatization of health care? There is the answer. If that is your call, step up and tell us. That philosophical difference, we will debate

[Page 3542]

in this House, and we will show you openly and we will show you fairly that that is not the way for health care to go in this province.

Mr. Speaker, there is a lack of trust between the health workers and the Health Minister. There is a lack of trust between the communities and their concerns and the Health Minister. I say this in all candour, there is a lack of trust between that Health Minister, who I knew in a previous life, that Health Minister, when he was an educator and held the responsible position that he had. I have a lack of trust, as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, in that Health Minister in that position.

I say that with a degree of chagrin, I must tell you, because at one time, that member for Truro-Bible Hill sat, I think here, in front of me at that table; at that time, that member for Truro-Bible Hill was a passionate spokesman for his community. He was, in so many ways, as he stood in this House day after day, questioning and putting some tough ones to the member for Dartmouth East, and giving it to the Minister of Health at that time about situations in Truro, and confronting him day after day in the midst of congratulatory resolutions about the Cobequid Cougars; day after day, that Health Minister, he put it to that then Minister of Health.

Now, this member is over there, and I don't trust him. I don't trust where he is taking this province with this particular piece of health legislation. I don't trust him, because he is no longer representing the best interests of Truro-Bible Hill. He is not representing their interests because the people of Truro-Bible Hill will not have, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the members on this side, if I may speak for the members of the other Party, certainly this caucus, that member for Truro-Bible Hill does not have the trust of the people and the best interests of the people of Truro-Bible Hill because they are not going to be listened to under the system. They are not going to be listened to.

The Health Minister, who is also their MLA, who they might have to call "dial a doctor" to talk to, that Health Minister, is going to call the shots. He is going to be the expert in Halifax and in Truro. Who are they going to get to listen to them? Who are they going to have to call? Maybe a member of the Opposition because the Opposition is going to bring up the concerns that in Truro, that member does not have the trust of his community. He does not have the trust of health workers, I can assure you. He does not have the trust of people across this province with this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, he does not have my trust and I say that with a degree of disappointment, I must say. If that member wants to go privatization, let's go toe to toe in this House, let us make it open, let us understand the fact that we in this Party disagree with that direction when it comes to health care.

[Page 3543]

We do not need confrontation. We do not need chaos, what we need is caring, we need caring. We have to make sure that the people in this province have a feeling of trust, have a feeling of confidence and it is not there. Suspicion is there, there is at times almost hatred. This is going to be an unfortunate piece of legislation unless it undergoes major amendments and changes. I hope members opposite hear from their constituents this weekend, I hope they look at that bill carefully and comprehend as I have, hopefully, with the help of people who have consulted with me, that there are some major renovations needed to this bill.

I know that I have taken more time than I expected. I notice that there are members opposite who, in many ways are paying rapt attention because, I will assure you, the people from Yarmouth, when they read the Vanguard, are going to call the MLA. The question they are eventually going to come to, is Mr. MLA, are you going to privatize the health system? I will tell you that in Shelburne, the people of Clark's Harbour are going to call that member and they are going to say, Mr. MLA, are you going to privatize the health system? There is the question. In Liverpool, those people who participated in a "hospital hustle", are going to call the member for Queens and they are going to ask that member for Liverpool, are you and your government going to privatize the health system? That is the question and those members had better not have some prepared speech or some answer prepared by Mr. Madill, read this to them, send this out to them, that will keep them happy. Dale Madill's expertise on spinning the issue of the day, expertise that he picked up at The Chronicle-Herald, is not going to help in Yarmouth or Shelburne or Liverpool. Spin is not going to make this one work, what is going to make it work is an answer and the answer has to be clear. Clarity is the issue, Mr. Speaker, this bill is not clear - it is vague.

In Law Amendments Committee, we are going to clarify those. We are going to introduce amendments because this bill needs help and, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the members opposite working with us during Law Amendments Committee to reassure health care workers, to reassure Nova Scotians and to build the trust that we need in the system and I personally need in the past principal of the Nova Scotia Teachers College who is now the Minister of Health.

Privatization and the tip of the iceberg, this bill must be changed. I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: There is a great deal that one could say on this bill, and I am not sure an hour will be sufficient to say it. Whether that means that I can actually go the full hour or not, only time will tell. I want to say this, Sir, and by way of an opening impression, just this morning I was told by a manager of a major financial institution within walking distance of where we are here, of a steady parade of government workers who are coming in with tears in their eyes in view of the private briefings they have been given as to the fate that awaits them with the introduction of Tuesday's budget. The purge will be unprecedented

[Page 3544]

in Nova Scotian history. I want to say this; the John Savage Government may have made some mistakes and they have paid a price for some of the things that it did, but the John Savage Government never, at any time, forced anyone to leave their job. (Interruption) There was a voluntary package that many people were very happy to accept. I say this with reference to the health care system, I am not off the bill, this bill deals with health care and I am talking about health care.

There was no one in the health care system or in any other department that was forced to lose their job or was just thrown overboard or made to walk the plank. But I am reliably advised that there are many hundreds that will be walking the plank come Tuesday, in the health care system and in other parts of the government.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I want to say this, that the struggle to defend and protect and improve the health care system is one of the largest challenges that faces the provincial government in Nova Scotia. When our government came to power in 1993, and I mean the first Liberal Government because there two of them. There was the Savage Government and then there was the MacLellan Government. They are two different governments, just the same in British Columbia where the Harcourt Government was a different government from the Glen Clark Government although they were both NDP Governments, but they were two governments. So, there were two Liberal Governments from 1993 to 1999. The Savage Government from 1993 to 1997 and the MacLellan Government from 1997 to 1999. They were two separate administrations that must be looked at in that way, not as one homogenous whole.

Having said that, I want to say that the Savage Government was challenged when it first came to office in 1993, in a very major way with trying to save our health care system. Under the Tories, under Donald Cameron's Government and John Buchanan's before it, there had been set in motion, particularly under Cameron, a series of measures of plans, not entirely carried out by any means, but certainly fully detailed in terms of fleshing them out, that would eviscerated the health care system of Nova Scotia. There was the plan for closures of hospitals, which I have tabled at a previous time in this House so honourable members should be well aware of it, a plan that would have, for example, bulldozed the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital in New Waterford and the Sydney City Hospital and St. Rita's or Sydney Community Health Care Centre, in Sydney, and several other hospitals in Cape Breton, without any provision for their replacement at all. That was the type of approach they were going to initiate right across the province. They were going to close more hospitals and bulldoze them and take more beds and more doctors and more nurses out of service than you could ever imagine. I have the full details of that plan in my archives somewhere, and I can table it sometime, if necessary, for the enlightenment of the members of the House.

So when we came to power in 1993, Ron Stewart became the Minister of Health. I saw him only yesterday, and he was looking very well, indeed, but he is not here any longer. When he was here, he was faced with that challenge of trying to rescue the health care system from

[Page 3545]

the demolition plans that he had inherited from the outgoing Tory Government of Donald Cameron. Well, the Liberal Government struggled its best with those difficulties in the sea of red ink that had been created by the outgoing Tory Administration, that it accumulated an enormous deficit, and enormous debt, and enormous lack of control on public expenditure. Our Party was left to grapple with the aftermath. I thought they did a pretty good job because many of the hospital facilities that I refer to, were saved.

The New Waterford Consolidated Hospital was not only saved, but put on a sound footing for the first time in many, many years. That came about gradually, I'm not saying it came about overnight. I would say the final finishing touches of improving and saving our health care system were concluded under the very capable leadership of Premier Russell MacLellan and his very dedicated Minister of Health, the Honourable Dr. James Smith. I am very proud to have supported that government and I wish to goodness that it was still in office today as I am sure many right-thinking Nova Scotians do as they contemplate what this crowd opposite that has come into power - thanks to the perfidy of the NDP - have planned to do to the people of Nova Scotia.

[11:45 a.m.]

Now, what do they plan to do? Well, on their way to office, Mr. Speaker, they painted a very clear scenario. They were going to close Sydney Steel, stop pouring millions of dollars into Sysco and, with that money that they were going to save by shutting Sysco down once and for all, they were going to protect our health care system so that the beds would be opened, the hospitals would be going full tilt, round the clock, and all would be well.

I have here, for the consideration of the House, the election manifesto of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. It is very simple; it is very clear. Close Sydney Steel, open hospital beds. A John Hamm Government will close Sysco once and for all. Priorities matter. Stop pouring dollars into Sysco; protect our health care system. Now, there you have it. That was their election platform on which they ran and were elected to office. I am supposed to table this document, so perhaps somebody here could take this fine piece of paper over to the table so it can be tabled.

That is what they said. They were going to shut down Sysco. I am glad they have not done it, at least not yet, but they have done everything they could to make life at Sysco very difficult, but instead of opening the hospitals that they promised to do as part of their twofold operation, they have done to the hospitals, to the health care system, what they said they were going to do to Sydney Steel it would seem. They are victimizing both; this bill is proof of that. This bill demonstrates the perfidy of this government, its lack of credibility, and its lack of deserving to be trusted in any way.

[Page 3546]

Now, what does this bill do? Well, let me go back to what I was saying before about the advances in the health care field under the Governments of John Savage and Russell MacLellan. In those times, Mr. Speaker, our wise government set up a new system of administration of health care delivery in Nova Scotia. It developed four regional health boards and under those health boards health care services were strengthened, improved, and the delivery was modernized and strengthened in many ways.

I am most familiar with the work of the health care board, the health authority in the area that I represent. I can tell you the tremendous changes and improvements took place during the six years of Liberal Government in the eastern health care district. The services in the Sydney area were rationalized and consolidated. The Cape Breton Regional Hospital was opened and then established as the central, more or less or the mother church of the hospital system in industrial Cape Breton with local facilities on the Northside, at New Waterford, and at Glace Bay. Each of those hospitals, the three outlying - the three feeder hospitals if you will - were strengthened, consolidated, and given new roles.

For example, in the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital there were 2,200 long-term-care beds established there, thanks to the good work of Dr. James Smith, and that enabled that hospital for the first time in many years to be fully occupied and utilized. Prior to that time it had been half-empty. You still had to heat the whole building, and you still had to insure the whole building and upkeep it, but the building itself was half-empty and this was a tremendous source of demoralization in the New Waterford area.

The NDP, of course, played on the fears of the people as best they could, saying the Liberals are going to shut the hospital. They even had a rumour out that the authors of the plan to close the hospital were Paul MacEwan and Russell MacNeil. Those were the two culprits who were responsible for drawing up the plan. I think I was supposed to be the one who typed it out on the typewriter but, in any event, we saved the hospital.

We established there for the first time in history a plastic surgery department and there is a plastic surgeon there now, Dr. Attia, who is delivering plastic surgery services to the people of industrial Cape Breton who come from all over the area, even from Antigonish, even from Inverness, even from le comté de Richmond, to have plastic surgery, if needed, at New Waterford.

Then we also have other similar developments on the Northside and at Glace Bay, so that each of those three outlying hospitals have been strengthened, consolidated, and then the central hospital at Sydney has been developed as a regional health care facility where people can receive, for example, cancer treatment for the first time in history.

I know my dear friend, Vince MacLean could describe this much better than I could. Vince MacLean knows the agony that families had to go through when they had members of their families who had cancer and had to go to Halifax for treatment. The long trip and the

[Page 3547]

expense and the trauma and the wear and tear and the onerous burden that those families had to face. It would fail me, Mr. Speaker, to describe it in words.

We in the Liberal Party overcame that when we opened up the Cape Breton Cancer Treatment Centre and I was there, and Vince MacLean was Chairman of the Cape Breton Regional Health Board at the time, and he was there, and he held the ribbon as Dr. Jim Smith and Premier Russell MacLellan cut it. I know that he was well familiar, that is at the opening of the Cancer Treatment Centre. A great achievement of the Liberal Government that I am very proud of.

If it is a joke to some honourable members of the House, and I can tell you it is no joke to the people who that cancer treatment facility serves, Mr. Speaker. It was a life saver for many of those people. We went to the wall to try to defend health care, because if you recall it was the budget on which our government fell that proposed to do more for the health care system, to fix it properly. We had it all worked out. Finance Minister Don Downe had all the details of what was needed and the NDP and the Tories voted against that budget. They voted against health care and, thus, our government fell, and we went to the people as a result and look what happened. The Tories got in. Look what they are doing. They are bringing in bills like this one we now face before the House.

That is just a little bit, Mr. Speaker, by way of general historical background to the bill now before the House. I described to you some of the good things that have taken place under the system of health care delivery set up by our good Liberal Government. This bill proposes to dismantle all that. This bill proposes to establish a new system of health care delivery, of, for and by the Tory Party. That is what it proposes to do. It proposes to remove those who have overseen and guided and directed the development of the health care delivery system that we have now, some of whom I admit freely are associated with the Liberal Party, but I see nothing wrong with that. The Liberal Party has produced some of the best men and women to serve the people of Nova Scotia over the years. Our contribution to the history of this province is noted even here in this House where we have portraits such as Joseph Howe and other great Liberals such as, the Honourable W.S. Fielding behind me here. Great Nova Scotians. The Liberal Party has developed many other people who have (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, we here a little bit of babbling in the background, but I would urge you to pay no attention to the babbling when you can get the straight goods from the speaker who now has the floor. (Interruption)

Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill proposes to remove all those people now serving in the capacities that they serve in and the health care delivery system administration and the administrative boards, and to replace them with new boards that will be appointed through the Tory Party. Certainly if the Minister of Health appoints one-third of the members of the new boards and then the boards themselves appoint the other two-thirds, it amounts to the Tory Party appointing its own people to those boards. So the Tory Party is going to take over the administration of health in Nova Scotia. What are they going to do when they do that? I

[Page 3548]

guess we will get the full picture on Tuesday, although as I have indicated from my soundings this morning in the financial institutions hereabouts, the outlook for the civil servants who work in the health care system right now and the other departments of government is not good. It is not good, indeed, it will probably be so bad this time a week from now, that it will make the reign of terror when the innocent were carted off to the guillotine by the cart-load look pale by comparison. That's what the Tory Party under John Hamm will do. The government that came to power on these merry plans that, by simply closing Sydney Steel once and for all, all problems will be solved, and the health care system would be healthier than ever. All would be well.

We see already preliminary signs about what they really intend to do. Bed closures coming in Yarmouth, not just Yarmouth but all around the province. This government is, in my view, not a government to be trusted. I think this government has, as I said the other day, one goal only, and that is to please the credit rating agencies. I admit that the credit rating agencies have to be pleased up to a point. When our government was in power, we had to live with that concern and none of our cheques bounced. We never once had the situation where civil servants payroll on payday could not be honoured, but we balanced concerns for keeping the rating agencies satisfied with the overall broader concern of meeting the needs of the people. That is the first priority of any government, to meet the needs of the people of which financial considerations only form a part of the much bigger and broader picture.

I don't believe that it constitutes good government, to close down half your health care system, to close down half your Civil Service, to close down half your public programs, to keep the credit rating agencies satisfied and to have the Dun & Bradstreet crowd and the high finance circles giving you an A-plus or whatever it is that they give you, a gold star. My goodness, there have been many governments in history that have been faced with far more difficult financial circumstances than have ever faced any provincial government of Nova Scotia, including the Savage Government, the MacLellan Government and the Hamm Government. It is like child's play, the financial circumstances which this government faces, as compared to those which many other governments in other jurisdictions, even to this day, face in their ongoing struggle to try to meet the needs of the people and, at the same time, keep the bankers at least at arm's length.

That is what you have to do when you are in power and the essence of good government, in my view, is to strike a balance between the two considerations and see that the needs of the people are met, particularly in the key areas of health, education, social services and community infrastructure. By that I mean, the whole gamut from Agriculture through to Transportation, Fisheries and all those other departments that form the administrative arm of government. (Interruption) Everything. Well, to sum up in one word, yes, everything because the government has to look after everything.

[Page 3549]

The government can never do enough to meet the people's needs. No matter how much you do, you can always try harder to do more, to help the people, because that is what the government is there for, and if it is not there to do that, it should be removed from office at the first opportunity. If the credit rating agencies are not quite pleased or not quite satisfied, well, you certainly have to try to keep them as pleased as you can, but you can't bend over backwards and sacrifice the needs of the constituents that you represent, the people of Nova Scotia, to keep financiers from New York or some other place like that, happy. You have to perhaps even make them a little bit unhappy sometimes. Certainly closing down or harming our health care system, as this bill would do, is not the way to go.

Mr. Speaker, I said that I could speak for a whole hour on the bill. I doubt that I am actually going to be carry out that mandate because you would have to go through the bill clause by clause. We can do that in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, of course, where there is no time limit at all. That is the one stage of the proceedings of this House that are not limited by time. In the budget estimates, there is a maximum and then it is over. In Question Period and in the debate on second reading, you speak for an hour and you multiply it by 22 members plus somebody from the government side who introduces the bill and closes the debate, and that is it unless you introduce a reasoned amendment, and I am not proposing to do that at this time.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can't.

MR. MACEWAN: Can't? Oh, I certainly can, sir, but I shan't. I can but I shan't.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. For the member's information, there has been a previous question put, just so you know that. I wasn't sure if the member for Cape Breton Nova knew that.

MR. MACEWAN: I have no amendment in my back pocket, Mr. Speaker, to drop on the Table, none at all. I come into this debate with the innocent intention to simply speak on the bill and let it go at that, but I shan't be voting for the bill, I can tell you that. I shall not be voting for the bill and I would urge other honourable members to get their teeth into this matter because this is the tip of the iceberg. This is the bill that the Tories are getting their foot in the door. The whole struggle in politics is for public opinion and to try to get the people on your side as compared to the side of your opponents. This bill is a bill about acceptance of the Tory agenda. That is the basic bottom line philosophical concept that is at stake here.

If the House adopts this kind of bill with enthusiasm and with unanimity (Interruptions) it sends a signal out to the public that yes, there is support. There is bipartisan, all-partisan support for this right-wing Tory agenda that they have borrowed from Ralph Klein and from Mike Harris, (Interruption) and Preston, too. Preston Manning, indeed, and if you want to add the rest of them I think they have a Stockwell Day and they have, I do not know who

[Page 3550]

else, Deborah Grey and take it away, and Brooke, yes; all of those people. We do not want that agenda in Nova Scotia and if we put up a substantial battle against this bill and if the debate on it is prolonged and if the signal sent out is that, yes, there is a substantial volume, a substantial reservoir of resistance to this type of legislation in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, I think that would be good for the climate of public opinion in this province. It will impress the editorialists, it will impress the commentators, it will impress the union leaders, it will impress the various groups that are interested and concerned.

[12:00 p.m.]

When they see that the government is not going to receive carte blanche, is not going to get the order of the rubber stamp, that will be very helpful, in my view, towards the ultimate goal of turfing this government out of power at the first opportunity. A good start was made on that in Glace Bay on Monday when the government candidate came third and last, but we cannot rest until the government candidates and the Tory candidates come third and last in every riding in Nova Scotia.

We have a bit of work cut out for us yet, Mr. Speaker, in addressing ourselves to Bill No. 34, but I think we shall be up for the challenge. I have 17 pages of notes here and my honourable friend, the member for Richmond, is wanting me to start going through them, clause by clause or at least sentence by sentence, but I think that perhaps I have said enough on the bill to indicate my general intention. There will be other opportunities to further enlighten the House and I look forward eagerly to those opportunities when they present themselves.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: It is a new government and they introduced what they call a piece of cornerstone legislation and that cornerstone legislation revolves around health care in the province and how it is to be administered. That should have almost all Parties in this House in agreement because of the importance of a health care system that works. Is that what this government has introduced - a piece of legislation where all Nova Scotians, all Parties can put partisan views aside and support it? No, Mr. Speaker. What we ended up getting was a piece of legislation that is partisan in nature and will continue to be that way. We are left here as Opposition Parties to try to articulate the concerns of Nova Scotians about this bill and the concerns Nova Scotians have with this bill are many; in particular, with these types of restructuring.

We have seen it before because just last fall we had the emergency health care workers come before this House en masse about this government's bill of putting them back to work and legislating a settlement. What that bill was all about was designing a process that excluded workers from the very intricate parts and how to design it. What did they do? They looked after everybody else in the system and then came to the workers last and said, here are

[Page 3551]

the scraps off the table. Now again, they are doing basically the same thing; they are taking no advice from workers, the very people who drive the delivery of health care and they are going with their top-down management. How does that affect the morale of those workers and the ability of those workers to do the job?

I would clearly say that it has an adverse effect to perform their jobs to the maximum standards because they do not know; this government has not taken them into their confidence as they do with the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and said, well what do you want to do guys? What can we do to help stoke your fires? They blatantly go and follow them down their yellow brick road, but yet do they give the same type of ear to the workers? Do they give the same type of latitude to the administrators? I would say not, Mr. Speaker. What they do here is they have an agenda. While my friend and I, the member for Cape Breton Nova, disagree from time to time, he is absolutely right when he says that this is driven more by the bankers on the outside than the population of Nova Scotia on the inside. So, that is where that is at. It has nothing to do with reasonable, secure health delivery, but as part of this government's platform, to articulate what the bankers want for this province, not what the people of this province want.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member kindly yield the floor for another honourable member so he could make an introduction?

MR. CORBETT: I certainly would, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, today we have in the gallery three students studying English. They are from Korea and they are studying English in Vancouver and are touring the City of Halifax today. I would like to give them a nice welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Good afternoon and welcome.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it is good to see people come from far and near to hear me speak. So, what is driving this agenda is not a desire to deliver health care in a compassionate and timely fashion, but one to probably fulfil some debts owed to backers during the last provincial election.

There has been much said in discussion here in the last few days about this bill, about the ability for people to be appointed if they are on other boards. I don't know whether that is going to be clarified in another level of debate with this bill, but it is certainly one which has a hole so big, pardon the pun, you could drive a truck through it. Even you personally could do that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Why would you want to deny these people who are on boards,

[Page 3552]

especially volunteer boards? When people are in rural areas, this is such a smaller group to draw from. It is a matter of sheer numbers. We are going to start eliminating people who serve on boards like United Way or the Children's Aid Society or transition houses. I can't comprehend that. I don't think any member in this House can comprehend why you would want to eliminate this thing.

The very fact that this morning, government member after government member got up this morning and talked laudably, as they should, about the volunteers and their community and awards they are receiving this very day. Most of these volunteers, Mr. Speaker, belong to boards of one form or another. That is why they have attained some notoriety in their community. So, what we are saying to those people is, we will give you a plaque and a nice day and a handshake, but if you have concerns about the health care system, you are shut out. You cannot participate in the moving forward of our health care system because you were silly enough to want to get involved in another aspect of your community life. We have just pushed you aside.

There has been much said about the minister's power to appoint the boards. The heavy hand of the minister will be all over it. There has been much said that they will be full of Tories. There will be Tories from one end of the province to the other. Mr. Speaker, that does not bother me so much about the board being full of Tories, because, while I may not be a clairvoyant, I don't see a very long history for this government, so I don't think they are going to be around to make appointments for very long. That part doesn't bother me.

The centralization of the power bothers me, that they will combine, everything will be done here in metro. By the fact that the minister of the day has at his will the right to make appointments to the various boards. That is wrong, Mr. Speaker. We will have a minister sitting in Halifax talking about who is going to be in the Cape Breton area.

Now, I want to say a few words about the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and its uniqueness. Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that there is none other like it in the province. Through the masterful hands of CEO John Malcom, he has pulled that group together. He had a very hard task. He took various institutions from New Waterford and Glace Bay and North Sydney and Sydney areas and brought them together. Suffice it to say a lot of participants did not go willingly, but to Mr. Malcom's credit, he pulled this off. He is one of the folks who will be affected by this new legislation because it is my understanding he will have to now apply for his job all over again and they will be like site managers, in the Cape Breton area.

This bill will put at risk the people of Cape Breton losing a very well-respected hospital administrator. The speaker before me talked about what went on in New Waterford, and he spoke highly of his government and their support of that facility. I believe it was somewhat partisan, but on the other side, I think he would agree with me that a lot of it was Mr. Malcom's hard work and his understanding of the situation.

[Page 3553]

We have the coming together of that group, Mr. Speaker, and he and his board of directors have plotted a course for those facilities under his care. What he has done is taken things like surgery for orthopaedics and so on and you would go to the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, especially in that area, but to the larger, the more multi-trauma type of situations for orthopaedics and longer stays, you would go to the regional hospital venue itself, in Sydney, he has, with his capable staff, plotted out a direction.

One of the most interesting parts of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital is its long-term-care facility in Glace Bay and Level II in New Waterford. So we are very lucky to have that, plus the uniqueness would cause some concerns under this bill. Where do we go? Way out there, somewhere else, there is a whole other group studying the feasibility of facilities and how they should be handled in the long-term care, but yet, to my knowledge, there is nobody from that institution involved in that committee.

The committee appears to be heavily weighted towards the for-profit sector of long-term care. Again, in the Town of New Waterford we have the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital and just below it, on the same street, is the Maple Hill Manor, both very fine complexes, but neither one, I should submit to this House, are adequately represented on that committee. Therefore, we don't have the input that should be there and I don't think that this bill takes into consideration the role of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

I am surely afraid, Mr. Speaker, that if that uniqueness is not understood today, as is apparent it isn't, that what we are going to end up with is a heavy-handed group appointed by the minister of the day, out of Halifax, with no appreciation. Quite honestly, what we are looking at today, if the minister was to appoint friends of the government to look after the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, I would submit to you that you are looking at a Party that has had, at best, 10 per cent of the support of that area, so I think one has to start to wonder if we are being fairly represented in their viewpoint. So, one has to wonder about that.

[12:15 p.m.]

Another group that has to be involved in this is the Nova Scotia Medical Society. I don't think we want the health care delivery system in this province run solely by the doctors but, with that said, I think because of their level of expertise, obviously we have to seek their counsel and for them to be included in some way. On that, we have to understand that they are not the drivers of our health care system in this province; while their considerations and interventions are to be used, I think they have to be weighted, because any party that comes to the table over this has a bias. Whether it is a union, and one could term the Medical Society as a union because they have a group that they are petitioning on behalf of, and they have to be heard, but they also certainly have a bias. So I think we need to put everything into columns as they belong and weight them as needed.

[Page 3554]

We need input from the physicians in this province, but it cannot be so that we go back to a purely doctor-based, doctor-driven health care system. We, philosophically, have moved towards an idea of shorter hospital stays and getting the patient back out in the community. It is good to hear that we finally dropped calling patients customers, because they are not. It is not the Canadian Tire store and you give them a chit on the way out the door, it is someone's life we are talking about. They are patients, not customers. They are not coming in for $1.44 Day to have their kidneys removed, they are patients. Sometimes in bureaucraticese we do these things and it kind of removes us from what is going on.

We have little or no input from employees, some input now from the Medical Society; we have excluded people.

We talked about the uniqueness of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, but there has been a constant pressure on health care delivery in this province for some time now, Mr. Speaker. What that has caused is a problem, particularly in Cape Breton, with public health. In Cape Breton we are probably, next to the guinea pig, the most studied species on the planet. We had the industrial disaster of the tar ponds and the Muggah Creek watershed area; we have done studies about the effects on the general population; we had some studies come out that drew a direct correlation between that and the cancer rates; we had other studies saying no - well, not no - it was somewhat directly related to diet; and so on.

We have a fair amount of studies, Mr. Speaker, but we really have not done anything in a really constructive way to improve public health in industrial Cape Breton. It is similar to, we have a fire department but we don't practise fire prevention. That is a real problem because as long as we are not helping people live healthier lives, we are going to have a crisis in health care. Health care has to be based on prevention, not just cure. We have to get a system that will work that will help Nova Scotians find their way through the maze and help them live a healthier life.

Then the question has to be asked, what does this bill do to help Nova Scotians live a healthier life? Absolutely nothing. What it does is it sets up a restructuring where we can have access through Halifax down through the regions and control it. It doesn't do anything to help health care on the base level. The question is, does it help me access a family physician any easier? No, this bill has nothing to do with my ability to access a physician. Does it make it easier for the government of the day to appoint a friend to a board? Absolutely. Does it talk about the prevention and cure of diseases? No, it does not. Does it give the government of the day the ability to appoint people to the board? Yes, it does. Does this help get the elderly into the much-needed nursing homes? No, it does not. Does it help government appointments to the board? It absolutely does, Mr. Speaker.

So that, in essence, is what this bill is doing. It is helping the government but not helping Nova Scotians who it was supposed to be there for. They call it a cornerstone piece of legislation. Well, Mr. Speaker, if this is a cornerstone piece of legislation, then I think this

[Page 3555]

government is in great peril of tumbling because this cornerstone is extremely weak and not very well thought out. I think, had this government, instead of its heavy-handedness and its over-the-top attitude of helping the minister, really sat down and tried a different way, a new way of restructuring - the Hamm-Muir concept is not a whole lot different than the Savage-Stewart concept; it is restructuring without any real thought of delivering that system.

Does Bill No. 34 give communities a stronger voice? At some point when the minister gets up to close debate, that is one question I would like to hear him answer, that is how does this bill give the community of Arichat a stronger voice? How does this bill do that? We wrap this up and say, we are doing this and we call them community boards. We say all the nice things, but what does it do? What happens when the rubber hits the road here, Mr. Speaker? When the dust settles on this, how are you or me, our families or our friends, going to be better treated by the health care system? These are the questions that should be answered by the minister when he talks about this bill, but they are not. It is a comprehensive document. It says a lot of things, but it doesn't do a lot of things.

With community involvement, Mr. Speaker, comes effective decision making within the system on a local level. But yet, with the absence of that local involvement, there is no effectiveness. Again, the minister has to answer to that. He must tell the people how this is going to be effective. How is it going to be effective when we discount most of our volunteers within the community, whether they be for non-profit or a corporate volunteer of some sort? How do we improve the system by eliminating some of our best volunteers and indeed some of our best minds, because of a clause in this bill that makes absolutely no sense? Maybe he meant to say no one that is sitting on the boards as they are perceived today. Maybe it is a stroke of the pen kind of mistake, Mr. Speaker. But I think that the minister has to answer those questions before this bill goes much further.

He has to go out into the community and seek input, Mr. Speaker. It is really frustrating because I know they have not gone out and sought the input of people. Some people are rather disturbed by the fact that all the board members will be appointed and it will be done so at the whim of the minister. There is wisdom on both sides, that there are some ideas a certain group could come and shanghai an election. I am not as worried about that, it is democracy, and those things will happen. If it is the people's health care system, then they have to have a say in how these people are chosen.

There was a fear at one time of elected school boards for that very reason, that we would be saddled down with people within that sector, within that industry and that there would be no effectiveness in school boards. Once we got over that paranoia, we found out that this is doable. We can allow ordinary Nova Scotians a voice at the table, and they are not going to go on like hooligans. They understand, when they have parameters that they can work within it. They know, as this House shows, that you can come here and when a logical argument is put forward, that you can move forward with that and understand it and appreciate it and support it.

[Page 3556]

This government has said no to that. It said, we are not even going to explore that option. We have got to appoint because we are afraid that in an area, all health care sector workers will run and they will be the only one involved in the board and its decisions. I think that is a rather narrow view of how boards are treated, and I suspect that what arises out that is there is fear that that is how this government sees that board, as a board that has to take direction. There is certainly a red flag that says, look, the direction of the boards, you are appointed by us, you are beholden to us, you do what we say. It is not a matter of what do you think down there in Cape Breton or Yarmouth or over in Dartmouth? It is here is what we tell you in Halifax, and darn it, you had better do it.

The minister may be opening the door for massive privatization and private for-profit hospitals, Mr. Speaker. This is a real concern. With a minister with this much power, you have to wonder why he needs this much power. He have an Executive Council he is part of. Why would one minister need to wield such a big sword in this department? I think it is that they would turn to the slippery slope of privatization. We are now going to a minister who has all these powers, who has done absolutely no consultation with the stakeholders, and we get back again now to the protection of those people who are working and delivering the health care we so desperately need and deserve in this province.

[12:30 p.m.]

What has he done? What has he done to ease the fear of a PCW, who may be a single parent working in our health care system? What has he done to secure his/her job or worries about the future? He has done absolutely nothing, and as a matter of fact, he has done quite the opposite. This minister has clearly dropped the gauntlet and said, I have the power, I am omnipotent, I can do whatever the heck I want and if that means eliminating your job, just watch me. That is the fear here, Mr. Speaker. Has the minister or anybody from the government caucus stood up and said no, that is not the intent here. Why not stand up and be forthright, and say we are not going to do this, there will be no lay-offs due to restructuring? (Interruptions)

I guess the biggest problem with this restructuring is there is not one word of discussion around the input of new dollars in the health care system. It is all about three-card-monte, it is all about switch them around, there is no new money, and that is it. We are going to go and try and change this system without any money whatsoever. But if you listened to the ministers last week, when all the ministers from across the country met, they were certainly telling their federal counterpart that they needed money, but not getting that money, the minister comes back here and tells us well, we can do all this without any new money. If I am the federal minister, I start to scratch my head and say well, what is it fellows, you are telling me that your health care system is in crisis, you need this money, but then you go back and tell your folks back home on the farm, no, don't worry about it, I am going to do it with just a reshuffling of the deck.

[Page 3557]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know that is not going to work. We know we have financial problems in the health care system, and we know they are not going to be solved by just throwing money at it and operating it in the same old way. We need a plan that is going to work.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member yield the floor for an introduction?

MR. CORBETT: I certainly will.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, there are two citizens in the west gallery. Mr. Wayne Sitland, from the City of Dartmouth or the community of Dartmouth, since HRM has come into effect; and Mr. Edward Spruin, from Sydney. Would you both rise and receive the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our guests. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, because the funding is not properly structured, the DHAs will surely run a deficit. As I talked about, there has been no new funding in the system, of any value. The financial resources certainly won't be there for them to carry out their mandates. Who will they be responsible to? When these debts occur, will they fall back to the province and will they be here every year? Is it going to be a whole new form of deficit for the province? Well, we don't know because, again, this ill-conceived idea has, as I say, by its very nature, not been thought out.

They have had, I believe, ample opportunity either through looking at the Goldbloom report, or looking straight ahead with consultations with citizens throughout this province, but time and time again this government has rejected those types of advances and relied on a very closed circle of consultants. One could only imagine, Mr. Speaker, where they get their consultants from. One would assume that they are west of the Quebec border and east of British Columbia. Manitoba and Saskatchewan, I think not.

Mr. Speaker, we for a long time in this province have had I guess what we would call a crisis in the health care system. Governments have tried to tackle that problem. Sadly enough, it seems to come around full circle to the same problems, that there are no cures. It is similar to what we have been talking about in the past few weeks about, the government coming down next Tuesday with its budget and a possibility of job cuts to help balance their books. We know from time after time, from cuts after cuts in government, that they are not the root of the deficit evil. Proper spending, proper management of your financial resources are the ways to turn around and then look at an economy that is growing.

[Page 3558]

I will steal a phrase made last fall by the Minister of Finance who said in this very House that you cannot cut your way to prosperity. I think he is absolutely right with that one, Mr. Speaker, that that is not the way to go. You have to try to grow the economy. So what do we do? Do we go and we start slashing and burning in the health care system here or do we let it grow in its proper way? In a statement yesterday the Minister of Health said that their study has shown that hospital beds aren't being utilized properly. Well, hello.

Mr. Speaker, that statement is about as newsworthy as saying the member for Timberlea-Prospect wears ugly ties. Everybody knows that. There is no news value in that, but he makes a big statement about it as if we should all be shocked and appalled by the fact that beds are not utilized properly. He has told us that. So what are we going to do now? Are we going to have a study on top of that study? How does this bill affect the misuse of beds in our health care system? The only way it even comes close to it is when it talks about the one entry point; but the one entry point, I would suggest, only works if it is properly managed, that you know when you go in the door, which way you are going, but if it happens, what appears to be going to happen with this government, is one of dramatic cuts in the workforce, well, that line of movement is not going to be there.

There is going to be misuse there also and I think you are going to fall back into the trap of misused beds. We talk in terms of home care, yet the proper funding for home care has never been achieved in this province. The former Minister of Health in the MacLellan Government, we had many pitched battles about that. Was it being realized? I don't think so, if you talk to people in that sector and they tell you about the long hours that they have to put into that service and how they need more people, not less, to work efficiently. Even with a major increase in employment on that side of the health delivery system, how much cheaper that would make our health care because you are not having the heavy load of per diem as we see with hospital beds and hospital stays.

I guess every one of us could come up here today and tell a litany, or at least one or two stories of people who were sent home from hospital too soon, that the availability of home care while, talked in generalities, when it was supposed to happen, did not happen. There is nothing in this bill that really makes me feel secure that home care is being adequately funded and will go in the direction that Nova Scotians want it to go.

I don't think that we are talking about the way New Democrats want it to go, or Liberals want it to go, or Tories want it to go. I think it is way outside that box, Mr. Speaker. It is about what Nova Scotians want and they want home care, but they want it delivered in a systematic way, that it is accessible to everybody in Nova Scotia, not a few people in a very urban setting. They want an adequate system for the rural areas. They want an adequate system and part of that adequate system is one where it is properly functioning with the amount of people, the training and the tools that go with that training.

[Page 3559]

It seems woefully lacking here, the whole idea of home care. The long-term-level care is an interesting one, as I mentioned before, because what we have is a uniqueness in Cape Breton because that regional hospital actually does manage long-term care facilities. In talking to superintendents and supervisors of these other long-term care institutions, what they are saying today is that they are meeting a different patient coming through their door, and it is because of the downturn in the economy in Cape Breton.

At one time, like most parts of Nova Scotia, the family stayed around and would care for their ageing parents but, because we find ourselves in such an economic crises in Cape Breton, what we are having is literally people exiting the Island, going elsewhere to look for work and leaving ageing parents to fend for themselves, when in the past it was accepted that you would take on the responsibility for your parents but, because you do not have the economic resources to stay at home, these seniors are left on their own. So, there are more and more, as the population ages, coming to the doors of these facilities.

Does Bill No. 34 talk about that? Does Bill No. 34 say we are going to anticipate this growth and get new beds? No, there is nothing; as a matter of fact I believe, yesterday, in the minister's own statement it said that there will be basically no new beds for long-term care and we can do with what we have, but yet doesn't go and try and get Nova Scotians to do something different, whether it is a form of senior day care and programs like that. No, they fall flat on any new ideas. What would be a lot more comforting is if in this bill they talked about that. If they talked about new ways of providing health care for the elderly and the infirm, but no. This government has stayed away from that. This government's pre-eminent piece of legislation, in this sitting, their cornerstone piece of legislation leaves out large chunks of this province to be on their own.

So, what are we doing for Nova Scotians? We are going to make sure it is spelled out rather than implied now that the minister has all this authority. We were not satisfied with people saying yes, well I think the minister can do this. The minister, wants to go out and say look, here is what I have to do. I have to have my stamp on this, and I have to tell you now and tell you loud, this is what we are going to do, and I am the man to do it. I am going to appoint these boards. I am going to go and run this department.

[12:45 p.m.]

Do you know what, we are not going to do an infusion of cash to help you. We are not going to do anything different than what has been done in the past 30 or 40 years. There is nothing new except for the fact that the DHAs will be reconfigured. There will be nine. They will be solely appointed at the discretion of the minister. There will be senior managers reapplying for their positions. They may get them, they may not. With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that some very hard-working CEOs will be let go because they will be perceived as having a political stripe. (Interruption) Yes, he said instead of single entry it will be a single exit. One has to wonder, if these people who are going to be deciding now, with,

[Page 3560]

no doubt, the good council of the minister, who stays and who goes as CEOs. There is a fear here.

It is lightened somewhat because I believe that the present minister is a fair person. One would hope that he would not use this huge sword of Damocles that he will hold over the heads of all these CEOs and all these health care workers. That he will not thrush and lunge, but he will parry more when it comes to that. He has, in my estimation . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member kindly give up the floor again for an introduction.?

MR. CORBETT: No problem at all, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, just a brief introduction. In the Speaker's Gallery is a woman who works in the government services. She is here on her lunch hour observing, and has been my canvass organizer in the last two elections, Debbie Clayton. I just want her to stand. She is a former student of the member for Sackville-Cobequid as well. I would like to introduce her. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Good afternoon and welcome to our guests in the gallery.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the honourable member has until 1:02 p.m.

MR. CORBETT: I will be yielding the floor shortly, Mr. Speaker. I think I have made my points, and I see the Minister of Health has been listening now for the last 50 minutes or so and has been making copious notes over there. I just hope the minister is as easygoing with the restructuring as his brother is on the keyboards and has that delicate touch. I think all Nova Scotians would benefit by that. Until we see this bill in its finality, one will never know.

We have talked about how the board is going to be completely appointed at the discretion of the minister. We have talked about the lack of consultation between the minister and his employees. We have talked somewhat about the involvement of the Medical Society - while it should be given consideration, it should also be given its proper weight. I don't think we could afford to go back to one sector driving the health care needs of this province. I think we have to talk about the bill and how it excludes many good citizens of this province by virtue of their involvement in a board. Does it exclude doctors from being on the board? Could someone say they belong to the society, therefore it is a board and they can't sit on it?

[Page 3561]

(Interruption) The minister says, look at the definitions. One shouldn't have to. The bill should be more forthright than that. That causes problems for people, heightening their anxiety about the bill, and saying, well, what is really meant by this? Explain up front, you don't have to go to the back of the book to find out where it is going.

I think we have to talk about areas of this province that have a unique health care delivery system, like the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, and how it has developed over the years, and how we have taken areas and facilities and specialized in it, how that area of expertise has been done, whether it is something as simple as day surgery or, indeed, as all-encompassing or very dramatic, like the cancer unit. These things all have to be taken into consideration. It has to be considered long and hard, about its uniqueness in its stance on long-term care. I believe it is the only structure that does have long-term care as part of its mandate, and how that is going to be affected by this bill.

I think we have to go back and reiterate about the public health aspects, and how this bill will enhance the delivery of public health in industrial Cape Breton. I think it does nothing for it, it doesn't answer to anybody, it is completely silent on it, yet again, they want to move this bill forward. I think there is a real fear here, Mr. Speaker, with the authority given to the minister on where we are going to go with privatization. The Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Natural Resources, they have all been talking lately about user fees. The Premier himself has talked about user fees. What is a user fee, other than a hidden tax?

Where are we going? Are we going to use user fees to guide some of your privatization plans? That is scary. It is a minister who has way too much power over a delivery system that is used by Nova Scotians when they are their most vulnerable. If you are taking an injured family member into a hospital, certainly you will sign anything to make sure that person's well-being is looked after. Is that the road we are going down? Are we going down the road of privatization, as we see in Bill No. 11 in Alberta? I would suspect the minister, with all the powers he gives himself in this Bill No. 34, that it is a real fear. We have to be cognizant of that.

The government of the day certainly would have you believe that that is nonsense, that we are not moving in that direction. I wish I could be that secure about this group, that they wouldn't go that way. They certainly don't make me sleep better at night, knowing that they are going to put the powers in one minister, and he will be able to direct all of our health care services from an office here in Halifax, with everything flowing back to them and very little trickling down on them. I think that this bill has to be re-thought.

I would think that there are changes needed. I think there should be clarity brought to this bill. I think there are powers now that the minister already enjoys that do not have to be embodied in this bill. If he wants to seek the counsel of other Nova Scotians, that is what they would tell him, that he has powers that do not have to be enshrined in this bill.

[Page 3562]

Nova Scotians want a health care system that works. They want a health care system, Mr. Speaker, that when family members find themselves in the position that they need to access that service, whether it is a traumatic situation, day surgery, long-term care, access to a GP, access to a specialist, that these things are there for them. This bill does not go in that direction. This bill just talks about restructuring but does not talk about how best to give service to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I will be taking my seat, but I hope these concerns have been heard and that they will be listened to and, as this bill moves through the House, that the minister will see some of the errors in this bill and will look towards eliminating them, or, at least restructuring them in the way that we will not have problems hoisted upon people within this province. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I must say I was somewhat reluctant to get up to speak to this bill because I believe much has been said about this bill but I think it is important that I add my points to this bill, as well.

Mr. Speaker, I remember when first coming to this Legislative Assembly in 1998, when the now Minister of Health was a member of the Opposition Party, there was a minority government, and that member stood in this Legislative Assembly time after time and asked the Minister of Health for the delivery of a comprehensive health service program that would benefit all Nova Scotians. That member challenged the former Minister of Health, the member for Dartmouth East, what he was going to do for the citizens of Nova Scotia, what kind of a delivery of health services program that he was going to offer. Time and time again, this minister, as a member of this Opposition, continued to challenge the minister on the delivery of services.

The reason why I stand here to speak on this bill, Bill No. 34, is because, Mr. Speaker, I had believed that that member was extremely genuine in his concern for a delivery of health care services to Nova Scotians. I had felt that that minister was, in fact, going to deliver on July 27, 1999. I knew, as a member of the Opposition Party, that the Liberal Party had been turfed out of power and that the new Conservative Party had come into power. I was very pleased when the member for Truro-Bible Hill was named the Minister of Health because when I listened to that member in Opposition, I knew that he had a genuine feeling for the delivery of health services in Nova Scotia.

I knew that that minister, deep in his heart, was going to deliver to Nova Scotians and I said, you know there are such great things as a change of face and a new broom sweeps clean, turn over a new leaf, all those particular phrases to bring into the picture, that something bright and generous is going to happen to Nova Scotians.

[Page 3563]

[1:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you that I was extremely disappointed when Bill No. 34 came before this Legislature because what I have seen is that this Minister of Health has set up this dictatorial bureaucracy; once again, this dictatorial bureaucracy has reared its ugly head. At the bottom of this pyramid, and if you look at it in a pyramid structure, you will see that there are nine community health boards at the bottom. Then halfway through the centre there are what is called the district health authorities. Then at the very top is this overall picture of the minister. The minister says that this will be done by way of consensus. It certainly will not be done by way of consensus. The minister will determine who sits on the community health boards by virtue of having a list come before him. Can you imagine the ultimate powers of a minister who not only appoints the district health authorities, but then has the power to choose who will be on those community boards?

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that I had quite a concern about that and I have to tell you that I looked at it very closely. I said, now, is this a workable measure? Is the minister on a track that I really cannot comprehend? Then I decided to go back and look at the picture once again and realized that this minister definitely is on a track of creating a dictatorial bureaucracy so that he will have the ultimate power and making sure that, in fact, the delivery of services is in the best interests of that minister, similar to, I might say, the way they met with the Group of Nine on Pharmacare. The Group of Nine, 50 per cent of those individuals opposed an increase in Pharmacare co-pay. That minister comes into this House and implies that every single member supported that decision if that is a decision that is going to come through the budgetary process.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that, in fact, there were meetings throughout the community by the Provincial Health Council. When the meeting took place in my community, I attended the Provincial Health Council meeting and I listened to what citizens wanted as a delivery of health care services within their community. Many citizens implied that, in fact, the delivery of health care services needs a remaking. They implied that the delivery of health care services that they now have is one that is not suitable for them to enter. There is no entry as a matter of fact. Many of them have to spend many hours in emergency waiting rooms. Some patients cannot even receive doctors' services because the doctors are no longer taking additional patients.

In the constituency that I represent there is about a 3 to 6 doctor shortage. As a matter of fact, that community clinic may very well be relocating, simply because it cannot handle the client base that it now has, making a shift in direction. The residents at that particular meeting expressed concern. The residents implied that they wanted the delivery of health care service that they could walk in on a 24 hour basis and that they would not have to go to emergency services which cost the Nova Scotia taxpayers tremendous dollars, to have that health care service.

[Page 3564]

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the citizens at that particular meeting that evening indicated that participation and to involve Nova Scotians in the decisions affecting their health care services was paramount. They wanted the assurances that government was going to be listening to them. They wanted the assurances that if there were a community health board, that that community health board would have some sort of power to deliver to the district health authority, or to the Minister of Health that, in fact, this was an urgent, essential health service that that community wanted and could possibly receive.

Mr. Speaker, many of those individuals have become disillusioned because, let me tell you, the main thing about this booklet - and it was handed to many of the citizens at that public meeting - is what do you think of the essential services for health? They implied this was supposed to be completed and delivered to the Minister of Health in March. The Minister of Health brought this bill out shortly after, and surely the amount of consultation, the amount of advice that was given to the Provincial Health Council representatives at that meeting, the amount of advice that was passed on to the minister and the health department by way of the 1-800 number, was certainly one I am sure the minister would have had to take a month or more to digest. Knowing this was not completed until mid-March and knowing that the minister's bill was here in late March, I am sure that the compilation of that kind of information was not used to bring this bill forward.

Just yesterday as a matter of fact, the minister indicated there was a need to move people out of hospitals and into home care services, yet we recognize that the home care services are 99 per cent full. Where are we going to shove those individuals if we don't bring them down into home care services? We are going to put them back with their families and the onus of responsibility is going to lay on the families, even if those families cannot afford it.

I remember, as a member of the Standing Committee on Community Services, visiting Truro - I am sure the minister is very much aware as well as you are, Mr. Speaker - and over 200 citizens came out to that meeting; 200 citizens concerned about home care and the delivery of home care services through the Department of Health. They made sure that when they came out, that the now Minister of Health, as well as yourself Mr. Speaker, were there to make sure that we understood their particular concerns.

I do not see that being addressed in this bill. The minister will surely enlighten me if, in fact, that it going to be a matter that is going to be addressed within this bill and that all of a sudden we are going to open up 100 new beds and home care spaces throughout this province.

When I look at that kind of concern out there by the citizens of Nova Scotia and the concern of the delivery of health services, I have to tell you that is a major concern and Mr. Speaker, you, as well as the Minister of Health, are very much aware of those issues that are out there. I do know that when I look at the Vanguard and the bed closures, I wonder where

[Page 3565]

the members of the political Party who are now in power are going to be given the opportunity to speak.

I think this bill is of such importance that every Member of this Legislative Assembly should speak on the bill, but I do believe that the Premier has put a gag order on his Members of the Legislative Assembly so that they cannot speak on this bill. This bill is significant, it is extremely important, it is about the delivery of health care services.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member knows better than to cast aspersions in the House.

MR. PYE: That is not an aspersion, Mr. Speaker. I ask if you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: It is today, honourable member.

MR. PYE: I think there might be a gag order and I will not cast aspersions. There might be a gag order, because the individual members on the government side are not speaking about a very important issue that will affect Nova Scotians.

I want to talk about the potential here for privatization. As we stand here today, there are people at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, in the housekeeping services, who are undergoing privatization. There are maintenance workers who are undergoing the potential of privatization as we speak today. We do not know the impact. One might say, what impact do they have on the delivery of health care services? They are the individuals who are asked to keep the hospitals clean, the custodial workers. They are the people who are asked to make sure that the kinds of services one would expect when entering a hospital are there. The maintenance workers are there to make sure everything is functional so we can have those facilities. They may be on the bottom end of the employment rung, if that is what one wants to think; they are, according to the government. But, let me tell you, they play a very important and essential role, a vital role, in the delivery of health care services to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, we have the member for Pictou East, whom, in fact, was a member of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Association, a member who served on the board of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Association, and who served there as a member of the political action committee as well, and that member well knows what the cause of privatization can do to upset individual workers. That bill has the potential for privatization, and this bill has the potential for privatization.

I want to tell you that there are a number of people who are employed within the delivery of health services who are quite concerned about their jobs today. There is absolutely no protection built within this Bill No. 34 to protect those individual employees. Those

[Page 3566]

employees, for many years have dedicated themselves selflessly to deliver the essential service of health care to Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, it is significantly important to make sure that we do not forget the importance of those individuals when we are talking about Bill No. 34.

It is my hope, Mr. Speaker, that when we put Bill No. 34 before the Law Amendments Committee, and hopefully it will come before the Law Amendments Committee that, in fact, the government of the day takes into consideration the importance of making amendments to Bill No. 34. In Nova Scotia, we talk about the importance of the delivery of health care services. It was one of the principal agendas of the Tory campaign. It was, in fact, the essential agenda in the Tory campaign. They had criticized the Liberal Government opposite, of putting some $600 million back into the health care program, what they called, investing in health care. Our Party did not necessarily agree because we believe that there is a better delivery of services. Those kinds of dollars are not required.

When a political Party's basis is that they can fix health care on $46 million, I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that that government has an obligation to Nova Scotians to stand up, unfold that document, and show Nova Scotians where that is going to happen and how it is going to be delivered. I suspect on Tuesday, when the budget is brought down that Nova Scotians are going to be in for a significant surprise. Because $46 million, in my opinion, will not fix the health care services. What is going to happen is that there is going to be a creeping increase in user fees. What happens is that many Nova Scotians will be faced with user fees. Many Nova Scotians will not be able to afford those user fees. What will happen? They will be the ones who will be lost through this new health care delivery plan.

[1:15 p.m.]

We talk about the point of single entry. I don't have a particular problem with the point of single entry. I believe there has to be some identification with respect to how we are going to deliver those services, and if they all came into one point, and my concern is, Mr. Speaker, how the community health boards are going to be able to influence the government on the important issues that may be affecting that community, particularly when it may not be on the government's agenda, particularly when it may be a cost item that the government or the Minister of Health is not prepared to put expenditures on. Those are the kinds of concerns that we have, and those are the kinds of concerns that many, many Nova Scotians have out there.

Going through my community, talking to the people after the election when I took a tour around, many Nova Scotians felt this newly elected government would be compassionate, caring, and understanding. They knew about the delivery of health services because it was one of their platforms in the campaign. They knew that they would be able to bring about a comprehensive health care plan, a plan that would be tailored to all Nova Scotians. But, Mr. Speaker, what has happened, as with the introduction of this bill, with the statements most recently made through the media by this government and by the Premier with

[Page 3567]

respect to the delivery of services, with respect to user fees, there is a grave concern that what we may be getting is something we have not bargained for, and that is, in itself, a major concern.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health can do the right thing. He can say, even though the Government House Leader has decided that closure on amendments will no longer be acceptable, that this government is not open and receptive to amendments, this minister can, in fact, say, we are going to let this bill go to the Law Amendments Committee. We have listened to both Oppositions' concerns, and we understand the validity of making amendments to this legislation. We understand that the single most important thing is that we came to this government with the intention of having a cooperative environment, an environment where we could share our ideas, bring our ideas forward in the Legislative Assembly and then hopefully be united in the delivery of that to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that, hopefully, we can possibly make sure that that happens with respect to the amendments. I will tell you that I had not intended to speak long, as I had said earlier when I rose, and I don't intend to speak long. As a matter of fact I would like to wrap up by saying to the Minister of Health, who served in Opposition, that in fact this minister should duly note what has been said by members of Opposition and make sure that there is room for amendments, that there is this kind of cooperation, and that we can deliver to Nova Scotians the kind of health care program and services that Nova Scotians have come to expect. Thank you very much.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was a little slow getting to my feet, because I was hopeful that one of the silent members on the Tory benches might elevate themselves to speak on this bill. I would assume, but one should not assume because, if you break that word up, you know what it can make of you and me, Mr. Speaker, when you assume something. But I would have assumed that they would have read this bill, and in so doing, they would have realized that the legislation before us is a sham and it is a totally outright betrayal of the commitments that each and every one of you on the government benches made just a few short months ago when you were going around your communities, knocking on doors, eliciting the support of your constituents. This bill is a betrayal of those commitments that you have made. This legislation is a shell that enables the government to do anything and everything it wants. The government pretends that this legislation is aimed at making health care more accessible and accountable to the communities. Mr. Speaker, that is a farce and nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing that I can say in 10 minutes that I can't say in an hour or more and I am not misspeaking myself on that point. I don't intend to use a full hour because the Government House Leader has agreed that this bill will not be going to the Law Amendments Committee on Monday. As I am saying this, I am saying to the Minister of

[Page 3568]

Health and to the members on the front benches of the government, and also to the backbenchers, please open your minds, listen to what you have said and commitments that you have made and actually take the time to read this 26 page document. It is not hard reading. If you read through this legislation, which I have done, and I am not permitted to go through clause by clause, but if I were, there are so many areas that I could drive a fleet of 18-wheelers through, side by side, the loopholes that are in this, it is mind-boggling.

Mr. Speaker, the government says that it wants to involve the communities. We have community health boards. We are going to have our regional health associations. Then we have the real bastion of power; the real bastion of power is in the minister and in the minister's department. Everything else is advisory. You can start in this and we supposedly are going to have nine boards. But you know that the minister, through regulations, can amalgamate boards, subdivide boards, change boundaries of boards, not by an Act of this Legislature, but downstairs in private and secrecy in their bunker in the Cabinet Chamber. Who is going to be lobbying you? Are you going to be listening to Mr. Coolican, the head of the chamber of commerce? He has a lot of influence right now. Is he going to be the one who has your ear again? (Interruption) Oh, I am not off the principle at all, to the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I am not off the principle at all because the principle of this bill is a charade.

The principle of this bill is to set up this phoney pretense and know the media is not catching on to this as the most sexy issue to be reporting on, the most exciting issue. Most people do not understand what is going on in this legislation, but each and every one of you on the government benches should. It is not only members of the Opposition who have an obligation to read the bill and to look at the commitments that you made. You are the ones who made the commitments. You are the ones who said, health care under a John Hamm Government was going to be the top priority and to make sure that health care needs meet the community's needs and that the community would have a direct and an important hand in developing the plans to meet those needs. What do we have here?

The total incompetence of the former Liberal Government made it mandatory that they be defeated because they had no plan and, as a result of that, that gave the opportunities to the Tories to go out there and hoodwink and pretend that they had a plan. So Liberals have a big responsibility and I make these comments as a result of the helpful intervention of the former Finance Minister of the Liberals, Mr. Speaker, who had to have a little side-bar to me which caused me to take this little diversion, but I am going to go back to the bill. (Interruptions)

Under this, community health boards. Now, what are community health boards supposed to do? Well, they are supposed to do all kinds of things according to this - be consulting with the communities, assessing community needs, come up with plans as to what is being needed in those communities and ways to meet those needs. Now, who appoints them? Golly, gee, the minister appoints the community health board representatives, gee whiz,

[Page 3569]

the minister, not the community. Now, of course, we have to have a transparent process. We have to ensure that it is open and transparent and it says it in the legislation. It has to be a transparent process for the community health boards to select their new members and they recommend names to the minister, transparent and open.

Then again, if this open transparent process, which is not electoral, and so if community members, certain ones of them, it could not be, I know this would be too cynical to suggest, that you might want to have an allegiance with the blue team to get on these boards. That would be cynical to suggest. Would anybody in here think the Tories would ever engage in patronage? Shame on me for even thinking such a thing but, you know, if the minister looks at this list of names being submitted in this totally transparent process, isn't convinced that there are enough people on there who he wants, he has the right to instruct them to prepare yet another list, almost like the Human Resources Committee, to keep appointing or keep bringing forward names until we can find the right blue pedigree to appoint to the community health boards.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we also have these regional ones. We also have these regional bodies, but who appoints them? Can anybody in here guess who appoints the regional health boards?

AN HON. MEMBER: Does it start with an m?

MR. HOLM: Does it start with an m? Well, his name does, too, yes, the current one, but minister definitely does and I am not supposed to refer to a minister by name, but the department that he represents starts with an h. The Minister of Health appoints them. Now, of course, in due course, community health boards will be appointing people to those regional bodies. So we go back and we ask, well, yes, but how did those community health board people get appointed? Elections? No, but this same bunch that imposed closure, that the Tories when they were over here, oh, they fought, correctly I might add, we were with them going toe to toe against those bad Liberals when they were in government and bringing in their arrogant closure, autocratic closure, but then those Tories had certain kinds of principles when they were over here. They did not like closure. Now, of course, they have been bringing it in here to stifle debate.

[1:30 p.m.]

I look at this body, and these community health boards make up plans, and of course, then the regional health board, which is appointed by the minister, evaluates plans and integrates things, maybe, and they will be deciding what plans may be put into place, if (Interruptions) oh, I haven't gotten that far yet (Interruptions) oh, I am getting help, Mr. Speaker. I am not the only one who read this bill, it appears that members on the Opposition benches have read this bill, because government members would know that these community health board plans and the regional bodies, their plans come into effect if the minister and his

[Page 3570]

thoughtful colleagues on the front benches, in the Department of Health, and then down in their bunker behind closed doors, make a decision. Of course, they can accept it, they can reject it, they can alter it, they can do whatever they want. There is a little advantage to this, because the Premier, Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, minister of fish and chips, minister of all the departments, they set the budgets. (Interruption) No, the caucus chairman isn't involved in setting the budgets.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, he is.

MR. HOLM: No, he is not. He says no. I am sure that all of the others are going to be blamed very soon for what your front benches are going to do to Nova Scotia on Tuesday, you weren't involved in drafting the budget. I don't know if this was caucused, or were you just told, follow along, here is the rope. It is like kindergarten, you take a rope and you are walking the people along. Are you just being walked along on this? (Interruptions) The Cabinet will set the budget.

Mr. Speaker, let's not delude ourselves. They have the numbers. They can do whatever the heck they want. We can scream on this side, we can bring common sense and logic forward, but if you don't want to hear, and the government doesn't appear to want to, I am sorry, but I know my math well enough to know that 30 is more than 22. So your 30 votes will carry the day. You will also carry responsibility. But what they are trying to do here is set up this facade, this pretense that you are going to have community health boards within your communities, and that they are going to be part of your larger regional bodies and that those will be making the agendas and setting the health strategies and plans, if the minister and his $180,000 deputy approve.

Mr. Speaker, they have to operate within the budget set by government. This legislation says that they are not permitted to run a deficit. Sounds like good finances. It is like school boards, they aren't supposed to run a deficit, nor are municipalities. Municipalities can raise their own amount of money, they set their own tax rates at least. Hospital authorities aren't going to set their tax rate. So if the government gives them a package, an envelope of money, that is all the money they have to operate. If they cannot deliver the programs and services within the envelope of money that is available, they have no choice but to cut programs and services.

I am sure the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury would not want to see health care services cut in his area, nor would the member for Dartmouth South. We know that there are already problems in the Valley, down in the Lunenburg area, down in Yarmouth, all over.

Under this legislation, you can just hear the government's response. The response is going to be, look, we give them a budget, it is their responsibility to set the plans and determine where that money is going and we have decided that we have given them enough money, they have enough money to run the health care system, so it is their fault if programs and services are cut, not ours. It is their fault. You can see it being set up and you know it is being set up.

[Page 3571]

Why doesn't the minister just be honest? Why doesn't government be totally honest and say, what we are doing by this legislation is concentrating the power, the real decision making power in the Department of Health, and we are setting it up in such a way that if there are problems in the health care system, others, not us, will be blamed for it.

Let us be up front, that is what you are doing. That is the attempt and anybody who reads that, will see it. Groups can make by-laws. The initial ones, of course, are made by the minister. If the minister does not like the by-laws the groups makes, the minister can change the by-laws. He can change responsibilities; he can decide to delegate more responsibilities; he can decide that he is going to have services that are currently being delivered by a health care centre, like a hospital, being transferred to one of the regional authorities. He can do whatever he wants. This legislation, if passed as it is, gives total, absolute power to the minister. Total, absolute power to the minister.

I invite anybody on the government side to read this legislation and challenge that statement. I challenge you to do that. I will go head-to-head with anyone of you on this legislation in terms of the power that it gives to the Minister of Health. (Interruptions) The Minister of Health wants to know how it differs from the current? Well, unfortunately, it does not differ in enough ways. The Minister of Health asked me a question and I am giving him an answer back. Unfortunately, in a lot of ways, all this legislation is doing, although it is worse - and I am going to talk about a few of the things that are wrong with this bill, I have not got into the employees yet. What the government is trying to do here, and I have said a few things, but one is so-called pretence that they are filling some kind of an election promise; that is one. Another thing they are trying to do in the pretence of bringing it back closer to the communities - setting-up nine boards instead of the four so, we will now have nine little mini Departments of Health all answering to head office in downtown Halifax, instead of four - we have community health boards that still have absolutely no authority, they have no budgets, all these volunteers, who are appointed by the minister, have to depend upon is administrative support services being giving to them by the regional body.

I mean, come on, you can see through that. In terms of employees, this bill will give the minister the power to have any services devolved to other health authorities. So, services, for example, that are being currently delivered or offered through the Nova Scotia Hospital or through the Department of Health, or from other bodies where the people happen to be civil servants, those services can be now delegated to another authority. There is nothing in this legislation, zip, that I have been able to find. I don't think this is by accident. I hope I am wrong. I say to the Minister of Health, I hope I am wrong, because these kinds of things have been done before, where jobs have gone from the Civil Service to another agency, like the Victoria General Hospital. All you have to do is look back, and there are examples that you can draw on to ensure that rights are protected.

[Page 3572]

There is nothing in here that says if those employees are transferred from Civil Service jobs to another authority, nothing that says those people are going to be employed upon the same terms and conditions that they were employed before with regard to salaries or benefits. There is nothing that says that the time they have served the public as civil servants will be time credited as employment with their new employer. Nothing.

There is nothing that says the benefits that have accrued to those employees as a result of their many years of dedicated service to health care and to the people of this province are going to be vested with those new employers. There is nothing in this legislation that says that the new employer will be bound to the collective agreement that those civil servants had signed previously, Mr. Speaker, nothing.

The Premier's signature was on a five-point commitment, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does that mean?

MR. HOLM: It means nothing. Someone asked me what it means, and it means nothing. If it did mean something, those conditions would have been taken care of in this legislation. There is nothing in here at all about successor rights for pension benefits. For those employees who could be transferred - to the Government House Leader - who are being transferred from a Civil Service position to another authority, yes indeed, those employees rights need to be protected.

The Government House Leader says, and quite correctly, there is nothing in this legislation that says anything directly about transferring. Well, Mr. Speaker, what it doesn't say and what is does say are important. It does not say which services are going to be transferred, which programs are going to be transferred. What it does say is that the minister has the authority to transfer any one he wants. There are no strings attached. There are no protections attached. And government members, there are some of you over in those government benches, including the Minister of Health, who were around when these kinds of battles were waged against the Liberals when they were in power. There are examples.

Mr. Speaker, I have already gone longer than I had intended. I am really pleased to see the government members continue to show the kind of attention that one is used to getting from the government members. I sincerely hope that the government, when the minister wraps up his debate, will indicate clearly that the concerns that have been raised are not only unfounded, but will make a commitment to listen at the Law Amendments Committee process that will begin sometime later next week, and to be willing to make the amendments and adjustments in this legislation to put into place the protections for workers and for the protection for the health care system and to ensure that the community is going to have a true opportunity to be involved in developing those plans and not just through the hand-picked members of the minister. To say that the boards will have two public forums a year for community involvement, with all due respect, is a joke. You can have two lunch-time

[Page 3573]

meetings. You can have the meetings scheduled at the most appropriate times like you did with the Voluntary Planning thing, over the Christmas season, when everyone's attention is just going to be riveted to these issues.

[1:45 p.m.]

Those who have the big bucks can afford to hire the high-priced consultants to prepare their reports to put forward, but average citizens have a life, and guess what, Mr. Speaker, this should be about the life of the average citizen, not just those who have the big bucks, and who can stand to benefit from the privatization and the contracting out that I believe, I feel it strongly in my gut, that that is an underlying principle being what the government has intended here, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the Minister of Health, it will be to close debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move or suggest that this bill now be moved on to the Law Amendments Committee process. I would like to thank the honourable members of the Opposition Parties for speaking so carefully and so thoughtfully about this bill. I want to tell you, I have listened to a good many of the points you have made, particularly those from the good member for Lunenburg West. I want to assure you that some of the points you have made I have sent back to our department and asked that they be investigated. I look forward to some constructive changes, Mr. Speaker, in the Law Amendments Committee process.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 34.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for being out of my chair for a moment.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 35.

[Page 3574]

Bill No. 35 - Housing Development Corporation Act.

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read for the second time. I want to indicate to the House that this amendment is based on the recommendations of the Auditor General, and it comes forward to us with the recommendation and support of the Department of Finance.

What we are attempting to do, Mr. Speaker, is to make this operation compliant with the Public Sector Accounting Board recommendations, and we decided to capture all the government's liabilities and assets in consolidated financial statements. That is the objective of this particular bill, to enable that objective to be achieved. Bill No. 35 then is consistent with that philosophy.

It will simplify the accounting of housing programs in the department and will consolidate the Housing Development Corporation and the Housing Development Fund into one entity. Consolidation means that the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures of the corporation and the fund will be added to the provincial books.

At the end of the day, as a result of the passage of this bill, there will be no net increase in the provincial debt and it will have no impact on the financial viability of the province. Mr. Speaker, that concludes my comments and I want to thank the members for their attention.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: We have viewed Bill No. 35 and we concur with the minister's statement that this is, indeed, a recommendation from the Auditor General. This is mainly a housekeeping bill and, in fact, I would concur that we move it on.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: I too, on behalf of our caucus give support to Bill No. 35 to go forward to the Law Amendments Committee so that the public will have the opportunity to discuss this bill and we would support its moving forward at this time.

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

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members of the Opposition Parties for their support and look forward to the bill moving through the process.

[Page 3575]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 35. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move adjournment of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I just have one thing, if you wouldn't mind, regarding a point of order that was raised yesterday in this House and as well, another one this morning pertaining to comments made yesterday. I had an opportunity to review Hansard and it is my decision that the issue raised itself is not a point of order. I am ruling that it is not a point of order, however, it certainly is an interpretation of comments made by members in this House and it seems that unfortunately it happens quite often. I guess from my point of view I would like to say that we should all, before we say anything in this House, review our thoughts and our words because they are interpreted differently by different people. I am ruling that it is not a point of order and as far as I am concerned, I hope that within the House, the matter is over with.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move an adjournment of the House and advise the House that the hours for Monday . . .

MR. DONALD DOWNE: If I may, Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege, in regard to the comments I made yesterday with regard to the statements by the Minister of Agriculture, I would want the record to state that I am now doing this on a point of personal privilege requesting my position to be noted as it was yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West, your position is what?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as a point of personal privilege - I did it on a point of order yesterday - I would ask you to review what was said and come down with a ruling in regard to the comments that were made. To me they were derogatory and demeaning to not only myself but to the people in the chicken producers industry of this province. I still feel very strongly about this, that a Minister of Agriculture, above all should have more respect and dignity than to make the comments that he did with regard to the inability of us to make any decisions. I still find that in personal privilege, there should be a ruling on that decision.

[Page 3576]

MR. SPEAKER: The matter was raised yesterday as a point of order and I do not feel that it is a point of order. Reviewing Hansard, the member in question, as clearly indicated in Hansard, apologized twice (Interruption) Made an apology first and secondly made an apology to the member opposite. If the House is not ready to accept that, I guess there are other ways to deal with the issue.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, has Hansard come around to the members?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure. I asked for it to review both yesterday's and today's, so I could see both. Anyway, what I will do - the honourable member for Lunenburg West has raised it again as a point of personal privilege - I will take it under advisement and report back to the House.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: For the third time, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move adjournment of today's proceedings. The House will be sitting on Monday from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. We will be into Public Bills for Second Reading and we will have the Minister of Health here, I understand, so we can start off at the top with Bill No. 29 and go on down through the list of bills on the paper for second reading.

AN HON. MEMBER: The rest of the bills?

MR. RUSSELL: The rest of the bills.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to advise the House, in the absence of the Attorney General, that the Law Amendments Committee will be meeting on Monday, but Bill No. 34 will not be among those bills that are included for the Law Amendments Committee on Monday. That sitting of the Law Amendments Committee will probably take place sometime after the House sits, so it does not interfere with your day. So it is 2:00 p.m. on Monday, and 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3577]

We stand adjourned until Monday at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 1:57 p.m.]