The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Apr. 20, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. M. Samson 4307
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hants East: Route 215 - Upgrade,
Mr. John MacDonell 4308
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1448, Royal Cdn. Air Cadet Sq. (St. Peter's 824 Silver Dart):
Dedication - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 4308
Vote - Affirmative 4309
Res. 1449, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Concern - Recognize,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4309
Res. 1450, Youth - Port Hood Ctr.: Volunteers - Commend,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 4310
Vote - Affirmative 4310
Res. 1451, Columbine Tragedy (Colorado-20/04/99) - Remember,
Mr. R. MacLellan 4310
Vote - Affirmative 4311
Res. 1452, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): PC Backbencher -
Weekend (21-24/04/00) Forecast Hot, Mr. J. Holm 4311
Res. 1453, Health - Cancer Soc. (Cdn.-Pictou Co. Ch.):
Daffodil Campaign - Organizers Commend, Mrs. M. Baillie 4312
Vote - Affirmative 4312
Res. 1454, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Min. - Aware,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 4313
Res. 1455, PC Blue Book: Poetic Licence - Known, Ms. E. O'Connell 4313
Res. 1456, Girl Guides (N.S.) - Edith Roy (Beaver Bank):
Service (50+ Years) - Appreciate, Mr. B. Barnet 4314
Vote - Affirmative 4314
Res. 1457, Econ. Dev. - Cochran Entertainment/Snyder's Shipyard:
Theodore Too - Creditors Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 4314
Vote - Affirmative 4315
Res. 1458, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Hold, Mr. F. Corbett 4315
Res. 1459, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): C.B.-V. Reg. Sc. Bd. -
Funding Restore, Mr. K. MacAskill 4316
Res. 1460, Fin.: Budget (2000-01) - Withdraw, (By Mr. W. Estabrooks)
Mr. J. Pye 4316
Res. 1461, Educ. - Port Hawkesbury Reg. Occup. Ctr.: Anniv. 25th -
Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 4317
Vote - Affirmative 4318
Res. 1462, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Teachers Lay-Offs -
Dictate/Negotiate Differentiate, Mr. H. Epstein 4318
Res. 1463, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Classes - PC Caucus Silence Golden,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4318
Res. 1464, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Meetings (Constituencies) -
Backbenchers (PC) Attendance Permit, Mr. John MacDonell 4319
Res. 1465, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Voters Opposed Remember,
Mr. J. Holm 4319
Res. 1466, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): System Funding - Change,
Mr. D. Wilson 4320
Res. 1467, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Easter Bunny - Absence,
Mr. John MacDonell 4320
Res. 1468, Health - Budget (2000-01): CWH on Supply -
Dep. Min. Absent, Mr. R. MacKinnon 4321
Res. 1469, Justice - Budget (2000-01): Women Abused -
Funding Restore, Ms. E. O'Connell 4322
Res. 1470, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Middle Musquodoboit -^^
Promises Unfulfilled, Mr. F. Corbett 4322
Res. 1471, Communications (N.S.) - Pub. Serv.: Gag Order - Paranoia,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 4323
Res. 1472, Nat. Res. - Budget (2000-01): Christmas Tree Industry -
Importance Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 4324
Res. 1473, Premier: Foreign Posting - Take, Mr. H. Epstein 4324
Res. 1474, Dartmouth S. MLA - Educ. Criticism: Premier - Censure,
Mr. F. Corbett 4325
Res. 1475, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Members Comments -
Restriction Necessity, Mr. W. Estabrooks 4326
Res. 1476, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Early Warnings - Premier Heed,
(By Mr. John MacDonell) Mr. D. Dexter 4326
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. John MacDonell 4327
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4331
Mr. B. Taylor 4334
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 10:15 A.M. 4339
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 12:02 P.M. 4339
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Cuts - Unfair, Mr. D. Dexter 4340
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 535, Educ.: Funding Formula Review Work Group -
Disbandment, Mr. R. MacLellan 4340
No. 536, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Responsibility,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4341
No. 537, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Prince Andrew HS - Impact,
Mr. R. MacLellan 4342
No. 538, Educ.: School Boards - Abolishment, Mr. Robert Chisholm 4343
No. 539, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Support Staff - Cuts,
Mr. W. Gaudet 4345
No. 540, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Message,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 4346
No. 541, Justice: Correctional Facilities - Lay-Offs, Mr. M. Samson 4347
No. 542, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Cole Hbr. DHS - Impact,
Mr. D. Dexter 4349
No. 543, Educ.: Budget (2000-01) - C.B.-V. Reg. Sc. Bd.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4350
No. 544, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Budget (2000-01): Privatization -
Plans, Mr. W. Estabrooks 4351
No. 545, Agric. - Budget (2000-01): Cuts - Consultation,
Mr. D. Downe 4352
No. 546, Health - Budget (2000-01): EMC - Ambulance User Fees,
Mr. D. Dexter 4354
No. 547, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Teachers Young - Future,
Mr. K. MacAskill 4355
No. 548, Sysco - Sale: USW - Include, Mr. F. Corbett 4356
No. 549, Educ. - Quality: Career - Considerations, Dr. J. Smith 4357
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 1:03 P.M. 4359
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:22 P.M. 4359
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 44, Acadia University Act 4359
Mr. M. Parent 4360
Mr. W. Gaudet 4360
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 4361
Mr. R. MacKinnon 4362
Mr. M. Parent 4364
Vote - Affirmative 4364
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 25th at 12:00 p.m. 4365

[Page 4307]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the teachers and staff of schools throughout Inverness and Richmond Counties. The operative clause reads as follows, "We, the teachers of Inverness and Richmond, understand government's need to be fiscally responsible and to protect the province's future. However, we will not sacrifice the education of our students by allowing government to destroy our education system." This is signed by the staff of all the schools in the Inverness-Richmond area, including the colleagues of the Minister of Tourism and Culture. There are 191 signatures to this petition and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

4307

[Page 4308]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents and users of Route 215 in Hants East. The operative clause is, "We the residents living on and near Route 215, and regular users of this disgraceful, dangerous, pot-hole-filled highway, do hereby petition the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to immediately place Route 215, which is not only a vital roadway for the residents of the Cobequid Shore, . . ." but is also a designated tourist route on the Glooscap Trail. "The Government must be aware that Maitland is a registered Heritage town . . . and Burntcoat Head Park is the site of the world's highest tides." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1448

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

Whereas on March 4 and 5, 2000, the St. Peters 824 Silver Dart Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron hosted the annual Highland Region Air Cadet Sport and Drill Competition; and

Whereas 824 Squadron, which is sponsored by St. Peters Royal Canadian Legion Branch 47, placed first overall in the drill portion of the competition; and

Whereas 824 Squadron, led by Captain Charles P. McManus, 2nd Lieutenant Shane Jeffrey, Civilian Instructor 2nd Lieutenant Krista Terrio, Captain Allison Martell and volunteers Reg Lahey and Laurie Adams represented the Highland Region at the provincial competitions this month where they placed fourth;

[Page 4309]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the youth of 824 Air Cadet Squadron for their hard work and dedication along with the 824 Air Cadet Squadron officers and volunteers and wish them good luck and continued success.

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. 1449

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

Whereas the Budget Address delivered in this House said that a maximum of 1,600 public sector jobs would be lost as a result; and

Whereas the Budget Address said further that "the most important thing government can do is focus on those things that matter most to just about everybody. And that is exactly what we are doing"; and

Whereas the Education cuts that have touched almost every family, and that are resulting in the loss of so many more jobs, have exposed that Budget Address for what it was;

Therefore be it resolved that the government should recognize that their own fundamental lack of credibility on the budget and on education is contributing to the widespread public concern about the future of the next generation of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4310]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1450

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 Port Hood Youth Centre is proving to be a great success and is enjoyed by a number of young people from the area; and

Whereas the youth centre is presently open from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday evenings, with hopes that additional hours can be added in the days ahead; and

Whereas volunteers play an integral role in the operation of the youth centre at the Harbourview Log Cabin, but more are still needed;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend all volunteers involved with the Port Hood Youth Centre and wish them continued success as they offer a positive environment for local youth, through the centre.

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 Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1451

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

[Page 4311]

Whereas today is the one year anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, the worst school shooting in U.S. history; and

Whereas two troubled teenagers stormed through their high school, killing 12 students and a teacher; and

Whereas this event shocked the world and continues to haunt parents, students, teachers, and communities everywhere;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House remember the tragic events of April 20, 1999, in Colorado, and always be mindful that such an event can happen anytime, anywhere, including our own beautiful province.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1452

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 cold-hearted Tory budget is a snow job delivered by a government that doesn't have the foggiest idea what it is doing; and

Whereas the budget has been met by a storm of criticism and a tidal wave of discontent; and

Whereas furious letters, phone calls, and e-mails are daily raining down on the Tory caucus;

Therefore be it resolved that the forecast for any Tory backbencher returning to his or her constituency is a long, hot weekend.

[Page 4312]

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1453

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

Whereas the Pictou County Chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society recently completed their Daffodil Campaign for 2000; and

Whereas Chairwoman Franklyn Holman and Co-Chair Barbara Gilmore organized the Pictou County campaign; and

Whereas it is through efforts from people such as Franklyn and Barbara that communities thrive and work toward helping out numerous people afflicted with this terrible disease;

Therefore be it resolved that Franklyn Holman and Barbara Gilmore be commended for their terrific work in organizing a successful Daffodil Campaign for this year by all members of this Legislature.

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 4313]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1454

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

Whereas the severe cuts proposed by the Hamm Government will devastate this province's education system; and

Whereas it is impossible for a government to cut services and expect to provide a good education; and

Whereas students are an investment in our future and deserve the best education system possible;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education wake up before Nova Scotian students are forced to pay for her mistakes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1455

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 Premier accused the member for Halifax Needham of using much poetic licence in describing the dire effects of budget cuts in Education on our public school system; and

[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas the Premier might as well have said that the school boards have taken the same poetic licence in describing their plight; and

Whereas the Premier must equate poetic licence with the cold, hard reality of the hundreds of pink slips soon to be issued to educators by the school boards;

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians now know the only poetic licence being bandied about in the House is the Tory blue book which someday may be known as the book of the damned.

[Page 4314]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1456

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

Whereas Edith Roy of Beaver Bank was recently presented with the highest award offered in the Guiding movement in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Edith Roy received the Mayflower Award, honouring her more than 50 years of service to Guiding, most of that time spent in the Beaver Bank district; and

Whereas Edith has worked at the area, district, and provincial levels, holding various offices from camp advisor to deputy commissioner, as well as being an a veteran member of the Scouting group in Beaver Bank while being active in many other community organizations involved in supporting youth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend our appreciation to Edith Roy for her 50 years of dedicated service to our youth and congratulate her on receiving the Mayflower Award, an honour which she most truly deserves.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1457

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

[Page 4315]

Whereas a life-sized Theodore Tugboat will take to the sea in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the 19.5 metre vessel built in Snyder's Shipyards over the past year is a replica of the popular children's TV star; and

Whereas after a series of sea trials and a visit to Halifax on May 6th, Theodore is scheduled to travel along the eastern seaboard of the United States for some promotional visits;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cochran Entertainment Incorporated, Snyder's Shipyards and the very talented Nova Scotia craftsmen who together worked to create this replica of Theodore Tugboat, which will become Nova Scotia's newest ambassador to the world.

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 Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1458

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 Wild West legend of Calamity Jane holds that she was a scout with General Custer's forces before Custer met his fate at the Little Big Horn; and

Whereas another part of the legend has it that she earned her nickname because of the fate of her enemies, Calamity Jane being particularly skilled with a pistol; and

Whereas the Minister of Education, our own Calamity Jane, has in her budget a loaded gun pointed at the public education system of this province;

[Page 4316]

Therefore be it resolved that the minister put on the safety before the public school system shares the same fate of General Custer and she is heard to sing over its corpse, "there's only five bullets left in my old six-gun 'cause I had to say goodbye to education."

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1459

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

Whereas the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board says it will cut 150 teaching positions and over 100 support staff; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Teachers Union recently signed a contract that the Premier described as fair; and

Whereas these devastating cuts are not fair to the thousands of students across this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government immediately restore funding to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to ensure that students are provided with the best possible education.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1460

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

[Page 4317]

Whereas it now appears we have our fifth Tory MLA who will vote against the budget on the advice of his wife; and

Whereas the member for Queens now joins the esteemed ranks of the converted with the Minister of Tourism, the member for Colchester North, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and the member for Kings North; and

Whereas only four Tories are required to defeat the savage Tory Government and we now have five and are expecting many more backbenchers to see the error of Hamm's way;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier now withdraw this budget, as his own backbenchers are turning on him and the Minister of Finance.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1461

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 Regional Occupational Centre in Port Hawkesbury is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the centre's objective is to provide life skills and vocational training to mentally challenged adults; and

Whereas through various workshops, the centre's 26 clients have participated in workshops ranging from wire stripping to baking;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Regional Occupational Centre on the occasion of its 25th Anniversary and its continued dedication to its clients throughout Richmond County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4318]

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. 1462

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

Whereas the Minister of Education, Calamity Jane, told this House yesterday that she would not allow the school boards to translate her 2.4 per cent cut in the education budget into a 10 per cent cut in teachers; and

Whereas the minister claims she will meet with the school boards next week, if they are willing, to negotiate implementing this budget cut, but there will be no more money; and

Whereas while the minister mouthed these words, many now traumatized teachers across the province were notified they are on the chopping block if pink slips are issued;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister please advise the House and those soon-to-be-laid-off teachers if she knows the difference between the words 'dictate' and 'negotiate'.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1463

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

Whereas on Tuesday, April 18, 2000, the Conservative member for Dartmouth South stated the average size of a classroom was 24 students; and

Whereas on Wednesday, April 19, 2000, the Minister of Education stated the student/teacher ratio is 16 to 1; and

Whereas as of Thursday, April 20, 2000, the enlightened member for Preston claims school boards are fudging their numbers;

[Page 4319]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Conservative caucus remember that sometimes silence is golden.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1464

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 June 26, 1999, the Premier had this to say about education: "The government is in trouble because they won't, can't, or don't listen to people,"; and

Whereas the Premier added that his government would put "more weight on what the community says - not the consultants and bureaucrats"; and

Whereas having won power with promises like that, the Premier is now encouraging his MLAs to avoid public meetings about education, relying instead on bureaucrats and consultants he brought in to prepare his budget;

Therefore be it resolved that although the Premier is in trouble because he won power by making education promises that he had no intention of keeping, he should throw his backbenchers a lifeline by permitting them to attend meetings with their constituents about the budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1465

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

Whereas the Premier explained yesterday in this House that he won't retreat from cuts to education and that previous governments were too spineless and weak to do what is right; and

Whereas the Premier also proclaimed in practically the same breath that the majority of Nova Scotians wanted these cuts, yet neither he nor anyone else in his government has tabled in this House any proof for that outrageous claim; and

[Page 4320]

Whereas neither the Tory blue book, nor the Liberal and New Democratic Party campaigns contained any promise to cut teachers in our public school system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier be reminded that 100 per cent of Nova Scotia voters voted against such cuts.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1466

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

Whereas yesterday in the House the Minister of Education once again claimed there would be no teacher lay-offs as a result of her government's budget; and

Whereas school board administrators from across the province say they have no choice but to lay off teachers and staff; and

Whereas boards have said they will be cutting 744 teaching jobs and 1,100 support staff to accommodate a $20 million cut in education;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education rethink her funding numbers to ensure that our public school system does not turn into one of Third World status.

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 member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1467

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

[Page 4321]

Whereas this year at Easter, students and parents have been asked by this heartless Tory Government to hunt for MLAs instead of Easter eggs; and

Whereas Tory backbenchers will now have to make their way back to their rural ridings to face angry, frustrated parents, students and teachers; and

Whereas we all hope that these very MLAs don't try to hide from their own constituents like the Valley MLAs did on Tuesday night;

Therefore be it resolved that unfortunately the Easter Bunny will not be visiting hopeful children this year because of the Premier and the Minister of Education, but rather bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Tory backbenchers will be the sacrificial rabbit at Easter dinner.

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1468

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 customs and traditions of the House of Assembly require the deputy minister of any department to attend budget deliberations with the minister responsible for the said department; and

Whereas after two days of budget deliberations, the Deputy Minister of Health is nowhere to be found; and

Whereas this high-priced individual is costing nearly $200,000 plus shipping and handling;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health explain why his deputy is violating the customs and traditions of this House.

[Page 4322]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1469

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 Tearmann House, a local advocacy program that helps abused women deal with the justice system, located in Pictou County, has had its funding cut; and

Whereas by pulling this program's funding, this savage Tory Government is re-victimizing women who have already been victims of abuse at least once before; and

Whereas government officials' reason for cancelling this valuable program is that it was not distinct enough from other services;

Therefore be it resolved that any service for abused, victimized women is a distinct service and an extremely valuable one.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1470

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

Whereas on June 23, 1999 the Premier said in Middle Musquodoboit that leadership means protecting the youngest members of society, for me that means no tinkering with Primary; and

[Page 4323]

Whereas the Premier's news release says he added the statement that his government would review school board funding with the objective of allowing boards to plan more than a year at a time; and

Whereas the Premier stated further that he would involve all groups involved in public education to, "protect the public and warn of potential difficulties while there is still time to plan in advance";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should explain his broken promise to the people of Middle Musquodoboit and all other communities who believed his promise to protect the public and warn far in advance of any potential difficulties in public education.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1471

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

Whereas like the three little monkeys - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil - staff at Communications Nova Scotia have been ordered to cease and desist all forms of communication; and

Whereas paranoia is now taking hold of Communications Nova Scotia as staff are being threatened with discipline if they see, hear or speak evil of the Tory Government; and

Whereas staff are warned if they see, hear or even speak about anything they see or hear in the workplace, they will be subject to discipline;

Therefore be it resolved that the gag order on public servants stating see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, just goes to prove how really paranoid this Tory Government is.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 4324]

[9:30 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1472

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

Whereas Lunenburg County is the balsam fir Christmas tree capital of the world; and

Whereas this Tory Government has eliminated the position of two Christmas tree specialists who contribute to the development of programs to develop the Christmas tree industry; and

Whereas over $40 million new money is generated by the Christmas tree industry in western Nova Scotia each year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government recognize the importance of the Christmas tree industry in Lunenburg County, and in fact all Nova Scotia, and therefore restore the funding for these two tree specialists.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1473

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

Whereas on June 9, 1999, while campaigning in Clare, the Premier said the Liberal Government was in trouble because, "the government ignored communities"; and

Whereas the Premier said further that the Liberals, " ignored good advice, ignored the need for consultation and ignored the great potential that comes from building meaningful partnerships with the people"; and

[Page 4325]

Whereas today this Premier is walking a well-worn path in the footsteps of those Liberals who themselves were following the doomed route carved out by the Premier's mentor, Don Cameron;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier intends to keep ignoring good advice, ignoring the need for consultation and ignoring the need for meaningful partnerships, he should immediately follow Premiers Cameron and Savage by taking a foreign post far from the scene of his political demise.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1474

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 member for Dartmouth South seems to enjoy sitting on the Tory backbenches, preening like a peacock while criticizing hard-working people who make a mere pittance on the school board; and

Whereas he is the only member in this House more creative with numbers than the Minister of Finance; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth South had the unmitigated gall to criticize teachers and school board officials for wanting and demanding the best for Nova Scotia children;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier censure the out-of-control member for Dartmouth South and have him apologize immediately to teachers and school board officials for his callous and unfair remarks.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 4326]

RESOLUTION NO. 1475

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

Whereas it appears it is the "Hamm way or the highway" over this disastrous provincial budget; and

Whereas it now appears that the Premier misled his own members by assuring them that they would be able to speak up for their constituents, even if it was contrary to his way; and

Whereas I fondly remember the days when the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley showed no fear of speaking up on matters of importance to his constituents;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier must fear that if he loosens the reins his last words may be "et tu Brooke?".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1476

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas yesterday a Wall Street Journal article appeared with the headline, "How CEOs can tell when they're toast", and outlined what is called the "early warnings" of how "most ousted top executives don't fall out of favour overnight - it just seems that way to them"; and

Whereas the early warnings listed were "turning a deaf ear to employees, promising too much, misreading expectations, and underestimating conflict";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should heed the early warnings unless he is determined to make sure that he and his government are toasted as thoroughly as those great education cutters, Don Cameron and John Savage.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 4327]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak in response to the budget as it has unfolded so far and make some comments regarding my constituency. I guess the last few days have certainly put no doubt in anybody's mind as to the concerns that Nova Scotians have over the education system, in particular, and I think in my riding the people are no exception. First and foremost, I want to speak on behalf of my constituents in Elmsdale, who have been promised a school in that area, and actually have gotten a letter of intent from the minister to that effect.

Last night, in Truro at a school board meeting, the school advisory head from Elmsdale, Mrs. Janet Savary, questioned the board as to whether or not they had received any information that would make them think that that wasn't going to happen. They concurred with everything that the minister has said so far, regarding the Elmsdale School, that the Elmsdale School, as far they know, will be built.

I raise this issue as much for members of the House, but certainly for the minister, that the people in Elmsdale still are concerned that we had the program review, which was supposed to occur and be completed by January, at which, to our understanding, it did happen. Actually, we have been told, but it was part of that program review that has been weaved into the budget and so the budget, certainly, is supposed to be evidence of what the Tory Government found when they did the review. People in that community certainly were of the opinion, Mr. Speaker, that when that review was done, or by the end of January, they would have gotten some final word as to what was happening with that school.

[Page 4328]

The minister was good enough to go to the community and speak with the people and reiterate her promise. I think they were glad for that. I know I was glad that she did go. But the worry, Mr. Speaker, is that even though we have done the P3 report, now we are examining the report; so there is going to be a report on the report. That is supposed to be accomplished by the end of April. At this point, I think the people there have been patient and I think they certainly want to know that, when the end of April comes, there will be some final answer that will indicate what the funding formula is going to be and that, for sure, the paper work, at least, if nothing else, will have started.

We know that the site selection has already occurred and three sites have been presented to the board. I would like to see some mechanism, Mr. Speaker, that would allow for the information from site selection committees to be made public. I went to one meeting of the School Advisory Council in Elmsdale and one of the people there asked me what the sites were and I couldn't inform them because that information is held by the board. So, actually, the individuals at the meeting who were on that committee, they didn't even provide any information to the other people from the community.

If this is supposed to be an open and transparent process, Mr. Speaker, then I certainly would like to see the minister examine the process of site selection so that communities have more input and, therefore, somehow don't feel that they are being kept in the dark as to what the selection would be. It is sold as a process that has community input, but it has two or three people from the community. It doesn't have any type of public meeting or any manner by which all of the community could participate. The fact that the results go to the board, it is actually quite a hush-hush procedure and is very difficult to find out even what was said.

In regard to the Elmsdale School, I certainly hope the minister is still listening. She has been willing and, I think, tried to assure the community there, as much as she possibly could to this point, and, come the end of April, I know that they certainly are going to want to see something more in black and white to show that the process is under way and that their facility is under way.

The other point that I want to raise is one that is very dear, I think, to all Nova Scotians, and particularly in my rural community, and that is the delivery of health care services. The minister, I think, is quite aware, because I have discussed this with him on occasion and have written him several times. One of the major problems in the large, rural part of my riding is the problem that occurs with first respondents in the ambulance service.

We have had problems with ambulances getting lost. We have had problems with ambulances coming into our area, actually because of the movement of ambulances, ambulances that are stationed in the Milford Station depot - if you want to call it that - if they are out, there may be an ambulance come from Sackville or Bedford and work out of that area, so by the time they try to find their way around my constituency, quite often they get lost. Heading for the Maitland area, in one case, the ambulance was looking for a highway to

[Page 4329]

get it up to Stewiacke and definitely heading in the wrong direction. So this has been a major concern.

Emergency Health Services held a meeting in my riding to address this concern. We feel that one way to alleviate the problem would be to have an ambulance positioned in Kennetcook. Members here wouldn't be aware of what the process has been in my constituency, but there was a point where there was an ambulance in Upper Rawdon and one in Kennetcook along with those in Shubenacadie, but with the amalgamation or unification of ambulance service we lost the ambulance in Upper Rawdon. That worried the homeowners in that area, but they felt somewhat reassured by the fact that there would still be an ambulance in the Kennetcook area. I think people should understand that in preparation to getting an ambulance to stay in the Kennetcook area, the community added on to the fire department. They built a facility which would house the ambulance service, bunks and so on for overnight. They built a facility that the ambulance attendants could be comfortable in 24 hours a day.

AN HON. MEMBER: They raised the money?

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: They raised the money themselves. They certainly felt that they had done their part to ensure that the people in their area had appropriate ambulance service. What happened with the amalgamation was they lost the ambulance in the Upper Rawdon area and the ambulance from Kennetcook only stays there in the daytime and then in the evenings, I think at 6:00 o'clock, it moves and works out of the Milford area. Now to most people, they would say, well it is moved to an area of higher population density and therefore greater need. But what we found is that in 10 months there have been approximately 75 calls for ambulance service in the Maitland and Rawdon areas and of those 75 calls, about three of them occurred in the daytime; the rest had occurred in the evening when there was no ambulance present in Kennetcook.

So it has caused delays and it has caused this problem of ambulances being lost. If you need the service, that is when it is a worry. For those of us who never need an ambulance, we perhaps don't give it much thought. We assume it will be there if we need it. We take it for granted, but these people don't take it for granted because they have seen first-hand what happens when the ambulance doesn't show up in time.

I had a chance to briefly question the minister on this in the budget estimates. I know that the Emergency Health Service has tried to accommodate the community. They have installed the radio system between the ambulance and the fire department so that the fire department, can actually guide the ambulance to make sure that it gets to the right location in the area. That, we think, will be helpful. It also has informed us that they are installing a computerized mapping system so that all ambulances will certainly have those maps and will be able to locate anywhere in my constituency, which we also think is a good thing. The question is where the rubber hits the road and whether or not this actually will make a

[Page 4330]

difference, as much as possible have people who are familiar with the area. That was the advantage of having attendants in the Kennetcook Fire Department all the time, because they usually were local people and they actually knew the area, they knew all the back roads. So when someone called with an emergency, they were able to go and actually knew where they were going and actually knew of short cuts to get there.

[9:45 a.m.]

We think if these enhancements that the minister speaks of, if they don't come through to alleviate the problem, then we want to have another look at this. The residents certainly feel that having the ambulance there is the best way to ensure safety and service for the people. I think it is important for the minister and for the members to recognize that if we set up a formula for ambulance service, the one we presently have in the province, and let's assume it meets 90 per cent of the need in the province, for the most part, when an ambulance is called, it gets to where it is supposed to get within a prescribed period of time and actually is able to deliver the service that is needed to save somebody's life or help somebody. That is great, but what I fail to see is the response for the other 10 per cent.

Those anomalies that occur because of geography or for whatever other reasons, these are the things I would like to see the minister analyse and say, look 90 per cent of what we are doing works because of this formula. We can't really see that that formula seems to apply in that other 10 per cent. We want to come up with something different to address those anomalies where our 90 per cent doesn't seem to cover.

That is really the flexibility I am hoping the department will employ because I am sure Hants East can't be the only area in the province where people have run into problems with ambulances getting there at the right time. These people are dedicated, well trained, and it seems the final loop in trying to deliver the service is to get the ambulance to the person. It doesn't matter whether you have a whole surgical squad in an ambulance, if you can't get them there, then what is the good of it.

For the members in the government caucus, I certainly hope that if there are occurrences in your own constituencies - and I know a number of those members have large rural ridings like mine - perhaps if there are similar glitches in the system, they actually will think maybe there is a point there, try to address the anomalies as a separate category and see if they can do something that is beneficial all across the province in that regard. I would certainly appreciate it. I think the members opposite in particular are absolutely aware of the response to the budget so far. I would hope they take an opportunity to . . .

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 4331]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and offer a few comments going into Supply today. I suppose, with no surprise, my focus will be on education and some of the issues that have been raised by the Minister of Education over the last number of weeks.

Mr. Speaker, everybody would certainly agree that education is one of the cornerstones of a very successful and productive society, not only for today, but in the years to come. It is very important that we ensure that our children of today receive the quality of education they so well deserve. The primary focus of the school boards, teachers and all the stakeholders within the educational system is to ensure that, indeed, we have children with the highest quality of education provided anywhere in Canadian jurisdiction, in fact, anywhere in the world. Also, recognizing the fact that the Minister of Education has some competing interest within Cabinet when she goes before Cabinet to present her budget and argue for additional dollars with the Minister of Finance or competing with, whether it be the Department of Transportation and Public Works or Natural Resources or Economic Development.

So it is an extended and rather difficult task at times, and our Liberal caucus will readily admit it can be a very difficult situation. When my seatmate, my colleague, was Minister of Education, he was faced with many of those similar situations and dilemmas and arguments that he brought forth. Mr. Speaker, one thing he did do, he brought them to Cabinet and he did it very forcefully. He understood the importance of education right across this province. He responded by standing up, not just for the teachers or for the administrators and the various boards across this province, but he stood up for the children because that was his number one concern.

Mr. Speaker, it is little wonder that people in the province would be out protesting in the middle of a rainstorm today; children out of their classrooms when they should be in their class, learning. (Interruption) That is true. This Minister of Education and this government has forced them onto the street. They have forced these children to make a very crucial decision - stay in the classroom and be silent or come and voice their opinion, and that is their democratic right. That is good because that is part of the process.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has indicated that we are only talking about $27.3 million cut in the budget. The estimate is that we will have a $20 million shortfall in teachers revenue; $1.3 million for standardizing the professional development calendar, $2.4 million for board administration reduction; $3.6 million in additional reductions to meet lay-offs. What the Minister of Education didn't do, didn't include, did not say in her budget, is the incurring escalating costs within these school boards right across this province.

Mr. Speaker, a total of another $26 million would be needed to just maintain the system at current levels. What about the salary increases? Several months ago, the government signed a contract with the Teachers Union, which puts a burden on the school boards right across

[Page 4332]

this province. They had no problem at that time saying there was lots more money for teachers. They give them the money and they don't give them the tools to do the job. What is the problem? At any point in time, that is when the government should have stood up and said, we have to make some critical decisions here. Somehow, that didn't happen. So you have to ask yourselves why the government would undertake such an initiative.

We also have the issue of the pre-existing deficits that were incurred by the boards. What about the escalating fuel costs? The government has no problem taking the additional revenues from the fuel tax, Mr. Speaker, but they are not circulating that back to the individual school boards so they will have the revenue to put on the front lines, put in the classrooms. That is the real deficit because when you take the $27 million cut in the budget, plus the overall shortfall of $26 million, the real cost is a $53.3 million cut to the school boards across this province.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. MACKINNON: The cost is $53.3 million. That is the reality. So one can't help but question the priorities of the Minister of Education and the government the way they piecemeal this whole process.

Mr. Speaker, I will quote exactly what the Minister of Finance said in his budget, Page 15, "Mr. Speaker," referring to you, Mr. Speaker, I presume "there should be no teacher lay-offs as a result of this budget." And he entitled this particular segment of his budget "Education and Investment". If what is happening today, and over the last few weeks, is what you call an investment, well then, I dare say that I would be somewhat perplexed to figure out what restraint is.

Mr. Speaker, time after time, we have seen the minister stand in this place and make proclamations about her budget and how it impacts on the students across this province. On Page 3818 of Hansard, April 12th, the minister stated " . . . what I meant, in case I wasn't clear, is what I said, that I do not anticipate any need for teacher layoffs." The Minister of Education stood in this House later on that afternoon and stated " . . . the member opposite is quite right, I have no right to mislead the people of Nova Scotia and I did not mislead the people of Nova Scotia."

She also goes on to state that we could handle student class sizes of anywhere from 40 to 50, which is a direct violation of the laws of Nova Scotia, according to the Fire Marshal's regulations. That section states quite clearly, you have to have 20 square feet for every child in the classroom. If you take an average classroom size of anywhere from 24 feet by 26 feet or 26 feet by 30 feet, do the math and you will find out that any which way you cut it, any which way you calculate, even with the new P3 schools, you will not have sufficient area in any classroom to be able to meet the objective that was stated by the minister.

[Page 4333]

Mr. Speaker, again, the minister, after several days of a barrage of questions and comments and questioning the integrity of those numbers, the minister readily conceded, and I quote her own words, it was a stupid statement. It was stupid for her to say that. I am not suggesting for a moment that is the case with this honourable minister, because I think it is far from that. I think she is a very intellectual lady, but I think she has misread this issue. She has misunderstood the public school system of Nova Scotia. There may be reasons for that. Maybe she is not getting the right advice. I don't know. Maybe the bottom line is she was given a mandate from the Minister of Finance, that this is what we have to cut, no matter what happens. There is enough waste in the system that we can meet that target of the 2.5 per cent, or whatever percentile was put forth.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that had this Education Funding Formula Review Work Group, between the school boards and the Department of Education had met over the last number of months, a lot of this frustration that we are experiencing across this province could have been avoided. I really believe that. Would all the school boards have been happy? Not for a moment. That is human nature because they are looking after their own domain first and that is their mandate, I respect that, and there are some inefficiencies. We are not naive to that, but that type of unilateral slash and burn approach, Mr. Speaker, is what brought the children to the Legislature, has these children on the streets across this province when they should be in the classroom.

[10:00 a.m.]

Any of the government members who attended public meetings certainly would have got an ear full. I listened on CBC this morning and somebody was singing, Bye Bye, Brooke. I don't know if that was in response to the fact that the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has met with some resistance in his constituency about the way the government is treating the children in his constituency, or maybe it is a new theme song that perhaps he is not going to reoffer, or maybe he is moving on to other political opportunities, or maybe they are just simply trying to deliver a message that he, like a lot of the other government backbenchers, is sitting here silently and quietly while the educational system in their respective constituencies are being compromised. They are being put at risk by a single-minded agenda.

Mr. Speaker, all the bravado that comes from the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, when he stands and speaks on various issues, seems to have trickled down to a whimper. I am not sure, perhaps, he had a little chat with the Premier and the Premier said, okay, Brooke, slow down, we cannot have this, this is bad, this is bad for this government; we are on the ropes, we cannot afford a caucus revolt at this point. What about the honourable member for Eastern Shore, his seatmate? (Interruptions) Well, I am not sure if he swallowed masking tape or what the problem is. Maybe it is glue that has his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth where he is gagged, he cannot speak, but I am darn sure the

[Page 4334]

children in his constituency would want him to stand up and speak for his constituents. Is it any wonder that people would be spooked by this government?

Mr. Speaker, it is very concerning when we would have the Minister of Education state that the numbers are one set of figures and all the administrators and the CEOs across this province are saying they are something else. Who is right? Is the minister for Preston, I guess the member for Preston, he thinks he is a minister, he says that the school boards across the province are fudging their numbers. Well, the member for Dartmouth South says the student/teacher ratio is 24 to 1. The Minister of Education says it is 16 to 1. Who is fudging the numbers? Mr. Speaker, I realize my time has ended. The only question I would ask is, who can count and who can't?

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you the previous speech by the honourable member for Cape Breton West certainly wasn't tailor-made, I can assure you of that. I would like to, if I could, bring a little bit of civility and state some facts relative to the budget. If time permits, I would like to speak a little bit about the budget of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing and about the budget of the Department of Education.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we have the most progressive farming communities in the country, right here in good old Nova Scotia. Farmers know what is best for their farming operations and the budget empowers them to create the growth and jobs that they are capable of providing and we are helping our agricultural community. The department's budget, when some of the members opposite were in government, for the fiscal year 1997-98 was $33.4 million. That is factual information that the honourable members opposite share and understand. The budget of the Department of Agriculture in the 1998-99 fiscal year was $35.6 million. This year, Mr. Speaker, the budget is $33.5 million. Programs that have been maintained, enhanced or introduced this year will provide direct assistance to our farming community. Farming is a very important industry in Nova Scotia, not just in my constituency, but in a number of rural constituencies across Nova Scotia. An approximate 90 per cent increase in dollars for safety nets has been provided, making about $11.9 million available this year, through federal and provincial contributions. A new $600,000 new entrants program that provides interest relief for our new, young farmers; two new development funds that provide more than $3.63 million directly to farmers and industry groups for such things as irrigation infrastructure, roll-over protection systems, private sector consulting services.

There are no cuts to the Provincial 4-H Program, Mr. Speaker. There are no cuts to the school milk program. There is $5.3 million to assist farmers with the impacts of drought-like conditions under the Provincial Drought Relief Program. So, yes, we are concerned about our agriculture community. There is no question about it. But the budget is in line with the two previous years.

[Page 4335]

Mr. Speaker, I have been around this Legislature and around this House long enough to know bafflegab, rhetoric, flimflammery and scaremongering when I hear it. You talk about the Opposition, in their demented lust to make political hay, are trying to make it off the backs of the schoolchildren. That is what is happening. We will talk. It is always great to criticize government and it is always great to criticize school boards, but we have an opportunity, in this government, to make helpful suggestions to the Minister of Education and to her staff. What we are talking about is making suggestions that will not impact the quality of education in the classrooms across this province. We are concerned. We are committed to a five days a week Primary Program and it is in our blue book and we will stick to that commitment, if we have to bring in regulations and legislation. We are committed to full-day Primary. We are committed to the special education services that we are providing to students in need.

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of children who went the educational system. Do you think people opposite don't have children? Do you think people opposite don't have grandchildren? Do you think people opposite aren't worried about the $767 million deficit and the $11 billion debt? Do you think, members opposite, that members on this side of the House, aren't concerned about the $1 billion annually that goes to service the debt, and a good portion of that debt, not all, has been created by the former Liberal Administration that was turfed and thrown out of office by the constituents out there.

Mr. Speaker, I met until midnight last night and the night before. On Tuesday evening, I met with an educator from the public school system, an individual who has given 28 years of his life to the public education system. He offered some suggestions for educational cuts that will require the Department of Education and it will also require the school boards across this province to get together and look at making cuts that won't impact on the quality of education in the classroom. Make no mistake about it. I am telling you here and now (Interruption) Is this a point of order?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West, is it a point of order?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I just have a short question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I have to ask the honourable members opposite, how many of them went out into their constituency and actually . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I guess I wanted to be clear. The honourable member suggested he spoke with an educator, an administrator in the education system with some 26 years experience, was he talking about Mrs. Morash?

[Page 4336]

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

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you for that helpful intervention, but I can assure the honourable member that I wasn't speaking to Mrs. Morash. Here are some suggestions. I can't say whether the Department of Education or the school boards will give these considerations, but if the honourable members would indulge, just for a couple of moments. I throw these out for consideration. I have offered them to the minister. I have offered them to her staff and I have copied my colleagues. I am going to throw these out and I believe that they are helpful suggestions. Mr. Speaker, this suggestion was made because we have a number of school advisory councils across this province and we do have school boards, and the suggestion has been made to me to close all inspector of schools' offices and eliminate the related positions.

What is it costing us to maintain those offices? What are the salaries of the school board inspectors, and at this particular time of fiscal restraint? Mr. Speaker, I am throwing it out, I am being honest. I am asking honourable members for consideration. How about a moratorium on all out-of-province and all out-of-country travel, at both school board and Department of Education levels, and make this all-inclusive?

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board sent secretaries - and this has been documented and it has been in various newspapers across the provinces - school teachers have been sent to Banff, Alberta.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am sure the House would love to see the comments of that 20 year veteran in the school business . . .

MR. TAYLOR: That's 28.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Yes, 28 years. I was wondering if the member could table that, please, because I am sure it would be interesting to all of us.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable member referred to it and there is a document, he will table that when he is finished his debate.

MR. TAYLOR: The member will table it so you can have an opportunity to give it some consideration. (Interruption) The minister already has a copy of it, thank you.

Mr. Speaker, reduce all school boards to a single central office, no satellites. We have a number of satellites across the province. Limit the spending on substitutes who free teachers for conferences at symposiums, workshops, i.e., writers' workshops.

Reductions at the Department of Education level, all seconded staff. Did you know there are between 30 and 40 teachers who have been seconded by the Department of Education for things like junior and senior high networking, science, language, arts. This

[Page 4337]

individual who made these helpful suggestions for consideration pointed out that he firmly believes - this 28 year veteran if you will of the public education system - that the time of those 30 or 40 teachers would be better utilized at this particular time, perhaps for the next two years, in the classroom. These are helpful suggestions.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things that have been suggested. I can't go through them all but these . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Table that.

MR. TAYLOR: I will table a copy of that because I have some scribbling on it. I will table the exact same one. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: No substitutes . . .

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, we didn't say no substitutes. What we are saying is there are a lot of different messages out there. I do know that through attrition and through an early retirement package (Interruption) No less, and I have been assured of this figure, no less than 400 teachers. I was advised last night by a teacher that come the fiscal year or the school year, next year, 2001-02, there are nearly, somewhere between 400 and 500 teachers who are ready to retire.(Interruptions) I was told that last night. I am just telling you exactly what I was told last night; that is what a teacher from the Musquodoboit Rural High School told me.

Mr. Speaker, the government here is very concerned about a runaway deficit and a runaway debt. The Party opposite, when government, their only solution to the problem we have here today was to throw more money at it, and to heck with their children and their grandchildren.

The NDP doesn't have one helpful, not one helpful intervention or suggestion. All the NDP has done in this House for years and years is criticize, bafflegab, rhetoric, flim-flammery, that is all we are getting from the NDP. We know what the honourable members opposite have done during their term, grabbed money, but the electorate, the constituency out there, the large constituency out there said, no more throwing money at deficit and debt. You haven't got one helpful solution. Mr. Speaker, they can't make one helpful suggestion. All they want to do is get up in their demented lust for political hay. They want to get up and make gain on the backs of the poor school children. That is what they want to do.

[10:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, they were asked, where they would make some cuts, how they would rein in a runaway deficit. Do you know what their suggestion was? Throw more money at it. The electorate out there threw you guys out, now we are trying to do something helpful. Yes, we are concerned about education, health, agriculture, community (Interruptions)

[Page 4338]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would allow a question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley allow a question?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, no, I don't have any time for questions this morning, I am sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor. (Interruptions)

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, a member of the NDP (Interruptions) Listen. A member of the NDP, the honourable member for Hants East. I worked with the honourable member over the last couple of years, however long he has been elected. We have a reasonably good relationship, but lately that honourable member has been galavanting around Nova Scotia. He has been going to Berwick. Last night he goes to Colchester County. I want to tell you, he is telling us we should be in our constituencies. Boys, you guys have to stand up for your constituencies, you are letting them down, you have to do this, you have to do that. Do you know what? (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, members from the Indian Brook community, when they had a concern, they wanted somebody to take it to Indian Affairs and Northern Development. They wanted somebody to send a letter (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, can you quiet that bunch down, I can't even hear myself. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a simple point (Interruptions) Why wasn't I in Truro last night, because we had an annual general meeting last night that was open to the public. That is why. We were out listening to Nova Scotians, that is why we weren't in Truro. Quite frankly, I never received an invite to go to Truro. If I had, I probably would have tried to get there.

But when band council and band members from Indian Brook come to a neighbouring constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, you didn't hear me here, about two months ago, up complaining that the honourable member for Hants East should be in his riding doing

[Page 4339]

his business. Well, that member should be in his riding doing his business when seniors from Maitland, when seniors from Shubenacadie, when people are concerned about their courthouse, they come to the member opposite. Where is the NDP, representing their own constituency? Where is the NDP when it is time to represent their own constituency? (Interruptions) Yes, they have lots of that. The NDP have lots of that. They have all kinds of that going.

But when are the NDP ever, ever going to offer something substantive in this House? When are the NDP ever going to stand for something? We are standing for government. We are standing for government. (Applause) The honourable member opposite tells us to go do this and go do that, well, he took off the other day and did something, nobody knows what he did, he probably had his own agenda.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is yes, we are concerned. We are very concerned about education, health care. We are meeting with our constituents. We are trying to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The motion is carried. (Applause)

[10:15 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[12:02 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there has been a request from an Opposition member to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions. So could we have the unanimous consent of the House to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

[Page 4340]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the students of Colonel John Stuart Elementary School. The operative clause reads, "We the students of Colonel John Stuart Elementary School think that the 'Education Funding Cuts' are very unfair to all students and teachers of Nova Scotia." There are 150 names, approximately, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

Oral Question Period will begin at 12:02 and will end at 1:02 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

EDUC.: FUNDING FORMULA REVIEW

WORK GROUP - DISBANDMENT

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has said that she essentially disbanded the Education Funding Formula Review Work Group after their meeting in January because she wanted some real figures. Well, we have real figures. They are not pleasant figures. They are not figures people in Nova Scotia want, but they are real figures. I want to ask the Premier, did he know that the Minister of Education had, in fact, disbanded this group after one meeting in January of this year, that she was not consulting with school boards and that, in fact, she was preparing her budgetary figures in a vacuum?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, this government and this province, in the days and the weeks and the months leading up to this budget, went through the most exhaustive review of government programs and government expenditures in the entire history of the province. It was the most exhaustive examination of what is going on in this province that has ever occurred.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it might have been exhaustive, but it is the people of Nova Scotia who are sick and tired of this government. (Applause) The Minister of Education said she didn't want any input from the school boards. She wouldn't allow the input. Now that she has come out with a budget that won't work, she is telling the school boards they can't implement it, that she won't let them bring forward the lay-offs, that she is going to stop it. What exactly is this Minister of Education going to do to prohibit the school boards from doing the lay-offs that she, herself, has fostered in this province?

[Page 4341]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we are going to do as the first step, is get back to the table, talk again with the boards about our options, about the numbers. That is what we are going to do as a first step.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, she has tried that and the boards walked out because the minister and her supports were so ridiculous. (Interruptions) All of the sudden the Minister of Health is very vocal. He didn't have any answers yesterday in estimates. I want to ask the Minister of Education if the school boards realize that they can't meet the stupid demands of this government because of the cutbacks that the Minister of Education has made, and she insists on those cutbacks and she insists that there are no lay-offs, what is she going to do to prohibit these lay-offs? What is she going to do?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there will be a meeting with boards next week; hopefully that will be a first step. We plan to talk. As to what I might or might not do if these talks don't work out, I learned a very hard lesson last week about not answering hypothetical questions.

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

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - RESPONSIBILITY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question to the Premier. It sounds as though the Premier's inner circle is greasing the skids for Calamity Jane. They are spreading the word that Cabinet was not advised of the full effect of the Education budget, even claiming that if Cabinet had a clearer picture, "Cabinet would have made different decisions." But you see the Premier had the information on July 12th when he walked to school in Middle Sackville with Carl Barnett. The Premier said, "The Liberals have increasingly underfunded school boards over the last six years.". We have the information and I want to ask the Premier, why will he not take responsibility for these vicious cuts and the devastating failure of this government to deal with that underfunding of school boards?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this Premier and this government are prepared to be responsible to the people of Nova Scotia and that is why we are doing exactly what we told the people at election time we would do. We are delivering the program that we said we would if we became elected. We were elected and we are doing it.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: The problem is, some people actually wrote down some of the things that he said when he was running for election, so they know the truth.

The Strait Regional School Board has defied the funding formula that was approved and issued by this government, a funding formula which cut $3.3 million from the Strait-area schools. In defiance of the government, that board is refusing to prepare or issue the necessary lay-off notices. I want to ask the Premier, why will his government not today approve the decision by the Strait Regional School Board, and inform other school boards

[Page 4342]

that they too should cease planning their budget on the basis of the savage funding formula that was imposed by this government?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite continues to talk about vague pieces of information that he receives. If the member opposite has a piece of information that substantiates what it is he is saying, would he please table it so we can understand it and perhaps we could make a rational response to his question. We can't respond to vague innuendo that seems to be the character of that member's questions.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: The superintendent of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board last week suggested that the Education Minister was living in never-never land; I think it is spreading and it has reached the Premier now.

Regardless of their creed, Nova Scotians are preparing for a long weekend. Many hope

this will be a restful, family time but, unfortunately, parents, students and teachers have little reason for peace and calm, whether they are at home or at church.

I want to say to the Premier, why will he not admit in public what his Party, his staff and his inner circle are saying in private, that is that the education formula is a disaster and it must be taken off the table now.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite always has a simplistic view of every solution; it is always more money, do this, do that. Now the member opposite is critical of the education funding formula. Would the member opposite suggest from which school board we should take money to give to another school board to save that school board. Would he kindly indicate which school boards he feels are over-funded and which school boards are underfunded. That is the crux of the issue of the funding formula. Would the member tell us?

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

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): PRINCE ANDREW HS - IMPACT

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question to the Premier. The Premier says he was totally responsible during the election campaign and now he is doing what he told the people of Nova Scotia he was going to do. I don't recall at any time during that campaign where he said he was going to devastate education in Nova Scotia.

The Premier talks about hypothetical. Try this for hypothetical; yesterday 10 teachers at Prince Andrew High School were given their severance notices. All 10 were under the age of 40. Why has this Premier and this government devastated and gotten rid of a whole generation of teachers? There are less than five teachers at Prince Andrew High School under the age of 40. Why has this Premier done this?

[Page 4343]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, fortunately the chair of the metro school board has agreed to come to the meeting next week to hear our solution that will not require that school board to issue lay-off notices to young teachers who do not voluntarily wish to either work part time or to leave the system.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, a tremendous example of the arrogance of this government. The Premier says they volunteered to come to this meeting to listen to their solution. Did it ever cross the mind of the Premier that perhaps the school boards have the solution and not the government? I want to know why this government is cutting back on education, teachers, at the same time that this government is increasing the P & P budget by $320,000, Intergovernmental Affairs by $600,000 and Communications Nova Scotia by $270,000 and why are there four communications officers in the Department of Education in Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There were several questions there, if the Premier would like to answer one.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in the discourse that the Liberal Party Leader provided us with, he made reference to the responsible solutions of the metro school board and other school boards and we are looking forward to entertaining those solutions at the negotiation table next week.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier in all seriousness and in the interest of education in Nova Scotia, has he told his Minister of Education to enter these meetings with an open mind and has he given her latitude to increase the education budget for Nova Scotia, where it is appropriate to do so, in all fairness, to all parties?

[12:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, the member opposite has known me for a long time. I think he knows I am always serious. Secondly, the minister will be going to those meetings to bring our solutions to the problem and, as well, to invite those solutions that will come to the meeting by the school boards. We will work our way through this situation in such a way that we will achieve all our objectives and that is to direct more money into the classroom and, as well, meet the financial objectives of this government and that is balanced budgeting.

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

EDUC.: SCHOOL BOARDS - ABOLISHMENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, during the last election campaign the Premier promised to solve the problem of school boards that he said

[Page 4344]

are too large and too remote from the people. He called it an example of the government ignoring the wishes of people and he said the Southwest Regional School Board is too big. I don't need a task force to tell me that. It is just common sense. I will be happy to table that reference for any of those Tories over there suffering from amnesia.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Education Minister said that she will impose her will if school boards will not. I want to ask the Premier why his government seems to be moving to abolish elected school boards and to decentralize power into the remote hands of the Education Minister?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is getting very close where he will give me the opportunity to refer the question, but what I am saying is that this government must be responsible. We have the responsibility to handle the finances of the province and we accept that responsibility. What we are simply saying is those to whom we transfer these funds and on our behalf expend these funds, we must expect from them, as well, accountability and responsibility.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier was wrong when he said that it was school boards that were remote. It is Tory MLAs who are remote from the people because they will not go and hear what people have to say about these education cuts. During the election campaign the Premier was committed to smaller elected school boards. In Shelburne on June 23rd he said, we will make it smaller. My question, today, for the Premier is, why will he not give a firm statement of government policy that will not repeat the New Brunswick mistake, that they will not abolish elected boards and centralize power; will he make that commitment here today?

THE PREMIER: I do thank the member opposite. The member opposite knows that this government is committed to its commitments and we will continue to be committed to our commitments. The member opposite wants to drive the government agenda because on certain issues he says we are going too fast; on other issues we are going too slow. This is one of the issues in which the member opposite seems to say we are going too slow. We will proceed with our agenda in a logical step-wise fashion and when we are ready to make a pronouncement about anything, we will make it and that will allow the member opposite ample opportunity to have his input.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think the Premier is committed to something, but heaven knows what that is, I mean let's be clear. I am dealing here with the attack by this government on school boards and I want to ask the Premier about that issue. I want to know if it is a thirst for revenge that is motivating this government. On March 9th the Education Minister said that she would not interfere with democratically elected school boards, but on November 5th she said, I doubt very much that we would have a more effective system without school boards.

[Page 4345]

I want to ask the Premier to reconcile these statements, with the vengeful threats of direct interference and centralizing power that his government is now making, indicate what government policy is, will you support democratically elected school boards or not?

THE PREMIER: I wonder if the member opposite could table any information he has relative to vengeful threats that this government is making to school boards or anyone else. What this government has done, we have invited school boards to come to a meeting with the Department of Education and the minister to work through a rational plan to deliver good education to the young people of this province so they will have a future and we, as a province, will have a future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): SUPPORT STAFF - CUTS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. This Tory Government is cutting $53.3 million from public education. Where does this figure come from? Well, it comes from the following: a $20 million cut to reduce the number of teachers in the system; an additional $7.3 million in other specified areas; and an additional $26 million needed to keep pace with increased costs. This $53.3 million cut has totally devastated the Nova Scotia public education system. Will the minister agree, that as a result of these severe cuts, many support staff will have to be laid off?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite's summary of the cuts to education is not a summary I agree with. We have asked for a total of 2.5 per cent in cuts; roughly $19 million to school board budgets. End of story. Fuel bills, other pressures, pre-existing deficits in school boards, are not government cuts no matter what the member opposite says.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the laid-off support staff, including bus drivers, secretaries, janitors, teachers' assistants, psychologists, speech pathologists, cafeteria workers, plus many others too numerous to name in the brief time I have available to me, provide valuable service to the public education system. Will the minister please explain how their tasks will be performed once they are laid off?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is making many assumptions about lay-offs that I have repeatedly said I do not agree with. The functions will still be performed.

[Page 4346]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Education please admit once and for all that she made a serious mistake in calculating the budget for public education and immediately announce to the school boards of Nova Scotia that the missing $53.3 million in funding will be restored?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we will be meeting with some superintendents and school board people next week. We will keep on meeting, and we will be discussing the budget, the implications of the budget, and possible solutions.

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

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - MESSAGE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the Premier. Our office is being flooded by phone calls, letters and e-mails from people concerned about education cuts. One e-mail came to me yesterday from 11 year old Tara Chisholm of Antigonish, no relation that I am aware of. She had written to her MLA and to the Minister of Education, but neither of them had gotten back to her. She asked me to pass on her e-mail which I did. Tara's father is a teacher, and Tara is afraid her father is going to lose his job. I want to ask the Premier what message he wants me to send to 11 year old Tara Chisholm of Antigonish?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, may I say to the member opposite that the message he can deliver to Tara is that we will work out a plan which will allow teachers to make a choice as to whether or not they want to work part time, have an early retirement program. We can reassure Tara that when we come together with school boards, we will work through this situation that will guarantee that no more than 400 teachers leave the system, and they will do so as the result of individual choice and not through lay-off. That is the reassurance you can give to Tara.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: This Premier told Tara and other Nova Scotians not too long ago that he had a plan and it included investing in education, not savage cuts. Mr. Speaker, in her e-mail Tara says, "He and mom were talking about moving back out west . . . But I want to live in Nova Scotia. I don't want this to happen, I think Nova Scotia is great . . . my Dad wants to teach. My Dad loves teaching. He is young and has lots of energy. He helped started and coached High School Boys Hockey and started and coached High School Girls hockey. Why are you getting him fired? Why are you being so mean?"

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 4347]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Premier. On behalf of Tara and other young families across this province who will be devastated by these cuts, why are you getting Tara's dad fired? Why are you being so mean?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we are saying to all of the Taras right across Nova Scotia, the young people in our schools, is that this government is prepared to take action so that when Tara grows up there will be an opportunity for her in Nova Scotia. Maybe one day, when the Taras in the school system have their own Taras, those young people will have an even better education system than we have right now, because this government is prepared to do what has to be done today.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this Premier told Tara and other Nova Scotian children that he had the answers this summer, that he knew what was going to happen and he was going to invest in education. He should be ashamed of himself. Tara concludes her e-mail by saying to the Minister of Education . . .

SOME HON. MEMBER: Lies. He is lying.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Whether it is the member standing on the floor or someone sitting in their seat, I will not tolerate words such as liar. I will have the member removed if it continues.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Tara concludes her e-mail by saying to the Minister of Education, "It feels like people in government have no feelings. I saw you on TV today and you weren't saying nice things about teachers. Teachers are one of the most important people in our province. Why are you doing this? Please explain this to me?"

MR. SPEAKER: Put the question, please.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, what do young Nova Scotians like Tara Chisholm have to hope for from a government that would devastate the education system of which she and her father and her family are a part?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite would share that document with me, I am quite prepared to respond to Tara because, obviously, she is not going to get the right information from the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES - LAY-OFFS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The minister has shown contempt for jail guards in recent days. A few days

[Page 4348]

ago, the minister added fuel to the fire of a potentially tense situation outside this Chamber with his Premier by getting visibly angry with jail guards and trying to intimidate them. Today the media said the minister was, "losing his patience" with jail guards after the escape of a prisoner in Yarmouth. The minister is laying off 100 correctional officers, is closing down 12 courthouses and he is shutting down five jails. My question to the minister is, how can the minister make these cuts and then blame jail guards for this current crisis?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: The difficulty I have with that question, Mr. Speaker, is that there are about 15 different things in there that are all wrong. It is very hard to pick out which one I would like to answer, but I will start with the most obvious one. He named five correctional centres that are closing. Obviously, one of the correctional centres was the one in Sackville that he already made it a part of his government's decision to close. To make the point, no one is blaming anyone. What we are trying to do is behave responsibly in the correctional system, or any other part of the Department of Justice, to make sure that we can live within our means.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the minister himself does not accept any responsibility for this crisis; everyone is to blame but him. People in Nova Scotia have the right to be worried about their safety. Nova Scotians are sacrificing their education for this Tory Government and they are sacrificing their health care. My question is, is the minister telling Nova Scotians that they must now sacrifice their safety, under this Tory Administration?

MR. BAKER: I want to make it perfectly clear that Nova Scotians safety is the paramount concern of this government. We absolutely and positively feel that it is of most important thing. With respect to the unfortunate incident which occurred as a result of a mistake made by the Correctional Services and the sheriff's service, I can assure you that I take the matter extremely seriously. It should never have occurred, it is inexcusable, and action will be taken to make sure it never happens again. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. Order.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, surprise, surprise, to see the minister blame his staff for this and accept absolutely no responsibility. How hypocritical, with the cuts that his government is making, to lay the blame on these jail workers and these correctional officers. Nova Scotians feel unprotected right now because of this latest justice crisis. The minister has added to his own administration budget while cutting back on the things that directly compromise the safety of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member please put the question.

[Page 4349]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is, can the minister tell Nova Scotians why they should feel safe with a Justice budget that puts administration ahead of safety?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, dealing with the first premise of the question which has to deal with the administrative error that led to the release of the individual, I can assure you that the mistake that was in the system that led to that has been corrected. Also, I can more accurately deal with the broader premise, which is that somehow the changes in the Department of Justice budget compromised public safety. They do not; in fact the administration costs, as this member will find out when we get into estimates, in the Department of Justice is a result of the Shelburne mess made by that former member's government.

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

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): COLE HBR. DHS - IMPACT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my riding contains the fine school of Cole Harbour District High School. This is a school with a history, a school whose students had commitments made to it because it was an institution under stress. This year Cole Harbour District High School is going to lose three teaching positions as a result of school board initiatives, and that is on top of two positions they lost last year. This was before the budget by this government was announced. I want to ask the Minister of Education, is she prepared to guarantee that there will be no further lay-offs or reductions in positions occurring at Cole Harbour District High School as a result of her budget?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what I have said before is that our budget is looking for 400 teaching positions to be out of the system, that we are not looking for lay-offs, that we do not want lay-offs, that our budget is looking for voluntary reductions.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in addition to fewer teachers at Cole Harbour District High School, it is expected that enrolment will rise by 100 students. Some of the Grade 12 classes today are at 35 and 36. All of these factors increase the stresses on staff and students. My question for the minister is, did the minister consider special situations like Cole Harbour District High School when she designed her budget?

MISS PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we knew when we designed the budget that there would be special situations, there would be schools that wouldn't work according to a formula and our plan all along was to work with all the school boards to try to address these special situations.

[Page 4350]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, one of the issues at Cole Harbour District High School is learning in a safe environment. Can the minister tell this House what effects she expects her cuts to staff will have on safety at Cole Harbour District High School?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am not cutting staff at Cole Harbour District High School but I would like to say on the safety issue that safety is one of the primary responsibilities of the Minister of Education and unsafe conditions will not be tolerated.

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

EDUC.: BUDGET (2000-01) - C.B.-V. REG. SC. BD.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question as well is for the honourable Minister of Education. The minister has indicated that it would just require some administrative trimming to deal with the shortfall in funding. For the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, 3 per cent of its total budget would be about $3.3 million. That is the total cost of administration. They are losing $3 million in provincial funding. My question to the minister is, how would the minister expect the administration in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to continue to operate when it loses approximately 90 per cent of the money that would be allotted for administration?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would expect the Cape Breton board, like all the other boards, like the department, to look everywhere for cost-cutting that does not directly affect students. To date I have not seen any such effort from any school board.

MR. MACKINNON: I believe the public record will show we have probably one of the most efficiently run administrations of any school board in the province. Those are not my words, that is documented evidence. Mr. Speaker, the Superintendent for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has referred to this entire budgetary measure on their board as being a disaster. He claims that they are misleading the people and it is very disrespectful of her when we have a major problem and she says it only means a shaving in administration of jobs, that being the CEO, Dr. Hayes MacNeil.

My question to the minister is, how does the minister intend to explain to the board that if it is not in administration, how there will be no lay-offs at any level, whether it be teachers' aides, bus drivers, or what have you?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I repeat what I said, I would like to see some ideas, I would like to see some changes. I would like to see the school boards offer up some ideas about administrative changes without resorting to teacher lay-offs. Never did I say reducing administration may mean lay-offs. That is obvious to everyone but what we are talking about here is not laying off teachers and not hurting students.

[Page 4351]

MR. MACKINNON: The fact of the matter is, administration at the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has provided numerous options to the minister on how to deal with this problem but quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, they are faced with the reality that they have to start with lay-offs, in order to meet the objective of the minister's budget. So I would ask the minister, that being the case, certainly there is going to be the trickle-down effect to the schools and possible school closures. Will the minister be willing to go to the various communities within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and explain to the residents if that is the case, why their schools will be closed because of this particular budget?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have been visiting dozens of schools across this province since I started this job. Believe it or not, I have been in Sydney. The honourable member says come to Sydney. I have been to Sydney. I have been in more schools outside Halifax even than inside Halifax because I take my job and its implications in rural Nova Scotia very seriously, and I will be going back to Cape Breton again.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - BUDGET (2000-01):

PRIVATIZATION - PLANS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The ferret strikes again. Hard-working employees of the Department of Transportation were patted on the head recently by the deputy minister and told that this government no longer wants to row the boat, they just want to steer it. These employees don't want cute quotes. They want confirmation that they have jobs in their future and that privatization is not the direction that the Department of Transportation and Public Works is going.

My question to the minister, what plans does your department have to undertake four privatization pilot projects involving the outsourcing of work done from the four major transportation bases throughout the province?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have made the commitment to go to alternate service delivery where the service can be maintained, and at less cost to government. We will initiate that program through four pilot projects across this province probably early next year.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am advised that tenders will soon be called for contracts to deal with fleet maintenance, snow removal, highway maintenance. Meanwhile departmental workers who have provided these services for years are left hanging in the breeze. Mr. Minister, tell the truth to highway workers. What plans do you have to contract out their services?

[Page 4352]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, at the present time we have made a commitment to go to tender for salt deliveries.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, let's rub some more salt in the wounds, Mr. Speaker. Highway workers provide an essential service. Alternative service delivery is just the buzzword of the day. These are real people. They have real families to feed and there they are left out on a limb with that minister behind them with a buzz-saw just a going. This government, that promised consultation about everything, has not had the decency to be straight with Transportation workers.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question to the minister, is this any way to treat these loyal employees?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect can be assured we will treat all our workers fairly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

AGRIC. - BUDGET (2000-01): CUTS - CONSULTATION

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Our ferreted-out Premier went on record as saying he supports rural Nova Scotia, yet farmers are worried in this province by the 21 per cent cut to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing; some 99 jobs and literally hundreds of programs. The Production and Technology Branch has been eliminated and there seems to be no plan in place as to how we are going to replace this lost service. Large commodity groups may be able to weather the storm, possibly, but small producers risk being wiped out because of this loss.

My question is, who did he consult in deciding the plight of agriculture on a 21 per cent reduction and the loss of those 100 jobs to that sector?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, last year this government, this minister worked very hard to accelerate the drought payment plan so that farmers hard-pressed in the Valley region and regions all over Nova Scotia could receive a larger payment. When that payment is taken out of the expenditures, the expenditures for this province are slightly over $1 million less than 1997-98, which shows our strong commitment to agriculture, and actually there is more program than the previous administration could put forward. Actually, we have signed a new deal with the federal government which will be approved shortly where we had an 89 per cent increase and support for farmers here in Nova Scotia so, as the honourable member knows, this government is strongly supporting

[Page 4353]

agriculture and we are looking at alternative service deliveries, not elimination of programs to farmers.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: There has to be a horse in that pile somewhere if you dig deep enough. The minister has repeatedly said he has consulted with the Federation of Agriculture and yet, in his own publications he said he consulted with some members of the executive of the Federation of Agriculture.

I have talked to the Federation of Agriculture and they said that this minister committed to them that there will be no program cuts, yet we see that the Technology Branch has been eliminated and literally over 130 programs cut to rural Nova Scotia, to rural farmers in the Province of Nova Scotia, 100 jobs, many of them in rural Nova Scotia and that is not all. In Kentville and other areas across this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member put the question, please.

MR. DOWNE: My question to the minister, how can he justify the way he is approaching the issue of agriculture as a matter of survival of the fittest for the poor and the small farm families of this province, they will be gone by the wayside, the right-wing agenda. How can he justify being Minister of Agriculture with that approach?

MR. FAGE: As usual, the member opposite is confused in his statistics and his facts. What has been done is to ensure that more programs are extended to the farming community in Nova Scotia and those were the questions put to all farmers in consultation through annual meetings of their association, to the executive of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, what programs, should he be delivering to the farm community. They were used to program cuts, large slashes in program delivery in the last administration and the member opposite knows that he did not support agriculture in any way as a member of the previous government. In fact, in the previous government, members of the agricultural community wondered why he wouldn't stand up for them. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: This minister cannot justify to rural Nova Scotia farmers and backbenchers of this government the massive cuts that this minister has brought forward to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing on their own publication. This minister has no plan, this minister has no innovative approach and this minister is only focused on completely dismantling and destructing agriculture. My question to the minister is, how can this minister justify his complete disregard for the issues facing rural communities and rural Nova Scotia farmers and totally gutting out services provided to the farmers of this province? How can he justify that?

[Page 4354]

MR. FAGE: There are more programs offered to the farmers of Nova Scotia than there were under the previous administration and the member opposite absolutely knows that. What we are talking about here is service delivery. Service delivery is extremely important to empowering an industry to go ahead and grow. What we are talking about here is offering opportunity to the agricultural community and I consult constantly with the agricultural community. In that regard, the agricultural community and myself . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. FAGE: . . . along with the federation will be sitting down this afternoon . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I find it quite ironic that one member will tell another member they are on their feet too long.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - BUDGET (2000-01): EMC - AMBULANCE USER FEES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: The NDP has already ferreted out new user fees totalling almost $10 million that were hidden in last week's dishonest budget. There was $4 million in Pharmacare, an extra $5 million in hospital user fees.

The Minister of Health knows that his government's contract with EMC, the ambulance operator, allows them to keep 25 per cent of the user fees that are generated. In order for the department to generate $5 million in user fees, $6.6 million has to be charged to people who call an ambulance. I would like to ask the Minister of Health, will you tell Nova Scotians that they will be paying $1.6 million more in ambulance user fees than the amount listed in your budget documents?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I am sorry, I missed the first part of that and I do apologize for that, but the estimates that we have in our book, I believe, are accurate.

MR. DEXTER: If the Minister of Health actually understood his budget, I am sure he would be able to answer these questions.

This is now the third time that we have uncovered parts of the Health budget that tell something less than the whole story. I wonder why the budget mistakes that are made never benefit Nova Scotians? I wonder why the so-called mistakes are always hidden fees? I wonder why the government is having a hard time telling the truth? My question to the Minister of Health is, when will the minister table a complete and honest list of the health care user fees contained in the budget?

[Page 4355]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I believe that we have done that already. During the estimates process, the honourable member seemed to be quite satisfied with the figures that were presented. I don't really know what he is going on about now.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this new revelation brings the total of new and increased user fees imposed by this government to $31 million, not the $20.4 million listed in the budget documents. My final question to the minister is, why can't you tell Nova Scotians the truth?

MR. MUIR: I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, that there is no government that has been more open and willing to be accountable to the people of Nova Scotia than this one and we will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

EDUC. - BUDGET (2000-01): TEACHERS YOUNG - FUTURE

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Education. Of course, the minister has heard it over and over, that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board will lose 150 teachers and another 100 support staff. The board feels it will lose teachers with valuable skill sets, like computer skills and new teaching methods, since it is the younger teachers who are at the bottom of the list. Will the minister please tell me how she suggests school boards can stay within their budget and not lose these young, specially trained teachers?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, when the meetings start next week with the school boards and we go over the retirement options with the boards and look at the numbers again, we can begin to look at how the Cape Breton Regional School Board and the other boards can live within their budgets.

MR. MACASKILL: We have a concern, Mr. Speaker, that these younger teachers who have special skills in technology are not going to be in the classrooms next week or whenever they get their lay-off notices. In Victoria County, students already are bussed vast distances. There are fewer services in these local communities, so the importance of schools and extra-curricular are very important; it cannot be overstated, honourable minister, that we cannot afford to lose young teachers and support staff. I ask the minister today, will she commit to review the situation in Victoria County, so that the cuts will not devastate the fragile rural community that we live in?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, certainly, I can commit that to the member opposite that we will be looking, again, at the budgets of all the school boards. As I said before, a 2.5 per cent cut is not devastation and tragedy, but we will certainly be looking at the impact of individual board budgets. (Interruptions)

[Page 4356]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACASKILL: I want to thank the honourable minister and I hope she is sincere. Mr. Speaker, there are two learning centres in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, one in Sydney Mines, which serves my area, and one in Ashby. May I ask the minister today, what is the minister putting in place to replace these learning centres, if they are forced to close?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I don't know about learning centres being forced to close. We are not closing any learning centres. Again, with hypothetical questions, if there are going to be problems with the learning centres, I am sure that issue can be worked out with the board.

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

SYSCO - SALE: USW - INCLUDE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Sydney Steel Corporation Act. By the end of business today, the bidding for Sydney Steel will be closed; the liquidator's estimate will take about a month to evaluate the bids. Clearly, the process will involve making judgements about the state of the industry, the viability of the business plan, and the long-term future of the steel industry in Cape Breton. Long-touted as experts in the field by this minister, Ernst & Young, I tell him there are other experts, that no one knows these issues better than steelworkers.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: They know the world markets, they know the major players, they know the steel business. My question to the minister is, will you ensure the evaluation process is as thorough and as informed as possible by committing today to include the steelworkers' union in the evaluation bids? Yes or no.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, when we made arrangements to retain Ernst & Young to act on behalf of the province to go through this process there were discussions around how best to include the steelworkers. He is aware, too, that there is a steelworkers' representative on the board of directors who will be reviewing the recommendations of Ernst & Young. As much as possible, we will be engaging the steelworkers' union in the discussions.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as well to tell that minister, he very well knows that representative he talks about has been off on long-term disability for some while because of medical conditions. He knows that all so well, and he has played that game before with this House.

[Page 4357]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: The steelworkers have shown their commitment time and time again. In spite of being shut out by this government, they have actively sought out potential buyers to keep this plant operating.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: It is hard to imagine what else could be done to demonstrate to this government their commitment. My question to you, Mr. Minister, given the clear commitment of steelworkers for the best possible outcome of Sydney Steel for the workers, why will you not commit to including them in the evaluation process?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would also indicate to the member opposite, we had a teleconference board of directors meeting last Tuesday evening, and Mr. Kingston was involved in that and is keeping abreast of the situation. So, Mr. Kingston is doing his part on behalf of the steelworkers and, as I said, we have incorporated discussions with the steelworkers in reviewing the Ernst & Young recommendations.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, what you hear from this minister and what you hear from the steelworkers' leadership in Cape Breton is clearly different. There is no consultation with steelworkers, and they are clearly out of the process because this minister and this government don't want workers involved. My question is, given the refusal to include the stakeholders in this process, I ask the minister, what guarantee will you give this House that the evaluation process will be as informed as possible and place the greatest emphasis of preserving jobs and economic benefits for the community of Cape Breton?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we said from the outset that it is our number-one priority to ensure that if there is a buyer who will continue to operate the steel plant, that is what we are looking for. Obviously the extension of the process was a direct result of the level of interest. We are looking at those proposals to ensure that it will continue to operate if that is possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East. You have two minutes.

EDUC. - QUALITY: CAREER - CONSIDERATIONS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thought it was 1:02 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, three minutes, you are right.

DR. SMITH: Okay, Mr. Speaker, I won't need that much time, but I have a very important question. I would like to ask the Minister of Education, does she agree that most

[Page 4358]

people take into consideration the quality of public education when deciding where to set up their careers and locate their families?

HON. JANE PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I agree that families with children, or planning to have children, do very much consider the quality of education when deciding where to relocate. Hopefully more of them will relocate here because we have an excellent education system.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, time after time, the quality of the local education system is the most important factor, I believe, when people decide whether they want to stay and work in a province or to move to another province. My question to the minister, has this minister's government determined the impact of education cuts on its ability to attract and retain people with the skills that this province needs to compete in the new economy of the 21st Century?

[1:00 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we have an excellent education system here, both in public education and post-secondary education. Many people are moving to Nova Scotia for many reasons - education, quality of life, beautiful scenery, the sea - and they will continue to do so.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this government claims that part of its plan for health care is to recruit. The minister sits alongside of the Minister of Health, and maybe they should talk to each other once in a while. This government claims that health care is to recruit new nurses and doctors to Nova Scotia - nurses and doctors who can work anywhere they want in North America. One of the most important recruiting factors is the quality of the local public education system.

My question to the minister, how can this minister expect that her government will be able to attract doctors and nurses and other health care professionals when her budget cuts are destroying the foundation of Nova Scotia's education system? How can she explain that?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this government's budget and the budget that we will present in following years are what is going to save Nova Scotia, what is going to make Nova Scotia a more attractive place to invest, to move, to live, to raise children. Without the steps that we are taking, fewer people will be moving to Nova Scotia, fewer students will be educated, and that is a fact. (Interruptions)

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

[Page 4359]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I think it is important for the record to note, especially after the bafflegab and verbal diarrhea that was put forth relative to agriculture by the honourable member for Lunenburg West, that it was that government, three years ago, that shut the Agriculture office down in Musquodoboit. (Interruptions)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, if there is anybody in this House who should be brought to order for verbal diarrhea, it is that member over there. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No point of order that I have heard to this point.

[GOVERNMENT MOTIONS]

[1:03 p.m. As previously agreed, the House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[3:22 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 44.

Bill No. 44 - Acadia University Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 4360]

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as an alumnus of Acadia, it is an honour to speak on behalf of that university, which has been rated by Maclean's Magazine as the best overall primarily undergraduate university in the entire country.

The Acadia University Board of Governors has requested a change to the current board structure, which at present they consider too large and unwieldy. This change would reduce the board to 24 members from the current total of 37: 3 from the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces; 3 from the faculty, unchanged from the previous board, only an increase in percentage; 3 students, the highest percentage of students on any Maritime university board; 3 alumni; 2 nominees by this government; the president of the university; the principal of the Divinity College; the other members, Mr. Speaker, will be members-at-large, whose addition to the board will help Acadia meet the challenges of the new millennium while continuing its fine academic tradition.

So, Mr. Speaker, I respectfully move second reading of Bill No.44, An Act respecting Acadia University.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 44, the Acadia University Act. Since 1838, Acadia University has been a source of pride for Nova Scotia. Year after year, Acadia University consistently receives high scores in the annual Maclean's Magazine ranking of Canadian universities. The university awards over $1 million annually in scholarships, bursaries, awards and prizes. Acadia has a full-time student population of over 3,400 from over 30 countries. Acadia's students continue to win more national awards per 1,000 students than any other primarily undergraduate university in Canada. That article is laid out in Maclean's Magazine, the November 23, 1998, edition.

Mr. Speaker, speaking on Bill No. 44, it is our understanding that the university administration is in favour of this piece of legislation, however, we know that there have been some reservations expressed by some sectors of the Acadia community, namely the Acadia Faculty Association, the alumni, and also the Acadia Student Union. It is important that all stakeholders are comfortable with this bill. That is why our Liberal caucus has concerns about the way this bill was brought to the House.

Mr. Speaker, it certainly has been the tradition of this House that any time a Private Member's Bill is introduced, it is being sponsored by the local member. However, this particular bill was introduced by the member for Kings North, which is unusual. This is unusual, considering Acadia University is located next door, in the riding of Kings South. I wonder what circumstances would keep the MLA for Kings South from introducing the bill himself. We can only speculate. Perhaps the member for Kings South has a problem with this particular bill and did not want to put his name on it. Perhaps the member for Kings South disagreed with this bill; a bill that the university administration supports. Regardless, I would

[Page 4361]

be very interested in hearing the member for Kings South speak on this bill, and explain to this House what this bill means to him, and maybe he could explain to us why he did not introduce this bill to this House himself.

Mr. Speaker, among other things, this bill will change the name and the composition of the governing body of Acadia University, as the member for Kings North indicated. In closing, our caucus is in support of Bill No. 44, the Acadia University Act, to pass second reading, which will then be forwarded to the Committee on Private and Local Bills, where all stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss this bill in a public forum. Certainly, we are interested in allowing those who are in support to come forward and support this piece of legislation, and at the same time, those who have some reservations, concerns on this bill, to come forward as well. I hope the member for Kings South will make an appearance at the Committee on Private and Local Bills, or yet, when the bill comes back, we will certainly have a chance to go through this bill in the Committee of Whole House on Bills. Maybe at that time, the honourable member for Kings South will have the opportunity to share his concerns, if he has any, on this bill, and, maybe at the same time, explain why he did not introduce this bill himself.

Mr. Speaker, with those few comments, I will take my seat and allow some other members to speak on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think here in Nova Scotia we take a lot of pride in our universities. We certainly have a lot to feel proud of. Year after year Maclean's Magazine comes out with their assessment of universities in the country, and we can always count on many of our universities being in the top 5, the top 10 universities in the entire country. We should tip our hat to the faculty, the students, the administration, the alumni and the community of Wolfville, where Acadia University is located, for their consistent high ranking in that particular survey. I can't claim to be an alumnus of Acadia, as much as I would like to. It is an absolutely beautiful campus with a very fine curriculum. They are very well known for many programs such as their special education program, their education counselling degrees and their arts degree, generally.

[3:30 p.m.]

My very first experience in a university was doing a summer school at Acadia many years ago. It is a wonderful place to be, and, of course, the Annapolis Valley is one of the most beautiful parts of our province. You couldn't ask for a more picturesque kind of place. It is a beautiful place.

[Page 4362]

Now, Mr. Speaker, the university is a community. Universities are communities and like all communities, they have their own particular set of characteristics or features, and certainly, I think that Acadia as a community has its own set of unique characteristics and features. Like all communities, there isn't always complete agreement on particular routes to take for the direction that a community should move in. It is my understanding that, while some members of the Acadia community want to go this particular route, not necessarily all members want to go in this direction. That is something we need to understand better, I think, here in the Legislature, and we need to hear more about.

Mr. Speaker, I, like the member for Clare, am somewhat puzzled by the fact that the member for Kings South, where Acadia University is located, didn't in fact introduce this Private Member's Bill. I look forward to hearing from that member and what his views are because I would trust that he would have some close contact with Acadia University as an institution and a community, and probably would be able to shed some light on the nature of this community and on the various ideas about this particular direction and path that the board of governors is interested in taking. I know the member for Kings South. He is a thoughtful member. He would have ideas that would probably inform the rest of us on how we should approach this particular piece of legislation. I would look forward to his assistance on this, for sure.

I understand that members of the NDP caucus have no problem with this bill going forward to the Committee on Private and Local Bills, so that members of the public, members of the university community, members from the Wolfville area and beyond will have an opportunity to examine the proposed changes and give us their best assessment of what it is that we as legislators should do on this particular bill.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I am looking forward to hearing from members of the public as I am sure all of the members of my caucus are.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to be too long on this particular piece of legislation. I wanted to speak on the principle of it and the principle of the governance of universities in general across the province because they are all inter-related.

Bringing this particular piece of legislation before the House, is a good effort to reflect on a number of issues. We have a number of universities across this province and I know over the last number of years, Mr. Speaker, there has been a number of joint studies between the universities collectively, in concert with the provincial government in terms of funding arrangements, indeed, to ensure that the best possible representation at the community level, as well as ensuring that the right blend of expertise from a broad spectrum across the community is represented on these particular boards.

[Page 4363]

I know just recently with some of the difficulties that we had at the University College of Cape Breton, one of the issues that did come up was the ability of the student body to be able to participate in the decision making at the board of governors' level. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the president at that particular university had been prevented from attending some board meetings that affected the entire university student body by legislation similar to what is in this particular piece of legislation. There is a requirement that the student body receive representation on that particular board of governors.

The fact that this particular bill comes forth and makes representation, albeit that we are reducing the total number from 37 down to 24, we are still ensuring that there is sufficient representation from the student body. I think that is good, Mr. Speaker, because that is essentially what this university of some 3,800 students is all about, that we have representation, not just at the executive level, but from the student body at large. I think that is very good and it is an opportunity to reflect on the governance of universities in other locations across the province.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is good. I think if this is the wish of the board of governors and the United Baptist Convention to move in this direction, I think that is a decision that was made locally and I wouldn't see that there would be any problem with that, although I must say, I am somewhat perplexed. It is the first time in the history of the House that I have noticed that a member introducing a piece of legislation from a Private Member's Bill initiative is not the member representing that particular constituency.

In other words, even when the government had certain policy initiatives that they saw fit to ensure some changes in local pieces of legislation, whether it be board of governors on, let's say, the Bairncroft Orphanage Society located in Sydney River, where they had to restructure the mandate and the composition of that particular board - I was a sitting Opposition member and the protocol was that the government allowed me, as the sitting member, to introduce that particular piece of legislation. Yet we have a member on the government side sitting and representing this particular constituency, the residency of this particular university, and he is not taking the initiative to respond to the request of the board of governors.

One has to question as to what the motivation is? Why is it been that this honourable member is not responding to this particular request? It is not that it is going to be the end of the world, Mr. Speaker, we all know that, but there are certain conventions and traditions that have been inherent in this House. I think the fact that a private member is bringing, a very worthy and worthwhile piece of legislation, it is incumbent on perhaps a future day that the honourable member for Kings South, not Kings North, explain the shift of tradition.

[Page 4364]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As the honourable member well knows, we certainly heard that statement you are making, several times today and it does not have anything to do with the principle of the bill. I would ask the honourable member to speak to the principle of the bill.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I think there is a principle there, but perhaps there are two principles: the principle of representation and the principle of the bill. I certainly agree with you and I will not take issue with that. You have to appreciate as well, that I, as a member, did not repeat that over and over again, I just made that point once.

Mr. Speaker, I realize we are getting close to the moment of adjournment for the long weekend. I would certainly support this going on to the Private and Local Bills Committee. I am certainly looking for some further explanation by not only the member for Kings North, but also the member for Kings South, should he wish to speak on this bill.

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

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, thank you honourable members of the Opposition for your very fine comments about my alma mater, an alma mater started by the Church that I happened to be ordained by, as well. I, too, look forward, as members of my caucus do, I am sure, to hearing further interventions once this reaches the Private and Local Bills Committee. So I move second reading of Bill No. 44, An Act respecting Acadia University.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 44. 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 Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn to meet again on Tuesday, at the hour of 12:00 p.m. and we will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Supply followed by the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. I don't think there are any bills for second reading. (Interruption) We have a Private Member's Public Bill for Second Reading which we may get into. I hope everybody has a great weekend.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that we now rise until Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

[Page 4365]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 3:43 p.m.]