The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., May 19, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 6271
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2195, Exco - Swissair Flight 111: Treasure Search -
Request Refuse, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6272
Res. 2196, YMCA (Hfx.) - Women's Recognition Awards (2000):
Winners - Congrats., Mr. R. MacLellan 6273
Vote - Affirmative 6273
Res. 2197, Health - Mental Health Serv.: Benefits - Recognize,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6273
Vote - Affirmative 6274
Res. 2198, Speaker (Hon. Murray Scott): Ruling (18/05/00) -
Questioned, Mr. J. Holm 6274
Res. 2199, Educ. - C.B.-Vict. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Dr. Hayes MacNeil
(Sydney) [Supt.] - Dedication Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 6275
Vote - Affirmative 6275
Res. 2200, Scouts (Can.) - Venturers (James Scott & Ned Burns
[Maitland]): Meritorious Conduct - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 6276
Vote - Affirmative 6276
Res. 2201, PC Caucus (N.S.) - HRM Discretionary Funds:
Answers (Premier) - Provide, Mr. Robert Chisholm 6276
Res. 2202, Sports - Shoot Wrestling (Champs. [N.S.]): Chester &
Bridgewater Clubs - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 6277
Vote - Affirmative 6278
Res. 2203, Educ. - W. Col. Consol. Sch.: Project (Econ. R.) -
Grade 9 (Hazel Sherren & Students) Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 6278
Vote - Affirmative 6279
Res. 2204, Health - Nursing: Morale Low - Info.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6279
Res. 2205, Health - Nurses: Commitment - Failure, Dr. J. Smith 6279
Res. 2206, Seniors - Society: Vital Members - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 6280
Res. 2207, Econ. Dev. - Min.: Question Period - Unaware &
Unconcerned Use, Mr. F. Corbett 6281
Res. 2208, Nat. Res. - Bird Habitats Protection: Organizations -
Recognize, Mr. K. MacAskill 6281
Vote - Affirmative 6282
Res. 2209, Health - RNA [N.S.]: Award (Excellence) - Isobel Cream
(Hillcrest Manor) Congrats., (By Mr. J. DeWolfe) Hon. J. Muir 6282
Vote - Affirmative 6283
Res. 2210, Health - SCIP (N.S.): Injury Prevention - Efforts Laud,
Mr. D. Dexter 6283
Vote - Affirmative 6284
Res. 2211, Educ. - l'Universite Sainte-Anne: Dr. Neil Boucher (VP) -
Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 6284
Vote - Affirmative 6284
Res. 2212, Educ. - PAGE: Efforts - Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 6284
Res. 2213, Environ. - Jobs (Summer): Restructuring Costs Fund - Use,
Mr. P. MacEwan 6285
Res. 2214, Health - Nurses: Recruitment - Begin, Mr. H. Epstein 6286
Res. 2215, Zion Presbyterian Ch. (Louisbourg): Anniv. 100th -
Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 6287
Vote - Affirmative 6287
Res. 2216, Justice - Hfx. Reg. Police Serv.: Commun. Info. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Pye 6287
Vote - Affirmative 6288
Res. 2217, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Laurentian Sub-Basin -
Hard Line (Premier) Take, Mr. R. MacLellan 6288
Res. 2218, Speaker (Hon. Murray Scott): Ruling (18/05/00) -
Questioned, Mr. J. Holm 6289
Res. 2219, Econ. Dev. - Queens Reg. Dev. Agency: Visitors
Encouragement - Success Wish, Mr. D. Downe 6290
Vote - Affirmative 6303
Res. 2220, Volunteerism - E. Hants Mun.: Vol. (Patti Peters [Rawdon DS])
Recognition (14/04/00) - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 6290
Vote - Affirmative 6291
Res. 2221, Health - Care: Epilepsy - Level Retain, Dr. J. Smith 6291
Res. 2222, Health - Cuts: Bed Closures - Impact, Mr. Robert Chisholm 6292
Res. 2223, Econ. Dev. - Stora Enso: Commitment - Commend,
Mr. M. Samson 6293
Vote - Affirmative 6293
Res. 2224, Health - Treatment: Remoteness (Drive [2 Hrs.]) -
Justify, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6293
Res. 2225, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Alliance Party MLA (N.S.):
Declare - Consider, Mr. P. MacEwan 6294
Res. 2226, YMCA (Gtr. Hfx./Dart.) - Newcomers' Ctr.: Serv. -
Congrats., (By Ms. Maureen MacDonald) Ms. E. O'Connell 6295
Vote - Affirmative 6295
Res. 2227, Atl. Premiers, Council of - Cooperation: Give & Take -
Recognize (Premier), Mr. D. Wilson 6296
Res. 2228, Health - Lisa Facchin: Organ Donation - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 6296
Vote - Affirmative 6297
Res. 2229, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Strategy Develop,
Mr. D. Dexter 6297
Res. 2230, Culture - Shearwater Aviation Museum: Fund-Raising -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 6298
Vote - Affirmative 6298
Res. 2231, Coast Guard (Cdn.): Rescue (Dingwall [15/05/00]) -
Commend, Mr. K. MacAskill 6299
Vote - Affirmative 6299
Res. 2232, Dart. N. MLA - Pye: Name Shortest - Thankful,
Mr. H. Epstein 6299
Vote - Affirmative 6300
Res. 2233, Volunteerism - E. Hants Mun.: Vol. (Shirley Myers
[Girl Guides Can.] Recognition (14/04/00) - Congrats.,
Mr. John MacDonell 6300
Vote - Affirmative 6301
Res. 2234, PC Backbenchers: Code of Conduct - Introduce (Premier),
Mr. J. Pye 6301
Res. 2235, St. Mgts. Bay Lions Club - Seeing Eye Dogs: Sponsorship -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 6301
Vote - Affirmative 6302
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
House of Assembly: Standing Committees - Membership List,
Hon. R. Russell 6303
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 47, Education Act 6303
Amendment [debate resumed] 6303
Mr. H. Epstein 6304
Mr. J. Pye 6312
Mr. John MacDonell 6319
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6324
Mr. R. MacLellan 6332
Vote - Negative 6338
Hon. R. Russell 6338
Previous Question Put 6338
Adjourned debate 6338
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., May 23rd at 2:00 p.m. 6338

[Page 6271]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 19, 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.

The honourable Government House Leader on an introduction.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this morning to draw to the attention of yourself and to members of the Legislature, the presence in your gallery of the Honourable Bev Harrison, the Speaker of the New Brunswick Legislature. Mr. Harrison was first elected to government in a very good year, 1978. That was the year that I came to this place so we belong to a very exclusive club. Mr. Harrison is also a high school principal so he has much in common - I think we have about four or five high school principals in our Legislature. We have great pleasure in welcoming you this morning, Mr. Speaker, and please enjoy your stay with us. I would ask members to give the Speaker of the New Brunswick Legislature a very warm welcome. (Standing Ovation)

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

6271

[Page 6272]

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2195

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

Whereas the Swissair tragedy touched everyone in this province; and

Whereas the site where the plane went down is the resting place, the grave for 229 people; and

Whereas to allow a treasure search at this location would not only cause the families of the victims immeasurable grief and pain but also the communities around the crash site, who frantically searched for survivors on that terrible night;

Therefore be it resolved that this government act immediately and refuse the request by Lloyd's of London to look for treasure, thus allowing the people who tragically died on that fateful evening, and their families, some peace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 6273]

RESOLUTION NO. 2196

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

Whereas the YWCA of Halifax will honour outstanding women at the 20th Annual Women's Recognition Awards on Monday, May 29, 2000; and

Whereas each year the YWCA of Halifax publicly acknowledges the outstanding efforts of local women who improve the quality of life in our community; and

Whereas this year's honourees include Mary Ann Crowley, Katherine Geraghty, Edith May Colley, Patricia Hiscock, Sherry Niven, Pearl Sparks and Marg Hiltz;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their sincere congratulations to these outstanding women for their continued contributions to our communities and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2197

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

Whereas in our blue book, our Party promised to undertake a comprehensive review of the delivery of mental health services, particularly as they relate to child and adolescent mental health; and

Whereas on March 6th, the Minister of Health delivered upon that promise by launching a comprehensive review of mental health services; and

[Page 6274]

Whereas while this review is underway, the budget for mental health services in the northern region of Nova Scotia remains at the 1999-2000 budget level of just over $5.8 million;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the benefits that better access to mental health services will bring to northern Nova Scotia and throughout the 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. 2198

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

Whereas contrary to Rule 9(1) of our rules, the Speaker cited no rule or authority when he asked the member for Dartmouth North to withdraw a question asking the Premier to investigate Conservative MLAs' use of discretionary funds that have allegedly been misused; and

Whereas this ignored the authoritative statement that, "by far, the most important right accorded to members of the House is the exercise of freedom of speech in parliamentary proceedings."; and

Whereas there is no rule, authority, precedent or practice requiring documentation of questions or statements in this House;

Therefore be it resolved that this House questions the Speaker's May 18, 2000, ruling and affirms members freedom of speech to question Cabinet Ministers about any alleged or perceived misconduct by the government of the day and, in particular, urge the Speaker not to enter into disputes about facts between two members because that is not a point of order.

[Page 6275]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice was too long.

[The notice is tabled.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2199

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

Whereas Dr. Hayes MacNeil of Sydney has had a long and distinguished career as an educator, community activist and education administrator; and

Whereas Dr. MacNeil will be retiring from his duties as Superintendent for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; and

Whereas Dr. MacNeil's work with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has resulted in one of the best education districts in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dr. Hayes MacNeil for his extraordinary dedication to education and wish him all the best in his retirement.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I believe this resolution speaks for the majority of young people in Nova Scotia.

[Page 6276]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2200

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

Whereas Scouts Canada has honoured two Maitland, Hants County, Venturers for attempting last December to assist an unconscious man; and

Whereas James Scott, 16, and Ned Burns, 17, received the certificate for meritorious conduct presented by the National Council of Scouts Canada; and

Whereas while unfortunately the victim did not survive, Maitland Fire Chief Albert Hannah was struck by the action taken by these two young men and called their Scoutmaster to commend them;

Therefore be it resolved that Venturers James Scott and Ned Burns be congratulated by this Legislature for lending a quick hand to a stranger in an emergency last December.

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 Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2201

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

Whereas allegations have been made at the Halifax Regional Municipality Council that councillors' discretionary funds were used improperly by the now MLA for Eastern Shore during the election campaign; and

[Page 6277]

Whereas these discretionary funds were also available to the now MLAs for Preston and for Sackville-Beaver Bank; and

Whereas it would be prudent for a Premier who claims a higher level of integrity to assure Nova Scotians that no government caucus members improperly used discretionary municipal funds;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to obtain and provide the answers about spending of HRM discretionary funds by his caucus colleagues for partisan purposes that many ordinary Nova Scotians are seeking and put this matter to rest rather than stonewalling a simple request.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2202

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

Whereas the first provincial shoot wrestling championship was held in Truro on April 16th of this year; and

Whereas all competitors from the Chester and Bridgewater clubs won medals in their respective divisions; and

Whereas the members of the two clubs are David Reynolds, Luke Seamone, Peter Dimmell, Adam Wells, Tina Mingo and Sigrid Ziegler;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the success of the Chester and Bridgewater shoot wrestling clubs and wish them success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 6278]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2203

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

Whereas the West Colchester Consolidated School in Bass River recently had a new education program, that students developed almost by accident, featured at a two day provincial education conference in Halifax; and

Whereas the program involved all 38 Grade 9 students from West Colchester Consolidated and dealt with conducting some tests on the Economy River; and

Whereas West Colchester Consolidated Vice-Principal and science teacher Hazel Sherren said the study of the Economy River will be a three year project and is looking forward to future Grade 9 students participating in this program;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend both teacher Hazel Sherren and the 38 Grade 9 students for their intuition and interest in making this project the success it has become.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 6279]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2204

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

Whereas the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia gathered in Dartmouth for the past two days and passed a resolution to challenge this government's budget cuts; and

Whereas yesterday nurse Lisa Nicks stated, "We're all scared for ourselves, but we're all scared for the people lying in the hospital beds as well"; and

Whereas nurses' work and professional standards are at the heart of patient care and their concerns are a grave warning about Conservative health reform;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health explain to Nova Scotians why he has allowed the nursing morale to reach an all-time low and when his government will recruit more than 600 nurses to resolve this dangerous situation.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2205

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

Whereas on Page 7 of the Tory blue book, it promises to work with the nursing profession to make sure the work environment offers a rewarding and positive experience; and

[Page 6280]

Whereas in a recent survey of nurses, over one-half said they would discourage others from entering the profession; and

Whereas the failure of this government to honour its promises to nurses has caused serious harm to morale in the nursing profession;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government admit it has failed to live up to its commitment to nurses and recognize that massive cuts to the health care system will result in more unrest in the nursing profession.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2206

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I know you have a special interest in this resolution.

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

Whereas seniors across Nova Scotia have contributed a tremendous amount of work over the years to make this province what it is today; and

Whereas once the Financial Measures (2000) Act is passed, our government will begin removing the grandfather clause of the Seniors Property Tax Rebate Program; and

Whereas with the passage of the Financial Measures (2000) Act, seniors not previously eligible will all receive $70 payments this year, $85 next year, $100 the following year and 50 per cent of their property tax bill up to a maximum of $400 in year four;

Therefore be it resolved that seniors will continue to be recognized by our government in this Legislature as vital members of our society.

[Page 6281]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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. 2207

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

Whereas last week in an amazing act of total unawareness, Captain Chaos, the Minister of Health plead ignorance to the loss of 418 jobs at the QE II when everyone else seemed to know; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development appears to have attended the same school as the Minister of Health when answering questions in this House; and

Whereas just like the Minister of Health, the Minister of Economic Development was unaware about a brewing scandal in his department over leaked documents to Tory riding associations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development adopt the words of Captain Chaos when answering questions in this House, those being, I am unaware and unconcerned.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 2208

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

[Page 6282]

Whereas whether they have fur, fins or feathers, Nova Scotia's wildlife is internationally known for its diversity; and

Whereas the international Important Bird Areas Program is funding five bird habitat protection projects in Nova Scotia this year; and

Whereas funding will go to bird habitat protection projects in Pomquet, Country Harbour, Yarmouth, Bird Islands in Cape Breton, and St. Margarets Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution of the countless organizations in Nova Scotia that are working to protect and foster safe bird habitats.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2209

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Honourable James Muir, the honourable Minister of Health, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Isobel Cream received an Excellence in Nursing Practice Award from the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia at its 2000 Annual Meeting; and

Whereas Isobel Cream is described as cheerful, determined, caring, knowledgable, gentle, and compassionate in her role as Manager of Resident Care at Hillcrest Manor; and

Whereas before joining the Hillcrest Manor staff, Isobel was head nurse in Medical Nursing at the Colchester Regional Hospital for more than 25 years;

[Page 6283]

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Isobel Cream on earning an Excellence in Nursing Practice Award and thank her for proving a standard of care for more than 25 years that is an exemplary model for others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2210

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

Whereas this week marks Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week; and

Whereas spinal cord injuries exact a great toll on the health of Canadians, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 25 years, and billions of dollars are spent annually in Canada on health care for such injuries; and

Whereas Spinal Cord Injury Prevention Nova Scotia, or SCIP, has worked diligently to develop prevention strategies to reduce the number of these tragic injuries;

Therefore be it resolved that this House laud the efforts of SCIP Nova Scotia and urge this government to do all in its power to aid SCIP in preventing these catastrophic injuries.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6284]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 2211

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

Whereas Dr. Neil Boucher has recently been appointed Vice-President of Academic and Research at l'Universite Sainte-Anne; and

Whereas Dr. Boucher has earned a doctorate in Canadian history and is an expert in Acadian history with many research projects under his belt; and

Whereas he has been and continues to be an active member of numerous community organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that Dr. Neil Boucher be congratulated by the members of this House for his recent appointment and for his continued involvement in his community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2212

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

[Page 6285]

Whereas the Public Action Group for Education, or PAGE, was formed in April with its mandate to fight for the equitable distribution of educational funding throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas the goal of PAGE is to make the school system the best system in the world; and

Whereas their wish is that education in Nova Scotia be viewed as an investment, not a cost, and they hope to eliminate underfunding in the school system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the members of the Public Action Group for Education in their efforts to strengthen the education system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2213

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

Whereas on Wednesday, the Department of the Environment announced that along with its community partners, it will be hiring close to 60 youth for 22 environmental team projects across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas last year, under good a Liberal Government, the Department of the Environment hired more than 150 youth, with the province contributing $300,000 for environmental projects throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Tories' gutting of the Department of the Environment results in the end of summer employment for almost 90 students across this province;

[Page 6286]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment should dip into the ever-so-popular slush fund and increase the number of jobs, so that more students across Nova Scotia can gain summer employment experience.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2214

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

Whereas two newly released studies show the Province of Nova Scotia is in dire need of 600 additional nurses; and

Whereas one report states "the point is quickly approaching where public safety will be at risk"; and

Whereas this Tory Government received this report 10 months ago, and campaigned on a promise to end the nursing shortage;

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately begin to recruit the 493 new registered nurses, and 200 to 400 nurses required for long-term care this report says are necessary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 6287]

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2215

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

Whereas Zion Presbyterian Church in Louisbourg is marking the 100th Anniversary of the congregation this weekend; and

Whereas the weekend also marks the 68th Anniversary of the church building; and

Whereas the anniversary celebrations began with a worship service last evening, and will continue with special Sunday services at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., with the 7:00 o'clock service being followed by a fellowship hour in the church hall;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to the congregation of the Zion Presbyterian Church in Louisbourg on the occasion of their 100th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2216

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

Whereas this week is Municipal Police Week; and

[Page 6288]

Whereas in the Halifax Regional Municipality the venue for displaying many of the varied operations carried out by the municipal police services is held at the Dartmouth Sportsplex; and

Whereas this is an opportunity for citizens of the municipality to become better aware of the services offered by their police services and to ask questions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax Regional Police Services on their efforts to keep the community informed about their operations.

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.

Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber, you can't hear the speaker.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2217

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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia stands to benefit greatly from the gas reserves of the Laurentian Sub-basin and the boundary dispute between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland remains unresolved; and

Whereas the dispute over the boundary causes instability and uncertainty and discourages exploration companies from exploring the areas of the sub-basin in question; and

Whereas the Premier of Nova Scotia refuses to take a strong stand on the issue by bringing the matter to arbitration;

[Page 6289]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier start representing the best interests of this province and take a hard line in the boundary dispute in the Laurentian Sub-basin, so that Nova Scotia can begin to reap the benefits of the new industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2218

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 Speaker ignored Rule 9(1) of our rules when he asked the member for Dartmouth North to withdraw a question; and

Whereas this ignored the authoritative statement that "by far the most important right accorded to members of the House is the exercise of freedom of speech"; and

Whereas there is no rule, authority, precedent or practice requiring documentation of questions or statements in this House;

Therefore be it resolved that this House questions the Speaker's May 18, 2000, ruling, and affirms members' freedom of speech to question Cabinet Ministers about any alleged or perceived misconduct.

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.

[Page 6290]

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[9:30 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2219

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 and Queens Counties have close cultural and historic ties with German-speaking people; and

Whereas Queen's Regional Development Agency is launching a strategic marketing plan that will encourage entrepreneurs from Germany and other European countries to consider doing business on the South Shore of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this new marketing plan will help diversify the economies of the South Shore communities affected by the downsizing of the groundfishery;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House wish success to Queen's Regional Development Agency in their bid to encourage more visitors to come to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2220

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

Whereas Patti Peters, a volunteer at the Rawdon District School, received from the Municipality of East Hants a certificate of appreciation on April 14th for her many volunteer efforts in her community; and

[Page 6291]

Whereas Ms. Peters has been a mainstay with the Hot Lunch Program and provides individual support to students with speech and language therapy; and

Whereas Patti Peters has been involved with home and school and has given of herself so generously in so many ways, she has become indispensable to her community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Patti Peters for her outstanding service to her community and congratulate the Rawdon District School and Rawdon District Home and School Association for having the good fortune of having Patti Peters' talent.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2221

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

Whereas despite mounting evidence, the Health Minister still clings to the belief that massive cuts to health care will not have a negative effect on patient care; and

Whereas the Epilepsy Association is afraid that the cut of the Epilepsy Program Coordinator at the QE II Health Sciences Centre will result in longer wait times and reduced access for Nova Scotians needing treatment; and

Whereas the Epilepsy Program Coordinator was not just an administrator but was directly involved in patient care and a navigator through the system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister re-evaluate his unreasonable cuts in order to guarantee that Nova Scotians with epilepsy will not suffer from a reduced level of care.

[Page 6292]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2222

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

Whereas May 19, 2000, one year after his Leader promised health care would be the Conservative priority, the Health Minister told this House that, "yes, in some cases driving two hours to get medical care is acceptable"; and

Whereas two hour drives are necessary due to bed closures caused by the nursing shortage, despite Tory promises to hire enough nurses; and

Whereas residents of Lunenburg, Kings, Hants, Colchester, Pictou and Antigonish Counties know what it means when this government said it is okay to drive two hours to reach the nearest hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that for Nova Scotians the bottom line is the increasing number of bed closures and the increasingly unsafe conditions in a health care system the Premier wants to hit with his biggest cutbacks.

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 Richmond.

[Page 6293]

RESOLUTION NO. 2223

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

Whereas Stora Enso is the largest forest product company in Nova Scotia, producing 350,000 tons of supercalendered paper and more than 185,000 tons of newsprint; and

Whereas located in Point Tupper, Richmond County, Stora Enso is home to the world's largest and fastest supercalendered paper machine; and

Whereas since the merger of Stora of Sweden and Enso of Finland last year, Stora Enso has recently launched its new corporate brochure featuring its forest product operation and woodlands activity in northeastern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize Stora Enso as an integral part of economic development in Nova Scotia and commend the company for its continued commitment to forestry in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2224

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

Whereas the Minister of Health, Captain Chaos, thinks it is all right for people to drive two hours to access health care; and

[Page 6294]

Whereas you can only liken these thoughts to the equally disturbing words uttered earlier by the Minister of Education who thought that 50 children in a classroom was okay; and

Whereas the Minister of Education withdrew those words in the face of outraged parents, students and educators, but not the Tory policy of much larger high school classes;

Therefore be it resolved that Captain Chaos turn to the Premier, who is a doctor himself, and ask the Premier if he thinks a two hour car drive to obtain medical attention is something he would recommend to one of his patients.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I trust you will allow the following resolution. It is not meant in any disrespect for yourself, I want to assure you.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, honourable member, we will see that.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2225

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

Whereas the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has advocated the regulation of gas prices to protect the motorists of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Leader of his Party is against the regulation of gas prices; and

Whereas the Leader of the Tory Party says that deregulation has benefited the motorists of Nova Scotia;

[Page 6295]

Therefore be it resolved that since the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has issued the first campaign statement for the Alliance Party, he should consider declaring himself the first Alliance Party MLA in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2226

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

Whereas the YMCA has long contributed to the development of our communities; and

Whereas the YMCA has a Host Program that allows us to increase our circle of friends across different cultures through English language instruction, educational seminars and service learning placements; and

Whereas the YMCA of Greater Halifax-Dartmouth established a YMCA Newcomers' Centre on Dutch Village Road, where such volunteer aid includes two programs for recent immigrant youth;

Therefore be it resolved this House congratulate all those involved with the YMCA Newcomers' Centre for their outstanding service to the immigrant community.

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

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

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 East.

[Page 6296]

RESOLUTION NO. 2227

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

Whereas Pat Binns, the Premier of P.E.I., gets more respect at Premiers' conferences than our Premier; and

Whereas the Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Tobin, is running circles around the Premier in laying claim to offshore oil and gas wealth; and

Whereas when Premier Lord of New Brunswick says jump, our Premier says, how high?;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier recognize that Atlantic Canadian cooperation is give and take and that before he gives anything away, that he look out for the interests of Nova Scotia first.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2228

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are supportive of organ donations; and

Whereas Jimmy McLellan of Dominion is a diabetic and was in need of a kidney transplant; and

Whereas Linda Facchin, a friend of Mr. McLellan, gave him a gift of life, one of her kidneys;

[Page 6297]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank Lisa Facchin for her selfless act of organ donation and that she be an example for all Nova Scotians.

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2229

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

Whereas the Minister of Health, Captain Chaos, acknowledges that a critical nursing shortage exists in Nova Scotia but he pleads, this government is doing all it can to resolve this shortage; and

Whereas Captain Chaos remarked yesterday in this House when asked by the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour about bed closures due to nursing shortages, that he can't see why the member is complaining when nurses need vacations to recharge their batteries; and

Whereas surely the minister does not imply that the standing operating practice in the future under his health care plan is to close hospital beds when nurses take badly needed vacations;

Therefore be it resolved that Captain Chaos be advised to broaden his outlook and to develop a strategy to deal with the nursing shortage that allows continuous, adequate health care without bed closures based on the vacation schedule of nurses.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6298]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2230

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

Whereas the Shearwater Aviation Museum is an important educational link between the proud history of our naval air service people and today's generation; and

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is extremely difficult to hear the member who has the floor.

Order, please. Order. It is really difficult to hear the honourable who has the floor.

MR. DEVEAUX: Whereas the Shearwater Aviation Museum is holding a fund-raising dinner and auction on June 17th at CFB Shearwater; and

Whereas the museum is attempting to expand to preserve more of our local history;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the workers and volunteers of this occasion and their continuing efforts to keep CFB Shearwater's aviation history preserved.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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 Victoria.

[Page 6299]

RESOLUTION NO. 2231

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

Whereas on Monday last, three lobster fishers were rescued from their sinking vessel off Dingwall in Victoria County; and

Whereas historically, the opening of lobster season has seen the most fishing related accidents; and

Whereas rescue operations from the Canadian Coast Guard were on the scene within minutes and received high praise from local fishers for ensuring that the endangered crew was brought to safety;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the rescue efforts of the Canadian Coast Guard for their dedication and outstanding commitment to safety.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2232

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

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North is plucky; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North is youthful; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North is eminent;

[Page 6300]

Therefore be it resolved that if you put them all together, they spell PYE, and we should be thankful that the member has the shortest name in the House or this resolution would be too long.

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter)

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2233

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 April 14th, the Municipality of East Hants awarded a certificate of appreciation to Shirley Myers for her outstanding volunteer contributions in her community; and

Whereas Shirley Myers has been a member of the Girl Guides of Canada, Tri-County Area for 17 years, a Guide leader in Lantz who has served with great dedication; and

Whereas Shirley is renowned in the community for always being there when help was needed and has been involved in many activities of great benefit to all around her;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Shirley Myers for her hard work and dedication and hold her out as a shining example of the person upon which communities are built and thrive.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6301]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[9:45 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2234

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

Whereas the Premier has introduced a code of conduct for his Cabinet; and

Whereas the Premier has not introduced a code of conduct for his backbenchers; and

Whereas it leads one to believe that perhaps the Premier lacks faith in the character of his backbench MLAs;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Premier is serious about the conduct of his government, he introduce a similar code of conduct for his backbenchers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2235

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

[Page 6302]

Whereas the St. Margarets Bay Lions Club will begin its campaign for a fifth seeing eye dog with its Annual Road Toll on June 3rd; and

Whereas these dogs cost in excess of $6,000 - I hope they are paper trained - which includes training expenses for the dog and its eventual owner at the Lions Seeing Eye Dog School in Oakville, Ontario; and

Whereas the St. Margarets Bay Lions have received international recognition for their sponsorship of seeing eye dogs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the St. Margarets Bay Lions for their good works, with best wishes in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Order, please. Earlier today, during resolutions, the honourable member for Lunenburg West presented a resolution and he has requested waiver of notice again be asked. The resolution was essentially about Queens Regional Development Agency. I can read the resolve.

Is it agreed that I read the resolve?

It is agreed.

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish success to the Queen's Regional Development Agency in their bid to encourage more visitors to come to Nova Scotia."

The honourable member has asked for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6303]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if I could have permission of the House to revert the order of business to Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure, as Chairman of the Striking Committee to table an updated membership list of the Standing Committees of the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The list is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 47.

Bill No. 47 - Education Act.

[Page 6304]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, when we left off last night, I had embarked upon a discussion with members of the House about the importance of education. I had pointed out that one of the major things that distinguished the metropolitan area from the rest of the province was, in terms of the generation of its wealth here, the emphasis that is placed upon education.

In brief conversations with some members after the House adjourned last night, some attempted to say that they thought I had indicated people in metro were smarter than people outside. I think they know that is not what I said, and I want to point out in no uncertain terms that I don't believe that. I know - we all know - that raw talent and brains show up everywhere; what we also know is that people of talent and brains often migrate to the city. The city is the place of the generation of wealth. It has been so in history, and it remains so now. You only have to read any of the studies of how cities operate to understand that. A transplanted American, now a long-time resident of Toronto, Jane Jacobs, has written extensively about how cities generate wealth. We know this, and one of the essential features of how that happens is because cities are places of concentration upon education.

The government members should know that education is central. I have to ask them another question. Last night I asked the members of this House to wonder why it is that the metropolitan region shows such great wealth compared with the rest of the province, great wealth and low unemployment rates. Now I want them to engage with me in a little game of Where's Waldo?

Mr. Speaker, any of us who have children who are teenagers or a little bit younger and have had within recent years, or have paid much attention to what is that children's literature has generated, will be aware of a whole series of books called Where's Waldo? You probably know what goes on in this series of books. There is a character with a stripey sweater, a pair of glasses and a toque who is hard to find in the pictures that are very detailed pictures. It is a pleasant game and a good exercise for the children, but the real question here is where is Allan Shaw. I want to know where Allan Shaw is in this debate about education. It is not Waldo I am so concerned about, but Allan Shaw seems to be playing a game like Where's Waldo? The man has disappeared off the face of the earth whereas he is one of the most recent public commentators, at the invitation of this government, on the importance of education to the generation of wealth in our province.

You will recall, we all recall that last autumn Voluntary Planning was asked to make recommendations to the government about how to put its fiscal house in order. It put together a committee chaired by Allan Shaw. Voluntary Planning is a group about 30 years old that was set up by a predecessor Progressive Conservative Government in order to provide input into the government policy-making process. It was meant as a formal vehicle for the business community to give advice to the government. I am happy to say that in the intervening years

[Page 6305]

Voluntary Planning has expanded its membership so that it is now representative of a number of sectors but, of course, the business sector still predominates at Voluntary Planning and they have done quite good work over the years.

Last fall the committee under the chairmanship of Allan Shaw got together and started its work. It issued a report in December. It then held public meetings to get reaction to its report and in late January of this year, not very many months ago, it issued its final report called Taking Control of Our Future, Final Report of Voluntary Planning's Fiscal Management Task Force. We all received copies and it was tabled in this House.

The very striking fact about Voluntary Planning's report - Taking Control of Our Future - is that it emphasized that in terms of wealth generation in Nova Scotia, education was where we had to make investments and it was obvious in Allan Shaw's committee's report that he was surprised to find himself and the committee reaching that conclusion. That committee, when it went off to do its work, thought it was going to come back and make recommendations for places where the government could cut back on their expenditures, achieve efficiencies and set up mechanisms to decide what was and was not a core government function, but Voluntary Planning keeps its eye on the ball. They know that the whole objective here was to create a healthier and economically better-off province. So they went out of their way to say to us, and to say to the government, that they ought to be investing in education.

I am going to read some sections from this report. It has already been tabled so all of this is in front of us but I think, for some unimaginable reason, the government has forgotten what it is that they were told by Voluntary Planning. I don't know what has happened to Allan Shaw in this debate, he seems to have disappeared.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where's Allan?

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, where is Allan, I am asked. I actually see him pretty well every Saturday morning at the Farmers' Market but I haven't seen him speaking up publicly, talking about what happened to my Voluntary Planning's report and our central recommendation that there ought to be investment in education in Nova Scotia by this Tory Government. It doesn't seem to be there and I don't know why.

Here is what it says on Page 12, "When the Task Force began its work, we certainly didn't expect our report on fiscal management would end with a focus on the issue of Lifelong Learning. But the more we heard and the more we investigated, the clearer it became that education in its broadest sense is a critical lever in achieving our Vision. The numbers are compelling. While they show that 40-50 per cent of Nova Scotians don't have some of the essential life skills to accomplish everyday living and workplace tasks, they also show clearly that the more education an individual has the more likely they are to be employed, the more likely the job they have will be well paying and rewarding, the more likely they will be

[Page 6306]

contributing to the province's tax base, the more likely they are to be healthy, and the less likely it is that they will need to make use of public health and social services. The idea we propose is to make Nova Scotia a learning society."

Now I pause here in quoting from the Voluntary Planning report to say that I hope every member opposite has read this report and particularly this passage. Nothing could be clearer. The members of the task force, led by Allan Shaw, were surprised to find themselves starting out looking for ways to save money and ending up as their most central recommendation that there ought to be investment in lifelong learning for every Nova Scotian. They were surprised but they had the courage to make that recommendation. I am sure that Allan Shaw and every one of the members of the Voluntary Planning task force is utterly appalled at what happened after their report came in. Their report came in at the very end of January and two months later, this government brings forward a budget in which they beat up on the Education Department and the schooling system.

That is, in part, what Bill No. 47 is all about and why it is that we ought to be going out and giving a forum for people like the Voluntary Planning task force to come forward and say to us what they think about this kind of thrust to interfere with and undermine the schooling system in Nova Scotia, because I am sure that those leading business people will come forward to the Law Amendments Committee if it is permitted to go around the province and hold hearings and they will say, why weren't we listened to? They will say, we did this research for you. They will say, we considered this matter. They will say, the only way forward for Nova Scotia is to invest in education. If people in Shelburne County and people in Queens County and people in Cumberland County and people in Cape Breton County want to find a secure, solid future for themselves, they had better do it through the mechanism of investing in education and they look to their provincial government to do that for them.

Do you know, investing in education was not the only observation made by the Voluntary Planning task force. They talked about a serious problem of what they called scepticism with respect to government. I want to read now a little passage from Page 18 of the Voluntary Planning's Fiscal Management Task Force report. This passage arises in the context in which they are explaining why it is that they heard a lot of scepticism from Nova Scotians about the political process. Here is what they say, "Nova Scotians have reasons for their skepticism. We have been misled by politicians for more years than we care to recall. We have been told one thing by politicians seeking our votes and another after the votes are cast. We have allowed our votes to be bought, often with our own tax dollars. We have also seen how governments help their friends and punish their enemies with our tax dollars. No wonder Nova Scotians don't trust their governments."

[Page 6307]

[10:00 a.m.]

Let me repeat the key sentence there. "We have been told one thing by politicians seeking our votes and another after the votes are cast." Not only does this sound familiar in terms of what has been said on the floor of this House by the Opposition members recently, it is an accurate description of what we are seeing here. On the one hand, Nova Scotians were told last year that there would be investments in important things like education. They certainly weren't told there were going to be cuts in their school children's education. Now something different is happening and it is not only that something different is happening, something is happening which people we would have thought were the closest and most respected advisors of this government told them they ought not to be doing, and told them in no uncertain terms.

I see no explanation, no engagement with this issue. I see nothing from the government that tells us why exactly it is that they think they should ignore Voluntary Planning's emphasis on lifelong learning. Why should they be ignoring the call that Voluntary Planning gave for investment in education?

This is not to the economic advantage of Nova Scotia, either in the short term or the long term. Let me read one more short passage from the report, this time from Page 61, "The conclusion is inescapable: investing in learning at every level is the single smartest thing we can do to improve our overall economic situation. But that isn't what we've been doing. Despite the obvious need to invest in education, government policy over the past decade has been to dramatically reduce spending on learning."

Nothing could be clearer than this statement. "The conclusion is inescapable: investing in learning at every level is the single smartest thing we can do to improve our overall economic situation." I don't know how it is that a government that specifically commissioned this report could turn around and ignore its recommendation. Its key recommendation, let me tell you, this is what it is that Voluntary Planning said was its key recommendation.

You know what? I'm laying this out for the members opposite as clearly as I possibly can and in as simple terms as I can in the hopes that they will follow it and yet, what we hear is some laughing and giggling and heckling. You know what? I would much rather they went next door and had their breakfast. If they are not going to listen, then they might as well go somewhere else. The point is that they have been told clearly, but somehow it has fallen on deaf ears, which is exactly why we need to immediately give the mandate to the Law Amendments Committee to take Bill No. 47 out on the road around the province to hear what it is that serious responsible business people, serious responsible parents, serious responsible citizens of Nova Scotia will have to say about undermining the education system in any way whatsoever.

[Page 6308]

I know that one of the essential tools of learning is repetition. Any teacher knows that, and it may have been that all the many people who spoke over the years and said education is important, it somehow did not register with the government. It may have been that the Voluntary Planning Task Force recommendations have not registered with this government. The whole point about the amendment that has been put forward now is that if perhaps we do it another time in a formal setting, focused on education and Bill No. 47, maybe this time the penny will drop and the message will be heard. That is the thrust of this amendment. That is the whole point about why it is we want this government, through the mechanism of the Law Amendments Committee, which is a ready-to-hand tripartite body that could go out and listen to the public, be given that mandate.

I happen to be a member of the Law Amendments Committee and I have to say that I am quite prepared to go out and hold those hearings. I am looking forward to them and I know my fellow NDP member, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, who also sits with me on the Law Amendments Committee, is equally eager to go out around Nova Scotia, to all of the communities, and listen to what it is that citizens have to say about what it is that is being proposed here because we know that we are going to hear sensible talk from Nova Scotians about how it is they want their education system supported.

In fact, not only did Voluntary Planning emphasize, in no uncertain terms, that lifelong learning is of importance, their final recommendation in their report - Taking Control of Our Future - Recommendation 29 seems almost to foreshadow what it is we are debating here today. Let me read to you Recommendation 29 from the report: "The Government should launch a province-wide debate on education and learning that will lead to a strategy for implementing Lifelong Learning." That is Recommendation 29. That says start a debate, start a public debate, get out there and get the public talking.

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what this amendment is all about. This amendment says let us go out to the people of Nova Scotia and raise with them the issue of education and ask them what kind of system of schooling do they want. It is true, of course, that the education system is much more than schooling. We have community colleges, and very fine ones. We have universities, excellent ones. We have various institutes of specialized learning. All of those are part of a complete education system which is one of the glories of Nova Scotia. This bill happens to deal with the foundation part of our education system which is the school system. You don't get to go on to a specialized institute, you don't get to go on to community college and you don't get to go on to university unless there is an excellent education system in place. That is what Bill No. 47 deals with. We have the opportunity here to go out and listen to what it is that Nova Scotians want to say.

I know that in my district parents would come forward in their thousands to talk. I know that at St. Agnes School and at St. Catherine's School, I know that at Oxford School and at Westmount School, I know that at St. Patrick's High School there are parents who would come forward and tell all members of the Law Amendments Committee how important

[Page 6309]

it is that there be the kind of investment in lifelong learning that Voluntary Planning so explicitly endorsed. I don't doubt that associated with every other school and every other community around the province, we would hear similar things.

Now it is certainly the case that in the central peninsula there has been a decline in population and there have been a couple of closures of schools. We are through that now, we are into another demographic reality. To hear statements come from the Minister of Education talking about the future change in demographics and declines in numbers of children as being reasons to close schools, to consolidate, to have to impose long travel hours and, ultimately, as a justification for centralization of control, I find thoroughly unconvincing. If the government were able to understand that education is the one and only way forward, then they would not take that view, they would say, we have to support our communities, we have to support our children and we are prepared to invest in that. A moment's reflection about Nova Scotia's economic position in the world will lead to that conclusion.

I spoke yesterday about what it is that makes the metropolitan Halifax area wealthier than many of the other parts of the province. I referred, of course, to the absence of natural resources here. The unfortunate fact is that in many of our natural resource sectors we are not going to be able to generate the kind of wealth we need to maintain the standard of living that we have accomplished here. It may well be that our forestry, including our pulp and paper and lumber sectors, are not going to be able to continue into the future to generate all the wealth, certainly not all the employment that they have in the past. There are many other parts of the world that are quite able to compete with us in forestry. The same is true with respect to agriculture, indeed, our neighbour to the south, under NAFTA and GATT, may well be able to out-compete us in many aspects of agriculture. We are certainly no mining powerhouse and we are certainly no industrial manufacturing powerhouse.

The fishery is still strong and is likely to continue to be so. When you put all that together, it means that we have to ask ourselves a very sobering question; we have to ask ourselves where will our wealth come from in the future? The answer in Nova Scotia is exactly the same as it is in any of the advanced industrial countries with relatively small populations. The answer is that we have to rely for our future wealth and our position in the world on our brains and talent and ability to be smart. That is why the Halifax Partnership, the entity that promotes the HRM as a place for the development of businesses, has adopted the slogan, "Smart City Smart Move Halifax Positively Magnetic." It is that central word "smart" that they are using to market us to the world.

[10:15 a.m.]

They point out that in the metropolitan area we have a high level of accomplishment in terms of education. That is the value I was talking about yesterday, and that attracts more investment here. We have more Ph.Ds per population than I think any other area in Canada. Some parts of Ottawa, with the government there and with the development of the high-tech

[Page 6310]

industries in the suburbs, Kanata, for example, may be able to compete with Halifax, but I think we still edge them out. We edge them out because of our concentration of universities, because of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, because of the advanced military concentration, and because of the federal and provincial government infrastructure here. All of that put together is what will make for the future economic prosperity of this area. It isn't going to be our forests, and it isn't going to be our agriculture, it isn't going to be our fisheries, unfortunately, and it certainly isn't going to be our mining.

I don't know what it is the members opposite think. Their job as the government is to set conditions for the generation of wealth, even to adopt their own language to steer, not to row, and one of the parts of steering is to put in place the finest education system they possibly can. That is what Allan Shaw was on about, that is what the task force was on about, and that is what the Public of Nova Scotia will go on about if the government is prepared to let them.

The amendment that has been brought forward is the most sensible thing that could possibly happen with respect to Bill No. 47. What is says is, let's go out right now, let's go now and talk to the public of Nova Scotia. Let's use the mechanism that we have in place. Let's use the Law Amendments Committee, which has representatives of all three Parties on it, and go out and invite the public to come and comment on this bill and tell us what they think about the government's plan for the school system.

I don't see how it is that the members opposite did not immediately embrace this recommendation. It obviously makes sense. It invites them to come together with us and enter into a public process and ask the public, is this really what you want? We have this idea about centralizing authority, we have this idea about a certain level of funding for education, tell us if this way in which we propose to save money makes sense to you, or does it not.

We know that cynics are those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. I would be sorry to think that the entire government that was elected last year are cynics, but somehow I find a disconnect between what it is that they say they want to accomplish, namely building a robust economy for Nova Scotia, and what it is that they are actually doing, and doing contrary to the specific advice they had been given by their brains trust, because that is what Voluntary Planning was set up to be. This is the brains trust of the government, it is meant to be a broad-based advisory body to tell the government what is and is not sensible policy.

Let's remember that when Voluntary Planning set up a fiscal management task force, it didn't do it on its own hook. Voluntary Planning did not simply say to itself, oh, look, a new government, why don't we take it upon ourselves to tell them what we think ought to be done in their first budget? They were asked, they were specifically invited by the new government to get together a task force of eminent Nova Scotians, representing a variety of views, and think hard about the fiscal administrative side of the province and they did that.

[Page 6311]

They made recommendations that the government is acting on. They made recommendations about getting the deficit under control, and a timetable for doing it, and they made recommendations about core functions of government, and their recommendations were essentially similar, perhaps not surprisingly, to the kind of agenda that the government says it wanted to follow.

But the one key point that Voluntary Planning emphasized as their most important recommendation was that Nova Scotia could not ignore education, that Nova Scotia had to invest in education at all levels. That is why it is that I want to play this game of Where's Waldo? That is why I want to go out and find Allan Shaw, that is why I want to go out and find the other members of the fiscal management task force and that is why I want to go out and validate for the government members opposite that, indeed, Nova Scotians have a different vision of education than this government seems to have embraced. I want to do this because I believe in education. I believe it will be educative for the government members of the Law Amendments Committee to hear Allan Shaw come forward and say, yet again, that there has to be investment in education.

I think it will be educative for the members of the government to hear Allan Shaw and the other members of Voluntary Planning come forward and say, you got it wrong in your budget, and you got it wrong when it comes to cutting back on dollars for education and the school system. We like, I am sure he will say, a lot of the things you are doing. But I am also sure that he will come forward and say, on this particular point - perhaps we didn't make ourselves clear enough, let me say it again- you have to do something different.

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly vote in favour of this amendment because I think nothing we could do this session would be more important than to set up the Law Amendments Committee with the mandate to go out and listen to the public on this important point. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, before the next speaker takes his place, through you and to the members of the House, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce to you a resident of the community of Dover, a gentleman who has moved into our community, perhaps under circumstances that are not the most acceptable, but a wonderful opportunity for the community of Dover. He is also the Canadian representative for the European Swissair Association. He is in our House today, and I would like to compliment the Minister of Natural Resources who took the time to go out and meet with this gentleman. Members of the House, I would like to introduce you to Ian Shaw from the European Swissair Association. Mr. Shaw. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, and welcome to our guest. The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction, point of order?

[Page 6312]

MR. JERRY PYE: No, Mr. Speaker, I am going to be the next speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I am sorry, I didn't realize the member for Halifax Chebucto had finished. My apologies.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no question that I would always relinquish the floor to the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto because the member for Halifax Chebucto has often brought before this Legislative Assembly some very sound advice which the Legislative Assembly has not often taken to the extent that it should have.

Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and speak on the amendment that was brought forward by the member for Halifax Needham, and that was to have this Education Bill, Bill No. 47, referred to the Standing Committee on Law Amendments. It is something we would have automatically assumed the government of the day would have done. This would have allowed for the kind of town hall meetings, the kind of community forums in which education, and the very importance of education, and the very importance that education offers to a developing society, would in fact be the norm of this government - and this government would, in fact, have brought that forward without members of the Opposition having to do so.

Mr. Speaker, I often refer to the bible, the blue book, that was a part of the campaign process of the Conservative Government, the government in power. I want to go to their education section, and I just want to make reference to it with respect to what Premier John Hamm has said with respect to education. In the blue book, it states:

"The Liberal Government has failed to give education the priority it deserves. Too many young Nova Scotians are learning from outdated photocopies instead of current textbooks. Too many teachers are faced with overcrowded classrooms and scarce resources. Our schools must be functional, environmentally-safe and must reflect the needs of the community." Mr. Speaker, that is what this is all about. That is what this bill . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. In fact, there is a little too much chit-chat in the Chamber and I would suggest that those members who want to carry on conversations do so outside the Chamber or that they give full attention to the member for Dartmouth North in his deliberations with regard to this motion.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the government members don't want me to recite the section of the blue book which I have already cited once before. I want to tell the government that, in fact, this is the bible that they brought forward to Nova Scotians during the 1999 election campaign and their emphasis on education was in some cases a hallmark to education in this province and many of the educators probably looked forward to this

[Page 6313]

government implementing some of the recommendations it has brought forward within that blue book and some of the ideas and the concepts they had for education.

There is no question, Mr. Speaker, that there is a need to look at school board boundary structures, boundary reviews. As a matter of fact, most recently there were meetings held within the Halifax Regional Municipality with respect to a boundary review for the Halifax Regional School Board. I am sure there have been presentations and it was unfortunate - I had every intent to be there that evening to listen to some of the public responses with respect to school boundaries and with respect to the structure and make-up of school boards because it was wide open in its presentation. I am sure that those minutes are available and that, in fact, there is some pertinent information that one can use to look at the kind of education that many Nova Scotians, particularly in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and I am sure with all regional school boards throughout the province, that, in fact, already have this information available.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that we have often heard about reviews of school boards, that they were top heavy, that there was too much of an administrative structure to school boards, that the administrative structure guided education and as a result of the money being spent in the administration of the school boards and the teaching profession did not have the tools, because of the cost of the administration, to carry out the kind of education priorities that they wanted to carry out.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that I served on a regional school board. I should say at that particular time it was the Dartmouth District School Board. I heard this story and this story has been a long-standing issue. Everybody has heard it. I think that everyone who is in the teaching profession, at one time or another, has heard that school boards, the administration, you have to cut the fat. There is too much administration, they are top heavy. The whole picture has been continuously put forward.

So I remember that there was a comprehensive review and audit in the Dartmouth District School Board at that particular time and that these very same issues rose their ugly head and there was this innuendo that, in fact, there was this tremendous siphoning off of dollars that could be better spent in the classrooms and to text books and into educating our children. When, in fact, that audit cost somewhere around about $40,000 at the time and I have to tell you, when the audit came back, it specifically implied that there was no abuse, there was not any top heavy administrative function that was drawing or siphoning off the dollars that were needed in the classroom. As a matter of fact, there was much debate with respect to what the comprehensive audit had said. The comprehensive audit had stated, at that particular time, and I do believe that there was a need for additional dollars to be put into education and that those additional dollars ought to go in as quickly as possible if we were to be competitive.

[Page 6314]

[10:30 a.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am talking about a school board at that time that had what was called non-discretionary funds. Now that was a result of the citizens of the former City of Dartmouth recognizing that the mandatory contribution by the provincial government and the mandatory contribution by the municipality was not sufficient to fulfil the educational needs of the citizens of Dartmouth or the children of Dartmouth, I should say. As a result of that we decided, and it was before my time, there was this imposing of what was called a non-mandatory contribution. The non-mandatory contribution was taken out as a result of an additional levy onto the property tax rate and the business tax rate as well. It was put into the educational system for some of the finer, extra-curricular activities, to music programs, to a variety of different programs. As a result of that, those were dollars that were welcome and well spent.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member would permit an introduction.

MR. PYE: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery opposite are some achievers from all over the Maritimes, from the Wendy's Classic High School Achiever Program. They are here with their parents and their leader, Sharon Reid. They have won scholarships based on their academic achievement, community involvement, involvement in sports activities and they are very proud winners visiting us today. So I would ask if they could rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and welcome to our guests.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister because it demonstrates exactly the quality of student we are generating through our education system, particularly here in the metropolitan area and, hopefully, throughout the entire Province of Nova Scotia.

I want to get back to this supplementary funding because it does allow for extra-curricular activities and ventures into educational studies that normally would not be carried out because of the funding. To me that is very important. We want to make sure there is quality education and the only way we can do that is by having this Standing Committee on Bill No. 47 touring this province. Then we will fully understand what Nova Scotians envisage as a core educational program, what Nova Scotians want to see within their education system with respect to making sure their children are ready for the future.

[Page 6315]

Mr. Speaker, I have often stood in this House and said that the single most important entity is that we provide quality education from one end of this province to the other and all parts in between. It doesn't matter if you have grown up in Amherst and you are educated in a school in Amherst or in Springhill or Annapolis Royal or Sheet Harbour or Guysborough or Inverness or Reserve or Glace Bay or Sydney, wherever, you compete in the same market place for the same jobs. It is significantly important that you have the same quality of education so that everybody has a balanced footing with respect to making sure that they are competitive in the market place.

This goes back to the Voluntary Planning committee's report that recognized if Nova Scotia is going to be in the forefront of technological advances and continuing to attract those kinds of industries to the province, then what is needed is a quality education. To me it is quite striking that here in Nova Scotia we have a minimum of at least seven, some people will say eleven, institutes of higher learning. We certainly do have seven colleges and universities, yet we have a significant number of Nova Scotians who are drop-out students, who do not graduate from high school. We have a significant number of students who go through our education system who do not meet the standards and who do not qualify for university and sometimes do not even qualify for community colleges. That to me is something that, in fact, this committee and this forum could address as it goes across the province.

We talk about the economic conditions of Cape Breton Island, with unemployment rates of 26 per cent and so on, but there are areas on mainland Nova Scotia that even exceed that, to some points there is up to 30 per cent and 33 per cent of unemployment. Everyone knows and everyone is aware that there are pockets in their constituencies where, in fact, there are a number of people who because they do not have the educational skills cannot move on. All that can be addressed, all that can be looked forward to with respect to this standing committee going out there across the province and having a view of the educational needs and requirements of Nova Scotians.

My colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, indicated quite clearly that the Voluntary Planning committee and its emphasis on the importance of education indicated quite clearly that this is something that they recognize and something that this province has to look forward to and has to address.

As a result of this Education budget, we also recognize that there are teachers who are going to be . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the member might permit another introduction?

MR. PYE: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 6316]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure today to welcome one of my neighbours, Lynn Woolnough, she is very active in community work and volunteerism. She is a big asset to our community. I wonder if Lynn would rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to say, once again, that the reason for making sure that this amendment to Bill No. 47 is paramount and that the Standing Committee on Law Amendments has the opportunity to tour this province is to reiterate some of the issues that I recently brought forward, in these brief few minutes, with respect to what many Nova Scotians see as priorities to education.

We do know that a budget has come forward with respect to education. We do know that despite that budget there will be teacher lay-offs. There will also be library technicians. Mr. Speaker, I just want to go to the issue of library technicians, the custodial staff, bus drivers and the administrative support staff, like clerical staff, and teaching assistants. I just want to reiterate a message that I received the other day with respect to some of the things that library technicians do, and say that we often take library technicians for granted but yet when a student enters a school at the P level that, in fact, they are taken on tours of the libraries, they know how to select books.

The function of a library technician is significantly important and this is what they do. They enable students to develop and practise research skills; procure the necessary resources for curriculum support; do fund-raising for the expansion of collections; process and maintain collections; assist in the refining of technological skills; foster a love for literature; husband well over $5 million of print assets belonging to the boards; and ensure the growth and development of students in literacy.

Mr. Speaker, this is a major task that we often take for granted by library technicians. Yet, every single student in a school anywhere across this province recognizes the importance of a library within the schools and the importance of a library technician. With the significant cuts that are going to take place, this is not going to be available to those students anymore. Those students are going to have to take the opportunity of searching this out on their own, and many who will not be qualified to function without a library technician in the manner which would enable them to do the kind of research and studies that is necessary for them to continue to graduate.

Also, Mr. Speaker, there is the educational program assistants. I also want to say what they do. They deliver an individualized program designed by the program planning team; enable the board to implement inclusions of legislation in a meaningful way; provide physical care and special nursing procedures; enhance the effectiveness of the learning centre environment; provide a level of mobility commensurate with the inclusion; prepare resource

[Page 6317]

material under the direction of classroom teachers; enrich the academic and social development of special needs students; and provide a one-on-one response to behavioural problems.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you that that is significant. That is absolutely significant in the well-being of those students and the students who need the undivided attention. It cannot be said the importance of, in fact, an educational program assistant. Everything within that school environment goes cap in hand. When you cut from one, you leave an onus of responsibility on someone else who is now overburdened and cannot continue to carry on their role within the education system.

There is also the student support worker and, Mr. Speaker, there will be student support workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the Education budget. I just want to say what the student support worker does. They provide liaison between the school, home and community; mentor at-risk students; provide role models; support social development of at-risk students, advise support students in times of stress; mediate a potentially volatile situation; and also contribute significantly to the continued educational enrolment of at-risk students. We know, every community knows and every school knows that there are a number of children who come to their educational system who are children at risk.

Mr. Speaker, it is extremely important we recognize where we go with all these components within the education system, and it is extremely important we get some direction from Nova Scotians as to where we are able to go with respect to this and what Nova Scotians want with respect to their education system.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk about the essential support staff. When you look at the custodial services and maintenance workers, they are essential to any school environment and no school environment would be complete without them. After all, their job is to clean classrooms, washrooms, gymnasiums, libraries, hallways and lavatories. They are there for a specific reason, to make sure that the fungi and the bacteria do not build up. They work in plumbing and heating and ventilation systems to provide the kind of environment that is conducive to education. They are there for school security, the prevention of mould and other health hazards.

We do know there are a number of schools throughout this province that are already experiencing health hazards by mould and mildew build-up. Some of the schools have yet to be opened as a result of that. Some of them even have gas problems yet to be resolved, and it has not been determined when those schools will be open. The custodial and maintenance staff also deal with roofs, to prevent roofs from leaking; painting inside and out; the snow and ice removal; setting up for the cleaning of after school and community events; removing racial and other inappropriate graffiti. They are responsible for environmentally responsible schools; the heavy-duty summer clean-ups around the schools; and the maintenance to keep the schools in operation for every student from Grade Primary to Grade 12.

[Page 6318]

To me, Mr. Speaker, when we look at the education community, and every school within our community, we recognize that it is a community within itself, and that every single one of those individuals play an important functioning role within that education system. Every single one is important, from the teacher, to the teacher assistant, to the library technician, to the custodial worker, to the clerk, to the maintenance worker, to the bus driver. Every single one of these individuals plays a significant and important role within the delivery of education to Nova Scotians.

[10:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there is no way that one can devalue or diminish the quality of education by simply cutting. We have recognized that there is an important need for an infusion of dollars into education. We also recognize there is an important need for the minister, of course, to go out to Nova Scotians and to ask Nova Scotian parents, what quality of education they want for their children. I am sure if we support the amendment to Bill No. 47, that will allow this committee to cross this province, from one end to another, we will get some sound information with respect to what we want to hear from Nova Scotians with respect to the type and quality of education they want.

Mr. Speaker, I have always recognized the contribution that education provides to this Legislative Assembly. Every time I stand in this Legislative Assembly, and I see the former members of education stand in this Legislative Assembly and speak, I recognize they are a product of Nova Scotia's quality education. I would wager a guess, but there must be some 10 to 12 members of this Legislative Assembly who, in fact, are or have been actively involved in the education system in one way or another prior to coming to this Legislative Assembly. They, too, must recognize the importance of education to the Province of Nova Scotia's economy.

Mr. Speaker, it is far too easy to shrug off and say that we have to rein in the cost of education, when, in fact, one measures the economy by the value of every dollar you put in, you get seven out. For every dollar you put into education and every educated citizen in this province means that there is someone who has the potential to have a job. That is an individual who, in fact, will not place a burden upon the economy of Nova Scotia for a need of government-funded tax dollars. Those are individuals who, in fact, will contribute and contribute high dollars to the purse of the Legislature and will allow education to have the kind of dollars needed to carry on into the future.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about Bill No. 47, and the power and control it gives to the Minister of Education. I am sure that many Nova Scotians would be extremely concerned with the kind of power and structure that the minister has over the structure of school boards if, in fact, Bill No. 47 is to pass. The minister at whim can turn around and, simply because the minister may find herself or himself in conflict with the way a regional school board is operating, and the way the regional school board has decided to spend its money based on

[Page 6319]

what the community needs are with respect to education, may be in conflict of the minister, so the minister just simply dissolves the board. I don't think that Nova Scotians, nor educators, want that kind of unyielding power by the Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, I also think that Nova Scotians want to know if, in fact, when government makes a decision on how the structures of school boards are going to come about, that it will communicate with those people who are the direct deliverers of education, such as the teachers, such as the parents in the community, such as the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, such as the Parent-Teachers Associations, such as the regional school boards; all of these people, all of these organizations have a commitment to know that the Minister of Education is going to consult with them on the basis of what kind of a structure the school board is going to have, if any, in their community.

I have heard parents say, when the amalgamation of the school board of the Halifax Regional Municipality took place, that there were some out of touch, they had felt out of touch with the school board, that the school board was large and it was cumbersome and it didn't necessarily listen to the issues of the community. As far away as Eastern Passage, I do remember when the French Immersion Program was considered a priority in Eastern Passage. They wanted that, and they were even prepared to pay supplementary funding in the Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage area, with respect to education. Their voice was not heard at the regional school board, they felt offended, and they felt they didn't have the kind of representation that was listening to them at that time.

Mr. Speaker, having said all that, the bottom line is that it rests with Nova Scotians, on what is going to be delivered to them as a quality education. It also rests with Nova Scotians, on what they consider the core educational programs that are going to be delivered across this province. I do know that many Nova Scotians are looking forward to, hopefully, all Members of this Legislative Assembly supporting this amendment so that many Nova Scotians will get the opportunity to present or put their presentations or representations to this Standing Committee on Law Amendments, once it tours the province.

Mr. Speaker, in closing what I will say is that it will give the opportunity to all Nova Scotians - if, in fact, this Legislative Assembly will agree to this amendment - to come forward and do their presentations and their representations to this standing committee on the quality education that they want to see for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak on this amendment. I guess after doing this job for two years, I do have to wonder whether it would be more appropriate for me to bang my head against a post or get up in this House and speak, because at least in the case of banging your head against a post it does offer some form of anaesthetic. My concern is that it really doesn't matter what we say here, that there

[Page 6320]

is an agenda afoot and the members opposite, the Tory Government certainly have every intention of working to that agenda, and not necessarily listen to an awful lot that the Opposition has to say.

As a matter of fact, maybe the Liberals are that much smarter than us in the sense that they gave up talking about it anyway. I am not sure that all members would be aware that in my previous life I was a schoolteacher for 15 years. I think that the government and the members opposite, and there are some who have been involved in the education system, should realize that what happens in classrooms in Nova Scotia, that is where the rubber hits the road, that is where all that is said and all that is done and all that is prescribed to be done in this Legislature actually comes into effect or lack of effect in everyday life for people across this province.

Now the question of whether or not this bill actually makes anything better for students and teachers, I don't see it. I can't see that the whole process - and it seems to me that the more educated we become, the stupider we get - I fail to see why it is that every time we think we are trying to make something better, it seems as though we check our common sense at the door before we enter into this process. The process of what we are trying to do for Nova Scotian students is actually what we should be examining. We should be asking ourselves what is that product that we want to see walk across the stage on graduation night in schools all across this province in another month or so and for year, after year, after year.

What we want to see is the same thing that we should really have wanted to see in Nova Scotia since we had a Nova Scotia, since we have been educating students, and that is a well-rounded, well-equipped individual who has options, someone who, when they graduate from high school - and if anybody is so naive to believe that the role of our secondary education system is to provide people for jobs or have people trained for jobs, that is not the case - has a well-rounded education, that provides them with options in that education that when they leave school, then they have the capability to go to a particular institution that will carry their education to a higher level, and therefore prepare them for the workforce.

Now is there anything in this bill that does that? I would say no. One of the tenets of education is that it should be a consultative process, that stakeholders should be involved, and actually we have moved away from that. Now that is not to say that I have not questioned, even in my own experience as a teacher, our move to the large school boards that we have, giving such power to the minister in decision making in the functioning of those boards or the dismantling of those boards.

Now the government makes the case that what has been done with the dividing of the Southwest Regional School Board is a pilot project. Well, pilot project seems to be a buzzword with the government. They are doing pilot projects or planning pilot projects with the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I would have to ask, could there not have been enough investigation to warrant whether or not any of this was worthwhile? I can't

[Page 6321]

see that having such power in the hands of the minister, in regard to decision making for school boards, because the minister or even her representatives can't be there on the ground. It is probably not the best use of time and taxpayers' dollars; to have appropriate, well-trained people in those jobs managing those facilities is a much better way to approach decision making at the school board level and actually involve the community.

I would say the biggest problem with most of the boards we have, or one problem, is their large size. They have removed the identity of communities and the issues that pertain to communities. I can't see that this helps that in any way, shape, or form. So I would say that it would be in the best interests of education generally in the province, for students specifically and for the government, to re-examine whether or not they want to put this kind of power in the hands of the minister.

We really need to see more decision-making power at the community level and actually that could be more easily done even with an administrative body with much smaller boards. The board that I worked for, the Chignecto Central Regional School Board, is twice the size of Prince Edward Island. If somebody is going to try to make the argument, make the case for me that somehow that represents community involvement, I am missing the point. I can't see that a board whose jurisdiction covers an area that large, that there are many voices that can be heard from any one of those communities, and we have seen that in the site selection processes that the board carries out.

[11:00 a.m.]

They basically involve a handpicked group of individuals that the board picks. The details of the site selection can't even be made public, so it is a very closed operation and it does not open itself to public input. I know the first site selection and only site selection meeting I ever went to, I was invited by the local councillor, I was not invited by the board and I think the board would just have soon not seen me there if they had known I was coming. I expected for this meeting that the whole gymnasium would be full of people from the community having input and it wasn't. There were about six people around a table, all of whom had been handpicked by the board and telling them nothing from this meeting can be made public. Now, that is supposed to be an open process. So, what are we doing in this bill? We are going in the exact opposite direction by giving more authority to the minister rather than giving more authority to the community.

So much of what happens every day in classrooms seems to be so far removed from the Legislature. If we are going to lend any credibility to anything that the Tory Government has said, up to this point - not a whole lot of evidence that we should - then I would say that it is one thing not to agree with us. We will say for purely practical political reasons that the Tories are not going to stand up and say, yes, we agree with the New Democratic Party. It is not going to happen, I am not going to hold my breath in this Chamber waiting for it to

[Page 6322]

happen because I would prefer to spend the weekend with my family rather than have someone try to resuscitate me in the event. (Interruption)

My honourable colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, says, especially with health care in the state that it is in. Good point. I will back away from holding my breath. We would expect that the government would listen to its own Voluntary Planning task force that it put together, sent around the province trying to get input into this decision making and I think my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto made the case that even the input that we received from that task force - or that task force received - indicated that Nova Scotians value education. They think that this is a place that it would be in the best interests of government, the best interests of all Nova Scotians, the best interests of our students, that we invest in education, that we put money there rather than take money away.

We have to realize and the Minister of Education certainly would be aware coming into the job that she did last summer, that she, more than anybody I bet in this House, except maybe the former Minister of Education, recognizes the neglect, particularly in forms of infrastructure; that there are schools that need to have money spent on them, that need to be replaced and that actually has been dumped in her lap although it is not her fault.

But, backing away from the problem isn't going to cure it and what we see in this legislation is exactly that. No consultation, no interest in consultation, even though the Voluntary Planning task force with its consultation said, investment is what you should do in education. It is one thing for the Tories not to listen to me, or the members of my caucus or the members of either of the Opposition Parties, but certainly it would be in their best interests and Nova Scotians' best interests to listen to the recommendations of their own Voluntary Planning task force and for that reason we recommend this bill go to the Law Amendments Committee so there can be public input into the decisions the minister has made in this piece of legislation.

I have been involved with the Law Amendments Committee; I had been for over a year. I am not presently involved. I certainly see it as a valuable tool only if someone pays attention to what the people say with that tool. If it is going to be a case of ignore the Voluntary Planning task force, ignore the recommendations from the Law Amendments Committee, then, yes, I probably am further ahead, as I said earlier, to beat my head against the wall here, purely for the anaesthetic value.

The clauses in this bill that deal with the consideration of African Canadians, the school boards, we agree that that is a proper move, an overdue move, and we would applaud the minister for that initiative, but it is the rest of the bill that she should take back home with her. We cannot see any advantage, and the minister should ask herself how does this impact on the classroom? Does anybody gain anything by this? We know, even in my relatively short career I guess as a teacher, 15 years, without any of the changes that the minister has talked about - I experienced classrooms of students of 44 in number, certainly had lots, 35-plus - we

[Page 6323]

would like to see an Education Act that actually addresses those types of concerns, that addresses the needs of special education students.

One of the tenets of special education, Mr. Speaker, is if a student cannot learn the way you are teaching him, then teach him in a way he can learn. So, in other words, do some analysis of the specific problems students have and try to prepare a teaching strategy that works with the particular need of the student and, therefore, you actually can teach that person. We would like to see a much greater emphasis on special education in the province. There are too many students who, even presently, fall between the cracks. It is not that the department or school boards don't recognize these problems exist, they don't have the resources to address the concerns they see with these students. Certainly, the cutbacks we have seen in the budget are only going to affect those resource personnel and the students are not going to get the help they need.

My fear in the approach of this government, Mr. Speaker, is the short-range term that we tend to address these cuts. In other words, we tend to think, look, we are going to experience cuts for two years, three years, four years and then everything will be better. The province will be a better place, the world will be a better place and students will be much better treated after that. Well, perhaps that is a nice thought, but what we have to consider when we talk about education is that education is the moving and preparation of a person from one level to the next and you cannot put that individual on hold and say, look, just hang on there for three or four years and we will come back and address your need, and in particular, the younger students are the areas where we should be investing, these are the individuals, that as soon as we can recognize the need, then we should act on correcting the situation, giving some type of resource help to ensure that individuals get through this time at an early age, earlier intervention would have the best impact to see that that individual can carry on at a higher level.

Those students do not have the option of saying, look, fix my problem later, and I will be here. They are not going to be there. Any of us who have been through the school system can look around our communities and look at the individuals who for one reason or another have fallen through the cracks. We haven't been able to address those concerns, as a matter of fact, we have made it worse by changing the vocational school system to the community college system, individuals now require Grade 12. Those who actually needed the most support, that support has been lost. Those who were never going to make it to Grade 12 are gone before they can ever get entrance to a community college. They are out there now, no skills.

We are in the year 2000, and we know, the numbers are in, the statistics have shown long ago - actually I remember the numbers being told to me back in 1974, when I was entering university - that over a person's lifetime, those with the higher education make more money. They take care of their families, in a financial way, better. If we knew that 26 years ago, then we should know that taking care of these young people at an early age, an early

[Page 6324]

intervention, is the best way to ensure that they get the skills that they need to carry on in the job market. We haven't helped that process one little bit.

I would like to see this bill referred to the Standing Committee on Law Amendments. I would like to see intervention by the communities who have an interest in seeing that this bill is changed. I certainly would want to see the minister and the department and the government act on some of those recommendations. The minister, to my knowledge, has been in the job such a short period of time, she didn't draft this piece of legislation, somebody else did that. I certainly wouldn't mind hearing the minister's comments, at any point, that would indicate her explanation of this piece of legislation, and how she feels that it is appropriate to meet what she thinks are her needs and the needs of her government, to meet the needs for Nova Scotia students, because I don't see it there.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the members for their time. I will allow the floor to go to another member to speak.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand in my place this day and to express to members present the concerns that have been brought to my attention and concerns that I personally have, as the MLA for a growing area. with this particular piece of legislation, and the excellent suggestion of having this referred to the wonderful process that we have in this Legislature, a unique process, incidentally - I hope new members are aware of the important example that we could serve, for example, the Speaker from New Brunswick who was here this morning - the Law Amendments Committee and the committee process of which I am fortunate enough to be a member, as are other members from that side of the House. As we gain experience, the Law Amendments Committee is a very worthwhile process.

Mr. Speaker, it is only logical that we take that step at this time to take the particular subject matter under consideration, and to allow Nova Scotians to have their input on this important issue. There is a precedent for this bill, the subject matter, to be discussed at length. That of course refers to Bill No. 99, the Workers' Compensation Act, that earlier went through this particular process. That process in the Workers' Compensation Bill was a better one because of the input that was brought forward at that time from people involved.

There are a couple of really contentious issues that I think Nova Scotians would like to have their say on. I would like to point out, in particular, that when we look at the fact that now, this minister with these powers can dismiss a school board, if I quote from the bill, and I know I should be talking about the amendment, but let me just get this straight, this minister, because of this bill, can now dismiss district school boards if in the opinion of the minister, they fail to meet with expectations of education programs, service, performance and standards. That is a wide-open phrase, and this particular minister, at times we have

[Page 6325]

questioned some of her decisions and statements, that would allow far too much centralized power, as in many cases, this bill is nothing more than a power grab for downtown Trade Mart decisions, downtown Halifax decisions, where people throughout our province will not have an opportunity to express their opinions.

In addition, I want to point to Clause 11(b)(ya), if I can, Mr. Speaker. Look at this. This minister then, "respecting any matter, including the modification, restriction or enlargement of words, expressions or provisions . . . ". That is a power grab. That is far too open. It should not be allowed to continue.

[11:15 a.m.]

In particular, I think it is worthwhile, with the Speaker from New Brunswick in our gallery today, to look at the New Brunswick example. We are aware, of course, that the current deputy minister is from New Brunswick, and I would hope the minister would listen to her new deputy minister on this. New Brunswick has gone back and decided that the way they had gone out and reformed education was not appropriate. They formed a committee. That committee has reported, and the committee also recommends more local input in budget decisions and the hiring of school principals. The key, operative clause there, Mr. Speaker, is more local input. That is, after all, what this amendment would provide for more local input, on such issues as air quality. Now, Mr. Speaker, there are schools we know in our area that have been closed for part of the school year.

In the community I represent, the legendary high school, Sir John A. Macdonald, has had an air quality problem for many years. There was, this year, at one time, consideration for split shifts to share the time with another high school. Now, those sorts of decisions are local decisions. They must continue to be in local hands. The minister, under no circumstances, should be allowed to be put into a position to make that decision.

Mr. Speaker, local decisions make the local school much more worthwhile, and I want to use an example of a wonderful school, a small school, a school with one of the problems that we don't have in our community, in all the other schools of Timberlea-Prospect, Terence Bay Elementary School has a declining enrolment. That school is vital to the community of Terence Bay. It seems to me that a decision that would allow the minister in all her or his power to decide that Terence Bay Elementary School would be closed. That all-encompassing power would not allow for the proper input from the wonderful, involved, active parents whose children attend Terence Bay Elementary School.

Mr. Speaker, let's say that I, as a history teacher, wanted to bring in a course in marine history. As an old - and I will watch that adjective old - history teacher, marine history, Maritime history, the history of the seafaring folk in our province, would be a wonderful, unique course to be able to be offered. So I, as the teacher in the classroom, make application. My local board of which I was employed would probably react with, what a wonderful idea,

[Page 6326]

let's see if we can assist you. What sort of things would you need? But, with these increased powers, would that mean that the minister could say, no, no marine, Maritime history, that is not where we want to go. Curriculum would be, in my view, far too centralized in this minister's hands, if this bill is allowed to go through without allowing the people of Nova Scotia to have their say on what they think about the provisions contained.

I would like to move to three different, unique high schools that we should visit because I truly do request the opportunity to be part of this Law Amendments Committee that would be on the road listening to Nova Scotians discussing the subject matter contained in this bill.

I think the first stop that I would make would be at the Cobequid Educational Centre, the home of the Cougars and the member for Truro-Bible Hill who stands in this House so many times and makes congratulatory resolutions about the Cougars from CEC. The people in Truro want to have their say about the direction of education in this province. Cobequid Educational Centre, I want to assure you, is a wonderful, active, involved school. It has accomplishments with its band, its athletic teams, and we know the good member for Truro-Bible Hill has brought this forward many times, but this opportunity that the Law Amendments Committee would provide would allow the people and the parents of Truro, the teachers at CEC, to have an opportunity to have their say on this particular piece of legislation.

I think that the committee also would benefit from going to Amherst Regional High School. I should point out - and I point out to the member for Cumberland North - that the principal of Amherst Regional High School is a past student of mine. His name is Stephen Blum, an exceptional young man from Shad Bay and a graduate from Sir John A. Macdonald High School. I hope that the member for Cumberland North would not be disagreeing with the fact that an esteemed educator such as Steve Blum, and the people and the parents and the young people who attend Amherst High School, would have an opportunity to be able to speak out about this particular piece of legislation.

So Amherst Regional High School would be a wonderful place to book their gymnasium and I am sure, and I know, the member from Amherst, Cumberland North, would agree and you, Mr. Speaker, from your constituency, I am sure that we would fill the gym at Amherst Regional High School, and Mr. Blum, the principal of that high school would stand and have his say on what he thinks of some of the provisions in this bill.

The last stop that I suggest, we could go to Breton Education Centre in New Waterford. BEC would be an example where a lot of students and parents would want to have their say, because Breton Education Centre, the home of the Coal Bowl, I can tell you that would be a school that certainly would want to have their say and this school needs to have their say on some of these provisions contained, that is the school of which the good member for Shelburne is aware, unfortunately in Lockeport, the home of the Green Wave it is apparently going to close.

[Page 6327]

The people in that community served by Lockeport Regional High School, deserve to have their say about what is happening to education. This Law Amendments Committee, where we would have five government members, two from the Liberal caucus, two from my caucus - and I am fortunate enough to be a member of the Law Amendments Committee - it will be a wonderful opportunity for the nine of us, if that is the way the proposal would go, to visit this particular part of Nova Scotia and I know that the good member from Shelburne would encourage the people in that particular community, the home of the Green Wave, Lockeport Regional High School to have their say.

There are only three stops with the limited time that I have. I know that I could take you on a geographical tour and we could go back to Joggins, over to Oxford, we could make our tour, but instead I would like to point out that in the community that I represent, each and every one of the schools that I am fortunate enough to serve, have concerns, and I would like to bring them to your attention, if I could, at this time.

I want to start with Hammond Plains Elementary School, Mr. Speaker. At one time there were more students in portables outside of Hammond Plains Elementary School than there were in the school. Hammond Plains Elementary School had an addition built on it and they were still in portables. This is a growing community and I know the parents in that community would love to have their opportunity, in front of the Law Amendments Committee, to have their say on some of the issues of education and the powers of the ministers as contained in this proposed piece of legislation. That would be a wonderful opportunity, and a great opportunity for members opposite to meet active, involved parents in that community who would have their say. I know the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, who shares that school with me, as part of our constituencies, would welcome the opportunity to perhaps sit in on that Law Amendments Committee session and listen to the parents from Hammond Plains Elementary School.

Just up the road is a brand new middle school, Madeline Symonds Middle School. Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to visit that school and to participate on their reading day and read to them from Hangman's Beach. It was during that time I met their library tech. Now, their library technician is, by the sound of things, going to lose her job. That new library with some of the new technology and some of the new books and the new materials that this library tech has coordinated, now she is going to be out of a job. Who is going to be in control of that technology? Who is going to be in control of the new books that have to be ordered to go into that library? A volunteer.

I can tell you that the parents of Madeline Symonds Middle School would welcome the opportunity to have their say about this particular piece of legislation and where the minister is taking the department and the province with the decisions included.

[Page 6328]

Let's go down the hill to Tantallon Elementary School and Tantallon Junior High School. They are side by each, each by side, whichever is the polite way to say it. Mr. Speaker, outside of those two schools are portable classrooms. Tantallon Elementary School and Tantallon Junior High School are the schools my daughters attended, when Jana and Trisha Estabrooks attended that school there were portables then. They are still being used. I know that the people from that community, of which I am fortunate enough to be one, I can tell you that when the Law Amendments Committee appears in the community of Tantallon, the gymnasium will be full because those parents would love to have their opportunity to have their say to us as members of the Law Amendments Committee.

Mr. Speaker, St. Margarets Bay Elementary is actually not in my constituency. It is in the constituency of the good member for Chester-St. Margaret's. Again, my best wishes to him on his recovery. But I know that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's would make an opportunity, he would certainly want to go out and be part of the review on that particular school that evening when we are there for the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MR. ESTABROOKS: Absolutely.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce in your gallery today, Valerie Bobyk, who is a long-time friend and is President of the St. Francis Xavier Alumni Association. With her is Judy Clarkson, of Mediated Solutions in Toronto, who is both a nurse and a lawyer, and boy could we use her in Nova Scotia. (Laughter) Of course, Mr. Greg MacEachern, who is the President of the Halifax Chapter of the St. F.X. Alumni Association. We can welcome Greg, we do that every day quietly, secretly to ourselves, but I would particularly like to welcome our other two guests, Valerie and Judy. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I too welcome our friends from St. F.X. and I know you wave that fabulous ring around like (Interruption) Well, my Mount A. ring is back in your face.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to just continue my tour if I could, and since we are on the topic of schools, let's go into the overcrowded school situation in Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea. I hear members opposite, and I know they know I care passionately about schools, but I represent a growing community, a growing community that has major concerns about planning.

[Page 6329]

[11:30 a.m.]

So let's look at B-L-T Elementary: two buildings, 850 students. The administration of that school needs two secretaries, two vice-principals, one in each building. That is the sort of local input that this particular community would like to have. Mr. Speaker, you know and I know, and I know there are visitors in the gallery who will agree, a school secretary is vital, especially in an elementary school, with safe arrivals, the coming and going of visitors to the school. Between the secretaries and the custodians, those two people are the most vital people in our school operation and B-L-T Elementary with 800-plus students, they need the opportunity to have a secretary in each building.

Ridgecliff Middle School, of course, Mr. Speaker, is a new P3 school. Their issue is access to the school. With this particular provision in legislation, would they have the opportunity to be able to express their opinions or would the minister say, no, that is the way it is, you can't do anything about it, the private developer runs the school. The minister is given far too much centralized power here. The parents of Ridgecliff Middle School want to make sure that they can have their say on the local issue of access to school.

I am going down the Prospect Road, Mr. Speaker, and I have just a few moments and I know I want to - because this is where I finished my teaching career. I first want to go to Atlantic Memorial School, named after the tragedy that happened many years ago of the HMS Atlantic that sunk off Lower Prospect. Atlantic Memorial has a concern about teaching assistants. They are very concerned that they are going to lose their teaching assistants, their program assistants.

Mr. Speaker, you have heard members of my caucus speak passionately about the role of program assistants or teaching assistants. Resource rooms are important to the improvement of education in this province. With some of the powers that are now given to this minister, it would seem to me that these would be powers that could decide, well, we don't need a resource teacher at Atlantic Memorial School. The community of Shad Bay and Bayside want to have the opportunity, and I can guarantee the minister - I can guarantee you, Mr. Speaker - that the gymnasium at Atlantic Memorial School would be full if the Law Amendments Committee had the opportunity to meet with the parents of that community.

Mr. Speaker, let me go back to Prospect Road Elementary School for a moment. Busy highway, you have heard me speak of it many times, the Prospect Road. The principal of that school is concerned about the crosswalks near that school. It is a very small, very local issue but it is local input that makes schools successful and with this piece of legislation, it would seem to me that you would suddenly have to go to the minister about crosswalks? That could happen. If, for some reason, the minister decides that things aren't quite right at Prospect Road Elementary School, well, I am going to decide where the crosswalks go. Now that is not an example that is too far in the extreme.

[Page 6330]

Brookside Junior High School and the contributions that the students and staff have made to that community are recognized throughout this province. There is a wonderful band and music teacher at that school named Mark Cummings. I know you have heard me speak of him before, Mr. Speaker. What is the future of the band music programs in our schools? This is a question that I know Mr. Cummings and the active parents would have the opportunity to speak in front of the Law Amendments Committee and get some clarification on the importance to this minister and to the people of this province on what the band program means to this school.

Mr. Speaker, I have left one school out of my tour and I bet you know which one it is - Sir John A. Macdonald High School. Initially, let me take the time to congratulate the Minister of Education. In the middle of a very busy schedule, this Minister of Education took the opportunity to respond to a request from Mary Ann Campbell who is the Student Council Co-President to visit Sir John A. Macdonald High School. The minister visited that school. Now I can ask the minister - and I am the one who is not asking questions during Question Period - but I do know the minister benefited immeasurably from that visit. So based upon that - as I see her nodding in agreement - I know that the members of the Law Amendments Committee would also benefit from the opportunity from hearing from the parents whose children go to Sir John A. Macdonald High School.

Sir John A. Macdonald High School has numerous problems. It is overcrowded, there are portables in back of it. It has that legendary air quality problem. It has young teachers who, unfortunately, have received their lay-off notices and we will not go there today, but I do know one of the major concerns at Sir John A. Macdonald High School is the library. The parents of that community would welcome the opportunity to have their chance to speak to the Law Amendments Committee and to have their say about what is the direction of education in this province, what is the direction of where we are going in this province when it comes to some of the important issues which we, of course, have talked about on numerous times in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I make no apologies as an educator to take the time of this House and point out to all involved how vitally important education is to the young people of this community. As a school principal, as a teacher, I had the opportunity to interact with these young people day in, day out. The response that we would receive by taking the Law Amendments Committee on the road, to have the opportunity for those government members over there, for members of the Liberal caucus and, of course, myself, as a member of the Law Amendments Committee, to have the opportunity to be able to speak and to listen to the students and to the parents whose children attend and they, themselves, of course, who attended this legendary high school. It would be a learning experience for all of us. Not all of us were fortunate enough to be involved with young people and I know it is of real consequence that we recognize the fact that these young people do have something to say.

[Page 6331]

Let's look at the Law Amendments procedure, Mr. Speaker. As a member of the Law Amendments Committee, I know that one of the qualities and maybe one of the criticisms that politicians are constantly being attacked for is we do all the talking and we do not do enough listening. I want to tell you that in the Law Amendments Committee you listen because you have the opportunity to hear from people on a particular piece of legislation and this amendment, because we are dealing with the subject matter here, would allow us the opportunity to actually go out into the communities, not to have the presenters come to us, and whether we are in New Waterford, or whether we are in Five Island Lake, it would be an opportunity for Nova Scotians to have their say on this particular piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there is a very active number of parents that I want to bring reference to. I would like to bring reference to an outstanding member of the Timberlea community named Janice Mombourquette. Janice has a young son named Jeffrey. Janice is concerned about the fact that Jeffrey receives the proper assistance in resource. The opportunity has to be given to these parents, such as Janice Mombourquette, to have their say and this would be a wonderful opportunity with the Law Amendments Committee on the road to allow this to happen.

I think it would also be wonderfully important if this committee went to Terence Bay. You have heard me speak of Terence Bay, Mr. Speaker. Terence Bay, that small little school down there in that wonderful community, I think that the Law Amendments Committee would welcome the opportunity, I hope they would welcome the opportunity, to be able to listen to Barb Allen, an involved active member of that community.

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

MR. ESTABROOKS: I certainly will, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect for permitting me to make this introduction this morning. In the east gallery we have 24 students from G.H. Primeau School in Morinville, Alberta, and I am told that Morinville is just outside of Edmonton. The students and the teachers and parents who are accompanying them, and there are four parents, we have Shelly Arkand; Norm Taylor, no relation; Laurel Caddin; Cathy Pond; and social studies teacher, Allen MacMillan and his wife, Carolyn. The students, the teachers and the parents are here enjoying beautiful Nova Scotia. This is their second day in Nova Scotia. I know the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect would be very appreciative to know that the group is going to be travelling down to Peggy's Cove, I believe, this afternoon, but tomorrow they are also going to be taking a trip to beautiful Cape Breton. They plan on going down to the Annapolis

[Page 6332]

Valley, to Grand Pré, and we certainly encourage them to go to Canning, to the lookoff, to take in some of the beautiful scenery here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could ask your guests from beautiful Alberta to rise and please receive a warm welcome from the Nova Scotia Legislature, the home of responsible government. (Applause)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I want the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to know I had the opportunity to greet that group in the Red Room and to present them with pins on behalf of, I guess the Nova Scotia Government, but the Nova Scotia NDP anyway. I want to say this, as I knock on wood and the camera might hear it, if you go to Peggy's Cove, you be careful because there is an issue involved down there now, be very careful on those rocks. (Interruption) You could say that is politics, we are in the game of politics here, but let's talk about schools, though. (Interruption) Now listen, I have agreed I am not going to go that long but if you want to wind me up, I will go.

It seems to me we encourage parents to be involved, through school councils; we encourage teachers, we encourage young people to have their say. You know this amendment would encourage and allow that; it would encourage and allow young people, parents and teachers to be able to step forward and speak to us as legislators in their school gymnasiums, in their local Lions Club where we would hold these meetings, Mr. Speaker. That would be the wonderful opportunity which we are giving Nova Scotians. I see no reason why anybody in this House would vote against an amendment such as this, which is encouraging participation, encouraging input, encouraging involvement.

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly be supportive of this amendment, and I hope members opposite - the member who represents Lockeport, the home of the Green Wave, the member for Shelburne - support this. I hope that the member for Preston stands in his place and says, this would be a good opportunity for the people of my constituency to express their opinion on this particular piece of legislation. This piece of legislation has to have more public input and this amendment would allow that.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am going to take my place and I will tell you I will be voting in favour of the amendment. I thank you for your time.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, we are very interested in the amendment put forward by the NDP. We have chosen, as a Party, not to put up many speakers because we are very determined that this reach the Law Amendments Committee as quickly as possible, with all of us having an opportunity to speak on second reading. We are very concerned, as a Party, about the termination of notices to teachers. The Act now states that they have to be given to May 15th. This bill before the House extends that to June 16th. We

[Page 6333]

feel that is extremely unfair. The Minister of Education has brought forward her additional funding, a lot of it from this slush fund, and a lot of the teachers who would have been laid off now are going to be able to retain their jobs but there are quite a few who will be laid off.

Now the Minister of Education continues to say that no teachers will be laid off. She said that before the additional funding would be put in place, which is the equivalent of saying that the Rocky Mountains are in Saskatchewan. Even now she is still saying there are not going to be lay-offs when, in fact, lay-offs are happening in all the school boards across the province.

I know a lot of teachers, particularly younger teachers, who don't know where their future lies. They don't know if they are going to be able to obtain employment here. A lot of these young teachers are teachers in the French Immersion Program, where we just don't have replacements for these teachers. We don't have older teachers who are bilingual in the schools, because bilingualism and French language training is a fairly recent phenomenon in Nova Scotia to the extent that we have been able to educate and provide our own teachers for the French Immersion Program. So, there are younger teachers who may not be able to stay in the system. Not only that, but we have a lot of younger teachers who are able to instruct our students in information technology. Because of their lack of seniority, they may not be taken back as teachers for the fall session.

[11:45 a.m.]

We are going to lose these young people, and who in the name of heavens is going to be able to instruct the students on information technology? Most of the teachers haven't had that kind of experience. A lot of them don't even know how to turn on a computer. That is not a slight against teachers, that is a slight against everybody over 40. The fact of the matter, (Interruption) I don't want to include the member for Dartmouth South. I am trying to be kind. This is supposed to be an upbeat, high-level speech. I don't want to get into personalities. I know he is very proficient, and I won't say any more.

I do want to ring some alarm bells, frankly, with respect to losing these young teachers in French immersion and information technology. As I said before, we developed this B.Ed. course at Acadia which we were very proud of in the former government. We were instructing young teachers in how to impart information technology to students, because the schools are all going to have computers, maybe not as many as we would like now, but they are still going to have computers. By doing this B.Ed. Program, we are going to be able to get our young teachers to instruct the students in information technology. The problem is, with these young teachers now not having positions, we are really educating and instructing these young teachers in how to impart information technology to students in Ottawa, Mississauga, and perhaps North Carolina. We are not going to be able to utilize them in Nova Scotia. That is unfortunate. It is unfortunate because taxpayers, to a large extent, are paying for this course, and they are going to be paying for this education.

[Page 6334]

I would hope that the minister would signal a change before we even get to the Law Amendments Committee because we are on May 19th now. These teachers need to have this kind of information, whether they are going to be able to be retained or not. I am asking her, Mr. Speaker, not to wait until we get to the Law Amendments Committee, to come forward with information on this right now. Certainly at the Law Amendments Committee we hope to have that information.

I want to say, too, that we get a lot of questions as a Party on what really is happening to school boards in Nova Scotia. Well, the fact of the matter is that this government is doing away with school boards, effectively. Certainly the framework is still there, school boards are there in name, but with the changes that have taken place in the Southwest Regional School Board, this is just a test case as the government says. Well, it is more than that. It is a sign of things to come. It is just a first case of doing away with school boards. What is going to happen is that there is going to be two school boards. There is going to be the South Shore District School Board, and there is going to be the Tri-county District School Board. So where there were five counties in the Southwest Regional School Board, there are now going to be two school boards, one made up of the Counties of Lunenburg and Queens, the other made up of the Counties of Digby, Yarmouth, and Shelburne.

We have received letters from a lot of people. I don't believe, for instance, that the people in Queens, just using one county as an example, have been consulted in this. Yet, the County of Queens and the people in Queens I have talked to - and there are more Liberals than just Merrill Rawding, I hope, in Queens, although the results haven't shown that in recent years - we have heard from a lot of people in Queens who don't want to be with Lunenburg, just Queens and Lunenburg together. The reason being is that there are a lot of smaller schools in Queens that could be subject to closure more easily than schools in Lunenburg County. Lunenburg County has a much larger population.

These are concerns, and whether you say they are accurate, whether you say they make sense, they are the concerns of a lot of people, and you have to take that into consideration. Where we had the five-county Southwest Regional School Board, then you had a good mix, but now where you must have the two counties, then I think Queens is a lot more vulnerable. I think the member for Queens - I don't expect him to express his opinion here today while I am speaking - is somewhat concerned, and I think he has heard a lot of the same concerns.

This is from a government that said they wanted to act in an open and accountable fashion. I hope that the people in these counties will not be ignored, but time is running out, the government has stepped in and they have developed this school board. What is going to happen is that these two school boards are going to be under the umbrella of the Southwest Regional School Board, which will really have no power other than a CEO who will report directly to the minister. The school boards, if this is going to be an example of what is to come with the other school boards in Nova Scotia, will be responsible for the employment of

[Page 6335]

a director of education, teachers and teachers' assistants, but the Minister of Education will appoint the director of education.

So the director of education, appointed by the minister, will have this kind of power, the power with respect to the employment of teachers and teachers' assistants. The district school boards will also be responsible for policy development and the implementation and monitoring of education programs and services.

The Department of Education however, not the district school board, will be responsible for evaluating the director of education. So if the director of education in each one of these two boards that are being created doesn't meet the approval of the Minister of Education, or says something against the government or says something that runs counter to the policies of the government, that director of education can be terminated like that, just on the spur of the moment, on a whim.

The district school board represents the people, and the people want to be able to have a say in education; that is not going to happen. There is going to be some grass roots and there is going to be some consultation, but the actual directors of education who control the actual number of teachers and teachers' assistants are going to be chosen by the Minister of Education, and are going to continue in their job at the whim of the Minister of Education.

This government is now showing absolutely no respect for elected school board members, they are pushing them aside and telling them that they have no say in evaluating the directors of education. The director of education, in addition, will only be appointed for a three year period and, if the district board wants the director to serve beyond three years, then the director must go through the competition for reappointment; the district board will have no say whatsoever. Even though they feel that this director of education is someone with whom they work well, is popular, has done a good job, they have no say whatsoever and, once again, it is the Minister of Education who will have that say.

At least in the case of a director of education, the director of each of those two boards must have a teaching certificate. The director of education, in that regard at least is cognizant of teaching and what goes into teaching and imparting education to the students in Nova Scotia. How can the director of education maintain a safe, orderly, and supportive learning environment when he/she is not responsible for buildings, equipment, and maintenance?

AN HON. MEMBER: Sure he is.

MR. MACLELLAN: They are not responsible for buildings, equipment or maintenance. They are responsible for teachers and teachers' assistants. So, even though the Minister of Education is planning to divide the Southwest Regional School Board into two district school boards, the minister still plans to keep the Southwest Regional School Board in place. This is absolutely amazing. With the Southwest Regional School Board remaining in place, the

[Page 6336]

minister will make her third appointment and that is a CEO of the Southwest Regional School Board, for matters of financial management, school conveyance management, facilities management, human resource management. The government has now created another layer of bureaucracy that didn't exist before.

If you are going to create two new boards, why do you need to keep the Southwest Regional School Board to oversee the activities of the two school boards you just created? It is absolutely incredible. This government is going through many convolutions, a convoluted exercise to try to tell people that they have a say but, in fact, to have robbed the people in the southwest district of any say, in fact, intending to rob people in all of Nova Scotia of any say in matters of schools.

Actually, Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the time that this is taking. I want to debate second reading on this, and I am hoping that we will be able to vote on the amendment today. We will support the amendment, there is no question. I am concerned about the time that this is dragging out, and we are doing tremendous harm to the education system by dragging this out, with not telling teachers whether they have a place or not, by going through this hypocritical exercise on the two new school boards, supervised by a school board that is already in place, in charge of three officials who have all the power, all of which are appointed by the Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to talk other issues today. I want to have a chance to talk on second reading on these issues. I want the government to know they are not fooling anyone in the Province of Nova Scotia. They are not fooling any of the people, any of the parents, any of the people in education that they are actually making progress, or actually giving any kind or even maintaining democracy for the people of Nova Scotia, in fact, taking it away. No one in Nova Scotia is fooled by that. Certainly, Dr. Hayes MacNeil isn't fooled by that because he has just resigned after 36 years, and 28 years as an administrator. People in Nova Scotia are very down about what is taking place. There is no buoyancy. There is no enthusiasm in education, thanks to the derogatory measures this government is taking.

Mr. Speaker, let's get on with second reading. Let's get on with the Law Amendments Committee. Let's have people from across this province come in and tell this government exactly what they think of this bill. That is what we need to hear. We need amendments, we need actually to defeat this bill if we possibly can. But if we possibly have to suffer through this bill because of the numbers of the government, then let's make this bill as good as we possibly can because it sure as Heavens is just a piece of nonsense right now.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to express these opinions, to express the position of my Party, and to go on to the next stage in second reading.

[Page 6337]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The motion before the House at this time is on the amendment to Bill No. 47. I will read the amendment: " . . . the subject matter of Bill No. 47 be referred to the Standing Committee on Law Amendments."

A recorded vote is being called for.

Ring the bells. Call in the members.

[12:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on an introduction.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce in the gallery, Mr. Claude O'Hara, who is an entrepreneur from Windsor and I am sure well known to the Government House Leader. He grows blueberries and Christmas trees. I just want to say that he is just absolutely bouncing with excitement because of the wonderful work that the member for Lunenburg West has done on behalf of Christmas tree growers in Nova Scotia. I would like to ask if the House would give Mr. O'Hara a very warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. A recorded vote has been called on the amendment referring Bill No. 47 to the Standing Committee on Law Amendments. I would just remind all members to be in their seats for the vote.

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[12:05 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Dr. Smith Mr. Christie

Mr. MacLellan Mr. Russell

Mr. Downe Mr. LeBlanc

Mr. Holm Miss Purves

Mr. Robert Chisholm Mr. Fage

Ms. O'Connell Mr. Balser

Ms. Maureen MacDonald Mr. Parent

Mr. Corbett Ms. McGrath

Mr. Epstein Mr. Ronald Chisholm

Mr. Estabrooks Mr. Olive

Mr. Deveaux Mr. MacIsaac

Mr. MacEwan Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Samson Mr. Taylor

[Page 6338]

Mr. Boudreau Mr. Langille

Mr. Wilson Mr. Morse

Mr. Pye Mr. Hendsbee

Mr. John MacDonell Mrs. Baillie

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Hurlburt

THE CLERK: For, 17. Against, 23.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is defeated.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the previous question be now put;

and I would adjourn the debate on Bill No. 47 at this time.

The House will sit again on Tuesday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be continuing the debate on Bill No. 47. Following the debate on Bill No. 47, if there is time remaining, we will go into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now rise to meet again on Tuesday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 12:07 p.m.]