The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., May 26, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Nurses: Shortage - Address, Hon. R. Russell 6699
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2339, NDP Leader (N.S.) - Sysco: Workers - Support Urge,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 6700
Res. 2340, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/99): Deficit -
Address, Mr. Robert Chisholm 6701
Res. 2341, Justice - RCMP (Berwick): Drug Prog. - Commend,
Mr. J. Carey 6701
Vote - Affirmative 6702
Res. 2342, Sysco - Closure: Cost - Recognize, Mr. R. MacLellan 6702
Res. 2343, Educ. - Special Needs Children: Assist. Adequate -
Intervene (Premier), Mr. Robert Chisholm 6703
Res. 2344, Culture - Coffin Isl. Lighthouse Heritage Soc.: Work -
Recognize, Mr. K. Morash 6704
Vote - Affirmative 6704
Res. 2345, Econ. Dev. - Scotsburn Co-op. Serv. Ltd.: Anniv. 100th -
Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 6704
Vote - Affirmative 6705
Res. 2346, Educ. - Prog. Assistants: Cuts - Reconsider, Mr. J. Holm 6705
Res. 2347, DFO - Snow Crab Fishery: Opportunities - Acknowledge,
Hon. E. Fage 6706
Vote - Affirmative 6706
Res. 2348, Sysco: Actions (25/05/2000) - Terrible, Mr. P. MacEwan 6707
Res. 2349, Educ. - Prog. Assistants: Cuts - End Encourage,
Ms. E. O'Connell 6707
No. 2350, Dart. E. MLA - Senior (25/05/00): Benefits - Ensure,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 6708
Vote - Affirmative 6709
Res. 2351, Econ. Dev. - Louisbourg Fortress: Funding - Contribute,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6709
Res. 2352, Educ. - Special Needs Children: Cuts - Reconsider,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6709
Res. 2353, NDP (N.S.) - Employees (Gov't. [N.S.]): Abandonment -
Condemn, Mr. D. Wilson 6710
Res. 2354, Educ. - APSEA: Cuts - Reconsider, Mr. F. Corbett 6711
Res. 2355, Health - Heart & Stroke Fdn. (N.S.): East Stewiacke
Elem. Sch. - Fund-Raising Commend, Mr. B. Taylor 6712
Vote - Affirmative 6712
Res. 2356, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atlantic: North Sydney -
Jobs Defend, Mr. B. Boudreau 6712
Res. 2357, Educ. - Prog. Assistants Cuts: Intervention (Premier) -
Encourage, Mr. D. Dexter 6713
Res. 2358, Fish. - Lighthouses: Internat. Conf. (L'pool) & Day
(N.S.-30/09/00) - Initiatives Support, Hon. E. Fage 6714
Vote - Affirmative 6714
Res. 2359, Educ. - Prog. Assistants: Cuts - Intervention (Premier)
Encourage, Mr. K. Deveaux 6715
Res. 2360, Educ. - Prog. Assistants: Cuts - Intervention (Premier)
Encourage, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6715
Res. 2361, Educ. - Special Needs Children: Budget New - Develop,
Mr. John MacDonell 6716
Res. 2362, Educ.: Budget (2000-01) - Retract, Mr. J. Holm 6717
Res. 2363, Culture - Mabou Ceilidh: Volunteers - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6717
Vote - Affirmative 6718
Res. 2364, Educ. - Prog. Assistants: Cuts - Intervention (Premier)
Encourage, Ms. E. O'Connell 6718
Res. 2365, Educ. - Wendy's Classic Achiever Scholarship Prog.:
Finalists (Maritimes) - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 6719
Vote - Affirmative 6720
Res. 2366, Educ. - APSEA: Cuts - Reconsider, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6720
Res. 2367, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Special Needs - Reconsider,
Mr. F. Corbett 6721
Res. 2368, Educ. - Budget (2000-01): Special Needs - Reconsider,
Mr. D. Dexter 6721
Res. 2369, Educ. - Prog. Assistants: Funding - Provide, Mr. K. Deveaux 6722
Res. 2370, Educ. - Cuts: Special Needs Impact - Experience (Min.),
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6723
Res. 2371, Educ. - Special Needs: Commitment (Experience [Min.]) -
Keep, Mr. J. Pye 6724
Vote - Affirmative 6727
Res. 2372, Educ. - Special Needs: Cuts Consequences - Experience Agree,
Mr. John MacDonell 6724
Res. 2373, Educ. - Special Needs: Assist. - Intervention (Premier),
(By Ms. Maureen MacDonald) Mr. H. Epstein 6725
Res. 2374, Educ. - Special Needs: Commitment (Experience) - Keep,
(By Mr. D. Dexter) Mr. H. Epstein 6726
Res. 2375, Liberal Party (N.S.) - Civil Servants: Severance -
Policy Reveal, Mr. J. Pye 6727
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 47, Education Act 6728
Mr. John MacDonell 6728
Ms. E. O'Connell 6736
Mr. Robert Chisholm 6747
Hon. J. Purves 6759
Previous Question Put: 6759
Vote - Affirmative 6759
Second Reading: 6761
Vote - Affirmative 6761
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 53, Hilden Cemetery Act 6761
Mr. B. Taylor 6761
Mr. P. MacEwan 6762
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6762
Mr. B. Taylor 6763
Vote - Affirmative 6763
No. 52, Nova Scotia Association of Realtors Act 6763
Hon. M. Baker 6763
Vote - Affirmative 6764
No. 50, Bluenose Club Act 6764
Hon. M. Baker 6764
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6765
Hon. M. Baker 6765
Vote - Affirmative 6765
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 12:31 P.M. 6766
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:58 P.M. 6766
CWH REPORTS 6766
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., May 29th at 2:00 p.m. 6767
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2376, Educ. - Special Needs Children: Assist. - Future, Mr. J. Pye 6768
Res. 2377, Educ. - Special Needs Children: Commitment (Premier) -
Honour Encourage, Mr. H. Epstein 6768

[Page 6699]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. It reads as follows, "The nursing staff of Hants Community Hospital and members of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, strongly recommend that the Nova Scotia government address the severe nursing shortage problem in this province and commit more dollars to Health Care."

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he sign it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Did the honourable minister affix his name?

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, yes indeed, I did affix my name.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

6699

[Page 6700]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2339

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

Whereas earlier this week, the NDP Leader has awoken to the fact that Sysco workers are in jeopardy of losing their jobs and pensions; and

Whereas after over a year since the last election, the NDP Leader has not taken Sysco on with the same vigour as before the last election; and

Whereas it is clear that the NDP Leader was only concerned about Sysco during the election, solidifying his reputation as a political opportunist;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Leader of the NDP to support Sysco workers against the broken promises of an inept Tory Government instead of quietly endorsing their actions by his silence.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 6701]

RESOLUTION NO. 2340

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

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

Whereas since August 17th, this Tory Government's first full day in office, 1,676 children have been born into poverty; and

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

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 1,676 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2341

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

Whereas more than 400 students from the Berwick and Somerset District Schools participated in the RCMP's Racing Against Drugs program on Wednesday at the Berwick and district school; and

Whereas the objectives of this community-based drug and alcohol program is to use the sport of auto racing to capture the attention of so many young people; and

[Page 6702]

Whereas to show the vast amount of interest in this program, one only has to take a look at statistics in the past seven years which show more than 50,000 Canadians have participated in this program;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly commend the Berwick detachment of the RCMP along with community health professionals and local businesses who made Wednesday such an overwhelming success.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2342

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

Whereas 450 Sydney Steel workers were unceremoniously told to go home yesterday as the steel mill closed, possibly permanently; and

Whereas both the Premier and the minister responsible for Sysco seemed unaware that such an action was taking place; and

Whereas for a Premier who rode to victory on the back of the Sysco employees, his lack of awareness is completely unacceptable;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take a greater interest in Sydney Steel and recognize that closing Sysco will cost more than finding a credible buyer and that he must live up to his commitment to provide adequate pensions for Sydney Steel workers.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate and that the House also approve the frontal lobotomy for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 6703]

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. 2343

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

Whereas the mother of a special needs child wrote, "We believe Jordan deserves a fully inclusive education. It is his right! We further believe segregation will harm him emotionally."; and

Whereas she continues on, "The last time your Party was in power, they closed most institutions in Nova Scotia, with promises that there would be great savings and funding and support would be put in the classroom to help teachers mainstream those children."; and

Whereas she also states, "My son belongs in the community, just like everyone else, not in a closet as it once was 20 years ago";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier intervene on behalf of Jordan and other children, who, with adequate educational assistance, can grow and develop within the school system to take their place in Nova Scotia society.

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 Queens.

[Page 6704]

RESOLUTION NO. 2344

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

Whereas the Coffin Island Lighthouse is a landmark of historical significance, long admired by visitors to Queens County, and valued by those who have navigated Liverpool Harbour for well over 100 years; and

Whereas this landmark was slated for demolition only a short time ago; and

Whereas the Coffin Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, determined to save this community treasure, raised the funds necessary to ensure its preservation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the work of the Coffin Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, and thank all those who supported the protection and restoration of such an important part of our Maritime history.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2345

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

Whereas Scotsburn Co-operative Services Limited celebrated its 100th Anniversary on April 12, 2000; and

Whereas to celebrate the momentous occasion, Scotsburn has compiled a commemorative book entitled 100 Years of Scotsburn: A Century of Growth and Innovation; and

[Page 6705]

Whereas Scotsburn has provided a strong example of leadership and community involvement;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the management and staff, cooperative members of Scotsburn Co-operative Services Limited, and President, James O'Connell on their 100th Anniversary, and wish them all the best in the next 100 years.

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. 2346

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

Whereas a foster mother of a special needs child phoned her MLA to describe the value of her daughter's EPA; and

Whereas this child is in a class with two other high-needs children who share one EPA amongst them; and

Whereas due to behavioural problems with these children, the EPA must, on occasion, be out of the classroom, leaving two special needs children to fend for themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education reconsider cuts to education funding for educational program assistants so that all special needs children may have the benefit of learning in an environment that is concerned about their special needs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 6706]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2347

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

Whereas the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently announced an increase in the snow crab quota from 3,600 metric tons to 9,800 metric tons in eastern Nova Scotia, adding an estimated $30 million to the economy; and

Whereas the early opening of the season, by three weeks, gives the plant workers more employment in eastern Nova Scotia, where the snow crab will be sent to market all over the world; and

Whereas the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture staff have worked diligently over the past two months to carry out training workshops for snow crab harvesters and plant workers;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the tremendous opportunity the snow crab fishery offers to our fishermen and coastal communities by supporting the industry and its growth potential.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 6707]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2348

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

Whereas attempts to obtain valid information from this government as to their intentions on Sydney Steel and on the Sysco pension issue have been rebuffed throughout this session; and

Whereas one might as well have asked a stone wall for information as to have asked the Minister of Economic Development to give this House a detailed report on Sydney Steel over the past number of weeks; and

Whereas the refusal of the government to be forthcoming or to answer questions only intensified suspicions as to what their real plan and agenda was for Sydney Steel and its workers;

[9:15 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the sneak attack by this government on the Sydney Steel Plant on May 25, 2000, will rank among the most terrible events in the history of Nova Scotia, and this government will never outlive the opprobrium that will result from its actions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2349

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling a letter that is mentioned in the resolution.

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

Whereas in an e-mail sent to the NDP caucus office a special needs child's parent voices her strong concern about funding cuts that affect educational program assistants; and

Whereas she states, "If only Ms. Purves knew what a struggle my child has had in the education system and how far he has come"; and

[Page 6708]

Whereas she continues, "he already suffered academically during junior high school because of cutbacks. He spent all 3 grades in the Learning Center playing on a computer or going on walks . . . . He suffered poor social skills due to isolation and segregation";

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to end the cuts to educational program assistants and assure parents of special needs children that he will protect their future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 2350

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: 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 Dartmouth East has had a long distinguished career in medicine; and

Whereas the honourable member is a long-serving valued member of this House; and

Whereas the honourable member yesterday celebrated a significant milestone in his valued life and career;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Health ensure that the honourable member receive all his senior entitlements such as reduced haircut fares, bus fares, dry-cleaning, movie admissions, be enrolled in the Zellers' Senior Program, receive Pharmacare, receive his Old Age Pension, Canada Pension, bank service charges, and that the Minister of Fisheries arrange for the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to present the honourable member with his free fishing licence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 6709]

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. (Interruption)

Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2351

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

Whereas the Fortress of Louisbourg now represents the single largest economic and tourism entity in Cape Breton County where more than 130,000 tourists visit annually; and

Whereas it has been over 30 years since this historic fortress was partially reconstructed or upgraded; and

Whereas since that time no major expenditure on retrofitting and/or expansion has taken place;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development make a financial commitment as part of the provincial government's contribution to a $14 million upgrading and expansion proposal recently submitted to both the federal and provincial governments.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2352

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will also be tabling a letter with this resolution.

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

[Page 6710]

Whereas the Halifax Association for Community Living has written to the Halifax Regional School Board on behalf of some foster parents who are losing the part-time EPA, as well as the resource teacher they have for their foster daughter; and

Whereas the foster mother for this special needs child is convinced that the level of care for this child will decrease over time if the proper supports are put in place now; and

Whereas the Halifax Association of Community Living is asking the Halifax Regional School Board to reconsider cutting assistance to this special needs child;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, the Minister of Education and their government reconsider cuts to funding for education in this province so that special needs children will have the assistance they desperately need.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2353

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

Whereas Lutheran Minister Martin Niemuller once wrote the famous passage, "Then they came for me - - - - and by then there was no one left to speak out for me."; and

Whereas the NDP have abandoned government workers, including teachers' aides, public servants, hospital workers and highway workers by supporting plans by the government to eliminate employees with paltry increases in severance and reduced hours in exchange for jobs; and

Whereas the shameful collusion with the Tory Government proves that the NDP do have a price, even if it means abandoning average workers, with average salaries, engaged in above average tasks such as caring for disadvantaged children, the poor and the sick;

[Page 6711]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the NDP for their collaboration with the government as they abandon government employees and remind the NDP that if they do not speak up then there will be no one left to speak for them either.

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. 2354

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will also be tabling a letter with this.

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

Whereas in a letter sent to the Premier's office, Shelley asks the Premier to reconsider the APSEA budget cuts and points out that the amount of money involved in this program is relatively small; and

Whereas she continues on, "To be born with a major disability is difficult. To survive as perhaps the only deaf child in your school or area is an enormous challenge."; and

Whereas she adds, ". . . to succeed without any extra support through itinerant teachers or interpreters will be next to impossible.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Education reconsider cuts to APSEA and provide the necessary quality of service to disabled children.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 6712]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2355

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

Whereas East Stewiacke Elementary School raised a total of $1,636.56 from a skip-a-thon held at the school during lunch and after school from April 4th to April 7th; and

Whereas 46 students from Grade 1 though Grade 6 collected pledges for the jump-rope program; and

Whereas the jump-rope program is the top fund-raising event for the Heart and Stroke Foundation by the school;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend the students of the East Stewiacke Elementary School, which resides in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, for supporting, through hard work and fun, the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2356

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

[Page 6713]

Whereas the Premier promised he would provide strong leadership and protect Marine Atlantic jobs before the last election; and

Whereas the Premier seems to have forgotten that promise; and

Whereas the Premier's refusal to provide strong leadership means that Marine Atlantic jobs are at risk;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier provide his promised strong leadership and defend jobs at Marine Atlantic in North Sydney.

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-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2357

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

Whereas a seven year old boy with special needs who is a student in the HRM has benefitted greatly from being fully integrated into a Primary class; and

Whereas his inclusion and work with his EPA has had a "positive effect on his self-esteem and been an overall incentive to strive to work with his peers"; and

Whereas without the assistance of his EPA, this child's significant strides forward would not have been possible;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to intervene in the educational funding issue of cuts to educational program assistants and assure parents of special needs children that he will protect their educational future.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution includes a quotation from a letter which I am tabling along with it.

[Page 6714]

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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2358

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

Whereas lighthouses are an icon of coastal lifestyles and a beacon of safety to many Nova Scotians, especially those involved in the inshore fishery; and

Whereas the Atlantic Lighthouse Council will be hosting an International Lighthouse Conference May 29th to June 2nd at White Point Beach Resort; and

Whereas an organizing committee is planning the 2nd Annual Lighthouse Day in Nova Scotia for September 30, 2000;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly support the initiative of all coastal communities to increase awareness of these important structures throughout Nova Scotia and beyond.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 6715]

RESOLUTION NO. 2359

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

Whereas in an e-mail to the NDP caucus office, Jackie Clark, a mother of a special needs child describes her anguish, concern and frustration over the cuts to educational program assistants; and

Whereas Jackie states, "my son does not have adequate support at school for things like programming, but if there are cuts to what little services he already receives, his health and safety will be at risk"; and

Whereas Jackie tells us, "I shudder to think what is going to happen to him when the government makes cuts to what are already inadequate support";

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to intervene in the educational funding issue of cuts to educational program assistants and assure parents, like Jackie Clark, their children will receive the educational assistance they need to flourish.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2360

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling the letter to which I refer to in this resolution.

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

Whereas Stanley, a Grade 7 student at Tantallon Junior High School, requires a full- educational program assistant; and

[Page 6716]

Whereas despite his numerous health problems, Stanley's progress in school has been nothing short of phenomenal; and

Whereas in order to make this amazing progress and to continue to move forward, Stanley must have a full-time educational program assistant;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to intervene in the educational funding issue of cuts to educational program assistants and assure parents of special needs children, like Stanley, that he will protect their educational future.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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. 2361

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table this letter after the resolution.

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

Whereas in a letter sent to the Minister of Education parents of a special needs child express their anger at funding cuts to the education system; and

Whereas they state, "these special needs children must have the resources in the classroom in order to be educated in hopes that they may be self-sufficient and that you as government will not have to keep them the rest of their lives"; and

Whereas in closing they state, "the direct impact of education in the classroom will be felt for years to come. You must reconsider these cuts.";

Therefore be it resolved that as urged by these parents, voters in Nova Scotia, the Minister of Education should develop a new budget that takes into consideration the concerns of parents with special needs children.

[Page 6717]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table that letter.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a request for waiver? No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2362

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 Halifax Regional School Board has been forced to shift resources from the former Halifax County to the former Cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, due to budget short falls; and

Whereas Halifax County will lose 17 teaching assistants for special needs children; and

Whereas nowhere will be hit as hard as the former Halifax County by the devastating cuts to the Education budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education retract her budget and start over again, in the hopes that this time maybe she will get it right and that special needs children will not be her sacrificial lambs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2363

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

[Page 6718]

Whereas the Mabou Ceilidh has been and continues to be an important festival in Inverness County; and

Whereas the funds raised from this important event are used to support the local volunteer fire department and arena; and

Whereas this event is an opportunity for the youth of our community to share their talents and learn about their cultural heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the volunteers and members of the community who give their time and energy each and every year and wish them all the best in their preparations for this year's ceilidh.

[9:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2364

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a letter.

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

Whereas concerned parents wrote MLAs that, ". . . a more intelligent avenue or approach for the government to take would be to spend the money now and try to mold the children of the future to become money making, self supporting taxpayers."; and

Whereas they also feel that their autistic daughter has made constant progress over the nine years she has had someone working with her; and

[Page 6719]

Whereas they further state, "Her progress is due to the fact that there has been support staff (P.A.'s) with her on a constant basis.";

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to intervene in the educational funding issue of cuts to educational program assistants and assure parents their children will receive the educational assistance they need to flourish.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2365

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

Whereas Mason MacDonald of South Colchester High School in Brookfield was one of 12 finalists from across the Maritimes in the Wendy's Classic Achiever Scholarship Program; and

Whereas the 12 finalists received a $1,000 scholarship and their schools were awarded a $1,000 grant; and

Whereas Natalie Oake of Sydney Academy and Robert Woolnough of Middleton Regional High School were two winners of the top scholarships of $6,000;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia MLAs congratulate the 12 finalists from across the Maritimes in the Wendy's Classic Achiever Scholarship Program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6720]

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. 2366

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a letter with this resolution, please.

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

Whereas the father of a deaf child writes in an e-mail, "as an economist I find it incredible that a government attempts to solve short-term financial problems by withholding needed help to blind and deaf children"; and

Whereas he continues, "the future costs to society of not providing our children with adequate support are going to be far greater than any savings that you are currently making"; and

Whereas he also states, "as a parent of a deaf child I am very aware of the inadequacy of current funding levels even within the Halifax area and that it is even worse in rural areas";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Education reconsider cuts to APSEA and provide the necessary quality services to disabled children.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 6721]

RESOLUTION NO. 2367

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

Whereas teachers' assistants in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board are having their hours cut from six hours a day to five; and

Whereas this means that the most disadvantaged students will have no one to look after them on school grounds prior to 9:00 a.m., no one to look after them during lunch and after school until their transportation arrives; and

Whereas it is teachers' assistants and special needs children who have been ordered to bear the brunt of educational funding cuts;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education reconsider her devastating budget and the impacts it will have on special needs children.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2368

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

Whereas in a letter sent to the NDP caucus office, a mother of a special needs child speaks of the great progress her child has made with the assistance of her educational program assistant; and

Whereas because of the time and energy used to care for this child, she is now able to socialize and learn with other children; and

[Page 6722]

Whereas this child requires ongoing care so that she can continue to progress and move toward a fulfilling life;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier reconsider the Education budget presented by his government and show the parents and the caregivers of special needs children that these children are important and deserve the opportunity to integrate fully into our society.

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling along with this the letters, and 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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2369

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

Whereas foster parents provide a nurturing environment for children sorely in need of love and care; and

Whereas foster parents often provide this unselfish care for special needs children; and

Whereas the province should provide every assistance it can for foster parents, both in the home and in the school environment, particularly where educational program assistants are required for these special needs children;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education provide funding for educational program assistants for all special needs children, but especially for those children under the care of foster parents, who need and deserve the province's assistance in raising their children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6723]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect

RESOLUTION NO. 2370

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling a letter to which I refer in this notice of motion.

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

Whereas the mother of nine year old Nick writes on her son's behalf ". . . he would be lost, frustrated, unhappy and unable to learn without my EPA"; and

Whereas he adds, "I do not talk very well or very clearly, so she helps me talk to my classmates and helps them to understand me. I often do not understand the instructions that my teacher gives to other children, so she explains it simply for me."; and

Whereas in closing, this mother states, "The availability of EPA's is a crucial brick in the successful building of many children's lives; without them it all comes tumbling down upon these very vulnerable members of our society.";

Therefore be it resolved that maybe the Minister of Education would like to spend a day with Nick, so that she may better understand the impact her budget will have upon special needs children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 6724]

RESOLUTION NO. 2371

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling a letter in which the content of this resolution will be applied to.

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

Whereas a mother of two special needs children writes in an e-mail to MLAs, ". . . my husband and I are appalled that you do not believe our children are deserving of the assistance they need to achieve an education."; and

Whereas she also states that, "If money is not spent now on education then it will be spent later, in greater amounts, on welfare, adult learning, rehabilitation programs . . . and prison."; and

Whereas these parents are asking for the Minister of Education to spend time with special needs children so that she may better understand the devastating effects her budget will have;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education keep the commitment she made in this House and spend time with a special needs child to see what these children face every day.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2372

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be and tabling the letter on which this resolution is based.

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

[Page 6725]

Whereas the mother of Emily, a 13 year old child with special needs, would like the Minister of Education to spend a day with Emily at school; and

Whereas Emily's mother would like the Minister of Education to know that, "Our children need these educational assistants in order to learn and to ensure their personal safety."; and

Whereas she also points out that educational program assistants are not ". . . a 'frill' these children can do without.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education agree to spend a day with Emily so that she may better understand the effects of the Education budget on special needs children.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2373

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

Whereas in a letter to the NDP caucus office a mother of a special needs child speaks of her fight to secure an educational program assistant for her daughter; and

Whereas this mother reminds the government of her daughter's right to an education; and

Whereas she feels cuts to EPAs is nothing more than discrimination against special needs children;

[Page 6726]

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to honour his commitment of respect and increased support for parents of special needs children who deserve an education and the future it can unlock.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table with this resolution an attached letter and I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2374

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

Whereas Luke, a nine year undiagnosed student who is physically and mentally challenged, is in danger of losing his educational program assistant; and

Whereas Luke is also non-verbal and has, with the assistance of his EPA, learned to communicate through a picture exchange system; and

Whereas Luke's EPA will likely be a casualty of the funding cuts to school boards;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier intervene on Luke's behalf and make sure he has the proper educational assistance he needs to continue to grow and develop.

Mr. Speaker, I am attaching the letter from Luke's parents and I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 6727]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North, there was a request to reread:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education keep the commitment she made in this House and spend time with a special needs child to see what these children face every day."

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. 2375

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 Civil Service was reduced by 40 per cent during the 1990's due to the heartless and ruthless cuts imposed by the Liberal Government who offered only retirement incentives to departing workers; and

Whereas this Progressive Conservative Government planned to make even deeper cuts and ruthlessly cancelled the enriched package; and

Whereas the Liberals now have dared to criticize the improved retirement incentive that the Tories were finally convinced to offer;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals, who in this House opposed to improve severance for the laid-off civil servants, should share their position directly with the hundreds of important public civil servants who should have kept their jobs, but who will now at least have a more humane package.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6728]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East, you have 43 minutes.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think before I adjourned debate yesterday, I had tried to call attention to comments that the Minister of Education made when she introduced this bill. I don't really intend to go back to them in as much detail, but I do want to make it clear to the members of the House that the minister seemed to emphasize in her speech on May 16th that part of the reason for this bill was to increase community involvement, that this had been a request from the communities in the southwestern region. I have to say that if that was the minister's intent, it was a good intent, but there is nothing in the bill that would indicate that the minister had the intention of following through. In other words, there is nothing that gives more power to the communities and although the minister seems to feel that she is giving the communities a megaphone to voice their concerns, she is not giving them the on switch to turn it on.

I think that there is absolutely nothing that I can see that would indicate they will have any more to say or actually have a vehicle for having that heard. I fail to see how the bill addresses that one major concern and the board is set up - the way the minister has decided to do it, Mr. Speaker, is with the CEO in charge of administration and other duties and the educational component is for the director of education for each of the boards; in other words, the boards are responsible for education.

[Page 6729]

[9:45 a.m.]

What does this mean in reality? First of all, the CEO and the directors of education are appointed by the minister, and the CEO is directly responsible to the minister, and although this is supposed to provide an avenue for more open communication with the department, I would say it would tend to be a shield for a voice to the department from the communities. We would say that if the CEO is an appointee of the government, then he is responsible to the government, he is not responsible to the communities. Therefore, basically she has shut down their voice, rather than allowing them a mechanism for a greater voice.

Although people will, I think for the most part, try to say, well, the fact is that the school board is responsible for education decisions, in 15 years of teaching I have never seen, even with the present system, where the administration of the board didn't make administrative decisions that affected the educational component. In other words, most decisions that have been made by the board were made on the administrative level, around administrative concerns, and they impacted on the classroom. It wasn't that the administrator worked in his office, made decisions about the running of the board, and the part of the board responsible for the educational component made decisions, and that these two decisions never clashed. That is definitely not the case. These are not offices that run parallel to one another where those lines never intersect. One office affects the other.

I would have to say to the minister, it is the administrative component of the board that affects the educational component of the board. The educational component is the classroom. To say that the communities will have more of a voice in the educational part for their children, that is not going to happen. The minister has three people in place in the running of that board, the CEO and the directors of education for each of the two boards, and they are appointed by the government.

I often wonder, does anybody ever stop and think exactly what learning is all about, or how learning takes place? Learning is a spontaneous, natural reaction and a product of the environment. If we stop long enough, in particular, to watch any child, when they have some free rein in the open environment, then you can really pay attention to how children learn. Children learn when they are stimulated, when something piques their curiosity - and we all know this, if you are interested in something, you remember it far more easily than something you are not interested in. All you have to do is watch a child around a pond to figure out what it is that intrigues that individual. They will learn from their environment.

What we have done in education - and we have done it for practical reasons, but we have never spent much time re-evaluating the effectiveness of the way we teach children - we have put them into an environment, basically a closed environment, and we tell them what will stimulate them. If they are not stimulated to the point that they learn at a certain rate, then we hold them back. We never analyse whether or not the goals we want to achieve in education are related to the stimuli we try to impose on the children. There are numbers of strategies

[Page 6730]

that teachers try to use to keep their children focused so that the learning experience will be a natural one for them. In other words, you have to tap in to a student's natural curiosity and try to make that process as close to the natural one as it can be for them.

Mr. Speaker, I have a piece of information here from my local board, but before I get to that, if the members opposite seem to think that I am somewhat sceptical about the possibility that these two new boards will work or the fact that the minister's bill will somehow improve education in the southwestern region or has the possibility of improving education in the province at all, it is because even the government's own provincial task force that went around this province seeking input so that the government could make decisions that were somehow based on input from Nova Scotians, their comments are, "The conclusion is inescapable: investing in learning at every level is the single smartest thing we can do to improve our overall economic situation." Now, Nova Scotians have been told by this government since they brought down this budget that it was the concern for the future. It was the deficit that we carry. These were the reasons for the cuts.

We found out yesterday in Question Period that the government is not willing to entertain increasing the royalties on any of our resources and try to bring in more revenue. If dollars are the reason for the cuts, then why wouldn't increasing revenues be a reasonable response to try to increase the number of dollars you have so you can provide services to Nova Scotians? Nova Scotians have already been through this. They have been cut to the bone and they have gotten poorer and poorer service. There are models that show that the more we cut, the more we are going to have to spend at a future date. Unless the government is willing to do that, and I suspect they are not, then we are still always going to be in a deficit situation as far as services are concerned.

There were a couple of other important points that were mentioned by the task force report. A recent report from a labour market development secretariat quoted that the Department of Community Services estimates 60 per cent of social assistance recipients have not completed high school. The statistics even show a direct correlation between income levels and good general health. That means the higher the education level, the lower the demand for health and social services. What could be more clear? The government sent about a task force to seek information that would help the government make decisions. They have come back with a clear recommendation here that education is a place the government should invest in. What has the government done? Totally ignored the report, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I am not going to enter into a debate about why the government would do that. That is a pure waste of time as far as I am concerned. I have spent lots of evenings trying to figure out the direction this government is going. I don't buy it. I actually have to admit that I believe the Premier is concerned. I have absolutely no reason to disbelieve him, but I have to question the direction that his vision is taking us. There is ample evidence, and actually I am surprised that this task force report identified these things. I didn't expect that it would. These were things we were saying. It is the identification of these concerns, Mr. Speaker, that

[Page 6731]

others have been saying for years. It is one thing to identify that the increased cost or the increased investment in education will improve society generally, health-wise, economically and so on, but it also mentions about those who are on community services. What are we doing to Community Services? We are cutting that as well.

Mr. Speaker, if this piece of legislation actually gave communities a voice, which I think it does not, if it actually addressed more support for education, which it actually does not, if it addressed the present situation in this province around the lack of skills that some of our students have in getting out into the world - and I want to be clear, at the secondary level, it is not the job of the school system to prepare people for a job, it is to prepare them for the next level of their education, whether that is community colleges, universities or whatever. That is the job of a secondary school system. People tend to think when you walk across that stage at graduation that you are ready to go out into the workforce. Well, you are not. What we are hoping is to develop a well-rounded, capable individual with a good work ethic who is ready to take on the challenges at the next level. That is what our concern should be.

I see that, over time, with the ever-increasing size of school boards, communities have lost a voice in the direction of education. I don't see that this bill addresses that although the minister professes that. I certainly would like to see some indication, in whichever clause it is, that would show us that the minister's concerns have been realized in the writing of the bill, and it is not there.

Now we had heard earlier, in the last number of weeks, about the fact that school boards would somehow adjust to the cuts and that there wouldn't be any teacher lay-offs. Well, I have crunched some numbers myself, Mr. Speaker, and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union's numbers indicate that there are about 10,500 teachers in Nova Scotia. About 1,300 of those 10,000 teachers are teachers who are in the system replacing teachers who are on term leave, sabbaticals, et cetera. In other words, the actual number of people that we need on the floor or on the ground, in the classrooms in this province is somewhat over 9,200, somewhere in that range; 88.6 per cent of that number of people are actually in the classroom. So there are roughly 8,800, or somewhere around the 8,000 mark.

Mr. Speaker, there are 170,000 students in Nova Scotia. With those 8,500 teachers, I will say, there is an average of 29.4, I believe, students per class. I believe the numbers in the elementary schools that have recently been built in my constituency, that the school board has two numbers - an optimum level of students and a maximum level of students. The optimum level of students in those classrooms is 20. The maximum number of students - and that is allowing for expansion in the community - is for 25. The number that I have generated with the number of teachers available in the classrooms across the province is an average of 29, a little better than 29. So we can say for all intents and purposes, the average is 30 students per class.

[Page 6732]

If the teachers who leave do leave through attrition or retirement and they are not going to be replaced, then we are definitely going to have higher numbers of students in the classroom. Now to some people, they might say, so what? Well, I will tell them what. The what in this, Mr. Speaker, is the students of today are not the students of a number of years ago. We have a society where the discipline component throughout society is somewhat different than it was. No more are the days where you can tell students to sit at their desk with their hands folded and expect that they probably will do that for any length of time. So teachers have to be incredible experts in behaviour modification. In other words, they need to have strategies that will allow for students who are going to be more vocal in their classrooms, they have to be able to compete with students for sound bites, they have to be able to handle a lot of discipline problems in the classroom because I can tell you, quite often, to count on the administration to handle it, it is not going to happen.

[10:00 a.m.]

The good old days are gone, if there ever was such a thing. But, the important message I am trying to get across to the members opposite is that teachers only have so many minutes with their students and they have to get the message across to them the best way that they can. To put more students in classrooms today is not the right way to do this. There is absolutely nothing in the bill or in the budget that addresses that concern.

My personal experience has been that I have had classes of 38 and 39 students. I had one class one year of 44 students. Now, 44 bodies in a classroom trying to teach and trying to teach math in particular, it was virtually impossible to get around to those students. Not to mention, handling all the social interactions that were occurring and keeping people focused and on track.

The question has to be, what do we think actually goes on in classrooms in this province? What do we think the role of the teacher is? Do we have any notion that on any given day, on any given minute of any given day, if we were to ask, who is looking after the majority of the students in Nova Scotia then we would have to say the teachers are. But, teachers have had the most limited voice in input into the teaching process in schools that I know of. The minister thinks that communities will have a greater voice, then she is going to have to make the board structure less top-down. In other words, they are going to have to be open to input from the bottom to the top and that hasn't happened. It hasn't happened with PTAs, it hasn't happened with school advisory groups.

A few years ago, we did a whole plan for the future of our school, Hants East Rural High School, and I am not sure on which shelf it is gathering dust, but it was to allow for more input from the school level, the community level and that was an act to allow people to think that they were going to have input, but the board, to my knowledge, has acted on very little and the largest complaint we had that we wanted to see addressed was discipline in the schools. The board made it very clear, discipline is not your responsibility. Our response was,

[Page 6733]

fine, we don't care if we have the responsibility. If it is your responsibility, do something about it. My experience has been that administrators and boards don't take to being told what to do and didn't listen in that case either.

There are some other concerns I have about this bill, Mr. Speaker. One of those is around where library services fall in this bill. They fall under the administrative section, they fall under the CEO of the board and I would say that the object and the job that librarians do is in the educational component, not in the administrative component.

I would ask the minister to somehow revamp her bill so that it is clear that library service comes under the educational component or the directors of education for the boards rather than come under the CEO. The librarians, as most of us can envisage, their training would be a far more technical training than it used to be because certainly the use of the computer, CD-ROM resources, Internet, even the use of encyclopedias is carried out and that help is offered by the librarians. Librarians are presently instructional support and under the direction of learning services, so if they are under the direction of learning services, then they are part of the educational component. They are not part of the administrative component. Library staff and program support assistants belong to the same bargaining unit. So, if they belong to the same bargaining unit, they should be in the same unit, the educational component within this bill. The last point I want to mention regarding the librarians is, what will happen in cases where teacher librarians are hired? In other words, they can't fall under both categories, they should fall into one. It would make far more sense to have them in the educational component.

My impression of the minister's comments is that the goal, this model is designed to focus the district boards on the delivery of educational programs and services and approve accountability for the quality of education. Well, I want to tell the minister, it is very easy to put this in writing; it is not necessarily easy in the delivery. I think people should be aware, Mr. Speaker, that education is a people job. In other words, if we have the right mandate, if we have the right people to enact that mandate, then it becomes very clear what we are about. This bill doesn't do that. As a matter of fact, the bill actually makes the administration of education in those two boards far more vague, far more cloudy, and we have to question where is the extra accountability with the CEO? Certainly the minister's present powers give her all kinds of authority. I would have to state that I cannot see the CEO being accountable to the communities because they are appointed by the minister or appointed by the government.

I know that recently the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board had tried to grapple with the cuts they were facing. Certainly I think they probably have tried to make the best of a good situation. What they tried to accomplish is no permanent or probationary contract teachers were cut, and the classroom pupil-teacher ratio remains the same as in previous years. The total allocation of teacher assistant hours remains the same. Reductions in school secretaries and custodial services has been realized through a reduction in work time to

[Page 6734]

protect jobs. The formula for school instructional supplies remains the same. Vocational-technical initiative remains in tact, and the program for behaviourly challenged youth remains. Newly established support positions for autism is retained, and maintenance capital program remains in place.

The reductions the board took on was a reduction of $400,000 in funds available for professional development; elimination of 12.5 central family office NSTU positions, representing a savings of $400,000, a major reduction to the operations department budget, recognition of the cost savings that will result from the closure of older school buildings and the opening of three new P3 facilities; elimination of 2.5 full-time equivalent secretarial positions at the family of schools offices, other full-time equivalent staff reductions of one community education programmer, three library support staff, two technical support, 2.5 central office non-teaching positions, and five school secretaries; reductions of funds available from central office and board members conference attendance and reductions to supply accounts for central family offices.

Now, 37 per cent of the $2.9 million was taken from the board and administration for a total of $1,073,600; 28 per cent was taken from professional development budgets and P3 school charge backs of $800,000 approximately; 20 per cent from operations, a little over $500,000; 15 per cent was realized through declining enrolments; and 13.8 full-time equivalent teaching positions for $442,000.

Mr. Speaker, I can't emphasize enough for the members the importance of any piece of legislation that will allow for communities to have a greater voice. I think that if the minister actually was concerned about the communities having a greater voice, it didn't come forward in this bill, although she claims it was a major impetus for the bill. To allow for greater community input is a difficult row to hoe in the sense that you run the risk of having any organization taken over by particular interest groups and then marching to their own agenda. With that being said, in organizations that allow for wide input, that allow for a number of individuals to participate, to allow for individuals who are not involved in the organization to still have a voice in the organization, then this tends to prevent it from being hi-jacked by any particular group.

Now, the question always has to be, is that the real intent of the bill as far as greater community involvement? In any of these organizations, they can be set up, Mr. Speaker, in a way that appears to be transparent, that appears to be open but yet, the deck is stacked; in other words, it has those individuals in the group who are really there purely to promote the government agenda or the board agenda. This is something that although people will be quite open to criticize it, it is very difficult to nail it down until you actually see it in action.

I guess for some people never being able to get their own way will always be a problem for them. I think this is where we would like to see some leadership. We would like to see some inventiveness. We would like to see that the minister feels that she can delegate some

[Page 6735]

of her power to individuals in the system that will allow for a much more controlled community involvement and to appoint the directors of education for the two boards that she is presently creating and to appoint the CEO.

As I have said earlier, I have tried to figure out what the real basis of the bill is, so I have to question whether or not this is a Tory make-work project, that these jobs will become a placement for former Tory MLAs or those who are sympathetic to the Tory Party and involved with the Tory Party. I would say that only time will tell, that whether or not the individuals that we see get these positions turn out to be from a broad range, we want to say from non-partisan political views, or somewhere drawn from the three political Parties, trying to get the best people for the job rather than trying to get people who have a long history with the Tory Government and who are identified as Tories.

Some people will say, well, if we got the best people what is the difference if they were Tories. I would agree with that; if they are the best people for job, it wouldn't matter if they were all blue. But what I want to be clear about, Mr. Speaker, is that as long as the process is open and transparent then the public will know that the individuals who have been appointed to these jobs do represent the best that Nova Scotia can offer, and if it turns out that the best Nova Scotia can offer for those jobs are Tories, then I say, so be it, let them have the jobs. But if they are not, then the members opposite certainly can expect to hear more comments from me in that regard.

[10:15 a.m.]

I know that there are concerns about what happens in these positions as far as the NSTU is concerned, and what this transition to the two-board structure will mean, and certainly I want to raise that flag as well, to ensure that people maintain the benefits and so on that they have worked hard to achieve, and that somehow in this transition process those benefits are not lost.

In summary, I want to say to the members opposite that the one very good thing that I have seen in this bill was the concern over seats on school boards for members of the African-Canadian community. This is a plus, probably long overdue. I think to follow in the steps that have provided for seats for members of the Mi'kmaq community was something that the African-Canadian community would certainly applaud and appreciate, to give them a voice in the education of their students, to ensure that the education system maintains a cultural component, I would say this is a good thing. This is the one good thing, I think, that I see in this bill, and the minister certainly could have amended the present Act to allow for this and forgot about the rest of the bill, as far as I am concerned.

When seats were allowed for the Mi'kmaq community, I recognized that to have been a positive move. I know members of the Mi'kmaq community did as well. I taught in a school that had about 10 per cent of students from the Indian Brook Reserve in Shubenacadie. I

[Page 6736]

remember discussing with one of the classroom assistants, who was a Mi'kmaq, his concern that there was no one from their community with a seat on the school board. When the government changed that, I certainly took that to be a positive move. Even though under the present system, the federal government has a responsibility for the education of our Mi'kmaq students, they still live in Nova Scotia and receive their education in Nova Scotia, whether that is through Native schools or non-Native schools. I think for members of their community to have a voice is an important thing.

Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear, I don't support this piece of legislation. I am not clear where the minister is going with this piece of legislation. I see the wide powers given to the minister and to the Cabinet, in other words, the ability to abolish school boards without coming to this Legislature, is a power grab that is not necessary. I tend to worry, considering what has been done in other Tory jurisdictions, that maybe this is the direction that we are going. With those comments, I will take my seat and relinquish the floor to one of my colleagues, who I know is waiting with bated breath to have a say on this piece of legislation. I thank the members for their time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to speak about Bill No. 47. It is no secret that we are opposed, in our caucus, to the principles of this bill. We have voiced our objections as clearly as we can, and we will continue to do so until the time expires for that, because we think it is terribly important for the people of Nova Scotia to know where it is we stand, and for the Opposition together to do its job, which is to elucidate any failings, weaknesses, concerns that may be in the legislation and, in addition, to support anything that we feel is adequate, needed, corrects a problem, or remedies a wrong. We have been trying to do that with a certain amount of lack of interest on all sides, but we are here to speak not just to them but to the people who represent all of us and we will continue to do that, as I have said, until our time has expired here this morning.

We have a chief, fundamental objection to Bill No. 47, and that objection surrounds the notion of power. My colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, used that famous quotation yesterday about power corrupting. I am not so interested in whether or not power corrupts as whether it is the right way to run an education system, to place the minister in a position of what I would characterize as exceptional and extraordinary power, and this bill clearly gives the minister exceptional and extraordinary power which, in my four years here, I have certainly not seen in any other legislation except perhaps in the Health Authorities Bill which is currently before the House, and which bears some rather gruesome similarities to what is going on in Bill No. 47.

Under this bill the minister is, in a number of ways, taking upon herself, or the government is allowing any minister to take upon himself or herself, the power to do a number of things. We have in this bill the pilot project for the Southwest Regional School

[Page 6737]

Board, and I don't need to characterize it again I don't think, people are aware of what the bill says on this subject.

The bill allows for a CEO to be appointed by the minister, and for that CEO to act as the entire school board; so in effect there has been a disbanding of a school board. The argument is that this is a pilot project and really had nothing to do with the current stresses and strains around education, and more to do with the Boundary Review Commission. But, Mr. Speaker, I have to say it fits extremely well with the government's philosophy which is to take all this power on to itself and to exclude from the process all those who have a direct interest, or at least to minimize, if not exclude, all those who have a direct interest in the education of our children.

The problem with the bill, when it comes to this pilot project in the Southwest Regional School Board, Mr. Speaker, is that the way it reads she has given herself the power to put herself in charge of every other board without coming back to the Legislature. This seems, to me, to be one of those clauses in a bill that sets something up so that they can carry out a predetermined agenda at a later time without accountability, and this to me seems to be, and I think to most Nova Scotians, a kind of building block process that may allow the government to do something without other people noticing while people's backs are turned. It doesn't allow for evaluation of something that is being tried for the first time, it doesn't allow for public evaluation and for the evaluation of those two newly split school boards and it certainly doesn't allow for those who have objections or concerns through this Legislature to make the government accountable for what it is doing.

The minister, in this bill, has the power to dismiss district school boards if, in the opinion of the minister, they fail to meet education program service and performance standards set by the minister. Mr. Speaker, either this a redundant clause or there is something else going on here. Now I was under the naive impression that we had an Education Act, we had a set of regulations, and school communities have struggled mightily to meet the demands both of the Education Act and the regulations pursuant to it. If we have an Act and if we have regulations, what is it about this process, which is publicly accountable, that is inadequate to allow the government to do what it wants to do?

The word opinion is rather unnerving in this sense, Mr. Speaker. I have talked before in here about the programming in the schools that intends to help students become critical thinkers and in that process, at least in my classrooms, we talked a lot about the meaning of the word opinion. I have had classes where we have banned the word opinion because the word opinion has a range of meanings, depending upon what purpose the word opinion might mean to the person using it. In fact, it is a very self-serving word.

The proper definition of an opinion would be a judgement or a valuation based upon factual knowledge. Now in this bill, we see enormous limitations on the acquisition of factual knowledge by the minister through this seizing of power which eliminates or greatly

[Page 6738]

diminishes - diminishes to nothing perhaps - the ability of school communities to have their input into educational matters that concern them. So what does it mean for the minister to have an opinion? Does that mean that the minister has a whim? Does that mean that the minister maybe has some relatives whose children are having a rough time in school and thinks maybe that a board isn't doing its job? Does that mean that the minister - as I used to wrestle with Grade 8's - just feels that it is the right thing to do, because there is a huge confusion between emotional factoids, if you like, and opinions based on valid judgement.

I can't say enough, Mr. Speaker, about the concerns that I have about using the word opinion; in the opinion of one person and one person alone - and that would be the minister, in her opinion, or his opinion in another case - the boards fail to meet educational program service and performance standards. My understanding, again, was that educational program and performance standards are exactly what the Education Act and its pursuant regulations are about.

[10:30 a.m.]

If you look at Section 26 of the Education Act, you see the 20-plus duties of a teacher as they are listed. If you recognize that it is a huge challenge, particularly in the present circumstance, just in that section of the bill alone for teachers and those involved in education to meet these statutory requirements for responsible teaching in the education system, let us say, how is it that the minister can then turn around and say, outside of the realm of this Education Act, in my opinion, well, I just feel, well, you know I kind of think, I am pretty sure that there is something there they are not doing right, and to elucidate it and then discover that it doesn't matter if it is in the bill in the first place because the minister doesn't have to have any reference, for example, to those duties of a teacher, and can simply say by fiat, by pronouncement, that some board is not meeting its service or performance standards or its program requirements.

Now this is particularly ironic, Mr. Speaker, under the present and recently recurring circumstances. It is quite fair, and it is the duty of a government to outline the responsibilities of a school board. That is its duty, and to have regulations which accompany the Act which are open for everyone to see and so that people can understand how the regulations work and can comply with them. We see that often, particularly around special needs students when they are struggling with their boards, as sometimes happens. Parents struggle with their boards, for example, to get funding to attend another optional educational institution for their children because they have a deeply held conviction based on facts that their child is not getting what he or she needs in the system. We can go to the regulations in that case. We just go there and we find out that if the board and the parents can't come to terms, come to some kind of an agreement, there is a process. That process is written down in the regulations. The process outlines how it is that parents who have concerns, grave concerns about their children's education, can appeal to the minister.

[Page 6739]

Here we have a situation where the minister, regardless of those regulations can turn around and say to a school board, well, never mind what is in the regulations, I think this is what you should do or not do, or I think you are right or I think you are wrong. I don't see why you should follow that process at all. In fact, the minister can say, well, in fact, I am going to dismiss this school board because I have this feeling, this gut feeling, this little opinion that maybe you are not doing your job. This is extremely dangerous. It is not trivial at all and it was probably one of the biggest signs in this bill of what the government's agenda is.

The other one in the bill which has a profound impact on education functioning is the power to modify, restrict, or enlarge the meaning of any word, expression, or provision in the Education Act. Now, call me naive, but I would have thought if you wanted to amend the Education Act, whether it was a word, a phrase, or a provision, that what you would do is you would bring those amendments to this House, to this place, for a fair and open debate on their validity. If a government has a majority and has its way, those changes may indeed take place, but Mr. Speaker, we know that one of the things the public doesn't see that works very well here is the power of negotiation. We are engaged in it right now around this bill. The very fact that we are here, we can discuss it openly, we can make suggestions. There is an amending process, there is a public hearing process which is not available if this provision is used at any time to amend the Act.

It seems to me that it violates and contradicts and in fact makes superfluous the whole process that we are engaged in in this House. It seems to me to be obvious that that is so and again, what are we to do with this? What are we to think? Here in the Opposition, as we go through this bill to assist the process, to assist the government and to assist the province, what are we to think when a government puts a clause like this?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

MS. O'CONNELL: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, it would be a pleasure.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for allowing me to make this introduction. It is a pleasure for me to introduce some children from the Porters Lake and Lake Echo communities from the ridings of Preston and Eastern Shore. This is the Grade 6 class from O'Connell Drive Elementary School in Porters Lake with their chaperones here today, Heidi Lemire, Brian MacWilliam and Glenda Siteman and they are in the east gallery here. I would like everyone to give them a warm welcome to the House. (Applause).

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to the Grade 6 class and their chaperones and welcome to all visitors in the gallery.

[Page 6740]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I, too, add my words of welcome and I am sure the students have noted already that we are discussing amendments to the Education Act which directly concerns their own life and their own future.

There is another clause in the bill which exempts the Southwest Regional School Board and any other board on which the new model is imposed from the provisions of the Education Act. I have to ask the minister again, what do we have an Education Act for? I remember the torments that we went through in schools when the new Act came in, in 1995, and I have to say that we were very alarmed at that time in the school where I was at least, because the new Act was hastily written and required, as I recall, several hundred, at least massive numbers of improvements and amendments when it was brought in.

But, that is the very process we went through when that Act came in that allowed us, when all was said and done, to have an Education Act that made more sense, was clear about what it was trying to do, than if the government could have simply made up a set of policies and said, well just forget the Act, the old Act, we will just make up a bunch of policies and what we will do is we will just ignore that Act. It seems to me that if a government is going to live by governing, it should die by governing and that means living by the laws of the land. If we are simply going to throw out an Act on the whim of a minister, then I think we are in serious trouble here in the sense that we have forgotten or become confused about, or misunderstand our role and our function for the people of this province.

I want to talk about some of the consequences of this seizure of power by the Minister of Education. There are a number of consequences and there are probably more than I have been able to think of, but in general categories, I have four that I want to talk about and I think they are significant. Aside from the contradictions around the legislation, aside from our role and function here, there are other consequences or consequences that are not apparently clear.

The first one I want to talk about, Mr. Speaker, is micromanagement. If the minister has all the power and that is clear, the minister can dismiss a board, dismiss the Act, change the words in the Act, do just about anything; from behind her curtain in the Land of Oz, she can pull any strings she wants. How in the name of heaven is one person going to micromanage the education system? Those structures existed for a purpose. We had boards for a purpose. Boards have evolved over the years and there is a very mixed kind of response, historically, to some of what has happened with school boards, but they existed for a reason. There was a structure for the management of education and there was an Act, a set of regulations, a department, school boards, principals, support staff, all those things that enabled the education system to work.

We saw this in the budget, we saw this micromanagement in this budget before we ever saw this bill, Mr. Speaker. What we saw was the Minister of Education who stood up in the House with a budget and said, you know, only 400 teachers will be cut. Then when the

[Page 6741]

evidence flew in the face of that and the numbers changed and the negotiations went on and deals were made, at least one thing that shook down from all this was some breaks for school boards and some strings. The initial round of conflict was about the number of teachers and the devastating loss to schools if that number of teachers were to be dismissed by whatever means, attrition, whatever.

Now we have moved along, the battle has moved along, and what is under attack now is all those systems and supports that go with the teacher and are equally important in the school. That is micromanagement because when the minister dished out the money, what happened was she said, okay, you have to emphasize teachers, but I am still not giving you enough money so you have to keep teachers and you have to find cuts somewhere else. That is micromanagement. School boards should be given a budget and they should be allowed to decide the best way to spend that money.

Well, Mr. Speaker, if you give them so little that that is an impossible task and then you say you have to do this and you cannot do that, you have micromanaged the education system and that will be exacerbated terribly under this bill. The group that came in here the other day from the Metro Immigrant Learning Centre, a group of new Canadians who study English and come to the House, I think, just about every sitting with their teacher, they are fascinating to talk to because they come from all over the world and they have experienced different political cultures, some of them repressive, some of them worse than that.

They come to Canada for a reason. They choose Canada because they feel that it is a fine place. If you have to leave your homeland, if you have to be torn and rent from your roots and you have to choose another place in the world to make your home, they come to Canada because of the enormous respect throughout the world for our democratic system. They come here and they always come to see what we do. I am sure if they went to Ottawa, they would go to the Houses of Parliament and they would sit down and see what their federal Members of Parliament do on their behalf.

So they come here, Mr. Speaker, and what is the first thing I hear when they come? A woman said to me, she said, what can we do, I have a daughter in high school, a son in junior high school, and they are both going to lose their English as a Second Language teacher. They have come here and they are desperately anxious to give their children the tools of communication that will make them have a happy and productive life in this country. What is the first thing I hear? Who do I write a letter to? Who is my MLA? - and that is because the school is in the riding, but not all the students live there - Who is my MLA? How do I communicate, so that I can say what is happening here is not right and should be stopped? This from someone who has been in this country probably for a few years and is on her way to becoming a proud Canadian, and who is already embroiled in political struggles to enable her children to get the very best of what they need here.

[Page 6742]

[10:45 a.m.]

One of the other hazards - if you want to call it that - of this uploading is the lack of input from communities. If this bill passes and if the minister should exercise her whim or any other minister should exercise his or her whim, school communities will discover that they do not have the input that they have been encouraged to have over the last number of years that was crucial in a tight-fisted system to its survival and which now is no longer wanted. They are going to be told, go home, you have no say. What is it that they have been doing all this time?

There is nobody in this House who doesn't know how many people stood outside here a few weeks ago in various groups. There is nobody in this House who doesn't know that most members of this House, if not all, have received hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, letters; they have come in all shapes and sizes, boxes of them sometimes have come into this House. They have had various aspects of the problem on their mind. I went through some of the recent ones, because I wanted to put on the record, first of all the degree of their concern, how strongly they care about their educational community and what happens to their children in the future, and how important what they do now is important to that future. Also, I think it indicates, not just simply by having written a letter but, by what they say, the level of their own commitment and their own activity within their communities.

Mr. Speaker, Donna Hughes, who is - and this is a very typical situation - a teaching assistant, a parent, and she gives her time voluntarily to the School Advisory Council, which is exactly what I have been talking about. Her husband is a teaching assistant and she has two teenagers in school. She says, talking about herself and her husband, "As parents and educators, we are extremely upset by the mass confusion and upheaval that this Conservative Government has created."

Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to table all of these documents, if you so desire. She goes on to say, "What a terrible example this Government has come to be for our children and adolescents." Now there is a damning statement, and maybe that is the kind of statement that this government doesn't want to hear any more so they are going to make sure that they don't listen. She goes on to say, "I am very much afraid of what is happening all around us, what will happen to my children and family, how will we be able to get through this 'mess'? Has the Conservative Government really thought about this?" Mr. Speaker, that is just one and, believe me, I could have brought hundreds.

Another one, from a student, from a young Nova Scotian is who against education funding cuts and who is concerned about education. "I want you to know how deeply the students of Nova Scotia are affected by the decision to basically rob us of our teachers and proper learning environment." If you have never taught school, Mr. Speaker, you may not know that you can't fool a kid any day of the week. She goes on to say, "We as Nova Scotians have to make sure the quality of education in our province is maintained and this

[Page 6743]

cannot be done without your help, support and understanding." Another message, among the many that we received from the Kingston School, I am just going to read, again, a sentence, "Please keep up the pressure. If only they could see the emotional havoc this has caused. We expect more from our elected officials. Please continue to remind them to be more careful in the coming days . . ." and these days have come, ". . . as they make decisions which impact on the future of our children, our schools, our communities and our future." Do they care? Of course they do. Would they take the trouble to write to the people who sit in this House if they didn't? I don't think so.

Another one from a parent, taxpayer and voter - she describes herself, "I am appalled at the lack of interest and concern by the government of Nova Scotia with respect to our education system. I cannot begin to fathom your thought process in this regard." Neither can we, Mr. Speaker.

Another one, and this was directed to a particular member on the other side of the House, the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, and it is from Pat Rhodenizer. I am not going to read the whole thing but I am going to read the bit that sums up the frustration and the anger of this person in Halifax Bedford Basin. "We trusted you because you said to our faces that you would speak for us and our children. I hope you will read this letter out loud in Province House as it does represent the majority view of YOUR riding, . . ." That letter is to the member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

Here is one on special education and it says, Mr. Speaker, "Why, since it is mandated by the province that special education students be educated in our school system is the School Board not given proper funding for these children?" That is an issue that is still very much alive in spite of the government's actions, because this is one of the pieces of the whole picture that has been damaged by the micromanagement of the government using the budget. It will be so much more exacerbating by the provisions of this bill, which will leave people scratching their heads, as we are, about why in heaven's name we have an Education Act, why we have regulations, why we have a government that outlines policies, procedures and programs and then turns around and says, (a) we are not going to give you enough money to do it and then (b) but if, in our opinion, you are not pulling the job off, we can fix that and fix your wagon. We can disband your school board.

Mr. Speaker, these people are concerned because they know that if the minister takes all the power to herself, or any minister does, they will not have the voice that they have been struggling to have and there will be many more questions about who is making decisions and why, because there will be no accountability. Who is going to speak freely about the needs of education on a school advisory council or at a school board meeting if the axe is hanging over their head? When decisions are made, who is going to question them? Who is going to be able to find out their rationale in their process if it is all done in a back room with a minister who makes all the decisions?

[Page 6744]

Mr. Speaker, there is a more contentious dimension to this and that is the capability of any individual minister. Now to speak about that is not to suggest that any minister should have this power, but one of the consequences of this bill, even though no minister in the world could do all the things right that he or she has power for under this bill. It is not possible, it is not humanly possible to have the God like wisdom to see all and know all and do the best for this system if you have all the power to you alone. What if you have a minister who doesn't know the system well? That is an extreme concern of people involved in education. It is not about whether you were there, whether you have your battle scars from being in the classroom or being a parent of a special needs child, it is about having an affinity for and an understanding of what it is the process is all about. In the hands of a minister who doesn't have any sense of that, and who doesn't go out and ask for it, we get the kind of ludicrous situation that we have here.

I have an e-mail here from a voter in Kings North who said that when the Minister of Education commented on class sizes, she said, "You could probably have a lot more English students say, in a Grade 11 English class, for example, than in a Grade 11 math class because in math, a lot of them need individual help, wheras in English they may all be reading the same book." This writer goes on to say that, "This view held by the head of our province's public education system, sends shivers down my spine . . ." Now, it sends shivers down my spine, too, Mr. Speaker, because that is one area that I spent 18 years involved in. It is not about credentials here. If the minister had asked any one of us, we could have told her whether or not that was valid statement to make in the face of this budget and this bill.

In fact, if she had read The Daily News on April 18th, she would have had a much better understanding of what it is that is involved in the teaching of this particular subject. Mr. Speaker, I would like to read just the first half of it into the record. Now it refers to class size, but the point is the extent of the work required to be a high school English teacher. It is called "Do the math," and I would be happy to table it. "To the editor: I'm an older teacher and have a little bit of experience with time management. Although teaching English is my trade, I thought I'd try a little math homework to see what it would mean to the average high school teacher if class sizes increased to 40 or 50 students per class. There are two models to choose from, which I'll call type A and type B."

Now, I am just going to read type A because it gives you the drift. "In type A, the average English class has 40 students. The teacher is assigned six sections of English for a total of 240 students. Here's where the math gets a bit tricky. If the teacher spends a minimum of 10 minutes per student per week marking essays and assignments, that works out to 40 hours of marking per week. If the teacher spends 5 minutes per student per week on classroom business such as attendance, mark-recording, calculating, phone calls home and assorted administravia, that works out to 20 hours per week. At 5 minutes per student per week on each student for lesson planning, reading, curriculum research and preparing materials, that teacher will spend another 20 hours per week. Actual teaching in the classroom

[Page 6745]

would average 18 hours per week. Supervision and hallway duties will take five hours per week. Meetings, paperwork and other miscellaneous demands: two hours per week."

Mr. Speaker, "Total number of hours required per week: 105. If you set yourself a six-day week, that equals 17.5 work hours per day. A more reasonable seven-day week, 15 hours per day." Now you might say, how do you know? People write to the paper all the time and they say things you don't agree with. Well I agree with this writer, because I taught with this writer for 14 years. I shared a desk in the staffroom, and a more diligent teacher I don't know. It is signed M. Dodd, it is Mary Dodd, a teacher who spent 18 years diligently doing every one of those tasks, six, seven days a week and now because the school is a sick building, a school in my riding is a sick building, is too sick to work, having done this for 18 years and she doesn't mention that.

[11:00 a.m.]

How can it be that a Minister of Education doesn't talk to people about what it is that is involved in their job? Whether they be teachers, program assistants, library assistants, maintenance people, school secretaries or anyone else in the school system.

Now, the cuts in support staff. I don't know of anybody, I think one of my caucus colleagues mentioned the terrible consequences of cutting secretarial staff in the school. I don't know if the members opposite know and the Speaker knows and the minister knows that in every grade from Primary to 12, the first thing that is done every morning, and it is very time consuming, is that students are checked on to see whether they are in school; if they are not, why not and in the case of smaller children, are they safe? Four years in a junior high school taught me something about the extraordinary value of a school secretary.

What happens is, the lists come to the office in double quick time and the school secretary compares the lists to the phone calls that have been received on the tape machine since the night before or 7:00 o'clock in the morning, makes a list of the unaccounted for absentees and then proceeds to track them down. I don't know who in this brave new world of ours is going to find out whether somebody in Grade 2 has been run over by a car or abducted on the way to school or whether it has just been one of those instances where a Primary child has taken the long route and picked somebody's flowers off their lawn on the way to school. These children need tending in more ways than academic and a school secretary is a true gift to a school. I cannot imagine what we will do in the schools of Nova Scotia when there is nobody there except the principal who has other demands on her or him and has to go out and locate children in a systematic and accountable way to ensure that all are safe, if not all are well in that particular school that day.

[Page 6746]

Under this bill, the minister has no obligation to find out the real facts and then has the ability to do what she pleases without benefit of the real facts. If people tried to elucidate the facts, the board can be dismissed. Presumably, insubordination might be one of the whims that the minister would have.

I have enormous concerns about this bill. I am not alone and it is not just limited to the people in this Chamber. I think that this bill, in spite of its one saving provision, is a bad bill. I will say a word or two about the provision. We know that the African-Nova Scotian communities have wanted and need a voice at the table on school boards. We have supported this in the past, we continue to support it. We find it alarming to have it tagged on to such a bill and that is why we took it upon ourselves to introduce a Private Member's Bill which is separate from this bill, so we want to be very clear with these communities and with boards and with educators and parents that we support this.

But we don't support it as a manoeuvre to make a bad bill, a bill that sounds as if it is going to take away the very power that boards have, is going to have this piece thrown on to make it look like they are an open and democratic government and they are not fooling anybody.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot say it strongly enough, we have cynicism at work here. We have a political agenda, an ideological agenda. We have the sense that a group of people who have been in power for less than a year know, without finding out, what is good for the people of Nova Scotia and they are busy dismantling whatever structures are in place, particularly in health and education, to make it possible to find out the very best that you can about how your system works and to act upon it. It not only destroys the power of communities to have input, but it also destroys the incentive because the minister can do exactly what she pleases on any given day of the week and she has no regard for properly legislated Statutes and their regulations.

Mr. Speaker, I want to end with something that is better said than I could; members may remember this wonderful book. It has political content, this wonderful book, and I would be happy to table it if the Speaker wants me to, Talon Two, the literary magazine which was the outcome of provocation. A student writing group based at Auburn Drive High School was sufficiently provoked about what was happening to their education - and I think the date is on it, February 2000 - to get together in a novel, creative and, if you like, soul-strengthening exercise in protest. It takes a lot more imagination to do this than to bang on the fence post outside Province House. This group of students, some of whose work around education was published, but many more were written, sat down together on a weekend of their own choosing and they created art out of protest.

Mr. Speaker, I want to end with just one of the shorter poems because I think it expresses exactly the frustration of young, idealistic, committed students who genuinely want to succeed in the world. They don't expect everything, but they genuinely want a good solid

[Page 6747]

education. As I said, you cannot fool a kid or a teenager and when they saw what this government was doing, they gathered together in a place and they made art. So I would like to end by reading a poem called, I Cannot by Alanna Fogarty. She expresses the very concerns that we have about education and that we are addressing in this bill. "I can not breathe, there is no air left in that stale room. I break out in a cold sweat, realizing that I am trapped behind mass bodies of people. I can not hear, something important was said. It came more as a whisper, by the time it got back to me. I can not see, supposedly, there is someone in the front. Of course I'll never believe, what I can't see. I can not believe, that they got us all in one room, all they couldn't fit in, was our education."

Mr. Speaker, I think that sums up nicely the attitude of this government with this bill and everything else that has gone on to this struggle we are having to preserve the best of what we have in education because what this government is doing is not about education at all. It has nothing to do with it and these are the people who know. Thank you very much.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the member for Halifax Fairview as she again presented a poem from the student publication called the Talon Two, a literary magazine I think produced out of Auburn Drive High School. Some of the sentiments expressed there are, I think, clearly reflective of the concern, the angst being expressed, increasingly, by Nova Scotian students, educators, and parents in the Province of Nova Scotia over the changes that this government is making.

Mr. Speaker, I am taking the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 47 at this point as we get ready to see it move forward to the Law Amendments Committee. I want to say at the outset that I am extremely concerned with what is being proposed in Bill No. 47, especially in light of what we have just seen with the Education budget the government brought down and the way that they have begun to make what they would refer to as changes to the education system, how it is being delivered in the province. What we and many Nova Scotians would say is, they have begun their assault on education in the Province of Nova Scotia. When you examine the intricacies of Bill No. 47, in light of the cuts that have taken place, you can only be concerned because of the nature of the power that is centralized in the hands of the minister and her officials in the Department of Education.

We have had fairly extensive debate in this House on education, around the budget, and subsequently as we have engaged in some rigorous debate on Bill No. 47. I think it is fair to say that Nova Scotians are concerned about the direction this government is heading in, with respect to education. They are concerned, as I understand it, primarily because it is a direction that they didn't anticipate; it is a direction that is so contrary to what this government promised Nova Scotians when they were running for election, less than a year ago. We have heard the references to speeches made by the now Premier, speeches given by members, electioneering materials that talked about investing in the classroom, that talked about

[Page 6748]

responding to the shortage of teachers, that talked about responding to the shortage of program assistants, getting rid of the expensive P3 program of financing schools, that made all kinds of commitments to Nova Scotians about investing in education, returning and reinforcing community input and community decision making with respect to education, increasing standards and stabilizing the learning environment for students and for the people who are delivering education, primarily the teachers and program assistants in that environment.

Yet, at the first opportunity, what this government does, through its budget and with Bill No. 47, is to very much turn their back on the commitments that they made. I have taken a look at - and others have cited this, this is not new news - but I am compelled to review it because of the stark nature of the contrast between what was said then and what is being said now. During the election campaign, in the section on education in the Tory manifesto, they say that, "A strong education system is the foundation of an economy of sustained growth." It said, "A PC Government will dedicate itself to an education system which is adequately funded, is fully focused on the student and the classroom and which will prepare young Nova Scotians to compete in the job markets of today and tomorrow." It says further, "Too many teachers are faced with overcrowded classrooms and scarce resources. Our schools must be functional, must be environmentally-safe and must reflect the needs of the community."

[11:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, contrast that if you will to a budget which we are still learning of its impact, a budget which will take, at last estimates, hundreds of teachers out of the classroom, a budget which will take over 60 program assistants out of the classrooms in the Halifax Regional School Board alone, a budget which will remove other personnel within a school community, the support staff, secretaries, other professional support specialists. It will take these people out of the system, so what you are going to have invariably is you are going to have an increase in class size. You are going to have increased pressure on teachers. You are going to have increased pressure on students, especially those who require additional assistance to enable them to be able to participate fully, completely in the education system and thereby allow them to participate fully in their community through jobs, through volunteering, through other efforts in the community and to the classroom.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is part of the concern that has been raised, and why, in light of those reductions, Bill No. 47 is so ominous to us, because on the one hand the minister is taking the money away and on the other she is taking away from the communities and from the schools in the education system the opportunity to respond to the crisis that is being imposed upon them.

The government's propaganda goes on and talks about establishing a P to 12 provincial education council with representatives from the stakeholder groups, the Nova Home and School Association, Nova Scotia Teachers Union. This will be an advisory body that will

[Page 6749]

work with the minister and work with the school boards in order to properly administer education. The campaign materials go on and say that the Tories plan to develop a multi-year plan for addressing the need of additional resources for students with special needs.

The troubling part of this whole debate has been that when we have said to the minister and her colleagues on the front benches, do you have any idea of what you are talking about when you withdraw those kinds of resources from the classroom, the kind of impact that will have on students? They first of all try to deny it outright. No, it is not going to happen. We provide them with the evidence of staff that are losing services, when we talk about school boards like the Halifax Regional School Board that is laying off over 60 program assistants, what that will do. When we finally present irrefutable facts, Mr. Speaker, the answer is this, and the answer from the minister and her colleagues is that we can't afford to provide those students with the type of education they deserve. What we are looking at is not today but tomorrow - that is what they say - we are worried about tomorrow.

What I keep saying and what my colleagues in the NDP caucus continue to respond with is, what about today? What about some of the students we talked about in our resolutions today, special needs students who are in classrooms today, and who are trying to learn important skills to allow them to cope with high needs, allow them to be able to contribute to their communities, to learn and to appreciate life to its fullest? What about those students? What about the children who will be going to school in September 2000, who won't have access to a program assistant, who may be faced with being stuck in a classroom - we have heard examples of that today - or a room somewhere with some things to amuse themselves but with no attention to their particular needs and no attention to try to help them learn? What about those people today?

We have heard from parents, time and time again over the past number of weeks and we will again over the next number of weeks and months, what about those students? Their parents say, why should they have to wait, and what is the impact going to be on their lives, if their education is put on hold for a month, let alone a year or longer? For the government to say that we have to make these tough decisions now in order to ensure that things are there tomorrow is just simply not good enough. It is not good enough.

I want to share with you a few pieces of correspondence on this very topic, which I thought were extremely illustrative of that very problem. I think particularly of the cuts to the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority. We are a participant with the other provinces in this authority that it helps fund itinerant teachers and tutors, interpreters and various technical aids for students who are deaf and blind. The Minister of Education, the Department of Education, has decided to reduce the contribution that Nova Scotia makes to that authority by upwards of $200,000. We have raised in this House - my colleague, the Critic for Education for the NPD, the member for Halifax Needham, has said, as I have - this is going to have a direct impact on children.

[Page 6750]

How can you do that? I remember asking the Minister of Education myself that very question, how can you, in all conscience, agree to reduce the budget of such an important body that provides essential services to children with high needs? The minister said to me, I think they will be fine. I think APSEA gets enough money and they will be okay. Imagine, they don't need the money. Imagine that she actually said that.

So I want to share with you some correspondence from parents with respect to the APSEA cuts in particular. I will preface this. This is a letter to the Premier, but it begins with a short comment to me. It says, "What follows is a copy of a letter I have just sent to Dr. Hamm, requesting that he re-consider making severe budget cuts to APSEA. I very much hope that you will consider fighting this decision on behalf of the deaf children in Nova Scotia. They have so much to contend with best of supports, that it seems amazingly unfair to take away what they have. If you would like any additional information about this, I will happily do my best to provide it." Please support us.

The letter to Dr. Hamm says as follows: "I am writing to ask you to re-consider the cuts you have made to the APSEA budget. In relative terms, the amount of money involved is rather small. But, for the children affected the consequences will be devastating and far-reaching. To be born with a major disability is difficult. To survive as perhaps the only deaf child in your school or area is an enormous challenge. But, to succeed without any extra support through itinerant teachers or interpreters will be next to impossible. Please don't doom these children to almost certain failure at school. Current unemployment rates for deaf adults are appalling. If deaf children don't receive the support they require to be well-educated and productive adults, future social costs . . . will far outweigh anything that you may hope to save today."

Even this parent, in a state of despair about what these cuts will mean to her or his child, still find themselves having to make the economic argument. My God, imagine if you will, Mr. Speaker, what that says. This person, this parent is talking about the ability of his child to participate in the community, in society, and they feel the only way they are going to be listened to is on grounds of the economics of it. By saving a few thousand dollars today, society will end up enduring greater costs in the future. They are right, but what about the humanity and the constitutional right of that child to get an education today? What about that? Has it all come down to dollars and cents? How can we stand here in good conscience? How can members opposite talk to these people? The real people, Mr. Speaker. Real people who bleed and feel pain and eat and breathe and drink and contribute in different ways, have good things and bad things going on in their lives. They are just regular folks who are trying to make it through.

How can this government, a minister or a backbencher or any of them, or even people on this side, say to one of those parents, I am sorry but today we can't afford, as a government, for your child to get an education. My God, please put politics aside, and partisanship aside and let that sink in a little bit, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 6751]

Another e-mail to the Minister of Education. "As parents of two special needs children my husband and I are appalled that you do not believe our children are deserving of the assistance they need to achieve an education. If money is not spent now on education then it will be spent later, in greater amounts, on welfare, adult learning, rehabilitation programs . . . and prison. We believe you should take the time to visit special needs children in school and see for yourself the challenges that they struggle with everyday and hopefully you will understand the importance . . .".

I have said in this House before, and I have sat down, and I am sure other members of the government caucus have done this as well, although many of them are fairly new to this place, they will undoubtedly have had the opportunity to sit down with constituents, talk about individual program plans, if they still even go through the facade of that.

You know, with the cuts to program assistants, I wonder if the school boards will even be able to go through the facade of developing an individual program plan. These plans are for the child with high needs and how a particular school and the school board is going to meet that child's needs. I have sat with many parents in my constituency who work on a daily basis in many cases, week after week and year after year with the school board and with the school to try to get a plan developed that is appropriate for their child and to try to get the resources directed towards that child. Their child. That is all they are concerned about, it is all they should be concerned about is whether their child is going to get the education that they need.

The reality of the problems with these plans is the lack of resources in the Halifax Regional School Board, the lack of program assistants, the lack of specialists at the school board level to be able to deal with these issues. I think about that and I wonder, my goodness, what is going to happen to these people now? To these parents, many of them, most of them, working. If they are a two parent family, both of them working and yet trying to deal with what is going on at the school on a daily basis. Or single parents, working and trying to deal with these problems because they can't leave it to the system. The system won't on its own, meet the needs of these children.

I want to read a letter that arrived in my office this morning, an e-mail, that talks about the other Party. You know, the other day I was in this House when I had a chance to talk about this bill and talk about schools. I talked about how schools are an integral part of the community. The schools themselves, and there are many teachers here and they know this, schools are a community unto themselves and I gave an example of that about a school up in Lawrencetown where a child, a young girl started to choke and people tried to assist her and they couldn't bring her any relief, they went to the principal, they went to the teacher. It was finally the secretary in that school who came to the aid of that young girl and performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on her properly, and her breathing difficulty was relieved and she was okay. The woman was heralded as a hero, as she properly was. The next day, she got her pink slip. The point I made then, and I will make again today is that all of those people, whether

[Page 6752]

they are custodial staff, whether they are maintenance staff, whether they are teachers, program assistants, secretaries, principals, bus drivers, they all contribute to making the life and the learning experience of those children better. They all contribute in different ways to making that experience as positive as it can be.

We had some debate here in this House over the loss of teachers and what that would mean. The minister stood in her place, after the Minister of Finance told us it was going to be 400 teachers lost, had to realize that was wrong, that was not true, that, in fact, it was going to be much greater than that, and they came up with an extra - I don't know what it was - $33 million in order to stem that tide. But since, what has happened, and I have talked about it, is program assistants, but not just program assistants, but all those others. The secretary from the school in Lawrencetown is gone or will be gone shortly. Bus drivers are having their hours reduced or are being laid off. The custodial staff are having their hours reduced or they are being laid off. Program assistants are being laid off or having their hours reduced. The people who contribute so much to the learning environment of our children, Mr. Speaker, are being cut away.

Let me share with you this letter that speaks to that. With respect to the support staff, the letter says, "We cover a very large area. Just to mention a few: We are the teacher aides, cleaners, bus drivers, bus aides, secretaries, maintenance, lunch ground supervisors and library technicians." Part of the community, part of the educational environment in the school community. "Our hours and our jobs are being cut, which does hurt us; but who else is going to be hurt by these cuts?" As I have said and as this person says, the students are also going to feel the impact. This writer says, "I can speak for myself and my fellow workers, in the department I work in. I am a Teacher Assistant and I enjoy my work and the children. For the most part, we work hand-in-hand with teachers. We work with the same students the teachers do. In some cases we work with some very special, unique students that a regular classroom teacher doesn't work with or are limited in the amount of time they have with these students. In other cases . . .", says the author, " . . . we help students that have learning difficulties, unique learning styles, behavioral problems, emotional problems, ADD . . . and various other difficulties, whether they be emotional, behavioral or physical. In many cases, because of medical needs, it is crucial that more than one T.A. be in a classroom. With a classroom full of students, the regular classroom teacher just doesn't have the extra time to give to these special students.

Now what is going to happen to these students if the government keeps cutting away at our education system? Will these students be told they don't have the right to a good education, or they only have that 'right' for part of the day. Something most people don't appreciate is the fact that we don't just do what is in our job description. We always do the extras. We attend and/or help prepare for many special functions, on our own time. It could be a Christmas concert, a school dance, the safe grad committee, awards night, sports events, parent teacher night or any of the other numerous daily events that take place during the school year."

[Page 6753]

The other day when I was describing this type of community involvement and how the people in the school community go the extra mile, I was referring specifically to what I have experienced at the Sambro-Ketch Harbour Elementary School in Sambro, about how the people who work in that school are members of the community and members of the community are part of that school. I have been there for special luncheons when people from Symphony Nova Scotia have performed. I have been there at night for meetings when various members of the staff, or program assistants, or library people, are there to work with the community.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think there is a little too much chit-chat in the room. If people want to carry on some conversations, yes, maybe the member for Preston may not think there is too much chit-chat, but the Speaker does and I think that if people want to carry on some conversations, they should take them outside. Otherwise, listen to the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the point is that that is what is happening and that has been my experience and that is exactly what this person is talking about. Anyway, the letter goes on to say that, "Although we have our set hours to work, it is nothing for many of us to work a half hour or an hour extra, at least two to three times a week (sometimes more). We don't get paid for it and we don't ask to be paid." To listen to some members of government talk about people who work in schools, you would think that their idea of teachers and program assistants sometimes is that these people are sitting around at school with their feet up, not doing any work, you know, just like many members of the backbenches do in the government caucus.

These people are making a contribution, Mr. Speaker, that many members of this House would only dream of making. This person says we don't get paid for it and we don't ask to be paid. "Personally, there is not too many evenings that I don't take work home with me, so I will be better prepared to work with the kids. I love my job and I never thought I would be able to say that about any job. I love working with kids. There has to be another solution, other than cutting away at our education system." In fact, this person may have thought that this government was proposing another solution because if you look at what they said during the election campaign, they never said once that we are going to have to cut back on teachers and program assistants, that we are going to have to disenfranchise people, children with special needs, today, in order to save the education system for tomorrow.

They did not say that. They did not say that once. What they said was that education is an investment in our future and that we have to overcome the problem of the shortage of teachers and large class sizes, we have to reinforce and reinvest in special needs because it has been underfunded in the past number of years and we have to ensure that students have proper facilities in which to learn and buildings that are healthy and that are properly staffed.

[Page 6754]

Mr. Speaker, this person says, "In closing, I would like to say that I am a parent of a child who has learning difficulties. The help wasn't there when she was in school and needed it and now that it is there, for the many kids who do need it, the government seems to be ready to snatch it away from them, without a second thought. Where is it all going to end? Are they trying to set us back 50 years?" There it is. There is a PS here, it says, "One final question. Why is the Department of Education allowing various schools to offer the Teachers' Aid course if the government is cutting the department so drastically?"

[11:45 a.m.]

I guess my answer would be, and probably the Minister of Education's answer would be that, well, that is for those people tomorrow; we are trying to save the system today for those people tomorrow. We don't give a hoot about the people today, the children who fall through the cracks who aren't going to be helped, we are worrying about somewhere down the road.

I think what they are worrying about more specifically, is the next election. They can promise tax cuts to their wealthy and powerful friends and hope they will get elected and they will continue to impose this kind of devastation on ordinary people in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I talk about special education, it is not as if things have been a bed of roses over the past number of years because it hasn't. It has been very difficult. The education system has undergone a period of - some would say chaos - some significant change. The former Liberal Government didn't invest the kind of money that needed to be invested. They engaged in a program of sucking a lot of important teachers and resources out of the education system. People were trying to cope with the changes that have been made. The Education Act, school boards have been amalgamated into mega-boards which brought their own problems. PTAs became school advisory councils, all kinds of change, all kinds of upset that some would say was beginning to settle down, although the reality is, for example, that for people looking for services, for people going to school in classes that were sick, that were unhealthy, things hadn't changed a great deal.

In the election campaign, this group opposite promised the sun and the moon to these folks at a time when they wanted to hear those very things. They thought they were electing a government that was truly committed to education, to investing in education in the Province of Nova Scotia. Surprise, surprise.

For many people who I have spoken with, to have this budget and this Bill No. 47 sprung upon them, has been a real shock to their system. It has caused a lot of upset. When you figure that three years ago, the committee that was looking at funding for special education said that we had a $33 million shortfall in that area, to now continue to see that area being cut is a matter of considerable concern. The Minister of Education said we are

[Page 6755]

reinvesting in adult upgrading and literacy. That's a joke. I can tell you from direct experience in my constituency, for the last number of years we have had problems with adult literacy, adult upgrading, illiteracy programs that are provided by non-profit organizations and churches, and things haven't changed. From listening to what this minister and her colleagues have to say, things are going to continue to be very difficult for people in the community.

It is ironic that this government's hand-picked task force, which was supposedly going to give them some kind of a blueprint on where to go with the economy in the province, one of their self-described themes was, the need for this government to commit itself to lifelong learning. Lifelong learning, that an investment in lifelong learning was an investment in the future of this province. Yet what is the first thing this government does? They hack and slash away at education. It is like, what part of that message didn't they get? What do they think lifelong learning means? Learning how to cope with poverty? Learning how to cope with unemployment? Learning how to cope without a program assistant? Learning how to cope in classes of 50? Learning how to cope in a sick school? Is that what lifelong learning is to these Tories, Mr. Speaker? Is that what they are talking about when they refer to an investment in higher education in lifelong learning? One has to wonder.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise here today to introduce another group of students from the great ridings of Preston and Eastern Shore. These students are from the communities of Lake Echo and Porters Lake. They attend Grade 6 classes out of O'Connell Drive Elementary School in Porters Lake. I would like to ask them to rise and please receive the warm welcome of the House. With them are chaperones Deborah Reeves, Cathy Bamwoya and Vivien Hiscock. I would like to welcome everyone. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our guests.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in our gallery today, we are joined by two constituents from Halifax Needham, Larry and Cathy Naugle, and I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome from people in the House. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I also welcome the guests in the gallery today. Today we are talking about a bill called Bill No. 47 which is changes to the Education Act. In my remarks today, I am raising concerns as our caucus have, the NDP, about the

[Page 6756]

changes that this government is making to the Education Act. Instead of giving communities more say or strengthening the input they have into education decisions and the delivery of education, they are withdrawing that input into the minister's hands. Instead of decisions being made in Cape Breton, in the Southwest Regional School Board and here in Halifax, instead of decisions being made in Sambro, in Harrietsfield, in Spryfield, in the North End, in Elmsdale, decisions will be made in that minister's office about how those services and how that education are delivered. That causes me and my colleagues here some considerable concern.

That is why we are debating fairly strenuously the amendments to the Education Act, because, together with these changes which centralize power, the government has made very drastic cuts to funding for education, very drastic cuts to education, which mean that there are, in many schools, no library technicians. There are fewer program assistants to deal with children with special needs or to help classrooms function, classrooms that have children in them with high needs. If you don't have a program assistant there to be able to deal with those particular needs, then that affects the whole classroom. That affects everybody, and that is a concern for us because that is affecting every child in that classroom, every child in that school.

Secretaries. Undoubtedly the students who are here today probably know the secretary in their school quite well; oftentimes one of the first people they run into. I know that in many schools I have been in, those secretaries know the students; they know each and every one of them by name. They know the ones who are coming to school maybe with something a little heavy on their shoulders, and they understand the need to try to make that school environment a safe place, a positive place, a positive few hours in the life of that child. Those secretaries understand that, as does everybody else.

In many schools, they won't have any secretaries left, Mr. Speaker. Do you know why? I think it is because that is administration, right? This government says that is administration. They have this word called "administration," and it appears that administration means that doesn't have any effect on the education received by children in the Province of Nova Scotia. We know different. We know that decisions have to be made within schools, within the organization. Paperwork has to be done. Somebody has to do it and if there aren't people to do it, then there is chaos. Eventually someone is going to have to do it.

But secretaries do more than administration. They are part of that community. Bus drivers, bus driver assistants, people who work in delivering nutritional services in schools are all part of the community. Increasingly, in inner-city schools in particular, you have those very staff people who are being cut participating in breakfast programs and lunch programs, supervisory programs, because they understand how important that school is in the lives of so many of those children. They are going to be gone now and those children are going to have to cope for themselves.

[Page 6757]

That is what we are talking about here today, the education that is being provided to children in the Province of Nova Scotia and our concerns about the budget cuts and about this bill and what it does to that education.

I want to talk for a moment about schools. The latest estimates were that the extra money spent on P3 schools was in the area of $20 million over what was supposed to be spent on those schools - $20 million - that is the exact figure this minister said she was going to cut out of the schools, out of the Education budget, $20 million. Are they taking away, are they laying off the program assistants and the bus drivers and the secretaries in order to pay for the mistakes of the previous government, in order to pay for the lack of courage they have shown in getting out of these P3 contracts? Are they taking away the services for special needs children to ensure that these private investors, these private corporations get their returns? The children don't get their returns, but these private investors will get their returns. Is that fair? Is that fair, I ask you, Mr. Speaker.

We also have a serious problem in this province with the maintenance budget and the capital budget of the Department of Education to fix the schools that are already causing health problems for the people in them, whether it is students or whether it is the staff. This government again as the former Liberal Government had, is limiting the ability of school boards to be able to maintain and repair sick schools or schools that need repairs, schools that maybe are not sick now, but if they don't get their roof fixed, if they don't get the problem with their furnace fixed, then next year they might be a sick school because the mould will grow because of the moisture that goes down through the roof and through the walls and into the basement, or because of the oil that is seeping into the ground because the proper restoration or repair work is not being done because they cannot afford it.

[12:00 p.m.]

How many examples have we seen of that, governments frittering away money doing patch work instead of fixing the problem? I don't know if the most recent example is Central Kings Rural High School, but it is an example where over the last number of years the government continued to put a patch on the roof - let's use that as an example; it is a lot worse than that - and it stopped the major flow of water, but it did not stop it all. The moisture kept coming in and the damage kept building. They kept putting a little more tar on it to slow it down for awhile, but more water kept coming in. The mould grew and the rot grew. It spread throughout the school and finally, Mr. Speaker, after months and years of staff and students complaining about being sick, made ill by the conditions in the school, the school finally had to be closed down.

How many millions were spent again on the repair of that facility? Students were uprooted, moved to another school on split shifts and that happened because the government of the day were being penny wise and pound foolish, just like this government is doing. They are not paying attention to the things that need to be done today. They are trying to put them

[Page 6758]

off until tomorrow. The results are going to be twofold, threefold, fourfold. The problems are going to be greatly increased down the road. The government, like so many governments in the past, has said let's not worry about that, let's worry about our political hides today, let's worry about our political lives right now; we will deal with our political lives tomorrow, tomorrow.

This is more than politics, Mr. Speaker. This is the future of our province and the future starts today. The future for these children starts today. You cannot put it off until next year. You have got to invest today. The children in this province who have high needs and need attention, they deserve better than to have those needs put off until next year or the year after that until this government decides it is politically wise or expedient to put some money back into education. To use the example of not properly repairing the roof and the damage from the water leaking in, mounting, what about the damage done to that Nova Scotian child who does not get the education that they deserve now? What happens if they sit in a room by themselves or with others and they are being amused day after day, week after week, month after month, what happens to them and the time that they have lost in their ability to learn?

We are going to see the problems down the road as a result of the fear of this government to invest in the repair and maintenance of buildings, invest in the resource that is the most important resource that we have in this province, both as a society and as an economy, and that is the children, Mr. Speaker, and we should not be playing fast and loose with our futures nor should we be playing fast and loose with their futures.

I want to say in drawing my remarks to a close, that Bill No. 47 goes some distance towards centralizing power and decision making over education in the hands of the minister. We just went through a major change in education policy in Nova Scotia in 1995 when the Education Act was brought into this House and went through the process of legislation. One of the hallmarks of that piece of legislation was in the decentralizing nature of decision making to schools, to communities, to school boards. That was the hallmark of that Education Act, I think it is fair to say. Now here we are five short years later, and they are taking it all back. They are drawing it all back.

There is provision in this bill which dissolves the Southwest Regional School Board, Mr. Speaker. The bill says that the minister, if she decides, may do likewise with other school boards. That is not good enough. I find that a bit chilling myself, that this government and this minister somehow see the need to have all that power. One can only wonder what is behind it, and when you see the way this minister and her colleagues have handled this last budget and the way they have slashed education and the way they have tried to intimidate school boards into silence, you almost have to draw this conclusion: the minister and the government - because she is not acting alone - the government are holding their finger up and they are saying to the school boards and each and every school board member, be careful, do what you are told, don't talk back, or you will be gone. That is, I think, increasingly the message this government is giving. Not just in education but in every other sphere of its activity.

[Page 6759]

Mr. Speaker, our debate in the NDP caucus is almost finished in second reading. We, I believe, have raised some important points. We have brought the views of many Nova Scotians to this floor, to this government. We will now see the bill move forward into the Law Amendments Committee, and we will continue to try to change this bill. There is a majority government, and they can have their way and force it through. We are going to do whatever we can to try to make some changes to this bill. I don't see any reason why we should be supporting this bill in any way, shape or form, because of the nature of the power grab in it. But who knows what might happen at the Law Amendments Committee and at the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

I want to say to you, I have had the opportunity to speak on this bill, and I have appreciated that opportunity. What the government is doing is wrong. I ask them to reconsider what they are doing with Bill No. 47. I look forward to different and other stages of debate on this bill where we can try to change some of the more egregious clauses of that bill. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I recognize the minister it will be close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members opposite for some of the points they have made concerning this bill. I would reinforce the point that there is no intention here to abolish elected school boards. We have elected school boards, and they stay under this model. Nonetheless, some of the points members opposite have made are good points, and we will be proposing some amendments to this bill that we hope will satisfy all members of the House. Having said that, I would like to close debate on second reading of Bill No. 47. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The motion that is on the floor is for the previous question to be put.

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

The motion is carried.

The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 47.

A recorded vote is being called for. We will ring the bells at the pleasure of the Whips. (Interruptions)

[Page 6760]

[12:12 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[12:14 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Christie Mr. MacAskill

Mr. Baker Mr. MacLellan

Dr. Hamm Mr. Downe

Mr. LeBlanc Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Muir Mr. Holm

Ms. Purves Mr. Robert Chisholm

Mr. Fage Ms. O'Connell

Mr. Parent Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Ms. McGrath Mr. Corbett

Mr. Ronald Chisholm Mr. Epstein

Mr. Olive Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Rodney MacDonald Mr. Deveaux

Mr. MacIsaac Mr. Dexter

Mr. DeWolfe Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Taylor Mr. MacKinnon

Mr. Dooks Mr. Samson

Mr. Langille Mr. Boudreau

Mr. Morse Mr. Wilson

Mr. Hendsbee Mr. Pye

Mrs. Baillie Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Carey

Mr. Morash

Mr. Chipman

Mr. Barnet

Mr. O'Donnell

[The following comments were made when Mr. MacEwan's name was called during the roll call vote.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the honourable member came in during the vote.

[Page 6761]

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I believe the precedent in this House is that the vote is not called until the Whips are satisfied.

MR. SPEAKER: They were satisfied. (Interruptions) Order.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . was called before I came back into the Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Chair was advised by the Parties that the Whips were satisfied, and the member came in during the vote, the vote cannot be counted.

[The roll call vote continued until completed.]

THE CLERK: For, 25. Against, 20.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 53.

Bill No. 53 - Hilden Cemetery Act.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move this piece of legislation for second reading. It does have support from the community, it is certainly not a dead issue. We received correspondence and communication and personal presentation by a few members of the corporation. Essentially what this bill does, honourable members, is it decreases the maximum number of directors from seven to five. It does provide for the directors of the corporation to hold office for staggered terms and something else I guess that might be considered to be housekeeping, it changes the minimum width of a lot from three feet to three feet six inches. The maximum length of a lot changes to about 11 feet. Again, I hope honourable members will support this legislation.

[Page 6762]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and I take considerable interest in this matter as we have a deep and abiding interest in cemeteries. (Laughter) I can tell you, sir, we would not want to see this bill carry without adequate examination because I am sure that we would want to see the good people served by the Hilden Cemetery adequately looked after. So, sir, the principle of this bill, being a most important and weighty one, I would think that it merits detailed examination here in the House and I understand a number of my colleagues wish to follow me, sir, I bring you good news, that the Hilden Cemetery shall not pass by unnoticed in this Chamber this afternoon.

I have had a great interest in cemeteries for a long time, Mr. Speaker, because many of my best friends are buried in them. I certainly know that the community of Hilden, which this particular cemetery serves, is a very historic and unique community. I am sure that the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley who sponsors this intriguing piece of legislation will want us to compliment Hilden and its cemetery. I remember many years ago I used to watch the hockey games at the Truro Rink, now long since burned down, and the Hilden Owls were one of the teams that played there. From that time forward I was intrigued by the community of Hilden. So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say I am one of the two Liberal members on the Private and Local Bills Committee and I am sure that when we receive this bill, we are going to want to look at it closely. I trust that it will receive the approbation of the committee because I think that it will probably be quite worthy of passage.

Not wanting to hold up the passage of the bill unduly, but simply wanting to keep the floor open to those that I understand wish to follow me, I trust that perhaps my interest in the bill that I am expressing here might be sufficient to demonstrate my genuine commitment to the welfare of the Hilden Cemetery. So, sir, I would urge honourable members to give this bill the attention it deserves and I perhaps might rest my case with those few succinct thoughts, but I am sure we would all want to enter into the record our views on Bill No. 53, the Hilden Cemetery Company Act. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and say a few words on this particular piece of legislation. I certainly don't want to deep-six this legislation for the honourable member. I know it is important for him and for his constituents, so we will be supporting it to move it on to the Private and Local Bills Committee.

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

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 6763]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all honourable members for supporting this legislation and again I would move that it go on to the Committee on Private and Local Bills. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 53. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Nova Scotia Association of Realtors Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today about the Nova Scotia Realtors Association. I am sure the honourable members have all read the bill and are well aware of the provisions that (Interruptions), but I can tell the honourable members that it basically deals with the constructs of their organization and the officers and directors, it creates them and makes it clear that they are a province-wide association and not just a metro organization.

I think that anyone who supports proper standards in the real estate industry in Nova Scotia would be supportive of this clarification. I think it is fair to say that it is a bill that makes it clear that it is an organization that does operate across the province and I would certainly encourage all honourable members to support what is a basically routine changes to the constitution of the organization.

They are, for the benefit of honourable members, the organization that regulates members of the real estate industry in Nova Scotia. When one goes and buys a house, if one looked at the top of the forms, one would have seen on the Agreement of Purchase and Sale form, either MLS which is an organization run by them, the Multiple Listing Service, or you would have seen the Halifax-Dartmouth Real Estate Board copyright, and that is because they provide many of the forms that are used in the real estate industry in Nova Scotia.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to take valuable time in the House to discuss this at this point. It is really mostly routine matters of constitutional clarification. (Interruption) Well, I would be glad to provide (Interruption) Actually, I spent 20 years of my life spending a lot

[Page 6764]

of my time interrelating with members of the Nova Scotia Real Estate Association as I am sure . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you belong to it?

MR. BAKER: No, no. I unfortunately don't do that at the present time, Mr. Speaker. I know there are a number of honourable members who would like to see me reintegrated with that line of work, but I am very pleased to sponsor this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 52, the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors Act. Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 50.

Bill No. 50 - Bluenose Club Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, this bill is, again, a routine set of constitutional amendments. This organization is, in fact, the organization that operates the Bluenose Golf Club in Lunenburg. In fact, one of the many beneficial provisions of this legislation is to make it clear that the Bluenose Golf Club, in fact, will have members of both men and women who are full voting members in the organization. It is a classic example of a voluntary organization wanting to move forward with a more modern set of rules, more in keeping with the changes there. My wife, being a golfer, (Interruption) I would think that my wife, as a golfer - and a better golfer I might add, Mr. Speaker - would appreciate being recognized as a full member in the Bluenose Golf Club. Thank you. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 6765]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, will be supporting this bill going to the Private and Local Bills Committee. I wanted to, just on the principle of the bill and the use of the name Bluenose, and I raise it now so that any potential presenters who are coming before Private and Local Bills Committee, or indeed some consideration from any of the government members, in particular, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, may want to keep this particular point in mind, and that is, as we know, just down the street here we have the Bluenose Restaurant.

When the Bluenose Preservation Society was established, that created some considerable difficulty for this particular local private-sector enterprise because they had been using this insignia of the Bluenose, or at least the symbol of the Bluenose for a considerable period of time before this legislation came before the House. I am sure that may translate into a number of enterprises, both private and public, across this province. I raise that particular issue at this point because it may or may not impact on this particular legislation. I seriously doubt if it does, but just in the event that this particular local organization so chooses to start moving in that direction, I think it is important that the Minister of Tourism and Culture guide all members on this, because there are still some outstanding issues, from a previous day, on the other piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker.

That is why I wanted to rise, just to raise that. I realize it is just by extension that I am attaching it to this particular piece of legislation, but it is nevertheless an important issue for others and I think it would be remiss for all members of this House to not take advantage of the opportunity to correct any of those inequities.

[12:30 p.m.]

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to close debate. I thank the honourable member for the comment. I think it is important to notice that, as a matter of history, the golf club in Lunenburg was known as the Bluenose Club when there was the original Bluenose in Lunenburg; in fact a very few years after it was launched. I think it is fair to say - I am biased I obviously can tell you - it has the most beautiful view of any golf club in Nova Scotia, and we have many beautiful golf clubs. With that, I close debate. I move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 50. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 6766]

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[12:31 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[4:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the House will meet on Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. and sit until 10:00 p.m. Following the daily routine, we will proceed to Committee of the Whole House on Bills, first of all to Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Act, and then to Bill No. 34, the Health Authorities Act.

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

[Page 6767]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[The House rose at 4:59 p.m.]

[Page 6768]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2376

By: Mr. Jerry Pye (Dartmouth North)

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

Whereas teachers assistants meet the special needs student at the start and end of their day, assist with interaction with their peers and prepare them for any changes in the normal routine; and

Whereas teacher assistants are also responsible for student's mobility and safety, including a range of motion and positioning activities with the student as directed by the outreach worker/physiotherapist; and

Whereas the teacher assistant works not just with the special needs students but all students in the class and is also responsible for the feeding and toileting of these special needs students;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education answer a very simple question, who will perform these tasks now?

RESOLUTION NO. 2377

By: Mr. Howard Epstein (Halifax Chebucto)

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

Whereas in a letter to the NDP caucus office a mother of a special needs child speaks of her fight to secure an educational program assistant for her daughter; and

Whereas this mother reminds the government of her daughter's right to an education; and

Whereas she feels cuts to EPAs is nothing more than discrimination against special needs children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to honour his commitment of respect and increased support for parents of special needs children, who deserve an education and the future it can unlock.

[Page 6769]