The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Nov. 3, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Lunenburg Correction Centre: Closure - Cease, Mr. D. Downe 8025
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 8026
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3025, Health: Diabetes Awareness Month (Nov.) - Recognize,
Hon. J. Muir 8026
Vote - Affirmative 8027
Res. 3026, Dalhousie Univ. - Honorary Degrees: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 8027
Vote - Affirmative 8028
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 74, Probate Act, Hon. M. Baker 8028
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3027, Educ. - Teachers: Premier - Apologize, Mr. W. Gaudet 8029
Res. 3028, Exco - State of the Prov. Add.: Premier - Remarks Withdraw,
Mr. John MacDonell 8029
Res. 3029, AMA Marketing - Amherst Chamber of Comm.:
Business of the Year - Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 8030
Vote - Affirmative 8031
Res. 3030, Bridgewater - Women's Instit.: Anniv. (86th) - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Downe 8031
Vote - Affirmative 8032
Res. 3031, By-elections - Hfx. Fairview/C.B. North: Premier - Call,
Mr. J. Holm 8032
Res. 3032, NDP Leader - Math: Skills - Improve, Mr. B. Barnet 8033
Res. 3033, Tourism - Min.: Portfolio - Focus, Mr. K. MacAskill 8033
Res. 3034, Commun. Serv.: Employees - Harm Condemn,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8034
Res. 3035, Gov't. (Cdn.)/Prime Minister - Advertising: Campaign -
Condemn, Mr. D. Morse 8034
Res. 3036, EMO - Disaster Financial Assistance Policy: Glace Bay -
Residents Coverage, Mr. D. Wilson 8035
Res. 3037, Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8036
Res. 3038, NPD Leader - Gov't. (N.S.): Econ. Dev. -
Approach Support, Mr. B. Taylor 8037
Res. 3039, Nat. Res. - Laurentian Sub-basin: Promise - Unfulfilled,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8037
Res. 3040, C.B. - Flooding: Gov't. (Cdn.)/Gov't. (N.S.) - Assist,
Mr. F. Corbett 8038
Res. 3041, Ross, Charlotte (Amherst) - Anglican Church: Deacon -
Ordination Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 8038
Vote - Affirmative 8039
Res. 3042, Health - Mental Health/Addiction Services: Crosbie Centre -
Support, Mr. B. Boudreau 8039
Res. 3043, Sports - Young, A.J. (Sandy): Legacy - Acknowledge,
Mr. D. Dexter 8040
Vote - Affirmative 8040
Res. 3044, Libercrats: Research - Review, Mr. F. Chipman 8041
Res. 3045, Health - Concerns (N.S.): Min. - Listen, Mr. M. Samson 8041
Res. 3046, Health - Cuts: Chaos - Continuation, Mr. Robert Chisholm 8042
Res. 3047, Law Amendments Comm. - Internet: Submissions -
Allow, Mr. R. MacKinnon 8043
Res. 3048, Swissair Flight 111 - European Families: Hospitality -
Recognize, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8044
Vote - Affirmative 8044
Res. 3049, Sysco - Gov't. (N.S.): Clean-up - Funding, Mr. P. MacEwan 8044
Res. 3050, Justice - Ruck Comm.: Recommendations - Implement,
Mr. H. Epstein 8045
Res. 3051, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Staff - Protests Commend,
Dr. J. Smith 8046
Res. 3052, Pictou East MLA: Comments (re: Timberlea-Prospect) -
Apologize, Mr. J. Pye 8046
Res. 3053, Econ. Dev. - Min.: Success Claims - Condemn,
Mr. D. Downe 8047
Res. 3054, Election (Cdn.) - Dartmouth: NDP Candidate - Endorse,
Mr. J. Holm 8048
Res. 3055, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Staff - Min. Apologize,
Dr. J. Smith 8049
Res. 3056, Agric. - Campbell, Bernard (East Gore): Plowing
Competition (P.E.I.) - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 8049
Vote - Affirmative 8050
Res. 3057, Gov't. (N.S.): Nova Scotians - Treatment, Mr. K. MacAskill 8050
Res. 3058, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Agreement - Doctors Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 8051
Res. 3059, Annapolis (MLA) - N.S.: Unemployment (High) -
Areas Visit, Mr. D. Wilson 8051
Res. 3060, People First N.S. - Anl. Gen. Meeting: Best Wishes - Extend,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8052
Vote - Affirmative 8053
Res. 3061, Premier - N.S.: Flag - Wave, Mr. B. Boudreau 8053
Res. 3062, Cole Harbour Place - CAP Site: Staff - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8053
Vote - Affirmative 8054
Res. 3063, Kings North (MLA) - Gov't. (N.S.): Progs. - Reaction,
Mr. P. MacEwan 8054
Res. 3064, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald HS: Renovations -
Announce, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8055
Res. 3065, Educ. - Career Day: C.B. Health Care Complex/
C.B.-Victoria Reg. Sch. Bd. - Commend, Mr. R. MacKinnon 8056
Vote - Affirmative 8056
Res. 3066, Dalhousie Legal Aid Serv. - Gov't. (N.S.): Funding -
Restore, Mr. H. Epstein 8056
Res. 3067, NDP - Gov't. (N.S.): Accountability - Continue.
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8057
Res. 3068, Commun. Serv.: Technical Aids Prog. - Establish, Mr. J.. Pye 8058
Res. 3069, Commun. Serv. - Child Poverty (17/08/88 on): Deficit -
Recognize, Mr. Robert Chisholm 8058
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 62, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act 8059
Ms. Maureen MacDonald [resumed debate] 8059
Mr. B. Boudreau 8060
Mr. D. Dexter 8073
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8079
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8085
Mr. K. MacAskill 8089
Mr. J. Pye 8095
Mr. M. Samson 8104
Mr. J. Holm 8110
Mr. W. Gaudet 8118
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8121
Hon. P. Christie 8130
Vote - Affirmative 8131
No. 70, Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act 8131
Hon. R. Russell 8131
Adjourned debate 8131
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Nov. 6th at 4:00 p.m. 8132
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3070, RCL (Springhill Branch): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., The Speaker 8133
Res. 3071 RCL (River Hebert Branch): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., The Speaker 8133
Res. 3072, RCL (Joggins Branch): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., The Speaker 8134
Res. 3073, RCL (Oxford Branch): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., The Speaker 8134
Res. 3074, RCL (Parrsboro Branch): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., The Speaker 8135
Res. 3075, RCL (Maccan Branch): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., The Speaker 8135

[Page 8025]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a signed petition of some 500 signatures.

"To: The Honourable Michael Baker, Minister of Justice, Province of Nova Scotia

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has proposed and announced the closure of the Lunenburg Correctional Centre, scheduled for August 1, 2001 -

We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia as follows:

8025

[Page 8026]

That the Lunenburg Correction Centre remain open because

it provides an incarceration facility for two police departments and five RCMP detachments

it is beneficial to the rehabilitation progress of inmates to remain in their community

it provides volunteer work programs beneficial to Lunenburg County

its staff provide an Alcohol/Drug Outreach Program to youth in schools

it represents about $850,000 in the local economy and provides 18 jobs

Further, closure of the facility would

increase cost of legal council

increase transportation costs of inmates to and from court

displace staff and families"

Mr. Speaker, this brings the total to over 1,500 signatures to date.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of Eastern Passage. The operative clause reads, "According to the 'Evaluation of High Schools' report produced by the Department of Education in May, 2000, Cole Harbour District (High School) is the only school whose projected enrollment exceeds the 'theoretical building maximum'. Given the fact that over 50% of that school's population comes from Eastern Passage and the inability, for logistical reasons, to transfer these students to another school with less capacity pressures, it is our opinion that the only alternative is to build a high school in our community." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3025

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

[Page 8027]

Whereas diabetes is a serious condition which affects more than 2 million Canadians and is a leading cause of death by disease; and

Whereas there is a great need to raise funds for research into better methods of treatment and ultimately a cure; and

Whereas the Canadian Diabetes Association is attempting to focus public attention on the need for funds for diabetes research, education, service and advocacy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize November 2000 as Diabetes Awareness Month and urge all Nova Scotians to Help Someone You Know and contribute as they can when a Canadian Diabetes Association canvasser knocks on their door.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3026

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

Whereas Dalhousie University conferred honorary degrees to three prominent and gifted Canadians at its fall convocation; and

Whereas the deserving honorees are John Harker, an advisor to the Peacebuilding Unit of the Canadian International Development Agency; Peter Herrndorf, Director-General and CEO of the National Arts Centre; and Lynn Mason, a retired Vice-Admiral well known for his contributions to our country's defence; and

Whereas the granting of Doctor of Laws recognizes the outstanding contributions that these individuals have made in their respective fields;

[Page 8028]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Dalhousie University, its honorary degree-holders and the graduating class of the fall of 2000 on their significant accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce a bill, I would like to take a moment for an introduction. I would like to introduce, located in the east gallery opposite, members of the committee who worked on the probate reform legislation, which I will be introducing shortly. These individuals have put countless hours in working on probate reform. In fact, these are people who actually have practical experience in the area, they know the law in the area, they know the problems in the area, and they have acted as volunteers. Their expertise is greatly appreciated by the government and, I am sure, by other members of the House, as well for their dedication to an area of the law which has long been in need of reform. Many times the Probate Act reform has been talked about, and finally we are getting to the stage where amendments are being introduced.

I will go through a list of the members. Hopefully they are all here with us today. They are: Pat Seaward; Anna Patton; Sharon Atton; Greg Knudsen; John Arnold, Q.C.; Roberta Clarke, Q.C.; Richard Coughlan, Q.C.; Estelle Theriault, Q.C.; John K. MacDonald; Lawrence Graham, Q.C. I would like them to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the many laboured hours that the committee has had with the Deputy Clerk and the member of the Legislative Counsel's Office, Mr. Fordham, who has also contributed greatly to this. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 74 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Probate and Administration of the Estates of Deceased Persons. (Hon. Michael Baker)

[Page 8029]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3027

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

Whereas during the State of the Province Address to the Halifax Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Premier stated that Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of post-secondary graduates in the country; and

Whereas in that same speech, the Premier said that the government would soon announce initiatives to tackle adult illiteracy, a problem perpetuated by the public school system; and

Whereas those Nova Scotians who comprise the highest Canadian percentage of post-secondary graduates are products of Nova Scotia's public school system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, here and now, issue a public apology to all teachers who teach in Nova Scotia's public school system which produces the highest percentage of post-secondary graduates in the country.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3028

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

[Page 8030]

Whereas the Premier and his government have not produced any evidence to support the Premier's November 1st claim that social assistance had to be lowered because recipients had more than their neighbours who have two jobs; and

Whereas outside the House, the Premier could only refer to stories he heard sometime before 1993; and

Whereas the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce, thousands of poor families and disabled individuals deserved an explanation of the Premier's claim;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should withdraw his remarks publicly, and send a withdrawal to his hosts at the chamber of commerce, since it is clear he had no basis in fact for the claim, and it could not be justified by his government.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Was there a request for waiver? There is so much noise, you can't hear whether there is or not, so I would ask the members to give the member on the floor the opportunity to speak.

There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3029

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

Whereas small business is recognized as one of the key economic drivers in our provincial economy; and

Whereas the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce annually recognizes a business of the year, and that the area of e-commerce and Internet related business processes is one of the fastest growing within the new economy; and

[Page 8031]

Whereas this year AMA Marketing was named Business of the Year and has been instrumental in developing web, Internet and e-business strategies for many businesses and organizations in the Amherst and Cumberland County area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the founder of AMA Marketing, Russell Scott, and his staff for their success in marketing, job creation and most importantly, helping the business community of Amherst go on-line.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3030

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

Whereas on September 24, 2000, the Bridgewater Women's Institute was honoured on the occasion of their 86th Anniversary at a reception hosted by the Friends of the DesBrisay Museum; and

Whereas since their establishment in 1914, the Bridgewater Women's Institute has worked diligently throughout the community to help those in need; and

Whereas as well as providing bedding to needy families and setting up a soup kitchen at the Riverview School, the Bridgewater Women's Institute has laid the groundwork for the South Shore Regional Library and the DesBrisay Museum;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House extend their congratulations to members of the Bridgewater Women's Institute on their anniversary and applaud their commitment to our local community.

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

[Page 8032]

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. 3031

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 residents of the constituencies of Halifax Fairview and Cape Breton North are currently without representation in the Nova Scotia Legislature; and

Whereas these Nova Scotians deserve to have their concerns addressed in the Nova Scotia Legislature; and

Whereas there is no reason to not fill these vacant seats as soon as possible;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier to immediately call by-elections for the constituencies of Halifax Fairview and Cape Breton North.

[9:15 a.m.]

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 8033]

RESOLUTION NO. 3032

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

Whereas in the October 20th edition of the Port Hawkesbury Reporter, new NDP Leader Helen MacDonald called for a return to equalization payments to the level they were before 1995; and

Whereas during the 2000-01 fiscal year, Nova Scotia is forecast to receive $1.28 billion in equalization payments; and

Whereas during the 1994-95 fiscal year Nova Scotia received $1.065 billion in equalization payments - a full $200 million lower than the current amount;

Therefore be it resolved that the new Leader of the NDP improve her math skills and stop inadvertently calling for a $200 million cut in federal equalization payments.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3033

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

Whereas this season numbers were down at the Nova Scotia Highland Village in Iona; and

Whereas located at Hector's Point in Iona, the village portrays Scottish pioneer life through period buildings including houses, a barn, school site, store, blacksmith forge and a new log cabin; and

[Page 8034]

Whereas this Tory Government has a minister solely responsible for tourism and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the full-time Minister of Tourism start focusing more on his portfolio and start attracting tourists to our beautiful province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3034

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

Whereas often overlooked in welfare reform schemes are the women and men who handle the social assistance caseloads; and

Whereas social assistance reforms tend to revolve around several themes which include the privatization of job placement services and use of new computer technology; and

Whereas the implication of these changes are more stress for workers, de-skilling and increasing the policing of clients rather than helping relations;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be soundly condemned not only for bashing the poor, but for harming their employees in the process.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3035

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

[Page 8035]

Whereas the federal Liberal Government has balanced the country's finances, not only on the backs of the provincial governments, but specifically at the expense of Canadians dependent on our public health and educations systems; and

Whereas these deep federal cuts in provincial health and education transfers so disturbed Canadians the Prime Minister agreed to eventually restore the transfers to levels from six years ago; and

Whereas he unilaterally imposed a level of federal funding that adds a paltry $200,000 next year to Nova Scotia's CHST share, which guarantees a continuation of shrinking federal participation - now only 12.5 per cent - in funding our Medicare system;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House condemn the Prime Minister and the federal Liberal Government for their announcement and ludicrous advertising campaign which infers this somehow solves the health care funding crisis.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The notice of motion is too long.

[The notice is tabled.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3036

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

Whereas industrial Cape Breton has been hit with 250 millimetres of rain over the last four days; and

Whereas the deluge has caused damage throughout the area, including Glace Bay; and

Whereas the extensive damage caused requires that the government take action to assist without delay;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the government to allow for area residents to be covered under the province's Disaster Financial Assistance policy announced April 13, 2000, by the Minister responsible for EMO.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 8036]

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. 3037

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

Whereas a recent study of high-school populations in the Halifax Regional Municipality noted that Cole Harbour District High School will face overcrowding in the next 10 years; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional School Board has recognized that well over 50 per cent of the population of Cole Harbour District High School will be from the communities of Eastern Passage, Cow Bay, and Shearwater; and

Whereas Eastern Passage, with an estimated population of 11,000 residents, is by far the largest community in Nova Scotia without its own high school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the need for a high school in Eastern Passage as part of a plan to address overcrowding at Cole Harbour District High School.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 8037]

RESOLUTION NO. 3038

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

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Government has made a strong commitment to rebuilding our transportation infrastructure, particularly our secondary road system; and

Whereas there is little assistance from the federal Liberals in Ottawa, who swipe away $130 million of fuel tax annually; and

Whereas the new partial Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP recently told the Port Hawkesbury Reporter that, "roads could easily be put on the back burner";

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians remind the partial Leader of the NDP that roads have already been on the back burner by the Liberals for far too long, and that instead of following the Liberals she should support economic development in rural Nova Scotia, like this government is doing.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3039

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

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Economic Development announced $192 million in new exploration work for oil and gas off Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this new exploration brings a total of work committed to over $1 billion, building on the success of the previous Liberal Government in promoting offshore exploration; and

Whereas the downside to this announcement is that not one dime will be spent in the Laurentian Sub-basin because of the inability of the Premier to settle Nova Scotia's rightful claim to that territory;

Therefore be it resolved that while all new exploration is welcome, the Premier has still failed to live up to his election promise to assert Nova Scotia's rightful claim to the Laurentian Sub-basin so that all Nova Scotians can benefit from the offshore.

[Page 8038]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3040

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

Whereas residents of Howie Centre, Sydney, and other Cape Breton communities are dealing with the effects of severe and unprecedented flooding; and

Whereas assistance to those who are suffering losses and repair of essential infrastructure are the first priority for emergency measures and local residents; and

Whereas, nevertheless, questions are already arising about steps that could or should have been taken to minimize the extent of the effects of this flooding;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge both levels of government to ensure a speedy response in providing assistance, repairs, all possible compensation for damages suffered, as well as an early review of what can be done to minimize flooding in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3041

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

Whereas Charlotte Ross of Amherst was recently ordained as a deacon at All Saints Cathedral here in Halifax; and

[Page 8039]

Whereas Ms. Ross will be working with the Anglican Christ Church and parish in Amherst; and

Whereas her ordination as deacon is the culmination of many years of study and commitment to her faith, her church, and her community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Charlotte Ross for her achievements and join her family, associates, and friends, in wishing her congratulations and continued success in her work with the Anglican Church and the people of Cumberland County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3042

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

Whereas this Tory Government cut mental health services in the western region by 14 per cent and addiction services were cut 16 per cent, the largest cuts to those services in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas cuts to these services in the western region could lead to the closure of important facilities such as Crosbie Centre in Kentville; and

Whereas the services offered at Crosbie Centre are accessed by people from across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health support and enhance mental health and addiction services throughout Nova Scotia and guarantee that Crosbie Centre will continue to operate in full capacity.

[Page 8040]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3043

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

Whereas on Sunday, August 6th, A. J. "Sandy" Young, a noted Nova Scotian sports historian who authored Beyond Heroes: Volumes 1 and 2, passed away; and

Whereas his many accomplishments include teaching at Dalhousie University for 30 years, 20 years of volunteering at the Nova Scotia Sport Heritage Centre, premier presenter at the centre's hall of fame awards and at Dalhousie's annual sports banquets; and

Whereas Sandy Young was from Philadelphia and had a Masters and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, and he came to Nova Scotia and never left;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the more than 30 years of dedication to sport history and the legacy of this great Nova Scotian.

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 Annapolis.

[Page 8041]

RESOLUTION NO. 3044

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

Whereas members of the libercrats rambled on during debate on Monday evening on the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act, with negative information on the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas if the libercrats were to take a serious look at the business section of The Halifax Chronicle-Herald's Hallowe'en edition, it would find Nova Scotia's economy is even surprising the experts - we have ranked third nationally in economic growth in 1999; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Gross Domestic Product grew by 5.1 per cent in 1999, ranking ahead of the national average of 4.3 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that as the economy in this province has been sizzling since this government took office in August 1999, members of the libercrats take a serious look at their research before making more comments in debate in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3045

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

Whereas on October 24th, the Health Minister was on CBC Radio's Maritimes Noon speaking about his refusal to accept a bone densitometer from the Colchester Regional Hospital Auxiliary; and

Whereas during the interview, the Minister of Health for Nova Scotia said, " . . . I am no health expert."; and

[Page 8042]

Whereas it does not take an expert to see that this Health Minister is an amateur who is way out of his league when it comes to dealing with the terrible chaos he caused in the health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that if we must have a Minister of Health who is "no health expert," then at least he could try to be an expert at consultation and listening to the concerns of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3046

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

Whereas this past summer NDP Leader Helen MacDonald warned this government that it was creating the conditions that would force the Dartmouth General into hallway medicine; and

Whereas when people go to the emergency at the Dartmouth General they run the risk of facing what the hospital knows are unacceptable conditions; and

Whereas acute care cuts made by Bernie Boudreau and cuts by this government have stretched the hospital past its maximum capacity, as they are forced to pick up the overflow from other downsized hospitals;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Minister of Health realize that by continuing Liberal-style health cuts, the Progressive Conservatives are adding to the chaos in the health care system that Nova Scotians have endured for seven years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8043]

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3047

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

Whereas next week the Law Amendments Committee will more than likely be meeting to consider bills from this House that have gone through second reading; and

Whereas at present, citizens, more often than not, make submissions to the committee by appearing in person before the committee here at Province House; and

[9:30 a.m.]

Whereas through the assistance of the federal Liberal Government, rural communities throughout Nova Scotia have Community Access Programs whereby local residents have access to computers and the Internet;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Law Amendments Committee to allow citizens from across Nova Scotia to make submissions to the committee via the Internet, thus giving all Nova Scotians the opportunity to contribute to the law-making process.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 8044]

RESOLUTION NO. 3048

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

Whereas this summer, 28 students from Sir John A. Macdonald High School, Brookside Junior High School and Tantallon Junior High School had the opportunity to visit Switzerland and France through the generosity of the European families of the Swissair Flight 111 tragedy; and

Whereas these young people were taken into the homes of these families with open arms; and

Whereas the memories of this visit will last forever within the hearts of these young Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the European families of the Swissair Flight 111 tragedy, and thank them for their wonderful hospitality.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3049

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

Whereas this Tory Government has budgeted an enormous amount, well over $200 million dollars, for the costs of an environmental restoration and site clean-up at the Sysco steel plant property in Sydney; and

[Page 8045]

Whereas it is evident this Tory Government has no intention of spending this money, but is simply carrying it on its books as a bookkeeping entry; and

Whereas these Tories are delinquent in their legal responsibility to restore the site of abandoned operations to greenfield conditions, as the government owns all the lands at and near the Sysco site, no longer involved in steelmaking, which is the site of massive blight;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be exposed and unmasked in its lack of any serious intent whatever to address the problems for which it has budgeted massive funding to address Sydney Steel.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3050

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

Whereas the problem of racism in Nova Scotia's justice system was formally recognized at the time of the Marshall Inquiry Report; and

Whereas establishment of the Indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq program at Dalhousie Law School was part of the official response to the Marshall Inquiry; and

Whereas graduates of that program continue to encounter difficulties in finding employment, a situation the government could take steps to change;

Therefore be it resolved that the government implement the recommendations of the Ruck Committee/The Employment Equity Guidelines Committee report of August 2000.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8046]

RESOLUTION NO. 3051

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

Whereas last night, doctors at the Colchester Regional Hospital reached an eleventh-hour agreement to continue to offer obstetrics and paediatric services; and

Whereas this is a deal made in good faith by the doctors, who will not withdraw their services while an external review of their situation is conducted; and

Whereas despite repeated stonewalling, it is now obvious the only way to get the Health Minister's attention is through public protest;

Therefore be it resolved that the staff of the Colchester Regional Hospital be commended for defending their position and finally making the Health Minister understand that his cuts will have a terrible impact on the care of children in the Truro area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3052

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 member for Pictou East pointed out to the media that roadwork was scheduled for the St. Margarets Bay Road, in front of the home of the member for Timberlea-Prospect; and

Whereas the St. Margarets Bay Road stretches through the Timberlea-Prospect constituency from Beechville to Upper Tantallon; and

[Page 8047]

Whereas no new asphalt has hit the road in the proximity of 4909 St. Margarets Bay Road, the address of the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Pictou East admit to this House today that he misled Nova Scotians on this matter, and rise and apologize to the member for Timberlea-Prospect and to the residents of that constituency who are still awaiting road improvements.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3053

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development is deluding himself into thinking that the leadership of John Hamm has led to the strongest growth in Nova Scotia in two decades; and

Whereas the minister bases this on statistics from 1999, a year that the government doesn't consider to be part of their mandate for budgetary purposes; and

Whereas since the Tories consider year one was really year zero for fiscal purposes, the minister is completely off base in suggesting the Premier had anything to do with economic prosperity;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn the Minister of Economic Development for trying to claim for his Leader the success of the previous government while the Finance Minister is washing his hands of the first Tory year in office, and I can understand why.

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

[Page 8048]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3054

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 upcoming federal election features in the Dartmouth riding a Tory candidate who served as a prominent minister in the Buchanan Government that rang up billions on the deficit till, plunging this province into near bankruptcy; and

Whereas the Liberal candidate achieved notoriety in the Savage Administration by choking off funding for our health care system to the point of near collapse; and

Whereas their history clearly shows that these candidates lack credibility when they preach fiscal responsibility and the provision of adequate health care respectively;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the NDP candidate in Dartmouth for her consistent stand on fiscal management and adequate health care funding.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8049]

RESOLUTION NO. 3055

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

Whereas even when doctors at the Colchester Regional Hospital planned to withdraw paediatric and obstetrical services, the Minister of Health still failed to see the seriousness of the situation; and

Whereas the minister continually ignored the growing crisis, and dismissed the concerns of doctors, nurses and the community; and

Whereas the Minister of Health even went so far as to offer less than truthful statements about the true cuts to the nursing staff at the hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately apologize to the staff of the Colchester Regional Hospital for his callous and cavalier attitude toward the health care of children in his own area hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 in the House of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3056

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

Whereas Nova Scotian farmers have a long and proud tradition of good farming techniques; and

Whereas farming competitions provide a showcase to exhibit their talents and techniques from the past and present; and

[Page 8050]

Whereas Bernard Campbell of East Gore won first place in P.E.I. on October 15th in the team plowing competition, with this team of percherons, Molly and Lady;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Campbell on his fine showing.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3057

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

Whereas on Wednesday, the Pictou East MLA began late debate with the phrase "you can't please all of the people all of the time," which he attributed to showman P.T. Barnum; and

Whereas maybe the Tory caucus office needs better researchers and less caucus-Cabinet liaisons, because P.T. Barnum never ever made such a statement; and

Whereas Barnum did say, "There is a sucker born every minute," which seems to be the view this Tory Government has of the citizens of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government stop treating Nova Scotians like suckers and remember that you "can't fool all of the people all of the time."

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 8051]

RESOLUTION NO. 3058

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

Whereas doctors at Colchester Regional Hospital have won a small victory from this provincial government; and

Whereas administration at the Colchester Regional Hospital will not cut paediatric nursing levels for three weeks while the doctors' concerns are reviewed; and

Whereas paediatrician Dr. Marilyn MacPherson and her colleagues have therefore agreed to continue working at the hospital while the review is under way;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the doctors of the Colchester Regional Hospital for not bowing to pressure from the Deputy Minister and Minister of Health and instead gaining an interim agreement that maintains safe staffing levels while their concerns are addressed.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3059

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

Whereas the member for Annapolis recently stated that the economy of Nova Scotia is red hot despite the information being brought to this House of Assembly by certain members of the Opposition; and

Whereas the member for Annapolis may consider his area of the province to be red hot with economic activity but other parts of the province are in a deep freeze; and

[Page 8052]

Whereas in Glace Bay alone, some 4,000 people are on social assistance and half of the community's work-age population is unemployed;

Therefore be it resolved that before the member for Annapolis makes broad, sweeping statements about the Nova Scotia economy, claiming that it is hot, the member should bundle up in a winter jacket and travel to areas of the province with high unemployment.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3060

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

Whereas People First Nova Scotia, a grass-roots organization of persons who have been institutionalized and marginalized, exists to provide education, advocacy and a voice for the deinstitutionalization of persons with intellectual disabilities; and

Whereas People First Nova Scotia is part of a national and international social movement for disability rights; and

Whereas People First Nova Scotia will hold their annual general meeting this weekend at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send our best wishes to People First Nova Scotia for a productive weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8053]

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. 3061

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

Whereas our Premier said he was happy to see Brian Tobin step down as Premier of Newfoundland because it will make things easier for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this Premier has always been afraid to stand up to Brian Tobin and has been too scared to stick up for the rights of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas this Premier has let other provinces take advantage of Nova Scotia in regard to Marine Atlantic, Atlantic Loto, the Laurentian Sub-basin and the North Sydney postal station;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of waving goodbye to Brian Tobin, our Premier should be waving the Nova Scotia flag and provide a strong voice for our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3062

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

[Page 8054]

Whereas it is crucial that all residents of Nova Scotia have access to computers in order to learn, look for work and communicate; and

Whereas to that end, the federal government has established CAP sites throughout Nova Scotia to ensure all residents, whatever their economic means, can have the ability to use a computer and the Internet; and

Whereas Cole Harbour Place has been a focal point for the community of Cole Harbour for many years with regard to recreational, health and educational issues;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Cathy Burgess and the staff of Cole Harbour Place in obtaining a CAP site for the facility and wish them all the best in creating greater access to computers and the Internet for all residents of Cole Harbour.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

[9:45 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3063

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

Whereas this Tory Government has betrayed steelworkers, health care, social assistance recipients and those concerned with the integrity of education, among others; and

Whereas this Tory Government makes a mockery of serious concerns by pretending that all is well and please do not confuse us with any evidence to the contrary; and

[Page 8055]

Whereas these Tories seek in a wide range of fields to dismantle the positive benefits of all that Liberal and Progressive Conservative Governments have achieved in the past 30 years;

Therefore be it resolved that we are neither shocked nor appalled that the honourable member for Kings North has indicated his disquiet with much that this government is doing, as well he and all his colleagues have grounds for great agitation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3064

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

Whereas the students, parents and staff have patiently waited for the long-anticipated renovations and additions to overcrowded Sir John A. Macdonald High School; and

Whereas this 33 year old high school is in need of a major upgrade immediately in order to ensure that a quality education is offered to those enrolled; and

Whereas Sir John A. Macdonald has been placed at the top of the priority list for improvements by the Halifax Regional School Board;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education confirm with the Halifax Regional School Board, the students, parents and teachers of Sir John A. Macdonald High School, the importance of this project by announcing the start-up date for these renovations and additions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 8056]

RESOLUTION NO. 3065

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 Cape Breton Health Care Complex has joined forces with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to host a health sector Career Day, tomorrow, for students in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and

Whereas about 200 Grade 11 and Grade 12 students and guidance counsellors from 10 of the school board's high schools will participate in the event; and

Whereas the Career Day will expose the students to the various health care sectors so they can make their career decisions early in life;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its commendation to the Cape Breton Health Care Complex and to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for giving the students this opportunity to explore possible future careers in the field of health care.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3066

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

Whereas Dalhousie Legal Aid has traditionally delivered services such as representation in welfare appeals and in landlord/tenant matters, items not covered by general legal aid; and

[Page 8057]

Whereas the DLAS has also traditionally been funded in proportion to the overall budget allocated to Nova Scotia Legal Aid; and

Whereas this government has now moved to change the funding basis for DLAS such that the service's viability is threatened;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the work of DLAS and urge the government to move immediately to restore full funding to DLAS.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3067

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

Whereas the member for Timberlea-Prospect said he was surprised when members of the provincial Liberal caucus did not run federally; and

Whereas unlike the NDP, Liberals will regain the provincial government in three years' time and are committed to represent Nova Scotia interests both inside and outside the Legislature; and

Whereas the NDP has wasted a good deal of the Legislature's time this session trying to fight a federal election they have no hope of winning, even though they were elected to represent the provincial interest;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the NDP stick to holding the government accountable rather than fighting for a lost cause known as Alexa McDonough.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 8058]

RESOLUTION NO. 3068

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

Whereas many disabled persons' periods in hospitals are often extended because of the lack of technical aids; and

Whereas technical aids are required to give disabled persons independence through mobility; and

Whereas many disabled persons are often without technical aids;

Therefore be it resolved that this provincial government set up a technical aids program as requested by the disabled persons in this province.

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 Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3069

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, 2,664 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;

[Page 8059]

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government start waking up to the health, education and social deficits faced by the 2,664 children born into poverty under this Tory Regime.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 62.

Bill No. 62 - Employment Support and Income Assistance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham. You have four minutes.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, last evening when I was speaking on Bill No. 62, I had an opportunity to talk about the various groups that would be affected by this bill, the fact that we lack a substantial amount of information with respect to how this bill is actually going to have an impact on particular groups and certain communities.

There was one group that I did not have an opportunity to speak to, and I think that this is a very, very important group in the whole process of providing assistance, and this is case-workers and social workers in the system. There is practically an avalanche of information available with respect to the difficult circumstances that caseworkers find themselves in

[Page 8060]

when they are trying to meet the very serious and real needs of real people in front of them. The tendency in this province has been to have caseloads grow and grow to the point where it is virtually impossible to develop a relationship with families, with children, with people in need so that you can actually do an adequate assessment and steer people in the direction that is required to get the resources to meet their needs.

Bill No. 62, I fear, will only heap more stress and more work on workers. Mr. Speaker, do you realize that right now in the central Halifax region alone, there are approximately nine employment counsellors working in the department with something like 8,000 cases of people that need to be processed with respect to assessments for employment. That comes very close to 1,000 persons per caseload. Well, you know, this is very, very bad. It is virtually impossible.

The minister talks about how his department is going to be re-focused, but he hasn't told us whether additional staff is going to be hired, and he hasn't told us what the caseloads are going to be. Are we going to see acceptable caseloads? Are we going to see ways that the workers in the Department of Community Services are going to be alleviated of the tremendous amount of stress that these people are under? This is a question that I would like answered along with the other questions that I have outlined before I can even consider supporting this bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say it was a delight to stand here this morning and speak on this bill. It certainly is not. This bill, in my opinion at least, is very alarming. From the number of phone calls I am receiving at both my constituency office and personally, the residents I represent are very concerned. They are very concerned for several reasons. Because my time is limited, I am going to move right in. Cuts to the community services is totally unacceptable, and I am hoping that the minister is going to come to his senses and realize that all people who are reliant on social services are not bad people.

They are on the system because they have no other recourse. There are no employment opportunities in this province other than in the metro area and right across rural Nova Scotia there are no initiatives for job development by this government.

I have yet to meet an able-bodied individual who was comfortable receiving social services benefits. I have yet to meet that individual and I am concerned about comments made by our Premier just yesterday. These comments are in one of the provincial newspapers this morning where he indicates that he has personal knowledge of people ripping off the system. He did nothing about it, he says very clearly that in his previous life as a family doctor he experienced this.

[Page 8061]

Well, in my opinion, that is not very responsible representation. This Premier has an obligation to the people in need that these people be dealt with according to community services.

The minister and the Premier - it is kind of baffling why many of the comments that are being made are being made. Basically what they are saying is, trust me. We are not going to kick you off and we are not going to do this and don't worry, we are good-living rich people from the Bedford area, one of the richest areas in the province, we are not going to hurt you. No, we are not going to hurt you.

In the Tory blue book one of the few promises the Tories made for disabled people in this province, "Work with the Disabled Persons Commission and groups who represent Nova Scotians with disabilities to expand accessible transportation services throughout the province;".

What happened? I will tell you what happened. As a result of this work, whatever communication, any information I have is that there was no consultation or no communication whatsoever with this commission nor these groups that represent . . .

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member indicated that we had no discussion with the Disabled Persons Commission. Later in my remarks I will table the submissions from the various groups, the Disabled Persons Commission being one of those.

MR. SPEAKER: A point of clarification, not a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes has the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: I appreciate the information from the honourable minister, but if the minister would indicate whether it was before the cuts were made or after the cuts, that is what I am concerned about.

My comments were, that to my knowledge and I do not have any knowledge of this minister and any consultation process whatsoever with either the commission nor the groups that he indicated he was willing to work with. I would suggest that the consultation process was put in place after the cuts were initiated by his department.

As a result of this consultation process, $18,000 was lost to people with disabilities, the Disabled Persons Commission was cut by $18,000. A public outcry forced the Tories to reinstate the accessibility program which they cut last fall in this budget. The Tories were criticized for cancelling the accessibilities program which was introduced by the previous Liberal Government designed to improve access to buildings for people with disabilities. This minister eliminated it, wiped it right off the map.

[Page 8062]

[10:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the program, partially funded by the federal government, would have seen $350,000 per year over two years invested in this program. It was a Liberal program and, of course, because it was a good Liberal initiative, this government had to kill it. The price was paid by the disabled people in this province, not by the members over here. The people who paid the price for this were the people with disabilities in this province. I would suggest politics should play no role, whatsoever, in this format. The program will probably receive approximately $200,000 less under this new program that the Tories initiated, after much public pressure, I might add, and because of the delay, people with disabilities have to wait another year to feel the benefits of this worthy program.

Mr. Speaker, the Municipal Relations Minister is on record admitting that the cancellation of this program is a mistake. It is obvious; this is another example of the Tory contempt for people with disabilities. The Tories promised to fully restore the National Child Tax Benefit program. They are not doing that, they are only giving back any future increases to the benefit. The minister has never said that the programs will be cut as a result of his National Child Tax Benefit promise. The Tories also promised to meet with volunteer communities to identify ways government could encourage and support volunteers. Instead, the Tories cut $2 million from charities and community groups, including robbing from the food banks of this province.

It is obvious the Tories have a very poor record in keeping their community services' promises. That is why members of this House on this side are concerned, and that is why the residents of this province are concerned, and not just the working people I might add. Working people in this province are concerned about people in disadvantaged situations, like people with disabilities and mental disabilities and addiction problems. People care about people, despite what this government contends.

The lack of Tory commitment is obvious in the nasty budget cuts suffered by this department. While those in need are being forced to live on less, the budget for the deputy minister and the minister has been increased by $123,000. What a shame; we are telling people on social assistance in this province, get food wherever you can, go begging or go to food banks or anywhere else, and this government increases the budget for the minister and the deputy minister by $123,000. Shame on you, Mr. Speaker. Shame on this government. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes is referring to the Speaker. Was he confirming that you had received $123,000? Maybe we could have some clarification on that.

[Page 8063]

MR. SPEAKER: Seeing as how you raised the point, honourable member, yes, I would like some clarification on the $123,000.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I don't have a problem clarifying it. The budget for the Community Services Minister and the Deputy Minister was increased by $123,000. I did not indicate the Speaker's Office.

It was also said that Community Services will make people self-sufficient by helping people get back to work. Well, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister should say force people back to work since income assistance payments were already slashed by $6 million. There are approximately 75,000 Nova Scotians who depend on family benefits or social assistance in this program.

Anti-poverty groups, such as the Community Advocates Network and the Anti-Poverty Network, have called the Community Services budget a disaster for the poor, Mr. Speaker. The bottom line is that most people who receive income support will get less money next year. I fail to see how this is supposed to help people get back to work. This minister and this government should recognize that people entering the workforce experience increased expenses, such as work clothing, transportation and child care, among others. Yet this Tory Government expects people on social assistance to prepare for the workforce, that they are being forced to live on less money. The Community Services budget also assumes that a lot of people are going back to work, Mr. Speaker. Those people who have exceptional difficulty finding work, for whatever reason, and I would suggest the main reason would be because there are no job opportunities, these people will be forced to live on less because the Tory Government says they must do so.

The whole philosophy in my opinion is flawed, Mr. Speaker. The supports are not available to help those entering the workforce and those who do not get a job will be penalized. They are going to be penalized. Something else that is particularly troubling is the cancellation of the Family Violence Initiative by the previous government. This is something that cannot be found in the Tory book. It is not there. The motto of the Family Violence Initiative was, never hurt the one you love, but the Tories are hurting, they are reaching out and they are hurting countless people by their thoughtless cuts in this program.

The cost of the Family Violence Initiative was small in comparison to the many benefits that it provided. The staff trained others to identify and prevent family violence. The staff trained nurses in signs of abuse. The staff trained teachers to prevent abuse. They also trained paramedics, police, health professionals, caseworkers and others. This small staff collaborated with and coordinated violence prevention training in five government departments. They also sponsored Family Violence Prevention Week. The Family Violence Initiative trained over 6,000 professionals in the past few years alone. You cannot put a price tag on the work these people were doing. This program focused on preventing violence. If

[Page 8064]

the Family Violence Initiative stopped just one case of abuse, Mr. Speaker, then that will be a pound of cure.

The minister, of course, has indicated that money cut from this program will go to transition houses and women's shelters, another cut that did not appear in the Tory blue book. That cut did not appear in the Tory book and another one was the slashing of the subsidized Pharmacare Program, Mr. Speaker, a $350,000 cut. Some of the members of this government have the gall to stand up over there and boast about the positive initiatives that they are putting forth for people on disabilities, disadvantaged people in this province.

This $350,000 cut, I will tell you a little of what it means. It means people getting off social assistance will lose their Pharmacare by entering the workforce; some initiative to go out and find a job. That is a great initiative, Mr. Minister, continue those. This will be a serious hardship to those in need. Stripping people of Pharmacare, I don't regard that as an incentive to allow people to re-enter the workforce.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I believe I just heard the honourable member say we announced that people coming off assistance, going to the workforce would lose Pharmacare. That is absolutely opposite to what we announced. We announced that a program of Pharmacare would be available for people leaving assistance to go to work.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I guess I would have to say on this rare occasion, that is, in fact, a point of order, and I would recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it may be a point of order, but I think it is fair to say that the program is cancelled entirely for approximately a 12 month period before the new initiative, as this minister has indicated, is going to cut in. Perhaps he could indicate to the House today that this program is going to continue on the way it is.

Anyway, I am a little concerned, as I indicated earlier, about the Premier's comments in the provincial paper today when he talked about people on social services and his irresponsible comments in my opinion. But, I have a copy of a speech that he made, of course, to the rich people the other day in the province. From audience to audience, the message seems to be delivered in a different form, in a different manner. On this particular day, he had a rich audience, so he gave a rich address.

But, I looked at the speech very carefully, Mr. Speaker. Right from Page 1, I have a lot of difficulty with the message he is carrying. One thing, he indicates very clearly about his government, and something that I totally agree with, and I believe all members on this side of the House would agree with, he said, "One - there is always room for improvement." Well,

[Page 8065]

certainly, there is much room for improvement from that government and that Cabinet in particular.

He continues on, Mr. Speaker, to tell his audience about the good things that are happening and the wonderful opportunities that are in store for Nova Scotians, and that we live in the best province in Canada, in the greatest country in the world. I agree with those comments. It is getting better, the Premier indicates. What he doesn't indicate, and where he sort of goes off track is where these initiatives came from. In 15 short months, the only activity I have seen economically from this government is the e-commerce bill which came in very much short of what it should have been. Fifteen months in an industry that could be developed into a leading industry right across North America and indeed the world, one that can be accessed in rural Nova Scotia with the touch of a button on a computer, accessing telephone lines anywhere telephone services are available. This industry could be developed.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier indicated, and I am going to quote, "We're getting better because of the new opportunities that will come our way now that gas is flowing." Well, somebody should tell the Premier why and who created the opportunity for gas to flow in those pipes in this province. It was the previous Liberal Government that had the courage and took the initiative to move forward, for the benefit of all Nova Scotians. Now, the Premier thinks he is going to take credit for the development of these new opportunities, well, 15 months, sir, is not enough. It is not enough time to take credit for this worthwhile industry.

[10:15 a.m.]

More than 12 billion acres of ocean floor have been opened up to gas and oil, the Premier indicates. This brings the total value of exploration expenditures alone to $850 million. In fact, if I read the news releases properly, the Minister of Economic Development just recently indicated there were commitments of over $1 billion in investments in this province. Mr. Speaker, those opportunities were created by the previous Liberal Government.

The Premier, throughout his speech, indicated that one of his priorities was to provide an open and honest government. He is willing to help Nova Scotians achieve independence. At a time when we are seeing more and more help-wanted signs posted in storefront windows, it is unacceptable, he says, that so many Nova Scotians still have to look to the government for their day-to-day needs. Just in the last few months, people with disabilities, wheelchairs, mental health services, addiction services, people in need have been badgered about, slashed, hammered away on. Any opportunities to assist these people are gone because of the direction this new government is carrying the province forward to.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier admits, throughout his speech, that poverty takes a huge physical and emotional toll on many Nova Scotians and their families. "If you are in need . . . you are in need." he says. "The bottom line is: No one who is on welfare and who is capable of working should be better off than their neighbour who is struggling sometimes at one or

[Page 8066]

two jobs to make ends meet." I will get to see for myself, first-hand; very shortly I am going to go out into the community here in Halifax and visit some single mothers with two, three or four children, and I want to see how rich they are getting. I have to see this. I really do. I have to learn something here, because I want to take it back to Cape Breton with me.

Certainly, the people who I am familiar with in my community, in the communities right across Cape Breton, where there are no job opportunities, no initiatives put forth by this government - they ride the shirt-tails of any federal announcements. We saw that yesterday in this House in an answer to a question to the Premier; he indicated there would be 900 jobs for a call centre. Clearly, we all know that that was a federal Liberal initiative, and that this Premier participated in it, yes he did, but at the request of the federal government we do really appreciate that.

If I remember correctly, at the time, Mr. Speaker, the Premier didn't boast about his investment in this project; in fact there was hardly a word said about it on the mainland. I searched for three days before I saw it in the local newspapers. There was no real big halo over his head for doing that; the federal government initiated it.

I am committing to this House that I intend to visit the transition houses in this area up here because I want to learn this new secret. Apparently this government has found a secret where individuals with two, sometimes three, sometimes four children - we will say two, I will pick two since I have the figures for two - I really want to learn and carry this information back, as to how people with a $600 a month rent fee for shelter for their children can pay $600 with $569 allotted to them. I have to learn that trick. That is a trick I haven't learned and I hope there are some volunteers across the floor who are willing to come and show me around.

I know my former municipal colleagues over there obviously must have done something right, they are sitting over there. I am sure they would welcome the opportunity to teach a Cape Breton MLA how you pay a $600 monthly rental fee with $569. I want to see that one because that one is good. I will be able to turn that over and maybe when my car payment comes due at the end of the month, maybe I will send in $31 less or I will learn how I can come up with $31 somehow. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, I will be able to carry this new knowledge of mine back home to my constituency so I can reach out and teach my people in disadvantaged situations how to do this. This is remarkable. I am really eager to learn this. This is really tremendous.

Mr. Speaker, I will refer to the comments the Premier made in his speech. In one paragraph he says, "Let's be clear - welfare was never meant to be a pension for life - it was meant to provide temporary support so that people who were down on their luck could get back on their feet." Well, with no job opportunities, cuts to Medicare, cuts to basic needs like food, clothing, transportation, how is this government going to provide the initiatives that they boast about? All they say is, trust me, I am going to fix your problem. Well, I feel very,

[Page 8067]

very sad for these individuals of that government over there because we haven't seen one area yet where we could actually trust this government from day one.

The Finance Minister, we all know, is going to make the cuts, he is going to direct the minister and he is going to tell the minister that this is how much money we have, this is where you will cut, bing, bing, bing, bing. Then the poor children out there in the community, people living below the poverty line now, and we all are very much aware that people on community services within this system, are living below the poverty line which means that I can't identify, and I am sure these people who are on the system and dependant on the system can't identify with the comments made by the Premier when he indicated that people were getting rich on social assistance; richer, in fact, than the individual next door or the neighbour who has one or two jobs.

Mr. Speaker, I can't identify with that personally, and I certainly have asked every individual who has contacted me with this issue what they thought of those comments. They can't identify with the comments, so I believe the Premier should come forward, and if he is aware of individuals who are getting rich off the system, then I would say, Mr. Speaker, or suggest that is obviously abuse.

Now, I am the first person to stand up here and agree that we do not want to see any abuse in community services or any part of the budget. I know in discussion with my caucus colleagues that they, too, favour some form of welfare reform. So do I, Mr. Speaker. I want to go on record to indicate that yes, I support welfare reform. However, I think as an elected representative, particularly when you are in government, you have a responsibility as an elected individual not to create the levels of stress and paranoia that is rampant throughout families that require the necessities to live within Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask any and challenge any of the Tory MLAs including the ministers to stand up and indicate why we should trust them. "Trust me." Well, a 10 per cent cut to the basic allowance for people on social services is totally unacceptable. It is approximately 9 per cent to 10 per cent that will be coming into effect next April. In fact, new people entering the system now enjoy, enjoy according to this new government, they enjoy the new rate scale. Well, that is where this government becomes wonderful when they can have a family, a single mother, a person who was probably the victim of some sort of abuse whether it be family violence or whatever that are forced to live in these types of situations. I want to see on paper how they are going to pay rent with $569 with the rental fee of $600. I want to see how the disabled people in this province are going to go forward and opportunities unfold in front of them from the direction this provincial government is going. Trust us, says this minister.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't have a problem standing here before you today saying, I don't trust that minister. I don't trust that Premier, and I don't trust that Finance Minister, and I don't trust that whole crew over there, because I see, standing here, on a daily basis, and I

[Page 8068]

see ministers standing in this House, oh, that isn't so, and that isn't true and big long blurbs, nothing but babble. Anybody who stands publicly and comes out with some of the theories that these guys are doing, but boys, change your Corn Flakes. There is obviously something in the flakes or in the milk or in something that you are eating. At least you have Corn Flakes to eat, because I know many children in my community that don't enjoy the opportunity to have Corn Flakes. They rely on school programs for breakfast. We have a minister here that has the gall to stand before these people and tell them they are getting rich on social services in this province, when they are living below the poverty lines now.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member indicated that the minister indicated people are getting rich on social services. I did not say that, and I would like him to produce that evidence.

[10:30 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Community Services has indicated that he did rise on a point of order but, in fact, it was more a question to the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes does have the floor and if he wishes to respond, he can; if he does not, he can certainly continue on his discourse.

MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for that opportunity and I apologize to the honourable minister. I withdraw those remarks.

AN HON. MEMBER: They were made by the Premier.

MR. BOUDREAU: I wanted to indicate that the Premier of this province said those words. He said those words several times and this minister supports those words because he did not indicate very clearly or correct the Premier when those comments were made. Therefore, as a member of the Executive Council, he supports them. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I apologize for not paying as much attention as I should have been to the proceedings. The honourable member for Cape Breton West and I were engaged in a little dialogue.

MR. BARRY BARNET: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has said that the Premier said people are getting rich on social services. I do not recall him saying that and I would like the member to table any documents or refer to Hansard where the Premier said that because, quite frankly, I have never heard those words. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Perhaps I could, with the indulgence of the House, just remind all honourable members of some aspects of what a point of order is. I think we should do that. I, myself, certainly from time to time have to brush up on just what a point of order

[Page 8069]

is and I think it is important that we all recognize that. In fact, a point of order should be done as soon as an irregularity is perceived in the proceedings which are engaging the attention of the House.

Points of order are generally deemed to be points of order when there is some flagrant misuse of the Rules and Procedures of the House. So, honourable members, I think what we are trying to say is that, in fact, the Rules and Procedures of the House have not been violated so the points that were raised this morning by honourable members which they stated to be points of order were, in fact, not points of order but, nonetheless, points. So if we all could be a little more cognizant of that fact, I think things would go along a little better perhaps in the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, I thank him for permitting us to intervene perhaps on his time a little bit there.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Chairman, I do not really feel that the comment is deserving of any comment from me actually. In fact, I feel, they finally woke up in the backbenches over there and it is an indication to me at least as to why the Premier indicated in his speech the other day that he has many turtles in his caucus and his government is like a turtle sticking out its neck. We see that on a regular basis so that comment deserves all credit. The turtles better wake up, ladies and gentlemen, because time is moving forward. Wake up, pinch yourselves. As the Premier indicated the other day, the odd time they poke their neck out.

AN HON. MEMBER: And have a look around.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the Premier indicated in his speech the other day, "And when the evidence is clear that we can't cut any deeper without threatening the integrity of the services we provide - we will be patient."

Mr. Speaker, I could provide and all members of both Opposition Parties could provide ample proof that this government should be very patient. This government should be very patient and this government should tell people on this system what provisions and what regulations they are going to put in place that are going to affect their lives and the lives of their children before they are put in place. Is that unreasonable?

The Premier continued that he promised a balanced approach and that is what they were delivering, he indicated. You had better go out and ask the disadvantaged people of this province if that is a balanced report. With cuts like $122 Family Benefits on the old rates for children up to age six years cut to $112, how is that benefiting our youth? People with disabilities and disadvantages and children who find themselves in situations they have no control over, and this government turns around and cuts $10 out of their food budget. And you wonder why they don't have any Corn Flakes? With the thousands of dollars increased

[Page 8070]

to the minister's and deputy minister's budget, I would suggest there are a lot of Corn Flakes over there in the morning.

It says here house supplies, $28, gone. Maybe the honourable turtles over there would like me to tell them that house supply allowances are cut $28; transportation allowances of $18, gone.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again I would just advise the House that some members feel - and I tend to agree - that perhaps it is unparliamentary to refer to honourable members as being turtles and things of that nature. The honourable member certainly doesn't have to withdraw that comment, but I would hope that he would withdraw it or refrain from those types of comments.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, it wasn't meant as a nasty comment. I am just following up on what the Premier indicated, that his government was a turtle and they stick their neck out from time to time. I do apologize to the Chair, through the Chair to - I almost said another word, turkeys, but they are not turkeys either, they are real, honourable gentlemen - my comments were not meant to offend.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Perhaps I would advise the honourable member that he has approximately seven or eight minutes left and maybe he would want to launch into the summation of his speech, if he feels justified.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on the successes the Premier boasted about. He indicated he reduced the size of government. Yes, he did, at a higher cost. The Premier's Liberal Cabinet had more members with less pay, and better members at that. We have one minister who is obviously on long-term disability, he is not in the House now for a second session, and members on this side of the House are very concerned . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would suggest that any time one flagrantly disregards the provisions of the House of Assembly Act relative to the pay of Cabinet Ministers, one is flagrantly disregarding the rules. I suspect that a member of the Executive Council in the former administration was paid exactly the same amount as a member of the Executive Council in the present administration.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That, in fact, is a point of clarification, but not a point of order, and . . .

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In response to the comment by the Minister of Justice, I think my colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes has made it quite clear that he said it was a more costly administration, what the Tories had. I believe he was referring to effectiveness, and saying that in fact the Liberal Administration was a more effective one and a more cost-efficient administration. Therefore,

[Page 8071]

I think it is quite clear that in no way was he misleading the House, as has been suggested by the Minister of Justice, and I think his comments were clearly in line and are accurate of what is going on in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, I would advise all honourable members that Beauchesne clearly defines what a point of order is and, although the points are well taken, they are not points of order, and I would again recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will leave the bickering to the more experienced members.

There are major changes coming to this department, and as I indicated before, the minister stands up and says, trust me. Trust me. I am the rich Minister of Community Services from the Bedford area, the richest part. I am the rich guy. Trust me, poor people. We are not going to hurt you people. We are going to open up opportunities for you people. In the meantime, we are going to cut your food allowance. We are going to cut your transportation allowance. We are going to cut your babysitting allowance. We are going to cut medication to people with disabilities. After 12 months, Pharmacare is history. They take, dollar for dollar, for anybody working in the province, off your social assistance cheque. Where are the initiatives? Where are the opportunities?

AN HON. MEMBER: Food banks.

MR. BOUDREAU: Are we all going to employ these people to hang out at food banks? This government should actually wake up, pinch yourselves, and smell the coffee. All these people are asking is for this minister and this Premier and this government to be responsible. Sit down, and tell these people what cuts, what initiatives, and what you have planned for their livelihoods. People on social services in this province, at least in my area are not getting rich. They don't have jobs. They are seeking out employment. They need social assistance as their crutch, so that they can seek out opportunities. Those are the able-bodied individuals that find themselves through no fault of their own unemployed because there are no employment opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, the other side are people with disadvantages, mental health problems, addictive problems, people coming from abusive relationships, family violence relationships. They have no alternative, no alternative but to seek help for both themselves and their children. Single mothers, right across this province, are not getting rich on social services in this province. They require medical attention for their children. They need medicines for their children. They require transportation when their children are sick. They require additional money for food.

[Page 8072]

My food bill has not decreased by 10 per cent. My electricity costs have not decreased by 10 per cent. Everybody knows that furnace fuel and fuel, heating oils, did not receive a 10 per cent decrease. Yet, we see decreases in these areas to people on social assistance, and the majority of these people are people who came from some sort of abusive relationship or have disabilities in this province.

Mr. Speaker, society calls, the right of society, the right to live in society, I would suggest, our hand has to go out to people in time of need. People require help from time to time throughout their lives. It is no secret that I have messed up a few things in my life, that is fine. People need a support system to help them through tough times. That is what good governments provide, that support, and that support is readily available in Nova Scotia because we have some of the best social workers in this network within the entire country.

[10:45 a.m.]

Listen to these people. Accept their advice. Take some direction. Allow the people in the system to have a little bit of dignity and allow them an avenue so they can consult with this government so they will eliminate the stress you are creating for their family life and their ability to raise a family the same as you and I in this province. Every Nova Scotian should have the same right as you and I, and your children should have the same right as my children. Let them have a normal life and give them the tools that they require. Mr. Speaker, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Before recognizing the next speaker, it was accurately and appropriately brought to my attention that the terminology or the word, turtle, is not specifically referenced in Beauchesne, the Parliamentary Rules and Forms, but I would advise honourable members that some words that have seen the Chair intervene, words that have been determined to be unparliamentary are words like black sheep, clowns, cowards, pigs, ass, super ass, baby, turkey, joker, crook, hypocrite and sick animal. So, I point that out because I think the principal that is represented in the Parliamentary Rules and Forms is clearly there, so I would just say while it may not be unparliamentary, it certainly seemed a little bit not nice and unfriendly.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I agree with your comments, but I think it is important to recognize that I have apologized to the honourable members, my comments were not intended to offend anybody and I was just indicating what the Premier had indicated. I think it is important to know that my comments were not meant to hurt their feelings or anything, and that I had apologized for those comments.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you honourable member, and your apology is certainly duly recorded in the record and all members appreciate that.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 8073]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I certainly always appreciate your clarification of the rules and your accurate portrayal of those things that it would be inappropriate to call the members opposite. I have noted that and will make sure that (Interruptions) The members next to me are saying that takes a big chunk out of my speech, but I want you to know that is not true.

This debate on this bill I think in many ways, at least in some quarters, has not received or generated the kind of attention I really believe this bill deserves. When I first picked up the document, when I first saw the bill and I read the title, An Act to Encourage the Attainment of Independence and Self-sufficiency through Employment Support and Income Assistance, I literally was taken aback. I thought somebody over there on the Conservative benches have been reading Utopian philosophy and they are going to engage in putting in place a full employment program, they are going to put in place a guaranteed income program. These are things that many people in this country, especially people who have been supporters of this Party, have been calling for many years. I thought, wow. They have taken this job seriously, they have looked at a very progressive way of trying to make people's lives better. Then, when I opened the bill, I started to read the preamble.

The preamble of the bill talks about independence and self-sufficiency, including economic securities through employment. It says that they are fundamental to an acceptable quality of life in Nova Scotia. Who could disagree? Certainly that is the objective, I believe, of all of the members of the House, to try to provide economic security and opportunities through employment for the people of this province. The bill goes on to say that, " . . . individuals, government and the private sector share responsibility for economic security;" Who could disagree? It says that, "Nova Scotians require help to develop skills and abilities that will enable them to participate as fully in the economy and in their communities so far as it is reasonable for them to do;" There is nothing wrong with that.

That is a statement which is broad in nature, that encompasses many of the wishes of the members of this House, no matter what Party you are from, no matter what side of the House you are on. It has been debated many times in this House. We looked at the preamble, we looked at the document's title, and we said, fundamentally, the intent of this bill, if it is, in fact, consistent with the title and if it is consistent with the preamble, is something that we ought to be supporting. It just seemed self-evident. But then we had a look at the rest of the bill.

The clauses that follow the preamble and the title don't achieve, and might I say don't come near to achieving, what it is that the preamble and title portray. I am reminded of the story of the oracle at Delphi. You may remember that the oracle at Delphi was famous for dispensing sage advice. As it were, a king went to the oracle at Delphi and said, if I attack my enemy, what will happen? The oracle said, if you attack, a great king will be defeated. Off he went, he attacked his enemy, and he was defeated. The oracle at Delphi was quite correct, although he interpreted it incorrectly.

[Page 8074]

I look back at the history of this government, and I only have to go back as far as the Throne Speech of October 7, 1999, and I think many of you will remember the section of that that read, "In the coming months we will also move towards creating a new and flexible work environment for our employees. We will offer them options to improve their family lives and make government a more efficient and cost-effective organization in the process." People said, wow, that sounds good. They didn't realize that was all code for, we are going to lay you off. If you went back and asked the technicians and the specialists in the Department of Agriculture, now, if they understood what these clauses in that Throne Speech meant, they would say, well, we didn't realize that was what it meant.

If we go back and we look at the document which is the foundation of this government, the blue book, and we look at the promises and we realize that the implementation of these promises is something quite different than what the words and the written page meant or said. I don't think you can blame us, when we look at a document such as this, which contains a preamble which would be acceptable, I think, to most members of this House, and then we don't see the implementation embodied in the rest of the text of the bill. We simply ask, it is not that we disagree with the intent of the objectives. We would like to see to it that people who want to help themselves receive help. But I think it is a fair question to put to the members of the government side, will you produce the details of the program that you intend to implement. I don't know what has been said before, but essentially this bill is a shell, simply a framework on which they are going to hang regulations which are going to implement the actual program.

So, you will pardon us, Mr. Speaker, if we are sceptical when we approach a bill which, in its essence, in its preamble, in its title, seems to embody many of the things not only that we have promoted in the past but things that we have espoused across the province, indeed across the country in many venues, but we take our lessons where we find them. We take our lessons from the Harris Conservatives. We have watched them. They have been very good at introducing bills that have titles that sound most laudable and yet, the substance of the bill does exactly the opposite from what is intended.

For example, An Act to Protect the Environment which actually strips out environmental protections in the province, An Act to Ensure Fairness in Trade Union Organizations which actually does away with worker protections in the province. So, we learn. We look at what happens around the province, and we say to ourselves, we cannot be fooled. We cannot simply accept that a bill is going to achieve its aim simply because it has a convenient title, simply because it has or seems to embody in the preamble and in the title objectives that, were we sitting on the government side, we ourselves would want to try and promote.

Mr. Speaker, very fundamentally, we believe that economic opportunities ought to be available for all Nova Scotians who are able to work. We believe there ought to be educational opportunities for people to go to pursue GEDs, whether it is to pursue

[Page 8075]

community college training, whether it is to pursue university courses or upgrading or retraining, we agree that has to be part of a reasonable program of government in order to promote the welfare of the people of the province.

But what we don't see here in this document is any of the detail that would allow us to come to the conclusion that the government is going to accomplish what it says it wants to accomplish. So is it unreasonable for us to ask the government to produce the regulations? When we moved the amendment on the six months' hoist, to put it aside for six months, it was to allow the minister an opportunity to bring forward those regulations so there might be some debate and examination of it. We don't believe that was an unreasonable position to take, and I dare say that the people in my constituency don't think that was unreasonable. I know, I heard the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank saying that he was talking to members in his constituency who were saying they were on the right track. You know, something, Mr. Speaker, if the track they were on was the stated intent of the bill, I would agree with them. I would agree with his constituents.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I think it is not only something less than what it appears to be, I believe it is exactly the opposite from what it appears to be because that is the experience that we have had in this House with documents like the Throne Speech, like the budget. In fact, I guess it was the budget and then The Course Ahead which was another document produced from the government. I have to say we found those documents to be mendacious, duplicitous, misleading, anything but straightforward, anything but providing people with an accurate portrayal of the intention of the government. That is why we asked the questions that we asked. It is not to be obstructionist. It is not to put roadblocks in the way of the government in bringing in good legislation. It is simply a plea on behalf of the people we represent for the government to provide us with enough information, with an accurate portrayal of what it is they intend to do, so that we can do a proper assessment and analysis and provide them with the good advice that we can muster among us, because that is our job.

[11:00 a.m.]

Our job as part of the loyal Opposition is to provide a critique, an analysis, an assessment of the public policy statements that come forward from the government in the form of bills, in the form of legislation that they intend to pass into law which will, in fact, affect the lives of many people in my constituency and throughout the province. So we are not being at all obstructionist. We are not trying to tell the government that they must succumb completely to our wishes on this side, that they must do the things that we say all the time. We are simply saying if you are bringing forward a piece of legislation, you must provide the detail, you must provide the regulations in this case that allow for a full and proper debate of the issues.

[Page 8076]

I do not believe that what we see here has done that and it is why we are dependent on statements that are made outside of the House and I must say, you know, this bill was previewed and the public policy statement was made outside of the House. I think that this is a habit that the government has gotten into which is very regrettable. It is understandable that Opposition caucuses, who do not have the ability, as the government does, to promote their bills through the House in this way, it is understandable that the Opposition would introduce bills and talk about them in the context of what it would be they would achieve if they were government, but the government has a responsibility as the stewards of this House to bring forward bills and public policy statements to this House first.

The House should not be treated as an obstacle that must be simply gotten over. They should treat the House with respect and they should bring legislation and public policy statements into the House and make the statements here to the people who are elected by the voters of the province to critique and analyse those statements first and I think it belittles the role of the House to make those kinds of public policy statements out in the foyer and not to bring them here first.

That is not to say that you cannot do it here first and respect the Rules of the House and then take it down to the foyer and discuss it with the press but, remember, as important and valuable as the press is to this province, they were not elected. They were not put in this House for the purposes of representing the people of the province and so, first and foremost, the members of the government should bring forward public policy statements to this House and be respectful of the people of the province and of the people they elected to represent them in this House.

Mr. Speaker, you may think that that is a small point, but I think what we have seen is an erosion and I know, even last night on several of the stations there was talk about the erosion of respect for elected officials and the talk about the erosion of respect for the Houses of Assembly and the House of Commons, but the only way we can achieve the respect of the people is if we treat the House with respect ourselves. So that is my message to the government opposite with respect to major public policy statements, like this bill. I would implore them to treat this House with the respect it deserves, and to make the public policy statements in the House and present the bills, and then go to your communication strategy, then go out to sell your plan to the public. You can at least observe the 20 minutes of respect it would take to present it here first. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, well, it is not directly on the bill. I think it is an important aspect of what happened with the introduction of this bill, but it is not directly on the bill, so I want to get back to addressing, for a few minutes, the points that I was making earlier. I indicated to you that although the words that were contained in the preamble and the title to the bill portrayed or painted a picture of an important aspect of the life of Nova Scotia, the reality is that the initiatives that were put forward have to be real. Educational initiatives have to be supported through income assistance programs, they have to be. You can't take people out of poverty

[Page 8077]

and say, why don't you enrol in this course, and there is not any structure underneath it to support them while they are doing that.

It has to be broad, it has to allow individuals to explore the entire spectrum of opportunity, whether it is GEDs or community colleges or post-secondary education, as I have said before. They have to be supported. They have to be supported through child care programs that will allow them to concentrate on what it is they are trying to achieve, because they know that their children are being properly looked after, that they are safe, that they are secure.

Mr. Speaker, believe it or not, and there is an old-fashioned notion out there that students don't require economic security, that a student's life is devil-may-care, that they live by the seat of their pants, that they hang out in the library, and that they don't have the same desire for economic security. I don't think that is true for any student, if it ever was; it wasn't the case when I went to university, and I don't believe it is the case for students at community colleges, and I don't think it was ever the case.

The reality is, especially in today's economy with the way that costs are continuing to escalate, students are very conscious of their economic security. They need to be supported, they need to know they are going to have the things in life they require to exist, at least reasonably. That is even more so the case when you are talking about a single parent, with children, they need to have economic security in order to allow them to participate fully in whatever course they are enrolled in. They need to have economic security that will allow them to focus on those goals that they are setting out to achieve. I don't think that is unreasonable.

I don't think it is unreasonable for them to say we need economic security because there has to be food on the table for our children. I don't think it is unreasonable to say we have to have economic security because in January there has to be oil in the tank to heat the house. I don't think it is unreasonable for them to say we need economic security because we need to know that as we progress through the year of whatever studies we are undertaking, that the rent will be paid, that there will be the things that are necessarily incidental to living a life that is at least reasonable if not comfortable. Mr. Speaker, that is one of the reasons we have asked for the details of these programs, the details that are supposed to be set out in the regulations, to tell us whether or not the bill that is before the House achieves that which it is intended to achieve.

To say it as simply as I can, Mr. Speaker, the government has failed to provide that information. They have failed to provide it for reasons we do not understand and which have not been explained. So we can sit up here, and we can point our fingers, and we can yell across the floor, and we can go out in the hallways, and we can say, they are being unfair, they are not doing what they ought to do, but in the end, that doesn't do us any good. So I make the very direct plea, directly to the minister, and I say to him, do what it is that you

[Page 8078]

should do in a reasonable fashion. Bring forward the regulations for our analysis. Bring forward that which is going to be the sum and substance of this bill, and allow us to do the kind of assessment that, essentially we are paid to do. We are here. We are elected by the people of the province in our many constituencies to do exactly that kind of job. All we are asking the government is to provide us with that which would allow us to do that job.

Let me make a further point before I sit down, Mr. Speaker. I don't recall at what point we started today.

MR. SPEAKER: The member started at 10:48 a.m.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you. I want to make an additional point around the whole question of poverty and the opportunity to gain independence and self sufficiency through employment support and income assistance, which is, in fact, what is supposed to be the nub of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are a few too many conversations which are too loud in the Chamber at the moment. I would appreciate it if the members would take it elsewhere. Thank you. The member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Well, the members opposite are saying I should put a little bit of fire and passion in my presentation and they would pay closer attention. I think, Mr. Speaker, what I was attempting to do on behalf of my caucus and on behalf of the people I represent is to present a cogent argument in a reasonable fashion, in fact without yelling or without trying to make some kind of a statement that is inconsistent with what it is we are attempting to do. We are attempting to demonstrate to the government that what we are asking for is simply a reasonable level of respect with respect to the role that we play here in the House.

That aside, and to get back to my point, I was about to make a point about poverty, really, Mr. Speaker. You know, poverty doesn't end at the social assistance rolls. There are many people in our community, many hard-working people who, in fact live in poverty. We sometimes refer to them as the working poor. They are struggling along day-to-day perhaps on minimum wage jobs which are not sufficient to provide them with the income or economic security they need for their families. If you were truly in the business of breaking the cycle of poverty, then you wouldn't just address your attention to those people who are on the social assistance rolls. You would be progressive and far-sighted enough to understand that what you must also do is address those people who are at the bottom of the economic strata and to provide them also with the same kinds of opportunities for educational advancement, for re-training, for the preparation to go into the workforce in order for them also to be successful in their desires and goals and dreams.

[Page 8079]

Now, I think that over the past 20 or 25 minutes that I have been speaking, I have tried to go through some of the points that I think are important in this bill. I want to say that the problem with it, and the problem remains - is that we do not have before this House the information that we require in order to do a proper analysis of the bill. It is difficult, given the history of this government to take some kind of a leap of faith around a bill that is going to be so important to so many people in the province.

[11:15 a.m.]

Quite the opposite. We think it is incumbent upon the government to bring forward in a timely manner - I do not know if the minister has indicated to the House when the regulations will be coming forward, but I would think what should have been done is that they should have been brought forward as the bill was making its progress through the House, in order to allow us to properly assess the impact of the bill and the regulations on the people who are going to be most directly affected by them.

With that, it is my intention now to take my place, to watch with some trepidation what will happen over the next number of months, to watch carefully for the regulations and when they come forward to again move back to holding the government accountable for what it is they have said they set out to achieve. I have to say I am very much hopeful that those regulations will accurately reflect the intent of the bill but I must say at the same time, I am sceptical that they will in fact achieve what they set out to do and I fear, as many people do, that what they will do is punish the poor and those who are economically disadvantaged in a way that is regrettable. I hope on that note that I am proven wrong by the Minister of Community Services, and we will see. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I am pleased to rise and offer a few interventions on second reading of Bill No. 62. The disappointing thing for me, earlier today is the fact that the government which holds itself out as being open and responsive to the needs of Nova Scotians and wanting to consult and communicate with people before decisions are made on any matters of public policy, would reject such a proposal that was put before the House here this morning that would help to make Bill No. 62 - with its flaws and all the warts that it may bring with it - a better piece of legislation by turning a deaf ear to the opportunity for people to communicate with the Law Amendments Committee through these community access sites across Nova Scotia.

We have some 224 CAP sites - computer access sites - throughout Nova Scotia that would allow people who cannot afford to come to Halifax, who can afford to barely buy enough groceries let alone travel such a long distance to make a presentation before the Law Amendments Committee. The government, on numerous occasions, suggested that - at least

[Page 8080]

they have made a pretty noble effort to convince people that - they are listening to the people of Nova Scotia on such issues as this Bill No. 62 regarding community services reform.

In fact, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank yesterday suggested that all the stakeholders were consulted before this piece of legislation was brought before the House and yet if you talk to the social workers who are the front-line workers responsible for providing many of the facets of this particular initiative, they were not consulted. It is written right into the process that they will be consulted sometime in July of the year 2001, after the regulations are put in place.

Well, so much for consultation before the fact. After the fact it is easy. All you are doing is you are somewhat of a fundamentalist. You are telling people, this is the way it is and, if you don't like it, the burden of proof is on you to show that everything that has been done is all wrong. That defeats the whole purpose of providing an open and consultative process in making Bill No. 62 the best possible piece of legislation that the government proclaims that it wants to have before the House.

So I am very disappointed that the government would close the window of opportunity for Nova Scotians to be able to communicate to the government, to the Law Amendments Committee, via the Internet or e-mails or whatever other communiques would be readily available to them at the local community level to be able to offer some very constructive and worthwhile proposals in helping make Bill No. 62 a very good piece of legislation if that is the bill of goods that is being sold before this House and indeed to all Nova Scotians.

With that having been said, we will move on to the next initiative, because obviously it certainly demonstrates the insensitivity demonstrated by senior members of the Executive Council; in fact their minds are made up on what they want to do, and they are going to do it come hell or high water. They can put as much icing on the whole package . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: . . . in this House.

MR. MACKINNON: Heck or high water, okay? Just to be fair, Mr. Speaker, heck or high water. I don't want to offend the sensibilities of the Minister of Health. He has had a very difficult week and we don't want to make things any worse for him. He has already had enough hot water for one week; any more and he will be scalded. Now, that having be said, he may want to put his head back down below the sandbags and stay for the rest of the weekend down in the bunker.

Mr. Speaker, also we heard about another member of the backbenches, from down in Annapolis, pontificate about how great the Nova Scotia economy is doing because of Conservative policy. Well, to put that in perspective with this particular piece of legislation, I will refer to the article of The Daily News, Tuesday, October 31, 2000, on Page 21. Yes, there has been some economic upswing in the economy, but what he forgot to mention is the

[Page 8081]

basis for that upswing. It is quite clear that it was because of the Sable Offshore Energy Project which produced its first gas on December 31st.

All those initiatives were started under the Russell MacLellan Government. So it is like a big train. When it is coming into the station, you put the brakes on. You are not going to stop, bang, just like that. You have to have a fair bit of distance. It is the same with the economy. You can make your investments, set your policy initiatives in place, put all the processes in place. It takes a considerable amount of time for it to kick in. Six months to a year, the economists and experts will indicate.

So what the member for Annapolis has been doing over the last several days is congratulating the Liberals who were in the MacLellan Government for what a fine job they have done. Now, let's fast-forward to the economic and the social structure and how it impacts on Bill No. 62 as seen through rose-coloured glasses of the Minister of Finance in this Tory Government. We have seen some . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I want to bring to the member's attention that I could wear rose-coloured glasses or black-coloured glasses and I still won't see the comments. You said that we were complimenting the previous administration. I think, member, it is a long stretch to say that we were bragging about the former administration doing a good job.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: That is true, Mr. Speaker. I didn't suggest that it was the Minister of Finance. Perhaps if he did take off the rose-coloured glasses and put on his blinders, like he usually does, I was referring to the backbenchers who are distancing themselves as of late from the Cabinet in recognizing the reality of the economy and some of the processes that were put in place by the previous administration. That is quite evident on the Human Resources Committee, that is quite evident with the near revolt, with the backbenchers, on health issues down in Queens County and Colchester and Shelburne, we can go on and on. The fact of the matter is, all this is part and parcel of one major issue and that is how it is going to impact on Bill No. 62.

Being a small-business person myself, I would like to believe that we are getting value for dollar, and that is what is important. If there is a feeling out there that there are the working poor, there are business people, there are a lot of people who are working very hard in Nova Scotia, feeling that other people are not really pulling their weight when the opportunity avails itself, well, let's examine that. I certainly don't want to spend money unnecessarily. Let's look at the particulars, never mind the optics and what the government is trying to do to make all these individuals who are at the bottom of the heap look like they are villains, are lazy and don't want to do anything to improve their lot in life and take

[Page 8082]

advantage of all the opportunities that the government says are there, which for the most part aren't there.

I think that is the reality of what the government is trying to do but, in fact, they are not addressing this as an integrated process. Yes, the intent may be very noble in this legislation, and for that I commend the minister and the government, if that is the intent. Let's look at it in terms of a factor of education and job training. Who is going to pay for the job training? Are we going to expect the federal government to do this, when already they are looking for ways to download and to alleviate themselves of some of this federal-provincial job training relationship? The evidence is quite clear. If the government provincially is saying they don't have the dollars to do it, they don't have the wherewithal to do it. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, we would be kind of naive and politically mischievous not to suggest that there are errors and omissions on all sides, especially here at the provincial level, yes, at the federal level, other provincial levels. This is what it is all about, you try your best, you do your best. Sometimes they do good, sometimes they don't do good. We are not afraid to admit when mistakes are being made, unlike what the Minister of Health has been doing in his department for the last number of months, unlike what he has been doing down in Colchester County, in Queens County. Must we go on?

What that does, because of his naivety and lack of understanding in Health, he is actually catering to the political whim of the Minister of Justice on that $600,000 fiasco. There is less money for the Minister of Community Services to do what he needs to do. If we are going to take $20 million out of one facet of the budget of Community Services, to activate this new process, who is going to suffer because of the other divisions in that department? That $20 million is coming from somewhere. If it is in fact a good initiative to do that, to re-evaluate how we are spending those dollars, that is fine, but you just can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is what you are doing, you are turning a blind eye. You can't come into the House and praise yourself and say, we are putting $150 into the travel allowance for the disabled. What they forgot to tell the people is they took it down from $216, before they cut it to zero in the last budget.

It is all a question of optics. You try and make people believe you are doing great things when in fact you are slashing and burning. That is the inequity, that is the injustice, and that is why people don't trust what this government is doing, because they are not putting all the facts on the table. They are not allowing the Opposition members an excellent opportunity to evaluate and appraise and do due diligence on this particular piece of legislation. You wonder why we would be suspect. We can go on from department to department to department.

[Page 8083]

We heard yesterday, the Minister of Education questioning the good judgement of the Leader of the Liberal Party because he visited the site of Halifax West High School. Perhaps the Minister of Education, in an effort to help the Minister of Community Services, should go up . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: She does not drive.

[11:30 a.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: If she does not drive, we will get a chauffeur. We will have somebody take her up. Somebody from the Liberal caucus would certainly take her up, or if her own executive assistant or somebody from government wanted to take her but, Mr. Speaker, if she were to go up there, she would see that there is a major subsidence issue developing on that school site. The cost of remediation and upgrading that school will far exceed that 50 per cent factor that they are trying to ignore. That would provide additional dollars to the Minister of Community Services in being able to cushion the blow on that $20 million transfer from one division to the other.

So that is what it is all about, Mr. Speaker, it is about priorities and making sure of what the Minister of Community Services is saying, we have to take an integrated approach to make people better off in the final analysis, then we have to look at these individual sectors.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is simply too much noise in the Chamber and I would appreciate it if the members would take their private conversations outside of the Chamber. Also at this time, would the member allow for an introduction, please.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Cape Breton West for his time. It is my pleasure on behalf of the member for Preston to introduce, today, in the east gallery, 37 Grade 12 students from the Eastern Shore District High School, home of the Schooners, and they are accompanied by Mr. Dennis LeBlanc, Ms. Hawkins, Mr. Vallee and also their bus driver, Mr. Williams. I would ask for them to stand and receive the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I think what I have been saying makes it fairly clear that the Opposition members really have not been provided with sufficient information to be able to do a complete analysis on this particular piece of legislation. I do have to go back to the point that was made by the honourable member for Annapolis the last several days in this resolution because it is very important.

[Page 8084]

If the government is doing as well as the proclamation and those resolutions would suggest, then I believe we owe it to the government to congratulate the government but, Mr. Speaker, what has not come out through the statistical analysis to date is what is happening behind the scenes with the large-scale lay-offs at the pulp and paper mills across this province. We have heard what happened with the Irving sawmill operation as of late. We heard about the lay-offs at Bowater Mersey last week and I understand there have been further lay-offs related to the offshore, you know, with Cougar Helicopters. Upwards of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of their complement have been laid off. I understand that there is a possibility that one of the oil rigs is about to move out of our jurisdiction, down south, because of a lack of activity. That particular oil rig, as I understand, employs Canadian workers.

If it is the government's plan to try to take the right-wing Progressive Conservative policy initiative as it did in the early phases of this offshore development, going back to when NSRL was first established, and it was under the Progressive Conservative Administration that did not require the Nova Scotia content first factor in terms of employment, we will see more non-Nova Scotians working in the offshore than we will Nova Scotians. I will make that prediction based on activities that are transpiring over the last several weeks.

That will have an impact, Mr. Speaker, on the Minister of Community Services. That will have an impact as to whether that member for Annapolis will stand in his place and try to hold that report from the newspaper as part of their flagship because it is not there. I do not want to get into the comparative analysis where we are doing what the Premier did, trying to pit one group of society against the other, and the issue that was raised by the member for Cape Breton Centre yesterday was a good point. You are pitting the working poor against the poor. The further down you are in the heap, so to speak, the more they try and beat up on you. That seems to be the Conservative way; every man for himself, the bigger, the more powerful, the more we will cater to you and we will try and support you. But that is not what Nova Scotia is all about. It is not what Nova Scotia is about. We have to be prepared to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, the mentally disabled, the physically disabled.

Their shelter allowance is being cut, their travel allowance is being cut, their medication allowance costs are being cut, we can on and on and on. I do not want to become repetitive because I think the point is fairly well known. The Premier and the Minister of Community Services have staked out their ground on this issue. There will be time to come back during Committee of the Whole House to hopefully, if at all, succeed with some reasonable amendments that will help improve this legislation.

Subject to that there is not a lot more that we as an Opposition can do. We are taking a very reasoned approach, we understand that this process is like any other process, it evolves, there are changes. The needs and the desires and the cost considerations, they all

[Page 8085]

change. It is an socio-economic interactive thing. I would implore the minister to please provide us with more detail to help us better understand that the direction he is taking us on this initiative is the right direction and provide us with some detail so we, as an Opposition, can hopefully make the best possible decision we can on Bill No. 62. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I will rise and speak for a few moments. Unfortunately, I do not have quite the time I would have liked because of other commitments, but nonetheless I did have quite a bit to say on this matter the other day on an amendment to this bill and I will try to be more succinct today with the bit of time I have.

I want to say that Bill No. 62 is a bill that causes me and our caucus some considerable concern. In particular, as it has been said by others, there is very little detail or explanation of what the impact is going to be in the bill, and I guess the implications of the bill. What is behind the bill? What is the real intention of the government? They talk about how they want to give people an opportunity to access employment if they are able to avail themselves of that opportunity. There is nothing wrong with that. There are barriers to some in society to availing themselves of work, those barriers may have to do with illiteracy; presentation, the inability for example to afford clothing; to transportation; to job interviews; to participate in job opportunities.

There may be other barriers which relate to mental and physical capacity, may relate to cultural barriers. As was mentioned by a member of our caucus last evening, a greater preponderance of communities in society in Nova Scotia that are excluded from the workforce are the Aboriginal community, on-reserve and off-reserve, as well as the African-Nova Scotian community. When you have people who do want to work, but have those different kinds of barriers, then we should be able to do whatever we can to help remove those barriers so those people can take advantage if there are jobs that exist, jobs they can qualify for, jobs they can be trained for, and jobs that are appropriate to their particular circumstances.

The difficulty is that this government, and the Minister of Community Services, has not shown us that the employment supports that the bill refers to are appropriate to the communities I have talked to, to the barriers that I have referred to and that other members have referred to; they just simply don't cut it in many cases, Mr. Speaker. So if the bill does not, and the changes to the system do not, adequately remove those barriers and provide real support for people who are employable, in a position to access jobs that may be available, then what is the intention of this legislation? Others have said that there is a reduction, that people on social assistance today will receive less money tomorrow once this bill goes through. In other words, they will basically have less money in their pockets. That was after cuts were imposed on social assistance recipients in April of this year.

[Page 8086]

So, adequate employment supports aren't there, actual monies to recipients are being reduced and what else is in this bill? Well, others have said, Mr. Speaker, that now caseworkers will have a greater responsibility in terms of trying to direct social assistance recipients to the particular streams that this government has set up. We know today that the people working in the system, the caseworkers, have a huge burden of responsibility already in terms of the number of cases that they are responsible for. We know that today, without the added responsibility they will have after this bill is passed, caseworkers now have an extremely difficult time keeping up with the responsibilities.

Time and time again in my office, and other members have suggested the same thing, we have tried to intervene to get matters resolved. We have had difficulty contacting caseworkers and their supervisors. That is not to suggest that these people are sitting around twiddling their thumbs and just deciding not to respond to our calls. They are very busy women and men, Mr. Speaker. They are on the road. They are on the go. They are dealing with call after call. As I mentioned before, I talked with a caseworker the other day with 1,500 cases in metro that he was dealing with. That is an incredible responsibility.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: On a point of order, the honourable member has mentioned on two occasions now that there is a caseworker with 1,500 cases. If that caseworker is in Halifax, they are not employed with Community Services, because we do not - I repeat, do not - have any caseworkers with 1,500 cases.

MR. SPEAKER: That was not a point of order; a point to be made. The member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is frankly shocking that the Minister of Community Services doesn't have any idea exactly the kind of load that people under his kind of responsibility are carrying. I will ask him to go back in his department and to examine with his staff the people and the caseloads they are responsible for. I have had the opportunity to speak with people who have presented me with that information. I am not going to bring any particular individual's name to this floor because of the fact that they are already under extreme pressure. But I would ask that minister to consider the reality facing many of the workers in his department and familiarize himself with the problem.

[11:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I was addressing the reality being faced by people affected by this piece of legislation and my concern about exactly what the intention is with this bill. It has been talked about a few times. The Premier stood in front of the chamber of commerce luncheon the other day and said that no recipient of welfare should be making more money than somebody working, either with one or two jobs. Then, of course, people said, well, give us an example of someone who is earning more money than somebody would if they were working full-time at some job or pulling two jobs down. Of course, he couldn't.

[Page 8087]

What is interesting - and one thing I am afraid about this piece of legislation - is what he is suggesting, that a minimum wage of $5.70 an hour worked out at a full 2,080 hours worked out to something like $6,000 to $7,000. I forget what it was. It is way below the poverty line, Mr. Speaker. What the Premier seems to be suggesting is that is somehow appropriate. Somehow, somebody living on minimum wage, at about 30 to 40 per cent below the poverty line, that somehow is appropriate. Whether you are working or whether you are on social assistance, that people having to survive, to raise families, to raise themselves, to food and clothe, somehow that is responsible and that is appropriate. This misses the point of this whole discussion.

The point is that people are living in dire and desperate poverty. What we should be doing, is we should be trying to improve the opportunities and the living conditions and the economic circumstances for all Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. We should be trying to raise the standard instead of lowering the standard, instead of doing what it is the Premier is trying to do which is set up the deserving and the undeserving poor, something that has been done for centuries in this country and around the world. As my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, was talking about last night, this legislation is reminiscent of an amendment to the Elizabethan Poor Law, an amendment that was brought in in 1834. In other words, we have been there, done that. This kind of mean-spirited pitting one type of poor person against another type of poor person is simply mean-spirited and unwarranted. It does not deal with the issue which should be how do we help all people in our society avail themselves of opportunities that may exist. It is suggesting, of course, that anyone and everyone who is on social assistance, who is on welfare needs a good boot to get them out there looking for work, that all they are doing is sitting home cutting coupons and not contributing. It is simply a misrepresentation of the system, it is a misrepresentation of the economy here in Nova Scotia, and it is unfair and mean-spirited.

This bill talks about giving people aids and opportunities to find jobs. What about those people - and it has been said before by others - who are not able to work? What about those people who as a result of various circumstances are unable to work? There is nothing mentioned in this legislation about those people. There is no definition in this legislation about who is a person in need. Nowhere. As my colleague said so well and so clearly last night, this is our legislation affecting social security in the Province of Nova Scotia. This is the social safety net. This is dealing with those people who are unable to help themselves, unable to find work, unable to work as a result of various circumstances, but never once in the bill does it actually talk about who those people are, and what the communities' responsibilities are to those people.

It was again cited last night that over the past five, six years, there has been a decline in the number of people on social assistance, a decline of something like 18,000 recipients. It was data that was presented in a 1999 report from the National Council on Welfare, which said that the numbers have gone from, I think, 98,700 to 80,900 in 1999, a reduction in people on social assistance of something like 18,000 people. We can have a whole discussion

[Page 8088]

about why those numbers have changed, but we will do that at another time. The important thing to remember is that the trend has been less people on social assistance. Certainly in metro, the unemployment rate has continued to decline as the result of a robust economy, many would suggest. If you look at the demographics in places like Cape Breton, where the unemployment rate is much higher, where you have seen a depopulation of people in Cape Breton, many people from there have come to Halifax or gone elsewhere looking for work.

Mr. Speaker, one might conclude that the social assistance ranks have decreased over that period of time, maybe because people who are able to work have gone out and have found work. If that is the case, then what is this legislation actually designed to do? It clearly says, I think, throughout the legislation that if people do not avail themselves of the employment supports as required in this legislation, then they will be subject to a penalty of some sort. We can only assume, because it is not clearly spelled out, it will be, as now happens in various instances in this system as well as in the EI system, that if it is determined by the regulations that someone is employable and they do not avail themselves of the employment supports or apply for work, that they will find themselves cut off, denied in some way, shape or form, the assistance and/or employment supports. Therefore, ultimately, they will be cut off the system. What problem are we solving by doing that?

If we have people in our society, which we do, who are facing barriers to employment, we need to deal with those barriers, not with the people that are facing the barriers, but with the barriers themselves. I believe that is what a caring and a compassionate society would do. This legislation does not deal with the problems which - social assistance does not deal with the problems which are barriers that exist, not just barriers to work, but barriers for people to participate in society, to participate in their community. It does not recognize that there are other ways to contribute. There are other ways to make that contribution, Mr. Speaker, and I think that is one of a great many flaws that are contained within this bill.

Again, my concern is that when you look at the fact that single employables under the current system make an income from social assistance in the area of $4,000 annually, how can that be considered a wealthy income? How can that be considered someone taking advantage of the system and getting rich off the system? That is just simply fallacious. It is unfair. It is mean-spirited. If that person then worked for minimum wage, they would receive more money, but again, not very much money. So, what we need to look at is not how do we drive those people unable to find work through, as a result of barriers, either personal barriers or systemic barriers, we shouldn't only be looking at how we drive down their welfare, Mr. Speaker. We should be looking at reducing the barriers, but we should also be looking at those people who are working at minimum wage, are trying to tie maybe a couple of different jobs together, and are making $8,000 or $9,000 a year and ask ourselves, is that appropriate? Is that humane? Is that reasonable in this day and age in our society? That is well below the poverty line, Mr. Speaker, and maybe it is time that we started to talk about things like a fair wage in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 8089]

We should start to talk about increasing the minimum wage in the Province of Nova Scotia so that people who are working at minimum wage are not living in the poverty situations that they are facing at the present time.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said and as my colleagues have said before, there are a lot of unanswered questions relating to this legislation. We need the opportunity to ask those questions and to get those questions answered. We are going to have an opportunity over the next number of days to speak with people who are involved in the system, as workers, as advocates and recipients, and I know it will help all of us understand what this legislation will mean to all of us. I hope this government will pay attention to what it is that is being said, and that we can come back here to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills stage and have a constructive dialogue and try to deal with this legislation so that we are not penalizing people who are already living in dire poverty circumstances that we can either send this legislation out for further discussion and review or we can do what needs to be done to take into consideration those people who are unable to work, those people who are in need and make sure we begin to address, in the short term and the long term, real problems related to poverty in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[12:00 p.m.]

Thank you for the opportunity to intervene. I wish I had more time, I do have a previous commitment that I have to attend to now. I will take my seat and allow another member to intervene. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: I wanted to speak a few moments on Bill No. 62 and I do not want to belabour the House this afternoon but I think it is important that I at least touch on some points that I think are of great concern to a number of my constituents who have no choice but to draw from the social assistance program.

The Minister of Community Services said that Bill No. 62 is the most significant piece of legislation introduced by his department. It is just too bad that this important piece of legislation is only released in piecemeal fashion; like a jigsaw puzzle you have to find the pieces and then hopefully they will fit in some part of the puzzle. If that has become the policy of this secretive government to release important information in dribs and drabs only, Nova Scotians will not see the regulations of Bill No. 62 until January 2001. This Legislature is being asked to debate Bill No. 62 on blind faith. Like the bogus budget introduced in the spring, we do not have enough information or the proper data in order to make informed decisions on this bill. Like the budget, we have been asked to vote before we have a chance to examine the complete picture.

[Page 8090]

Again, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition is being forced to find the details, look for the details because the details are certainly not present in Bill No. 62 as it is presented. The philosophy behind it is based on the Conservative belief that everybody should be required to pay their own way. This belief may be popular with Mike Harris, and it has proven to be, in some degree, in Ontario.

The title on Bill No. 62 has a lofty ring to it, An Act to Encourage the Attainment of Independence and Self-sufficiency through Employment Support and Income Assistance. It is a great title but you cannot judge this piece of legislation just by the front sheet. We should be able to get in and see the contents, and it is too bad the reality of Bill No. 62 does not live up to its grand title.

There are serious concerns about the requirement to develop an employment plan. What will such a plan look like? How will it be developed? Has the Minister of Community Services set targets for getting people off social assistance? How will we know if these changes are a success or a failure?

The development of an employment program or a plan for each and every person on social assistance is a way of looking at the problem on an individual, one-on-one basis. This may be effective, but what about looking at poverty as a provincial problem? Changes to social assistance and Bill No. 62 seem to ignore the big picture of poverty. We cannot expect everyone on social assistance to achieve self sufficiency until we address the bigger problem associated with poverty.

Developing an employment plan for each and every person on social assistance puts an incredible burden on overworked caseworkers. People on social assistance already complain they do not get enough time with their caseworkers as it is. The caseworkers are hard-working professionals who struggle to do the best they can with limited resources. Now the Tories are piling on extra responsibilities without first consulting with the caseworkers. This is an unreasonable and an unrealistic burden to put on our caseworkers.

This is what Mike Harris did in Ontario and it was, Mr. Speaker, to some degree a failure. In Ontario there was never a clear outline about what qualifies for a job. Caseworkers are now expected to become unemployment counsellors. They are expected to become experts at labour market research and child placements. To date, caseworkers have been in the dark concerning these massive changes. They are now getting calls from their worried clients, but they do not yet have the answers. There will be no answers until January 2001.

Mr. Speaker, on Page 23 of the Tory blue book it says a PC Government will, "Ensure that front-line Community Service workers are fully briefed on all relevant changes to government policies and procedures . . ." This is obviously a broken promise since front-line Community Services' workers were not consulted about these changes. The minister has said in this House that the August 1, 2001, implementation date will allow plenty of time for

[Page 8091]

consultation. However, this consultation after the fact is not meaningful consultation because Community Services' employees will have no say in the process.

How will these employment plans be developed? What model will be used and how will they be evaluated? There has been very little information released about these employment plans. For instance, we do not know what penalty a person will suffer if they fail to develop an employment plan. Also, what penalty is there if somebody fails to follow the plan? It is impossible to intelligently debate Bill No. 62 until we see the regulations. There are too many unanswered questions about the impact of Bill No. 62 and we do not have enough information to evaluate it. For instance, what qualifies as a job under these new changes? This was a huge problem when Mike Harris tried to implement workfare in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, to be realistic, the only type of job someone just coming off social assistance can get is a job that pays the minimum wage. Unless the government is prepared to pay millions for education and training programs, low-paying part-time jobs are all that some people on social assistance can expect. These are the same jobs that young people and university students depend on. Young people need these jobs to help pay for their education. Forcing people on social assistance to get low-paying jobs will only displace younger workers. Without these jobs young people may not be able to afford their education and will not have the training for higher-paying jobs. These changes to social assistance, I believe, could actually make the cycle of poverty worse.

The minister said these changes represent a reinvestment of $20 million from within the Community Services' budget. In reality, there is no new money being spent to develop this new system or to make sure that these changes are implemented properly. This reinvestment means that $20 million is being cut from other areas of the Community Services' budget. What programs will see the impact of these cuts, Mr. Speaker? We have already seen big cuts to social assistance in the spring budget. This Tory Government made a promise to eliminate the clawbacks of the National Child Tax Benefit. However, the integrated child benefit only passes along any future increases to the National Child Tax Benefit and, therefore, it is another broken promise. There is no guarantee that passing along the funding will directly help children.

Mr. Speaker, the previous Liberal Government made sure that this money went into programs that would directly help children. Changes to the child benefits for low-income families and those on social assistance sound positive on the surface, but we need further study. It will be well over a full year before we know these changes will take place and we can assess the real impact at that time. The impact of these changes on children may be negligible because the government has rarely cut social assistance benefits.

[Page 8092]

Mr. Speaker, according to Pauline Raven, coordinator of the Annapolis Valley-Hants Community Action Program for Children, a major drawback of the changes to the child benefit is the $1,600 cap. She says this would actually reduce the amount that would be available for new children coming into the system. On a case-by-case basis, these changes will only help a minority of children in low-income families.

Mr. Speaker, what is the role of the private sector? Bill No. 62 puts a lot of faith in the economy and the private sector. There is a large assumption that the private sector will be able to handle this influx of people into the workforce. When the minister introduced these changes, he stated repeatedly that the Nova Scotia economy was doing well and, thus, would be able to accommodate the influx of new workers. As a Liberal, we can take pride in the fact that Nova Scotia is enjoying a good economy, but history tells us that the economy suffers after a few years of Progressive Conservative rule. How will these changes work when the economy stalls? What back-up plan does the minister have just in case we see an economic downturn in Nova Scotia?

Mr. Speaker, it is important that this Tory Government consult with business in order to find out what the needs of the job markets are. Developing an employment plan is useless unless research is done into the job markets. The job market is constantly changing, so this type of research is an ongoing process, a full-time job for several people. This government has done very little in the way of job creation in Nova Scotia. According to The Globe and Mail Report on Business, Nova Scotia has dropped in the ranking of Canadian provinces in regard to economic growth. Under the previous Liberal Government, Nova Scotia ranked between second and third.

Mr. Speaker, can we expect people on social assistance to become self-sufficient if all they can expect is a low-paying part-time job? Many of the jobs available to those just coming off social assistance would be low paying with no benefits and very little room for promotion. Where are the mechanisms to make sure that any employment plan guarantees a fulfilling job with opportunities for growth and promotion? How can we guarantee that these jobs will provide necessary life skills and work experience?

Bill No. 62 is primarily focused on getting people back to work. What about those who can't work or have little chance of finding a meaningful job. These changes to social assistance are so centred on getting people back to work that they ignore those who truly depend on social assistance. Bill No. 62, Mr. Speaker, is just too job-specific.

The Tories are creating a program that is so work-centred that it will no longer address the needs of those who must stay on social assistance through no fault of their own. It has been said that any major policy change must take into account the fact that Nova Scotia has two economies: metro Halifax and the rest of the province. Since we have no details on Bill No. 62, we cannot determine if it addresses this important reality. For instance, how do these social assistance changes deal with people in areas of high chronic unemployment, Mr.

[Page 8093]

Speaker, like my riding. In industrial Cape Breton, people on social assistance cannot be expected to have the same success rate in finding a job. Yet, Bill No. 62 expects people on social assistance to continually look for and to find work. If not, they will be cut off social assistance.

Mr. Speaker, what training programs or job creation programs is this Tory Government putting in place for areas like Cape Breton or Digby or the Eastern Shore? People in rural areas also have different transportation needs than those in the minister's riding of Bedford. The million dollar price tag of moving the new jail out of Bedford could have provided a lot of support to single mothers and children. People with disabilities also have little or no access to public transportation in many rural areas of this province.

[12:15 p.m.]

In February, the federal government made a bold commitment to healthy child development by extending parental leave from six months to a full year. I am glad that this Tory Government finally followed the lead of the visionary federal Liberal Government and made similar changes to the labour standards here in Nova Scotia. Allowing a parent to stay home with a new child recognizes the importance of family and the crucial development stages of a newborn infant; unfortunately, the positive move by the federal Liberal Government is accompanied by the changes proposed in Bill No. 62. Forcing new parents into the workforce does not take into account the needs of healthy child development. Under the Tory plan, single people on social assistance will be the only group in society denied the choice to stay at home and raise their children.

Day care is a critical issue, given the large number of single parents with children who receive benefits. The legislation increases the day-care allowance to a maximum of $400 per month. Parents who are forced to get a job must then seek a subsidized space or find another childcare option. While these changes to social assistance do make allowances for childcare, are there enough subsidized day-care spaces to meet the needs of the day? The Tories followed the lead set by the previous Liberal Government by increasing the number of subsidized day-care spaces in Nova Scotia. There were 100 new spaces created this year; however these spaces are supposed to help parents get back into the workforce, but there is nowhere near enough to meet the current need, let alone meet the needs created by the new changes to the Social Assistance Program. If these changes proposed in Bill No. 62 are successful, it will greatly increase the demand on subsidized day care without a corresponding increase in spaces.

Mr. Speaker, the problem of sufficient day-care spaces also ignores the fact that Nova Scotia has two economies. The needs of a working parent in rural Nova Scotia will be different than the needs of a working parent in metro. As well, many non-profit agencies, like the Boys and Girls Club, operate in the metro area. These non-profit agencies will certainly see an explosion in their membership if single parents are forced into the workforce,

[Page 8094]

especially if not enough day-care spaces are available. Many Boys and Girls Clubs have morning programs that assist young children in their skills and other areas; however these are not day-long programs. How will their funding be increased to deal with those changes, or will we see a downloading on non-profit organizations that provide these services?

In Ontario, Mike Harris used workfare to pit one segment of society against another. This is very similar to the anti-Cape Breton policy the Tories used to win seats in mainland Nova Scotia. Workfare is popular in Ontario with those who believe the poor should be blamed for their situation and they should be punished. Workfare promotes the belief that the unemployed are lazy and do not want to work. There is a danger that Bill No. 62 will promote the same feelings. Like Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, their experience with workfare-type programs, the studies show that workfare fails to help people find permanent jobs that pay more than minimum wage; therefore it does nothing to fix the problems of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada showed that the number of single parents in Alberta living below the poverty line increased from 5 per cent in 1993 to 17 per cent in 1995, after the implementation of workfare. Workfare does not reduce unemployment or create jobs, workfare creates a large pool of cheap labour. Research on unemployment outcomes for work-for-welfare programs in the United States shows that they have a terrible record in helping people get off welfare for work. In West Virginia workfares resulted in no improvement in the participants' chance of employment over 15 months, no improvements in the chances of being employed after 21 months and no increase in earnings over a 15 month period.

Programs that focus on rapid re-employment, like Ontario workfare, are only useful for people who face few, if any, barriers to work. Increasingly, the population on social assistance in Nova Scotia face greater barriers, single parents with child care needs and people with limited skills and a limited education. In Ontario, workfare can be considered, Mr. Speaker, as a failure. No municipality could meet the unrealistic goals of workfare and since we do not know the goals for Nova Scotia yet, how will we know if it is successful or not? In Ontario it was found that it took too many resources and too much work to facilitate the placement of people in jobs. How are we going to avoid similar problems in Nova Scotia?

Mr. Speaker, in closing, any successes claimed by Mike Harris are only because some municipalities worked within their communities to address the needs of people in local areas. In Nova Scotia there does not seem to be a community-based approach to the changes proposed in Bill No. 62. I would want the bill to move to the Law Amendments Committee and we hope that there will be changes made and that the public will have the opportunity to meet with the government and the Opposition to try to dissect this piece of legislation and see if changes can be made that will make the bill somewhat of a realistic piece of legislation.

[Page 8095]

Mr. Speaker, with that I would want to turn the floor over to another speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I am delighted once again to get up and have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 62. I want to tell you that it is a bill that in a sense implies that the Department of Community Services has not been doing its job when it reflects that, in fact, independence and self-reliance is a way to go. It implies that people on social assistance historically have not been doing that, nor has the Department of Community Services decided that, in fact, that was the way to go.

I want to make comment with respect to that, Mr. Speaker. From the Assembly Debates on November 1st with the honourable member for Pictou East who, in fact, made this statement. He said, "Until now our welfare system has been too passive. In too many cases, it has been perpetuated by need . . ." for social assistance. That, to me, Mr. Speaker, implies that the Department of Community Services, the administration, the deputy minister and the minister were not capable of making sure that the programs were available to move people off social assistance and into the workforce. It also implies that this government does not have the regulations and the policies set out to do that.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to make comments on what the member for Pictou East had made comment to with respect to the days of Beaver Cleaver. We can go back to 1952 when Beaver Cleaver was around and that, in fact, there was the idea of the family unit whereby the mom stayed at home and raised the children and the single income earner was sufficient to provide the kind of living standards at that particular time. (Interruption) It may have been in the 1950's, I do not know, I am not sure, it may have been in the 1960's, but it certainly was before my time and as a younger member of this Legislative Assembly, you know, it was before my time so I can only take into account that the member has made comment to the Beaver Cleaver issue.

Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is that we all know, and we lived in the country and in this Province of Nova Scotia whereby there were large families and in those large families everyone was able to eke out an existence. At that particular time it was easy and in today's world it is not possible to do that. It takes two income earners to sustain a household and because it takes two income earners to sustain a household, it puts added pressures upon the family unit to come to grips with this whole social issue.

So, Mr Speaker, what I am saying is that what we have to look at is how significantly the shifts and changes have taken place. Today community services is not simply a way of life. It is essential because many people do not and cannot rely upon the family unit like some 25 years ago. Those systems are not in place and often when we recognize a family unit of some 25 to 30 years ago, we recognized that there were inequities built in within that family

[Page 8096]

unit and did not provide the kind of quality of life and environment for the families and for those people to come up on.

There seems to be a whole concept that everyone who is on social assistance is there because they want to be there, that, in fact, they are abusing the system and this is perpetuated not only by the government, but by other citizens outside and sometimes by the media. It is a quick shot and it is an expose to print more newspapers or to get more newspapers sold. I know and I have seen the kinds of things happen that reflect that image that is portrayed.

What I want this Legislature to know is that people on social assistance are scrutinized and they are scrutinized in manners that we would not accept as ordinary citizens. Do you know that if a person is on social assistance and if there is some question with respect to their lifestyles when the individual caseworker comes to visit them, that individual caseworkers look into individual's cupboards? They look into closets, they question individuals as to what they have. And if for some unforseen reason these individuals appear to be living better, then a significant number of questions are asked. That to me is totally unacceptable. We would not allow that kind of action to take place anywhere in our society except for those individuals who are on social assistance.

We are looking at a direction in this country that should never be. We are looking at a direction that is taking place whereby we are providing breakfast programs, food banks and clothing depots. We are providing this at a time when the economic prosperity of this country is on the rise and this province is on the rise. As a matter of fact, I think this bill is being introduced at this time so that when the spring budget comes due, the Minister of Community Services can say, see, this bill is working because you know for the last two years, the Department of Community Services' assistance payments have consistently dropped - 15 per cent in the last two years and they have the potential of being dropped some 2.3 per cent this year.

So when this bill is passed, then this government can come before this Legislature and say see, we told you that this can work and there is an effective way to make this work and we are doing it. We are making people self-reliant, we are making people independent and we are making sure that they get off the welfare roll. We, in our Party, have no quarrels with making sure that people have a better quality of life. Everyone who walks through my constituency office looks for and expects a better quality of life. Everyone who is on social assistance who walks through the constituency office that I represent in Dartmouth North - and I can say that would be consistent across this province - none of them is better off than the working poor. I can tell you that it is incumbent upon the Premier to indicate and to bring forward the kind of documentation so that he can justify where working-poor citizens are better off than citizens on social assistance.

[Page 8097]

[12:30 p.m.]

I would also say there is another very important issue here, that we can in fact assist those working poor, and we can help those on social assistance as well, by providing a comprehensive housing program. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Community Services has accepted the Department of Housing as well. My understanding is that many of the people, even the working poor spend between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of their income on shelter, housing. That is significant, when some 15 years ago it was required that 25 per cent of your income should be the maximum ceiling for shelter components. Then, two years ago, it was moved up to 30 per cent of your total earnings should be for shelter component. Now there is some 40 per cent to 60 per cent of a person's income being used for shelter components. That, in itself, could significantly help many, many individuals.

The government has what is called a Family Modest Housing Program. The minister is very much aware that there is a Family Modest Housing Program offered by this government. What I am saying to the minister is that he can help those families who are the working poor, and those families who are on social assistance by simply helping to make sure they are aware there is such a Family Modest Housing Program available. That Family Modest Housing Program is set into place so individuals do not spend any more than 30 per cent of their gross income, annually, on shelter.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that it is so convenient that the Department of Housing has now shifted over to the Department of Community Services. But, I don't believe that there is any land available in the Province of Nova Scotia for housing development. Now, I just want you to know that this minister should table before this House, if his Department of Housing has any land available for subsidized housing development or modest housing programs for families who are on fixed incomes, who are the working poor and who are on social assistance. If that minister has the lands available, will that minister then go ahead and develop those lands so we have those kinds of programs in place? There is talk at the federal level with respect to the 1 per cent solution. The 1 per cent solution recognizes if people had a shelter component over their head, there would be more money in their pockets to spend. It would help them with respect to their daily lives, with respect to providing the nutritional meals, with respect to providing the medication, and would make them independent and somewhat self-reliant.

Now, I know, Mr. Speaker, that the minister has to look at this as a component and a way of making sure that people become self-reliant. It is not just a matter of putting them out there into dead-end jobs, and as a result expecting them to survive. If 50 to 60 per cent of their income is still required for shelter, then they are still going to barely exist. They are still going to need an income supplement. Here is a way, in my opinion, for this government to look at those particular issues, particularly when we look at, and we do know that the voluntary report that came out implied that 55 per cent of Nova Scotians earn less than

[Page 8098]

$20,000 a year. Now, there is another factor as well. Many Nova Scotians do own their own homes because many, many of them are seniors and so on, and many of them just barely eke out an existence to pay their property taxes and so on. There are many, many more Nova Scotians who are looking for subsidized housing, who are looking for decent affordable housing. Mr. Speaker, that happens right here in this metropolitan area. There are many people on the waiting list of families of two and three who cannot get into subsidized housing, who could save the taxpayers tremendous dollars.

This minister, now that he has taken over the Department of Housing, has a great opportunity to be innovative, to recommend how this government will look at providing decent, affordable housing. That is one way to go, decent, affordable housing for both those people who are on fixed incomes, those people who are on social assistance, and those people who are the working poor.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to go to the bill, and I have some concerns with respect to the whole bill because I say the bill doesn't have the regulations, and it is hard for me to reflect as to the direction in which this government is going. But, I just want to say that many people think that people on social assistance have it rather easy. Allow me to tell you, the government claws back on those individuals on social assistance. They claw back any Canada Pension Plan benefit they may have had to receive over a three-year period, because this government assisted them while they were on social assistance. Therefore, it justifies that they should claw back and force social service recipients to sign a form indicating that money goes directly back to the Department of Community Services. Many, many Nova Scotians don't know that. Many Nova Scotians think that the people on social assistance continue to keep that money. Many people are unaware that any payment with respect to income tax is then added on once Revenue Canada passes it back to the people on social assistance, then is added on as an income, and if it is more than the monthly payment by the Department of Community Services, they must use that money up before they get any more social assistance from the Department of Community Services. There is some misunderstanding, and there is some misconception with respect to this whole picture of what goes on in the Department of Community Services.

Mr. Speaker, if this government is prepared to look at those particular issues and say, look, no longer will we claw back Workers' Compensation, no longer will we claw back the income tax. We are going to give you additional money to allow you to become independent and self-reliant. There may be the opportunity for those individuals to move.

I also want to say that when we were on a tour of this province, I believe it was in 1998, we heard from some citizens with respect to a brochure. The Department of Community Services has been conveniently secretive with respect to the number of programs and services that it offers Nova Scotians. Many Nova Scotians have said, look, we want a brochure. Your Department of Community Services should provide us with a brochure, telling us what is available to us from the Department of Community Services. Often people

[Page 8099]

have to come to their local MLA who then, in turn, becomes an advocate or they have to go out to an advocacy agency outside in order to go to the Department of Community Services in which to seek that information out.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that in itself would be an excellent move toward letting citizens of this province know what is available to them. The notion of the number of people who make application for assistance, many of those individuals are unaware. They are new individuals. They make applications for social assistance. They don't get the kind of information that is needed, so therefore, their application is denied. They come back and find out later there is a process, and there is a way in which those applications can be carried forward. I am saying to the minister that these are the kinds of things that will assist individuals. Let them know what is available within the Department of Community Services and also will allow them to at least have an opportunity to become that independent and self-reliant individual that the government is relying upon.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to recognize that we as a Party - and our caucus is not against improving the quality of lives of individuals - recognize that everyone who is on social assistance doesn't want to be there. I don't care if they are on long-term or what was then formerly family benefits, many of them would like to be able to move on, but they need the tools, they need the skills, they need the resources, they need that which is required to enable them to move on and to move forward. If this government does not set out within the regulations and brings it forward with this bill, then how are we as a Party going to be able to see if this legislation will stand the test of time?

Any legislation that comes before this Legislative Assembly should be able to stand the test of time. It should be legislation that can be debated, it should be legislation that can reflect what Nova Scotians want, and it should be legislation that at least enhances the quality of life of Nova Scotians. This legislation, unless we see what the regulations are, we have no way of actually knowing if, in fact, there is any success here.

I want to go back to another point that I made earlier and I don't want to be repetitive, but I think it is important to recognize this. There is the notion that many people on social assistance are there because they want to be and I have to hearken back to this because I cannot say it enough times. The Province of Nova Scotia and its Department of Community Services have individuals called Eligibility Review Officers. The City of Dartmouth hired what we thought were Eligibility Review Officers. Those eligibility review officers were hired to determine if people were abusing the social services. They were hired for a one year period and their job would continue if they found sufficient abuse within the service that would continue to keep them employed.

After the first year, in the City of Dartmouth, we found that less than 1 per cent of those people on social assistance - and then it was income assistance because it was carried over by the province and then family benefits because it was long term; we are talking about

[Page 8100]

income assistance, people who are short term - were abusing the system. Once again, I want you to know that in the Province of Nova Scotia it is less than 5 per cent of those individuals whom we are told are abusing the system.

That in itself speaks volumes, with respect to the number of individuals who do not want to be there contrary to public belief and public opinion. Many Nova Scotians whom I talk to who work in food banks, clothing depos, who volunteer for breakfast programs, every one of those people who is in contact with the individuals who are on social assistance say the very same thing to me. They say they did not realize, they had the same understanding as many other Nova Scotians did, that these individuals were lazy, they did not want to get off the roll, but when they come here we see the genuine effort, that they have been trying to get off of social assistance. Many of them go to the clothing depots to get clothing in order to go out and get job opportunities and employment.

This whole notion and this whole idea has to change and we as a society have to take a significant role in effecting that change. We have to be prepared to stand up and defend those who are unable to defend themselves. Many words have been spoken with respect to why these individuals are not in the public gallery. Many individuals who are on social assistance are embarrassed to be here because they don't want to have that kind of a lifestyle and they don't want to be painted with that kind of a picture. Many of the agencies that help social assistance cannot be here because they are doing the everyday thing. They have been cut back by government and yet they continue to do the kind of services and provide the kind of services out there to those Nova Scotians even though governments have continued to cut back those agencies. That is the reason why many of those agencies are not here.

I can assure you that when the day comes that this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee, many of those agencies and organizations will be here. I can assure you that they will be here. Many of those agencies have already prepared to line themselves up with respect to coming to the Law Amendments Committee, and this is not easy for them because it means that they are going to have to sacrifice the quality time that they are going to have to give to those individual citizens.

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk a bit, once again, about persons with disabilities and that, in fact, some persons with disabilities have told me most recently - and I do not know and I do not believe the government will do this and I certainly would hope that the government would not - that this government is going to require them to do x number of hours of volunteer services in order to get social assistance and in order to get disability benefits. In fact, if this is the case, the government in itself is going to be directing people on what they should do and what they should not do.

[Page 8101]

Mr. Speaker, this goes beyond the call of government and it goes beyond the reason to provide assistance for disabled persons. Many disabled persons now volunteer for many organizations and agencies. Many of them volunteer even though they have difficulty getting there because of the lack of transportation services that are available to them. You know, public transit, in fact, only operates on certain hours and it only has a limited period of time where disabled individuals have to report 72 hours in advance of getting public transit to them. Then they are not guaranteed that the public transit service will be able to address their dateline schedule and that is, in fact, if they have to go for medication or a special service to the hospital.

Now, talk about your everyday routine life of wanting to go out and attend a theatre, to be a part of the community, talk about the mobility factor here. There is a serious mobility factor with respect to those individuals. The individuals not only have the problem with respect to public transportation, they also have the problem with respect to technical aids. Technical aids are significantly important.

Mr. Speaker, I put a resolution before this House this morning asking the government, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Health, I do not care who it is, but asking this government - it falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Community Services - to introduce a technical aids program and what did I hear? I heard a no. I heard a no on introducing a technical aids program yet it would save Nova Scotians hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That is what the disabled groups have said to this government and to previous governments; that, in fact, it is there and it can save them numerous dollars. For example, if an individual is in a hospital and the hospital time is $100 a day, probably $800 a day, or $1,000 a day, just think, and that individual is there for an extended period of time of approximately three months, then that individual has already paid for a wheelchair. They have already paid for an assistance device, orthotics, they have already paid for that in order to get them around.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a need to look and there is a need to reflect on where this bill is going and what it is going to be doing to effect the kind of changes with respect to disabled persons. Disabled persons have talked about home care. They have talked about cut-backs to social assistance. They have, in fact, and I am aware that the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, LEO, has provided this government with a number of recommendations and I know the Minister of Community Services will be looking at those number of recommendations and, hopefully, will incorporate those recommendations with respect to Bill No. 62, but we do not know that. We do not know if the minister will incorporate some of those recommendations. I believe that there has been a suggestion to the Minister of Community Services with respect to a wheelchair program.

Mr. Speaker, this in itself would be a tremendous move to helping people, if in fact there is a recommendation that comes forward in the wheelchair program. We have to look at the regulations that follow this bill, how the regulations are going to be implemented, how

[Page 8102]

it is consistent, and how the policies flow through this bill as well, so that we know and understand, at the end of the day, what this bill means. In my constituency office we have policy manuals on income assistance, policy manuals on family benefits, we have manuals that give the rates with respect to those individuals on income assistance and those individuals on family benefits.

Often when Nova Scotians come to me and to my office, they say, I understand that this person is getting these kinds of dollars and they are living quite well, and here I am working very hard and I don't seem to be making any progress compared to them. When you open the policy manual and you show them what the policy manual entails for a family of one, two, three and four, they are quite startled and they are quite shocked. Many Nova Scotians think much greater. It is only when you look at these issues that you fully understand that not all is the picture it is perceived to be.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that when Nova Scotians come into my constituency office because the situation is so desperate, you will often hear people on social assistance complaining about other individuals on social assistance and bringing in the concern that they are receiving more than another family is. Often this is not the case. You can't give them the details of each individual case, but you can reflect to them that there are certain circumstances that may reflect or require a bit more than what they are receiving. Every case is unique.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that we look at social assistance and we tend to paint it with this light because it is expedient to do so. It is easy for politicians to criticize those who won't come forward. It is not easy. I am very pleased to say that our Party, stands here, and I am delighted to know that my caucus stands here and speaks for those individuals who are unable to speak for themselves.

We live in a great province, and I said before, we are on the dawn of economic prosperity in the province. I have said that with respect to the oil boom. I have said that with respect to the growth. I can see that there should never be a need to introduce such a bill, when, in fact, economic prosperity tends to pull people off the social assistance roll anyway, particularly if they are on income assistance, and put those individuals into the workforce. The notion is that there have to be good, meaningful jobs at the end of the line. That is what it has to be.

Now, the Minister of Community Services has been in this role for approximately one and one-half years, and I know that the Minister of Community Services, in another life, as the Mayor of the Town of Bedford, has had extensive experience in addressing issues, particularly with those individuals on social assistance. I would hope the minister would be extremely sensitive to how he approaches the clients who are now going to be in a one-tier service called income assistance.

[Page 8103]

As I said earlier, I applauded the day when the previous government decided to take over the people's services, such as Community Services on a service-exchange with the regional municipality. I thought that this was a move in the right direction. I had hoped that this government would recognize that now they can provide the kinds of services and equitable payments throughout this province to those individuals who were on social assistance, that in fact the province would now be able to determine a comprehensive program for social assistance that would go directly across this province.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that that was my hope, and I would have hoped that the government would have decided to do this without having to introduce a bill. We have now come to the fine line of income assistance and no longer is there family benefits. I do not know how this government is going to address those individuals who are on family benefits. Is this government now recognizing that these were long-term individuals on family benefits before, are they suddenly now going to be part of the income assistance and be pushed off the welfare role and into employment and into less meaningful jobs?

I just want the minister to know that there are some 36,000 Nova Scotians on family benefits, and they are there because they were determined to meet the criteria that made them fit into the family benefits programs. They were there because they were not capable of going out into the workforce and doing the jobs. Those individuals who were on income assistance, which is the old municipal assistance, were there because there was a need for short-term assistance. That is the reason they were there. Now the Minister of Community Services has slumped them all into one. I was hoping there would have been a new definition and a new change with respect to how they are going to determine that. We don't know, Mr. Speaker, what the government here is going to do with respect to those individuals who are now long-term disabled people who were on family benefits, now, if they are going push them out into the welfare role as well.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say in summary with respect to Bill No. 62, it troubles me that Bill No. 62 is here before us today, because I have always believed that when people became in need of social assistance, it was the role of the Department of Community Services to make sure people could obtain independence and self-sufficiency, that they would have the policies, they would have the staff and the people in place so that when individuals came to them, there would be this opportunity to move them on. I certainly hope that when the government decides to deal with this bill, they will listen to all those individuals who come before the Law Amendments Committee and the recommended changes that the government adheres to.

I don't believe that the government has, in fact, consulted with those who are the stakeholders or the clients in this particular case, because the stakeholders are the agency organizations and the advocacy groups who act on their behalf. I don't think there has been any consultation with those individuals. I know certainly that the minister has not reviewed the recommendations that came out of the former Department of Community Services

[Page 8104]

Committee tour. If the minister has, much of that would have been incorporated within this bill.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I would say that I certainly hope the Minister of Community Services weighs the value of that information that comes out of the Law Amendments Committee and the recommended changes to this bill before this bill is enacted. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be able to rise this afternoon to speak on Bill No. 62, An Act to Encourage the Attainment of Independence and Self-Sufficiency through Employment Support and Income Assistance. Quite the title.

First, unfortunately, I will not be able to follow in the footprints of the member for Dartmouth North in speaking about Beaver Cleaver and that. Unfortunately, I am a little too young to recall that, but I have been getting lessons - a bit of history on I Love Lucy from my colleague for Cape Breton East who often enters rooms and says, Hello, Lucy, I'm home. So I am picking up a bit on that, and Lucy, you've got some explaining to do. I have been trying to catch up on that phrase, too. Unfortunately, I can't go that far back.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 62 is an extremely important piece of legislation and affects every single member of this House, some of us certainly to a greater extent than others. First of all, I have to make comments. I listened to the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour speak, and we could hardly hear him at one point, but he started speaking about the government not bringing in regulations and how they have gone about this. He went on a tangent about the lack of respect in the House and how we needed more respect in the Chamber and more respect for members. This is the same cat that a few days ago, gave a performance that was worthy on the front page in the National Enquirer by leaking a confidential letter from another member and then he talks about respect here in the House, so I think we can all judge how sincere his comments are.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that he speaking to Bill No. 62, and I would ask him to bring himself back to that, please.

MR. SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I was commenting on some of the remarks made by another member on this bill which is why I felt it would be appropriate, but again I just thought I would put that on the record to indicate just how sincere those comments were and how ironic it is to hear that.

[Page 8105]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other are not impressed with Bill No. 62. I have had the opportunity to speak to constituents back in Richmond County, all of them; in fact, the ones I have spoken to were working individuals. They were all disgusted to see how this government is moving forward on Bill No. 62. Many of them, like myself, at first said, maybe Bill No. 62 is a good bill, maybe we should have a look at it. I think we are all under oath to do that until the Premier decided to go speak to the Halifax Metro Chamber of Commerce and to hear his comments, his most inflammatory comments which were made there. I want to tell you he made the comparison of his government being a turtle and sticking its neck out. Well, a turtle also, when it is under fire, and when it is doing other things, happens to stick its head in the shell. I can tell you, the people of Richmond County certainly feel this government is sticking its head somewhere, but unfortunately, they don't agree with the Premier that they are sticking their heads inside of a turtle. They are thinking they are sticking their head somewhere else. I won't bother finishing that.

The other good example of that, Mr. Speaker, is when one thinks of a turtle's shell, the shell is almost hard as rock. Many people in Richmond County and throughout this province feel that getting through to this government and asking this government to review its decisions is like talking to a rock, because they are certainly not listening and certainly not budging on anything they are doing.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 62 is a means of trying to, it says, encourage those who are in receipt of provincial social assistance benefits to seek work and to try to go out and find work. Now, again, this whole bill is based on the premise that those receiving assistance don't want to work. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Every MLA in this House should have received phone calls from different people asking where they could find work, how they could get work. I can think of a case, a gentleman who operates his own business. He is on a dialysis machine for eight hours every night. I told him, why don't you apply for your disability, clearly, you have severe health problems. He needs a kidney transplant, in fact. I said, why don't you apply for assistance. He said no, I don't ever want assistance. I would be too ashamed to be on assistance. I am going to continue to work. So the impression that people who have to resort to assistance are pleased to be there and are content with that clearly just shows how this government is misrepresenting the plight of these individuals.

I will give you another example. I have one gentleman who came to see me who he was on assistance. He is manic depressive. He has tried to work on a few occasions, and each time he has been put off work by the doctors. Off and on he will call and say, is there anywhere I could find work. I suggest some places and make some calls to see if they would give him a chance. He goes and visits his doctor, and the doctor calls and says no. This individual can't go to work. Somebody like that should not be punished for not being able to have work. Because of a mental condition or physical disabilities, many people are unable to do work.

[Page 8106]

Many have spoken before me and I don't plan on repeating everything that has been said. Certainly coming from a rural area, where there is a high level of unemployment, there are not all the help-wanted signs that we see here in Halifax. There are many in Halifax, that is true. The city is growing quite quickly. But those signs don't exist in Richmond County. They are just not there. We are trying our best to be able to find work to create economic development. It is not an easy task. So, one has to ask, if this government is going to bring in Bill No. 62, what have they done to create an environment where such individuals could go out and find employment? Now, I think of the Winter Works Program that our government had put in. This was a program for areas with high levels of unemployment to put people in different areas where they could attain life skills, job skills and possibly keep further employment. Many of the people who took advantage of the Winter Works Program were people on social assistance. In fact, I think it was a requirement that they had to be receiving social assistance or employment insurance benefits to qualify. I think of numerous cases.

I think of one of the little tea rooms I have, a non-profit tea room, that would hire, as cooks, with this Winter Works Program because they couldn't afford to pay the whole shot, they would hire individuals who were on provincial assistance, single moms in some cases, as cooks, and at the end of the grant they found that that person was a good person, was a good cook and, in fact, they found the money and kept them on the payroll. That is what that program was meant to do, to try to expose people to working environments and hopefully show that they could contribute to that and stay employed.

This government cut that program so I have to ask the Minister of Community Services, what is he going to put in place to replace the Winter Works Program that no longer exists to take these people who are on social assistance and put them into working environments and give them a chance to obtain long-term work?

One of the other programs which was there, which is causing serious burden, I know many, especially single mothers or individual males who would like to go to university, trade school or college and try to get a better life. They are not happy to be on assistance but at the same time, Mr. Speaker, these people just dread the thought of the debt that they are going to expose themselves to if they go for secondary education.

One of the programs that was there to try to assist students and try to reduce their debt was the loan remission program. Now that is gone. Again, one more incentive that there was for people to be able to move forward, go to university, better their lives, this government has taken out. So the question I am left to ask is, well, what are you doing to encourage people to do this? Bill No. 62, with a nice, fancy title, sounds good but in the end, what is it going to do? The loan remission program, for what it costs, I think it was $10 million a year. That might sound like a lot of money but that benefitted an awful lot of students, thousands of students. I can say to myself, being a recent graduate, benefitted from that program, but at the end of the day, after six years of university, I still owe $35,000.

[Page 8107]

Now I am not going to complain too much because I have been fortunate to be able to find employment and make regular payments on that but I know many of my colleagues, many of my friends who are working for $6.00 an hour, $7.00 an hour and $8.00 an hour and having to pay $35,000 and $40,000. That is a tremendous thing and to be asking single mothers, at a young age with a child to care for, to be able to go out, seek a university education, to take such debt on is just a tremendously scary experience. What little support there was, your government took away. You took away the Winter Works Program. You cut back the employment programs for students.

That was all taken away (Interruption) so yes, the member for Annapolis has pointed out the economy as well, it is turning around but while we were in second or third place, this year, last year we were in ninth place. So our economy is one that is undergoing tremendous change. We are on an upswing right now and one would hope that that would remain. As has been pointed out, that upswing in the economy has not been from one end of this province to the next. There is still high unemployment in Shelburne, there is still high unemployment up in Cumberland and Colchester Counties. There is still high unemployment in Cape Breton and the Eastern Shore. So the growth has not been from one end of this province to the next. We have to ask, what is this government doing to create an environment out there where people on assistance can go out and seek employment. That is my greatest concern here, Mr. Speaker.

As I pointed out in my earlier comments, the statement made by the Premier at the chamber of commerce, and I will repeat that statement because he said a few times that we were misquoting him, where he said, what we are talking about here is whether there should be a reward for work and I believe there should be. I believe that people on assistance should be rewarded with work. That is what this program is all about and he went on to say that what we are seeing is that by providing you with employment opportunities, you can enter the job market at an elevated level and, in essence, do much better for yourself and your family. Then he went on to make the comment about the fact that there were some people on assistance who were doing better than people with one job or two jobs.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier was asked to back up that comment. He said, well, look, I am not going to reveal confidential information and that is the responsible thing to do. So, today, I will do the responsible thing and I will issue a challenge to both the Premier and the Minister of Community Services to bring evidence to this House, you have the rate scales, you can cite examples without having to give information, bring to members of this House information which will show that on a wide scale there are many individuals on provincial assistance who are making more income than others working at one or two jobs. Bring that to this House. Show us how that can happen. Show us it is happening on a wide scale because if it is only happening in 1 per cent or 2 per cent of the cases, then that does not give much credence to that argument. Bring it here. Present your argument and then we will let Nova Scotians judge from there, but for the Premier to make such a blanket statement, I do not know what rates they are paying in New Glasgow and what rates they are paying in

[Page 8108]

Halifax, but I do not know anybody in Richmond County who is on provincial assistance who is making more than someone who is earning an income, even if that is minimum wage. It just does not exist.

So, to me, Mr. Speaker, I am left to conclude, unless the minister who I hope will be able to bring that evidence here, unless he can bring that evidence here conclusively, I am left to believe that that statement was meant to mislead and that statement was not truthful and it was known when that statement was made. That would be a shame if that is the case and I certainly hope that this government can show that that was not the case. It was pointed out that there was great applause from the chamber of commerce when the Premier made that comment, but I would challenge him to go outside of Halifax, to go down to Cape Breton, or to go down to Shelburne, or to go down in other areas of high unemployment and make that same statement and see how many will applaud.

I think what you will get is what we get in here when the government makes foolish statements and when we holler out, shame, and that is what the Premier will get in response, but he knew what audience he was playing to. He knew the audience he was playing to firmly believed what he was saying and would firmly accept that those who are on assistance are living the high life and living the life of luxury. It is hard to believe. I have spoken to a number of people in Richmond and they have said, was he not a general practitioner in New Glasgow? Did he not help the poor out there and would have known exactly what their lot in life was and now for him to stand in front of a chamber of commerce and make such a statement and lead people to believe that that was actually true, that is a shame.

I think the Premier of this province will wear that for a long time, not only here in this House but he will wear it back home in his own constituency when he will have to face those poor people who went to see him as a doctor and who will say, why would you make people believe that we are living the great life.

Mr. Speaker, we are left here with a lot of doubt as to what is happening and what this government is going to do with the regulations. There is a great sense of fear in our community and I am sure that sense of fear is from one end of this province to the next. We are still left to wonder. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, challenged the minister to show where there had been proper consultation on this and the minister did indicate that he would bring some information to the House.

Well, it is unfortunate that that information was not presented to this House at the same time as this bill was presented. We will all watch with interest to see what the date is on that information to see if it was presented before this government went ahead with this or if it was presented after when this was already clear that it was a fait accompli. So we will watch to see exactly what is going to happen there. Again, I would encourage the minister and his government to bring those regulations forward even if they are just in draft form. Take away the doubt that many of the members of the Opposition have and many Nova Scotians have

[Page 8109]

as to what your true intentions are. Show us what you plan on doing even if it is not, as only in draft format, but then at least we will know and we can go forward and go back to our constituents at least with a better idea of what is happening because at this point I do not think any of us can give any assurances to our constituents as to what is going to happen.

As I said, I know, myself, in Richmond County, Mr. Speaker, no one is proud to be on assistance. Assistance is there as a last resort and people see it as a last resort. I know many who have had to be on assistance off and on and have worked hard to try to get off assistance when there have been different projects and there have been different job opportunities in our area. Unfortunately, many of those have not been for the long term.

So I would encourage the minister also, I do not what they are doing with economic development. No one is really sure, but if they are going to be doing this and bringing forward Bill No. 62 and expecting it to have any success, we certainly hope that they have got some sort of a blueprint to encourage the growth of the economy throughout one level of this province to the next to be able to make sure that each individual throughout this province has an opportunity to get such employment opportunities.

[1:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this bill moving forward, so that we have a chance to discuss this. As has been pointed out, it is unfortunate that many of the constituents in my riding will not have the opportunity to speak on this, considering the Law Amendments Committee process, how it works, and the fact that all the hearings are held here in Halifax. I will certainly encourage them to send in written correspondence and presentations to the committee, and to the minister, to indicate their concerns on this, and I look forward to hearing what those most directly affected by this will have to say.

At the end of the day, this government has already clearly said that it cannot be the be-all and end-all to everyone; it can't serve everyone. But, as has been pointed out by my colleague from Cape Breton The Lakes so eloquently, government must also be there as a compassionate means of assisting people when they need assistance most. I would hope that this government is not going to move away from that, that it will maintain its responsibilities, and that it will not shame people who have to seek assistance and drive them out to try to find employment which, in many cases, is just not readily available.

Mr. President, je vous dire un couple de mots. Je veux juste dire pourque chez nous, les gens qui essaient de recevoir l'assistance d'un province sont tres concerner avec se qui se passe avec cet gouvernement de la loi nombre soixante-deux. Cela que se gouvernement sont en trait de dire au gens de Nouvelle-Ecosse, ceux qui on en train de recevoir l'assistance de province sont fier de sa, qu'ils ont l'intension de rester sur l'assistance pour la reste de leurs jours et puis qu'ils ont rien a faire pour essaieant de trouver de l'emploi. J'esperais que la Ministre de Finance, lui qu'il serait mieux et puis qu'il vait travailler avec cette

[Page 8110]

gouvernement pour faire certaine que avant que la loi soixante-deux soit mit en place qu'ils ont etablit quel que manieres, ou quelques fonctions pourque l'economie soit pret pour ses madames et monsieurs, pour commencer a travailler et puis que ce gouvernment vais etre la pour les assisster.

Jusqu'a date, j'ai vu que la programe "Winter Works" a ete eliminer par se gouvernement, ses une programme qui a assiter beaucoups de personnes sur l'assistance et l'autre gros programme qu'a ete eliminer dans le department d'education, ses une programme connu comme "Loan and Remission" qui assita les etudiantes. Ils on pas mit en place rien pour les assister et faux vraiment demander si ses leur intension de trouver de l'emplois pour ses gens ici, ou seulment leur intension de couper le support devant eux. Si ses ca, je pris pour se gouvernment parce que j'ai peur qu'ils ne pas fait beau ici d'un province, et les gens a l'autre de ce province n'oublierai pas, si ces ca, leur intention.

Avec ca, Mr. President, sa me fait grande plaisir de parler sur la loi soixante-deux, j'attend que sa va continuer a faire la processus a travers la maison. Je espere d'avoir un occasion un autre jour a presenter sur cette loi, merci.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I can't say that I really welcome the opportunity right now to stand up and speak on this bill because I think that if the responsible thing was being done, this bill would have been put out for consultation and it would not be proceeding through this House until there had been thorough and detailed consultation.

Mr. Speaker, we are at the mercy of a majority government, and a majority government such as this can have its way. We, in the Opposition, have the ability to delay for a period of time, we have the ability to try to draw attention, and to try to persuade government to amend or to change some of the more Draconian measures that they are bringing forward. We have a responsibility to point out to the government the harm that they are doing and to suggest some better ways. At the end of the day, whether the government continues to bury its head in the sand or to push forward in a callous, uncaring fashion, that is something that the government, because of your majority, will decide.

It is up to the government backbenchers to decide whether or not you are just going to be lemmings and follow along with your front benches and do as you are told or if you are prepared to stand up for your constituents and for those who are in need and demand that your colleagues who are calling the shots on the front benches actually pay heed to the concerns that I am sure that you also are hearing.

Mr. Speaker, we have had an awful lot of eloquent presentations on this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: You haven't heard mine yet.

[Page 8111]

MR. HOLM: My colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, said that we haven't heard his yet but I am sure that we will and that it will surpass all others.

Mr. Speaker, I am not necessarily going to try to repeat all but I am going to point out a few of what I think are glaring problems. Now the previous speaker said that he couldn't understand and he wanted the Premier to provide some proof for the statement that some who are on assistance may be receiving or are receiving more money than those who are working, maybe at one or two jobs. It is not hard to figure out that that is, indeed, possible. It is possible if you want to compare apples to oranges. If, for example, you have a family with a number of children, you might have a family with a disabled parent or parents with three or four children and we have many families like that across this province. Do you know what? Their needs are higher than those of a single person without any disabilities, without any special needs, possibly special diets and that family, yes, would be receiving more than somebody who was working part-time at a minimum wage job. Even if that person is working at two minimum wage, part-time jobs because as you know, most people who are working in part-time jobs work less than 15 hours at that job. That way the employer doesn't have to pay benefits.

For the Premier to have put out that kind of an assertion is playing into that kind of a stereotype that some right-wing reactionaries like to put out there to try to justify victimizing victims and victimizing those who are disadvantaged. I say - I will be modest because Parliamentary language is required in this place - I will simply say shame on the Premier for pandering to those kinds of ideas. I say shame on anybody who would suggest pandering to those ideas.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, as in anything else, there is some abuse of the system. It has been investigated, governments have hired people to try to track it down and so on and every time it is done it has been done and been proven to be extremely small, a very small percentage. Do you know, I have to wonder, and you have to have a little bit of sympathy. Let us look at the new allowances that the government is going to be allowing in the way of food; $133 for food and all of the things that a child needs under the new rates.

How many of you have a teenaged son or daughter, a growing child, you tell me how you clothe or feed that child with nutritional food for that kind of money a month. When was the last time you were in a grocery store and you loaded up the food basket and you came out with a proper meal package for those kinds of dollars?

You remember that is more than just food, it is also for clothing. Can you remember the last time you went shopping to buy your child a pair of sneakers? Does anybody remember that? Are they $5.00? I can remember the day when I would not pay more than $5.00 for a dress shirt. There were those days.

[Page 8112]

You go to the stores today and you find something for those prices. I bet you that those who are giving the loud rounds of applause for the Premier when he was suggesting picking on the disadvantaged at the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce Dinner, I would be willing to bet you they are not worried how much they are paying for the dress shirt or whether or not they are going to be able to afford to buy a pair of sneakers for their children to go back to school in the fall.

Who are we serving? What does this legislation do to put an end to poverty? I listened to the Premier's response to the questions yesterday, my colleague from Cape Breton Centre raised the minimum wage. Courtesy of the former so thoughtful Liberal Government, so compassionate, the minimum wage went up a whole ten cents. A whole ten cents an hour back in October so it is now $5.70 an hour. Ten whole cents, former Minister of Labour.

Now, let us see what that ten cents will do. Let us say that (Interruption). Well, yeah, it is true, ten cents more than the bunch across the way. They are still riding your coat-tails and your generosity. Ten cents. We take those ten cents and you work eight hours a day, if you are lucky in your part-time work. A lot of people in part-time work may be called into work for four or five hours in a day, that is their shift, and it might be four or five hours another day and then four or five hours another day, so they get transportation costs. But let us take that ten cents. I was thinking about it. That is a dime; eighty cents a day. If you work two full days, sixteen hours, you will have made an extra $1.60. Now there are costs that come out of that, of course, there is a little bit that would have to go on employment insurance, Canada Pension, probably at that kind of rate you are not going to be paying any taxes, but you are probably going to be left enough money because of the generosity of the former Liberal Government and now being followed by this wonderful compassionate group of Tories, you will have just about enough money to buy a large cup of coffee and maybe leave a dime as a tip.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member accept a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the member for Sackville-Cobequid entertain a question?

MR. HOLM: From the former Minister of Labour, who I think is the one who brought in the extra dime, certainly, Mr. Speaker.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for accepting the question. I am wondering how he would rate the 30 cent increase over the three years that we did put into effect, how that would compare with the 13 per cent raise that the NDP is proposing for Members of the Legislative Assembly, that would give them a $6,000 a year pay increase?

[Page 8113]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank that member. I wonder if you would like to hear me talk about all of the things that the Liberals have been saying that they want, and all the private conversations that they have been talking about, and if you would like to put on the table all of the things that you have been saying and putting in, in private to the commission?

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order and certainly a point of personal privilege. At no point in time did our caucus ever make representation to the commission, and at no point in time did we ever even discuss that we had intentions, and it is not our intent to and we will not be, unlike the NDP.

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously a disagreement of facts between the members.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's go back and we will ignore his dimes. Thirty cents over three years. I will acknowledge that that is more than this government. I also want to talk about another thing this government is doing. I want to talk about something that I raised this morning, and that is the increased profit that this government is making from Nova Scotians in the way of a gouging of HST tax that will affect those who are living in poverty even more.

Mr. Speaker, those who listen to the Premier's good message, as he likes to describe it talking to the affluent at the chamber, and who applauded, those people, those who run these large companies, the senior executives of the banks and so on, they can afford a $200 or $300 increase in the cost of their heating oil, especially when you take a look at the kinds of profits that some of them are bringing in. But you take somebody who is living on assistance, many of whom are going to have their rates cut, or are being cut, or working at minimum wages, you can't afford that kind of cost.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance likes to talk about the drop in consumption, and there is no question about it, freely acknowledged, that there has been, and the figures from his department, for example, Business and Consumer Services have shown that the amount of, and just in gasoline, the gasoline consumption has dropped by 2.3 per cent, January through July . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: No, April through July.

MR. HOLM: April through July. Mr. Speaker, what they don't talk about is that the price of that product, even though the volume sold has shrunk slightly, the value of that which was sold was much higher than even the amount that had been sold previously at the lower rate. HST is being charged on that higher rate. The government is raking in millions of extra dollars, and without even including the extra money that is coming in on the home heating fuel, which is now - and it is going to be affecting those living in poverty more than

[Page 8114]

those who are not, that is obvious - the price of home heating oil today is approximately 62.4 cents, which is up over 35 cents from a year ago. It is 62.4 cents a litre.

What in this bill does anything to assist? If the government wants to assist people, assist families, the minister talks about providing incentives, well, let's see some. Let's see an increase in the minimum wage. I would go so far as to suggest that those who are employing people on a part-time basis should be required to provide benefits on a pro-rated basis the same as full-time employees. If that were done, then maybe for those who are raking in the big bucks and applauding the Premier when he says, attack the poor, there may be some incentive to actually provide full-time employment. Then maybe more families can afford to support themselves.

Let's see some progressive legislation. The Premier said, oh, we are not going to be looking at increasing the minimum wage because we are going to grow the economy. He says, we have to have people being able to take the jobs that are here because all kinds of people are coming in from outside to take work here, taking jobs here because our people aren't trained. I would like to know what kind of training programs, and I would like the backbenchers on the government side to ask the Minister of Community Services, ask the Premier, ask the Minister of Education, what kind of training programs, incentives, assistance are you going to put in place to assist those people, to get the kinds of skills and training? The people who are coming in offshore, and some of them are to work in oil and gas, or coming in from other places to take these high-tech jobs, they didn't get their training in six weeks. They didn't get those jobs because somebody said, oh, come on down to a phone bank and we will teach you how to fill out a resume and how to dial a telephone. They have years of training and experience. Is the government committing to putting in place training and education programs to assist people to get that kind of training? What are you talking about?

I welcome, Mr. Speaker, the minister to get up and tell us. I will even pause to give him a chance to get to his feet. If he knows. Silence is deafening. You don't pit one against another. You don't pit one person who is poor against another person who is poor. That is not the way you move forward. As my colleague had done yesterday, the member for Halifax Chebucto, he stood up, and I didn't hear the minister or anybody else challenge him on what the hourly rates would be when he worked out what the hourly rates would be for working a 40-hour week using several different family compositions. It was well below the minimum wage. Don't try to put out these false assertions that are aimed only at victimizing those who are in a disadvantaged situation. That is not the solution.

You know, it has been a lot of years since I have been in school as a teacher, but you know, Mr. Speaker, I have stayed close enough to it, and I also have enough remembrances of what situations I faced, and I was not teaching in the most affluent of areas. It was a good area, and I very much enjoyed the school, and I really enjoyed the students. But you know, the child who comes to school hungry, the child who does not have supports, the child who

[Page 8115]

doesn't have the tools you need for school, the child who is self-conscious because they cannot have even the most basic kinds of clothing of others, that child is disadvantaged. That child is not going to have the same opportunities for an education. It just isn't. And if that child is not going to have the opportunity for the education, what are we setting up? Are we setting up a system for success or for failure?

You can't just talk the talk over there. There is something called walking the walk. The title of this bill, I don't know which spin doctor came up with it, because it does, it sounds wonderful. An Act to Encourage the Attainment of Independence and Self-sufficiency through Employment Support and Income Assistance. I will vote for that title. That title I will vote for, no sweat. The problem is, what is behind the title? Nothing.

I say to the Minister of Community Services, challenge him, has he got the intestinal fortitude? Let those on the government benches who have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say to the Premier and the Minister of Community Services if they haven't got the intestinal fortitude to do it without being told, say to them, this bill will not be considered at the Law Amendments Committee until we have put our cards on the table. Lay the regulations that are supposed to go with this bill on the table with the bill, so that when somebody comes before the Law Amendments Committee process, they will have some idea as to what the government intends. If everything is rosy and everything is wonderful, as we are supposed to believe, I am sure that is in the regulations, so let's see it. If they are, I will stand up and I will apologize. I will applaud if the bill, with its regulations, does what the title says. But, I haven't seen any evidence of that yet.

Mr. Speaker, there is very little more that we can do on this side. We can hold things up for a little bit longer, not much, a little bit. But you have the numbers over there. Some of you like to call yourselves Red Tories. I have every reason to believe that a lot of you over there, if not all of you, have as much genuine compassion for your constituents, maybe much more than I do. It is not a matter of judging who is or isn't more compassionate or concerned. I am not questioning for one minute anybody on the government's side individually, because I believe if you are here, and you have run for office, your genuine intent was to make things better. I am not aiming this personally at anybody over there. But you have a responsibility over there.

[1:45 p.m.]

You have a responsibility to not simply toe the government line, you have a responsibility to scratch the surface and to question, just as we on this side of the House have an obligation not to just carte blanche, automatically criticize but to look for the information and to push to make things better. We are normally afforded the privilege of being able to speak our minds in places like this and to publicly, as well, push. But you on the government benches also have an obligation to make sure that the legislation that is going to be passed is going to be legislation that is fair, that is just, and that is actually going to achieve a

[Page 8116]

positive benefit for those you were elected to serve, not just the select few in the chamber of commerce.

I don't believe for a minute that all members of the chamber of commerce either, if they knew the true details of what was happening, I don't believe for a minute that they would be so mean-spirited, that they also would want to harm, to victimize. When you see the people, when you look somebody in the eyes, when you find out their circumstances, it is very easy to make judgements when you don't know any circumstances. You have a responsibility - I would say to each and every member on the government benches - ask your Minister of Community Services to show you the regulations, to put them on the table for you.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, very forcefully, or as forcefully as I can, that if you are able to ferret out from the minister what the regulations are, those regulations should be put on the table unless, for some reason, the government is ashamed to do so. Clear the air in a hurry; lay them on the table. It is not complicated; it is not difficult.

Mr. Speaker, there are many more things I could say. I haven't even really looked at my notes yet. I could continue for the rest of the hour without any sweat.

I also believe in fairness that the Law Amendments Committee should not be confined to the Red Room in this House. Just think about it, members opposite. Who is this legislation affecting the most? Is it Nova Scotia Power's, Murray Coolican, past president of the chamber of commerce? Is it affecting him the most? Does he have the ability to get the battery of lawyers that he has representing him and his company? Does he have the ability to have his high-priced lawyers come and write a brief and appear before the Law Amendments Committee? Is he going to be disadvantaged by the cost of getting here from south end Halifax or wherever it is he lives? I think not.

The individual or the family members who might just even live on the outskirts of metro, who could be disabled but can't get Access-A-Bus at the time when they are slotted to appear, they are going to be disadvantaged, they are not going to have a chance to come make a presentation. They certainly don't have the money to hire a taxi. The person or persons who live in different areas of this province, whether that be in Cape Breton or Yarmouth, on the outskirts, who are on assistance, who are disadvantaged, including my community, those people are not going to have the opportunity to come to downtown Halifax, find a parking place down here, if they came by car, which of course with the price of gasoline as it is at 81.9 cents per litre with the extra HST that the minister is also collecting on behalf of the Tories - Mr. Speaker, I will leave that, that shot was for early in the day, a justified shot, but I will leave it for now - those people aren't going to be able to get here.

[Page 8117]

Talk about respect. I wonder how respectful it would be, I wonder what people would think. Let's take the Law Amendments Committee on the road. Let's take the Law Amendments Committee and go to Musquodoboit Valley maybe. Let's go to Glace Bay, New Waterford. Let's go to Richmond County. (Interruptions) I agree. Let's go down to Yarmouth and Shelburne and Guysborough. Let's go down to where the people, especially where there are the highest rates of unemployment, and even less services for the disabled, let's go to them and have them tell us what they think of this legislation, instead of expecting those who don't have the financial resources, who can't afford the trip back and forth let alone the price of accommodations in downtown Halifax, so they can come and have their 10 minutes before us at the Law Amendments Committee, or the disabled community which doesn't have the transportation.

Let's go to them. I say to the government members opposite, you agree to do that, you are going to get some very positive feedback for your efforts, the fact that you would respect citizens that much. There is much that can be done, but you have to start from a premise that you do indeed intend and wish to put an end to poverty, that you are working to eradicate poverty, and to do that you are going to be putting in place the programs and services to genuinely assist doing that. It is not the thing to do to simply try to force more people to live on the street, to boot more women and children out of the system, because I assure you - the same arguments I used to make about schools, it ain't changed - if you get involved early on and you identify learning problems that children are having in the early stages and put in place programs to address those learning difficulties in the very formative years, your cost-savings, if you want to be crass and only consider monetary ones, are paid back, your costs are paid back many times over in reduced costs later on.

Mr. Speaker, if we want to truly assist instead of punish, that means the government has to come forward with concrete proposals even if it gets the noses of a few of those down at the chamber of commerce out of whack. I know that those whose noses might get out of whack have a few more bucks that they can throw into the kitties at election time to support you, but those who need assistance and those who believe in having a system that is fair, not punitive, but are genuinely trying to help, there are a lot more of them and a lot more votes. So even if you are being crass, only thinking in those terms, I urge the minister to put your cards on the table even if your regulations are not finalized, great, draft regulations; put them on the table.

Then, Mr. Speaker, not only can the bill be examined with suggested changes, but if the regulations - and they have to be draft regulations because you cannot pass the regulations until the legislation is passed, so you know they are draft and they have to be. So put them on the table. Let those be examined along with the legislation and then either they can be - if they are good - incorporated in the bill or at least commitments made to change them or to review them in light of an informed debate around them rather than simply having them come out some Thursday as a result of a behind-closed-door Cabinet discussion.

[Page 8118]

Let's be open. Let's have a full examination and, Mr. Minister, that can be still done with tons of time to have this or a revised piece of legislation in effect long before your August scheduled deadline, no sweat whatsoever. So you would still have the opportunity to be consultative, to lay your cards on the table and to have an educated, informed debate. I urge that you do that and I urge your colleagues to push you to do that. (Applause)

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 62. The Minister of Community Services said that Bill No. 62 is the most significant piece of legislation introduced by his department and I agree. There is no question that this piece of legislation, Bill No. 62, will be the major piece of legislation for this government in this fall session. I do not think there is anyone in this House on either side who would disagree that encouraging the attainment of independence and self-sufficiencies through employment supports is not a positive step.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is going to impact the lives of many Nova Scotians, particularly the lives of many children throughout the province. There are many unanswered questions about this bill, as many speakers have pointed this out on this debate. Nova Scotians will not see the regulations for Bill No. 62 until January 2001. It has become the all-too-common policy of this Tory Government not to release all the details at once. To not lay all the cards on the table is not being fair to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, to introduce a bill for the sake of improving your standing in the polls, if that is the motive here, without releasing the details is not fair to the clients your serve. I just have to go back to April 11th when the budget was tabled. The Opposition was forced to ferret out some of the details, and I say some of the details because all the details are still not known at this time. Even six months after the budget was tabled Nova Scotians still don't know where all the cuts have taken place.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there are many Nova Scotians who have concerns with regard to this piece of legislation. What happens when you don't have the infrastructure in place to ensure that clients are able to truly achieve independence? When I looked at the many communities throughout Nova Scotia that don't have public transportation systems and to go further, what about accessible transportation for the people with disabilities. How are clients expected to travel?

What happens to clients who live in communities with high rates of unemployment and communities, Mr. Speaker, in Digby County that have high levels of unemployment? I am sure if we went around rural Nova Scotia, we would find many communities with a high level of unemployment. I know my colleague, the member for Cape Breton East, spoke

[Page 8119]

yesterday and talked about the many individuals in Glace Bay who are unemployed. What happened to those clients, and more importantly, the children, when the parent is unable to access adequate child care? What happens to clients who are disabled and will require a workplace that is accessible?

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 62 is primarily focused on getting people back to work but what about those who can't work or who have little chance of finding a meaningful job? There are a lot of unknowns at this time. We heard the minister in his opening comments saying this bill will enable his government to help people help themselves. Sounds like really good intentions to me, to all of us, but I can't understand why the Minister of Community Services would not have provided us with more details.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services had an opportunity to provide us with a copy of the regulations to go with this bill and the fact he chose not to at this time worries me. You have to wonder if he has anything to hide and I don't know. Allow me, three years ago when the Mike Harris Tory Government in Ontario introduced Bill No. 142, the Social Assistance Reform Act, it contained many pages of details as to how the welfare reform was to be carried out in Ontario. Perhaps this Tory Government consulted with the Harris Government in Ontario in order to learn from their experiences.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe.

MR. GAUDET: Maybe. Maybe the Harris Government told this Tory Government, don't tell Nova Scotians who are affected by these changes all the details at this time so they can get this legislation through.

AN HON. MEMBER: That sounds familiar. That sounds exactly how those guys would operation.

MR. GAUDET: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the Minister of Community Services decided not to table the regulations with this bill. I hope this minister and this Tory Government are sincere about helping people. I sincerely hope that in the end of this exercise the reforms brought forward will make a difference and that is a positive difference for these people.

Mr. Speaker, in the last several days I have received a number of calls from individuals currently on social assistance looking for answers in regard to what this government is proposing. I am sure a lot of members of this House have received calls in regard to Bill No. 62.

Some of these individuals have told me that they have contacted their caseworkers for information, but unfortunately, they were unable to find out too much. So, it is either the caseworkers have not been told yet - which I suspect is the case in this matter - or they have

[Page 8120]

been told to wait until this bill is passed before the clients are informed, and I do not think that is the case. I honestly believe the caseworkers have not been told, have not been informed.

Speaking of the caseworkers, several other members have acknowledged them and I certainly want to say as well that this special group of people across Nova Scotia are trying to do practically an impossible job and they deserve our thanks. Looking at caseworkers in their current situation and once Bill No. 62 is passed by this Legislature, what kind of additional responsibilities will this bill put on these individuals, on the caseworkers? I do not know and I am sure that they do not know.

Many people on social assistance do not feel that their basic needs are being met. When I look at the brochure prepared by the Dalhousie Legal Aid service for the Community Advocates Network, they point out that the benefits that people on social assistance are receiving are already inadequate to meet their basic needs. When I look at the last budget on April 11, 2000, cuts to all the basic assistance rates for food, clothing, miscellaneous essentials, rent, utilities at a time when these costs are going up.

We cannot expect everyone on social assistance to achieve this goal set by this Tory Government to move towards independence and self-sufficiency until we address the bigger problems associated with poverty.

Has this government set any targets for getting people off social assistance? Are there targets for the Minister of Community Services to reach in half a year, in the year, in the year's end? I do not know. How many children will be impacted by this bill once it gets through this House? How many persons with disabilities will be impacted? Again, looking at this bulletin that the Dalhousie Legal Aid has prepared, it says there are 38,213 families and individuals on social assistance in Nova Scotia. That is three-quarters of these individuals on assistance are either persons with disabilities or children. Three-quarters of 38,213. There are approximately 8,000 single-parent women on social assistance.

These are real people that are being told, please have faith in this Tory Government. We will tell you the details later. Well, I don't think that is acceptable. This is not fair and it is not good enough and they know that. Without details on this bill, I am left to wonder whether the government's intention is a veiled attack on those most vulnerable in our society.

All of us here in the Legislature have a very important role to play in society, Mr. Speaker. All MLAs - and I stress all - must examine any given bill and show exactly what is going to be beneficial and what is going to be harmful, and what changes are going to be required in order to make this bill even better. For members of the government, you have an even more pressing role to play, as it is incumbent upon all of you to reflect upon all sides of the debate to ensure the reform that is being proposed is a reform that will truly make the system better.

[Page 8121]

You know, Mr. Speaker, motives are powerful. If your motive is to truly make the system better, then the right thing will be done and time will tell, but if your motive for changing the system is to improve your bottom line, and we don't know, at the expense of those most vulnerable in our society, then society as a whole will lose. I truly believe that Nova Scotians don't want to see children lose in this Tory Government welfare reform exercise. I am sure - and they know this - everyone will be watching this very, very closely.

Mr. Speaker, there isn't a political Party around that has not advocated getting people into real jobs. In closing, how mean-spirited the regulations will be will be the true indicator of just how serious this government is in their motives behind Bill No. 62. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I must say I am so pleased to see so many members opposite, on a busy Friday afternoon, who have decided to listen to the wrap-up speaker who, after all, hitting clean-up for the NDP, is certainly like batting after Roger Maris when you are really Mickey Mantle.

There are some things I want to bring to the members' attention. I would like to begin with last evening. Last evening in our gallery, Mr. Speaker, and in your gallery in fact for part of the evening, there were a number of students from the school of social work here. One of them was a constituent of mine. She brought her young son with her. Mary Jones, along with her son, Cody Riley, afterwards waited for us outside.

I want to publicly thank the minister for taking time from his busy schedule to meet with Mary last evening for a few moments - thank you for doing that, Mr. Minister. After we had cleared the Chamber, and with Mr. Speaker's permission, young Cody wanted to come in and have a look at the Legislature. There were three or four Cabinet ministers, four Cabinet ministers particularly, so as young Cody came over and I asked if he would like to sit in my seat, which he did, and I would like to publicly thank those Cabinet ministers who took the time to come over and greet young Cody and listen to Mary, because I want those Cabinet ministers involved to be aware of the fact that when the time comes in front of the Law Amendments Committee, you are going to hear from many people such as Mary. You are going to hear from people across this province, hopefully, who will come in front of the Law Amendments Committee.

As many members know, the Law Amendments Committee is a process in this province that I have, as a member, had the privilege of sitting on from the first time I was elected, during minority government days. It is a process that works, but it is a process that is difficult with these circumstances because of the very people who are going to have to make the attempt to appear in front of the Law Amendments Committee under these circumstances.

[Page 8122]

[2:15 p.m.]

So after discussing with Mary and Cody, I took the time - and am fortunate enough, Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, to be a member of a wonderful service club called Lions International - I made the Lions Club meeting in St. Margarets Bay at about 8:50 p.m. just in time to be handed this sheet. I am going to table it, Mr. Speaker, after I refer to it because this is a list of the donations that St. Margarets Bay Lions Club, membership of 21, has contributed to the community which they serve. Since January, this Lions Club has donated $51,150 to that community. Let's look at a number of the big items there. The social services chairman, you know in a Lions Club you figure you are helping out sports teams. Of course, you are helping out schools. They are coming to us all the time because of the basic necessities that are lacking in schools. But that is another topic.

One of the most important positions in the St. Margarets Bay Lions Club is held by a lion named Norm Hutt. Norm Hutt is the social services chairman. Lion Norm Hutt has, since January, given out $2,505. Now we, of course, don't actually give out money. We give out food vouchers that become available to people in the community in need. That social services chairman also at his discretion, with the consultation of the president of the club, helps out people in the community for furnace oil, helps out seniors in the community when, perhaps for one reason or another, they are having a rough time at the end of the month meeting a bill or two; $2,505, Mr. Speaker. Because these people, they have been to social services, and these people need that hand up which Lions in my community are famous for.

Let's look at the fact that they also donate to Meals on Wheels, $500; the Hammonds Plains Food Bank $500. School lunch programs, Mr. Speaker, where young people in the communities that I am fortunate enough to represent, and at one particular school where I was a teacher, where young people who are in need at lunch and have nothing to eat can go through the guidance counsellor and get that little piece of paper, it is just a little quick card. They walk through the cafeteria line. The card is put in front of the cashier, and they move on. The St. Margarets Bay Lions Club has donated thus far in the school year, $2,100 in school lunch programs.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table that if I could. The members in my Lions Club last evening . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the member he is to be speaking on the principle of Bill No. 62. I would ask him to bring his comments back to the bill, please and the principles of the bill. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: You know, when you look at the fact that my Lions Club is basically doing the job of social services, when you look at the fact that this Lions Club is basically sick and tired of bailing out the difficulties that the government does not face, the people in the community that I represent have become so frustrated with the fact that the

[Page 8123]

system isn't working, and that these people turn to a service club, the message that I am giving this House, and that I am fortunate enough to speak about today, the remaining 40 minutes and 20 seconds, is that service club members and volunteers are sick of doing the government's work. That is the message. That is the connection. That is the connection between a Lions Club, where members asked me to bring that forward today. When you look at $51,000 that basically goes into a community because we are not being properly served by some of the tough decisions, the right decisions, those tough, right decisions are hurting people. They are hurting school children, they are hurting seniors, and those decisions are decisions that Nova Scotians are going to have their say about.

I would like to point out a couple of things as we look at the intent of this, and if you want a quick history lesson. Last evening in this House I heard my good friend, the member for Halifax Needham, and I know friends from the other side heard my friend, the member for Halifax Needham speak about the origins of workfare. I want to point out that the Elizabethan Poor Law began in 1601. That is almost 400 years ago. Today we are being told that the tough decisions and the right decisions are being done. The Poor Law was amended in 1834. In fact, the quality of less eligibility was added. I wonder if perhaps that speech writer for the Premier, if he or she wasn't referring to the 1834 amendment of less eligibility, when the speech was given to the Premier and he read to those well-heeled friends, that the living condition of the lowest paid worker should always be superior to that of the able-bodied destitute person. That is from an 1834 amendment that was passed, according to the Elizabethan Poor Law in the British House of Commons by, I am sure, one of the good friends of the Minister of Economic Development, Benjamin Disraeli or William Gladstone, who he is always referring to.

I would like to table that, because I think that members opposite are aware of the fact that my friend and colleague, the member for Halifax Needham and the lesson that she gave us last evening, historically; this is nothing new. Suddenly, we are being perceived by the fact Nova Scotians are going to receive something new here? They are going to make the tough, they are going to make the right decisions? We would like to be able to support that.

When you look at the hostility that is going to result over the next couple of days and next week, you look at the hostility that is going to happen when we deal with this issue in the Red Chamber, when you look at how the media is going to portray this as people such as Mary Jones and her son, Cody Riley, when they appear, you will look at the fact that we will be back into turning one Nova Scotian against another Nova Scotian again. That is not, I hope, the intent of this government. That is not the reason that government was elected, the kinder, gentler doctor from Pictou County, who was going to do things differently, because of this piece of legislation, he is pitting one Nova Scotian against another Nova Scotian. The hostility that is going to result is not a reflection of what Nova Scotia is about. This is the sort of hostility which, perhaps, we have heard about from the Mike Harris Government. Let's not go too far with that comparison, because I know members opposite are a little sensitive about this.

[Page 8124]

If we are going to look at what the largest growing industry is in this province, we should talk to the Minister of Economic Development about food banks. It is my impression that the largest food bank in Nova Scotia happens to be located in Bedford. As you come along the Bedford Basin, and you are aware of the fact, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, of the rate of growth in employment in the HRM, and how well we are apparently doing, yet the largest food bank is located in the Halifax Regional Municipality, out along the Bedford Highway.

Mr. Speaker, that says to me that there are people in the system who are falling through the cracks. My constituency office, in Lakeside, is right next to the Community Services office. There are many jobs that I would not do, many of them. I will assure you one is being a social worker with the caseload - and I am not going to get into the matter of the number of cases that they have although I will tell you on Monday morning I will be confirming with a number of these social workers what their cases are. Mr. Speaker, I would not be a caseworker these days because their job has turned into what was your previous profession - a police officer. They are to make sure that the hammer comes down, that they have to check every case, that they have to make sure that nobody is cheating the system.

I heard my good friend, the member for Dartmouth North, who informed this House that when he was in the City of Dartmouth and served there as an alderman for a number of years, that they had at one time hired a by-law enforcement officer, is that the description?

MR. JERRY PYE: No, eligibility review officer.

MR. ESTABROOKS: An eligibility review officer who was to look into these outstanding number of people who were taking advantage of the system and after one year it was decided that that position was not necessary because I was under the impression that they would actually be making a job for themselves if this was a major problem, but there was no need. So this myth out there that there are all kinds of people taking advantage of the system, Mr. Speaker, is not true. It is just not true. I am sure that there are some, but the myth that there are so many is a complete fallacy.

Let's look another myth that constantly has to be addressed. I have heard the members on this side of the House and the members of the Liberal Party address this fact. No one wants to stay on social assistance. That little guy who goes through that school cafeteria line does not have to be told that his mom or dad - or his mom, if she is a single parent - is poor. He knows that. His self-esteem is hurting enough. He does not have to be branded any more than he is because of the fact he knows that his mom cannot provide for some of the very things that other kids have to be provided for.

Mr. Speaker, I can use some examples and I guess I have been saved to the last because of some of the experiences that I have when it comes to these cases because, as you are well aware, I have taught in this community for a long time and I am approached by a number of my past students for assistance. The best example I want to use is the young, single mother

[Page 8125]

whose son wants to play minor hockey. Let's look at this case. If you want peer pressure, you talk about a 12 year old who is a good little athlete, but mom cannot afford to register him for minor hockey. This mother comes to me for help. She is balancing the facts of being a student. She is balancing her rent. She is paying the bills the best she can. Is it a frill? Does the caseworker say this young fellow does not deserve to play minor hockey? No, you send him to the Lions Club it might be said. That is not the case here.

What did this mother do? She gave up her phone and over a period of three months she paid the registration necessary for the young fellow to play hockey. Now, are you telling me, Mr. Speaker, this is a system that is working and this is a system that we are now going to look at some of the restrictions that are going - we think there are going to be restrictions that are going to be placed upon people such as that past student of mine? Now, there are people there who say maybe they will confront me again, as people have a tendency to do on these topics, but let me tell you, in my view, that young man deserves the right, the privilege to play minor hockey and just because he has a single mother as a parent and just because they happen to be poor, he should not be punished. She made that decision, Mr. Speaker. Can you imagine living without a phone? That is a decision that many people make because they have to balance what they consider their priorities.

[2:30 p.m.]

Not having a telephone and being unemployed is a conflict - a major conflict. It is the number one weapon which people can use to get their name out there, to follow up, to have those contacts. Yet, will this legislation assure that piece of vital assistance when getting a job? No guarantees.

The problem with this legislation has been brought to members' attention many times. It does not deal with the issue of poverty, instead it basically kicks around the poor. The title aside, and the well-written title that it is, it is the only thing here in the whole bill that is worth the paper that it is written on and we can turn in particular to that section where we are in all good faith as legislators, as we debate this legislation - and surely the minister and his staff are aware of the fact - blind faith aside, I would love to know what a person in need is.

That will be defined in the regulations. That is not the way to bring forth legislation and when this piece of legislation, as it will next week, goes to the Law Amendments Committee, people opposite will go and say, why are those people so upset? Why are they so concerned? We want to help them. Those people will be coming to the Law Amendments Committee because of some of the very questions and issues that we have brought up and if the legislation would come clean, we look at the fact this has got 30 sections to it. This we have been told is a cornerstone piece of legislation - 30 sections. In the time that I have been in this House, we have dealt with bills that I could hardly lift sometimes, bills that I had to turn to my learned friend from Halifax Chebucto to interpret. Bills that were pages upon pages to read. This is a cornerstone piece of legislation? It is 10 pages long.

[Page 8126]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to respect the member who has the floor, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Wasn't even noticing it, Mr. Speaker. But the point might be evidence to those people who are in the gallery, to those people who might be taking the advantage of watching television this afternoon, that means that people are not paying attention on an important piece of legislation.

An important piece of legislation - 30 clauses long, 10 pages, cornerstone piece of legislation. I hope the good friend for Pictou East considers this one of the tough decisions, one of the right decisions. That is what he said in this very House.

Let's have a look at the important parts that I am sure that other Nova Scotians will bring to the attention of members opposite over the next week. One of the grave concerns the single parent has is day care. I have had the opportunity during my time both as a teacher and as a legislator to visit a number of day care centres. Try to get a spot in day care. There are spots in my growing community that have a waiting list.

If we are talking about proper day care, and we are encouraging - and this is, after all, the title of the bill, An Act to Encourage, we are encouraging self-sufficiency. We are encouraging that through employment, support - well, tell me how come the provisions for day care just are not there. I mean, we are going to say to these young parents, young mothers many of them, that as single parents you should go to work and you have to get out there and get a job. Oh, yes, where are we going to have your child go? Does that mean that we are going to get into these cozy sort of relationships which sometimes cause many problems when young kids are not placed properly in day care?

There is no provision for day care in this legislation. None at all. That is a major concern of Nova Scotians. That is a major concern that will be brought forward during the Law Amendments Committee and members opposite who sit on the Law Amendments Committee, I hope, and I am going to take note of it, how many questions they are going to ask of these presenters. I used to sit on the Law Amendments Committee as you know, Mr. Speaker, not that I keep track of the questions, but you know, some days if it wasn't for the good member for Preston, there wouldn't be a question asked in there. There wouldn't be a question asked. I have no idea why the member for Preston asks all these questions. Maybe out of interest. Maybe he thinks he will get a media hit out of it. It is better than falling asleep out by the statue anyway, but the concern is the other members of the caucus, they sit there and they ask nothing.

Now when we have these presenters brought in front of us over the next week, Mr. Speaker, I hope those members opposite take notes, ask questions, look for details and more importantly, listen. Then they will know that it is not just the NDP or the Liberals railing on

[Page 8127]

about the legislation. Because the people who are going to present their points of view over the next number of days in front of the Law Amendments Committee, they have major concerns about this legislation. I am sure that members opposite will hear from them.

The concern is, and it was brought forward by my friend from Sackville-Cobequid, the concern is that these people have to come here. That, Mr. Speaker, really concerns us in this caucus. I have mentioned this before, and I know that I made reference to a past member of this House who I continue to make contact with as a friend of mine and that is the past MLA for Yarmouth, John Deveau. Mr. Deveau has brought to my attention the fact that people in the community of Yarmouth would love to have the opportunity to express their concerns and their reservations about this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, let's go through the logistics of this. Let's say a single mother living in Yarmouth who has read in the Vanguard about this piece of legislation, and she wants to come to Halifax. First of all, she has to arrange transportation of her own unless she has a vehicle which I doubt is the case, but she has to come from Yarmouth to Halifax and probably find a place to stay overnight because it is going to be a long, dangerous trip over that Highway No. 103. That is a concern that a single parent has in Yarmouth.

So, do we want to be able to hear from those people? The provision, as my friend for Sackville-Cobequid brought forward, says the advantages of having the Law Amendments Committee and the fact that someone else would have a chance to say things to them if we ever take it on the road. But no, we sit here, and they come forward to us. There will be people here, and I hope the people from Yarmouth, people from Cape Breton take the opportunity to come here to have their say. There are parts of this province that are concerned. Whether it is somebody from Amherst or whether it is somebody from Timberlea-Prospect. I encourage the people who have the opportunity. They don't have to come with a four-page report that is well typed and all laid out in legalese. They have to come in and just tell their story, just say what is on their mind. Just sit down and pour it out so that you can point out to the people opposite, these are the concerns I have.

Day after day in this House, and my friend for Halifax Atlantic did this resolution today, when he pointed out, whereas since August 17th this Tory Government's first full day of office, 2,664 children have been born into poverty. And we always get that other response from the other side, the groan of ohhhh. That statistic is not just a number. That statistic has faces behind it. It has little guys who want to play minor hockey. It has little girls standing in cafeteria lines because their school lunch is provided through a little chit system and they don't have the money in their pocket. That is a concern which Nova Scotians are going to continue to face.

Mr. Speaker, this province has a reputation where we care for each other, we take care of each other, and that we do not go to war with each other. The difficulties and the hostilities that are going to result because of this piece of legislation are going to come home

[Page 8128]

on this government and for some reason this crowd over here does not seem to understand that. If we look back in the short time that this government has been in power, the conflict that has resulted because of some of this poorly thought out legislation, there is not the opportunity for input on some of this legislation.

More importantly, when you look, and we have brought it to the concern of members opposite, are we doing our job as the loyal Opposition? I know the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank says that I have wasted the time of the House always talking about all these personal examples. Are we doing our job to just say, oh, that is a good piece of legislation, we should let it go through? We have allowed that in this House with certain pieces of legislation which have the details and have some meat on the skeleton, but this piece of legislation does not have that. This piece of legislation has more questions than it has answers. The result is, of course, alarm, concern, headlines, confrontation, members being called, accusations being made.

That is not the sort of Nova Scotia that I live in, Mr. Speaker. That is the concern that we have brought to the attention of this House and when we go through the Law Amendments Committee procedure, I encourage all members over there to take an opportunity to go in. I encourage them to ask questions of the presenters, to listen to the points of view of people who are going to step up and have their say because that is after all the real face of Nova Scotians as they express their point of view.

Are we solving the problems that the poor are facing in this province? The answer, to me, Mr. Speaker, obviously, is no. I heard earlier this week my friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre, bring up a crucial issue and, of course, I heard the previous Minister of Labour, who I actually listened to for a change, crowing on about the fact, well, at least when the Liberals were in, they took the minimum wage and jacked it up.

Now, if this government wants to do something that is going to assist the poor and going to assist the working poor, the issue that my friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre, brought forward should be dealt with. That would be a proactive piece of legislation. That would be something that would be well received in this caucus. That would be something that we would feel we could support with the details available, but instead that is not coming forward. Instead, the heavy hammer is coming down. The poor are getting the finger pointed at them - the poor are taking advantage of other people in this province - and the 1834 amendment to the poor law is the basis of a speech written by some speech writer because the context is exactly the same.

Those sort of concerns, Mr. Speaker, are not the way that this particular part of the province, this whole entire province wants to go. We want to deal with the issue fairly. So let's be concise about this. Are there some Nova Scotians who are taking advantage of the system? Yes, probably there are.

[Page 8129]

AN HON. MEMBER: A small percentage.

MR. ESTABROOKS: A very small percentage, however. I would suggest that when you go in and you tarnish the whole group with the fact that people on social assistance are all taking advantage of the system, are all non-deserving, the result is the hostility that is going to result. Are we dealing with the issue, Mr. Speaker? We are not dealing with the issue. We are dividing Nova Scotians. We are pitting one against the other. That is the concern that has come forward.

When we look, Mr. Speaker, and particularly when I look at what I consider my role and at the end of the week when a piece of legislation comes forward and it has for one reason or another either been criticized or applauded by me as an individual MLA, I can say that I had something to say on this piece of legislation. I know all I have done is criticize, but the point is it is a piece of legislation that is badly flawed. Now there are members over there who say, trust us, trust us, we know what we are doing - like Father Knows Best - you poor New Democrats. You really just don't understand it all, do you? We, after all, are in power; we know better than you do.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that attitude, that condescending Father Knows Best attitude, that Beaver Cleaver analogy the other day, my God, is insulting. That is what has caused the furor, and we have only but begun, because that attitude is not going to be what the people who need this assistance want to hear. What they want to hear is help us get off social assistance. Allow us to make sure that our children don't have to suffer from that stigma, of the things I mentioned earlier, in the schools. Help us help our children, not go to war with us. We, after all, as Nova Scotians, believe in a kinder, gentler way of doing things.

So next week will be another challenge. It will be another challenge where Nova Scotians are going to have their say. It will be another opportunity for those of us fortunate enough on the Law Amendments Committee to sit and listen, to understand what these people have as concerns. When we go through that exercise, I want to be able to look at the members of that side and say very clearly to them that I told you so. When they listen to the Mary Joneses, when they listen to the caseworkers who are going to come forward, when they listen to those people who want off social assistance, I am going to say to those members, I told you so.

It is not just the NDP, it is not just the Liberals, Nova Scotians, fair-minded Nova Scotians, believe this piece of legislation needs revision. The hoist opportunity did not work out. Amendments that will be brought forward, concerns that will come out of the Law Amendments Committee will be many. I hope that members opposite live and learn because when you hear from Nova Scotians over the next week, this member for Timberlea-Prospect will rub it in with "I told you so". Thank you.

[Page 8130]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Community Services it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to close debate on this bill. We have had an opportunity to hear from the other members and we have had some concerns raised. I think the first thing I want to do in closing debate is to indicate that what we have said, what we presently have in this province and what we have said is going to go forward is that we are not going to have a time-defined benefit. We have said that, and I will say it again, we are not having a time-defined benefit. What we had proposed to go forward is to help people find work, and that is what we have done.

In the last year, 4,000 have come off assistance and have gone back to work through various means, through various training courses. We have indicated that if there is not work to be found, if people are not finished their training, we have not now, nor have we ever, said, it would be a time-defined benefit. I have heard Opposition members say that this means we are going to boot people out the door. Well, that isn't what this department said, and I don't know where you are getting that. We have never said there would be a time-defined benefit. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what you said to the media.

MR. CHRISTIE: Produce a piece of paper then, because I never said that. I never said time-defined benefit. I have never ever said time-defined benefit. It is not in the bill. I challenge you to bring it forward. There is no time-defined benefit there.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to table some submissions. The question was, have we talked to people? I am going to table this list of 100 submissions, the last ones that came in in August from Dal Legal Aid, the Lake City Employment Services, and the Hants County Disability Partnership. I want members to have the opportunity to look at those. I will indicate to you that on our web site we have all the facilities there, the analysis of all of the submissions that have come into us. I will say to you that we have set up a toll-free number, the number is 1-866-795-3688, and we encourage anyone to phone.

We encourage anyone to phone with the numbers. People who have questions, please call and they will give you the information. I have indicated to you that this is going to take a period of time to retrain our workers. I invite the honourable member for Clare, who was talking earlier about the caseworkers, to speak to the social workers in Yarmouth. They have called our honourable member for Yarmouth today and said they recognize that this is going to be easier to handle, so that there is a one-tier system.

[Page 8131]

Let me say, I think we have agreed on a couple of things. I think we agree that the system needs change. I have heard that consistently through this. I think we agree that all people on assistance need to have the benefit of all the different special needs that are available, and I think we agree on those things. That is what we have announced, we have announced the situation to help people get off assistance. I think we all agree on the integrated child benefit. I think we have all agreed on those child benefits. The integrated child benefit is going to help all low-income families.

I think building on that, we look forward to the Law Amendments Committee and having people's discussion. We look forward to submissions to our department. We look forward to submissions to our offices. We will look at all of those, and we look forward to the debates. Mr. Speaker, with that, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 62. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 70.

Bill No. 70 - Sydney Steel Corporation Sale Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in moving second reading of Bill No. 70, I would just like to mention that the honourable minister is not here. He will be in the House, however, on Monday, and he will be initiating the debate on Bill No. 70, and in his wrap-up to that second reading, he will be giving a complete explanation that he would normally give in opening the bill. (Interruptions) That is right.

Mr. Speaker, on Monday we will be sitting from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading commencing with Bill No. 70, and then proceeding in order through the order paper.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 8132]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just wonder if the minister would be able, just for convenience, for all caucuses, to give us the hours for all of next week, if he knows those at this time.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Certainly, I could give you the hours through until next Thursday. Tuesday's hours will be 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday is Opposition Day, 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.; and Thursday, 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m.; and in all probability, next Friday will be from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

I move that the House do now rise to meet Monday evening at the hour of 4:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until Monday at 4:00 p.m.; 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Monday.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 2:55 p.m.]

[Page 8133]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3070

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Springhill Branch No. 17 of the Royal Canadian Legion is again making preparations for their annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremonies; and

Whereas this Legion continues to ensure that the supreme sacrifice made by so many is never forgotten; and

Whereas this Legion, and all other Legions in this province, on a daily basis are true representatives of what community organizations should be;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Branch No. 17 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Springhill, for their continued support and commitment to communities and congratulate them on their efforts to ever remind us of young men and women who gave their lives for this country.

RESOLUTION NO. 3071

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the River Hebert Branch No. 14 of the Royal Canadian Legion is again making preparations for their annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremonies; and

Whereas this Legion continues to ensure that the supreme sacrifice made by so many is never forgotten; and

Whereas this Legion, and all other Legions in this province, on a daily basis are true representatives of what community organizations should be;

[Page 8134]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Branch No. 14 of the Royal Canadian Legion, River Hebert, for their continued support and commitment to communities and congratulate them on their efforts to ever remind us of young men and women who gave their lives for this country.

RESOLUTION NO. 3072

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Joggins Branch No. 4 of the Royal Canadian Legion is again making preparations for their annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremonies; and

Whereas this Legion continues to ensure that the supreme sacrifice made by so many is never forgotten; and

Whereas this Legion, and all other Legions in this province, on a daily basis are true representatives of what community organizations should be;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Branch No. 4 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Joggins, for their continued support and commitment to communities and congratulate them on their efforts to ever remind us of young men and women who gave their lives for this country.

RESOLUTION NO. 3073

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Oxford Branch No. 36 of the Royal Canadian Legion is again making preparations for their annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremonies; and

Whereas this Legion continues to ensure that the supreme sacrifice made by so many is never forgotten; and

Whereas this Legion, and all other Legions in this province, on a daily basis are true representatives of what community organizations should be;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Branch No. 36 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Oxford, for their continued support and commitment to communities and congratulate them on their efforts to ever remind us of young men and women who gave their lives for this country.

RESOLUTION NO. 3074

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Parrsboro Branch No. 45 of the Royal Canadian Legion is again making preparations for their annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremonies; and

Whereas this Legion continues to ensure that the supreme sacrifice made by so many is never forgotten; and

Whereas this Legion, and all other Legions in this province, on a daily basis are true representatives of what community organizations should be;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Branch No. 45 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Parrsboro, for their continued support and commitment to communities and congratulate them on their efforts to ever remind us of young men and women who gave their lives for this country.

RESOLUTION NO. 3075

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Maccan Branch No. 134 of the Royal Canadian Legion is again making preparations for their annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremonies; and

Whereas this Legion continues to ensure that the supreme sacrifice made by so many is never forgotten; and

Whereas this Legion, and all other Legions in this province, on a daily basis are true representatives of what community organizations should be;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Branch No. 134 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Maccan, for their continued support and commitment to communities and congratulate them on their efforts to ever remind us of young men and women who gave their lives for this country.