The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 8, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Lunenburg Correction Centre: Closure - Cease, Mr. D. Downe 8365
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 8366
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Partnership Opportunities 2001 Marketing Plan,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8367
Anl. Rept. of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority, Hon. A. MacIsaac 8367
Legislative Review Committee Report on the Nova Scotia
Environment Act, Hon. A. MacIsaac 8367
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3140, Tourism - Sector: Contributions - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8367
Vote - Affirmative 8368
Res. 3141, Educ. - St. Joseph's College: Anniv. (30th) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 8368
Vote - Affirmative 8369
Res. 3142, Agric. - Mar. Pork Conf. (12th Anl.): Assocs. - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 9369
Vote - Affirmative 8369
Res. 3143, Tourism - Partnership Council: Marketing Plan -
Work Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8370
Vote - Affirmative 8370
Res. 3144, Agric. - Cdn. Assoc. of Fairs & Exhibitions
(74th Anl. Convention): Halifax - Location Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 8370
Vote - Affirmative 8371
Res. 3145, Educ. - Assoc. Private Career Colleges: Conference
(5th Anl.) - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 8371
Vote - Affirmative 8372
Res. 3146, Agric. - N.S. Agric. Awareness Comm.: Initiative - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 8372
Vote - Affirmative 8372
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 78, Nova Scotia Business Incorporated Act, Hon. G. Balser 8373
No. 79, University College of Cape Breton Student Union Act,
Mr. F. Corbett 8373
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3147, Beazley, Doreen & Carol Feetham - Terry Fox Run: Awards -
Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 8373
Vote - Affirmative 8374
Res. 3148, Health - EMC Dispatchers: Strike Vote - Min. Plan,
Dr. J. Smith 8374
Res. 3149, HRM/Sch. Bd. - Russell, Paul/Johns, Brad: Election -
Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 8375
Vote - Affirmative 8375
Res. 3150, Health/Lbr. - Ambulance Dispatchers: Strike Vote -
Mins. Intervene, Mr. D. Dexter 8375
Res. 3151, Health - Physicians: Recruitment - Comparison,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8376
Res. 3152, People First N.S. - Members: Accomplishments - Applaud,
Mr. D. Morse 8377
Vote - Affirmative 8377
Res. 3153, Econ. Dev./Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Mins.: Plan - Produce,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8377
Vote - Affirmative 8378
Res. 3154, Dartmouth North (MLA) - Cross Canada Checkup:
Participation - Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 8378
Res. 3155, Gates, Robin - 4-H: Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Carey 8379
Vote - Affirmative 8379
Res. 3156, Law Amendments Comm. - Internet Submissions:
Hfx. Bedford Basin MLA/Gov't. (N.S.) - Position Reconsider,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8380
Res. 3157, Educ. - League of Peaceful Schools: West. Pictou
Consolidated - Induction Recognize, Mrs. M. Baillie 8380
Vote - Affirmative 8381
Res. 3158, Gov't. (N.S.) - Duferco: Attitude -
Dialectic Unity of Opposites, Mr. P. MacEwan 8381
Res. 3159, Johnston, Noel (Deceased) - Lifelong Learning:
Advancement - Recognize, Mr. D. Hendsbee 8382
Vote - Affirmative 8382
Res. 3160, Musq. Hbr. Heritage Soc. - Antigonish East. Shore
Tourist Assoc.: Award - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 8382
Vote - Affirmative 8383
Res. 3161, NSAC - Atl. Agric. Sciences/Tech. Workshop: Initiative -
Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 8383
Vote - Affirmative 8384
Res. 3162, Wallace, Meg (Nova Interiors) - Dartmouth (Downtown):
Commitment - Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8384
Vote - Affirmative 8385
Res. 3163, Graham, Glenn - Pop Single: Release - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8385
Vote - Affirmative 8385
Res. 3164, Huskilson, Lloyd (Shelburne Co.) - N.S. Sport Hall of Fame:
Induction Attempt - Encourage, Mr. C. O'Donnell 8385
Vote - Affirmative 8386
Res. 3165, Air Can. - Service Centre: Hfx. Int. Airport -
Location Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 8386
Vote - Affirmative 8387
Res. 3166, Doucet, Mike - United Way: Contribution - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Christie 8387
Vote - Affirmative 8388
Res. 3167, Tourism - Lun. Marine Museum Soc./Fisheries Mus. Atl.:
Contributions - Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8388
Vote - Affirmative 8388
Res. 3168, Educ. - Women: Leadership - Importance Recognize,
Hon. J. Purves 8388
Vote - Affirmative 8389
Res. 3169, Freeman, Lu - Artisans & Folk Art Gallery: Opening -
Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 8389
Res. 3170, Ramsey, Richard - Birthday: Best Wishes - Extend,
Mr. M. Parent 8390
Vote - Affirmative 8391
Res. 3171, Hearts in Motion - Trails: Participants - Efforts Applaud,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 8391
Vote - Affirmative 8391
Res. 3172, Gov't. (Cdn.) - Prime Minister: Medicare - Assault Recognize,
Mr. D. Morse 8391
Res. 3173, Crime Stoppers N.S. - Const. Assoc. N.S.: Partnership -^
Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 8392
Vote - Affirmative 8393
Res. 3174, Point Pleasant Park - Gates Restoration:
HRM Millennium Comm./Grady, Tony - Commend,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 8393
Vote - Affirmative 8394
Res. 3175, Veinotte, David - Death of: Family - Condolences Offer,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8394
Vote - Affirmative 8394
Res. 3176, Educ. - Everett, Sandra: Service - Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8394
Res. 3177, Surf Lifesaving Championship - Risser's Beach:
Cross, Jason - Performance Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 8395
Vote - Affirmative 8396
Res. 3178, Mid. Musq. Valley Boy Scouts - Jamboree: Preparation -
Regards Extend, Mr. B. Taylor 8396
Vote - Affirmative 8397
Res. 3179, Grand View Manor (Berwick) - Anniv. (30th): Staff -
Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 8397
Vote - Affirmative 8397
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 993, Sysco - Sale: Agreement - Veracity, Mr. F. Corbett 8398
No. 994, Sysco: Sale - Status, Mr. W. Gaudet 8399
No. 995, Sysco - Sale: Agreement - Details, Mr. F. Corbett 8400
No. 996, Sysco: Sale - Costs, Mr. D. Downe 8402
No. 997, Sysco - Sale: Companies - Assets Value, Mr. F. Corbett 8403
No. 998, Sysco - Sale: Agreement - Jobs Ensure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8405
No. 999, Justice - Dangerous Driving Offences: Crown Pros. Off. -
Guidelines, Mr. H. Epstein 8406
No. 1000, Sysco - Sale: Agreement - Signatures Incomplete,
Mr. P. MacEwan 8408
No. 1001, Environ.: Environ. Act - Exemptions, Mr. F. Corbett 8409
No. 1002, Lbr. - Casino N.S.: MacDonald, Mrs. Sandy - File Review,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8410
No. 1003, Econ. Dev. - Gov't. (N.S.)/Saint John Shipbuilding:
Agreement - Confirm, Mr. John MacDonell 8412
No. 1004, Health - Paramedics: Training Prog. - Status, Dr. J. Smith 8413
No. 1005, Fin. - Fuel Tax Rebate: HST Windfall - Status, Mr. J. Holm 8414
No. 1006, Health - South Shore: Psychiatrists - Shortage,
Mr. D. Downe 8415
No. 1007, Commun. Serv. - Disabled Persons: Employment -
Strategy Details, Mr. J. Pye 8416
No. 1008, Health - Sutherland-Harris Mem. Hosp. (Pictou): Care -
Adequacy, Dr. J. Smith 8418
No. 1009, Exco - Low Income Adults: GED - Provide, Mr. K. Deveaux 8419
No. 1010, Nat. Res.: Mining Conference - Attendance, Mr. K. MacAskill 8420
No. 1011, Commun. Serv. - Int'l. Covenant: Agreement - Status,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8421
No. 1012, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Assess. Serv. - Downloading,
Mr. B. Boudreau 8422
No. 1013, Environ. - Sysco: Sale Agreement - Info., Mr. F. Corbett 8424
No. 1014, Econ. Dev. - Stream International: Glace Bay - Locate,
Mr. D. Wilson 8425
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTION OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3082, Health - Care: Clinical Footprint - Min. Show,
Dr. J. Smith 8425
Dr. J. Smith 8425
Hon. J. Muir 8429
Mr. D. Dexter 8432
Mr. D. Downe 8436
Res. 3102, Fin. - Fuel Rebate: Priorities - Review, Mr. D. Downe 8440
Mr. B. Boudreau 8440
Hon. N. LeBlanc 8441
Mr. J. Holm 8445
Mr. P. MacEwan 8447
Mr. B. Taylor 8451
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Dartmouth General Hospital: Staff - Applaud:
Mr. T. Olive 8453
Mr. D. Dexter 8456
Dr. J. Smith 8459
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 9th at 12:00 p.m. 8462
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3180, MLAs - Treatment: Compassion - Seek, Mr. M. Parent 8463
Res. 3181, Ropak Can. Inc. (Springhill) - Recycling: Commitment -
Congrats., The Speaker 8463
Res. 3182, Sports - Soccer: Lady Bears (Oxford)/Stubbert, Aaron -
Congrats., The Speaker 8464
Res. 3183, MacDonald, Valerie - CD: Release - Congrats., The Speaker 8464
Res. 3184, Sports - Soccer: Advocate Dist. School Lady Coyotes -
Congrats., The Speaker 8465
Res. 3185, Sports - Soccer: Parrsboro Dist. High Warriors - Congrats.,
The Speaker 8465

[Page 8365]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject submitted for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth South:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the doctors, nurses, staff and administration for their extraordinary efforts over the past six years in maintaining quality health services at the Dartmouth General Hospital despite the inexcusable and relentless withdrawal of federal health care funding from Ottawa under the watchful eye of the previous provincial Liberal Government.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

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 petition.

8365

[Page 8366]

"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:

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 petition is signed by some 500 individuals from Lunenburg-Queens bringing the total to over 3,000 signatures to this petition. I table it today.

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

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

[Page 8367]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Partnership Opportunities 2001 Marketing Plan put forward by the Tourism Partnership Council.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Acting Minister of the Environment and Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Acting Minister of the Environment and Labour.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Legislative Review Committee Report on the Nova Scotia Environment Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3140

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

Whereas yesterday I joined with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and the Tourism Partnership Council to report that tourism has enjoyed another great year; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's tourism industry revenues for 2000 are projected to be $1.25 billion with the number of non-resident visitors expected to surpass 2.1 million; and

Whereas these revenue numbers translate into jobs for some 35,000 Nova Scotians with a payroll of close to $500 million with another $117 million worth of taxes going into the province and municipalities;

[Page 8368]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing the sector's important contributions to the economy and thanking the many operators, organizations, communities and provincial staff who work in partnership to ensure tourism's continued growth.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3141

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

Whereas St. Joseph's College of Early Childhood Education recently celebrated 30 years of training early childhood educators; and

Whereas the college established the first Atlantic Canadian program in early childhood education and has grown from a three month Day Nursery Training Course to a two year Early Childhood Education Diploma Program; and

Whereas since St. Joseph's opened its doors in 1970, 842 graduates have gone on to work as child care staff, centre directors and resource teachers in Nova Scotia and beyond;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate St. Joseph's on its 30 year milestone and wish them many more years of success as they celebrate their deserved success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8369]

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3142

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

Whereas the 2000 Maritime Pork Conference was held in Halifax on November 3rd to 4th; and

Whereas Maritime producers and processors were given the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge; and

Whereas this conference is focussed on transition to ensure the continued success of the pork industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Maritime Pork Producers Association on holding their 12th annual Maritime Pork Conference in Halifax and for addressing the continued changes and trends in the industry.

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 Tourism and Culture.

[Page 8370]

RESOLUTION NO. 3143

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

Whereas yesterday the Tourism Partnership Council announced its 2001 tourism marketing plan to industry operators attending the annual tourism conference in Halifax; and

Whereas this aggressive plan focuses on our core markets and beyond; at flourishing sectors like golf and nature; and offers programs geared specifically to creating a year-round tourism season; and

Whereas this plan, tabled in the House today, offers tourism industry operators many opportunities to participate in provincial marketing efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the council for its work in developing this plan, which will help Nova Scotia grow this vital sector of our economy.

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3144

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

Whereas Ceilidh 2000, the annual Convention of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions will be held in Halifax on November 16th to 18th; and

Whereas managers and volunteers from agricultural exhibitions and fairs throughout Canada and the United States will meet to share their ideas; and

[Page 8371]

Whereas this organization stresses rural and community development, volunteer management and job creation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions on holding their 74th annual convention in Halifax and promoting agriculture production and awareness.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3145

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

Whereas the Association of Private Career Colleges of Nova Scotia will hold their 5th annual conference to focus on partnerships this week; and

Whereas there are 61 private career colleges registered in Nova Scotia, to offer occupational training programs in 261 programs; and

Whereas the conference will be an opportunity for college administrators, operators and instructors to network with their colleagues from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, to access information relevant to their industry and to address their needs and concerns;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate the association and their members on their conference and wish them all the best in their efforts to deliver training for the labour market in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8372]

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3146

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

Whereas on October 27, 2000, the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness Committee launched a Grade 3 soils kit at the Provincial Science In-service at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax; and

Whereas 80 Grade 3 teachers participated in the in-service and will teach this material in their classrooms; and

Whereas the initiative was a partnership of government, industry and education;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness Committee on this innovative endeavour that will increase awareness and understanding of Nova Scotia's agriculture soils by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and their students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8373]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South on an introduction.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of members of the House the presence in the gallery today of a good friend of mine from Centreville Reserve in Cape Breton, Shelly Simms, who is here observing the efforts of all the members here today. I would tell the House that Mr. Simms is a former sports icon in Cape Breton, having excelled in hockey, baseball, and more lately as a coach, and is also a former junior golf champion at Lingan Country Club in Sydney. I would like to welcome Shelly to Halifax, and have the House afford him the usual welcome. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 78 - Entitled an Act to Establish Nova Scotia Business Incorporated. (Hon. Gordon Balser)

Bill No. 79 - Entitled an Act to Incorporate the University College of Cape Breton Student Union. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3147

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

Whereas the annual Terry Fox Run has become a Canadian institution to raise funds for cancer research; and

Whereas this worthy event requires dedicated volunteers to ensure its success; and

Whereas sisters Doreen Beazley, of Nine Mile River, and Carol Feetham, of Enfield, were recently presented with 20 Year Certificates of Appreciation and Second Decade of Commitment Awards by Terry's mother, Betty Fox;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate sisters Doreen and Carol for the fine example of volunteerism for a most worthy cause.

[Page 8374]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3148

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

Whereas dispatchers are the first point of entry into the emergency medical system; and

Whereas emergency medical care dispatchers are taking a strike vote tonight; and

Whereas last fall, the Minister of Health said he had a plan to deal with the possibility of a strike;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately resolve his plan in case of a strike to avoid a repeat of last year's events with paramedics.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 8375]

RESOLUTION NO. 3149

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

Whereas swearing-in ceremonies were held last night for HRM councillors and school board members; and

Whereas Brad Johns of Middle Sackville, was elected municipal representative for District 19 in the communities of Middle and Upper Sackville, a portion of Lower Sackville, Beaver Bank and Kinsac; and

Whereas Paul Russell was acclaimed as the school board member for the same area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Brad Johns and Paul Russell, two energetic newcomers, to the municipal council and the school board, and wish them all the best during their terms representing their communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3150

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

Whereas ambulance dispatchers are taking a strike vote tonight; and

Whereas this is the same employer who forced ambulance paramedics to strike last year in order to reach a fair settlement, thereby putting lives at risk; and

[Page 8376]

Whereas dispatchers provide an important service in the timely transportation of people to medical facilities in crisis situations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour work to ensure a quick resolution to this dispute.

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 Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3151

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

Whereas yesterday the Health Minister said the doctor recruitment in Nova Scotia was "second to none"; and

Whereas the minister said only Alberta was better; and

Whereas the minister should know that you cannot be second to none when someone else number one;

Therefore be it resolved that if this minister insists on comparing apples and oranges, he should stop leaving Nova Scotians nothing but the pits.

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.

[Page 8377]

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3152

MR. DAVID MORSE: 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 is a self-advocacy group for challenged Nova Scotians; and

Whereas tremendous peer support was evident at their highly successful AGM in Greenwich this past weekend; and

Whereas People First assists its members in attaining self-sufficiency, an important benefit to not only its members but to all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the accomplishments of People First and its members.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3153

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

Whereas economic development in all areas of this province is dependent upon a safe, reliable transportation system; and

Whereas Nova Scotians rely heavily upon our neglected road system for goods and services; and

[Page 8378]

Whereas this government has failed to present a comprehensive transportation plan which would serve as the engine for economic development across this province, in all regions of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Economic Development and Transportation work together to face the challenge of producing a plan that fosters economic development in all areas of Nova Scotia, based upon the vital importance of our road system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3154

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

Whereas CBC Radio's Cross Canada Checkup visited our province over the weekend to hear the down-home opinions of typical and average Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the host, Rex Murphy, took his show to the general public in order to get an untainted view of Mr. and Mrs. Nova Scotia; and

Whereas someone who bravely took the microphone was our own NDP member for Dartmouth North who tried to pass himself off as a humble, average Nova Scotian, and we know the difference;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLA for Dartmouth North be recognized for having the courage to speak up on national radio, even though he took time away from other Nova Scotians who do not have a regular forum to express their views.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 8379]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3155

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

Whereas Robin Gates of Berwick, Kings County, was one of six Nova Scotia participants at this year's National 4-H Leader's Conference in Toronto; and

Whereas the members selected from Nova Scotia are role models of Nova Scotia's 4-H Program; and

Whereas during the five-day conference in Toronto, Robin and the other Nova Scotia delegates took part in a variety of educational sessions focused on agricultural issues;

Therefore be it resolved that members of Nova Scotia's House of Assembly extend our congratulations to Robin for her hard work, determination, and leadership abilities, which she proudly displayed through Nova Scotia's 4-H community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 8380]

RESOLUTION NO. 3156

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

Whereas yesterday I tabled a resolution asking the government to reassess its decision not to allow waiver of notice to allow submissions to the Law Amendments Committee via e-mail over the Internet; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Bedford Basin said no when the request for wavier was made by the Speaker; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, who claims to be just an ordinary Nova Scotian, has denied her fellow ordinary Nova Scotians the opportunity to express their views on government legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Bedford Basin and all her colleagues on the government side of the House, reconsider their position and join with members on this side of the House to allow submissions to the Law Amendments Committee via e-mail over the Internet.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3157

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

Whereas the faculty and students of West Pictou Consolidated School were recently inducted into Nova Scotia's League of Peaceful Schools; and

Whereas the League of Peaceful Schools, a coalition of 117 schools from across Nova Scotia, is committed to helping students find peaceful solutions to their daily problems; and

[Page 8381]

Whereas the peer mediation program and discipline alternatives at West Pictou Consolidated School have helped contribute to a safe school environment while teaching valuable life skills;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the students and staff of West Pictou Consolidated School, as well as Nova Scotia's League of Peaceful Schools, for their commitment to creating safer schools and a more peaceful world for all.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3158

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

Whereas Duferco came in here and took the pants off this government, then peeled the shirt off its back; and

Whereas Duferco picked this government's pockets clean, and the government only asked, what more can we do for you; and

Whereas this government's response to any concerns about this is, don't worry, be happy, or else, go take a Valium;

Therefore be it resolved that this government's please-give-them-everything attitude towards Duferco, combined with its give-them-absolutely-nothing attitude towards the Sydney steelworker, might best be termed a dialectic unity of opposites.

MR. SPEAKER: The noticed is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

[Page 8382]

RESOLUTION NO. 3159

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

Whereas the International Literacy Day Awards and Recognition Ceremony was held in Dartmouth on September 8, 2000, honouring the work of adult learners and educators across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Noel Johnston was posthumously awarded the Dr. William Pearly Oliver Award for his contribution to literacy and adult education in the African-Nova Scotian community; and

Whereas the contribution made by Noel Johnston to the cause of literacy and adult education is just one example of the selflessness and determination so many Nova Scotians have demonstrated in this field;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the work of the late Noel Johnston, and thank all those involved in the advancement of lifelong learning in this province.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 3160

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

Whereas the Musquodoboit Harbour Heritage Society was recently honoured by the Antigonish-Eastern Shore Tourist Association for their outstanding contribution to tourism within the area; and

[Page 8383]

Whereas the many contributions of the society include operating the Musquodoboit Harbour Railway Museum and Information Centre, working with the Musquodoboit Trailways Association to rebuild the caboose as an interpretive centre and housing various exhibits and community events; and

Whereas the success of the society is the product of an active and involved membership;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the hard work and dedication of members of the Musquodoboit Harbour Heritage Society, and congratulate them on receiving this prestigious award.

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 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3161

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

Whereas the Second Atlantic Agricultural Sciences and Technology Workshop was held on October 26th and 27th at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College; and

Whereas more than 200 agrologists, researchers, farmers, farm leaders, educators and others attended the workshop; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the initiative emphasized science and technology opportunities to strengthen the food production systems in the Atlantic Provinces while respecting the long-term considerations of our environment;

[Page 8384]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Agricultural College on this initiative to foster information sharing and co-operation in the area of agricultural sciences and technology.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3162

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

Whereas Nova Interiors, a downtown Dartmouth business for over 15 years last week held the grand opening of its new showroom; and

Whereas Nova Interiors, under President Meg Wallace, relocated on Portland Street to its larger, more visible location; and

Whereas their expansion is a positive sign of the continued growth in the commercial environment in downtown Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Meg Wallace and her professional staff on their commitment to downtown Dartmouth and wish them all the best as they continue to provide quality design and decorating services to the residents of Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8385]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3163

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

Whereas the pop single, "Little Donald's Wife", by Judique fiddler Glenn Graham was recently released to radio; and

Whereas this single, a mix of modern techno beats and traditional fiddle, features lyrics co-written by Graham's multi-talented cousin, the honourable member for Inverness; and

Whereas this is the first pop single to feature the input from a member of this House of Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Glenn Graham, who with a little help from his cousin, is sure to have a smash hit on his hands.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 3164

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

[Page 8386]

Whereas Lloyd "Cute" Huskilson was perhaps the best baseball player to ever come out of Shelburne County; and

Whereas Mr. Huskilson's baseball career in Shelburne County spanned approximately 20 years between 1930's and the 1950's; and

Whereas a local committee being spearheaded by Ralph Wolfe of Lockeport is presently working toward having Lloyd inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature wish this local committee the very best in their diligent work to have Lloyd Huskilson inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3165

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 Halifax International Airport is one of the most efficient and respected airports in all of Canada; and

Whereas the Halifax International Airport was chosen in June as the location for the head office of Air Canada's integrated regional office, beating such cities out as Toronto in this competition; and

Whereas the selection of Halifax for this office is expected to create 175 jobs and further establish this region as a vital transportation link and a good place to do business;

[Page 8387]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Air Canada for choosing Halifax as the centre of its integrated regional airline service and the management and staff of the Halifax International Airport for making such a successful business case.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 3166

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

Whereas Mike Doucet works as a Computer Services Officer in the Department of Community Services; and

Whereas during the current departmental United Way campaign, Mr. Doucet volunteered to shave his long head of hair if the department could raise over $1,000; and

Whereas in all, over $1,200 was raised and directed to the Canadian Cancer Society through the United Way, a society close to Mr. Doucet's heart as his mother passed away some years ago with cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their gratitude to Mr. Mike Doucet for his worthy work in this worthy cause.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8388]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3167

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society opened the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in 1967 and since that time has been a major destination for tourists in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the museum, which is part of the Nova Scotia Museum family, has preserved and interpreted our province's marine heritage for future generations; and

Whereas the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic has welcomed over 100,000 visitors this season;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contributions of the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society (Interruption) No, it is actually up. And the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic to the tourism industry in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3168

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

[Page 8389]

Whereas it is vitally important to have women in leadership roles on school boards and other bodies within Nova Scotia's education's system; and

Whereas Sandra Everett was recently voted Chairwoman of the Halifax Regional School Board and Carolyn McFarlane was voted Vice-Chairwoman; and

Whereas these two long-time board members are bringing great experience and knowledge to the leadership of the Halifax Regional School Board;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature recognize the importance of women in leadership in education and congratulate Sandra Everett and Carolyn McFarlane on their new roles in Nova Scotia's largest school board.

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 3169

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

Whereas Nova Scotia folk art, including wood carvings, pottery, hooked rugs and quilts is world renowned; and

Whereas upon relocating to Nova Scotia 10 years ago, Amherst resident Lu Freeman fell in love with folk art around the province and thus began a dream of opening her own folk art gallery; and

Whereas Lu Freeman's dream was realized this past summer when she opened Artisans and Folk Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, displaying the works of many of our province's finest artists;

[Page 8390]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Lu Freeman on the opening of the Artisans and Folk Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and wish her good luck in success with this and all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3170

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

Whereas there are many individuals among us who work hard to ensure that the operations of Province House run smoothly on a day-to-day basis; and

Whereas one such individual is Mr. Richard Ramsey, who has worked as part of the cleaning team for the Legislature for the past five years; and

Whereas Mr. Ramsey will be celebrating his 43rd birthday today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in wishing this hard-working member of the House of Assembly operations team the very best this year and in the future as he celebrates his birthday today.

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.

[Page 8391]

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3171

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

Whereas the Albion and Samson Trails linking Stellarton and New Glasgow have been added to the list of Hearts in Motion Trails, a project of the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation; and

Whereas the trails are marked at one kilometre intervals to assist those in increasing their physical exercise and decreasing their chances of heart disease; and

Whereas this concept of trails began in Ireland in 1996 and came to Canada in 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly applaud the efforts of the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Stellarton Trails Committee, the New Glasgow Riverfront Development and the Stellarton Rotary Club for assisting with this significant project towards better health.

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 Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3172

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

[Page 8392]

Whereas the federal Liberal Government continues to deliberately erode its fiscal ability to be a full partner in funding Medicare and public education; and

Whereas Canada is judged to be the best country in the world by the UN, in part, for our commitment to national standards for health and education, regardless of a province's ability to pay; and

Whereas Prime Minister Chretien is acting in a manner that deliberately perpetuates a shrinking federal proportional commitment to Medicare;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the cynical double-talk of the federal Liberal Government and the Prime Minister in his assault on national standards for Medicare.

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 Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3173

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

Whereas each year theft and equipment damage at construction sites cost the industry about $1 million; and

Whereas recently a new partnership with Crime Stoppers Nova Scotia and the Construction Association of Nova Scotia was created to help curb these types of crimes; and

Whereas this initiative involves erecting signs and placing stickers on equipment and tools at construction sites with the Crime Stoppers' phone number, for people witnessing such crimes to call;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Crime Stoppers Nova Scotia and the Construction Association of Nova Scotia for their leadership and initiative in developing this important partnership.

[Page 8393]

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3174

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

Whereas the constituency of Preston is blessed with a multitude of talented and dedicated individuals; and

Whereas one such person of the constituency is Mr. Tony Grady of Porters Lake, a skilled blacksmith and ironworks artisan, and the proprietor of the business, Hammer and Tongs, located in the Chezzetcook Industrial Park; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality and its Millennium Committee called upon Mr. Grady's capabilities to refurnish and restore the grandeur of the 200 year old historic ornamental gates at the Young Avenue entrance to Point Pleasant Park;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the HRM Millennium Committee for its financial support of this project and commend the tremendous craftsmanship of Preston constituent, Tony Grady, for his fine work which we hope will enhance the park for another 200 years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8394]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3175

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

Whereas family, colleagues and friends recently gathered to pay their final respects to St. Mary's Warden, David Veinotte; and

Whereas David was a well-respected member of the local community, serving as a long-time funeral service director and owner of Veinotte's Ambulance Service, and for his work with the municipal council and the Regional Development Authority; and

Whereas David was always concerned with what was in the best interest of all of Guysborough County, not just his own municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of David Veinotte and remember him for his many years of dedication and service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3176

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

[Page 8395]

Whereas long-time Dartmouth resident and school board member Sandra Everett was, last night, voted in as the new Chair of the Halifax Regional School Board, the first time a Dartmouth resident has held this post in the new, amalgamated board; and

Whereas this school board has a huge task with its constituency encompassing the learning needs of approximately 58,000 students; and

Whereas Sandra has, for years, dedicated so much of her time to our education system as a school board member: as a past-president of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association and as a former director of the Canadian School Boards Association, representing with earnest the needs and concerns of students, parents, teachers in Dartmouth and across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our congratulations and best wishes to Sandra Everett as she continues her public service to our education system as school board member in Dartmouth and in her new role as Chair of the Halifax Regional School Board.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3177

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

Whereas the 2000 Canadian Surf Lifesaving Championship was held this past summer at Risser's Beach, Lunenburg County, drawing competitors from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia team won medals in all events under the leadership of team captain and 10 time reigning ironman Jason Cross of Eastern Passage; and

Whereas the Canadian Surf Lifesaving Championship will be held in Nova Scotia for the next two years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Jason Cross and the entire Nova Scotian team for their outstanding performance, and thank the organizers of this competition for bringing it to the beaches of this beautiful province.

[Page 8396]

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3178

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 1st Middle Musquodoboit Valley Boy Scouts recently held a variety show fund-raiser on November 4th at the historic Bicentennial Theatre; and

Whereas the scouts and their leaders are raising funds to attend the Canadian Scout Jamboree on Prince Edward Island next summer; and

Whereas the Middle Musquodoboit Valley Boy Scouts are extremely grateful to all parties and supporters of their variety concert that raised $1,500 for the trip;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend our warmest regards and best wishes to the 1st Middle Musquodoboit Valley Boy Scouts Troop, that reside in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, as they prepare for next summer's jamboree.

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.

[Page 8397]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3179

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

Whereas Grand View Manor in Berwick has provided compassionate care to area seniors for 30 years; and

Whereas the goal of Grand View Manor is to promote dignity and independence among their residents; and

Whereas Grand View Manor is celebrating their 30th Anniversary with an open house today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the staff and management of Grand View Manor upon their 30th Anniversary and wish them continued success, carrying out their important work.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The Oral Question Period will begin at 2:47 p.m. and end at 4:17 p.m.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 8398]

SYSCO - SALE: AGREEMENT - VERACITY

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. On June 22nd, this government issued a news release announcing the sale of Sydney Steel to Duferco. Now that we have finally seen the agreement, we can see the news release for the prize-winning work of fiction that it is. Margaret Atwood should eat her heart out over such work. The news release trumpeted a sale price of $25.5 million. The truth is that this government got taken to the cleaners, and in the process took Nova Scotia taxpayers right along with them. It is giving away the mill, plus it is giving away $21 million, plus it is on the hook for a loan for $4.5 million. My question to the erstwhile minister is, why did you allow a news release to go out that was so disgracefully misleading? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would members in the House please take their seats.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. We did, in fact, find a purchaser and entered into an agreement, which was signed, that will see the province initially receive $10.5 million as a down payment, when the deal is signed, once the bill is passed, and it is, in fact, the end of an era which saw the Province of Nova Scotia annually put forward $44 million and accumulating a debt of approximately $3 billion. This is a good deal, it is in the best interests of the taxpayers, the steelworkers and the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, these questions are all about truth. One of the things the June 22nd news release so conveniently left out is that as part of the deal Duferco is getting finished product and scrap metal with a market value of nearly $11 million, at the same time Duferco is presenting a cheque for $10.5 million. Do the math. It is getting $11 million in valuable, marketable goods, plus the mill, lock, stock and barrel. That is quite a deal you struck, Mr. Minister. You drive a hard bargain . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruption) Order, please! I called the honourable member to order to ask the question, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor, question only.

MR. CORBETT: My question to the minister is, why are you forcing the NDP to ferret out the details of this bad deal, instead of coming clean and telling the truth, that you were taken to the cleaners?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, since Ernst & Young took over the operation of that plant, there is a positive cash balance in Sysco for the first time in history and, in fact, they are purchasing the assets of that operation. So one would assume that they should get the assets when they make the purchase agreement final by the passage of the bill.

[Page 8399]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, Duferco got their Christmas present. Well, the same news release claims the total return to the province from this deal is $7.6 million. When are you going to admit that the province will not get a penny from this deal and, in fact, that Duferco is getting $21 million of hard-earned Nova Scotia taxpayers' money?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in response, as I indicated in answer to a previous question, at this point in time there is in the neighbourhood of $25 million in the Sysco account and if you look to the capital investment fund, once those expenditures have been made to upgrade the assets so that Duferco has a fair chance of operating, there will be $7 million accruing to the province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

SYSCO: SALE - STATUS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. At about 6:45 p.m. last night the Minister of Economic Development finally tabled the agreement to sell Sydney Steel. Our suspicions that this was a bad deal, based on the minister's refusal to release it, were confirmed on first glance. My question to the Premier, is this deal that we see before us final?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, Ernst & Young, in an effort to divest the province of the steel mill, contacted well over 200 firms around the world to find out who would be interested in buying Sydney Steel. As a result of that effort, four proposals came forward. Those were evaluated first by Ernst & Young and later by the board of directors of Sysco who made a recommendation that one opportunity to sell the plant as a going operation and one only was viable. That is the Duferco presentation. That is the one we accepted. It was the very best opportunity that this province has had to have a steel industry in Sydney.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I hope the Premier will come close to answering this question because he certainly did not come within a mile to answering that question. This is why the deal is not final. There are about 15 pages of schedules that are not even signed. This means that the company can come back at any time to the government and get more money. The Premier basically wants the Legislature to offer him a blank cheque. My question to the Premier is, how can the Premier justify this agreement when it is not even yet completed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member opposite is disappointed that there is going to be a steel industry in Sydney. The member opposite is disappointed that 200 Sydney steelworkers will have a job where there was no opportunity

[Page 8400]

until we found this sale. Shame on that member. There is opportunity in this deal. That member should be congratulating the government for its success.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, last night the very confused Economic Development Minister tried to explain this deal to reporters. According to The Canadian Press, he said that all the money was in the form of a loan. Well, that is not true. The agreements state that most of the money will be held by the government's lawyer and won't have to be repaid; contrary to a blue book promise. My question to the Premier is, can the Premier clarify which source is right, the minister or the agreement?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government is pleased that the deal is going forward, and instead of putting more money in Sysco we will actually have a profit. But, for the edification of the member opposite, I would ask the minister to respond and explain the deal to the member opposite.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in response to the question, the terms of the loan, it is expected that if we go forward with the $4.5 million loan it would be subject to the terms and conditions of any loan; that is, it would be repaid with principle.

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

SYSCO - SALE: AGREEMENT - DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South will come to order. Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South come to order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We all know that Sysco and its many properties can be considered an environmental cesspool. Now this government, moving unilaterally, wants to severely limit, or eliminate altogether, the environmental liabilities. Yes, it is all clear, now that we finally have a copy of the infamous agreement. The government wants to exempt itself from its own Environment Act, Mr. Speaker, and that is what the agreement says. My question to the Acting Minister of the Environment, why are you turning the people of industrial Cape Breton into second-class citizens by stripping them of the protection of the Environment Act?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act to answer that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame. (Interruptions)

[Page 8401]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, in response to that, this I believe is predicated around concerns involving Clause 3. Clause 3 was included in the bill to clearly protect the interests of the retired steelworkers, and is primarily targetted towards ensuring that once the pension plan is transferred to the other departments that will be taken care of. There is an ongoing, it is understood and has been repeated consistently that the province recognizes its obligations with regard to (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it is embarrassing to watch these go on, to pass balls around, to see a government that doesn't care about our environment, that doesn't care about the lives of people in Cape Breton.

I want to ask that minister over there - if you ask me, he's a do-nothing - are you sworn to uphold the Environment Act? It is simple. When did you first learn that this government would be exempting itself from environmental laws, and did you agree that it was the right thing to do? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. I heard the question. Order, please. The honourable Acting Minister of the Environment was asked a question, would you like to answer it?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member repeat the question? I can't hear it with the noise that is in the House.

MR. CORBETT: My first supplementary, and I will talk nice and slow for him, Mr. Speaker. My question to the acting minister, who has sworn to uphold the Environment Act - is this slow enough? - when did you first learn that this government would be exempting itself from environmental laws and did you agree that it was the right thing to do?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have, as a government, allotted sufficient funds in order for us to be able to meet our commitments with respect to the environment and we will be doing that.

MR. CORBETT: One of the erstwhile backbenchers asked me, did I understand it? Well, you know, I understand gobbledegook when I hear it and yes, I understood it - that is the perspective.

[Page 8402]

This agreement, the Sysco privatization bill may help this government go down as the most anti-environmentally caring government in the history of this province. By exempting itself of the Environment Act, this government has assured that things like PCB clean-up and asbestos and other hazardous materials will go uncleaned and that is only a couple of examples, Mr. Speaker.

My question to the Acting Minister of the Environment, what message are you sending to the people of industrial Cape Breton about their fate under a government that is willing to sacrifice the health and indeed their environmental lives for the sake of a bad business deal?

MR. MACISAAC: I can tell the honourable member opposite and I can tell the people of industrial Cape Breton that this government will accept all of its responsibilities with respect to the environment and we will be working to ensure that all the remediation that is necessary in that circumstance will be carried out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

SYSCO: SALE - COSTS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. During the last election, on the campaign trail, the Premier made it very clear to all Nova Scotians that the word was, no new taxpayers' dollars into Sysco. He sold that to mainland Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other, including Cape Breton. He went on to say that they will not only close it down, but no new taxpayers' dollars into a Sysco deal.

My question to the minister is, after promising all Nova Scotians, including mainland Nova Scotians no new money, why is the minister putting in excess of $21 million into Duferco's bank account to make this sale deal go forward? (Interruption)

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the monies that are being made available to Duferco to complete this deal are monies that have accrued to the Sysco operation as a result of the receivership or the operation of Ernest & Young, so there is no new money. It is simply as a result of good fiscal management that we have a positive cash balance at this point in time. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: Again, my question to the minister responsible, if there is $21 million in the Sysco account, those are taxpayers' money that has been put into Sysco for years and years. The reality is those are Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars. Again, back to the minister, the Premier stated categorically no new taxpayers' dollars going into Sysco. This is a blatant

[Page 8403]

reversal of opinion. My question to the minister is, when will the Minister of Economic Development give a full and detailed account of how much money he is paying Duferco to buy Sydney Steel?

MR. BALSER: Last evening I tabled the much anticipated agreement which clearly details the payments that will be made and the monies that will accrue and again to the member opposite, the monies that are available as a result of good fiscal management and shrewd investment on the part of Ernst & Young in terms of operating it effectively.

MR. DOWNE: I would like to see the details of that. I know they had an operating line of credit of some $45 million back a little over a year ago - $44 million - and I wonder if in fact that is really what this is all about. Clearly, it is the fact that this government, without any assurances to the taxpayers of this province, are paying Duferco to take over this operation and from the mainlanders' point of view, you have changed your position to Nova Scotians when you said no new taxpayers' dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: How can a Minister of Economic Development justify this blatant infusion of taxpayers' dollars into Sydney Steel when the Premier promised Nova Scotians no new taxpayers' dollars, Mr. Premier, how can you lie to them?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, yet again, there is no new money. This money has been accruing in the accounts of Sysco as a result of the endeavours of Ernst & Young so there is no new money.

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

SYSCO - SALE: COMPANIES - ASSETS VALUE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. One part of the Sysco deal that causes us some concern is that both the purchaser and the guarantee appear to be paper companies, no more. The purchaser is Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation. It was incorporated in Nova Scotia on June 20th of this year and it has no assets except what it is going to buy in this deal. The guarantor, which backs up the financial guarantees at Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation is a company called Duferco Participations Holding Limited. It is incorporated on the Island of Guernsey, a well-known corporate tax haven. My question to the minister is, why is the province dealing with two paper companies rather than with companies that have real people, real assets, like Duferco Farrell in the U.S. or Duferco headquarters in Switzerland?

[Page 8404]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as was indicated in an answer to a previous question, this company came to our knowledge as a result of the endeavours of Ernst & Young. It is a company with some $500 million worth of assets. It is a company that operates in 38 countries. The fact that they have created a holding company to do business in Nova Scotia is, in fact, standard business practice.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, Guernsey is known for two things - cows and tax shelters. It should cause the minister some concern that he is dealing with two paper tigers. That is because the ultimate guarantee of any business deal is that the two parties have assets to back up their promises. It is a common quote in the commercial world, a guarantee is only as good as the person who gives it. My question to the minister is, what assurances can the minister give this House that a paper company on a tax haven island is good for a $15 million penalty that is payable if the steel mill closes within the next five years? What guarantees?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that Duferco had sales in excess of $2.1 billion last year and have an equity position of $256 million so we are confident that they will honour the commitments that they have made to us in this agreement. It is important at this point we move on.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what you have to do to tell this minister that he is not dealing with Duferco Farrell or Duferco in Switzerland. He is dealing with a paper company. Let me make it clear that Duferco is entitled to try to structure this deal in what was the best possible conditions for them. Let me also make it clear that this government didn't have to agree to everything they were asked for but they did. A little backbone would have helped. This government has been taken to the cleaners. It took taxpayers to the cleaners and then when they were at the cleaners, they got their pockets picked.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CORBETT: My question to the minister is, what steps is this minister going to take to ensure that this government isn't left holding the bag if this deal goes sour?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, there are performance incentives as part of the agreement so we are confident that it is in the best interest of all concerned to meet those and exceed those commitments. We also recognize that it was in the best interest of the province, of the taxpayers, to end the $44 million annual expenditure simply to keep Sysco on life support, and to, in fact, address the fact that $3 billion in accumulated debt is the direct result of this ongoing association.

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

[Page 8405]

SYSCO - SALE: AGREEMENT - JOBS ENSURE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. The saga of Sysco continues, but in the shuffle we may forget that people are involved here. Steelworkers have been used as scapegoats for the problems of Sysco, and in the recent unsigned agreement, which I have a copy of here, some 100 steelworkers are left out of this agreement. There is no mention about steelworkers. There is no mention of any guarantees that 200 additional steelworkers will be given jobs with the new company, Duferco Steel (Nova Scotia) Corporation, which is a paper company only, at the present time. (Interruptions) Pardon me?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable members to direct their conversations through me. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: They couldn't see it. They couldn't see their way clear in this agreement to protect the steelworkers who are still going to be looking for work. My question to the minister is, why is the minister leaving these workers out in the cold by not ensuring that steelworkers will be given jobs in this agreement?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, one of the significant hurdles that had to be overcome was reaching an agreement between the steelworkers union and the province regarding pension-related issues. That agreement was ratified by 85 per cent of the members.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, yes, 85 per cent of steelworkers ratified the agreement because they had the gun put to their heads and they were told that if they didn't ratify that agreement that the steel plant would be sold or closed and they wouldn't get a pension at all. That is what they were told. That is why they signed that agreement, that is why; the gun was put to their heads and the gun was cocked. You told the steelworkers either take it or leave it. My supplementary to the minister is, it is amazing that the minister can find $20 million for Duferco, more than $20 million, and at the same time give a take-it-or-leave-it approach to Sydney steelworkers. If the minister can find $20 million for Duferco, why can't you find more money for the steelworkers?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we found $30 million to enhance the pension package that was put before the union and, again, accepted by 85 per cent of the membership.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. I would add that the steelworkers were forced to take this deal, they don't like it, and I can tell you this much, if you or the Premier would come to Sydney and talk to the steelworkers with me, they will tell you that face to face; but you didn't have the guts to do that. You didn't have the guts to do that. The steelworkers were given shabby treatment here, and in light of the new information in this unsigned document that was presented here last evening, there is no information in here, no agreements that will protect steelworkers who are eligible to work

[Page 8406]

with Duferco once this company takes it. As a matter of fact, the only thing this unsigned document is good for is for the garbage. That is what it is good for. It is not even good enough for the bathroom.

My final supplementary is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would ask the honourable members to bring themselves under control, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has his final supplementary to ask. I would ask you to ask the supplementary question only, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My final supplementary to the minister. Again, let me tell you that steelworkers are upset today, because they still have no guarantees they are going to get jobs at Sydney Steel. This agreement is not worth anything, it is not signed, it can be altered . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. Would the honourable member for Cape Breton South take his chair, please. Next question, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE - DANGEROUS DRIVING OFFENCES:

CROWN PROS. OFF. - GUIDELINES

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. A Dartmouth resident was recently sentenced to three and one-half years for a dangerous driving offence that claimed the life of a 22 year old woman. This individual also had 10 adult criminal convictions on his record, including a drunk driving conviction this past February. So light a sentence in this situation sends a clear signal that the province does not consider addressing dangerous driving as a priority. I wonder if the minister can tell us this, what guidelines has he issued to the Crown Prosecutor's Office regarding dangerous driving offences and does he consider this range of sentence appropriate for the offence of dangerous driving causing death?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I thank the honourable member for the question. Obviously, the matter of this particular case highlights the tragedy of drunk drivers and the irresponsibility of those people who engage in that kind of conduct. I understand the member's concern with respect to this matter. As the honourable member knows, the decision on what sentence will be imposed is ultimately the decision of the courts to make and it is not one for the minister or the Department of Justice, or the Public Prosecution Service. Having said that, I can assure the honourable member that the government does take

[Page 8407]

very seriously the difficult problems of dangerous driving and I assure the honourable member that the Crown Attorneys would strive to obtain the most deterrent sentence possible given the law on the matter.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it is a serious problem, but the minister should know that the maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death is a 14 year prison sentence. Now, we have to wonder how the minister can explain how someone with such a long criminal record received a sentence of only three and one-half years where in other provinces prosecutors demand stiffer sentences for similar crimes. For example, in B.C. just this past week, there was a similar situation that netted an individual a five year term; in Alberta, most recently, a 12 year sentence was imposed. I wonder if the minister can explain to us how it is that in Nova Scotia dangerous drivers causing death are judged on a different standard?

MR. BAKER: I guess the short answer is I am not sure that they are being judged on a different standard. I am aware of a situation where a dangerous driver in Nova Scotia causing death was given a six year sentence, for example, for that same offence. So as the honourable again would be aware, there is a range of sentences that are awarded by judges depending on the facts in a particular case. I am aware of the story in question. Obviously, I am not aware of the particular circumstances in that particular case which led the court to impose that particular sentence. I would be glad though to obtain that information for the honourable member.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the issue is not confined to one particular case, however important it is to the family involved there. Indeed, the families of all of those who have been killed or injured by dangerous drivers take little comfort from a process that does not seem to hand out appropriate punishment.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has to decide how much of a priority he places on the lives of those victims. What I would like to know is, will the minister use the powers that he does have under the Crown Prosecution Act to issue guidelines to the Crown Prosecutor's Office on the range of sentences to be requested by them for dangerous drivers in Nova Scotia?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I can indicate to the honourable member that as an indication of how seriously this particular government takes the issue of dangerous driving, we implemented the 24 hour suspension provisions in the Motor Vehicle Act which have had a profound effect in discouraging drunk drivers, as an example, over the Christmas season of this year. So I think that it is quite clear that this government has a serious commitment to the matter. I do take the honourable member's point and I can undertake to the honourable member that we will take a further look at strengthening our already serious responses with respect to drunk driving.

[Page 8408]

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

SYSCO - SALE: AGREEMENT - SIGNATURES INCOMPLETE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: A question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday afternoon the Minister of Economic Development tabled this 39 page agreement on the purchase and sale of assets of the Sydney Steel Corporation with a number of schedules attached. Without any briefing notes or other explanation to the House, a single copy was laid on the table, and we were then required to make the best of the situation that we could. I am going through the agreement as carefully as I can. I find it contains an unsigned promissory note for I believe U.S. $30 million and an unsigned general assignment of the assets of the Sydney Steel Corporation. I wonder, could the Premier explain why, when this document was tabled in the House, were those items in the document unsigned?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, schedules do not have to be signed until closing, and closing is pending the passage of the bill that makes this all possible, to end this 30 year dependency of the steel industry on government taxpayer dollars.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, this is just for openers. I would like to ask as a first supplementary, the agreement at Section 4.1, Page 9, gives a purchase price of $7 million if the Operational Covenant is not breached, increasing to $17 million if the covenant is breached within one year, $15 million if the covenant is breached within two years, $13 million if within three, $11 million if within four, and $9 million if breached within five years. The document also, at Page 7, values the value of scrap steel on the ground at $6.64 million. I would like to ask, if you subtract the value of the scrap laying on the ground from the purchase price, is it not correct that the net price to the purchaser is $360,000 only?

MR. BALSER: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MACEWAN: Without any explanation, Mr. Speaker. Let me go on to my final supplementary. Schedule 1.1 of the agreement lists additional capital requirements valued at U.S.$17.5 million for cranes, repairs, start-up, raw materials, slab casters, and so on and so forth, $3.5 million of which is to be paid by Nova Scotia Power and $14 million of which is to be paid by the Sydney Steel Corporation. In the Definitions section, at Page 2, theses requirements mean, "Additional Capital Contributions' . . . to be made by Sysco to fund Additional Capital Requirements." I would like to ask the minister if he could tell the House from what source is Sysco to pay the U.S. $14 million to make those upgradings and refurbishments before the agreement becomes effective?

[Page 8409]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as I said in response to an earlier question, Sysco has a positive cash balance at this point in time in the neighbourhood of $25 million. That is a capital expansion fund. The schedule that you see is, in fact, the upgrades that are required because over the past number of years the monies allocated from the provincial revenue to keep Sysco on life support were not sufficient to ensure that the plant was maintained.

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

ENVIRON.: ENVIRON. ACT - EXEMPTIONS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Acting Minister of the Environment. As the minister, he certainly knows about Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-1995, An Act to Reform the Environmental Laws of the Province and to Encourage and Promote the Protection, Enhancement and the Prudent Use of the Environment. You know, in there, Mr. Speaker, there are such headlines as Pesticides, Petroleum Products, Contaminated Sites, Waste-resource Management. My question, very clearly, to the Acting Minister of the Environment is, when did he know that his government was giving away those rights and does he agree?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are not giving away those rights.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all he didn't know what was in the agreement; now he is saying he is not giving it away. This minister doesn't know what is going on in his own department. There are such things happening there, and under this is the activities of designated regulations, air-quality regulations, asbestos waste, dangerous goods, emergency spill regulations, environmental assessment regulations. Why, I ask the minister, would you exempt the most contaminated site in North America from Part 8 of the Environment Act that sets out the requirements? Why are you doing that?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows full well that the liability with respect to that is still retained and we have responsibility for it. What the honourable member is engaged in here is pure fear-mongering.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this government should certainly know its environmental responsibility, especially when it comes to the cleaning up of that site. They set aside monies for remediation, yet, with the stroke of the pen, they are ready to get rid of these regulations. I want to ask the minister, because this group is so consultative, when did they sit down with the Joint Action Group in Cape Breton and discuss signing away environmental regulations?

[Page 8410]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member obviously either has some difficulty in understanding the language or he is purely intent on fear-mongering, because it is quite clear that we have not given up any responsibilities with respect to this, and you know that full well.

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

LBR. - CASINO N.S.: MACDONALD, MRS. SANDY - FILE REVIEW

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Labour. With the written consent of a particular individual I will be raising this issue in the House and I will table a copy of the letter of authorization.

Mr. Speaker, in March 1995, a Mrs. Sandy MacDonald was hired to work at the Casino Nova Scotia in Sydney. On May 15, 2000, she informed her employer that she would require time off for heart bypass surgery. On May 30th, two weeks later, Mrs. MacDonald was fired from Casino Nova Scotia despite her high performance rating, which rates her as a proficient employee. I will also table a copy of her performance record. The reason given by Casino Nova Scotia was that she was a poor performance employee.

My question to the minister, will the minister commit today to review this file and ensure that Mrs. MacDonald will receive a fair hearing in her complaint against Casino Nova Scotia?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that in the course of the activities of the department that a case such as that is being reviewed. It is currently under review. I can assure the honourable member that the file will be given every fair consideration.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, Mrs. MacDonald feels, quite frankly, that she is not being treated fairly in the complaint that she has filed, back in June 2000. In fact in August of this year, the director overseeing Mrs. MacDonald's case was forced to step down and another director was appointed to oversee this file. Since then orders were rescinded and new orders were issued. Mrs. MacDonald feels that from the start she was not given a fair chance and with the people stepping down and new orders being issued, she feels there must have been some conflict of interest to begin with.

My question to the minister, will the minister endeavour to ensure that Mrs. MacDonald's case in particular and, indeed, all cases against Casino Nova Scotia are reviewed by individuals who have no apparent, perceived or real conflict?

[Page 8411]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member mentioned to me on a previous day that he intended to raise this matter in the House. I can assure the honourable member, because I have enquired with respect to this case, that that file is being treated fairly and objectively by the department.

The honourable member is alluding to a perceived conflict of interest. That conflict of interest, Mr. Speaker, does not exist because the individual involved removed himself from the file. The honourable member knows full well that that is a matter of course and practice within the department, either that or he missed everything that was going on in his term as minister.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, yes, that particular individual did relieve himself from that particular file two months after the complaint was filed. It was only when the order was about to be issued that the director in charge withdrew himself so as to make it look like there was no conflict. That is documented and I will table the documents.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is this is not the first complaint of this sort with Casino Nova Scotia. In fact, there have been several orders and I secured that information through a freedom of information request. The evidence is quite clear that there seems to be a clear bias in favour of Casino Nova Scotia on these complaints that are issued by employees from Casino Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: My question to the minister, will he order an independent review of the Office of the Director of Occupational Health & Safety and its relationship to all complaints by employees of Casino Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, today he is lower than a skateboard to a snake would have to be. When he stands in this House and suggests that a public servant is not conducting himself properly, I take exception. I believe he has conducted himself properly in respect to this matter.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would suggest that the comments made by the honourable Minister of Labour are unparliamentary and I would ask him to retract them, please.

MR. MACISAAC: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is indeed unfortunate that the comments are deemed to be unparliamentary because it leaves the situation inadequately described. I will withdraw the remarks. (Interruption)

[Page 8412]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

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

ECON. DEV. - GOV'T. (N.S.)/SAINT JOHN SHIPBUILDING:

AGREEMENT - CONFIRM

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, job losses at the Irving Shipyards have raised questions about the deal the previous government signed when it allowed the yard to be sold to Irving. The minister of the day said the deal secured jobs at the yard for some years to come. Many at the time understood that to mean that Irving had agreed as part of the purchase to maintain certain job levels at the yard. Will the Minister of Economic Development confirm whether such an agreement exists between the province and Saint John Shipbuilding Limited?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that such an agreement exists.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister of the day indicated a jobs clause existed to protect jobs when the Irvings purchased the shipyards. Today the yard is idle and the employees are not being told what their future is. I want to ask the minister whether he will review the sale contract with the purpose of ensuring the Irvings live up to their end of the deal?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, certainly I will undertake to do that, but I would also say in response to the question that very recently we participated as a province with our fellow provinces at a National Shipbuilding Policy Conference at which time labour, business and government committed at the provincial and federal level to work toward ensuring that this country does have a national shipbuilding policy in the very near future.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that does not deal with this agreement and I do not think labour sat down and negotiated a loss of jobs. To this day the province has never released the agreement it signed with Saint John Shipbuilding for the sale of Halifax-Dartmouth Industries Limited. I want to ask the minister if he will commit to tabling the sale agreement in the House?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will commit to taking the request under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 8413]

HEALTH - PARAMEDICS: TRAINING PROG. - STATUS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. On March 7, 2001, the last class of paramedics trained right here in Nova Scotia will graduate. Our made-in-Nova Scotia program for paramedics is recognized as one of the best in North America. Like many programs, the paramedic training program was a victim of the Tory Budget 2000. My question to the Minister of Health is, why would that Minister of Health slash such a vital world-class training program for paramedics?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health did not slash that program. That program was worked out in conjunction with the QE II, and QE II decided that they didn't want to continue on with it anymore, and other arrangements are being looked at.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is bafflegab, and it is not in keeping with the standards expected from the Minister of Health, and he knows that. It is his responsibility. I understand that Holland College in Prince Edward Island is very interested in our paramedic students. In fact, they have made an offer to take over the program here in Halifax and charge our students anywhere from $10,000 to $13,000 per year per program. It is a plan to see that P.E.I. is a clear winner in this deal. My question to the Minister of Health, regarding the students that are now paying perhaps an average of $2,200 as opposed to the proposed $10,000 to $13,000 tuition per year, is how can he sit idly by and watch Prince Edward Island profit while he destroys this world-class Nova Scotia paramedic program?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, he is correct. One of the places that has indicated some interest in continuing paramedic training is Holland College. I can also say there are places in Nova Scotia that have indicated their interest as well. I think one of the things the honourable member is missing, and unfortunately, we miss too much here, our health human resources are now being looked at on a regional basis. We have to cooperate if we are going to do things efficiently and effectively and have health human resources for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. This business of looking at ourselves only by ourselves, he knows as well as I do we have hospitals here in Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East on your final supplementary.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education, my final supplementary, if I might, because obviously this Minister of Health has the opportunity to market a world-class program, and he is choosing not to. My question to the Minister of Education, given that the government should be supporting Nova Scotia programs, would the Minister of Education commit to speaking to her colleague on her left, the Minister of Health, to ensure that he at least considers the Nova Scotia Community College system as a potential deliverer of the paramedic training program?

[Page 8414]

HON. JANE PURVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Certainly that would be a reasonable thing to discuss.

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

FIN. - FUEL TAX REBATE: HST WINDFALL - STATUS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, sir, is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance's attempts to keep a fuel tax rebate out of the hands of seniors and low-income Nova Scotians has reached the farcical stage. Last week the minister claimed there was no HST windfall. Then he said the province was getting HST revenue from fuel, but that it was being offset by reduced spending elsewhere. Yesterday, he said inside the House that there was no increase in fuel HST revenue, but outside the House, he said that there was. I wonder if the minister would tell us what his position is today inside the House?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my position has been consistent. The Opposition has been trying to portray a fact that isn't true, that we are having a windfall on HST on the increase in fuel. That is not the case. Nova Scotians have only certain amounts of disposable income and they will spend that paycheque on numerous things, whether or not it be on fuel or in restaurants or on other items. So overall, there is not a windfall in HST on gasoline products in this province.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister, I will agree, has been consistent insofar as he has been trying to have it both ways. But given the inconsistency of his remarks over the last number of days, I am sure the minister would understand if I wanted to ask him if he would be willing to table the evidence to backup his contention on HST revenue projections, inside this House. Will he table it here? I will even give him the choice to table supporting documents to backup whichever of the contentions he wishes to making at the time.

MR. LEBLANC: I will be releasing the second quarterly reports very shortly. At that time I will be more than willing to give as much detail, and I will tell you what, Mr. Speaker, I will bring my staff so we can have an elementary course in how HST is collected in this province.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister takes it before he has his instructors trying to give it to others, because there is an even larger issue at stake and that is the minister's own credibility. If Nova Scotians can't trust the minister in terms of what he is saying about provincial revenues, how can they trust this minister or this government when they say the only way to balance the books are to cut health care, education and other essential services?

[Page 8415]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to this issue, it is a serious issue. I will be very clear. I am getting my information from my staff, who I happen to have a lot of faith in, and I know the previous minister also did when he was in my capacity. I want to say that the Opposition says that it is very simple, that we shouldn't have any reduction in expenses, and they are saying health or education or any other subjects they want to. At the same time they are saying how important it is that this province have some fiscal stability and that we live within our means. What they are saying, any given day in this House, is incompatible with what they are saying the next day. I am credible in the sense that I am consistent, and I offer that they are not.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH - SOUTH SHORE: PSYCHIATRISTS - SHORTAGE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health realizes all too well that we have some major issues and concerns in his department in one of the more serious areas, in the area of mental health services. It is a crisis right now in this province and especially on the South Shore. The South Shore Regional Hospital is supposed to have the equivalent of five full-time psychiatrists. To date, they have, I believe the number after the latest doctor leaves, the equivalent of 0.2 of 1 full-time psychiatrist for the South Shore. I understand that just recently they have actually asked a previously retired psychiatrist to come back and fill in on a part-time basis. The minister knows we have a serious problem in this particular area in Nova Scotia and specifically on the South Shore. My question to the minister is, what steps has the minister taken to address this growing crisis?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with the honourable member. There are not sufficient psychiatrists in Nova Scotia at the present time. We are actively recruiting them. I have been informed that we are about to have another person available down at that South Shore hospital. It is not full complement but it certainly will help take the strain off.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the person they are talking about is Dr. Milliken, if I am not mistaken, unless there is another staff over and above her recruitment back or secondment back from her retirement. The issue is that this is a problem not only to the South Shore, but throughout the western region. Yarmouth was supposed to have six psychiatrists, they are currently at two. In the area of the Annapolis Valley, they were supposed to have nine, they have 0.9 of 1 psychiatrist. I want to ask the minister here today - on a short-term basis, he has admitted to the fact that there is a problem - what is his long-term plan to deal with mental health services on the South Shore and in other areas of Nova Scotia?

[Page 8416]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that among other things, the initiative this government has taken was a comprehensive mental health review for the province. There are a number of recommendations in that report, which we are in the process of implementing. It is one of the initiatives that we undertook to address the issue, part of the issue, around mental health in this province, which I must say was not very well dealt with under his government.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I was at a meeting, in September, of representatives from the Department of Health and representatives from the South Shore Regional Hospital, as well as other MLAs. It was very clear that the Department of Health does not have a plan, a short-term plan or a long-term plan. Yes, June 15th, the minister released his long overdue review of mental health services. For five months, and beyond that, his department knows there is a crisis. People's lives are at risk. I ask the question to the minister again, why is the minister ignoring his own review and the recommendations of that review in light of the fact that this crisis is still there, it hasn't gone away and, in fact, is getting worse?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the department is very much aware of mental health. Indeed, we are putting considerable resources into the renewal of mental health services in this province. Unfortunately, right now, there are some areas of the province where there aren't sufficient psychiatrists. There aren't sufficient psychiatrists in Prince Edward Island; there aren't sufficient psychiatrists in New Brunswick; there aren't sufficient psychiatrists in Quebec; there aren't sufficient psychiatrists in Ontario; there aren't sufficient psychiatrists in Manitoba; there aren't (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - DISABLED PERSONS:

EMPLOYMENT - STRATEGY DETAILS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. It seems the Premier has never looked at the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities. The rate in Nova Scotia for disabled persons who are forced out of the labour force is 78.4 per cent, this is an increase of almost 30 per cent from the 1991 rate. I will table those informational statistics. People with disabilities face incredible barriers to the workforce, not the least of which is discrimination by employers. My question to the Premier is, where is the employment strategy that will ensure persons with disabilities can access job opportunities?

[Page 8417]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for that question. The strategy that the Minister of Community Services has unveiled, relative to a more progressive look at how we deal with this issue, very directly addresses that question, and I would ask him to respond.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very challenging question, and a question that we have been having people comment on at the Law Amendments Committee. In terms of the disabled, we have to provide the disabled with those special needs, we have to provide the disabled with other items in terms of our social assistance. They have indicated to us that they need those special needs to get back in the workforce and, indeed, be retrained. That is why we announced the direction we are going.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services can be very much aware that when I asked this question during budget deliberations of the year past, the minister said that, in fact, his department was not living up to the expectation of employment of individuals with disabilities. Also, the Crown Corporations are under no obligation and the private sectors that deal with the business of government are under no obligation to hire persons with disabilities at all.

Mr. Speaker, another barrier that is facing persons with disabilities and how they will actually work is Access-A-Bus that won't travel outside of metro, the access-a-taxi that only operates on Monday to Friday, five days a week; after 6:00 p.m. it is closed. I want to ask the Premier how does he expect disabled persons to take a job when they can't even get there?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings a very serious issue to the floor of the House of Assembly. We have done some things. We have made money available now so that buildings in which people work can be made accessible. As the minister had previously said, we are making special needs of the disabled a priority of this government. As the minister has said, we are making training for those that are in receipt of these programs a priority of this government. This government is working towards having employment opportunities made available that heretofore were not available.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier once again. The Premier knows that there has been a lot of inaction taken around this very issue. This is just one example of how the welfare system lacks the appropriate infrastructure to make it work. We can see it with the lack of affordable care to children and we can see it with the lack of services for disabled persons. I want to ask the Premier, when will he stop setting people up for failure by pretending that they have the support needs to enter the workforce? That's the final question. Thank you.

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is aware as is everyone in this House that how do you enhance employment opportunities, you do that through training programs, because the employment opportunities are in direct relationship to the achievements and the

[Page 8418]

education field of the applicant. That is the process that we are following. That is the direction the government is taking. I believe it will provide an opportunity for many Nova Scotians that they don't have today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - SUTHERLAND-HARRIS MEM. HOSP. (PICTOU):

CARE - ADEQUACY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In the blue book, the Tories promised to immediately address the critical shortage of nurses. Last week we saw how the Minister of Health could mishandle the paediatric nursing situation right in his own area at the Colchester Regional Hospital. Now, the doctors at the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou are worried about the cuts being made, which will mean that no outpatient nurses will be available on evenings, weekends or holidays. My question to the minister, does the minister believe that people are getting a reasonable level of care when they will be forced to go to New Glasgow and wait for up to six hours for treatment?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that that type of speculation doesn't do much good for anybody. The fact is we believe that the level of service that is being provided in Tatamagouche will see the continuation of the services to which those residents have been accustomed.

DR. SMITH: That's good about Tatamagouche but this was about Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital. I know how to figure out what the problem is, it is not the clinical footprint that is the problem, it is the map of Nova Scotia that he doesn't understand.

Mr. Speaker, the doctors themselves have proposed a reasonable plan which would save money by cutting nurses' hours but still have a nurse available on the weekends. Now this is at the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou, Nova Scotia. (Laughter) The question to the minister, if the minister truly believes in local consultation, why did he allow this community-based plan to be shot down by his own department?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the honourable member but it was a good answer. (Laughter) The issue of the business plan as it relates to the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital is one that the honourable member knows has had considerable debate. I am pleased to say they are meeting with the Department of Health officials and the physician's staff over there have agreed to a comprehensive assessment of that situation after that service will not be available on the weekend. I think the situation is progressing.

[Page 8419]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Sutherland-Harris Memorial situation will be re-evaluated, I understand, after three months. This makes no sense, since the nurses have already been cut. This is like this minister did at the Colchester Regional Hospital, exactly the same pattern. Will the minister commit to returning the outpatient nurses before conducting the evaluation in order to get a true assessment of the hospital in full operation?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the intent is to implement the business plan and conduct the evaluation as has been agreed to by the staff there with the Department of Health.

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

EXCO - LOW INCOME ADULTS: GED - PROVIDE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. We heard in the newspapers on Monday that the government is considering providing free GED education to those who are receiving welfare assistance. But, once again, this is another example of this government pitting poor against the poor. Like the issue of fair wages, it can be argued that those who are working poor should also have that opportunity to a free GED education. My question to the Premier here is, will he commit here today to providing that same GED education to everyone in poverty, working or not?

THE PREMIER: The government continues to be extremely concerned about the whole issue of poverty in Nova Scotia. That member and many members of this Legislature have on occasions spoken about this issue and understand the issue. We are making a strong move to assist those who are on the community services side of things to escape the welfare trap that exists now with the current program. We will be moving forward with progressive policy in this province that will assist all of those in this province who are dealing with poverty.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, well the short answer obviously is no, and I want to remind the Premier that this isn't just about the welfare trap, this is about the poverty trap. There are many people who are working in this province who are living below the poverty line who also need help. My question again to this Premier is, when are you going to stop fighting a war against the poor and start fighting a war against poverty?

THE PREMIER: I welcome the question because we have started the war against poverty. One of the initial skirmishes that we have initiated is the integrated child benefit that not only applies to those who are on community services, but applies to all children in Nova Scotia.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, you know what the real irony of this is? This government leaks out through unnamed sources that they are going to put in place this new program to provide GED education for free, with the other hand, back in the spring, they cut

[Page 8420]

education funding which resulted in the reduction of adult education classes in Nova Scotia. So my question to this Premier is, how will you be able to ensure that people who are living below the poverty line are going to get a GED education when your government is cutting programs that provide that same education?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the problem with some of the members opposite, they have dealt with previous governments that didn't deliver. This government has a plan of action, it has a blue book, it has commitments and it will deliver.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES.: MINING CONFERENCE - ATTENDANCE

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: My question is for the minister who contributes only a portion of his time to the very important portfolio of Natural Resources. As the minister is no doubt aware, mining is worth $500 million to the Nova Scotia economy.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. MACASKILL: I believe $500 million is correct. The fall Mining Matters Conference was held last week on Monday and Tuesday at the World Trade and Convention Centre. Given the importance of this conference to the industry in Nova Scotia, did the minister attend this conference?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: I thank the honourable member for his question. The mining conference and the mining industry is extremely important in Nova Scotia, with over $500 million being contributed to the economy. I would remind the honourable member that my deputy was there and delivered a talk. My presence was required in the House which, unlike me, the opposite member's presence was not required in the House.

MR. MACASKILL: I thank the minister for admitting that he did not feel the conference was worthy of his attention. I went to the conference and I spoke to several producers, who were disappointed that the minister would not, or could not, attend the conference. My question to the minister is, why did the minister feel the Mining Matters Conference did not warrant his attention?

MR. FAGE: I thank the member opposite for his question. If I may respond, the Mining Matters Conference had one major issue and that was the lobbying of the federal government and the investment of flow-through shares for assistance in exploration. I am very proud to announce to the House that we were able to convince the federal minister on that particular point, and the investment numbers of 15 per cent are going to be provided to

[Page 8421]

the industry and we are looking for growth and opportunity in the coming years. So I am very proud of the mining industry and very proud to interact and represent their interest on behalf of this province, like our government is.

MR. MACASKILL: I wish to thank the honourable minister, because I am certainly happy to agree with the minister, to see that he is following up on the program we started when I was minister. So I am glad that he is following up on that program. Seriously, Mr. Speaker, this is a very important initiative for the prospectors and developers of the mining industry. So I ask the minister today, will the minister pledge to pay more attention to this very important mining industry?

MR. FAGE: I thank the member opposite for his question. As the member probably well knows, I met with the executive before the conference and we discussed many important issues that would be there. The one thing I would point out to the member in regard to investment and most other policies related to the federal government, this government is delivering and signing agreements on behalf of the industry in the province which the previous government was unable to achieve in virtually any field. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - INT'L. COVENANT: AGREEMENT - STATUS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is for the Premier. Back in 1976, the Province of Nova Scotia signed on to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Article 11 of that particular document stated that every citizen - in this case, Nova Scotia - has the right to adequate food, shelter, clothing, and the continuous improvement of their living conditions.

Last week we heard in the Red Room, and we have been hearing again this week, about single mothers who don't have enough food to feed themselves or their family. We have heard about people who are disabled, who don't have adequate housing. My question to the Premier is, can he explain to the people of Nova Scotia why he is breaking Nova Scotia's agreement for the covenant?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government takes the whole issue of how we deal with the less fortunate in this province very seriously. I think that if the member opposite would only reflect, he would be prepared to acknowledge that the government is taking substantive steps to ease that problem and to allow Nova Scotians to have adequate food, clothing and proper living conditions.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, that would be a lot easier to agree to if we actually knew what this government planned to do and had the details of what they intended to do. Back in December 1998, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

[Page 8422]

singled out Nova Scotia for how it was treating the poor in this province, and noted that social assistance rates had been dropped by 35 per cent. It concluded that the cuts are causing pain and hardship to already vulnerable groups, resulting in higher rates of homelessness and hunger. Now, this year, this government has cut those rates even further. My question is, what will the Premier tell the UN the next time it comes around and asks what his government is doing and why are they still deepening poverty for the people of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services will brief the member by way of an answer as to what this government is doing to address the problem.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member raises a good question. What the member has failed to outline to the House is that when we looked at the rates that we announced two weeks ago, the rates and the programs we announced to help people, to help them remove the barriers to getting back to work and the barriers that they have, we did increase a number of people who were on social assistance, those rates came up. The rates for family assistance people were reduced slightly, but the range of services that they became eligible for were greatly expanded.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, leave it to the Minister of Community Services to be the master of Orwellian language, range of services as he likes to call them. This government has a responsibility to low income Nova Scotians, ones who are working and ones who are not. The Premier is choosing to ignore his responsibility by blaming them for a lack of jobs and not providing them with adequate supports, like childcare, like technical aids for people with disabilities. People can't find work, the disabled have few choices. What will the Premier tell the children, the single parents and the disabled about his government's commitment to protecting their rights?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member continues to ask the government what positive steps the government is taking to address the problem. We have taken positive steps, steps that certainly in some quarters are receiving some plaudits. This government can't solve all the problems overnight, but it will work in a step-wise, orderly fashion to address those issues and other issues that face this province.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: ASSESS. SERV. - DOWNLOADING

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. I have a letter here that has been tabled before and I wish to table again here today to refresh the memory of this House. In the letter the Premier promises he will not download costs to the municipalities. My question to the minister is, why is the minister breaking the Premier's commitment by downloading the cost of assessment services to municipalities?

[Page 8423]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows full well that the municipal units in this province last year were not in any way touched by this government and its budget as it attempted to address the $500 million deficit. We abided by the provisions of the Municipal Government Act, which required a 12 month notice. I would also remind the honourable member that we also adhered to the memorandum of understanding with respect to uploading of the community service costs to municipalities.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the letter that I just tabled did not indicate that this agreement or this commitment by the Premier was only for one year. I refer to the letter once again. In the letter the Premier says that the Progressive Conservative Government will stop the unilateral downloading to municipalities. It is very clear. Will the minister do the honest thing and admit that he is breaking a clear commitment to the municipalities by this Premier?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the honourable member that this government has, in fact, lived up to the commitment of the honourable Premier and we will continue to live up to that commitment. We have uploaded the costs of Community Services by an amount of $11 million. We will do that in the coming year, Mr. Speaker, and if the honourable member wants to do the math, he will find that in the final analysis, the municipalities of this province will be significantly ahead when the balance sheet is looked at.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is not regarding math. My question is in regard to accountability. For the sake of accountability I ask the minister, once again, now will he admit that the Premier made a commitment and a promise that he in no way could keep?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, you know, the suggestion is that I am going to attack. I am not going to attack that honourable member because he asked a question that is legitimate and it is a question that is fair game for this House. I am quite prepared to deal with his questions and I am quite happy to provide an answer. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has the floor.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, if we look at the balance sheet with the memorandum of understanding of community services and we take into account the assessment costs, at the end of the day with the increase in equalization payments, the municipalities of this province will be ahead of the game by a sum of $44 million.

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

[Page 8424]

ENVIRON. - SYSCO: SALE AGREEMENT - INFO.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Minister of the Environment. Late last night, in the dark of night, the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act tabled the sale agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: One copy.

MR. CORBETT: And Article 13.6 in that agreement states, "The Environment Act (Nova Scotia) and regulations thereunder, as from time to time in force, supplemented, amended or replaced, shall not apply to matters from which the Province is responsible . . ." Could the minister tell me what that means?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to let the honourable member know what it means. What it means is that the buyer of the facility is not going to be responsible for environmental damages up to the closing date. The province will look after and accept all of its responsibilities up to that point in time.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we have had two different answers to the same question. The minister says that it is only for pensions. This minister says it happens after the fact, after the sale. Well, they are both wrong because in his own bill it certainly says that nothing in there contains, namely subsection (10) of Section 7, the exemption deal from the pension legislation. So these guys do not know what is going on. So my question to the minister is, why is this minister so completely unaware of the content of this sale agreement?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I will try to answer the honourable member again.

AN HON. MEMBER: You better speak slowly. He does not understand.

MR. MACISAAC: The new operators of the plant will accept responsibility for the provisions of the Environment Act of this province when they begin their operations to take control of the situation in Sydney. Mr. Speaker, the province will accept its responsibilities with respect to the environment and the provisions under the Environment Act. That is pretty clear.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: You know, Mr. Speaker, this would be funny, this dog and pony show if it didn't affect the lives of Cape Bretoners. But, obviously they don't have seats in industrial Cape Breton, so they don't care. I guess the question is, when did the minister not know, and what doesn't he know?

[Page 8425]

MR. MACISAAC: Perhaps the more appropriate question, Mr. Speaker, would be when will the honourable member accept some facts and not try and be a fear-monger and read the agreement and deal with the contents of the agreement. He doesn't want to accept the facts. We accept our responsibilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton East. You have about 15 seconds.

ECON. DEV. - STREAM INTERNATIONAL: GLACE BAY - LOCATE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the Minster of Economic Development, I want to know what the minister is going to do about helping to locate Stream International in Glace Bay because we need those jobs there for the 20,000 people of Glace Bay?

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3082.

Res. 3082, Health - Care: Clinical Footprint - Min. Show - notice given Nov. 6/00 - (Dr. J. Smith)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East. Talk fast.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is like running shoes. I bought a pair of running shoes once, or walking shoes, and I said, well do you have running shoes? He said no, you just use the same shoes and walk faster. So I think that is your advice. I accept that.

Thanks for the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to speak to Resolution No. 3082 regarding the clinical footprint in health care. The resolved part of the resolution essentially says the Minister of Health take his foot out of his mouth long enough to show us his clinical footprint so that Nova Scotians can finally understand why their health care system has been cut to the bone. This is very important that we debate this resolution here today. We have asked many times in this House, and the minister has never once given a straight answer regarding this clinical footprint. In fact, the Minister of Health has never given a straight answer to any question about health care in Nova Scotia, this session or in earlier sessions.

[Page 8426]

Mr. Speaker, during the spring session, the minister ducked and avoided giving any information about health care cuts because he was waiting for the so-called clinical footprint. To date, we have not seen a little toeprint let alone a footprint. In May, the Minister of Transportation wrote a letter to the Hants Journal and said, the clinical footprint being designed by government is not expected to be ready until mid-summer. That was in May of this year. We are now approaching the late fall. The clinical footprint, as members know, is also known as the clinical services plan within the Department of Health. The document called, the Future Direction of the Health Care System was released last November. It is a Tory plan to turn four regional health boards into nine authorities.

On Page 5 of that document, it says, "The clinical services plan will be developed in collaboration with health organizations and providers." However, the Liberal caucus had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Bob Smith, CEO of the capital district. Mr. Smith told us they had never seen the clinical footprint. In fact, we obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act that proves that no hospital administrator or health board CEO was contacted about how the footprint could impact on their own operations. This is supposed to be the whole blueprint for the future of health care services in Nova Scotia. Health care providers have not seen it and that is why I think it is important to have this debate on the floor of the House of Assembly today.

I suspect that the draft of this plan is being circulated now. In fact, the Deputy Minister of Health has probably already received some feedback about his footprint, and it is not good. It is not good footprint feedback so that is why it is being kept secret. That is my opinion, Mr. Speaker.

Other documents we have received under the Freedom of Information Act say the clinical footprint was supposed to be completed by June, 2000, followed by a four week consultation. The footprint is now nearly six months late with no consultation in sight. This footprint is supposed to incorporate the report of the Provincial Health Council. However, the Provincial Health Council only released its Health for Nova Scotians report last week. Nova Scotians, through that, told the Provincial Health Council that it is time to stop the chaos in our health care system. This is the same thing that the Goldbloom report told that government. Dr. Goldbloom said it would create more confusion and cost more money to get rid of the regional health boards. Even though the Premier had demanded the Goldbloom report be conducted, he refused to follow its recommendations.

The Provincial Health Council report also said that Nova Scotians wanted more money spent on programs like illness prevention, home care, home support for seniors and better mental health programs. The report also said that Nova Scotians needs more doctors. The Minister of Health disagreed that the health care system was in chaos, he took offence to that. He said he feels good about our health care system and the direction that he and it are taking.

[Page 8427]

The minister also dismissed the concerns of Nova Scotians about health care, saying there is no chaos in the system. He even boasted that Nova Scotia has one of the finest health care systems in Nova Scotia. I think it was when that minister came on the scene but you couldn't say that today in Nova Scotia. This is a compliment, in my opinion, to the previous government, since this minister has done nothing for the health care system except cut clinical staff and reduce services across this province.

The minister said he is already moving in the direction recommended by the Health Council. I guess this means the minister thinks the report was a waste of time and was just an exercise to give an impression of consultation.

The clinical footprint is also supposed to incorporate the findings of the mental health services review conducted earlier this year. Again, that review was months late. I imagine the reason the minister was reluctant to release the review was because it called for a substantial funding increase for mental health services in this province. We know that is needed.

Turning to promises in the Tory blue book, the Premier himself promised the people of Nova Scotia something during the election, and barely a year later did the exact opposite. The Premier can't deliver on his promise to heal the health care system for only $42 million, as he did throughout the 1999 election campaign. The Premier promised $43 million would be found by simply cutting the fat, by getting rid of administration. What the Premier didn't tell Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, was that the total budget for administration in health care was 2 per cent of the budget.

Now we have seen severe cuts to nurses and front-line care services. The minister has even told nurses that he is not responsible for hiring new nurses, or their working conditions. Hospital emergency departments, like Digby, are closed on weekends. Paediatric and obstetric doctors at the Colchester Regional Hospital threaten to quit because of cuts. That is still an outstanding issue to be dealt with.

Bed closures at Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital in Tatamagouche have forced the community to protest in the streets. We were there and saw the passion of that community for their hospital. Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou is being forced to turn away people because there are no nurses working evenings or weekends. (Interruption) It is correct, Mr. Minister, and you will have your time, we know that is being done and the doctors are not lying. You can accuse us of lying, but you should not be accusing the doctors in that community.

The QE II, and the list goes on, is going to be closed for five weeks of the year except for emergency cases only and the MLA for Shelburne threatened to quit the Tory caucus if funding was not restored for seven acute beds and the Minister of Health still has not said where the money is coming from.

[Page 8428]

The Medical Society has given up answering calls from people who are desperate to find a family doctor and the Yarmouth Hospital has cancelled dozens and dozens of hospital surgeries, the minister was not aware of it and he had to be informed through other means, that they had cancelled dozens of hospital surgeries due to bed shortages. The beds were not available in the Yarmouth General Hospital. Doctors and staff of the former health regions have been ordered to keep their mouths shut through a gag order and I personally read that memo.

Mental health services in the former western region are eroding with no psychiatrist to treat emergency cases and the member for Lunenburg West highlighted very severely in that particular western region the problems with psychiatrists, and the list goes on and on and this is not what the Premier and the Minister of Health promised.

Turning now to the Ministerial Code of Conduct introduced on November 18, 1999 and put into effect on that date one year ago and the code applies now. We are talking about the legislation that was introduced last spring.

The very first section of that year old document says, "Ministers must be truthful and forthright. Ministers must not deceive or knowingly mislead the House of Assembly, or the public . . ." And a week ago in this House, the Health Minister said that the Liberals presented inaccurate information about the numbers of calls logged by the Medical Society and these numbers turned out to be true. The same minister is now famous for playing word games with the media.

Nova Scotians will remember the embarrassing scrum outside of this Chamber when the minister himself answered questions about hospital downgrades with statements like, what is a health care centre? You tell me. This minister also said that information revealed by the Liberal caucus about health cuts last June when this House was sitting was wrong when, in fact, he knew it was correct. This upset his staff, they knew he was standing in this House and giving incorrect information to the Opposition. When the information was proven correct, the minister said that, well, it was outdated and it was old. Time does that, it makes things outdated and old.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has one minute left.

DR. SMITH: The previous Speaker told me to speak fast so I am trying to cover my information because I had lost a minute - I don't know if you are aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You have already lost 30 more seconds.

[Page 8429]

DR. SMITH: Right on. Under the code of conduct, the minister should be disciplined for violating the first section, ministers must not knowingly deceive the House of Assembly or the public, but I believe that the Premier thinks this type of behaviour is acceptable. He allows this to continue with the Minister of Health to call the Opposition liars when he knows we are telling the truth.

If the Premier truly believes that the Health Minister did not mislead this House, then the Health Minister must be ignorant of vital issues concerning his department. The Premier's commitment to this code of conduct has been put to the test and he has failed miserably. This is because the Premier himself is guilty of the same offence.

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

Before I recognize the next speaker in this debate, I would like to recognize the honourable member for Preston on a very important introduction.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to introduce to the House some familiar faces in the east gallery. From the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, the community of Dutch Settlement, we have the President of the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley PC Association, Mr. Clifford Hines, and his wife, Mary, and their daughter Tammy who is home visiting from P.E.I. where she is studying at the veterinarian college. Welcome. (Applause).

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you and thank you for that introduction. Welcome to our guests.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: I too would like to add my personal welcome to the Hines family and I hope you enjoy the proceedings and not get too misled by what you just heard.

I am pleased to rise in my seat this afternoon to debate Resolution No. 3082. It gives an opportunity for me to clarify for the honourable members opposite, our approach to planning for clinical services in this province.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost I want to stress the word planning. It is an ongoing process, and one that I am confident will guarantee Nova Scotians quality health care services when and where they need it. For far too long, decisions about health in Nova Scotia have been made on the basis of hearsay or political expediency; it is an irresponsible approach. Far too often there have been inter-institutional jealousies in this province which have prevented appropriate levels of medicine to be delivered to the population as a whole.

[Page 8430]

I can say that two of the worst cases have been between the Colchester Regional Hospital and the Aberdeen Hospital. If you want reinforcement of that, read the letter to the editor in today's paper by a former staff member, and also the words of one of the people who was upset about some of the changes at the Lillian Fraser Hospital in Tatamagouche, who told me he was just worried that Colchester Regional Hospital was going to swallow the whole thing up.

Mr. Speaker, for far too long in this province, as I said, services and decisions have been made not on clinical evidence; it has been an irresponsible approach. The old approach saw services not being adequately available across the province. It tolerated, and indeed encouraged, duplication and waste. It placed too much emphasis on acute care and not enough on community-based care and it allowed the system to work in silos instead of an integrated approach to optimize quality of patient care.

This situation, Mr. Speaker, could not continue, and this government has chosen not to let it continue. The principles we are applying to the clinical services planning process are these: the needs of Nova Scotians will always come first; decisions will be based on outcomes and real evidence; - I don't imagine any of the two Health Critics opposite would understand that - health care resources will be allocated using solid measurable evidence; and I can assure you that there will be constant provider input and consumer input.

Mr. Speaker, we want a health care system that is sustainable, that provides quality services, is accessible and affordable, and is flexible to the changing health care needs of our citizens. I would refer, to the other two people who are going to address this resolution, they may wish to take a look at the editorial in today's Cape Breton Post which says that there is no shame in delivering a health care system which is affordable. The delivery of health care services is changing across Canada and around the world, and it is changing for good reason. Diagnostic and treatment technologies have improved significantly; breakthroughs in pharmacology have had a profound effect on treatment choices and effects; and surgical procedures have become less intrusive and, thereby, requiring much shorter hospital stays.

All of these changes, Mr. Speaker, and others have come to Nova Scotia, so it would be foolish to continue to do things the same way we have done in the past. If we want different and better results for our patients, we cannot continue in the same practices of the past. Our goal is to make sure Nova Scotians have a great health system today and tomorrow, and we must ensure the long-term viability of services will be continuously enhanced wherever and whenever possible. We need to ensure the demand is there to support the delivery of a consistently high-quality service. Services should be provided as close to home as possible, and services should run efficiently for patients to access with the minimum amount of duplication.

[Page 8431]

We will not tolerate anything less for the residents of Nova Scotia. Any wasting of resources is really a lost opportunity to do more or better things with our health care investment. We want to offer more home care and long-term care services. Unfortunately, we do not have unlimited resources to do everything that we want and thus it is more important than ever that we get the full bang for every dollar we spend in health. Taking the time to plan for a clinical services approach is responsible. It is shameful to think that this is the first time that such a thoughtful and evidence-based approach has ever been taken in health in this province. I cannot fathom how decisions in health care have been made in the past.

What we are doing, Mr. Speaker, is complex and it is time-consuming. It is a more difficult approach than the past one, but it is the right approach. We have done a great deal of work to this point. There is a lot more to do and we are not done yet. The more information we collect the more we realize what additional information we need to collect and review before going out and consulting with DHAs and providers. I appreciate that people are anxious for the information, but we have to ensure that time is taken to do the job right before we go out and look for additional input.

Mr. Speaker, the type of information being collected and reviewed includes findings from the Provincial Health Council's report, which by the way, as the honourable member pointed out, is a very strong endorsement of the approach that this government is taking to health care and that is the one they called for, the facilities review and the mental health review. Wherever possible we are using information already collected, including data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information. What is important is that we are pulling this information together to get a better understanding of our health system, how our hospitals and communities currently work together or do not work together, what services are available where, how many people access these services and how frequently, and statistics and practices regarding in-patient days, bed use and occupancy rates.

Another example of what we are learning is information from in-patient referral patterns. That shows the percentage of in-patients treated in their local DHA. This is very important information to have when you are planning services province-wide. The establishment of these new district health authorities is one of the driving forces behind our new approach. We must align health services as part of the move from a regional to a district model if it is to work. We must also establish an ongoing framework by which health care service provision can be planned and coordinated.

This will help to, first, develop programs to develop Nova Scotians today, tomorrow, the day after and, indeed, well into the future. It will help us to improve the efficiency of the system and it will also help us to match health resources to community and individual needs. At the end of the day for this government, for this Health Minister, for this Department of Health, our first priority remains Nova Scotians. Their needs will be the first to be considered.

[Page 8432]

Mr. Speaker, I believe I have already mentioned this on a number of occasions, but let me stress that there will be consultation. There has to be. We will begin briefing the DHAs on planning, I am sorry, we began that process last week and we will continue to consult providers and communities as we move forward. We firmly believe the best way to have a responsive patient-focused system that will be dependable for the long term is to provide our valued men and women throughout the system with the information and knowledge that makes them better managers in the delivery of this vital public service.

I am pleased to say that there will be many opportunities for change and improvements in this new approach to planning and I will also say, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotia's health care system continues to be one of the finest in the country. All of the patient surveys for the province's facilities show that Nova Scotians are very pleased with the care and treatment they receive once they are in the system. The satisfaction levels of Nova Scotia's health care system, Mr. Speaker, are in the 90 per cent range. That is an A in anybody's rating system.

The QE II Health Sciences Centre has a national reputation for excellence in coronary care. Our cancer care program is second to none in the country. It is doing things in centres in Yarmouth, Antigonish, New Glasgow, as well as here in Halifax. The recruitment of oncologists has been extremely successful, and I must just add, that this government in the last six months has reduced the waiting list for breast cancer screening mammography from about six months down to one month.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister's time has expired.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to join the debate on the resolution put forward on behalf of the member for Dartmouth East, with respect to the clinical services footprint. Whenever the Minister of Health gets up to speak I feel like I have literally dropped into some kind of alternative universe, because what the minister says bears absolutely no relation to what is going on in health care in Nova Scotia today. In fact, it is like going through the looking glass, and I would tell you that not since Alice has a person been so out of touch with the world around them as this Minister of Health. Alice in Wonderland, that's who. Not since Alice in Wonderland has a person been so out of touch with their own reality.

Before I did this, I used to practice some law here in the province. When I saw this Health for Nova Scotians, it reminded me, Mr. Speaker, that if I was still practising law, we would call this a multi-count indictment with witness statements attached. That is what this is. This is an indictment of how poorly the Minister of Health and this government has managed the health care system in this province. Is it any wonder that the head of the council would say that there is chaos in the health care system today? Is there any wonder?

[Page 8433]

We look around the province, and as I said, Mr. Speaker, this may be the indictment, but here is the evidence. The minister talks about evidence-based decision making. I want to table for the minister this article from the Truro Daily News. He may recognize that newspaper. It is the one in his own constituency. It has to do with the Colchester Regional Hospital. One of the interesting things about the Colchester Regional Hospital, if you actually take the time to talk to the staff of the hospital there, what they will tell you is, you know what we would really like to know from the clinical services footprint is what the plan is for our hospital, because right now we don't know. Are we going to be losing our regional status? Why is it that they are attacking services like paediatrics by reducing and laying off 7 of 13 paediatric nurses? Why are they bent on destroying a service to women and children in the community? That is what they want to know. In fact, in this article entitled, The Only Circus is in the Legislature, the editorialist says, the Colchester Regional Hospital paediatrics and health care debate has created an enormous credibility chasm for the government. A credibility chasm. Amalgamation of obstetrics and paediatrics units and downsizing of both departments has resulted in some medical staff threatening to withdraw services because they say the government is dealing with economics at the expense of patient safety.

Mr. Speaker, that is the . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would like to say to that honourable member, I have to correct this. I should have written to the editor, but I want to tell everybody, including this member, that the medical staff supported the integration of the obstetrical and the paediatric services. It is clear that the editorial writer, and for him, absolutely, I am not at all surprised, lack of research, lack of accurate information.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. That is not a point a order, but nonetheless, it is a point of clarification.

MR. DEXTER: It is not a clarification, unless it is right, Mr. Speaker, and it is wrong, and he knows it is wrong, and he carries on this charade. What is more is he trespasses on my time in the debate. The reality is - and I have spoken to the members of the paediatrics unit there - yes, they were in favour of the amalgamation of those units, but they were not in favour of the lay-off of 7 of 13 paediatric nurses. In fact, they told you time and time again - it got to the extent that the paediatrician decided that she was going to withdraw services. The minister had to rush in at the last minute with a Band-Aid in order to keep the service running for the next three weeks. That is exhibit A.

[4:45 p.m.]

I want to bring to the attention of the Minister of Health this editorial from the Pictou Advocate - perhaps he will remember where Pictou is, I know they left it off the map last year - but nonetheless the name of this editorial should ring some bells for the minister. It says Deep Wounds Opened by the Hospital Cutbacks - and what the editorial says is that the

[Page 8434]

hospital services have been eroded over the years from what was once a full service hospital. Women can no longer give birth there and people can't access emergency services. These are but a few of the lost services. This is part of the chaos. Say this is exhibit B.

We tabled in the Legislature just a short time ago what I will call exhibit C. This is a letter to Dr. Glasgow at the Lillian Fraser Hospital in Tatamagouche in which the orthopaedic surgeon at the QE II was thanking him. In the body of the letter he says, I certainly appreciate you taking this patient, Mike, we have tremendous pressure on our beds. We have been cancelling surgery on the orthopaedic service of late due to lack of beds. It makes no sense to have our acute care beds occupied by patients who require care by their family physician or some other restorative care facility. I think the cancellations of surgeries will continue as the lack of available services outside the QE II continues. Mr. Speaker, exhibit C.

As I said, this is a multi-count indictment but every time we turn around it becomes clear that the minister does not understand what is going on in the province. If they haven't completed their clinical services footprint by now, what is the hold up? If they have completed it, why are they keeping it a secret? Is this akin to the business plans for the health boards, that they won't release them until the House of Assembly lets out so that people are not around to properly analyse them and investigate them? Is that the plan? That is what they tried to do with the Sydney Steel agreement - make sure there is no time for debate, continue to hide. That is what the minister's modus operandi is and has been since the very beginning.

Shall we continue, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we shall.

MR. DEXTER: Here is a letter, again to Dr. Glasgow. This one comes from a doctor of internal medicine and he says, Beds are at a premium everywhere. As you know, we have had our own problems with patients waiting for two or three days in the emergency department because of the unavailability of beds in the hospital. Mr. Speaker, I will call this generously exhibit D. The reality is, we have people unable to get the care, the service, the treatment they need, but are spending day after day in the emergency room because there is no bed available. The minister said a few minutes ago that part of this problem was hold-over from the problems created by the former Liberal Government. I agree with that, frankly, because there was poor planning a number of years ago, but the minister has made it no better. The only difference between the former Liberal Government and the government of Mr. Muir is that they were mayhem, he is chaos. That is the only difference, mayhem to chaos. It is of little solace to the people of Nova Scotia to look around the province (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is an awful racket in here, folks. I recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 8435]

MR. DEXTER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, indeed there is an awful racket. It is because these folks either to my right or across the way don't like the sound of the truth. It upsets them. They always say, look, stop telling the truth, you are going to give the people of the province the wrong impression. What happened in Dartmouth, to the Dartmouth General Hospital? They cut 28 acute care beds from that facility, 28 acute care beds, and they know that one of the reasons they are having difficulty (Interruptions) Here he is again trying to trespass on my time.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member knows that statement about the Dartmouth General Hospital is simply not correct.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. Honourable members, a point of order is generally to be brought to the attention of the House when there is an irregularity that is perceived in the proceedings or some flagrant misuse of the rules. I caution all honourable members to just try to keep that in mind when they get up to make a point of order.

MR. DEXTER: I appreciate your explanation, perhaps you could explain it on the minister's time instead of mine.

Mr. Speaker, they do this dance where they say, well, we converted so many beds into long-term care beds and we have set up something, they are using a term now called swing beds. Swing beds, can you imagine? These are beds that are apparently out of service but can be swung into service if the usage goes up. They create a new kind of Orwellian term for every single time they make another cut to the health care system, but they are not fooling anybody. They are not fooling . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has one minute remaining.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, 28 acute care beds gone from the Dartmouth General Hospital. How about the Hants Community Hospital? Six to seven acute care beds lost from that institution. What about All Saints Hospital in Springhill? It used to operate as an acute care facility, with emergency room capacity that had five acute care beds. They will all be eliminated. I realize that I am down to the last few seconds of my opportunity to speak on this resolution. I have to say, if the Minister of Health has any capacity for compassion for the people of the province, what he ought to do right now, what he ought to do tomorrow if he doesn't do it today, is table the so-called clinical service footprint so that we can tell the people of the province just how far the chaos extends.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has evaporated.

[Page 8436]

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting listening to the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour in his law-and-order approach to health care. I noted with interest that for a member who is in a Party that never has and never will have a Minister of Health, it is interesting listening to his approach in answers and concerns of health care. I will say that he did make a couple of points that built on the previous speaker from Dartmouth, a former Minister of Health - a good minister, a minister who has done something with health - and that is with regard to the concerns of the so-called clinical footprint to health.

I know that the current Minister of Health would love to be knowledgeable about the real workings of health, and at some point in time he will wake up to the reality that what he has been saying to the members of this Legislature and to Nova Scotians is that his approach to health care is to make the Minister of Finance happy, no matter how much damage and how much chaos that creates in providing quality health care to the public of Nova Scotia, a responsibility that that minister and that government clearly have and have avoided, to make sure that Nova Scotians have a quality health care system in this province.

I note with interest that the Premier, who is not here this evening (Interruptions) the Premier, who has made this statement repeatedly, that $46 million will fix the health care dilemma in Nova Scotia has been long gone . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He said that?

MR. DOWNE: He said that many times during the election campaign, $46 million, trust me, I have the answers, trust me, I will provide quality health care for $46 million, and . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That group over there has alleged about this $46 million statement on a number of occasions. I wish they would table that, so we could clear this up for once and for all.

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

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think if the good member opposite, the Minister of Health, he would just sit and listen, it would be a lot better for this House than standing up and trying to waste time.

I think the reality here is that the now clinical footprint that we are talking about is important to us all. I think what is happening is that this Minister of Health is hiding behind that particular initiative because clearly this government did not have a plan for health care delivery in Nova Scotia. It did not have a health plan in 1999; it does not have a plan in the year 2000 and I doubt the plan will be before the public before the year 2001. Shame on this

[Page 8437]

government for misleading Nova Scotians about their so-called plan for health delivery in this province.

This minister continually talks about outcome measurements, and he goes on about clinical evidence. Well, I would like to ask the minister to table in this House his clinical evidence when it comes to the fact that we do have doctor shortages in this province and what he is going to do about it. I would like to know his clinical evidence when he talks about closing beds in the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, only to have the Minister of Justice threaten the minister for whatever, to say you cannot do that because I will lose my job and I will no longer be MLA for Lunenburg and all of a sudden, the minister does a flip-flop on that particular closure. I would like to see the clinical evidence that precipitated that change the minister made. I would like to see the clinical evidence in the fact that there have been so many shortages of nurses, yet this minister says we have all the nurses we need. Well, that is not so; in fact, they ran elections saying that they will have more.

The minister has gone on . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member permit a quick introduction?

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much for the courtesy. I just want to introduce to the House, Lawrence Legge and Theresa Legge, who are here with their three children - on their first visit to the Legislature - Hailey Legge, Kathleen Legge and Miranda Legge and Lawrence's brother, Bob Legge. I would ask them to rise and that you give them a warm welcome, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Greetings, and we certainly appreciate all our guests who drop into the Legislature. We appreciate the generosity of the honourable member for Lunenburg West who has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to welcome the Legge family, a great family from the Valley. I have known them for a few years and I, too, want to welcome them here to hear how this government and this Minister of Health is destroying the foundation of health care delivery in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want them to understand that the minister talks the talk, but does not walk the walk. This minister talks in platitudes about sustainable health care, predictable health care, open health care, dependable health care, but the reality is we have health care that has serious problems.

[Page 8438]

Mental health in Nova Scotia is in a crisis, and he knows it. This minister knows it today because I brought it to his attention; he knew it on June 15th, when the report came back to him indicating a crisis. I will say that this minister knew prior to June 15th of this year that mental health has serious problems and that we are in a crisis situation and the lives of individuals are at risk. He knew that; he knows that, and yet nothing is done.

We see very clearly that this minister is talking about evidence for these decisions. He talked about performance evaluations, like benchmarking and accountability. I agree with that; that is important. We brought that in when we were in power, and I think this minister would learn from that that outcome measurements are important, but when you compare outcome measurements, you need to compare factually, the base for which you start. It appears to me that what the minister is doing at this point, with these bed closures that he has got around this province, he is using after they close these beds and then comparing to the future is wrong.

[5:00 p.m.]

I note with interest the minister said not too long ago that the bed closures in Lunenburg County or in Nova Scotia were based on the fact that people were taking vacations. This started back in May, back in April, and to a degree he is accurate, but the reality is more beds were closed than ever before and some of those areas of bed closures that he has made because of vacations have still been closed and he knows the only way he can manage the budget of health care that they said they could fix for $46 million is to keep more beds closed because if he keeps beds closed, he does not need as many nurses and if he does not need as many nurses, he does not need as many doctors.

Their plan is simple, shut down the health care system, squeeze it so that we have queues that are so long that people will be waiting months and months to get in to see specialists and to see general practitioners. That is wrong and I know the good minister would love to change that. He happened to be the one stuck with being Minister of Health. I think if the Minister of Health really had his way to fix the health care system, he knows the investments that are required and he would make them, but his hands are tied because the Minister of Finance said no and because the Premier had said, $46 million and we will fix the problem.

The reality is this minister, the Teflon Minister of Health, some day that Teflon will burn off and the reality is that this health care crisis will stick to him because he knows, as slick as he is, as smooth as he is about trying to get away from the issue, the reality is that health care under his administration is on a slippery slope and they can blame all they want on the federal government. The reality is they are the government. They have the ability to make the investments. They have the ability to move the agenda forward and they have not, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 8439]

The minister refuses to accept that evidence-based outcomes are going to be done only when it suits them and not when the evidence of the people who call our constituents' office is real. The calls I get about trying to get into a specialist, the problems I hear about and I have talked about some of them with the minister and they are trying to address them, but some of the problems that people have that we hear every day is really the evidence-base that all of us have to go by. Every MLA on the Tory benches gets calls about health care and concerns about health care.

I ask the minister if he would at least take the evidence of his own people as to what their concerns are, whether they are down in Shelburne, and the good member for Shelburne knows all too well, as he threatened the Minister of Health that he would resign if he did not get his way, that the closure of beds in that facility, at Roseway Hospital, is wrong.

AN HON. MEMBER: A powerful member.

MR. DOWNE: He is a powerful member because, obviously, the member is still here. The Speaker of the House threatened the minister because the closures that he was talking about for his facility were wrong. So I say to the Minister of Health that his outcome measurements that he is talking about, the evidence-based analysis that he is talking that he is hiding behind, all he has to do is talk to his own caucus and his own Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has one minute remaining.

MR. DOWNE: He will know that they have a problem in health care that only this minister, if he comes forward with the facts about health care, will be resolved. Do not put your head in the sand, Mr. Minister, do not hide with your head stuck in the sand or rose-coloured glasses. You have a crisis. You have a problem and you have to fix it because you are the government and you said you could. (Applause)

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

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I just wondered if the minister wanted the floor for any particular purpose.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 8440]

HON. JAMES MUIR: I just wanted to point out to the honourable member - he was going on about deficiencies - last night, among the things I did when I was in Sydney, was to attend a reception for the 29 new doctors who have come into that constituency in the past year. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thought he was rising to do an introduction.

AN HON. MEMBER: If he had known that, he would not have let you up there.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: It was not a point of order. It was a good point.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3102.

Res. No. 3102, Fin. - Fuel Rebate: Priorities - Review - notice given Nov. 6/00 - (Mr. D. Downe)

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and address the House tonight. Our Party has been raising this issue in the House for some time now. It could be a long cold winter for many Nova Scotians and the price for home heating fuel is expected to reach record highs in the coming months.

The government is reaping extraordinary tax revenues because of the high price of both gasoline and home heating fuel in this province. The Minister of Finance, who is fast becoming known as the miser minister, has not come out with an accurate accounting of his fuel revenue, so we don't know what to believe. Unfortunately, the government is not coming clean with Nova Scotians, and not revealing their revenue sources. I do know one thing, Mr. Speaker, home heating fuel costs are increasing in this province, and where I come from, that means more money for the Finance Minister's pockets and less for consumers in this province.

Even though there was money left over in last year's program, this government did not make any funding available in the last budget for a new program this winter. For example, the new family assistance program depends on a similar application process which we suggested would not work in this province, from experience. Of course, it is no secret now, that this Tory Government did not accept that advice, and as a result, that program was very unsuccessful. The Tories are making lame excuses, Mr. Speaker, and they claim they cannot afford another rebate because the money is not in the budget, that rebate that we indicated last year was very disappointing. Such a direct assistance program should be automatic, and we told the minister so. But, of course, he wouldn't accept the good wisdom on this side of the House. He had to go out and learn for himself. The Tories ignored the Liberal advice,

[Page 8441]

which resulted in only about 10,000 Nova Scotians out of a possible 75,000, which is approximately 13 per cent, getting a much-needed benefit. The government failed to acknowledge to the people in need that this program is available to them. The people didn't know that they had an avenue in which to apply for this rebate. The Tories, of course, tried to look like the good guys without having to spend any money, actually helping those who really needed it.

This is a typical Tory Government that does not care. In particular, they do not care about the poor. Perhaps when people begin having to leave their homes this winter, the members on the opposite side will recognize the need, the emergency need and the requirement for people on fixed incomes in this province, such as seniors, who will have seen the increase of home heating fuel more than double. The price to fill an oil tank now is over $800. Over $800. In a lot of instances, that is more than a fixed income cheque that many of our seniors receive on a monthly basis. The minister has $3.25 million left from last year, but he will not spend it, even though the price of oil is even higher than last year.

Mr. Speaker, everybody in Nova Scotia appears to be confused on this issue, including the minister. One day he says he has a windfall, the next day he doesn't have a windfall, the next day he says he may have a windfall. This is no way to manage the books of this province. This minister should be aware on a daily basis what is required for the people whose well-being he manages.

The Liberal prediction of only 13 per cent of eligible Nova Scotians last year, that prediction came true. This government admitted its home heating rebate, last winter, was a failure. That indication comes from the Minister of Community Services.

The Minister of Finance and the minister responsible for business and consumer affairs urged home heating companies to do their part by showing flexibility on their 100 gallon delivery requirement. Their co-operation would be an immediate and direct help to consumers. Well, Mr. Speaker, this minister has the ability to provide that assistance to residents of this province through his own department, and we are seeing the same as the issue of withholding tax cuts that were announced by the federal government. This government really does not care about the poor in this province. People on fixed incomes require a government that will listen and, more importantly, they require a government that provides relief in times of need. Mr. Speaker, with that I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you honourable member.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: I am going to be sharing my comments with my colleague, if I don't get carried away and use all the time.

[Page 8442]

First of all, I was going to be talking about the home heating aspect of this resolution. I was listening with interest to the member for Cape Breton Centre and there was so many misstatements and so many fallacies in his comments, I have to correct a few of them, one of which is that it costs $900 to fill a tank with oil. The honourable members, even from across the floor, have said that probably the most we are talking about is $500. How do you get a $900 calculation, I don't know. So, if his math is as bad on that one as the rest of his statements then we have a major problem here.

I do want to say that this is a serious issue. There are a lot of people in this province who are faced with this serious problem with home heating costs. I don't belittle that, I think all of us, as members, know that. However there is a situation, not only in this province, but in this country and in North America and globally that we are faced with, and that is the higher cost of crude oil, which has driven up the cost both of gasoline and home heating oil.

A lot of people in this province heat their homes with electricity and they have been insulated from this cost and I think electricity rates have been constant for four to five years, if I remember correctly. Part of the reason that is Mr. Speaker, is that we, as a government, back in the 1990's privatized Nova Scotia Power Corporation. That is the reason . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Your nose is growing, Neil.

MR. LEBLANC: My nose isn't growing, whatsoever. That is why we have had stable power rates in this province and that has helped many people in this province; many of them who are seniors, many of them who are low-income earners in this province, and they have benefited from them. However, for those who burn oil, it is a different story.

On October 18th, the federal minister, Paul Martin, announced in his mini-budget a rebate for lower income Canadians to assist them with rising fuel prices. I was pleased to hear he had done so. They are in a situation where they have a surplus, this year it is approximately $12 billion and many analysts are saying that if you look into the fine print and look up how many commitments in the future he is paying this year, that that number is actually bigger. I think that my honourable colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid is agreeing with me, that if we start looking to the numbers, I think Mr. Martin is being very innovative in the way he is planning for the future. I think if he told Canadians he had that much of a surplus, the demands on him and the federal government would be much greater and they would be asking for more spending in different areas, and the same thing in regard to relief on this issue.

I want to go back, deviate a little bit. Let us go back to gasoline. I remember very clearly the federal government put in place a cent and one-half tax to pay for reducing the deficit. It seems to me that the deficit has been gone for two or three years and it was probably gone even before then. So where is Mr. Martin in changing that situation? We are in a situation in this province that we have a serious financial situation. We all realize that.

[Page 8443]

We have had sizeable deficits in the past and we had to deal with that. We had to bring some financial stability to it.

[5:15 p.m.]

Last year we had a deficit of $384 million and we put in place a program for low-income Nova Scotians of $50 to help deal with that program. Now many of those would contest that that is not sufficient. We could argue the merits of this one way or another, but we did that to offer some people some relief. Now I want to be candid. Did we get the uptake on this that we hoped? The answer is no and the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre made mention that perhaps we didn't advertise it enough. For that he may very well be right. We tried - I know in my own constituency that I spoke to seniors and tried to make sure that they were aware of it and there were some of them that felt that this was only for low-income earners, but it was also for seniors who receive income supplement. I think that that was the mix-up that a lot of the seniors didn't take up for it and that is regrettable. That program was put in place to deal with those and - $50 is $50 and I would much rather have it in the pockets of those who need it. I am not in that situation and I am sure that members of this House are not in the same situation.

Mr. Speaker, I look at the situation - we talk about the federal government, and I want to go with the federal government and talk about it, because I think we should. Nova Scotia and the feds are in a different situation and the feds are the federal Liberals. A member Opposite has asked me the question, and it is Paul Martin and he is a very smart Finance Minister and a very articulate politician. I will let the Opposition speak as to their opinion of what Mr. Martin can or cannot do. I do want to say that for ourselves in this province, we have a lot of demands put on government.

I have empathy for those who are in my riding who have problems filling up that tank. You know what, Mr. Speaker? The Tories do not have the monopoly in compassion, neither does the NDP, neither do the Liberals. I think all of us in this House all have people within our ridings that we know personally, people who we are related to or people that we have known very well, who, through no fault of their own, through circumstances, have found themselves in difficult situations.

The situation is this, last year we put in place a program, this year we have asked in regard to the federal program for more details. Now, there is a federal election going on and it is funny, but when we get into federal programs it is difficult to work with the federal government and to get clarification of a lot of the programs that they have. This morning I was at one and the new $700 million innovative program that they have and it is funny how much of a lack of specifics we had. We talked about that issue and I think the member for Lunenburg West was there and I think the member for Halifax Atlantic was there also and all three of us heard the same comments - long on platitudes, short on specifics. I think during federal elections that sometimes has happened. We have been asking for some

[Page 8444]

specifics on this and I tend to think that we will probably get the details around November 28 - I don't know why I picked that date, it may be the day after that but we'll see. The federal program has a flaw that is just universal. It doesn't deal with those who are perhaps most in need. I am talking Nova Scotia because those are the people that we represent in this House. We have indicated, and I have said outside this House and I have said in this House, that once we get that information we will review that information and as a government we will make a decision.

I know the honourable members want us to make a decision today. We are going to take that information and as a Cabinet we will review it. Now whether we will put a program in place rests to be seen. I am not going to be saying something here today that later on may be different. I think that would be irresponsible. I do want to say that people say that, as Minister of Finance, I like to have revenues and that we are trying to control our expenses. That is true because if we don't get our fiscal house in order in this province then we will not have the means to deliver the service later on. When I looked at the honourable member for Cape Breton the Lakes, who said that, it is the Finance Minister who is holding back the tax cuts and we should be giving more tax cuts to the people. Well, you can't have it both ways. They are asking us to be financially accountable, they are asking us to balance our budget so that my children and their children and their grandchildren will have the programs they depend on, then they are saying we should spend more, more, more.

Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of making choices. We are making choices. Though they have the right to criticize us for the decisions that we make and the fact that we do not help every single Nova Scotian, we will try our best to help those most in need. We will do our very best to deliver these social services not only for today, but for my daughter who is eight years old, whom I care very much about, and I want her to have a future. So I appreciate (Interruptions) that the Opposition has a job to do. I appreciate that they are here to ask the government for everything that is there. This is a serious request. I don't belittle the fact that this is a serious request. But, it is not always as simple as they would make it out to be. It is a matter of choices and I realize that, but I say that (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. Order. The Minister of Finance has the floor. He has two minutes remaining.

MR. LEBLANC: Well, I want to say, Mr. Speaker - and it was the honourable member for Dartmouth East that says I have mortgaged his children. I tell you one thing, you can live in the past, but I am living in the present. I have a job to do. I will say one thing. You were on these benches not too long ago. While your colleague, the member for Lunenburg West, told Nova Scotians that we have a balanced budget. He told them we had nothing to worry about. He told them we are going ahead. At the same, we were adding $500 million to the provincial debt. Now, if you call that performance, if you call that being truthful with the people of Nova Scotia, well, I disagree, and I know that my caucus does. This is a serious problem.

[Page 8445]

Mr. Speaker, I do want to say that the member that will come after me is the member for Sackville-Cobequid, and he will put forward his position. I know he has the interests of his constituents at heart as do I. We will make the decision when the information comes in, and I know he wants that decision today, but that is the position we have here today, and I want to be candid with the member. Thank you very much for your attention.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, sorry that the minister didn't have time to share with the colleague that he had planned. The minister said that this is an issue, and it deals with choices. He is absolutely correct. It is a matter of choices. The choice is, where is the surplus amount of money that the provincial government is collecting in the way of HST tax on top of fuel oil going to go? Is it going to remain in the pockets of the provincial Tory Government or will that money be used to offset the increased costs that Nova Scotians are having to endure because of the increased costs of home heat fuel?

Mr. Speaker, I don't disagree with the minister when he says that the price of crude oil has gone up dramatically, and as a result of that, the price of both gasoline and home heat fuel and other petroleum products has increased. That is a given. We know that. I also concede - and we have said this inside this House and outside this House - that as the cost of crude oil has gone up, the amount of consumption has gone down. That means the provincial government has lost money in terms of the fuel oil tax on gasoline products, not home heat fuel, because the 13.5 cents per litre is not charged on home heat fuel, but on gasoline. It has gone down. However, from January to July, the price of gasoline products has gone up on average over 30 per cent, and since July, the price of gasoline has gone up by approximately 10 cents a litre. The provincial government, that is the Tory Government of the Minister of Finance who just spoke, the Tory Government is sharing that BST with the federal Liberals. Nova Scotia is collecting an 8 per cent increased tax on that 30 per cent increase, plus an 8 per cent tax on that extra 10 cents a litre.

Mr. Speaker, I defy the minister to lay on the table documents to prove that I am wrong, the value that the province is collecting in the way of increased HST profits, courtesy of the former Liberal Government, that they imposed on us. The value of that increased HST revenue is approximately five to six times greater than the amount of money they are losing because of the drop in consumption. That doesn't take into effect the fact that home heat fuel for many people across this province, the number one heating source, is up or was up over 37 per cent, October 2000 over October 1999. The Province of Nova Scotia is collecting HST on that home heat fuel.

Mr. Speaker, the minister is correct, he can't drop that HST because of the deal the Liberals locked us into, Nova Scotia has no jurisdiction to alter the HST on our own. The Government of Nova Scotia can make sure that those families and those individuals, whether they be senior citizens, others who are living on fixed incomes, the working poor, that they

[Page 8446]

get a break on their home heat costs that are related to oil and propane. You have a responsibility, I suggest, instead of trying to pretend, oh no, we are not getting any kind of windfall, we are going to hide that amount of money, we are going to pretend that revenues are down elsewhere. Because people have to pay more to heat their house, of course they can't spend money on their children's clothing, no they can't buy a new pair of sneakers for their child to go to school, no they can't buy their prescription drugs. If they spend more money on home heat fuel, they won't be spending it on other things, so supposedly revenue is down in other areas.

Mr. Speaker, if the government gives those Nova Scotians - those hardworking Nova Scotians who are poor, who are in need of a break - some of that HST windfall that the Tories are collecting on the fuel taxes - gives it back, then those people, yes, will spend it elsewhere. Maybe they won't have to decide which prescription drug they will fill for the child, which one they won't. That money will go back into the economy. I haven't heard anybody on the Tory benches saying, well, maybe we should look at other ways to raise money instead of just gouging it off the backs of the poor, maybe we should go after our big buddies and big friends, and maybe we shouldn't have been giving Sobeys $3.5 million, maybe we shouldn't have given as much money to the banks or others, as they have been doing.

Oh no, they are saying, we haven't got any money, we can't adjust, we have to hold on to all that extra revenue we are gouging in off the pyramid tax on fuel costs. We can't afford to give that back to Nova Scotians who need it most. I am glad I am not a Tory, if that is your attitude over there. It is not only a matter of people who live in my constituency, we are talking about Nova Scotians who live here from one end of this province to the other. We have all kinds of people in this province who are trying to survive supporting their families on the minimum wage of $5.70 per hour. Is the government going to offer any kind of assistance to those people - order that their minimum wage go up to pay for their increased cost to heat their homes so that they and their children, or their parents who may live with them, or others, will be able to be warm and not become ill and have to go to the health care system?

[5:30 p.m.]

Is the Minister of Community Services going to turn around and say that we are going to increase the shelter allowance for the poor because if they have their own home, which they had before they got into the financial situation they are in now, that he is going to increase their shelter allowance so they can pay that extra 37 per cent in home heating costs? Is he going to say he is going to increase their shelter allowance so they can pay the increased cost of rent that the landlord will pass on to them as the landlord faces the higher costs? Are they going to provide extra money to seniors on fixed incomes and low incomes, many of whom are now paying even higher premiums for prescription drugs and some of whom are having to go without. Is the government going to provide any kind of assistance to them?

[Page 8447]

Mr. Speaker, we can play with numbers; maybe it is 12, maybe it is 15, maybe it is 20, it depends on where you want to cut your lines, that the government is drawing in extra in the way of HST on home heating fuel and gasoline products in this province on an annual basis. Are you going to say that you are going to take that and refuse to give any of that back to the people who are suffering the most, or are you going to say, well, let's be a little bit fair about this, we are going to give a break to those who need it, so they can stay warm in their homes - not hot, but so that they don't have to decide when they are going to turn it on. We all heard the stories last year, we all know of situations where families had absolutely no heat and couldn't get it delivered, or they would turn the heat off and turn it on only occasionally during the daytime because they could not afford to refill their tanks. Is that what you call a compassionate Tory Government?

Mr. Speaker, what about the affluent? Let's take a look again. What is the amount they are paying per ton for coal in royalties? Is it 25.5 cents a ton, something in that range? (Interruption) It is 27 cents and it is worth about $55 being sold. Not a bad deal.

Do we hear anything about going after the government's friend, John Chisholm, on that, or the monies for Sobeys, or on and on? I go back to what the minister said at the beginning, it is a matter of choices. The government has the power to make choices. You have the choice of holding onto that extra windfall money that you are getting in the HST, much of it from those who can't afford to pay it, or, Mr. Speaker, they have the choice of putting in place a program of compassion and caring and that would be fair, to return the windfall profits that you haven't budgeted collecting from that tax on those products, back to those Nova Scotians who need it.

Mr. Speaker, it is mild out there today but tomorrow, or very soon, the snow may be flying and the temperature will be down. There isn't much time for this government to get off their backsides and to start to show a little bit of compassion for Nova Scotians who need it. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the resolution we are debating, Resolution No. 3102, was moved by the honourable member for Lunenburg West. He gave notice that on a future day he would move adoption of this resolution:

"Whereas despite having $3.25 million left over from their own failed Home Fuel Rebate Program in February, this Tory Government refuses to give any relief from the high price of heating fuel; and

Whereas $3.4 million in tax breaks to bar owners mean that low-income Nova Scotians will be forced to go to the local tavern for a hot toddy to keep warm this winter; and

[Page 8448]

Whereas any rebate for heating fuel must be given now, so that seniors and low-income families can start to plan on how they will heat their homes in the coming months;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government review their priorities and commit to helping Nova Scotians who need help with fuel costs, instead of leaving seniors and low-income families out in the cold."

Now, that sounds like a very reasonable proposition to me. I do not know why the Minister of Finance could not have gotten up and said something encouraging rather than taking a confrontational and argumentative stand. I know that . . .

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: I didn't do that.

MR. MACEWAN: Gosh, Mr. Speaker, my eardrums are sore from hearing the volume of his protests when he got up to express his outrage, at that very reasonable proposition, here this afternoon.

I might say that I am a little disappointed, Mr. Speaker. Certainly when our government was in power - and I am referring here to the MacLellan Government - there were moves in the direction suggested by the resolution. I grant that they certainly never reached a state of full maturity because that government was a short-lived government unfortunately, due to the treachery of the NDP. But had the NDP in Nova Scotia taken the same position that the NDP has in other jurisdictions and federally, they would have supported that minority Liberal Government and done all they could to keep it in office, to keep the Tories out and to ensure the passage of good legislation to help the people.

That is certainly what Bob Rae did in Ontario in the days of the David Peterson minority Liberal Government which Rae kept in power and, gosh, as a result of the responsibility shown by the NDP in that province, they even got a turn at governing themselves as a result of their very responsible conduct during the late 1980's and the days of the David Peterson Liberal Government in Ontario. But in this province, which I think is the only case in Canadian history of the socialist Party having held the balance of power in a minority government situation, they brought the Liberals down at the first opportunity and did everything they could to put the Tories into office.

Now, I can recall when David Lewis was in a similar position in Ottawa, from 1972 to 1974, the NDP kept the Trudeau Government in power and they felt they were doing the right thing rather than to put the Tories in. They had a list of all kinds of accomplishments that they claimed their lobbyings and their urgings had led to the Trudeau Government doing that time. They could have done the same thing here and we could have worked together to help the poor and to bring about a solution to the home heating oil problem and to many problems that perplex Nova Scotians, because the MacLellan Liberal Government, Mr. Speaker, had a heart.

[Page 8449]

That was the difference between that government and the one we have now. The government we have now has absolutely no heart at all. They do not care about the poor; they do not care about the people who will lose their homes this winter because they cannot afford to heat them. This is simply a government that does not care, and that is what the NDP put into power and that is what they will have to answer for to the people, when we all stand answerable and accountable for our doings, at the polls. We would not have a Tory Government in Nova Scotia today were it not for the NDP. We would not have a government in office that is not acting on the matters that this resolution addresses were it not for the NDP. They are to blame, Mr. Speaker, let there be no doubt of that whatever.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but interject. I mean I appreciate all the credit that the member is giving us, and I may not have agreed with the choice that the voters made, but does he not think the voters had a part in the choice as to who they did elect - this government - and it was the voters who actually put the government in place and decided not to return the Liberal Government of which he was part?

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

MR. MACEWAN: Not as a point of order but rather as a question. My answer to that question would be this; we don't normally have elections in Nova Scotia every 12 or 15 months. He asks a question and then he leaves, he doesn't want to hear the answer. More evidence of the insincerity of the NDP, Mr. Speaker. We don't normally have elections here every 12 or 15 months, we have elections every four years or so, maybe three years, maybe three and one-half, maybe four, sometimes five. The normal time from one election to another in Nova Scotia is three to four years and that ought to have been the case after the election of 1998. We didn't need another election in 1999; we didn't need another election after that in 2000 and another election after that in 2001, but if the NDP had their way we would have an election every single year because they would bring this government down, if they could, and then we would have another election, and so on and so on, as long as those powers were entrusted to irresponsible hands.

Mr. Speaker, when we get elected to public office, one of the things we have to exercise is a sense of responsibility. If responsibility had been exercised, we would have a government in power today that would be addressing the very problems this resolution deals with. We do not have that government in power and we know why.

Now, I am not going to dwell on that or hammer that point into the ground. Poor Russell MacLellan was driven out of politics by the ingratitude of that crowd to my left. That is where Russell MacLellan is today.

We have a government in power that doesn't care about the people and the NDP are very happy about that. That is where we are in Nova Scotia today.

[Page 8450]

Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on about the home heating oil crisis that many poor families face. I have here a speech; I am not going to read it but I have a speech here in front of me with lengthy quotations from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and references to the character Ebenezer Scrooge because the writers of this speech felt, perhaps, that Ebenezer might be a suitable role model for this government we have across the way. Others might compare them to the Grinch - Christmas is coming and we have the Grinches in power across the way.

When I think of this government and their essential operational philosophy, I am reminded of Billie Holiday's song, God Bless the Child, that states, Them that's got shall have and them that's not shall lose. So the Bible said and it still is news. Mama may have, Papa may have. But God bless the child that, got his own. Because only those who have will succeed under this Tory Government; the people who have not, shall lose. Yes, the strong gets more and the weak ones will fade. Empty pockets don't ever make the grade. You don't want me to sing it because it is not singing time right now, it is Opposition Day and we are going to hear speeches from those who care about the people, compared to those who do not, across the way. That is the way it is, that is their operational philosophy, it doesn't matter.

Mr. Speaker, if we ever saw an example of how a government has its priorities wrong, we have seen it in the past 24 hours, when the cat was let out of the bag, as to the great giveaway to Duferco. Everything for Duferco, nothing for the poor of Nova Scotia. Everything for Duferco, nothing for the steelworker. For the steelworker they had a maximum of $30 million that they were not prepared to deviate from by one nickel for pensions. That was it and there was no negotiation and the whole thing was put through "gun to the head" fashion. For Duferco they were prepared to sell the steel plant for the value of the scrap metal lying on the ground, plus a couple of hundred thousand dollars. The record they tabled here yesterday will prove that. The agreement will prove that. The mathematics are there, the numbers are all there, a sale price of $7 million, scrap on the ground which the deal values at $6 million-plus, the difference is about $360,000. That is the net price for which they sold all the assets of Sydney Steel, all of its goodwill, all of its customers, all of its workforce.

They have a very different standard for those who have not. They have a very different standard for those who are poor and can't afford the cost of home heating oil. They have a very different standard for those who are on public assistance, social assistance. We will be dealing with that under a separate item. I know I have a very large file here on the Social Assistance Bill and I intend to deal with that matter when we get it to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. They have a very different standard for any group of needy, those who are poor, those who are asking government for help. Those people get absolutely nothing, but for the Dufercos and the Sobeys and all the wealthy people, the banks, they have money galore. Come and get it while the going is good.

[Page 8451]

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with that kind of government. I don't want to tie the House up with endless filibustering, but I think from time to time it is appropriate that I get up in my place and say that, and also say why we have the government in power that we have in power, and how it came to power. I might say it was a Liberal Government that this government replaced, and it will be a Liberal Government that will replace this government. You can be certain of that. I certainly look forward to working with the Liberals in the days ahead to help make that possible, because if there was ever a time in history when Nova Scotia needed good government, that time is now.

It is for certain, Mr. Speaker, that we do not have the kind of government we need in Nova Scotia today. The very fact that they started a program of this type last year, and that it was unsuccessful and that they refuse any initiative to try to get them to review, to revisit that matter and to improve the program a bit and get it operational right now because they have money left over from last year that wasn't drawn down. Yet their ears are deafened to any of those pleas. I suppose they are going to take that money that was there for home heating oil to assist the people and they are going to give it to Duferco. But I could be wrong. Maybe they are not going to give it to Duferco. Maybe they are going to give it to Sobeys. Or I could be wrong again. They perhaps are going to give it to those in need at the banks.

They have their priorities entirely wrong. They are giving to those that have and taking away from those who have not. A government that operates on that philosophical premise, Mr. Speaker, is fundamentally unjust and certainly deserves to be removed from office.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Thank you. There are still six minutes remaining in debate.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and, in fact, privileged to rise tonight and speak the few remaining minutes that are left in this debate. This is a government that pledged to get Nova Scotia's financial house in order. This is a government that came to office concerned about our children's and our grandchildren's future, extremely concerned about that. The point I am making is simply this, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was on his feet just a few moments ago articulating and espousing all the virtues, all the great things the Liberal Government has done and would do.

Mr. Speaker, let's go back down memory lane. Not too far. Let's just go down to October 19th. You know, the Chretien Liberals in Ottawa had the audacity and the indecency to come out with a mini budget.

[Page 8452]

MR. SPEAKER: All right. Order. Order! The resolution is on home heating fuel rebate, and I would ask the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley to stick to that subject please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that is where I am going. As you will recall, in the mini budget that was introduced in Ottawa, one of the promises which really probably was just a bribe, was that the federal government would consider giving some type of home heating rebate - so you see, Mr. Speaker, where I am coming from. Yes, I understand that the Speaker does appreciate where I am coming from. So, what did the Chretien Liberals do but barely three short days later call the general federal election; the audacity. Nova Scotians deserve a home heating oil rebate but last year this compassionate government in tough financial times provided a $50 rebate, made a $50 rebate available to low-income Nova Scotians with a family income of under $19,000 and to senior citizens receiving the supplement. That is what this government did in an extremely difficult financial environment. That is what this government did. So, it would be a little bit irresponsible for this government to go out on a limb and try to put . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yes, there is a resolution that is on the floor which is talking about programs to try to assist with the home heating costs for those on low incomes, seniors and so on this year and as I hear the two parties, the Liberals and Tories throwing insults back at each other, I have to wonder what is any of this doing to advance a way of trying to provide any assistance for a single home owner this year?

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I recognize the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley who has a little over two minutes left.

MR. TAYLOR: It appears as if the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid is questioning your ability to preside over this House as to whether or not we are talking about a home heating oil rebate. I could digress and talk about the NDP who offer no solutions and no suggestions. I could do that quite easily Mr. Speaker, but what I am talking about is Nova Scotians, low income Nova Scotians, our senior citizens. When he had the floor, we could have risen on a point of order, but we didn't.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The member said that we provided no solutions or suggestions. Last week when we tabled it, we put four options on the table.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I know the honourable member is trying to be helpful and eat up as much of my time as he possibly can, but let us get back to the Ottawa Chretien Liberals. Let's get back to the fact that they tried to bribe Canadians once again, they tried

[Page 8453]

to bribe Canadians to get a third term. Oh, they made all kinds of promises - I won't mention them, but I will mention that home heating oil rebate. Here we have a government that sucks away $130 million through the federal fuel excise tax and what do they give Canadians in return and Nova Scotians? Nothing. And by the way, besides the dire straits that low income and senior citizens are in because of the high price of fuel, the trucking industry is reeling too because money has been siphoned and sucked away by Ottawa. It is absolutely disgraceful, it discourages me that the Chretien Liberals in Ottawa would do this when they knew that they are going to call an election so they tried to bribe - they dangled the carrot out . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for debate has elapsed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the House will meet tomorrow at 12:00 noon and sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading. We will commence with Bill No. 64 and if time permits, we will go into Bill No. 66, Bill No. 67, Bill No. 68 and Bill No. 69 et cetera, up to Bill No. 77 in that order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate resolution was submitted by the member for Dartmouth South who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the doctors, nurses, staff and administration for their extraordinary efforts over the past six years in maintaining quality health services at the Dartmouth General Hospital despite the inexcusable and relentless withdrawal of federal health care funding from Ottawa under the watchful eye of the previous provincial Liberal Government."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

HEALTH - DARTMOUTH GENERAL HOSPITAL:

STAFF - APPLAUD

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on this issue partly out of total frustration and the gall of what is happening in Dartmouth right now regarding the federal campaign, but I will try not to speak on that, it might not be quite parliamentary enough to do that. I will certainly do my best not to refer to the association of the honourable member for Dartmouth East with the travesty that is going on in Dartmouth at this point in time as far as the health care issue in the Dartmouth General.

[Page 8454]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss health care in Dartmouth. Recently I had an occasion to talk to a number of nurses at the Dartmouth General Hospital. I think people probably saw that on television. The issues raised by the nurses mainly revolved around the number of nurses at the hospital and whether this number created an unsafe situation for patients at the hospital. I was asked at that time if I would do a shift at the hospital with the nurses and, in their opinion, get a greater understanding of what they are going through. I agreed to do that. Unfortunately, due to issues of confidentiality, I was not permitted that opportunity, but I did, however, have an opportunity under the direction and guidance of Brian Butt - and I would like to thank him for taking the time out of his schedule - to take a tour of the hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I must tell you I would not be adequately representing my constituents and the staff and patients of the Dartmouth General Hospital if I did not fully report on what I experienced during this hospital tour. I will say that I am now more convinced than ever that the nurses with whom I spoke at the information picket were not without some legitimate cause for concern. Although I believe that the concern is not one that is restricted to the actual number of nurses on staff, but the fact that these professionals are working in an administrative and technological environment that is years behind most hospitals.

I will refer to such areas as the overall lack of computer support systems for supply and service delivery, records management, patient admission and release processes, and an archaic process in place in the pharmacy operations. There are a number of areas where our professional nurses are performing functions that are not and should not be their responsibility. Health care delivery is not just nurses, it is much more encompassing.

I would like to review the issues from a perspective of what I believe the general public would say if they had this opportunity for a tour. Imagine a process for discharge that still uses multi-form documentation, chits, air tubes, in and out baskets in three different locations, and heaven knows what else. Imagine a system that has no computerized capability for restocking the various wards with medical supplies. Imagine a system that has inadequate physical support services in an ambulatory care unit.

Imagine a hospital where medical files are piled up on anything that can support two feet of paper, that won't fall down because of inadequate filing, tracking and recovery systems that, again, are lacking in information technology programs. Imagine hospital equipment that ranges from 7 to 23 years old, and were it not for the expertise of the technicians would certainly be cause for great concern. Is it any wonder, given all of the above, why our highly-trained nurses and other support staff complain about their ability to perform their professional duties.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to briefly discuss some of these issues and shed some light on how we arrived at such a state over the last six years, also what we as a government have embarked on to begin the turnaround in the delivery of health care at this institution known

[Page 8455]

affectionately by Dartmouthians - people who live in Dartmouth - as our hospital. I was quite concerned, and I just couldn't believe it when I read it back on November 1st, where Bernie Boudreau made a statement in one of his many press releases as being a die-hard, born, died-in-the-wool Dartmouthian, who lives in Halifax, came from Cape Breton and is going to Ottawa . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He thought.

MR. OLIVE: No, he was in Ottawa as a senator, he wants to go back as something else. I suppose he will go back as chairman of the board of something, but it won't be as an MP, I suggest. He toured the Dartmouth General Hospital and he admitted it is a victim of his own government's cuts. He said that, it is a victim of his own government's cuts. Worse than that, he walked through the emergency department, examined the hospital's sickest piece of equipment, a 23 year old X-ray machine that is too old to be trusted. That is what he said.

Mr. Speaker, in 1995, while Minister of Health and Minister of Finance and minister of whatever it takes to cut things, he looked at that piece of equipment, and in 1995 that piece of equipment was 18 years old then and still too old to be trusted. What did he do about that? He didn't do anything about it. Didn't do a thing. Shame. Now he parachutes in and says oh, that piece of equipment is terrible. When I took my tour, I also saw equipment that he saw, and he didn't mention about the rest of it, because I guess he got too embarrassed when he saw what he didn't do in 1995: a general duty room radiographic and fluoroscopic unit, 17 years old; a dedicated chest X-ray unit 13 years old, and a remote digital RF room and a GE remote digital in RF room, 6 years old. Now maybe we could get five or six years out of that, I don't know. But, Mr. Speaker, when you look at things that are 17 years old, 13 years old, and you recognize that the man who doesn't want to talk about them was the man who could have fixed them, one has to wonder why people would have a look at him as their member in Ottawa. I have no idea.

[6:00 p.m.]

But it gets better. He says, if I am elected as MP, I intend to be very forceful and fight to see that the Dartmouth General gets its fair share. Where was he in 1995? He was hiding. He sure was. He says, under a federal Liberal Government, Nova Scotia would receive $30.5 million over two years to replace ageing hospital equipment; $30 million. That is $15 million a year. We currently have a requirement in Nova Scotia for equipment that is in disrepair, broken, not being able to be used in the range of $43 million. He is not doing too much for Nova Scotia if that is what he is flagging around. Disgusting.

While we were there, while he was there, Wendy Lill showed up, the honourable current MP for Dartmouth, a very nice lady indeed. She made a comment, and it shows her understanding of what is happening in the Dartmouth General and how hard the people work

[Page 8456]

there. It is heartbreaking, she says, to know we have a hospital in Dartmouth that has been turned into a glorified clinic. That is what she thinks it is. Apparently, that is what she thinks it is, yes.

On the issue of health care in Dartmouth General, I mean health care in general. I don't know if the current federal representative in Dartmouth running to be the federal representative in Dartmouth thinks that we are all asleep, but he mentioned on C-PAC within the last couple of days that no federal equalization funding for health was reduced by the Chretien Government. Mr. Speaker, there it is. That magic $1 billion that they reduced from 1993. That is why our health care system is in the shape it is in. $1 billion less coming into Nova Scotia since 1993. I don't know. In the old days, you lose $1 million and it was a crime. Now you can lose $1 billion, whether it is taken away from the health care in Nova Scotia or lose it through mishandling in HRDC. It seems to me it has gone from $1 million to $1 billion. Just amazing, Mr. Speaker. Just incredible.

Mr. Speaker, one thing that bothered me quite a bit during my tour of the hospital and causes me some concern, and again I say I understand why nurses like Lilo Wessels in the intensive care unit are concerned. Well they should be when you look at the process that is in place now for discharging patients and tracking patients. The poor nurses are carrying around pieces of paper, this is where the patient is, this is where the patient is going. Where has all the provincial-federal funding gone that the Liberal Government claimed they had and they put so much money in from 1993 to 1999 to put a decent computer system in the Dartmouth General Hospital? I have no idea where it is gone. I really don't.

Then we get the NDP, Mr. Speaker, who are just panicking the public every chance they get.

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I am quite amazed at the temerity of the member for Dartmouth South. He stands up here and he says that one of the reasons he felt compelled to put forward this resolution was out of his astonishment at the gall of some candidates in the federal election and their attitude toward health care in Dartmouth. The member himself is not short on gall, that is for sure.

I want to start by tabling The Daily News article from Wednesday, August 23rd that reads, "MLA, nurses spar over Dartmouth cuts." Now, Mr. Speaker, I wasn't there at the time when the member for Dartmouth South attended on the information picket at Dartmouth General Hospital, but I can tell you that I have spoken to many individuals who were there, and I want to tell you they are angry, they are angry at what they felt was a member of the

[Page 8457]

Legislature who treated them with contempt, with disrespect, who didn't understand the most basic tenets of the crisis in health care at that institution.

I think it would serve us well if we reviewed this article because I think it really says it all, especially the exchange between the member for Dartmouth South and some of the nurses there on the line. The article reads like this: "Protesting nurses didn't like the bedside manner of Dartmouth South Tory MLA Tim Olive yesterday. The government backbencher showed up at an information picket at the Dartmouth General and got into an argument with members of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union over 28 nursing positions expected to be eliminated at the hospital. Lilo Wessels, the union's second vice-president, contended Olive previously promised no nurses would lose their jobs because of health cuts. But Olive said he promised the government wouldn't cut registered nurses, and that he made no pledge to protect licensed practical nurses. 'There will be no RNs laid off', he said. 'When I said that I was talking about RNs.' Olive was surrounded by a group of protesting nurses who said the distinction makes little difference to patients: 'An LPN (licensed practical nurse) to me is not a registered nurse', Olive said. 'Are they a registered nurse or not? They're not. Then don't tell me they're RNs'. 'They're nurses', several protesters insisted. 'They're not registered nurses', Olive said, "Then we don't count, I guess', one nurse said."

It just shows the complete and utter contempt that the member obviously has for the hard-working, front-line health care staff who work at the Dartmouth General Hospital. It is a sad day when a member of this House could attack the very people he is elected to represent.

So let's have a look at what the Tories, the government, has done for the Dartmouth General Hospital since they were elected.

I served on the Board of Directors of the Dartmouth General Hospital Commission and I was there when the Liberal Government was having considerable difficulty with the health care system. In fact, as you know, Mr. Speaker, they did cut a great deal of money from the Dartmouth General Hospital. Do you know what the Dartmouth General Hospital did? They balanced their books every year. Do you know how they did it? They did it by not buying the computers, by making do with the systems that the honourable member is so critical of. They did it by using money that otherwise would have been used for infrastructure within the hospitals, but they used it instead to keep the nurses on the wards because the Board of the Dartmouth General Hospital knew that what was important in a hospital was the delivery of services to the patient.

Good Lord, Mr. Speaker, does the honourable member who represents that area not understand what is going on in his own riding? Do you know what the Tories have done, do you know what the government has done since then? They have cut 28 acute care beds from that facility. They announced that on October 24th. They are going to convert 24 of them to long-term care beds.

[Page 8458]

HON. JAMES MUIR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to help the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour make correct statements. I would like to remind him about those 28 beds, which I believe he has indicated twice today have been closed, and they have not been.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is part of the ongoing campaign of disrespect for the Dartmouth General Hospital. Twenty of the beds have been converted into long-term care beds, eight have been converted into something they are calling flex or floater beds. Okay, so the beds themselves have not disappeared. As designated for acute care, they are gone. The service is gone, that is the fact.

The Dartmouth General Hospital now regularly, every week, goes on divert, sending patients to other institutions because they can't handle them. It is just the height of hypocrisy to put forward this kind of a resolution and to treat the people in Dartmouth with such disrespect. If it were not for the Member of Parliament who represents that district now, Wendy Lill, if it wasn't for the previous Health Critic in this Party, the member for Halifax Needham, Lord knows what the former government and this government would have tried to get away with with respect to the Dartmouth General Hospital. I had to say when I served on that board, we were under great apprehension that, in fact, what the Tories are doing now would be done by the previous government. To their credit, they didn't go as far as the Tories have gone now.

I have a few other little pieces of information I want to table, I am not sure how much time I have left, but I want to table first the preliminary provincial and territorial government health expenditure estimates because I think these are important. They are both in constant dollars and in current dollars from 1975 to the year 2000. I want to table these because do you know what they show? They show that Nova Scotia has the lowest per capita health care spending in the country. Yet the minister and the member for Dartmouth South should know that studies have shown consistently that the incidence of health difficulties in this province is at the top, so instead of spending less money you should be spending more, but you are not. (Interruptions.) That is right, and I agree that there has been a billion dollars taken out of the system.

Mr. Speaker, the First Ministers, including the First Minister of this province, go off to Ottawa in anticipation of the federal election, rubbing their hands and saying, now we are going to get a little bit of cash to the health care system and we were saying, gee, I really hope they do the right thing and fund the system the way they should. I really hope they do that. Well, they didn't. Do you know what is more important and, in fact, what is going to happen this year? The Province of Nova Scotia is going to get less money from the federal government than it did I think in 1993 - less money, if you can believe it.

[Page 8459]

One of the things that amazes me about the Liberal Party is that the Liberal Party has been running around with their Leader the last little while and they have been telling people, do you know something, if Alliance gets elected, they are not going to live up to national standards. We need national standards. Well, as it happens, I agree with that statement but, when they framed the health accord, when they framed the agreement, the Liberals, along with the First Minister from this province, agreed upon this phrase: the purpose of performance measurement is for all governments to be accountable to their own public, not to each other. The amount of federal funding provided to any jurisdiction will not depend on achieving a given level of performance. So, they say the words, Mr. Speaker, both the government opposite and the government in Ottawa. They say the words, we need national standards, but when they have an opportunity to draft a document which could ensure that national standards are met, what do they do? What they do is exactly the opposite. In fact they say quite clearly that there will be no performance standards, there will be no accountability for the money that is given from Ottawa to the provinces.

I want to draw your attention, if you haven't seen it, to this document because it is important for people to know, the platform, the NDP commitments to Canadians. In that they specifically call for the establishment of health goals, of performance levels that are going to be enforceable, that money will not flow from the federal government to the provinces unless national standards are protected. That is the kind of commitment we need, that is the kind of thing that has not existed. That is why this kind of a resolution is tremendously regrettable.

I have a very short few seconds left, Mr. Speaker, but I want to say the people of Dartmouth will not forget the actions of the member for Dartmouth South.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Dartmouth South for the opportunity to join in the late debate this evening. I, too, thought he had - the term that I would use is - gall and I was trying to think of an alternative for that - but to sit behind the Minister of Health and give the litany of complaints for a hospital that probably is not much different from several others in the province for their need of, particularly information data systems, I thought was an interesting one when that was clearly in our Health Investment Fund that was voted down in the budget that was so much needed. You can see the records in that hospital being stored in manual form. Anyway, I would just like to say that I thought he delivered his speech fairly well, but I think it will read better. I expect he intends to have this door-to-door drop in Dartmouth community for the support of the Tory candidate, Tom McInnis, who I would like to comment on a bit later, but I am pleased particularly to have the opportunity to address any matter relative to the Dartmouth General Hospital. I have great affection for that hospital.

[Page 8460]

[6:15 p.m.]

For years the Dartmouth community was the only community in Canada of that size that did not have a hospital. I went to meetings across this country and I would tell people that I lived in a community of 60,000 with no hospital, and the Tory Governments ignored that over the period of time. It was Scott MacNutt really who was instrumental in getting that hospital under way and I do not mind saying that.

I do not usually brag up my family; I do not even mention my family. I am in public life and they are in private life. My father, Ron Smith, an alderman at the time, was very instrumental in that; in fact I remember being criticized by one person, I think she became mayor later on as I recall, saying he just wanted the hospital so his son, the doctor, could find a place to practise. Well, practise I did; I spent about 15 years there. I had the privilege also of being the first president of the medical staff in that hospital, so I have great affection and I would like to think that our family has been connected with that as well.

So the Dartmouth General Hospital has been a unique hospital. It has been a community hospital, one of the best in Canada. It is a hospital where the active staff are family doctors, and I think Dartmouth has been a family-doctor-orientated community. Specialists have come in as consultants and I think that system has worked very well. It has been a great model, the way it has been a model in other things, but it certainly needs support. It needs support now and has needed support over the last while, there is no question. It has received a lot of it, because we have had a great commitment to that hospital.

But I just wanted to say, on this side of the House, that I am, personally, getting a little tired of hearing this government fighting the federal election campaign on provincial time. This is provincial time; they have their own job to do so let's get on with it. When we were in power, I would like to think that we recognized we were responsible for health care in this province. I accepted that; I was used to accepting responsibility for my actions as a physician and I would like to think I carried that forward as a Minister of Health as well.

We invested in health when we could and we took responsibility for our actions. This was not an easy task, Mr. Speaker, given that we were saddled with a debt and deficit from the Buchanan Era and the Don Cameron Era that was $1 billion, if you want to do the new form of accounting. The deficit that we inherited was not around $600-something million, it was really over $1 billion. I might say that Tom McInnis, the current candidate in Dartmouth for the Tories in this federal election - as the minister has put it on the table and I will respond to that - was a member of that government. So now he is saying that is all behind him, we are looking to the future now. It is a Joe Clark-Stockwell Day-type vision.

So they are looking for scapegoats essentially, Mr. Speaker, that is what they are doing, this government. So the cuts to the Dartmouth General Hospital under the Tory Government, there is only one person to blame and that is the Premier. He is the doctor and he is

[Page 8461]

responsible for the health of Nova Scotians; the buck stops with him. Health is a provincial responsibility and Nova Scotians must be told the truth, and they are not getting the truth from this government.

Mr. Speaker, in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, Nova Scotians have consistently, every year, received more CHST money from the federal government than the year before and that is a fact. You can twist it around all you want to, but that is a fact, and that does not even include the $626 million in extra CHST money that the federal government is handing over to this province as a result of a new agreement. If this Tory Government chooses to spend this additional money on social services and post-secondary education, so be it, that is their choice, but we received increases in CHST and we chose to spend them on health.

Mr. Speaker, when we received increases, what did the Liberal Government do in additional money at the Dartmouth General? Our government, our Liberal Government announced the upgrade of the Emergency Department. There was approximately $10 million, with some help from that foundation that has worked so hard in that community and the hospital auxiliary. Our Liberal Government opened four critical-care beds and our Liberal Government announced the planned expansion for the ICU that has been put on hold, that is not needed. The honourable member did not mention that.

So let's compare the Liberal Government's record with this Tory Government's record. The honourable member talks about his tour, and I do not want to dwell on that, as the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour did that quite well I think. I was there that morning and we joined that honourable member, but I will tell you he left LPNs in tears that morning. I saw them, and that is going to be my comment on that. He will be remembered that morning.

I will cease there because I do not want to dwell on this; it has been quite well covered by the previous member.

This Tory Government has cut $1.6 million, $1.7 million from the Dartmouth General Hospital's budget, even though they have received more money from the federal government. The announced cuts, and they were announced, 28 beds, 26 nursing positions, at least. The government knew that they were getting additional revenue from the federal government at that time, so why did they do that? Why did they choose to be hurtful? It is shameful that they would be so hurtful to one of Canada's finest community hospitals. They chose to show their respect for the Dartmouth General by slashing at the budget, instead of investing additional federal revenue in health care.

Mr. Speaker, recently the government decided that maybe what they were doing to the Dartmouth General Hospital was too harsh, that perhaps some of the acute care beds could be converted to transitional care beds, whatever that means, but I have my suspicions what that means. Shame on the government for what they are doing to that Dartmouth General

[Page 8462]

Hospital, they are allowing that to be downgraded. This change not only reveals the plans of the Tory Government, their true intentions, they are content to allow the Dartmouth General Hospital to turn into a glorified nursing home, as some people feel.

That may be too harsh, but I have a great fear, and I want to say it here tonight in this debate, this is the first step down the slippery slope to a downgraded community hospital care facility. It is not fair to the people of Dartmouth, it is not fair to the people outside of Dartmouth who use that hospital. He speaks of Dartmouthians, yes they are proud, but also other people are proud, people in Halifax and Musquodoboit. The only honourable member opposite should, instead of fighting for the federal government, and during this election fighting their election for them, he should be demanding, from the Minister of Health, to stop his actions against the Dartmouth General Hospital.

This government has also received, from the federal government, $30 million over two years for medical equipment, he speaks of that. May I remind the minister that it does need some hospital equipment, as he mentioned, X-ray machines particularly. The staff person at the Dartmouth General Hospital, the other day, they asked me where the provincial Tories were going to spend all their extra money, especially the extra federal money for medical equipment. What are the priorities? What is the secret? Why not tell the people at the Dartmouth General Hospital what their priorities are?

They realize the provincial government has received money from the federal government. They knew that, they told us the other day when I was there, yes, with the previous Senator Boudreau and my colleague. The people who are criticizing the previous Senator Boudreau, they are not capable of carrying his briefcase. I served with that honourable person and I know his capabilities. He is an excellent person.

Mr. Speaker, given the additional money that the federal government is spending, the provincial government has received, the honourable member may be better served by submitting a resolution demanding his own Tory Government make the Dartmouth General Hospital a priority, a priority for new equipment, for a full nursing complement, to keep the emergency and the X-ray improvements on track, and to build a new intensive care unit. The people of Dartmouth have worked hard for the Dartmouth General Hospital, and they deserve no less than the respect of this government. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted to the Adjournment debate has expired.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:23 p.m.]

[Page 8463]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3180

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas it is important that as legislators we treat Nova Scotians with compassion; and

Whereas according to the philosophical concept of the scandal of particularity one cannot treat the group with compassion unless one first treats the individual with compassion; and

Whereas too often in this House of Assembly we, as MLAs, do not treat each other with compassion, dignity and respect;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly seek to treat each other with compassion, dignity and respect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3181

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 Cumberland Joint Services Management Authority recently recognized Ropak Canada Incorporated in Springhill, Nova Scotia, for its recycling program; and

Whereas Ropak was presented a certificate to honour the business during Waste Reduction Week; and

Whereas Ropak continues to be a leader in plastic waste reduction which helps Nova Scotia lead Canada in recycling used plastic;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Ropak Canada Incorporated of Springhill, Nova Scotia, and its employees for their continued commitment to recycling and ensuring that waste be diverted from our landfills, and wish them all the best in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 3182

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 this past weekend the Northumberland Regional Soccer Championships were held and hosted by the undefeated league champions, Advocate, of Cumberland County; and

Whereas Advocate, Oxford, River Hebert and Amherst were the four teams that took part in this very exciting tournament; and

Whereas the Oxford Lady Bears defeated the Advocate team by a score of 3 to 0 in a thrilling championship game with a shutout for Vanessa Feely and a first regional banner for Coach Aaron Stubbert;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Coach Aaron Stubbert and all members of the Lady Bears Soccer Team of Oxford, Nova Scotia, and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3183

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 Valerie MacDonald, who is the daughter of Norma and the late Maurice Ruddick, known as the singing miner from Springhill, Nova Scotia, recently released her latest CD; and

Whereas the 13 children of the Ruddick family are so very proud of their mom and late dad, who was a trapped miner in the coal mines of Springhill for eight and one-half days before being rescued by fellow miners; and

Whereas the CD, which has been released by Valerie is entitled Yours Truly and is dedicated to her mom and dad and includes a song Maurice wrote, The Springhill Mine Disaster Song, while recuperating in the hospital after his rescue from the coal mines in the Town of Springhill;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Valerie MacDonald and her family on the release of her recent CD and wish her many years of success.

RESOLUTION NO. 3184

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 this past weekend the Nova Scotia Athletic Federation, Division IV Girls' Soccer Championships were held in Margaree Forks, Cape Breton; and

Whereas in the championship game, the Advocate District High Coyotes won over the Oxford High Lady Golden Bears 1 to 0 in a very exciting game; and

Whereas Advocate District High School is the smallest school in the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation and had never won the championship tournament before;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Coaches Pat and Peter Spicer and all members of the Advocate District School Lady Coyotes on not only a very successful tournament, but season as well.

RESOLUTION NO. 3185

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 this past weekend the Parrsboro District High Warriors hosted the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Soccer Division IV Boys Championship; and

Whereas on Saturday afternoon the Parrsboro District High Warriors defeated Cape Breton Highland Academy, of Margaree Forks, in a championship game with a score of 4 to 1; and

Whereas this is the first ever championship win for the Parrsboro District High Warriors;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Coach Don Gamblin and Assistant Coach Ben Blenkhorn on this successful tournament and especially recognize those who played their final game for the Warriors, including Travis Anderson, Brad Forbes, Jonah Harrison, Stephen Johnson, Moritz Ortmann, Charles White, Patrick Henwood and Murray Meldrum, and wish all on the team the very best in the future.