The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Nov. 16, 2000

First Session

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Cuts - Oppose, Mr. D. Dexter 8884
Nat. Res. - Hwy. No. 102: Green Belt - Retain, Mr. B. Taylor 8884
Educ. - Eastern Passage: High School - Need, Mr. K. Deveaux 8884
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3321, Culture - Gaelic Language: Study - Participants Thank,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8885
Vote - Affirmative 8885
Res. 3322, Serwylo, Peter (Deceased) - Falconry: Promotion -
Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 8886
Vote - Affirmative 8886
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3323, Cumb.-Col. MP: Cobequid Pass/Hwy. No. 101 - Priority,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8886
Res. 3324, Enfield Fire Dept. - 2000 Atl. Can. Extrication Comp.:
Event - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 8887
Vote - Affirmative 8888
Res. 3325, Culture - Rawlins Cross: Accomplishments - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8888
Vote - Affirmative 8889
Res. 3326, N.S. Business Inc. - IEL: Similarities - Recognize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8889
Res. 3327, Haslem, Karen - Stratford (Ontario): Mayor -
Election Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 8890
Vote - Affirmative 8890
Res. 3328, Health - Diabetes Care Prog.: Work - Commend,
Mr. W. Langille 8890
Vote - Affirmative 8891
Res. 3329, Bridgewater Chamber of Comm. - Business Excellence
Awards: Recipients - Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 8891
Vote - Affirmative 8892
Res. 3330, WCB - Widows: Settlement - Gov't. (N.B.) Mirror,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8892
Res. 3331, HRM Dev. Auth. - Awards: Recipients - Applaud,
Mr. B. Taylor 8893
Vote - Affirmative 8894
Res. 3332, Health - Concerns: Min. - Heed, Dr. J. Smith 8894
Res. 3333, Metro. Chamber of Commerce: Anniv. (250th) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8894
Res. 3334, Emmaus House (Antigonish) - Construction: Volunteers -
Recognize, Hon. A. MacIsaac 8895
Vote - Affirmative 8896
Res. 3335, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Tolls: Victoria Co. - NDP Visit,
Mr. K. MacAskill 8896
Res. 3336, Energy Council - Transport. Policy: Mandate - Expand,
Mr. H. Epstein 8897
Res. 3337, Col. Co. - Firefighters: Efforts - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 8897
Vote - Affirmative 8898
Res. 3338, Sysco - Clean-up: Delay - Condemn, Mr. P. MacEwan 8898
Res. 3339, MacNeil, Jamie: Employment - Cordy, Sen. Jane, Mr. J. Pye 8899
Res. 3340, NDP Leader - Leg. Library: Office Use - Suitability,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8899
Res. 3341, Liberal Party - Leadership: Convention - Lack, Mr. D. Dexter 8900
Res. 3342, NDP: Sackville-Beaver Bank - Voting Support,
Mr. M. Samson 8900
Res. 3343, Little, Kevin - Liberals: View - Accuracy, Mr. J. Pye 8901
Res. 3344, Sports - UCCB: Mar. Rugby Championship - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 8902
Vote - Affirmative 8902
Res. 3345, Salvation Army - Glace Bay: Contributions - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 8902
Vote - Affirmative 8903
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1069, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Toll Increase -
Discussions Initiate, Mr. P. MacEwan 8903
No. 1070, Health - EMC Dispatchers: Working Conditions - Quality,
Mr. John MacDonell 8905
No. 1071, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Paediatric Ward -
Staffing Commitment, Dr. J. Smith 8906
No. 1072, Educ.: Halifax West HS - Replace, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8908
No. 1073, Educ. - Fund. Formula Rev. Wk. Group:
Budgetary Process - Role, Mr. W. Gaudet 8909
No. 1074, Gov't. (N.S.) - Social Assistance: Housing Policy - Changes,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8911
No. 1075, Health - EMC Dispatchers: Strike - Effects, Dr. J. Smith 8912
No. 1076, Commun. Serv.: Child Care Workers - Value,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8913
No. 1077, EMO - Northern Cape Breton: Disaster Relief Prog. -
Applicability, Mr. K. MacAskill 8914
No. 1078, Gov't. (N.S.) - Canada Health Act: Privatization -
Position Interpret, Mr. D. Dexter 8915
No. 1079, Health - Bone Densitometers: Necessity - Min. Acknowledge,
Mr. M. Samson 8917
No. 1080, Nat. Res. - Subsidence: Ellsworth Ave. (New Waterford) -
Residents Assist, Mr. F. Corbett 8918
No. 1081, Nat. Res. - Conservation Officers/RCMP: Trial - Status,
Mr. D. Downe 8919
No. 1082, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Federal Funding -
Secure, Mr. H. Epstein 8920
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 1:34 P.M. 8922
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 P.M. 8922
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Care: Senator Entrust - Prime Minister Explain:
Mr. D. Dexter 8923
Mr. T. Olive 8926
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8928
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 6:30 P.M. 8931
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:57 P.M. 8931
CWH REPORTS 8931
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 8932
Law Amendemtns Committee, Hon. R. Russell 8932
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Nov. 17th at 9:00 a.m. 8932
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3346, HOPE (Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality):
Telethon - Support, Mr. R. Hurlburt 8933
Telethon - Support, Mr. R. Hurlburt

[Page 8883]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 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 for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto:

Therefore be it resolved that the Prime Minister should explain to Nova Scotians why they should trust their health care to a Senator who shut down 1,200 hospital beds, introduced user fees and imposed the unfair BST on the hard-working people of this province.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

8883

[Page 8884]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of Truro and the surrounding area. The operative clause reads, "We the undersigned are opposed to the planned cuts to the pediatric nursing staff at Colchester Regional Hospital scheduled to begin on November 2, 2000. We believe that a 50% reduction in nursing staff will put our children at risk of being treated in an unsafe health care environment. We demand that the administration of the Colchester Regional Hospital find alternative funding solutions." I have affixed my signature. There are 1,001 signatures on this bringing the grand total to 5,005 tabled so far.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads, "We the concerned citizens have affixed our signatures to this petition in protest against the Irving Oil proposal to cut and remove the forest treed Island located on DOT land along side highway 102 in between the southbound exit ramp and southbound highway entrance ramp. This area has a nice mix of trees and is home to much wildlife. This natural green belt also acts as a sound barrier and buffer to residents living near by. The proposal to cut this beautiful natural green belt only to make the Truro Heights Irving and Nova Enterprises more visible from highway 102 makes no environmental sense. The proposal is both appalling and unacceptable and we want it stopped." There has been no consultation. I have affixed my name to that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Eastern Passage, I beg leave to file a petition. 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

[Page 8885]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3321

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 current health of Gaelic language and cultural expression will be the subject of a new provincial study supported through the Department of Tourism and Culture; and

Whereas a request for proposals is being issued today on the recommendation of a committee of Gaelic cultural organizations and provincial representatives; and

Whereas Bidh toradh a' rannsachaidh seo 'na chuideachadh mór le Mór-roinn Albann Nuaidh gus plana airson na Gàidhlig agus a' chultuir 'na lùib a chuir air adhart. To translate, results of the study will help Nova Scotia develop a strategy for Gaelic language and cultural expression;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank the many cultural organizations and provincial representatives who worked to develop this study that will help to strengthen the presence of Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia.

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 Natural Resources.

[Page 8886]

RESOLUTION NO. 3322

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

Whereas Peter Serwylo has been involved in the use of hawks and falcons for bird control at the Shearwater and Halifax Airports for the past 10 years, to keep birds away from airplanes as they approach and take off; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources worked closely with Mr. Serwylo in the development of regulations for falconry under the Wildlife Act; and

Whereas Mr. Serwylo passed away this summer and will be remembered as a pioneer in falconry in Nova Scotia and, responsible for establishing the Nova Scotia Falconry Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature recognize Mr. Serwylo for his promotion and of his dedication to falconry in Nova Scotia.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3323

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

[Page 8887]

Whereas according to today's Chronicle Herald, Conservative MP for Cumberland-Colchester is appalled that the federal government is not providing funding for upgrades on Highway No. 101; and

Whereas the MP for Cumberland-Colchester has continuously stated that toll highways should be eliminated; and

Whereas if tolls are eliminated on the Cobequid Pass there will be no money for Highway No. 101;

Therefore be it resolved that before the MP for Cumberland-Colchester chastises the federal government, he should first decide what is his priority, the Cobequid Pass or Highway No. 101.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3324

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

Whereas firefighters must often quickly and safely extricate trapped victims at scenes of accidents; and

Whereas such skills require regular practice and upgrading; and

Whereas the Enfield Fire Department, with the sponsorship of numerous local businesses, hosted the 2000 Atlantic Canada Extrication Competition and Symposium, with firefighters across the region winning many awards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Enfield Fire Department, the organizers, the sponsors and all participants for putting on an extricating and educating event and for their dedication to improving their extrication skills.

[Page 8888]

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.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you permit me to do an introduction before my resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to welcome to the east gallery some members of Rawlins Cross who are with us today. Dave Panting, Geoff Panting, Brian Bourne and, of course, Ian McKinnon. I welcome them and ask them to stand to receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3325

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

Whereas Rawlins Cross has been instrumental in the popularization of Celtic Rock and the revitalization of Celtic music; and

Whereas Rawlins Cross has released eight albums, received seven East Coast Music Awards, and two Juno nominations, has performed hundreds of concerts for adoring fans worldwide and has toured Canada, United States and Europe numerous times creating new awareness for both Celtic music and Celtic culture; and

Whereas after 10 years the members of Rawlins Cross have decided to go their separate ways, leaving their fans with a legacy of memories and music;

[Page 8889]

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize Rawlins Cross on the eve of its last two performances in Halifax and thank them for a decade of entertainment, revival, tradition and good times.

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. (Standing Ovation)

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3326

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Business Inc. has been praised by the Minister of Economic Development as part of some sort of new economic development strategy; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas the only thing new about Industrial Estates Limited 2000 is the name change to Nova Scotia Business Inc.; and

Whereas the first hand-picked Tory President of Industrial Estates was Frank Sobey, proving that the current Premier was not the only one with the Sobey's touch;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House recognize that Nova Scotia Business Inc. is exactly the same as Industrial Estates, and that the economic future of Nova Scotia will be trusted to the same old Tory boys club for the benefit of Tory-owned and operated businesses.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 8890]

RESOLUTION NO. 3327

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

Whereas on Monday, November 14, 2000, Karen Haslem was elected Mayor of Stratford, Ontario; and

Whereas 10 years ago, Karen Haslem was elected to the Ontario House of Assembly; and

Whereas Karen Haslem, a former resident of Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia, worked in the constituency office for the MLA for Sackville before moving to Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Karen Haslem for being elected Mayor of Stratford, and wish this former Nova Scotian all the best.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3328

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

Whereas November is National Diabetes Month across Canada; and

Whereas the Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia, through the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association, continues to offer a variety of initiatives to improve the life of Nova Scotians afflicted with this disease; and

[Page 8891]

Whereas Diabetes clinics, through the "Care Program" are available for Nova Scotia's 45,000 diabetics, including a part-time clinic in Tatamagouche and a satellite site in Bass River;

Therefore it resolved that MLAs commend the great work being undertaken through this program, and wish those involved every success with their efforts to assist those with these disease.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3329

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

Whereas the Bridgewater and Area Chamber of Commerce presented its first Business Excellence Awards on October 24, 2000; and

Whereas Rodney and Tina Grace of Bob's Shell, won in the large business category; Ernestine and Jerry Byers of Olde Towne Golf Course, won in the small business category; Carol Kenny received the President's Award; and Nancy Wentzell of Fresh Start Denim Art, won the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award; and

Whereas all recipients were praised for their outstanding contributions, dedication to client satisfaction and tremendous community spirit;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all winners on their success and thank Lighthouse Publishing for sponsoring the Business Excellence Awards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8892]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 3330

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

Whereas yesterday the Tory Government in New Brunswick offered a settlement to widows who were unjustly cut off from their compensation premiums for remarrying before 1985; and

Whereas that now means that Nova Scotia widows, unjustly cut off from their premiums, must stand alone against one hold-out, mean-spirited government here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas even Bernard Lord has recognized that these widows must be compensated for the violation to their Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

Therefore be it resolved that this government follow the lead in New Brunswick and compensate widows who have been unjustly denied their pension benefits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

[Page 8893]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to the east gallery. In the gallery today with my wife, Joan, is a family friend from Vancouver. I take great pleasure in introducing an Olympic athlete and law student, Beth Calkin. Beth was born in Nova Scotia, sailed here as a child, then returned last summer to train in Nova Scotia in preparation for competition in the Europe Class Event in the 2000 Olympics where she made Canadians very proud.

Beth has the distinction of being the only Canadian woman to have won a single-handed race in an Olympic event, a feat she accomplished last summer at the Olympics. At the annual general meeting of the Canadian Yachting Association next week, Beth will be named the Female Sailor of the Year for her accomplishments at the 2000 Olympics in the Europe Class. I would ask members of the House to join me in extending a warm welcome to Beth Calkin. (Standing Ovation)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3331

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

Whereas earlier this fall the Halifax Regional Development Authority announced their annual award winners; and

Whereas MacTara Lumber, the Upper Musquodoboit Playground Committee and the Musquodoboit Valley Lions Club, along with Ellen McFetride, Peggy Redden, Kathy Dillman-Smith, Amy Ashley, Barb Dean, Josh Holman, Karen Harnish, Hugh Erskine and Margaret Redden, were presented with awards; and

Whereas the Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association and the Employment Development Centre in Middle Musquodoboit hosted the 2000 awards ceremony;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the work and contributions of these individuals and businesses which make the Musquodoboit Valley area a better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8894]

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. 3332

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

Whereas in a recent letter to the Truro Daily News, Dr. Ludwig Martenstyn asked for the resignation of the Minister of Health; and

Whereas in his letter Dr. Martenstyn condemned the minister by saying, "Since being elected . . . you have not done anything for your constituents."; and

Whereas recent editorials in his hometown newspaper indicate a growing frustration with the Health Minister's inability to produce positive results for the health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister take heed of the mounting anger over the leadership vacuum at the Department of Health, and start responding to the legitimate concerns of the public, especially in his own constituency.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3333

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

Whereas the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce held its annual fall dinner last evening, celebrating its 250th Anniversary; and

[Page 8895]

Whereas our Leader, Helen MacDonald, had the opportunity to attend this enjoyable event as the representative of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party, who hold a membership in the chamber - proving the true diversity of the membership; and

Whereas 67 per cent of the chamber's membership is made up of small businesses, and the NDP has always stood with small business owners in a desire for a strong community-based economy; (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I took a lot of time to write this this morning.

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Chamber of Commerce on its 250th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Acting Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3334

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

Whereas the people of Antigonish are renowned for their community spirit and willingness to help those in need; and

Whereas under the umbrella of L'Arche Antigonish, Emmaus House was built by the community in order to provide housing for some mentally challenged individuals and their caregivers; and

Whereas the completed residence is an incredible testimony to what can be done when a community comes together;

[Page 8896]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank the residents of Antigonish who volunteered their time and effort to this special project.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 3335

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

Whereas the Leader in the House of the NDP as well as the member for Halifax Chebucto tried to state their concerns about the increased fares on the Cobequid Pass; and

Whereas there are seven provincial ferries across the province, with two in Victoria County which had an increase in fares per car from $1.75 to $3.00 since the last provincial election; and

Whereas the NDP don't seem to care about rural villages across Nova Scotia who had to absorb such a huge increase;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP members take a trip to Victoria County so that they can get a grasp of all tolls across the province instead of playing to the media by focusing on one high-profile road.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 8897]

RESOLUTION NO. 3336

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

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality has been studying the possibility of commuter rail systems for several years; and

Whereas the transportation modal shift to commuter rail or buses would help to improve air quality and lessen traffic pressures on residential neighbourhoods in peninsular Halifax; and

Whereas this government has no transportation policy to promote reduction in use of automobiles;

Therefore be it resolved that the mandate of the Energy Council be expanded to include the development of a responsible transportation policy.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3337

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

Whereas a fire can occur at any time of day or night; and

Whereas statistics show that a hostile fire occurs approximately every eight minutes somewhere in Canada and that someone dies every 24 hours from a fire-related death; and

Whereas residents of Colchester County in Nova Scotia are well protected by their local fire departments and well-trained volunteer firefighters;

[Page 8898]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the valiant efforts of Colchester County firefighters each day and wish them the very best in all future training sessions as well as at emergency calls to which they are summoned.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3338

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

Whereas this government budgeted $230 million for a Sysco site clean-up project, yet obviously has no current intention of spending even a single cent of this money; and

Whereas unemployed steelworkers and concerned citizens are seeking news of this work, as well as terms of reference for the initiatives involved in spending $230 million worth of public money; and

Whereas the fourth estate is asleep on this issue and is letting the government off the hook on a matter which involves some of the most serious environmental concerns anywhere in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all who collaborate in allowing this government to continue to do nothing on the budgeted Sysco clean-up project be roundly and soundly condemned.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

[Page 8899]

RESOLUTION NO. 3339

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

Whereas Jamie MacNeil worked with good cheer, despite his heavy burden to gain media coverage for Liberal MLAs; and

Whereas many who came into contact with Jamie MacNeil found him to be a canny observer of Nova Scotia politics; and

Whereas Jamie MacNeil set aside his cares and woes in search of new employment with greater opportunities for success;

Therefore be it resolved that Jamie MacNeil showed just how much a canny Liberal can count on future Nova Scotian Liberal MPs for employment when he took a job with Senator Jane Cordy.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3340

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

Whereas the Legislative Library's purpose is to serve the information needs of the members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and their caucus staff; and

Whereas the Legislative Library has become the office of one of the four leaders of the NDP; and

Whereas since the House opened on October 26th there have been complaints of overcrowding due to the NDP Leader's takeover of this facility;

[Page 8900]

Therefore be it resolved that, in the absence of a seat in the Legislature, the Leader of the NDP should find a more suitable place to hold court, such as a phone booth or a bus shelter.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[12:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3341

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

Whereas the last Leader of the Liberal Party, Russell MacLellan, announced on January 26, 2000, that he would leave the job five months later; and

Whereas the competition for the job has been so intense that no Liberal MLA or member has publicly declared their intention of seeking the leadership; and

Whereas the Liberal Party has not yet set a date for selection of a Leader who will pick up the mantle of Vince MacLean, John Savage and Russell MacLellan;

Therefore be it resolved that the leaderless Liberals who live in glass houses should tell Nova Scotians that their Party remains headless because of the three strikes and you are out rule.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3342

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

Whereas the NDP appear to have ongoing problems with debts, in Sackville-Beaver Bank, along with former MLAs who no longer support their Party; and

Whereas the NDP has flunked out on every test that matters for a political Party, including ability to govern, ability to represent constituencies effectively and ability to handle their internal affairs; and

[Page 8901]

Whereas the NDP will be lucky to maintain national Party status after the November 27th election;

Therefore be it resolved that the latest NDP difficulties in Sackville-Beaver Bank only underscore how that Party does not warrant voting support, whether it be federally or provincially.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3343

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

Whereas in 1997 in a letter published by The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Halifax Liberal candidate expressed his views about the reigning provincial Liberal Government; and

Whereas Mr. Little writes, "The Liberals campaigned against deficit reductions as a priority; they said they would not raise taxes; they said they would not force amalgamation . . . It was all a complete farce"; and

Whereas Little further states, "The Liberals have always chosen power over principle . . . I feel betrayed, used and deeply angry";

Therefore be it resolved that it is obvious to us all that Kevin Little has seen Liberals, both provincial and federal, for what they really are.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 8902]

RESOLUTION NO. 3344

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

Whereas last week the University College of Cape Breton Capers captured the Maritime Rugby Championship; and

Whereas the Capers scored a 12-5 come-from-behind win over the University of New Brunswick; and

Whereas the Capers have reached the top of the Maritime rugby world in just their fifth season;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the University College of Cape Breton Capers on their victory and wish all members of the team continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3345

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

Whereas schools in Glace Bay are recognizing the outstanding work done by the Glace Bay Salvation Army Corps; and

Whereas the Salvation Army organizes many campaigns throughout the year to help out the community, including the school hamper program; and

[Page 8903]

Whereas through the hamper program they are able to provide snacks and lunches for school children in five area schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Glace Bay Salvation Army for their many contributions to our society and recognize the invaluable services that they provide.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period begins at 12:34 p.m. and will end at 1:34 p.m.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS:

TOLL INCREASE - DISCUSSIONS INITIATE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I noticed in today's Daily News an item headed "Cobequid Pass tolls to take non-negotiable 50-cent hike". It starts, "The new year will bring a scheduled 50-cent hike in tolls on the Cobequid Pass, despite booming revenue on the privately owned road. Transportation Minister Ron Russell said yesterday the increase is part of the deal the previous Liberal government made with financiers, including Newcourt Credit of Toronto, and isn't negotiable."

I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, through you, Mr. Speaker, if he has initiated discussions with that corporation or made any enquiries at all to ascertain the facts of this matter prior to making that public statement that this matter cannot be changed and is irreversible?

[Page 8904]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, I am the sole shareholder of the corporation, but there are no profits there and no dividends paid out. The debt itself was structured by the previous government, and in that structure that forms part of the agreement are the increases in tolls for the life of the actual agreement, which was for 30 years.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have here in my hand, Page 34 of that particular agreement, and under the heading Automatic Toll Rate Increases appear the following words: "Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, if the Debt Service Coverage Ratio is greater than 2.3:1 in December of any year to and including 2004, or is greater than 1.9:1 in any year thereafter, and the Noteholder's Representative so directs, the Corporation will not increase the Toll Rate in the next following year." Now, that's the agreement.

I would like to table that, Mr. Speaker; I have that section highlighted so that anybody . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, question please.

MR. MACEWAN: I would like to ask the minister through you, sir, why did the minister not begin discussions with the corporation to forego the proposed toll increase pursuant to the terms of the agreement?

MR. RUSSELL: I was going to say to the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova that yesterday the member for Halifax Chebucto came forward with exactly the same argument. I could be cheeky and advise the member that if he looks in Hansard he will find the answer but, however, I won't. (Laughter)

The answer is, Mr. Speaker, that unless the corporation themselves agree to alter the agreement, then we must apply the toll increase.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I very much doubt if I were to search the pages of Hansard that I would find an answer to any question from that honourable minister. In any event, I submit through you, sir, to the House that this minister is going to receive a large windfall at the expense of the highway users of Nova Scotia that he does not need to take from them, because it is right here in black and white that that could be waived if certain conditions apply, which we submit in this case do apply. Would the minister explain to the House, as a final supplementary, if he is submitting that in fact the ratios do not fall within the parameters outlined in this agreement in which case the minister could apply to the corporation, which is himself?

MR. RUSSELL: The honourable member, and it is not uncommon, has got it all wrong. I am the sole shareholder but, however, the bondholders are the people who make the decisions with regard to payment and with regard to rate increases.

[Page 8905]

There is good news in this though, Mr. Speaker, and that is that the term over which Nova Scotians will continue to pay tolls is now not 30 years but is probably down to something like 15 years. At the end of that time, we will own the road and there will be no tolls.

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

HEALTH - EMC DISPATCHERS:

WORKING CONDITIONS - QUALITY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Today we heard about the possibility of a strike of emergency medical dispatchers. Regular dispatchers are denied basics like vacations, breaks on the job and regular time off. They experience incredible stress and they are among the worst paid in the country. This company, EMC, is accountable to Emergency Health Services, which is under the minister's watch. Will the minister explain why he has permitted such poor work conditions and why he has allowed this situation to reach this crisis?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member, I believe, knows, and for those who don't I will tell them that this is a first agreement for EMC and the dispatchers. Unfortunately, it has taken a little bit longer to go through the collective bargaining process than we would have all liked; however I am confident that the process is moving and that there will be positive results in an acceptable time-frame.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, if anybody can remember the paramedics last year, this is déjà vu all over again. This government has a responsibility to Nova Scotians to ensure that people who respond to their life-and-death matters have fair and safe work conditions and are fairly compensated, and this government has failed to ensure that EMC provides this. This government is responsible for the situation that we are in today. What is the minister going to do to ensure that dispatch workers aren't forced to take some kind of action, the same kind of action that paramedics took last year?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, regardless of what the honourable Leader in the House of the New Democratic Party says, I have a great deal of faith and respect for the collective bargaining process. I am very interested as well to see that he has made some subjective statements about conditions out at that particular centre, and I doubt very much if he could personally attest to them; he is probably working on secondhand information. However, I want to assure the honourable member that certainly EMC and CUPW, there are some days left in the conciliation period and I hope that they will get back to the table and get serious about it. There is no question, in my opinion I think both sides have been guilty of dragging their feet.

[Page 8906]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I can make an objective statement about the minister and that is I don't have much faith in him. Dispatchers say that if the public knew how EMC staff the dispatch centre, they would be very nervous. These workers are prepared to strike and the public knows that they have a just cause. To the minister, when will this government take immediate action to ensure dispatchers receive a fair contract?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I remind the honourable member that the employer of that particular group of dispatchers is EMC and they are in the process of collective bargaining. As minister, it is not my role to interfere in a collective bargaining process between two parties. I have faith in the collective bargaining process in contrast with that bunch over there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.:

PAEDIATRIC WARD - STAFFING COMMITMENT

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health made commitments during the reproductive care program review at the paediatric unit at Colchester Regional Hospital. I want to table a letter today from a doctor who says, Mr. Muir has misled the House when he stated that there would be two qualified paediatric nurses 24 hours a day. I would like to table that letter. In fact, in speaking with the paediatric unit - and I want to make this perfectly clear (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, does he have a problem?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor. Question, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have tabled the letter from the doctor; I have read comments into the record of the physician. We have learned from the paediatric unit that during the time of this review the minister made the commitment, there were four shifts with only one qualified nurse on the unit . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: . . . there were seven shifts with a float nurse with no paediatric experience and a paediatric nurse. My question is, why is the minister . . .

[Page 8907]

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. SMITH: They seem to be upset, something about the national polls, I think, probably for Ms. McDonough. (Interruptions) The NDP are ill of sorts.

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for your patience. My question to the Minister of Health is, why is the minister breaking his commitment to the doctors and to the patients at the Colchester Regional Hospital? It is clear he is not keeping his commitment.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that type of question arose yesterday (Interruptions) and I will tell the honourable member, again, my understanding is that I have not received any reports from anybody that there was an unsafe staffing level in the paediatric unit. (Interruption) No. You people, somewhere along the line you get correspondence before I do, on both sides of the House. (Interruptions) I would never comment that some of those things go there for political purposes, I would know better than that, or to create political mischief, and that they would not go and ferret out such political mischief. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If we don't move along here, we are only going to get two questions in this Question Period.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, at the meeting, here in the House and before the cameras outside, this minister has made a commitment that there would be two paediatric nurses on the wards at all times - he has said that here, Hansard will show that - even if they had to bring a nurse in from New Glasgow. My question to the minister is, will the minister please tell all members of this House what has happened that has caused him to not honour his commitment?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there was an agreement reached at the request of the medical management committee between the hospital and the medical management committee with staffing with respect to that unit. One of the things that does happen, not only there but in others, is that sometimes there are glitches in which the level of staffing, which I guess would be most desirable, doesn't always work. However, having said that, I think one of the things most people are concerned about is whether there is an appropriate level of staffing. As I cited yesterday, it seems to me that a case of one nurse to one patient is pretty well an acceptable level.

[Page 8908]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is not very clear to me what that means. If you had 12 patients, you would have 12 nurses there, is that what he is guaranteeing? Is he making another commitment?

MR. SPEAKER: Is that your question?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, no. He didn't answer the question, he hasn't answered a question all this session. My question to the minister is, what possible reasons would the doctors have to honour their end of the bargain in good faith when the minister can't keep the promises he made to them or the promises he has made here on the floor of the House?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat distressed by this line of questioning. What it does is it attempts to create unnecessary anxiety in a situation that is being well managed with an appropriate level of staff.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC.: HALIFAX WEST HS - REPLACE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Today the NDP caucus is taking a stand about a very sick school. We are calling on this government to replace Halifax West High School and provide a safe learning environment for the students and teachers of Halifax West High School. An independent study says that Halifax West High School has one of the worst environments that the author has seen anywhere in Canada, meanwhile the government dithers. My question to the minister is, when will this government take a stand, stop wasting money and start building a new school to replace Halifax West High School?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing up the Tang Lee study which was co-sponsored by the Department of Education. Our government has taken a stand on school construction and renovation that is not always popular, but it embodies common sense. We are going to build new schools where we absolutely have to build new schools and we are going to renovate schools where renovations make financial sense.

What the New Democrats are asking for in this case, Mr. Speaker, is, without evidence, to spend another $10 million on a school when that $10 million could build an elementary school somewhere else in this province where it is also desperately needed.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is not about popularity, it is about safety, health and common sense. Halifax West is a very sick school, too sick to be saved. The money this government set aside for renovations and upgrades will now be used entirely for renovations. Even worse, it is clear that this money is not enough to take the school down

[Page 8909]

to the beams as the minister promised and there is absolutely no guarantee that the deep-rooted environmental problem will be fixed.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the minister is, what guarantees does the minister have that a renovation program will actually fix the problems at Halifax West?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before in this House and outside the House, we are waiting for a full engineer's report from my department that is due next week and any decision that is made on Halifax West's renovation, a final decision is going to be based on evidence, not supposition.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there is a wonderful offer on the table from HRM to provide land and services for a new school on the mainland common. This knocks millions of dollars off the price of a new school. The site would give the school the room it needs for modern programs as well as playing fields. Every Halifax West parent we have spoken to supports this proposed site.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the minister is, why are you risking this golden opportunity to do the right thing? Why will you not do the right thing and give the Halifax West community the safe learning environment they so desperately need?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this is old ground we are going over here and the only thing I have to say is that when the New Democratic Party is providing the engineering studies, then I will listen to the New Democratic Party.

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

EDUC. - FUND. FORMULA REV. WK. GROUP:

BUDGETARY PROCESS - ROLE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. On October 27th of last year the Minister of Education issued a press release stating that she is "already seeking advice" on her budget from the Education Funding Formula Review Work Group. Unfortunately for the work group, the minister was misleading and had no intention of ever calling the group to meet, finally revealing that her budget was too awful to discuss with them.

[Page 8910]

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, does the minister see a role for the Funding Formula Review Work Group in this budgetary process?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the member opposite said, there were meetings of that work group last year, but to answer his question, yes, the group has been renamed, a little more workable name, and it has been meeting regularly through the summer and dates have been set all the way through up to the next budget and those talks are well under way.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, in reality, the Funding Formula Review Work Group has not heard from the minister's department in over a month. They have not even met with the minister. Aside from one meeting and one conference call, the work group has not heard from the minister's department. At the last meeting the group had many questions for the department on cost drivers such as the high cost of heating schools this winter.

My question to the minister, will the minister confirm to the House when the work group can expect to hear back from her department or was the initial meeting just window dressing to avoid last year's embarrassment for the minister?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to provide dates for the House. The deputy is meeting regularly with the superintendents and this Funding Formula Review Work Group will be meeting regularly and, I repeat, I will provide the dates.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education's track record with the Funding Formula Review Work Group is not good. She stated last year she would meet with them, wrong. Yesterday she stated in this House that there had been no update on fuel prices with the school board, wrong. Again, in fact, every school board has indicated to her department that they see fuel prices as a major cost driver this year. Yesterday the government indicated that the expected high heating costs for institutions had been factored in this year's budget. My question to the minister is, will the Minister of Education table what that expected cost is to be?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, certainly it will take a few days to get that together, all the school board's budgets and what is in them. I would be very happy to table all of that information. Higher fuel costs were anticipated for this year's budget; never did I say high fuel costs were not a concern. I said they would be worked out satisfactorily.

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

[Page 8911]

GOV'T. (N.S.) - SOCIAL ASSISTANCE:

HOUSING POLICY - CHANGES

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Back in 1988, it was another Tory Government in its Throne Speech that highlighted legislation at that time that would say that the homes of those in need would no longer be taken away from them if they had to go on social assistance or into a nursing home. The Government House Leader, the Minister of Finance may remember that. The Tory Ministers at the time, the MLAs for the Tories, were very happy to be able to produce legislation that repealed what were basically Elizabethan Poor Laws. My question to this Premier is, why has his government been hiding the changes that they are providing with regard to repealing that very important piece of legislation and why wasn't it in the Throne Speech? Why wasn't it in the budget and why were there no news releases with regard to this change in policy?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are four questions there, if the honourable Premier would like to answer one.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite will understand that the regulations that were supported previously by this government indicated very clearly that to qualify for social assistance in this province you did not have to abandon your home. That is the position of this government and that protection will continue to be enshrined in regulations of this province. This government will not have people being forced to abandon their homes to qualify for social assistance.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it is good to see the Premier is getting a backbone. It is too bad it only came after the Opposition was able to ferret out some of these problems. The Premier has been talking about this but do you know what? I wonder, particularly around Nova Scotians who are in need, who have their own homes, especially those in rural Nova Scotia, I want to ask the Premier, how much consultation was done with rural Nova Scotians and Nova Scotians in general before they decided to make changes with regard to the legislation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government didn't require any consultation to come to the conclusion that this government will not require people to give up their homes to qualify for social assistance. We came to that decision by ourselves and it is the right decision. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on your final supplementary.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, you know this is the problem when the government hides everything and isn't willing to be open and accountable for what it intends to do in this province. You know it was only yesterday that it was our Party that started identifying this

[Page 8912]

as a problem and lo and behold there has been a conversion on the road to Damascus by this government. My question is, there are parents with adult children with disabilities who are afraid, there are parents in this province (Interruptions)

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, there are parents in this province who have adult children with disabilities who are very much afraid that they are not going to be able to leave their homes to their children, and their children are going to institutions. Can the Premier please explain to this House what consultation was done with these people, and whether or not he is going to be able to ensure that the legislation is going to be changed?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite indicates that they uncovered some kind of a problem. The government did not have any change of policy; the policy is the same, and it will be enshrined this time in regulation as it was very successfully enshrined in regulation before. The protection is there. This government will not require that Nova Scotians give up their homes to apply for and (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - EMC DISPATCHERS: STRIKE - EFFECTS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on the last day of the spring session, June 8th, I told the minister the paramedic dispatchers had been in contract negotiations for over a year and talks were not going well. The minister replied, " I know this is going a bit slower than I would like, but . . . it will come to a successful conclusion." Obviously the minister's optimism was not evidence-based. My question is, why does the minister refuse to admit that Nova Scotians in need of emergency services face a very real problem if dispatchers walk off the job? (Interruptions)

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you to the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. I was going to say that it is nice to hear the honourable member stand up and admit that this whole problem started under his regime and he wasn't able to solve it, and he left it for me to try and straighten it out. There is a collective bargaining process that is ongoing, and I have confidence in the collective bargaining process. As I indicated earlier today, I am sorry that the progress has not been better. I encourage both sides to get back to the table, get serious, and get it solved.

[Page 8913]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on November 9th, I again asked the minister about his backup plan in case dispatchers walked off the job - this was November 9th - he said he did not have one and was confident that EMC did. The threat of a walkout is now very real; we are less than 14 days away from a strike. Since the minister is responsible for the delivery of health care services, why wouldn't he guarantee that dispatch services will not be compromised in the event of a strike?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable knows, EMC is the employer and, of course, according to the contract EMC is required to have a contingency plan in the unlikely and unfortunate circumstance that a work stoppage should occur. However, again, I want to emphasize that there are five days left in the conciliation process, and I encourage the parties to get back to the table and get the thing solved.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister can give non-answers and backhanded sarcastic comments to us. What we left that minister is a world-class emergency health service, and that government and that minister is dismantling that service, and this is part of it. He can laugh and be smug about it if he wants to. My question to the minister is, has the minister seen this plan or any plan for EMC to give Nova Scotians peace of mind? Has he seen that plan, and what will happen with the dispatchers if they do go on strike?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the collective bargaining process is ongoing. The honourable knows the conditions of the contract. Again, I am a bit distressed at this line of questioning which is intended to promote fear among the citizens of Nova Scotia quite unnecessarily.

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

COMM. SERV.: CHILD CARE WORKERS - VALUE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Community Services. Child care workers in this province have very special knowledge. They are faced with the task of caring for our children. In spite of this knowledge, the persons we entrust with the daily care and education of our youngest children are earning only $17,391 a year, on average. That is less than a parking lot attendant. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why does this government value our vehicles more than our child care workers?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question because it does bring up a very important issue in the province. As the member knows, we have been working with the federal government in terms of the early intervention. There are issues around child care and delivering those early intervention programs. We will continue to work with those; we will continue to support, through our portability programs,

[Page 8914]

and support those non-profit organizations to make child care good and accessible across this province.

MR. DEVEAUX: Again, to the Minister of Community Services. Fifty per cent of child care centres in this province are short-staffed, 22.3 per cent are experiencing high turnover of staff. Training requirements for staff across this province are increasing, given the commitments this government and others have made with regard to early childhood intervention. So my question is, based on the national children's agenda, is this minister saying that he is committed to increasing salaries for child care staff, based on the funding that is going to come from the national children's agenda?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, just to clarify for the honourable member, what I am saying is that we continue working with the Nova Scotia Round Table on Child Care to help work out the processes to make child care in Canada as good as possible.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, I will make sure that the child care workers who are meeting in Dartmouth on Saturday have a copy of your "no" answer to that, Mr. Speaker.

You know, Mr. Speaker, qualified educators are leaving the field and going to other things, like call centres, where they can make more money and get benefits, while new welfare reform from this government is going to put an even greater burden on child care in this province. So my final question to this minister is, why won't this government act immediately to address the appalling wages and benefits being paid to child care workers in this province?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we are in the process of working immediately. We are working with the federal government. As I indicated, we have been working with the Nova Scotia Round Table on Child Care, to look at the different programs. Clearly, the member is right; as we look at our increased benefits for people to take care of child care, we are going to have to look at expanded areas for people to look after child care, to expand those things. We are working on it, and we will be giving it serious attention.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

EMO - NORTHERN CAPE BRETON:

DISASTER RELIEF PROG. - APPLICABILITY

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. While we are very pleased that Victoria County will be included in the Disaster Relief Program, residents of northern Cape Breton fear that they are running into perceived problems with the timing of the relief program. They understand that the relief program may cover only damage occurring after November 1st. On the last two days of October, areas of northern Cape Breton suffered extensive damage. My

[Page 8915]

question to the minister is, will the minister commit to ensuring the people in northern Cape Breton that they will have access to the Disaster Relief Fund?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. The plan announced last week was targeted to that particular weather problem that resulted in the flooding in the metropolitan Cape Breton area, as well as in Victoria County.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary would be. The minister, I am sure, agrees that there is no reason why people in northern Cape Breton and that area should be denied relief because of the storm that occurred several days before, not just on November 1st. Can the minister give some assurance that the people will not be unfairly left out of this program?

MR. MUIR: I would remind the honourable member that it was this government in the spring that put in a disaster assistance policy for Nova Scotia, where none existed including when my home community of Truro literally took a real bath, three years ago.

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat my answer, the plan that was put into effect or announced last week was for a specific time-frame, the particular days to which the honourable member is referring to in October were not included in that plan.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised, because it is the same storm and it happened to hit in northern Cape Breton, that we are denied access to that program. I think that is a shame. It is just an indication of what this government does for rural Cape Breton. Just ignore them. It is very disgusting. I will ask the minister, will he relay that message to the people of northern Cape Breton that they are left out of this program because the storm happened to hit northern Cape Breton first?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have been thinking about my response to the second question and I will have to take that under advisement. I know we did not receive any reports from "northern" Cape Breton. The first reports we received when we began to act on this were when there was flooding in the metropolitan Cape Breton area. We did receive some reports of damage in Victoria County in that same period of time. As the honourable member well knows, the residents of Victoria County in that particular period of time are included in that plan.

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

GOV.'T. (N.S.) - CANADA HEALTH ACT:

PRIVATIZATION - POSITION INTERPRET

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is for the Premier. Yesterday I asked the Premier about this government's position on the privatization of health care services in this

[Page 8916]

province. The Premier responded with the biggest load of vagaries I have heard come out of his mouth to date. He said, "I can't make comment on the interpretation of the Canada Health Act that perhaps other governments are putting on it." So my question to the Premier is this, does your government interpret the Canada Health Act to allow for the privatization of health care services?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour repeat the question only please?

MR. DEXTER: My question for the Premier is, does your government interpret the Canada Health Act to allow for the privatization of health care services?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite is trying to interject what is happening in other provinces into what is happening in this province. We have been very clear. We are supporters of the cornerstones of the Canada Health Act. We will continue to support that approach to a publicly-funded, single-entry kind of process. I can't make it any clearer than that.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, he didn't come within a country mile of answering the question. This is precisely the kind of response that makes Nova Scotians suspicious of the path that this government is going down. He says he is committed to the principles of the Canada Health Act just like Lucien Bouchard, just like Ralph Klein, those Premiers are letting people pay extra fees to go to the front of the line for publicly-funded treatment. Perhaps the Premier needs the question placed in context. Would the Premier permit the operation of private MRI clinics, private hospitals with MSI funding or other two-tier health care operations, yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is always hard to answer the questions from the Opposition because when they run out of things to criticize the government for, then they start asking about things that the government might do in the future. What this government has said is that we are committed to the Canada Health Act and a single entry system that every citizen in Nova Scotia will have equal and timely access to good government services and there will be no favouritism.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: My questions are about what this government is going to do in this province and where this government stands on a major inter-governmental issue. Nova Scotians need to know that this government will protect equal access to health care services regardless of how much they earn. When will the Premier show Nova Scotians that he truly supports equal access to health care services and that he supports a real federal crackdown on two-tier health care anywhere it appears in the country?

[Page 8917]

THE PREMIER: I do apologize to the member, it is difficult to get the questions when there is so much background noise. I believe and I am interpreting now what I think the member said is that, would there be equal access by all Nova Scotians to the health care system regardless of income and the answer is yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - BONE DENSITOMETERS:

NECESSITY - MIN. ACKNOWLEDGE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: My question is for the Minister of Health. A Nova Scotian doctor was quoted talking about osteoporosis when he said that, "The essence of diagnosis is a densitometer . . . without densitometers available to the physicians of this province it is impossible to treat osteoporosis . . . within acceptable medical standards." As the minister knows and Nova Scotians know, there are only two such machines in Nova Scotia. One is in Halifax and one in Lunenburg, each with waiting lists which number in the hundreds. My question to the Minister of Health is, does the minister agree with the statement by this doctor about the need for more bone densitometers here in Nova Scotia?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Osteoporosis is a disease and indeed there was a letter to the editor in the Truro Daily News yesterday talking about some of the things a person who had osteoporosis prescribed to do. Clearly, for people who have some indication in their history that they might be susceptible to osteoporosis, having a bone densitometer scan is a very important thing.

MR. SAMSON: Clearly, the minister did not answer whether he felt there should be more bone densitometers in the province. Ironically, the quote I gave came from no one else but the good doctor and MLA for Pictou Centre, now the Premier, when he spoke here in this House, November 18, 1998, and it is here in Hansard and I will table what he said about the need for more bone densitometers.

Last week, the Deputy Health Minister told the Colchester Regional Hospital's Ladies' Auxiliary to resubmit their proposal for a bone densitometer ironically following the intervention by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The minister and the Premier claimed that their government will only make health care decisions based on strong evidence. My first supplementary to the minister, what new evidence does this minister now have that allows him to consider reversing his earlier reversal of this bone scanning unit?

MR. MUIR: The issue of the bone densitometer and the wonderful work of the hospital auxiliary in Truro I think has been well documented. The fact is that the deputy minister did go up and meet with the auxiliary and they came to an agreement on what process should be followed in their approach. One of the things - which I guess does not make it better or worse, and members of this House should know the fact that each facility constructs a capital

[Page 8918]

priorities list. Rightly or wrongly, the bone densitometer was not on the list of the Colchester Regional Hospital.

MR. SAMSON: It is quite clear that the evidence-based decisions made by this minister and by this government happen to come when rogue backbenchers in the Tory Government speak up and demand that they make changes or that they will resign their seats. The importance of this issue is clear to all Nova Scotians. A Truro pharmacy is offering an osteoporosis screening clinic this weekend. They are booked so full that the pharmacy plans on having another clinic in the near future. My final supplementary to the minister is will the minister admit that he is refusing the gift of a bone densitometer because he supports a two-tiered private interest involvement in bone scanning in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this minister, like our Premier, supports the Canada Health Act. I could just add parenthetically, perhaps, I understand that they are charging $30 for this little test to get your heel read in the drugstore in Truro. If we could do bone scans for $30 a person and this was really a good way to do it, the government might consider to pay the $30 and not the great cost it costs us now.

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

NAT. RES. - SUBSIDENCE:

ELLSWORTH AVE. (NEW WATERFORD) - RESIDENTS ASSIST

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of homes on the Ellsworth Avenue area of New Waterford that are suffering from subsidence. Their basements are cracking, the roadway is giving way in front of their homes and their driveways are lifting. This area is around the workings of the old No. 12 Colliery. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, these buildings are around the workings of the old No. 12 Colliery property of Devco. The workings of this mine date back to the early 1900's and it is home of one of the largest mining disasters in Nova Scotia history. Eventually it was closed in the early 1970's when two Devco miners lost their lives as a result of a fire in that mine. My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. What is your department willing to do to help the homeowners affected by the subsidence caused by the No. 12 Colliery?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the issue of subsidence and liability is one that has had protracted discussions over time in this province. Certainly the province has responsibility on Natural Resources properties in regard to abandoned mines but in this particular case, the province has no current plans to be dealing with subsidence on this particular site.

[Page 8919]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the people of this area don't need bureaucratic red tape and passing of the ball. There are at least six homes at this point that are affected by it and possibly more as things get worse. The Tory Government was very helpful to the people in Pictou County when they had that problem, so I guess what we are having is not only two-tiered medical but two-tiered when it comes to helping people who are hurt by subsidence. My question to the minister is, what are you going to do to help these people and when are you going to do it?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, there is no specific program set aside for these particular circumstances. As I answered in the previous question, there is no program that deals with this particular type of situation.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I talked to the minister's department in August on this. I have written to the municipality. I have written to Devco. Everyone is trying to pass the ball on this. It is the homeowners who are suffering. I want the minister to answer this question because fairly soon Devco will be packing their bags and getting out of town and the resource will be reverting back to the province, so I am asking this minister, will he get involved today so Devco won't leave these homeowners in the lurch? Will he do that today?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly we are prepared at any time to continue discussions on this matter and other ones related to Devco and any possible transfer in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

NAT. RES. - CONSERVATION OFFICERS/RCMP: TRIAL - STATUS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the part-time Minister of Natural Resources. Nova Scotians are getting annoyed by this government's ability and habit actually of sending up a number of trial balloons about the issue of privatization. Then they sit back and watch the employees sweat and worry about whether or not they will have a job or have a future in the business that they are in. One such trial balloon is the suggestion that the RCMP will take over the duties of the provincial conservation officers. Can the minister provide this House and all Nova Scotians with an update on the status of the proposal to turn conservation duties over to the RCMP?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. I have met with conservation officers over the last number of months concerning this issue, and currently a review is under way between the Department of Justice and the Department of Natural Resources. A recommendation will be coming forward very soon in regard to where the officers with Natural Resources concerned with conservation will be housed.

[Page 8920]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Red Tape Reduction Task Force is another group that is going to deal with this issue. The reality here is that the committee has been reviewing for quite some time, and I understood from the minister that this was going to be reported this fall. Here it is almost the end of November and these individuals have yet to hear from the minister as to the outcome of that decision. Will the minister admit that this report is taking too long because it contains bad news for the conservation officers?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous government who made decisions very quickly, which were not in the best interests of the employees of the province, this particular government takes its time, considers the propositions, and will come up with a proper determination. This particular decision will be made certainly before Christmas and it will be tabled at that time.

MR. DOWNE: It is interesting that this government can make fast decisions on things of political expediency for their benefit and their political gain, but when it comes to the livelihood of individual Nova Scotians, they drag their feet, they drag their feet, and they drag their feet, only because they do not want to present the reality to these people. The minister said in Cape Breton, in an article last summer, that the conservation officers are best able to deliver conservation services in Nova Scotia. For that I agree, and for saying that I compliment the minister, but he would not rule out the issue of RCMP involvement in the future. Can the minister guarantee, today, that no provincial conservation officers will lose their jobs as a result of any changes that they are proposing in the way they conserve and the conservation services that will be delivered by the RCMP?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly the question of where the enforcement officers - in the delivery of conservation service for Natural Resources of this province - are housed in the department is one that will be settled before the end of this year, but I would also point out to the member opposite that conservation officers in this province, a number-one priority is Natural Resources work, dealing with wildlife, dealing with parks and enforcement, and that will be the emphasis of those employees and the aim of their duties.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY NO. 101:

FEDERAL FUNDING - SECURE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Premier. The Premier has made much of the fact that he is beefing up the Intergovernmental Affairs Department that reports to him. One of the top items on the Intergovernmental Affairs agenda must be the need to do something about Highway No. 101. Yet, this week, we hear from federal Transport Minister, David Collenette, that he has $350 million for Highway No. 30, south of Montreal, and that this was an established priority of the federal government before the election.

[Page 8921]

Will the Premier explain what he has done to secure federal highways funding, and how it is that Lucien Bouchard got $350 million for Montreal while this province got zero for essential projects like fixing dangerous stretches of Highway No. 101?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings up an excellent observation by way of his question. One of the reasons that the government has made a financial commitment to beef up Intergovernmental Affairs is to address the very problem that the member brings to the House, is that we have, as a province, been singularly ineffective in dealing with Ottawa. While other provinces are, in fact, accessing federal funding, we as a province have been unsuccessful. That is why we are making Intergovernmental Affairs a priority for this government, because we expect to reverse the trend that was started by the previous government.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, here is the hard fact. Five people have been killed in accidents on Highway No. 101 since this fall sitting of the Legislature began. Yet the Premier and his government are still trying to pave that highway with excuses while they delay the necessary improvements. Why won't this government shame the federal Liberals into action, as other Premiers elsewhere in the country have done by moving beyond the war of words and getting under way with the most necessary improvements?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, again, as I said, brings a very important issue to the Chamber. I would ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to outline his efforts to convince the federal government that they do have a responsibility to assist us in paving and twinning Highway No. 101. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please, to the honourable member for Lunenburg West. (Interruptions) Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto, rather than to the former Transportation Minister. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the first news that I had of that $300 million to be spent in Quebec was from reading the newspapers, the same as I presume the member for Halifax Chebucto did. This morning my staff were contacting Ottawa to determine what kind of program this was, and asking the Minister of Transportation in the federal government to please include us in the same program.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I think we all know exactly what is going on, and it is shameful that Montreal got $350 million while the most that Nova Scotians can expect is maybe some kind of last minute empty promise from the federal Liberals just before the 27th of this month. The Premier has the power to move beyond political point-scoring and ensure

[Page 8922]

that safe highways are an action priority, and he has promised action. If he won't act, will the Premier at least table, today, the correspondence, other records of his efforts to secure federal highways funding and, in particular, show how he is going to use or has used the commitment given to Montreal and other areas to help us here?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is aware that I was able to bring this to the table in discussions with Premiers . . .

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[1:34 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

[5:59 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Kevin Deveaux in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have now reached the moment of interruption. The late debate will now commence. The motion for debate is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Prime Minister should explain to Nova Scotians why they should trust their health care to a Senator who shut down 1,200 hospital beds, introduced user fees and imposed the unfair BST on the hard-working people of this province."

[Page 8923]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

[6:00 p.m.]

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

HEALTH - CARE: SENATOR ENTRUST -

PRIME MINISTER EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in respect to this resolution put forward by the member for Halifax Chebucto. The member for Halifax Chebucto has been the author of many very useful resolutions in this House, and I think it is safe to say that this is perhaps one of the best resolutions that he has put forward. The reality is that I think if the Prime Minister were asked to explain how it was that Nova Scotians should trust their health care to Senator Bernie Boudreau, I think he would be hard-pressed to explain it.

Mr. Speaker, I know neither you nor I were here at the time when Mr. Boudreau was the Minister of Health, but I have taken the time to have a little look at his record. I think it is fair to do a kind of review so that the people of Nova Scotia might know what exactly it is that his record consists of. You may remember - and I do remember this - during the 1993 election the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia was flying high; they had their 1-800-SAVAGE number, but nobody understood what that 1-800-SAVAGE really meant until after they got elected. During that time, the Liberals went all across the province and they told people, essentially, read my lips, no new taxes. They had taken a page right out of George Bush's campaign platform.

Within six months after promising no new taxes during that election, Bernie Boudreau came in and raised provincial sales tax by 10 per cent. My colleague the member for Cape Breton West says, well, what do you expect? That was during the election. Raising the taxes was actually after the election. That is what we have come to expect, not only of Mr. Boudreau but, in fact, of the Liberal Party. They are, what I like to refer to as a political jabberwocky. They say and march in one direction before the election, and then say something completely different and walk in the exact opposite direction after the election is over.

The first thing he did, having promised no new taxes, was bring in a 10 per cent increase in the provincial sales tax. People were really shocked. In fact, I remember - at that time I believe I was still the head of the Downtown Dartmouth Development Corporation - people saying, well, you know, it is just a betrayal, it is a betrayal of what it is that they said they were going to do, and it is a heck of a way to start off the mandate of a government. But

[Page 8924]

he wasn't finished there, let me tell you, by a long shot, because right after that he introduced the BST.

According to the Department of Finance at the time, Mr. Boudreau's own department, ordinary Nova Scotians, as a result of the BST, were going to pay an additional $80 million a year through increases on necessities like gasoline, home heating fuel, electricity, shoes and clothing, the things that most affect working families in this province. It was absolutely appalling. What they did was essentially attack those people on fixed incomes who were most vulnerable.

As I went door to door in 1998 in the subsequent election, in which the Liberals were reduced substantially, to 19 seats, that is what people told me. The seniors would tell me, they say they want me to stay in my house but they are doing everything in their power to drive me out of it. I can't afford home heating oil, I can't afford the cost of electricity.

I remember very well, as I was going door to door, when I knocked on the door of this young family. The man brought me in and asked, can you just stay for a second because I want to tell you this. You know, in my house we had one child and we decided we wanted to have another one. He said, this all worked out well because I worked and my wife worked and my mother gave us child care, so we didn't have to worry about the quality of the child care we were going to get, so we planned to have another child.

The doctor came back and said that my wife was pregnant, but you are not going to have one more, you are going to have two more. He said well, he thought this was great. He said, it was great and we are blessed, but just before our twins were born, my mother died. So now we had no one to give us the child care we needed and we have three children and my wife had to quit her job and stay home. I am the sole wage earner and I work at a job where it is dependent on me making commissions. Yet, through the BST, I now can't afford to put oil in the tank to heat my house. I have this little semi-detached home, it is what we have and we are proud of it but we don't have the money to stay here anymore because it has been taken out of us through measures by the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia, through things like the BST. That is the legacy of Bernie Boudreau.

Now, did he stop there? Not by a long shot. The next thing they introduced was phoney accounting, and what they would do is they would take the books of the province and they would download the debt to institutions. You may remember for a long time this is what they were doing with the hospitals. The hospitals were running up deficits and they were not appearing on the books of the province, but everybody knew that they were debts that were owed by the people of Nova Scotia. Yet, Mr. Boudreau would stand in his place in this House and tell people that he was balancing the books.

[Page 8925]

Well, it was anything but true. We know it, the people of Nova Scotia know it, and I know that the present government is only too happy to go back and restate the books from those years to show the true debt. They should do that, that is the right thing to do because the reality is that it puts the lie to what was going on over those years in those statements.

Did he stop there? No, sir, Mr. Speaker. There was a 10 per cent cut. This is just an example of what happened in health care. We have heard the story, and in fact the resolution talks about shutting down 1,200 hospital beds, but I want you to think about it just in terms of the Dartmouth General Hospital which is in Dartmouth South. It is the institution that is used by the people in my riding. (Interruption) Well, what he did in 1996-97 is he cut 10 per cent of the acute care beds in the Dartmouth General Hospital. Then he introduced a form of two-tiered health care in Nova Scotia through things like tray fees, what they call tray fees, which were for Pap smears and prostate examinations. It was just a way for them to raise more revenue, but what it meant was that you had to be able to afford those charges in order to be able to get the service.

To be truthful, Mr. Speaker, some of these measures actually went back before Mr. Boudreau, but of course he had the opportunity to change them. Not only did he not do it, but in fact he embraced those plans. He embraced plans like the Tory plan to reduce the number of physicians, and they did that through reductions in the number of seats that were available at the Dalhousie Medical School. What that has done is it has, in fact, been the seed of the shortage of the general practitioners in this province, and certainly in Dartmouth. The same is true with nurses. What they did is they forced an unprecedented number of nurses out of the profession, and now we are experiencing a shortage of nurses on wards in hospitals right across this province.

That is the legacy of Bernie Boudreau. Just to give you an example, Mr. Speaker, between 1993 and 1996, when Mr. Boudreau was the Minister of Finance, they took the axe to health care spending in Nova Scotia. Health care spending dropped almost 8 per cent over three years.

I realize that I have just started to scratch the surface, Mr. Speaker, and you have already given me the one minute sign. But I want to leave you with this thought, which was something that was said by Mr. Boudreau back in 1996 when he declared that health care was not ailing. He claimed that waiting times were shorter and that it was irresponsible to suggest that we "plunge all sorts of additional money into this area." The furthest thing from reality, because they had shed jobs, they shed front-line health care workers out of the system for the entire time that he was either the Minister of Health or the Minister of Finance.

I find it objectionable and I find it absolutely inexplicable that he would run from his own seat in Cape Breton to a seat in Dartmouth, and try to explain to the people in that constituency why it is that he should be elected to represent them.

[Page 8926]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: I consider it a pleasure to be able to stand and speak for a few moments on this issue, and far be it for me to create a record of agreeing with the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour who just spoke. I must say on this particular issue, the honourable member has made some extremely valuable points and I think points, that have to be adequately pronounced and expanded and exposed to the voters of Dartmouth. When I go back and look at the November 1st tour Bernie Boudreau did of the hospital - when you talk about the number of hospital beds - he toured the hospital and admitted it is a victim of his government's cuts. At the same time, in 1996, he was saying, we are going to help and we are going to be the best thing that is ever going to happen. It was the Liberals who reinvested, that is what he says - over $20 billion into health care transfers just two months ago, including $30.5 million to replace hospital equipment in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, those are not the facts and I think this is the time and this is certainly the place to put a number of facts on the table, as the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has, and I credit him for taking this opportunity. The fact is that funding for health care this year, there is no additional CHST coming to Nova Scotia. In 2001 and 2002, $75.6 million additional CHST will be provided. This falls far short of Nova Scotia's fair share. Equalization would bring in another $120 million to Nova Scotia and CHST will not be restored to 1994 levels until 2003. This is the man who is the saviour of health care in Nova Scotia. The man who has the unmitigated gaul to walk to Dartmouth and say he is going to save health care, when since 1995, he has been the instrument of its demise.

Over five years, Nova Scotia is expected to receive about $560 million in CHST, but growth and health care needs and costs are outpacing the funding. There is not enough money coming to Nova Scotia, and as a result of that, we are disappointed, to say the least. The federal one-size-fits-all approach to health care is sizes too small for Nova Scotia. We put a strong case on the table for equalization so Nova Scotia would receive its fair share, but Ottawa chose to ignore the facts.

There is not a dime in CHST this year, so no relief for the pressures in our hospitals and our communities. Growing costs and needs in our health care systems are likely to outpace the funding in future years. There is money this year for medical equipment and information technology while everybody stands back and says, isn't that great? But we still haven't been told if this money is cost shared. You know, you can go back to the days 15 or 20 years ago when the federal government threw all kinds of money at Nova Scotia and other provinces across the country, but it was all cost shared. We don't have the budget to match those funds anymore, but they have not told us if that is what is going to happen. Even if they are 100 per cent dollars, the $15 million is a drop in the bucket compared to need when you are talking about equipment purchases. If we replace the medical equipment we need to replace the bill would be $42 million. That is $42 million versus the $15 million we are going to get.

[Page 8927]

Three CAT scans alone, which has been determined that they are needed, costs more than $5 million. I don't know where Bernie does his math, but he probably learned it in the same place he learned about health care.

We have a continued need for change. We have to stretch every dollar, spend in the right place, and spend the right way. Ottawa is not treating Nova Scotia fairly. We know we need to make changes in our health care system and we are doing that, but we had hoped the feds would provide dollars to ease the transition, and that has not happened.

We must now work that much harder and spend every dollar we have in health care in the right way and in the right place. That will mean closing hospital beds where the statistics show they are not being used. Who created that, Mr. Speaker? Our friend Mr. Boudreau, the saviour of health care.

We must continue to make changes in our health care system that will make dollars stretch further. That means working closely with our communities and making decisions based on solid information and evidence of the real needs in our hospitals and communities. That is the only way to ensure we can provide quality health care now and into the future. One has to ask oneself, Mr. Speaker, how far will the money go? Will beds be reopened, wait lists reduced? There is nothing for this year. The rising costs and needs in our health care system will eat up a very big chunk of this funding in future years.

We have growing numbers of seniors who deserve quality health care. The cost and demand of drugs is growing. This means we will have to work that much harder here in Nova Scotia to protect the quality of health care, with little or no help from the federal government. We simply must make changes in our health care system that will make dollars stretch further. That means working closely with our communities and making decisions based on solid information and evidence of the real needs in our hospitals and communities. We need the funding from the federal government to help support that program. The funding is not there. Our saviour is not bringing it and it is amazing that all of these issues are coming up during an election campaign and were not on the table when the First Ministers met.

How would you determine how to spend the money you get? There isn't all that much, Mr. Speaker, to make those decisions. But as part of the budget planning process, we will consult our new district health authorities and bring any available dollars to areas of highest priority for Nova Scotians. Certainly, nursing and long-term care are priorities. We will do everything we can to stretch dollars there as much as possible. The other provinces, including the Atlantic Premiers, seem happy. People ask, are we simply trying to lay the blame for the provincial cuts at the feet of the federal government? I am afraid not. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Our job here, on the government side, is to speak out for Nova Scotia health care and that is what we are doing. We have the facts on our side. Nova Scotia health care needs are among the highest in the country and per capita funding only widens the gap in the quality of health care among provinces.

[Page 8928]

Mr. Speaker, just to get back to the dollars, because the issue is dollars, it wasn't that many years ago when we had 50 cent dollars coming from Ottawa and now we have 12.5 cent dollars in health care. It is disgraceful and it is unimaginable that the saviour of health care has seemed to forgotten those numbers. The money that we are getting just holds the line with last year's federal funding. The current provincial budget, as I mentioned before, contains a $75.4 million supplementary funding grant from the federal government. That grant will not be repeated in 2001 and 2002. I wonder if people in the federal riding of Dartmouth are aware of that? Therefore, the $75.6 million being provided by the federal government does little more than replace the supplementary funding, leaving the province no further ahead next year. The per capita funding formula that they use favours the large provinces. Per capita funding merely counts heads and ignores comparative health care needs, despite documented evidence in favour of equalization that would recognize the differences among provinces.

Ottawa ignored the facts, Mr. Speaker. That decision cost Nova Scotia $120 million in health care funding. Again, I don't hear Mr. Boudreau talking about the shortfall in health care in Dartmouth during his election campaign of $120 million. Further, CHST will not be restored to 1994-95 levels until 2002 and 2003. Equipment and information technology needs far exceed the funding placed for that. A recent Nova Scotia review pegs the replacement costs of ageing diagnostic equipment alone at more than $40 million. With that, I will resume my chair.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am please to rise and participate in this particular debate on health care in Nova Scotia. Well, just when you think you have heard it all, there is always more to come when you are dealing with the NDP and the Tories. First came huff and now puff, and that is about the extent of what we have received here this evening in this debate, Mr. Speaker.

The previous speaker is now overlooking the fact that he is a member of a Party, sitting in the backbenches of this government to a Premier who said he was going to correct all the health problems in Nova Scotia for $46 million, during the election campaign. And what did he do in his first budget? He basically mirrored the health care investment plan that the Liberal Administration under Russell McLellan and the honourable James Smith, the former Minister of Health, had put in place. What did the Premier do, and the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health? They inserted $208 million into health care in the first fiscal year that they were in power. That is a far cry from the $46 million with which the Premier was going to correct all the errors and omissions and the ills in the health care system. He said he was going to take it out of administration. There was waste. There was fat. Even the new Deputy Minister of Health in a recent meeting with some Department of Health officials said the biggest problem we have here in Nova Scotia is double double. Too many people

[Page 8929]

drinking coffee and not enough people working. Well, isn't that shameful, coming from the jurisdiction that he did.

Look at the real neo-conservative agendas. He was one of the overseers. The Deputy Minister of Health was one of the architects of user fees for major surgical procedures in British Columbia when he was there. Keep coming East. Alberta. Even to get your medical card, Mr. Speaker, it is $160 for that card, every four months. That is just for your medical card. Here in Nova Scotia, thanks to the Liberal plan, it is free. That is why, in the recent piece of legislation that was brought before the House last year, they opened up the door with some of their very cunning terminologies to allow for that type of user fee and privatization. That is why the Premier, during cross-examination in Question Period refused to answer the question directly about user fees or the possible privatization of certain medical procedures. He went back to the standard line, the Canada Health Act, the principles will be adhered to.

I heard the honourable member for Dartmouth South in his dissertation make reference to the fact that they are making good decisions based on evidence. Well, isn't that the same punch line, the same power point presentation that the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Education, and so on, they all use these generic little terms. Evidence based. Based on what evidence? Evidence of politics and patronage. That is really what they do, they base everything. That is why the Minister of Justice when he wanted to keep his hospital beds intact irrespective of the professional advice and the management plan that was put in place, he got his $600,000, but somebody else had to suffer, Mr. Speaker. If that is the evidence based that he is referring to, I think we shouldn't have too much more of that there.

Mr. Speaker, our Premier attacked the recent boost of $100 million in health funding from Ottawa. Well, my gosh, that is more than twice what he needed according to his own pronouncements. He only needed $46 million, and the federal government gave him twice that. So what happened? Talk about bad math. That honourable member for Dartmouth South should at least listen to his own Premier on how far off the mark he is.

Mr. Speaker, in September the federal government announced that Nova Scotia will get more than $600 million in health care over the next five years. The honourable member says that will only bring us back up to present levels - or to 1995 levels - or whatever year he would like to go to. Well, well, well. Let's find out why we ended up in this mess in the first place. (Interruptions). This particular member who supported one of the most corrupt governments in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia, who bankrupted this province with an $8 billion debt, almost bankrupted the Workers' Compensation system, bankrupted the Teachers' Pension Fund - an unfunded liability of almost $1 billion, $475 million unfunded liability with the Workers' Compensation, everything was about to collapse because of that neo-conservative, reckless behaviour. That honourable member has the audacity to come in here and say that we didn't do a good job? (Interruptions.)

[Page 8930]

Mr. Speaker, we know what it is like. If you live on a farm you know what it is like when the rooster is out there crowing and that is just about what is happening there - but there is a little more fog over there than there is blowing on the horn - because he is not clear on what he is doing or what he is saying. Somebody gave him a script, he read the script, he did it well - congratulations - but it is desperate to listen to that honourable member. The puppy fluff that comes out of that man's mouth is something to behold because he doesn't even attack the core of the problems that exist here in Nova Scotia. He is one of the ones that have contributed to the source of the problem - and he agrees. Well, finally we have one Conservative member who agrees that he is the source of the problem. That is refreshing.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member stated that I had created the problem and I asked in the response, the question was how did I do that? I would just like to clarify that I did not say I created the problem. A point of order because I think it is important that that misconception not be left on the table.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order, it is a disagreement of facts between two members and I would ask the members to address their statements and comments through me, through the Chair, and not to each other. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I agree, the honourable member does not have a point of order, in fact he does not make many good points - of order, period.

If you will see the debt that we inherited from the John Buchanan Regime, mostly to foreign creditors that put us at a disadvantage. What about the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission? Another fiasco - and you wonder why, Mr. Speaker, such tough decisions had to be made. So get our finances under control. They don't like to hear the truth. What about Upper Clements Theme Park? What another boondoggle that was. You wonder why there was no money for health care when we took over.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: I wonder, Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. MACKINNON: Sure.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member. I would like to know where the hospital is at the theme park? I think we were talking about health care, and could you please describe to me the location of the hospital at the theme park. I thought we were talking about today's health crisis and the wonderful work that Bernie Boudreau is doing in Dartmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

[Page 8931]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rest my case. That will explain the depth of his understanding of finances of this province. Who brought in the 911 system? The Liberal Government did. Who brought in one of the best paramedic systems in Canada? The Liberal Government. (Interruptions) We can go on and on. I realize I have two seconds left and I would like to educate this member.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to thank the honourable members for this lively discussion. We will now revert back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. David Wilson in the Chair.]

[7:57 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 61 - Electronic Commerce Act.

Bill No. 63 - Labour Standards Code.

Bill No. 66 - Consumers Protection Act/Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the consent of the House to go back to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 8932]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 71 - Psychologists Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 72 - Dental Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit until 5:00 p.m. The order of business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills. We will continue, and should we complete the debate on Bill No. 62, we will adjourn the House at that time.

I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]

[Page 8933]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3346

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality, HOPE, is a non-profit organization providing much-needed services to residents of Yarmouth Town and County; and

Whereas HOPE offers a number of programs including life skills development, an inclusive pilot transportation project and, in conjunction with the Norma Relief Missionary, a program that provides costly medications that are effective in the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder; and

Whereas this Sunday, HOPE will host an annual community telethon to raise the necessary funds to provide these and other valuable services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our support and best wishes to HOPE and their dedicated staff and volunteers working on this weekend's telethon, and hope they have a positive outcome by way of financial support and increased public awareness of their many contributions and work within the Yarmouth community.