The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 29, 2000

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2000

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice: Sunday Shopping - Oppose, Mr. D. Downe 9453
Justice: Sunday Shopping - Support, Mr. D. Downe 9453
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Anl. Rept. of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs,
Mr. W. Langille 9454
Committee on Private and Local Bills, Mrs. M. Baillie 9455
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3628, Sports - 2003 World Jr. Hockey Championships: HRM -
Campaign Support, The Premier 9455
Vote - Affirmative 9456
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3629, Health - Immunization Prog.: Importance - Recognize,
Hon. J. Muir 9456
Vote - Affirmative 9457
Res. 3630, Health - Care System: Crisis - Min. Admit, Mr. D. Dexter 9457
Res. 3631, Econ. Dev. - Belliveau Cove Dev. Comm.:
Accomplishments - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 9458
Vote - Affirmative 9458
Res. 3632, Econ. Dev. - Amherst & Area Chamber of Commerce:
Gary Crowell/Members - Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 9458
Vote - Affirmative 9459
Res. 3633, Women - Centre of Excellence for Women's Health:
Awards - Recipients Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9459
Vote - Affirmative 9460
Res. 3634, Health - LPNs: Work - Min. Respect, Dr. J. Smith 9460
Res. 3635, Lions Clubs - Timberlea-Prospect: Initiative - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 9461
Vote - Affirmative 9461
Res. 3636, West Northfield - Heritage Comm.: Members - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 9461
Vote - Affirmative 9462
Res. 3637, Fin. - Fuel Tax: Windfall - Seniors Assist, Mr. J. Pye 9462
Res. 3638, Election (Cdn.) - Cape Breton: Outcome - Significance,
Mr. P. MacEwan 9463
Res. 3639, Sports - Gough, Lavinia/X-Women: Atl. Sport Cross-Country
Championships - Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 9463
Vote - Affirmative 9464
Res. 3640, Northside Youth Resource Ctr. - Opening: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. B. Boudreau 9464
Vote - Affirmative 9465
Res. 3641, Educ. - Halifax West HS Replacement: HRM Land -
Offer Accept, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9465
Res. 3642, Perry, Elson - Bible Hill Fire Brigade: Service -
Gratitude Express, Hon. J. Muir 9466
Vote - Affirmative 9466
Res. 3643, Col. Musq. Valley - MLA: Resignation - Demand,
Mr. D. Wilson 9466
Res. 3644, MacDonald, Cst. Leanne - Substance Abuse:
Leadership Initiatives - Applaud, Mr. K. Morash 9467
Vote - Affirmative 9468
Res. 3645, Wile, Sheldon/O'Donnell, Marty - Night of Fights:
Success - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 9468
Vote - Affirmative 9468
Res. 3646, Pictou Co. Help Line - Support: MLAs - Recognize,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 9469
Vote - Affirmative 9469
Res. 3647, Murray, Bruce G.: Photographer/Artist - Recognize,
Mrs. M. Baillie 9469
Vote - Affirmative 9470
Res. 3648, MacDonald, Helen B. - Dist. of St. Mary's Council:
History - Release Congrats., Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9470
Vote - Affirmative 9471
Res. 3649, Brison, Scott - Kings-Hants: MP - Election Congrats.,
Mr. J. Carey 9471
Vote - Affirmative 9471
Res. 3650, Keddy, Gerald - Election (Cdn.): Team - Victory Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 9472
Vote - Affirmative 9472
Res. 3651, Swedwood Canada: Expansion Congrats., Ms. M. McGrath 9472
Res. 3652, N.S. Home for Coloured Children: Christmas Broadcast
For Funds - Support, Mr. D. Hendsbee 9473
Res. 3653, McKinley, Aaron - Lions Int. Peace Poster Contest:
District Round - Congrats., Mr. D. Morse 9474
Vote - Affirmative 9474
Res. 3654, Crowell, Steve: Nat. Housing Award - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 9474
Vote - Affirmative 9475
Res. 3655, Mid-Valley Motel (Middleton) - Renovations:
Owner/Staff - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 9475
Vote - Affirmative 9476
Res. 3656, Sports - Volleyball: Lun. HS Mariners - Success Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 9476
Vote - Affirmative 9477
Res. 3657, Sports - Sport N.S.: Volunteers - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 9477
Vote - Affirmative 9477
Res. 3658, White Head Fire Dept.: Anniv. (25th) - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9478
Vote - Affirmative 9478
Res. 3659, Women's Place Resource Ctr. (Lawrencetown): Importance -
Recognize, Mr. F. Chipman 9478
Vote - Affirmative 9479
Res. 3660, IODE: Anniv. (100th) - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 9479
Vote - Affirmative 9480
Res. 3661, New Glasgow/Westville Police Serv. - Victim Services Room:
Establishment - Participants Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 9480
Vote - Affirmative 9480
Res. 3662, Hyslop, Don - Soldiers Mem. Hosp.: Fund-Raising -
Recognize, Mr. J. Carey 9481
Vote - Affirmative 9481
Res. 3663, Southwest Nova Birders - Shel. Co.: Bird Count Day
(16/12/00) - Recognize, Mr. C. O'Donnell 9481
Vote - Affirmative 9482
Res. 3664, Bak, Gregory - Doctorate: Attaintment - Congrats.,
(by Mr. B. Taylor) The Speaker 9482
Vote - Affirmative 9483
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1156, Health - EMC Dispatchers: Strike - Resolution,
Mr. John MacDonell 9483
No. 1157, Health - EMC Dispatchers: Strike - Contingency Plan,
Mr. W. Gaudet 9484
No. 1158, Lbr. - Disputes: First-Contract Leg. - Introduce,
Mr. F. Corbett 9485
No. 1159, Health - Homologue Insulin (Diabetes): Min. -
Rejection Explain, Dr. J. Smith 9486
No. 1160, Health - Diabetes: Complications - Prevention, Mr. D. Dexter 9487
No. 1161, Health - LPN Legislation: Delay - Explain, Dr. J. Smith 9489
No. 1162, Health: Diabetes Medication - Economics, Mr. D. Dexter 9490
No. 1163, Human Res. - Gov't. (N.S.): Restructuring - Details,
Mr. D. Wilson 9491
No. 1164, Health - Mammograms: Accreditation - Standards,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9492
No. 1165, Environ. - Min.: Replacement - Details, Mr. R. MacKinnon 9494
No. 1166, Health - Recovery House (Antigonish): Cuts - Reason,
Mr. John MacDonell 9495
No. 1167, NSLC - Private Store: French Shore - Location,
Mr. W. Gaudet 9496
No. 1168, P&P - Prog. Review: Analysis - Share, Mr. J. Holm 9497
No. 1169, Sysco - Sale: Steelworkers - Employment Assure,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9498
No. 1170, Educ. - Hfx. West HS: HRM Land - Offer Accept,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9500
No. 1171, Commun. Serv. - Family Resource Ctrs.: Funding - Info.,
Mr. D. Downe 9501
No. 1172, Educ. - School Buses (DRL): Anna. Valley - Safety,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9502
No. 1173, Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Supplies - Receipt Time-Frame,
Mr. M. Samson 9503
No. 1174, Justice - Affirmative Action: Law Firm - Implementation,
Mr. H. Epstein 9505
No. 1175, Econ. Dev.- Agreement (Can./N.S.): Funding - Status,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9506
No. 1176, Justice - Avalon Sexual Assualt Ctr. (Hfx.):
Recommendations - Implement, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9507
No. 1177, Nat. Res. - Coxheath Depot: Residents - Accessibility,
Mr. B. Boudreau 9508
No. 1178, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning -
Funding, Mr. H. Epstein 9510
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 83, Employment Equity Act 9511
Mr. H. Epstein 9511
Hon. M. Baker 9514
Mr. M. Samson 9518
Mr. D. Dexter 9521
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3578, Educ.: Halifax West HS - Replace,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9525
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9525
Ms. M. McGrath 9527
Mr. W. Gaudet 9531
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9533
Mr. John MacDonell 9534
Mr. B. Barnet 9537
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 30th at 12:00 p.m. 9538
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3665, Kings North - MLA: Penitence - Details, Mr. M. Parent 9539

[Page 9453]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2000

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As all members are aware, there will not be a late debate this evening because of a CPA branch meeting at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present petitions signed in Bridgewater, Lunenburg County. Two petitions were set up at Gow's Home Hardware and the local Bridgewater Canadian Tire. A petition was presented for those in favour of Sunday shopping and another petition beside that was those opposed to Sunday shopping. I am happy to say that I have affixed my name to the petition that opposes Sunday shopping and I am here to present a total of 147 in favour of Sunday shopping and 820 opposed to Sunday shopping in Bridgewater. I table those to the House today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is tabling one or two petitions? You have to sign it for tabling purposes.

9453

[Page 9454]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh-h-h.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have signed the one opposed to Sunday shopping and that is the only one I will sign. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member, for tabling purposes, has to sign it. So if you are tabling two petitions, you have to sign them both. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I am just trying to be helpful here. My understanding of the rules, of course, you are correct, Mr. Speaker. If the member signs it to table it, that does not mean that he is necessarily endorsing the petition. So he could put his signature on it and when he does so, just say he is not endorsing it. That has the same effect. He has on public record that it is signed simply for the purposes of tabling.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I understand the honourable member has signed the one that he has tabled and now he is signing the second one for tabling purposes only.

The two petitions are tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, I am pleased to submit the 1999-2000 report of the committee for the First Session of the 58th General Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills . . .

MR. SPEAKER: We are under Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

[Page 9455]

MRS. BAILLIE: Oh, sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House I would like to revert 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 member for Pictou West.

MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 59 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 65 - Lunenburg War Memorial Community Centre Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 79 - University College of Cape Breton Student Union Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3628

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 9456]

Whereas this morning a news conference was held to highlight the community campaign to bring the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship to Halifax; and

Whereas a team effort of Trade Centre Limited, Hockey Nova Scotia and Events Halifax have put together a compelling package for consideration by the Canadian Hockey Association; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has all the ingredients needed to host a successful world-class hockey event - the infrastructure, unparalleled fan support, a tremendous volunteer base and a proven track record of international events, ranging from the G7 Summit to the 2000 Memorial Cup;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House, on behalf of all Nova Scotians, convey our full support of the effort to bring the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship to the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia - the birthplace of hockey.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3629

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

Whereas continuing education around immunization issues helps health care workers to stay current; and

[Page 9457]

Whereas Canada continues to be at the forefront of immunization research, which is one of the main reasons Canadians enjoy such good health; and

Whereas around 800 physicians, nurses and public health officials are in Halifax this coming week for the 4th Canadian National Immunization Conference;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the ongoing importance of immunization programs and extend our appreciation to the conference organizers and participants for their efforts to make our lives healthier.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3630

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

Whereas last year around this time this province was faced with a paramedics strike; and

Whereas at that time the Minister of Health told Nova Scotians not to worry, there was a plan in place and everything would be fine; and

Whereas what we learned when the paramedics went on strike was there never was a plan, never had been;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of using hollow words, that could possibly be a prevarication, that the Minister of Health try telling the people of Nova Scotia the truth and that is, we are faced with yet another crisis in our health care system, one that has gotten away from him again.

[Page 9458]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3631

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

Whereas the Belliveau Cove Development Commission has won one of the four Bluenose Achievement Awards presented by Recreation Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the commission is an example of a volunteer group fostering healthier futures through activities and services, promoting the value and benefits of recreation; and

Whereas the commission's achievements include the repairs of the Belliveau Cove wharf, reconstruction of a lighthouse, the creation of the Marie and Joseph Dugas Park, an annual Acadian festival and the development of a wheelchair accessible boardwalk;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the Belliveau Cove Development Commission on their outstanding accomplishments and wish them continued success.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3632

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

[Page 9459]

Whereas the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce plays an integral role in the growth and development of the local economy, providing support, direction and connection for both long-standing businesses, as well as entrepreneurial initiatives; and

Whereas in the late 1980's, the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce was in disarray, lacking commitment, focus and direction; and

Whereas in the early 1990's, Gary Crowell took it upon himself to rejuvenate the chamber and build a committed team of businesses and individuals who would lay the foundation for future growth, a role he pursued so fervently that he has been recognized by the chamber and his peers through the receipt of the chamber's Award of Merit;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize Gary Crowell and the many other committed members of the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce who have played a key role in the revitalization of this key focal point for economic development in Cumberland County.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3633

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

Whereas last evening, the Maritime Centre of Excellence for Women's Health held its inaugural leadership awards for women's health in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas among the outstanding recipients were the following women: Kathy Coffin, Diane Tinkhem, Eva Marks MacIsaac, Joyce Ross and Dr. Judy Caines, all who have dedicated themselves to the promotion of women's health and well-being; and

[Page 9460]

Whereas also among the other recipients were 25 nurses of the Nova Scotia Cancer Care - Halifax Clinic;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to all the recipients of these leadership awards and extend a sincere thank you for the important contribution they make to women's health.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3634

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

Whereas licensed practical nurses are a crucial part of the health care team; and

Whereas LPNs are concerned about delays in bringing forth new legislation for their profession, requiring mandatory membership; and

Whereas the Tory message has told LPNs that they were not real nurses;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health show respect for the work done by LPNs and support their professional development.

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.

[Page 9461]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3635

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

Whereas Lions International's motto is "We Serve"; and

Whereas the Lions Clubs who service the communities of Timberlea and Prospect are busy raising funds to assist those who are in need at this festive time of the year; and

Whereas the Prospect Road, Timberlea and Area, and St. Margaret's Bay Lions are made up of community-minded women and men;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank the members of these Lions Clubs for their energy and initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3636

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

Whereas the West Northfield Area Heritage Committee recognized the importance of preserving a community's history; and

[Page 9462]

Whereas committee members, Heather Veinotte, Franklyn Dauphinee, Lana Veinotte, Bill Bruhm and Anne Veinotte have been researching the history and genealogy of the West Northfield area for over a year and one-half; and

Whereas Reflections 2000, the 330 page history of the community has been completed by the committee, was launched at the West Northfield Community Centre on November 24th;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates the members of the West Northfield Area Heritage Committee and community members on their efforts to preserve their local history.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3637

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

Whereas this Tory Government has decided to sit and wait while seniors give up heat, food or medicine; and

Whereas the Group of Nine who represent seniors are saying that retired people on fixed incomes are choosing to heat their homes instead of paying for prescriptions; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance is waiting on the federal government who has not passed legislation granting rebates and who will not meet until the new year, in the meantime seniors are forced into making hard choices;

[Page 9463]

Therefore be it resolved that instead of procrastinating, the Minister of Finance should act immediately to help seniors by using his tax windfall from increased gasoline and fuel taxes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3638

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

Whereas the results of Monday's federal election, if applied poll by poll to the provincial ridings on Cape Breton Island, put the Liberals ahead in every constituency, including Inverness; and

Whereas in Cape Breton North, where some look forward to a by-election, the Liberal vote was ahead of the NDP by close to 1,000 with the Tories drawing only 716 votes; and

Whereas in Cape Breton Centre overall the Liberals were ahead of the NDP by 920 and won the Town of New Waterford by 1,312 to 1,272 for the NDP;

Therefore be it resolved that the federal vote augers well for the Liberal provincial prospects in Cape Breton and paves the way for the early elimination of those two obstacles to progress known as Toryism and NDPism.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3639

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

[Page 9464]

Whereas for five years Lavinia Gough has been a successful and distinguished member of the cross-country team at Saint Francis Xavier University; and

Whereas among Ms. Gough's many accomplishments are two consecutive runner of the year titles and last year's individual title at the Atlantic Sport Cross Country Championships; and

Whereas as well as clinching the Atlantic Sport Cross Country Championship title for a second time this year, Ms. Gough led the X-Women to their first ever league title at the championships held recently in Fredericton;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Gough and the rest of the X-Women on their recent successes at the Atlantic Sport Cross Country Championships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3640

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

Whereas the Northside Youth Resource Centre officially opens today in Sydney Mines; and

Whereas this centre run by youth will provide more opportunity for our young people to be actively involved in their community; and

Whereas the centre is funded through Human Resource Development Canada youth services program and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality;

[Page 9465]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all those involved in making this project a reality and recognize the importance of the Youth Resource Centre to the youth of the area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3641

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has set aside two hectares of land on the Mainland North Common on which to build a new Halifax West High School; and

Whereas a new school situated in this area would have access to a library as well as a recreation centre; and

Whereas the current Halifax West School will be too costly to repair due to escalating costs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education act immediately to take the HRM up on its offer and do the right thing and build a new Halifax West.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 9466]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3642

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

Whereas Elson Perry of Bible Hill was named an honourary member of the Bible Hill Fire Brigade; and

Whereas Elson Perry served as a very active member of the brigade for 33 years; and

Whereas being a fire brigade member involves more than fighting fires and Elson Perry was honoured for using the Heimlich manoeuver to save a child who was choking on popcorn, while he was on duty at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members thank Elson Perry for his 33 years of active service with the Bible Hill Fire Brigade, and congratulate him for being made an honorary member of that great fire and community service.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3643

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

Whereas the Tory Government has demonstrated its contempt for the House and the people of Nova Scotia time and time again during this session; and

[Page 9467]

Whereas the actions of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in overturning a vote of the House last week were completely unacceptable; and

Whereas no apology or resignation has been forthcoming from the government on this issue as yet;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join together in their condemnation of the Tory Government, and once again demand the resignation of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 3644

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

Whereas the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program has been used extensively by law enforcement agencies across North America to teach children about self-esteem, life skills, understanding the consequences of drug use and choosing positive alternatives; and

Whereas Constable Leanne MacDonald from the Liverpool detachment of the RCMP recently completed training in the delivery of the DARE Program; and

Whereas she will offer the 17 week program to 119 Grade 5 students at Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy and at North Queen's Elementary starting in January;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud Constable MacDonald for providing leadership on initiatives to prevent our young people from abusing substances and for encouraging them instead to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9468]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3645

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

Whereas on Friday, November 24th, the Halifax Metro Centre played host to "A Night at the Fights"; and

Whereas this major boxing event attracted over 3,500 fight fans and featured both amateur and professional cards; and

Whereas pro bouts were won by two individuals from Sackville: Sheldon Wile and Commonwealth Silver Medalist Marty O'Donnell;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sheldon Wile and Marty O'Donnell on their successful Night at the Fights, and as well wish them the best of luck in their future pro bouts.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 9469]

RESOLUTION NO. 3646

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

Whereas the Seventh Annual Christmas Crafts and Gift Auction is scheduled for tomorrow evening at Summer Street Industries in Pictou County; and

Whereas the auction is held in support of the Pictou County Help Line; and

Whereas the help line is a confidential service that assists Pictou County residents in obtaining information or assisting them with crisis intervention, or referring them to an appropriate agency for help, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week;

Therefore be it resolved that, as MLAs from all political stripes, we recognize the significant support and help offered by the Pictou County Help Line to those most in need.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3647

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

Whereas Pictou resident Bruce G. Murray, a commercial photographer by day, is developing a reputation as a respected artist by night; and

Whereas Bruce has compiled an extensive collection of black and white pictures taken from his travels around the world, including one of a statue of a Pictou settler, a local historical landmark; and

[Page 9470]

Whereas a number of Bruce's pictures are presently on display at the Hector Exhibit Centre in Pictou, a show he fittingly titled "Images and Wanderings";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Bruce G. Murray, the commercial photographer and the artist and wish him success as he endeavours to plan a second exhibit next spring, including other local artists and photographers.

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3648

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

Whereas the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's recently unveiled a book outlining the history of the municipality and their monthly council meetings; and

Whereas Helen B. MacDonald, the Clerk and Treasurer for the municipality spent six months authoring this book entitled, "Municipality of the District of St. Mary's History"; and

Whereas this book includes lists of all the elected officials dating back to 1880, along with lists of staff, clerks, deputy clerks and auditors, budget and tax information, the municipality's incorporation on April 17, 1878, and other important events and history taken out of various council minutes;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Helen B. MacDonald and the District of St. Mary's council on the release of this historical account of the people and events who helped shaped the development of this area.

[Page 9471]

Mr. Speaker I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3649

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

Whereas despite the Liberal majority nationwide Monday evening, the federal riding of Kings-Hants remained solid-blue Conservative; and

Whereas Scott Brison won an even larger majority this time than he did in 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that we congratulate Kings-Hants Conservative, Scott Brison, and his campaign team on his 4,402 majority win Monday evening.

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 Shelburne.

[Page 9472]

RESOLUTION NO. 3650

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

Whereas New Ross Christmas tree farmer and Conservative Gerald Keddy won re-election to the House of Commons Monday evening; and

Whereas South Shore MP-elect Gerald Keddy outdistanced his Liberal opponent by more than 1,600 votes; and

Whereas Gerald Keddy has worked, and will continue to work, tirelessly on behalf of all constituents along the South Shore;

Therefore be it resolved that South Shore MP-elect Gerald Keddy and his victorious campaign team be congratulated for their efforts, which contributed to Mr. Keddy's electoral win Monday evening.

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 honorable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3651

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

Whereas Swedwood Canada, in the Burnside Industrial Park, manufactures furniture for Ikea, the international furniture chain; and

Whereas this company has been a successful and productive corporate citizen in metropolitan Halifax for well over 10 years; and

[Page 9473]

Whereas Swedwood Canada recently held a reception to celebrate their fourth expansion of their business;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Swedwood Canada on the occasion of their fourth expansion, and wish them continued success in their business endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 3652

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children, the oldest co-ed residential facility in Nova Scotia, has been an important part of the local community since its opening in 1921; and

Whereas while the Home's original mandate was to provide for needy children in the Black community, its doors are now open to help all at-risk children regardless of their racial origin, religious affiliation or ethnic background; and

Whereas for the past 69 years the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children has relied on the generosity of the public through donations to its Annual Christmas Broadcast for Funds;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House pledge their support to the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children, and make a generous donation to the 69th Annual Christmas Broadcast for Funds airing Sunday, December 10th from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Shaw Cable 10, so that The Home may continue to provide help and assistance for the kids in need.

[Page 9474]

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

[The notice is tabled.]

The honourable member for Kings South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3653

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

Whereas more than 325,000 entries from around the world have been submitted in the 13th Annual Lions International Peace Poster Contest; and

Whereas Aaron McKinley, a Grade 5 student at L.E. Shaw Elementary School, recently won a local competition for having best captured the theme of this year's contest, United in Peace; and

Whereas Aaron's poster will now advance to the district level;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Aaron McKinley for advancing to the district round in this prestigious competition and wish him the best of luck as he moves closer to the grand prize.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3654

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

[Page 9475]

Whereas contractor Steve Crowell was recently honoured with a National Housing Award for Concept and Design from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation; and

Whereas the selection for the award was made by a panel of 13 judges, representing all aspects of the housing industry, who evaluated nominations from across Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Crowell has been previously recognized nationally and provincially for outstanding design and innovation with his energy-efficient Envirohome projects;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Crowell for receiving this award and for continuing to achieve the highest levels of recognition for Canadian housing excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3655

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

Whereas the Mid-Valley Motel in Middleton had the official opening ceremonies for their recently completed $900,000 renovation last Saturday afternoon; and

Whereas the motel is ranked as a three and one-half star establishment and can accommodate 250 people when fully occupied; and

Whereas the renovations have resulted in a more relaxed atmosphere being offered at the Mid-Valley;

[Page 9476]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend their sincerest wishes to owner Joan Dupree, her family, and staff on their recently completed renovations and wish them continued success in operating the Mid-Valley Motel in Middleton.

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.

There is too much noise in the Chamber, it is hard for me and for the Clerk to hear the motions being read. I would ask the members to keep it down, please.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3656

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

Whereas the Lunenburg High School Volleyball Mariners won the 1999 Division 4 Provincials; and

Whereas on November 18th, the Mariners won the Division 2 Regionals at Windsor, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Lunenburg High School Volleyball Mariners are headed to the Division 2 Provincials, on December 1st and December 2nd, as the top seed from the West;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Lunenburg High School Volleyball Mariners on their success this year and wish them the best of luck in the upcoming Division 2 Provincials.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

[Page 9477]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3657

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

Whereas on November 25th, Sport Nova Scotia honoured and recognized sport volunteers at the World Trade and Convention Centre; and

Whereas the generous support of companies like the Investors Group helped make this fine event possible; and

Whereas an active lifestyle is essential to healthy Nova Scotians and these volunteers help make this happen;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Board of Sport Nova Scotia and Chairman, Laurie Murchison; Investors Group; and most important of all, those hard-working volunteers who were honoured.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 9478]

RESOLUTION NO. 3658

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

Whereas volunteer fire departments play an active and vital role in communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in addition to protecting our lives and our property, volunteer fire departments contribute in many ways to community life; and

Whereas on December 9th, the White Head Fire Department will host a dinner and awards presentation celebrating their 25th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the White Head Fire Department on their 25th Anniversary and thank them for their many years of dedicated service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3659

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

Whereas the Women's Place Resource Centre on Main Street in Lawrencetown, Annapolis County, is a welcoming place for all women to meet; and

Whereas the Women's Place Resource Centre will host a reception tomorrow morning to officially launch its 2001 Weekly Planner; and

[Page 9479]

Whereas this planner, which will sell for $10, includes information on famous Canadian women of the past who have been great role models for women today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the important role played by the Women's Place Resource Centre in Annapolis County and wish them every success in the launch of its 2001 Weekly Planner tomorrow morning in Lawrencetown.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3660

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

Whereas the IODE is a much celebrated international women's charitable organization whose mission is to improve the quality of our communities; and

Whereas their contributions within our communities include the establishment of scholarship and bursary programs, support for libraries, schools, hospitals, senior centres, medical clinics and parks; and

Whereas the Regent of the Olympic Chapter, Mrs. Leonard McCully, recently planted a tree at the corner of Chester Avenue and Main Street in Kentville to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the IODE in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the IODE on its 100th Anniversary and thank members of chapters in Kentville and across Canada for the contributions they have made to our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9480]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3661

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

Whereas the New Glasgow/Westville Police service now has a new victim services room situated at the police station on Park Street in New Glasgow; and

Whereas the victim services room has been established to provide a non-threatening environment for victims and will enable police officers to do interviews in a relaxed and calming atmosphere; and

Whereas the New Glasgow Kinette's Club played an integral role in the creation of this room;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature commend both the New Glasgow/Westville Police service and the New Glasgow Kinette's Club for their outstanding community efforts put forward on this project.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 9481]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3662

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

Whereas Kingston area resident Don Hyslop and the Kinsmen Club of Middleton recently raised $1,000 to assist Soldier's Memorial Hospital in Middleton; and

Whereas Mr. Hyslop, who has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since 1992, worked to see the funding go toward such things as blood work, nutrition counselling and regular blood pressure checks, which diabetics must have accessibility to on a regular basis; and

Whereas to raise the funds, Mr. Hyslop took his Grade 9 and Grade 10 students to climb mountain peaks in the New England States and with every peak climbed above 5,000 feet, the Kinsmen Club of Middleton would donate $100 to the cause;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature recognize the hard work and the great effort of Mr. Hyslop and his students whose adventure will mean a great deal to the hospital.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 3663

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

Whereas the Southwest Nova Birders are getting set for their 15th annual bird count day on Saturday, December 16th; and

[Page 9482]

Whereas the Southwest Nova Birders usually record over 100 sightings of bird species while viewing tens of thousands of individual birds; and

Whereas annually the Southwest Nova Birders' count is considered to be one of the best in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize this particular bird count in Shelburne County and wish them the best of luck in their outing for 2000.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3664

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

Mr. Speaker, while I submit this resolution, it is on behalf of the MLA for Cumberland South, the Speaker of the House. I want to, before I begin, commend the Speaker for bringing this . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Speech.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend you for bringing this resolution forward because it is something that we can all be proud of.

Whereas it is a significant accomplishment to obtain a doctorate in any discipline; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas Gregory Bak, a librarian, working in the Legislative Library, did so while attaining a Masters in Library and Information Studies;

[Page 9483]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the newly minted Dr. Bak for successfully defending his thesis and obtaining his doctorate in history on Friday, November 24th.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:46 p.m. and end at 4:16 p.m.

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

HEALTH - EMC DISPATCHERS: STRIKE - RESOLUTION

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, a year ago we were faced with a strike by paramedics, after failed negotiations with Emergency Medical Care Incorporated. Now we are struck with a sense of déjà vu as fire and ambulance dispatchers may strike at midnight tonight, after failing to reach their own agreement with EMC. Now we have learned that EMC has informed the government that they may lock out the dispatchers. My question is for the Minister of Health. This is a clear issue of fairness to the dispatchers, and I think an issue of fairness to all Nova Scotians. Can the minister tell this House what this government plans to do to make sure this situation is resolved fairly?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that talks between the parties are still going on, and I still remain optimistic that a solution can be found at the table. Just to clarify one thing the honourable member put in his question, inasmuch as the union did give strike notice, it is a matter of course for the employer to notify that they could lock out, that is part of the agreement, the way it works.

[Page 9484]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we noticed last year that a strike was a matter of course in dealing with this government. When we were in this same position last year, the Premier said in this House, "I know the value of paramedics, I also know the value of a bargaining system that allows a fair resolution without government intervention." Then he turned around and enforced back-to-work legislation on the paramedics. It seems the only time the government is willing to step in is to apply its heavy hand to workers. My question for the Premier is, can the Premier tell us if he also knows the value of dispatchers, and if he plans to force them into the same situation as the paramedics?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know Nova Scotians are watching with intense interest what is going on around the bargaining table. It is a healthy process, it is a fair process. We will not interfere with it. I am confident that an equitable resolution will be found prior to strike action.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier says an equitable solution will be found prior to strike action. The question is, who determines what is equitable? All the dispatchers are asking for is wage parity with the paramedics, the same rate that was awarded after arbitration last year. The Minister of Health has said he doesn't plan to force dispatchers back to work, but then we have heard that before from this government. To the Minister of Health, will the minister assure this House that his government will act to help resolve this situation before it is too late, and will he also commit to seeking constructive solutions, rather than forcing dispatchers back to work?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government and this minister, in regard to all people who work in the public sector, would like to see fair settlements reached. CUPW and EMC are involved in a collective bargaining process. They are still talking. I know there has been some movement in the last 24 hours. I am confident that the movement will continue, and this matter will be settled at the table, where it should be.

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

HEALTH - EMC DISPATCHERS: STRIKE - CONTINGENCY PLAN

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday the minister said he was optimistic that EMC dispatchers will not go on strike. Unfortunately, the minister has not given Nova Scotians any reason to share his optimism. He has said EMC has a contingency plan, but the minister will not share it with us. My question is, will the minister explain the details of that contingency plan to the House today?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, EMC does have a contingency plan. Those that need to know already know, and are indeed informed.

[Page 9485]

MR. GAUDET: I guess, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians don't need to know. The minister assured Nova Scotians there was a back-up plan last year when paramedics went on strike, and we saw how it turned out. My question to the minister is, can the minister guarantee that the Department of Health has its own plan in case the EMC contingency plan runs into problems?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, EMC has a contingency plan. It is a good plan. It has been shared with the appropriate people. I am very confident in that contingency plan, quite frankly, I just hope we don't have to talk about contingency plans tomorrow.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, despite what the minister says, Nova Scotians are worried that emergency medical services will suffer. My question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to make sure Nova Scotians have confidence in the emergency response system so they don't try to take a medical emergency into their own hands?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. As Minister of Health, I would tell Nova Scotians that progress is ongoing and also tell them I am comfortable that there is a contingency plan that could be activated. Hopefully it will not have to be activated. I am also telling Nova Scotians that the two sides are still talking, and I am optimistic that a reasonable solution can be reached within an appropriate period of time.

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

LBR. - DISPUTES: FIRST-CONTRACT LEG. - INTRODUCE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Labour. In this last year, we have seen two high-profile strikes in this province, one with the emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and the other one, Pioneer Coal. One was forced back to work, and the other, the government sat idly on the sidelines and watched violence happen.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Labour is, there are three other provinces in this country that have first-contract legislation. Why won't this government do the same?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to point out to the honourable member and to other members of the House that the process that is in place in this province has worked. The parties were able to negotiate a settlement. As long as they are at the table, they can achieve a settlement.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that just goes to show how little this minister knows about labour negotiations. It is not working. They had to legislate one group back last year. He sat idly by and watched another group have violence on the picket lines. There was a

[Page 9486]

person charged, and he knows very well who that person is. I want to ask the minister, will you today introduce first-contract legislation to protect both parties in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question is no, I will not introduce that legislation today.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this do-nothing minister, when it comes to labour, doesn't even know what is going on in his own department. He doesn't realize that first-contract negotiations, first-contract legislation helps both parties. It gets them to work in an environment they are not used to. So I am asking again, Mr. Minister, will you put forward first-contract legislation in this province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre just asked the same question on his first supplementary. However, the honourable Minister of Labour can answer if he wishes.

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the answer remains the same as it was a minute ago. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - HOMOLOGUE INSULIN (DIABETES):

MIN. - REJECTION EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The drug, homologue insulin, has proven to be more effective in controlling diabetes than conventional forms of insulin that are presently within the provincial drug formulary. The use of this medication will mean long-term health benefits to diabetics and long-term savings to the health care system. Yet the minister refuses to include homologue insulin on the formulary. My question to the minister, why is the minister rejecting the use of this very effective medicine for diabetes?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, there is a very meticulous process of examining drugs when the question is whether they should go on the formulary in Nova Scotia. The particular drug to which the honourable member has referred, if it has not been already, will be considered, I am sure, by the formulary and an appropriate decision will be made on it. That is not a political decision, as the honourable member well knows. Those recommendations are made by a group of people who are well qualified to make them.

[Page 9487]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on August 3rd in a letter from the minister to a faculty member of the Department of Paediatrics and Medicine at Dalhousie University, he states that an expert committee reviewed the scientific evidence on homologue insulin and endocrinologists are the recognized experts in the management of diabetes. Why did the minister not include an endocrinologist on this expert committee? I would like to table that letter of the minister to the Department of Paediatrics and Medicine at Dalhousie.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the process that is followed in assessing whether a particular pharmaceutical should be included on the formulary or not is that there is a committee and they will draw in expertise as it is needed to assist them in making decisions.

DR. SMITH: Well, it is pretty clear who the experts are in diabetes, Mr. Speaker. I will also table a letter from the acting head of the Endocrinology and Metabolism at the QE II Health Sciences Centre. They are unanimous in their evidence-based recommendation, and I underline evidence-based, that homologue insulin be included in the drug formulary and I would like to table that letter.

Mr. Speaker, who should Nova Scotians trust on this matter, the minister or the medical experts who present evidence-based findings contrary to the evidence-based findings that the minister brings forward?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I certainly respect the opinions of the endocrinologists from the QE II. As the honourable member knows, when drugs are being considered, the question of whether to put them on the provincial formulary or not is that relevant information is sought from people, and I am sure in that case from people who are experts in diabetes and endocrinology probably would be part of that particular group. They make the decision based on a number of things. One is its power, the ability of a drug to improve outcome. Secondly, I suppose, it would be its cost-effectiveness compared to something else. There are a number of factors, a number of criteria that formulary uses to make these decisions. It is not arbitrary and I have every confidence that the group that makes those decisions here in Nova Scotia does it in a thorough, thoughtful . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

HEALTH - DIABETES: COMPLICATIONS - PREVENTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, November is Diabetes Month and I want to jump right to some important facts associated with this disease. Diabetes, when not properly monitored, can lead to serious health complications. In fact, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Canada.

[Page 9488]

[3:00 p.m.]

Even though 5 per cent of the population in Nova Scotia has diabetes, costs associated with it and its complications represent 15 per cent of the total health care spending. This can be lowered with proper intervention and especially with careful monitoring. So my question is, doesn't it make good economic sense for the minister to act preventively and ensure that complications do not arise?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Obviously, preventive medicine is good medicine and it is a direction in which we are going as a government and I can say, perhaps in the case of diabetes - and I do know that it is becoming more prevalent - there are some sort of non-medicinal things which are very good preventive medicine things for people who have diabetes or are susceptible to diabetes to get involved in. One is to watch your diet, watch your food and the other is exercise, you know, the preventive thing. We are working in conjunction with the Diabetes Association on the cases of education, we have 30 diabetes . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour on your first supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: Many Nova Scotians say that they cannot afford the costs of monitoring diabetes. They say that the cost of purchasing the most basic monitoring supplies is beyond their reach. Test strips to monitor blood sugar levels are $1.00 a piece with about five used every day. Syringes to inject insulin are $35 a month, special foods required to maintain blood sugar levels. Is it fair that people who have no control over their child's development of the disease, should have to go in debt over it?

MR. MUIR: I am well aware of some of the difficulties associated with diabetes and I have a great deal of sympathy and empathy for those whose family members have the disease or they have it themselves. As a matter of fact, when we look around this Legislature we are going to find a number of people who either have diabetes in their family or perhaps they have diabetes themselves. In the case of the strips - and the question was raised in here, I think by the honourable member for Dartmouth East, some time ago - yes, the fact of the strips is that new ones come out all the time. The problem with the new ones is that they are good, but the cost keeps going up and the ones of lesser cost will do and the ones that are covered by MSI are the ones of lesser cost. They still do the job.

MR. DEXTER: The fact is that diabetes can be controlled. When the facts say that controlling the disease prevents complications that result in huge medical costs, it makes no sense for this minister not to step in and provide some assistance to low-income persons in covering these costs. My question is, what is the minister going to do to assist these people in ensuring that they can monitor this disease and stay out of hospital?

[Page 9489]

MR. MUIR: I can say that the government is working with the Diabetes Association and one of the big things about diabetes is education, along with the treatment. As I said there are about 30 of these diabetic education centres around the province and we work with the Diabetes Association; we also provide, through our drug programs and in conjunction with the Diabetes Association, medical supplies for those in need.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - LPN LEGISLATION: DELAY - EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday I asked the minister about the delay in bringing forward new legislation for licensed practical nurses, and the minister said it was because of a, " . . . disagreement among professional groups." I thought the only professional group we were talking about were the licensed practical nurses. My question is, what other professional groups have made representations to the minister regarding the new LPN legislation, and who is against mandatory membership in that association?

HON. JAMES MUIR: The LPN legislation, as the honourable member would know, is like the RN legislation; the Medical Society and the Registered Nurses' Association, of course, are people who have an interest in that legislation and would be consulted as it was put together. Of course, the major contributors were the LPN groups themselves. They are the ones that have been pushing for legislative changes now for some years, and we prepare to act on it.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, so we are not sure who made that representation against that. The LPNs, licensed practical nurses, are concerned because the minister tried to remove the clause about mandatory membership in their association. This would have a negative impact on the future of the association. My question to the minister is, what advantage for the health care system does the minister see in the removal of mandatory membership in the Licensed Practical Nurses Association?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can say that the legislation is obviously still in draft form. We are talking about speculation, but what is happening with the licensed practical nurses is that it is taking a step forward in the recognition as a self-governing body. Most of the legislation that we have here in Nova Scotia, the health care legislations, when segments of the health professions have moved to a self-governing body there is a distinction between the licensing, the regulatory body and the association. Mandatory membership is not the same; it becomes optional. In the model of the other legislation that has been recently passed in Nova Scotia, there is a separation. That provision has been removed.

[Page 9490]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the licensed practical nurses had been trying to get a meeting with the minister for a month now. When will the LPNs be advised that their legislation will be brought forward in a manner consistent with other health care groups that have mandatory membership in their professional associations?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the dialogue and conversation among the groups, the LPNs, and our department continues. Indeed, I had a letter from the President of the LPN Association - I think all members of the House did, because I got it in the House - I have written back and indicated we would be willing to meet. For the information of the House, I am not going to make an introduction, but the president of that association is in the gallery today.

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

HEALTH: DIABETES MEDICATION - ECONOMICS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The estimated cost of treating and monitoring diabetes is estimated to be about $3,000 a year out of pocket. The Nova Scotia Diabetes Association says they get two to four calls a day from persons who say they can't afford the monitoring supplies. They say they need help because drug plans won't cover them fully. If they are already diagnosed, the only help is to turn to charity, to family members, or to go into debt. My question is this, is forcing people into debt a sustainable approach to health care?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this November is Diabetes Month, and the questions the honourable member raises are good ones. It is our government's intention to support people who have diabetes, who are apt to get diabetes, in the very best way that we can. On the other hand, along with diabetics, there are other groups in the province who need help too, and we are committed to helping them at the same time. We will do everything we can, including education and all of these things to try to ensure that people who, unfortunately have that disease, who are perhaps apt to get it, to help them either not get it or to treat it when they do have it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, everything he could do includes spending the money so those people could have the supplies they need to monitor the drugs, and that is something he won't do. That is what he won't do.

Mr. Speaker, based on demographic factors alone, we know there will be a 50 per cent increase in diabetes and the economic burden over the next 15 years. Properly managed, complications can be reduced by 60 per cent. The minister says he wants to fix health care, well here is the perfect opportunity. When will the minister begin the development of a subsidy program to help low-income persons deal with the costs associated with diabetes?

[Page 9491]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, there are programs that do provide for people of low income already in place. I think the important thing is our initiatives in preventative health, where the emphasis is on health as opposed to health care. It is clear that education is needed. We have to stop diabetes before it gets started, or educate so diabetes can be effectively controlled without pharmaceuticals or with a minimum pharmaceutical intervention.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, again, what the minister says is disconnected from what he does. There was a national Angus Reid Poll that said four out of five Nova Scotians believe that the provincial government should increase spending on managing diabetes. Yet the minister has just approved a reduction of 20 per cent to the Diabetes Care Program at the QE II, and this program had a 10 month wait list before the cut. My question for the minister is, will the minister take a preventative approach to health care and commit to developing a subsidy program?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the clock is ticking in here, because I think we had this discussion about 25 days ago with respect to the Diabetes Education Centre at the QE II. I explained in my answer at that time that there were about 30 other centres around the province that offered diabetes education. The implication of the honourable member is that is the only place in the province where this occurs. One of the good things about the diabetes education is it is distributed right across the province, it is distributed in rural communities, urban communities. That is a very good program, and I wish I could snap my fingers and say, yes, I will put another $30 million into diabetes education.

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

HUMAN RES. - GOV'T. (N.S.): RESTRUCTURING - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Minister of Human Resources, if indeed there is such a thing. Our concern on this side of the House, and it is the concern of many Nova Scotians as well, is that government restructuring is not going very smoothly. Could the minister indicate to the House how many full-time employees have been laid off, and how many term and contract positions have not been renewed?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is probably misinformed. The restructuring is going ahead very well and it is going ahead smoothly. As to the number of full-time equivalent positions that have been removed from the roster of positions of the provincial government, I can tell him the rough number and it is not exactly correct, it is around 611, if I remember correctly, since 12 months before this date.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would hope the minister would be willing to table those numbers for us to see in the House. I will take my information over the minister's information regarding the smoothness of the restructuring any day. The government has

[Page 9492]

already used a skeleton crew in many areas and surely the situation can't be improved if positions are eliminated. The Human Resources Department is being eliminated and the minister seems unaware of the difficulties that are being created by that. There is a fine line between eliminating red tape and providing services to Nova Scotians. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit to a service impact study to ensure employees are not being stretched to the limit in this province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the difference between what this government is doing and what the previous government did is simply that we are looking at programs. That is why we had a program review, to identify those programs which were surplus to government needs. We have gotten rid of those programs, and in getting rid of those programs we have reduced the number of people who are employed in the Civil Service. When you get rid of programs, you do not increase the workload on other departments of government and that is what those people over there did and that is where they ran into difficulty. We do not intend to run into the same difficulties as they experienced.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will say to the minister, I would love to see you table that report, Mr. Minister. I would love to see you table that report in this House. You have been asked many times and you have not done it. Do it. Table that report. There is not even going to be a Human Resources Department pretty soon due to restructuring. You know that demonstrates a total lack of concern for employees and a gross ineptitude with respect to human resources management.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Will the Premier reverse his decision to eliminate the Department of Human Resources and dedicate a full-time minister for the task at hand?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and I can assure the member opposite that the Department of Human Resources function is not being eliminated but the function is being transferred, eventually, to another department.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - MAMMOGRAMS: ACCREDITATION - STANDARDS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Last evening the Maritime Centre of Excellence in Women's Health recognized a doctor at the QE II who has been a leader in establishing breast-screening programs in Nova Scotia. In accepting her award, she noted that in Nova Scotia there are screening programs that have not been accredited and the result is that, "Women fall through the cracks and are hurt." My question to the Minister of Health is, should women in Nova

[Page 9493]

Scotia be concerned that their mammogram results are not accurate because there are no province-wide accreditation standards?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it is a very interesting question the honourable member for Halifax Needham has posed. I did not know that there were screening programs in Nova Scotia that were not accredited. It may be that the reason for this, and I will have to check, is that quite often hospitals or facilities are accredited and therefore the programs which are contained in them are accredited and it may be the case. I know that there is a stand-alone clinic out at the Halifax Shopping Centre which has really reduced the waiting time for mammograms in HRM, which has been a good thing. I would need more detail before I can really give a good answer to that question.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that early detection through breast screening programs is very important for the successful treatment of breast cancer in women. It is not bad enough that women have to wait months and months for a mammogram but that it is very important that the accuracy of these tests has to be guaranteed. I want to ask the minister, what possible justification could there be for not requiring that all breast screening programs be accredited?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for Halifax Needham for a question about something that is very important, particularly to women, here in Nova Scotia. If she has instances of programs or screening clinics that are not accredited, I would be pleased to look into the matter and provide an answer.

MR. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Association of Radiologists have the standards that are required for these screening programs and a number of programs in Nova Scotia have not participated in the accreditation program and I would recommend to the minister that he go back to his department and ensure that he has the information on this important issue. Accreditation of these programs will mean the difference between whether we are getting false positives or false negatives. It can mean the difference between lives lost or lives extended and saved. My final question to the minister, will you commit to this House today to a province-wide accreditation program for all breast screening programs?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very important issue. As I said, I would be pleased to look into this. I really don't have sufficient detail, and she hasn't been able to provide it to me, to answer that question in a thoughtful or reasonable way.

[Page 9494]

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

ENVIRON. - MIN.: REPLACEMENT - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Last week, the Acting Minister of Environment wasn't in the House because he was out of the country to some sort of tribunal over in The Hague. Leaving aside this fact, our caucus wasn't informed of the acting minister's absence before he left, and we were even more disturbed to find out that he had no replacement while he was out of the country. Could the Premier please tell the House why he is so unconcerned with the environment in Nova Scotia, that he did not see fit to appoint an Acting Acting Minister of Environment while the acting minister was out of the country?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question brings two issues to the House. On the second issue, the member opposite is mistaken because the Minister of Environment's seat mate, in fact, was the Acting Minister of Environment last week, that is the Minister of Tourism. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Relative to the first question, we apologize, and we will see that it doesn't happen again.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that answer is totally unacceptable. There are no two ways about it. In the most recent Orders in Council, there were no fewer than three appointments of acting ministers of one sort of the other. While I am left wondering why the Premier was so unconcerned about the environment in Nova Scotia, I would want to ask him if, when the back-dated OIC is eventually issued, will it reflect the fact that there were three different Acting Acting Ministers of Environment for the time that the acting minister was out of the House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, may I say to the member opposite that he is obviously trying to confuse those that don't understand procedure. The Minister of Environment had named his seat mate, the Minister of Tourism, to act in his place. If, in fact, the person that is designated is absent from the House in Question Period, as often occurs, but is in the province, he can name somebody to field the questions in Question Period. Now the member opposite knows that. Why does he try to confuse the public?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, who is confused? They have six Environment Ministers over there. Which one are we to choose from? That is the question. When will the Premier decide that environment in this province is worth the full attention of a minister in his government and commit to appointing a full-time, genuine, bonafide Minister of Environment for the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 9495]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the issue that the question addresses will be answered very soon. But by way of further explanation, last week, not only were the Opposition members confused about who was the Acting Minister of Environment, they also didn't know what minister was responsible for food service inspection. Last week, when the question was asked, the appropriate minister saved the reputation of the questioner by getting up and not making a big issue that the question was actually addressed to the wrong minister.

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

HEALTH - RECOVERY HOUSE (ANTIGONISH): CUTS - REASON

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. Recovery House is an addiction treatment centre in Antigonish. It provides a 28 day residential program for alcohol, drug and gambling addicts. Recovery House is equipped to treat up to 15 patients but due to severe funding cutbacks, they can only treat nine. Before this government took office, the Premier sat down with staff at the centre and said that he believed the program was worthwhile. In August, the program was cut a further $9,000. So my question for the Premier is, what changed your mind?

THE PREMIER: Nothing changed my mind. In the course of my previous life, I had an opportunity to see the results of Recovery House. Therein lies the continuing support for Recovery House and the program that is going on. But we are insisting, as we do insist with all programs, that it run efficiently, that it run making full value of every dollar that the taxpayer provides. We are also encouraging Recovery House to continue to do what they have done in the past and that is, aggressive fund-raising to assist in their operations.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that this government is doing aggressive fund-raising from the Sheraton. Why don't you use some of that money to help addicts?

Mr. Speaker, without the services of Recovery House, addicts step on a treadmill between drinking and a detox centre that can only take them up to 14 days so they can dry out. The cost to the Department of Health to treat a person at Recovery House is $35 a day and the cost to treat the same person at a detox centre is $200 a day. So why is the government rejecting a cost-effective way of treating addictions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is aware, I am sure, that the two programs are quite different. The Recovery House program is a 28 day program. It is a program that has achieved a reasonable measure of success. It continues to be funded by the Department of Health but we are, as we have with other programs, insisting that the taxpayers' dollars be stretched as far as they can. We also are insisting that they continue their fund-raising efforts, and for a long period of time very significant portions of the activities of that institution have in fact been supported by public fund-raising.

[Page 9496]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Premier would be interested in tabling any information he has that would indicate that they are wasting money there. Recovery House has a wait list that goes into April of next year. They need a budget of $200,000 a year so that they can operate at full capacity. When will the Premier show the kind of support he said he felt before he was elected and provide Recovery House with the dollars they need to help addicts?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I felt quite comfortable supporting Recovery House, I still feel comfortable supporting Recovery House, but the question really has to do with their budget and I would ask the minister responsible for their budget to respond.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member talks about an institution that has been in operation for some time and has done some good work. There are other programs in the province that do good work, for example, the Crosbie Centre in Kings County is another one that does come to mind. The whole issue of these, in some ways I guess you can call them NGOs, they provide health service and they are not directly an agent of the government, we consider those during the funding process every year, but they are not the only programs. There are also programs that are run directly by the government. Now, I do understand what the honourable member for Hants East has said about cost but we do everything we can for all of those programs.

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

NSLC - PRIVATE STORE: FRENCH SHORE - LOCATION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act. One of the private liquor stores planned for Nova Scotia is for the French Shore. The government had indicated earlier that this private store will be located 48 kilometres from Yarmouth. Could the minister explain exactly where the store will go on the French Shore.

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as indicated, it will go along the French Shore, roughly about 48 kilometres. Until we go through the request for proposals, I will not know the exact location until the request is done.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it just seems a bit odd that in an area with several closed liquor stores, one in Weymouth and one in Meteghan, the government has decided this was an under-serviced area. In fact, the government has made this an option even though it was not recommended by the PriceWaterhouseCoopers' report. My question to the minister is, what data has the minister used to justify another liquor store location on the French Shore? (Interruptions)

[Page 9497]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of things looked at when looking at the areas. In fact, these areas were recommended by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, such things as distance, the population of the area, drinking age, a number of different factors. I would be glad to get them for the member if he should like them.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his answer and I certainly would welcome that information. There seems to be no criteria being used to justify this location and maybe there is, I don't know, but at this stage, we still don't know. My question to the minister is, what reason has the government used to select the French Shore for another liquor store location considering there are already liquor stores in Meteghan and Weymouth?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the question the member is asking. In fact, I am shocked and appalled. (Laughter) Now there are various areas identified. In fact, another one is in his own caucus, in Iona. I think it is a well-deserving place for one and this was well thought out. It is a solid plan. I have full faith in the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and I am sure the people along the French Shore will be very happy to see a retail outlet store there.

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

P & P - PROG. REVIEW: ANALYSIS - SHARE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you will remember that the Premier promised that consultation would be a hallmark of his government. I think you will also remember that he said that his government was going to be open and accountable and that he would stick to the priorities of Nova Scotians. Well, outside this House earlier this afternoon, I heard the Premier admit that he shared the analysis of the public program review with members of the Tory caucus.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. HOLM: I want to ask through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, will the Premier please tell Nova Scotians why his government shared the complete results of its analysis of the public program with members of the Tory caucus while it is refusing to let anyone else in Nova Scotia see that very information?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are treading on a bit of difficult ground because there is a court process going on as we speak. I can say this, I think, without jeopardizing that process. Yes, during the course of the program analysis, the committees were assisted by three caucus members who were not permitted to disclose that information even to other caucus members but they actually provided advice to the committee and were part of the process. That process was only entered into after we received the assurance that the caucus members would not share that information outside of the committee.

[Page 9498]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, the government is treading on very thin ice. The process that we are talking about here today are comments made by the Premier and admissions that the Premier has made outside this House. The Premier has admitted that he shared that information with three members of the caucus, therefore, that means that it is not Cabinet confidential. I want to ask the Premier why it is, since he admits that that information has been made available, public to members other than the Executive Council, he will not share that information with Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite again is confused. What the participation was, the caucus members were members of the committee, they provided advice to the committee, the committee provided advice to the Cabinet. That is the chain of events and it is unfortunate that when the member is outside the House he chooses to hear what he would like to hear rather than what he really hears.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will agree with the Premier on one thing, there is some confusion, and I would suggest that the confusion rests with the Premier who obviously does not understand that members of the caucus, if they are not members of Cabinet, are like any other Nova Scotian, and he shared that information with them, and all Nova Scotians have a right to it.

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about people's money. We are talking about the people's business. We are talking about a program review that was supposed to bring a new era of rational decisions.

I want to ask the Premier, why is the government so secretive about its program analysis at the very same time the Premier is demanding that the citizens swallow every Tory cut to health care and to education? Explain that one to Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the question had to do with the preamble, but what I can say, just so if I repeat it often enough I am sure the member will get it, the members on the committee provided advice to the committee. The committee provided advice to the Cabinet. This government gets advice from any Nova Scotian, including members of its caucus.

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

SYSCO - SALE: STEELWORKERS - EMPLOYMENT ASSURE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Premier. The deal on getting rid of Sysco is almost done and the jury, I believe, will be out for a long time as to whether or not this Sysco and cash bonus giveaway to Duferco will be good for

[Page 9499]

Nova Scotia and, in particular, good for Cape Breton. Many issues remain in question, many that need examination and further scrutiny. The Premier has stated more than once that he will not forget steelworkers. There are 100 steelworkers left swinging in the wind with this deal and there are another 200 steelworkers who are wondering whether or not they are going to get jobs with Duferco. My question to the Premier is, before this deal is done and signed with Duferco, will the Premier assure this House and the 200 steelworkers who are presently on the books of Sydney Steel that they indeed will be hired by Duferco?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister in charge of the file.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. In order for Duferco to begin to employ steelworkers the deal - the Act has to be passed by this Legislature. They have made a commitment to begin hiring as soon as we do our part to make things move forward. In respect to the other issues around remediation work, we will move through that at the appropriate time.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it was the Premier who made the promise to the steelworkers, not the minister, the know-nothing Minister of Economic Development. (Interruptions) That minister just said (Interruptions)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That minister just said, Mr. Speaker, that the deal has to pass this House before the steelworkers can be hired. The deal is not being passed through this House, the bill is being passed through this House. The deal is cut between him and Duferco, and it states in that bill that steelworkers will be given first preference for jobs, it doesn't say they are going to be hired. I want to know from the Premier of this province whether or not this government is going to live up to the Premier's promise and hire steelworkers who are presently on the books?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that the government made a series of commitments. Number one, it made the commitment that it would take the Government of Nova Scotia and the taxpayers out of the steel business; we carried through on that commitment. We said we would be fair to steelworkers in the pension agreements; we have followed through on that. We have said to Nova Scotians and to the people of Cape Breton, if possible we would sell the plant, and we are in the process of keeping that commitment. This government keeps its commitments. I don't think the member has to worry.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is trying to get out of his commitment to the steelworkers that he would not forget them, they would be looked after in future hirings at Sydney Steel. All I am asking this Premier to do is guarantee that 200

[Page 9500]

steelworkers who are on the books of Sydney Steel will be employed, and ensure that they will be employed with Duferco prior to any deal being cut between this government and Duferco.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that would be a good question for the minister who is responsible for the Sysco file.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are the one who made the promise. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, there is a commitment to employ 215 people at Duferco once the bill has passed. In order for them to begin to do their part, we as a Legislature have to do our part.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - HFX. WEST HS: HRM LAND - OFFER ACCEPT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. The Halifax Regional Municipality has voted to provide two hectares of land on the mainland North Common for a new structure to house Halifax West High School. This provides a clear opportunity to begin construction on a school that can truly meet the needs of parents and students of Halifax West. You now have an opportunity to honour your promise to the parents to bring this school down to the beams and build new. Will the Premier now take this development under advisement, listen to the concerns of parents, and build a new school for this community?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe perhaps I am in the same position as the member opposite for Halifax Needham who asked the question, in not having had an opportunity to examine the engineering report for the school. We will make the decision based on what makes the most sense. If, in fact, the current building - and I have visited Halifax West High School - can be rehabilitated and provide long years of service at reasonable cost, that is the route we will go. If, in fact, that is not the case, then obviously we might become interested in looking at that parcel of land.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with each engineering report, the costs are growing. The school board report recommends a new school. Parents are calling for this necessary step, and now a land offer means that it is possible, it is even more feasible to build a school. So my question to the Premier is, what is it going to take before the Premier realizes a new school makes sense, educationally and economically?

[Page 9501]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know this issue is of considerable importance to the parents and students at Halifax West High School, but I believe that a good education program can be delivered by good teachers and a rehabilitated school if in fact the rehabilitation makes sense and is well done. You do not need a new school in every community in this province to deliver a first-class educational experience for the young people of this province.

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, you need a school that is not a sick school and you need a school that meets the basic minimum standards of a modern school and Halifax West High School meets neither of those criteria. As the costs to renovate get closer to the costs to rebuild a new school, I want to ask the Premier, what is the threshold you consider economically feasible for a new school?

THE PREMIER: We will rely on the advice that comes to us from the minister after she has had an opportunity to evaluate the engineering study which will allow us to make a reasonable decision as to whether or not the school should be rehabilitated or whether or not a new school would be built.

Directly behind the member opposite is the member for Timberlea-Prospect who also is petitioning the government to build a new school in his district. How many new schools does the NDP want us to build in the immediate future?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

COMMUN. SERV. - FAMILY RESOURCE CTRS.: FUNDING - INFO.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. In September of this year the federal government under the Right Honourable Jean Chretien announced a $2.2 billion program for early childhood development. Nova Scotia's share of that $2.2 billion is $9.5 million this year. Family resource centres across this province, including the one in Bridgewater, have a lot of questions about the new funding program, but they cannot seem to get an answer from this Tory minister or this Tory Government. My question to the minister is, will the minister tell us what the plan is for the $9.5 million so groups like the family resource centres throughout Nova Scotia can start putting proposals together?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honorable member raises a very important question and one that has been reviewed and discussed for quite a while. I indicated to the House last week that when the day care people were here and during their visit to the House, that we are looking at a variety of ways to deliver that program. There are certain regulations with the federal government, but we have made a commitment to the day care people to

[Page 9502]

speak with them prior to going forward with any plans and we have the same agreement with the resource people.

MR. DOWNE: This $9.5 million means a lot to organizations like the family resource centres in Bridgewater and throughout Nova Scotia. They want to know how this funding program will be delivered and the minister has yet to come forward on that. They want to make sure that the funding goes to proven and valuable programs for children, not into general revenue. So, my question to the minister is, what consultation would these types of organizations, not just the one you talked about, will this minister undertake to find out exactly where the priorities should be in involving the front-line workers in determining where that $9.5 million should go?

MR. CHRISTIE: As the honourable member indicated, next year there is money coming, but the federal program indicates that there will be money coming in year two and year three. Our commitment with the federal government is to deliver accessible and affordable day care and early childhood development services, plus there is a requirement in terms of that as to accountability and measuring outcomes. That is why we are having discussions with the day care people, resource people and we know that this program has to be in place by April 1st and that is our intention.

MR. DOWNE: That sounds all well and good, but the people on the front lines, they do not have the answers and in fact, they are even asking the questions about more consultation. Recently, the Prince Edward Island government announced several new programs for children and families. They might be very, very good. The other reality is, the question the people are asking, what about the current programs that exist now, that are valuable and productive and work? The question that these people have for you is, are you going to be prepared to do new programs that maybe do not work and are not sustainable when current programs that do work for children are going to be thrown out? That is the consultation they want to have with you, and that is what you haven't done, and that is why I am asking you, today, to do it.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the honourable member, there will be, over the next period of a few months, a very extensive consultation with all areas of the early childhood development in the childcare sector. This program is a major initiative across the country, and we have to be able to bring all those pieces in place. There will be major consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - SCHOOL BUSES (DRL): ANNA. VALLEY - SAFETY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Premier. The Premier would be aware that in September, DRL of Newfoundland took over

[Page 9503]

school busing services in parts of the Annapolis Valley. It then cut the pay of bus drivers, and most of the experienced drivers quit, refusing to work for low wages. Our office has now received complaints about DRL, particularly on the Bishopville route. That route had a good driver for more than 10 years, but since September DRL has gone through six drivers, including one who lasted for just a single day. I want to ask the Premier, what steps has his government taken to ensure that DRL's high driver turnover is not leading to inexperienced drivers behind the school bus wheel in the Annapolis Valley?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am not personally familiar with the specific school bus route to which the member opposite made a reference. I would hope that there is not an unusual turnover of drivers in the DRL system. I will make an enquiry as to if in fact the information that the member has is in agreement with the evidence that the department has.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we also have reports of a driver getting lost en route, and of at least one investigation by the board into a driver's actions. My question to the Premier is, what controls does this government have in place to ensure that DRL will have experienced, qualified drivers on the road during the worst winter months?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are regulations in place that ensure that any driver of a school bus in Nova Scotia has to meet an acceptable standard. If the member opposite has information about a driver in Nova Scotia involved in transporting children in a school bus, then please present us with the information, and we will look into it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, that is what I just did. Some parents on the Bishopville route are so concerned about DRL that they feel they are going to be forced to transport their own children to school. I want to say to the Premier, will the Premier commit to a review of DRL's actions, including its high turnover rate and the experience level of its drivers, to ensure the safety of students on these buses?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to be inferring that somehow the school board is not carrying out its function to ensure that our young people are being transported to school safely. If the member opposite has specific instances to which she can refer, if she would provide it, the government will provide it to the school board, and it will be adequately looked at.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - STRAIT REG. SCHOOL BD.:

SUPPLIES - RECEIPT TIME-FRAME

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Strait Regional School Board, during the recent construction of seven new schools, submitted a list of equipment and supplies needed for those schools. These lists were within budget, and they were approved by both the

[Page 9504]

Department of Education and the private partner constructing the schools. All of these schools, which are now open, are missing supplies that were on the approved list. My question to the Premier is, when can the Strait Regional School Board expect receipt of these supplies?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite would provide the information, I can make an inquiry through the department and through the school board to find out when the supplies will arrive.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, since the Strait Regional School Board has not seen the list since it was submitted, could (Interruption) Here we go. Richmond Academy, for example (Interruptions) He threw me off with his answer. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Richmond Academy, for example, has a class in computer electrical engineering. The only problem is there is no electrical equipment in the class. The teacher in question is actually forced to rely on an electrical starter kit which was purchased at Canadian Tire to teach his class, rather than $100,000 in equipment which had been promised for his class. My question is, when will the Premier instruct his Minister of Education to supply the promised equipment for these new schools?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I had previously indicated to the member opposite, if he would provide me with the exact information, I will pass it along to the minister and the matter to which the question refers will be addressed.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I respect what the Premier is saying, but what he does not understand is that the Minister of Education has a list which we have not seen, which we are asking to see, so I cannot supply her with a list that she already has which she is not providing to us. So, unfortunately, I cannot fulfil the Premier's request.

Mr. Speaker, many aspects of the education program cannot be carried out without proper equipment. In order to verify what supplies and equipment are missing, the board has asked the Department of Education for a copy of the approved master list. The department has not responded to this request to date. My question to the Premier is, when can the Strait Regional School Board expect to receive a copy of the approved master list from your government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has me at a disadvantage in that he obviously has information that I do not have, but I do have a note. The note said, and I will read the note: It will be provided because the minister has said so. (Interruptions)

[Page 9505]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the honourable member for Richmond thought you had found the list that he was looking for.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE - AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:

LAW FIRM - IMPLEMENTATION

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Justice, two years ago this December 2nd, the former member for Preston asked the then Premier why Halifax's downtown law firms are not required to have an affirmative action policy in order to gain access to government work. The Premier at the time called it an unfair slap at the legal profession and said, "I don't know of a law firm in Nova Scotia that is not affirmative action." In fact, the actual record of the downtown Halifax law firms in employing Black or Native lawyers is a disgrace and in the two years since that question was asked the government still has not changed its hand's-off policy.

I would like to ask the Minister of Justice, why has his government still not implemented the Ruck report and required law firms to hire minorities if they want access to government work?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member's question because in point of fact, as the honourable member knows, we have only had the Ruck report since August of this year and in point of fact it is not since December 2nd, two years ago.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, of course, that is not to be forgotten, is that unlike other governments, we decided to consult. So what I have been doing is meeting with people. I have been meeting with the students from the law school, I have been meeting with aboriginal lawyers, I have been meeting with other people to determine what response is appropriate to the report. I have also confirmed that the government hopes to have a response in time for super Saturday.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, if the minister needs a speed-reading course then he should take one, but you know, it doesn't take all that long to read the report which was developed over a year and a half, during which time the Ruck committee itself did extensive consultations. The minister is the one who has the stick here. He can take away the millions of dollars the government gives every year to these law firms when they hire them to do some of the legal work for the province. I would like to know why he keeps stalling. Why doesn't he act on the problem and tell the firms to start affirmative action hirings today or there will be no more money? He can do that. Why doesn't he do it?

[Page 9506]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier to the honourable member, it is very simple; we have only had the Ruck report a very short period of time and we have been consulting with Nova Scotians on the best way to implement equity. This government is committed to equity in employment, whether it is with respect to lawyers or any other profession.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there is no good reason for delay and the minister knows it despite what he is telling us here today. What I want to know is, is the minister, in fact, committed to moving ahead with the very specific recommendation that the Ruck committee made to put in place a requirement that there be action plans at the law firms as a condition for their access to government legal work? Is he committed to that?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to having a response to the Ruck report as early as possible, hopefully before January of this coming year.

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

ECON. DEV. - AGREEMENT (CAN./N.S.): FUNDING - STATUS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The Canada/Nova Scotia Cooperation Agreement on Economic Diversification has provided the province with significant economic development, including the $73 million information economy initiative. Even yesterday the minister was touting the benefits of a virtual directory for universities. More interesting is that nearly every project announced by the government was implemented by the previous Liberal Government. My question to the minister is, can the minister inform this House how much money is left in the agreement?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question and I will certainly take it under advisement and provide him with that information.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing about this minister, he is consistent. He knows nothing about the Sysco agreement. He knows nothing about economic development. He doesn't even know how much money is left in the diversification agreement. For a minister to stand in this House and say he doesn't know how much money is left in the diversification agreement, tells me and tells Nova Scotians that that minister is totally out of touch with his department. My first supplementary to the minister is, if he doesn't know how much is in the agreement, has he taken any steps to ensure the renewal of the agreement?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, what I did in my previous answer was indicate I would provide that information, rather than make something up as the previous minister in the previous government often did. Certainly in terms of how we are

[Page 9507]

working to ensure the continuation of that funding, yes we are, because one of the things we saw in the previous government is they failed to continue to access federal partnerships in a way that benefited all Nova Scotians.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: This is how we failed. We helped fund Silicon Island, the Millennium Project in Antigonish, Skate Yarmouth, and hundreds of other projects, some of them in present-day Tory ridings. I want to tell that minister and tell this House that that agreement has been a good agreement for Nova Scotia and the previous government made sure that every dollar that was available was spent in this province on projects. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, to that minister, for him to stand there and say we did not access dollars is a misrepresentation of the truth. I want to know again from the minister what exact steps has he taken to ensure that the dollars out of that agreement keep flowing to Nova Scotia for projects that are needed in this province?

MR. BALSER: In case the member opposite failed to hear me on my second response, we have people in the department actively engaged with federal counterparts to ensure that funding continues.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

JUSTICE - AVALON SEXUAL ASSAULT CTR. (HFX.):

RECOMMENDATIONS - IMPLEMENT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question is for the Minister of Justice. Mr. Minister, yesterday the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre released a report with 20 recommendations to improve how sexual assaults are handled in Nova Scotia and I believe the minister has had this report since early in the fall. I would like the minister to advise the House, what is his plan and his timetable for reviewing and implementing those recommendations?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I am pleased to report to the honourable member that I had an opportunity to meet with groups in Nova Scotia, including the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre a week ago today. At that meeting, the representatives from the provincial Department of Justice Victims' Services Program and the Public Prosecution Service in Nova Scotia were having a dialogue on just how they could better address the needs of victims of sexual assault. The report is being studied and I can indicate that we are hoping to have a response in the near future. I am reluctant to indicate a date, but I can tell the honourable member that it is a high priority. I can also tell you that I understand the Halifax Regional Police Service is looking at the report as well.

[Page 9508]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Among the recommendations is a strong plea for enhanced co-ordination among all elements of the criminal justice system who deal with sexual assault. I would like to ask the minister, what measures is he taking to improve co-ordination among these different components of the criminal justice system?

MR. BAKER: There are a number of ways, but the first and most concrete way was that this meeting that took place was a meeting that was held for the sole purpose of making sure that many of the players - the Department of Justice, Public Prosecution Service - were in the same room and having a dialogue. This group, as the honourable member knows, involved not just people from the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax but other groups that deal with victims throughout Nova Scotia. I believe the honourable member and I agree that the needs of the victims of crime have often not been adequately addressed and I can assure the honourable member that we are committed to working with Avalon and other groups to improve the way that victims are treated.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I know that the minister and various groups have been looking at mandatory training for police and prosecutors who are important components of the criminal justice system. My final question to the minister is, is the minister prepared to look at and will he guarantee mandatory training for judges who deal with this very important issue in the criminal justice system?

MR. BAKER: As the honourable member knows, I am in a position as minister to have a great deal of influence with respect to, obviously, the Department of Justice with respect to the Public Prosecution Service and even police services. The judiciary are independent in this province and I am not able - nor would it be appropriate for me - to mandate that the judiciary do or do not do anything. I do, however, share, I believe, the opinion of the honourable member that I hope the judiciary will sensitize themselves to these important issues.

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

NAT. RES. - COXHEATH DEPOT: RESIDENTS - ACCESSIBILITY

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Residents in the areas of Coxheath, Westmount and the Keltic Drive areas have had a history of domestic water quality problems for quite some time. This information is well documented. Because of this, residents were able to get good quality drinking water from a spout at the Natural Resources depot in Coxheath for many years. Until recently, since this government came to town, residents are told they are no longer allowed access to this drinking water supply. My question to the minister is, why has the minister shut off the tap for these people who need clean, safe water?

[Page 9509]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. Obviously, in that particular area of Cape Breton, water quality, from a number of factors, is a problem. The situation regarding access to water at the Coxheath Natural Resources site, as the honourable member knows and it has been relayed to him, is one where access is a problem with Occupational Health and Safety . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it's not. Not, it is not.

MR. FAGE: . . . with regard to the helicopter pad, with regard to fire crews coming onto the station.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's not true. Check the records. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Natural Resources has the floor.

MR. FAGE: I have discussed the problem with staff down in the area. Currently, they are doing two things for me, Mr. Speaker, and that is assessing whether there is enough volume of water there to be helpful - I have actually challenged the honourable member who posed the question to get a community group together and look at alternative ways of funding an off-line from the premises there; apparently the honourable member does not want to take the time to do it.

MR. BOUDREAU: I have a great deal of difficulty with the reply from this minister, Mr. Speaker. I have been dealing with this issue for over one year. Talk is cheap, it is time for action. People need clean drinking water in that area. (Applause)

Will the minister ensure that this source of good drinking water is made available to these people immediately?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member. The honourable member well knows the circumstances around the quality of water problems in that area. Certainly, the honourable member has an obligation as the MLA for that area. If he is determined to help the department supply water off-site, then it is his obligation to organize his community to ensure that the costs are defrayed, and we will see what we can do in our department to help the community.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this minister is the minister who turned the tap off, not this MLA. This minister is fully aware that this member provided a name of a group that is willing to accept the responsibility to open this facility to these residents. Will this minister commit to this House today to open this supply of safe drinking water for these residents? What is the problem?

[Page 9510]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. I have challenged the honourable member, on several occasions, to bring forward a plan on the cost sharing and that I would have a look at it. The honourable member has not brought anything forward other than rhetoric. I think the honourable member should actually check the date that the water supply was switched because of Occupational Health and Safety (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

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

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday afternoon, the Transportation Minister said in a news release that the twinning of Highway No. 101 simply cannot proceed without federal funds. Last week, of course, that same minister issued a stream of positive statements about twinning, and he said it was to keep the population informed - I think he meant informed leading up to the federal vote - now he says twinning cannot proceed without federal money, and there is none until 2002.

To the Premier, was the minister speaking on behalf of the government when he said yesterday that Highway No. 101 twinning will not proceed without federal funds?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation has presented a plan to the federal government for a $270 million project that will result in a large part of the concerns about that highway to be effectively addressed. Now if the member opposite is suggesting that we should exclude the federal government and their $135 million for that project, then would he please stand up and tell us where we will get the $135 million?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the previous Liberal Government used to take the position regularly that twinning would not proceed without federal funds. The Conservatives when in Opposition rejected that position. They said brush should have been cleared two years ago. They said that. The Premier's election campaign promised to start twinning the most dangerous stretches without delay if the Tories took power. This government seems to say one thing before an election, and something else the day after. When will the Premier keep his promise instead of using Highway No. 101 in a game of bait and switch?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government will keep its commitment. The number one priority for the national highway system in the Province of Nova Scotia is Highway No. 101.

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

[Page 9511]

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction to you and to all members of this Legislature. In the west gallery, we have Bob and Roberta Wright. These two dignified Nova Scotians recently moved from the quaint and historic beautiful Town of Springhill to the City of Lakes, Dartmouth. I would ask the people to rise and receive a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction also to the House. In the west gallery are two very dear friends of mine and friends of a number of members of this House from the fine Town of Glace Bay: Mr. Emerson Duff of 252 King Edward Street, with whom I worked very closely on the Cape Breton East by-election this past spring, and next to him is Mr. Dave Simms from 339 Keltic Drive outside Sydney, in the constituency of Cape Breton The Lakes, with whom I have had the honour of working closely recently in the campaign that successfully elected Mark Eyking to Parliament. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 83.

Bill No. 83 - Employment Equity Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 83 is an attempt to do the Minister of Justice's job because he won't do it. As we learned, yet again, in Question Period today, the minister is refusing to move ahead. He is adopting stalling tactics when it comes to the question of dealing with the Ruck committee report. The full report is called Fostering Employment Equity and Diversity in the Nova Scotia Legal Profession, and it has been available to this government since August of this year. It is not as if this is a new problem in Nova Scotia. The whole reason we had the Ruck committee, and the whole reason that it

[Page 9512]

was established in the first place was due to a well-identified problem that flowed from the time of the Marshall Inquiry committee report. We know that Royal Commission established beyond any doubt that there is a problem of racism inside the justice system in Nova Scotia.

One of the things that was pointed out was that action had to be taken in order to deal with that. Action on a wide range of fronts, including, of course, the establishment of the Indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq Program at the law school in order to increase the supply of lawyers from the indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq communities who would be qualified to take up positions in the practice of law. This was seen as a necessary step in order to move forward with reducing racism inside the justice system of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Indeed, I think the Ruck committee report has said eloquently something that we ought to remember. I would like to quote one passage from the Ruck committee report. It says on its first page, In Nova Scotia, we need only look at our history to see that equal rights have never been provided voluntarily. Repeatedly, it has been shown that progress has only been achieved through enforcement mechanisms, including legislation, regulatory requirements and judicial review. This has been reflected in all segments of society, including education, housing and employment.

Now, the lesson they drew after their extensive consultations and their knowledge and their review of the facts was that a system is now needed to take a step beyond what is implied by the IBM program at the law school. The necessary step, of course, is to make it possible for the graduates of that program to find jobs at the law firms, because the hard fact is that the graduates of those programs are not being hired by the law firms here. We have the experience now. This is true of the indigenous Black graduates and it is true of the very few Mi'kmaq graduates as well.

The history here, I should put on record again, is a dismal one. We know that the first native-born Black Nova Scotian to graduate from Dalhousie Law School, James Robinson Johnston was in 1898, but following that, the next native Black graduate did not receive their degree from the Dalhousie Law School until 1952. For the Mi'kmaq community, it is in fact a much worse situation. Prior to the establishment of the IBM Program at Dalhousie Law School, there simply were no Mi'kmaq lawyers in Nova Scotia. In 1992, however, the first Mi'kmaq graduated from Dalhousie Law School. It was in 2000 when the first Mi'kmaq was hired as a lawyer by a private law firm.

There is a serious problem. All anyone has to do is look at the detailed records assembled by the Ruck committee with respect to the histories of each year's graduates from the IBM Program at Dalhousie to see that there is a bit of a problem. Now the question becomes, what steps ought to be taken? Let's be clear that affirmative action hiring programs are recognized as a lawful step. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognizes, in Section 15(2), that affirmative action hiring programs are perfectly lawful and consistent. They are also good social policy. Let me say this, though, affirmative action programs ought

[Page 9513]

not to exist forever. They are a temporary measure of the sort that are used to address problems in society at a particular time, and it is hoped that they will not be necessary forever. But as a starting point, the passage I quoted from the Ruck committee report tells us exactly what we have to do, you have to make it mandatory.

There were some reservations expressed by those who were part of the committee, but those reservations were not such as to undermine the main thrust of the report. I will remind members here that this committee was chaired by our Ombudsman Douglas Ruck, that among the members of that committee were Carol Aylward and Innis Christie from the Dalhousie Law School, that is Innis Christie, the former dean of the law school. He signed that report, so did Professor Aylward, and so did the two lawyers from the Department of Justice.

The two lawyers who didn't sign the report, I am sorry to say, were the two nominees of the Barristers Society. They didn't give any reasons why they didn't sign the report, Craig Garson, now the President of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, and Robert MacKeigan, also an officer of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, chose not to sign the report, but they didn't give any reasons for not signing on to it. I am told that after an early period of time, they stopped attending the meetings of the committee. This is very unfortunate. We know that Mr. Craig Garson is an eminent criminal lawyer. Well, as a criminal lawyer he knows there is a right to silence, he seems to have exercised his right to silence in this case. If that is the case, then he has passed up the opportunity to put on record his objections. In fairness to him, though, if there is a reason, he ought to say so, but months have gone by since the Ruck committee report came out and they haven't said anything.

My point is that the recommendation is very specific. It said that the Government Purchases Act should have its regulations changed so as to put in place a specific requirement that says that no law firm will have the right to bid for government legal work unless it has in place an action plan. I want to be clear that this action plan is not what people sometimes talk about as quotas, it talks about having a plan in place which is to be far-reaching in the sense that it is to be educative, it is to have someone in the firm who is responsible for taking the lead in educating the law firm, in putting in place policies, in putting in place targets. The report is also clear that failure to meet targets is not something that becomes an absolute bar to eligibility for legal work. The problem would be that that would then trigger a process in which the law firm would have to come and explain what it is that they had been doing. I quote again from the report, Page 16, Failure to meet goals is not a violation of the equity hiring guidelines, provided the firm satisfied the minister it has made its best efforts to comply. There is nothing that is unreasonable in what it is that the Ruck committee has put forward and I cannot see why it is that the government is failing to take action.

[Page 9514]

I heard the minister say earlier today that he wanted to consult further. Well, in general, consultation is a fine thing, but if he has read the Ruck report, he will have seen that the committee in fact did extensive consultations before it had its deliberations. The minister will recall, and I pointed out earlier that it is almost two years since the question in this House that precipitated the action to set up this committee - it has been two years - it has been a long time. That committee worked diligently over a period of a year and one-half and finally came up with a report which is thorough, which was mandated by the previous Premier, and had its mandate renewed by this Premier a year ago.

I cannot see what the minister is saying to us when he is saying that he wants to continue to talk to people. This seems to be a delaying tactic on his part. I would have thought that the appropriate thing would have been for the minister to stand up and simply say to us when the report was received, he endorses the recommendation and that the government is going to take a leadership role in signalling to the legal community and to the population at large what the appropriate standard is when it comes to affirmative action hiring. It does not make sense to have achieved a qualified pool of applicants and not make room for them in the place where they can practise their profession.

I repeat, the research of the Ruck committee generated a detailed list telling us exactly where each of the graduates of the IBM Program has ended up and, for the most part, they are working out of province. There have been a couple of instances of hirings in province, but very few. So I look forward to hearing from the minister, if he intends to speak on this bill, but I cannot think why the minister has not brought forward his own legislation. I, therefore, move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure for me to rise with respect to this bill. I must say by way of just a number of opening comments with respect to the honourable member's remarks, the comments that I found most surprising were the comments which are attacking the government for consulting. The honourable member and members of his caucus spend an awful lot of time attacking the government for being insensitive, who say they never listen to Nova Scotians, they do not care what Nova Scotians think, they are insensitive, they are uncaring, and then the honourable member is here, today, castigating the government for listening, for consulting, for talking.

In fact, those consultations included two separate meetings with Black students of the law school, Mr. Speaker. We had another one with aboriginal lawyers, representations from individual Nova Scotians who were concerned about the matter. I thought that is what the honourable member was suggesting the government ought to do, which is to talk to Nova Scotians, to not act in haste without consulting, and that is what we are doing.

[Page 9515]

Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member also knows, the major hiring event for law students in this province is super Saturday, which is not until January and the reason that I indicated to the honourable member, in response to his question earlier today, is that we were intending to have a response out so that the law firms that would be employing young articling students would have an opportunity to make those decisions in the context of whatever the provincial government policy is to be.

With all due respect to the honourable member, while I recognize that it has been two years - and he and I were in this House the day that then Premier MacLellan made his unfortunate remarks, for which he later apologized - we recognize it has been a lot of time, but to be honest with the honourable member and to talk about the diligence of Mr. Ruck and his group who worked very hard on the report, if it had not been for the fact that I wrote a letter giving the report a deadline, I suspect that they would still be discussing and debating the report internally because, in point of fact, that was what was going on.

The report was prepared in August as a result of my decision that this matter had to be brought to a conclusion because, otherwise, we had been about a year since the government had taken office and it still seemed to be simmering. While I appreciate that the members of the committee worked very hard on this report, Mr. Speaker, it is important to remember as well that they had not reached a conclusion and it was as a result of the decision that was taken that we needed a response that the report was finally prepared.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the other reason that I have some concerns about this bill is, frankly, it implies that the Government of Nova Scotia, this government and the previous government, did not have a commitment to employment equity. I want to tell the honourable member that I am very proud of the record of the provincial Department of Justice in employing members of visible minorities. We have a fine record. I know those lawyers personally. They are fine lawyers doing a wonderful job for the people of Nova Scotia. In fact, we have a great number of people who would be members of visible minorities who work for the provincial Department of Justice.

Indeed, we have nothing to apologize for in this province for the record of the Department of Justice, who has consistently made an effort to employ people of colour to positions because this government is committed to employment equity. A number of those hirings, as I have said, took place before I became minister and before the present government took office, and those people are providing fine service to the people of Nova Scotia.

So I don't want anything that the honourable member said to give the impression that there has been a lack of commitment by the Government of Nova Scotia to issues of equity in the Public Service. The Public Service has a policy which encourages and mandates that

[Page 9516]

employment equity be a high priority in government hiring and I want to assure honourable members that that policy has been carried out in the Department of Justice, as, of course, with other departments, as well.

Another concern I have with the bill, Mr. Speaker, is the issue which is addressed in the bill, in Clause 4, of who is "Indigenous Black." It says, ". . . a person . . . who was born in the Province or who has been primarily educated in the Province;" Then it goes on to say, "'primarily educated' means having attended primary or secondary school in the Province for a minimum period of five years."

Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, it is quite common in this day and age for people to pursue their legal education quite late in life. When I was in law school, the norm was that most of the people who attended law school were young people, 21, 22, 23 years of age, basically three years out of high school. Well now, in fact, a lot of people who attend a law school are people of some life experience. They go in their 30's, 40's and even later. Those people may have never done any secondary or primary school education in the province. They may have lived in Nova Scotia, however, for 20 years. To suggest, for example, that those people, when they graduated from law school, were not indigenous Black people, I think, is to draw a very artificial line.

What this does point out is how important it is to consult and consider definitional issues, because these definitional issues really do make a difference. I don't believe the honourable member, in any way, shape or form, intends to exclude people who ought to be appropriately included. But the issue it raises, Mr. Speaker, is who ought to be included and what are we trying to accomplish? Now those are some of the issues.

I know from speaking with the leadership in the IBM Program at Dalhousie Law School that they recognize there are some issues that they have to wrestle with over who is an IBM student. Those are important issues, which they are continuing to wrestle with themselves because, obviously, there are, I know, people in the program who certainly did not come to Nova Scotia, except perhaps to go to law school. There are people who are of aboriginal ancestry who may not be from the Mi'kmaq or Maliseet communities that are present in Atlantic Canada.

So there are definite issues which you cannot gloss over because they are very important issues, not only for the program but for employment. Then there are obviously broader issues of equity throughout the Public Service among members of visible minorities because - and I agree with the objective - I think it is the objective of all honourable members that professions in Nova Scotia, and particularly the legal profession, be representative of the community and the society in which they are situate.

[Page 9517]

There is no argument from me that the legal profession and many other professions - and I think it is a bit unfair to single out the legal profession - have not necessarily been representative of the communities in Nova Scotia. That is most unfortunate and certainly we are in no way suggesting that is a good thing, it is a very bad thing, but nevertheless we have to look at this in a fairly wide ranging point of view. We have issues of the Public Service, which I indicated before, with respect to the Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service obviously being the two biggest employer of lawyers. We have to look at issues in the law schools themselves, and I have heard, and I will not repeat, because I do not think it would be useful at this time, the comments that some of the students have made with respect to their experience at Dalhousie Law School. I know the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has been talking with students in the program and others, but there are some issues that have been raised there. This is not a simple issue for which an immediate band aid can be pulled out and you can fix everything.

The other thing is we should not - and obviously I know about the Marshall Report - forget that Nova Scotia has made huge leaps forward in our justice system. I am convinced the justice system that existed at the time when Mr. Marshall underwent his trial is not the justice system, fortunately, we have in Nova Scotia today. Not to say there is not room for improvement, there is always room for improvement, but I can assure you that many of the recommendations of the Marshall Inquiry have been fully implemented, obviously, not least of which was the creation of the Public Prosecution Service as an independent body, and that is just an example; the creation of the IBM Program, we can go on and on about the changes that have occurred in Nova Scotia since the date of the Marshall Inquiry. We should not forget that we have come forward and that we have come forward from days of some difficulty.

Our experience in Nova Scotia is not unusual in Canada because other provinces have had significant problems as well. That is not to condone any difficulties we have had in Nova Scotia, but it is to say that all governments and all provinces have wrestled with very difficult questions dealing with racial equality. Many provinces are still wrestling with those difficult situations, and the honourable member would be aware of some problems that the police services have run into in a number of western provinces with members of the Aboriginal community.

It is not a situation where all the solutions will be found today and our problems will be solved and we can find a panacea, because there is no panacea, but the solution to the problem, and this is where I disagree with the honourable member, is that it is not just a question of legislating rules. The most effective way to ensure a racially harmonious province, the most effective way of making sure all Nova Scotians have opportunity is to change public attitudes.

[Page 9518]

I honestly believe there has been a huge change in public attitudes, certainly in the 20 years that I have been a practising lawyer, and I might say that since I am a native Nova Scotian that over the last 43 years - and perhaps the first five are a little fuzzy - I think there has been a tremendous change over the last 30 to 35 years to go back farther, to a more multicultural and multiracial society. That is not to say that we, again, don't have room to go forward.

I know my time is growing short, but I guess the final thing I wanted to just reiterate for the benefit of all members is that the government is committed to employment equity. We are committed to a response to the Ruck report. We will be responding to that report, and we will do it in a way that is reflective of the views of that report and also the views of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that most Nova Scotians will believe, once they have had a chance to understand the government response, that the response has been fair, it has been balanced, and it achieves the goals that the Ruck committee started out with, which are to ensure and enhance the employment of lawyers, and law students as well, in Nova Scotia, of all visible minorities, but particularly from the Black and Aboriginal communities in this province who - I would agree with the honourable member - certainly have not been adequately represented in the legal community. I believe that is changing. The hiring recently of Candy Palmeter by one particular law firm is an example of that. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I believe my allotted time has expired.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes it has, honourable member.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak on Bill No. 83. I was listening to the comments made by both the member for Halifax Chebucto, who sponsored the bill, and the Minister of Justice. As the Minister of Justice pointed out, there has been a great deal of work done in this province. I am pleased to say that it was started by the Liberal Government here in this province, first under John Savage, then under Russell MacLellan, bringing forward an affirmative action program to try to make changes to the inequality which existed, first within the Civil Service here in Nova Scotia, to try to make sure that visible minorities were given an opportunity. I am pleased to have heard the Minister of Justice talk about the success of that program, because there has been a great deal of success in government bureaus and agencies throughout the entire province.

Has it been a complete success? No. We are always striving to do better. We are hoping that the current government will work towards that. On the issue of the Ruck report, as alluded to by the Minister of Justice, this report was commissioned by the previous Liberal Administration, under Russell MacLellan, to address this most important issue, and to try to bring forward the necessary recommendations to try to address the inequality which existed.

[Page 9519]

At the end of his closing comments, the minister slipped up and rather than refer to it as the Ruck report, he referred to it as the rug report and, when he said that, the immediate thought that came to my mind is that having looked at how the minister has dealt with this report, we started to think that he had actually swept it under the rug, and that is why he was referring to it as the rug report. We all know that it is Mr. Ruck, who also serves as the Ombudsman here in the province, who was the chairman of this most important report.

Mr. Speaker, unlike the two previous speakers, I actually attended Dalhousie Law School while the IBM Program was in existence, neither of the two previous speakers were at the law school during that time.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I was there teaching.

MR. SAMSON: The member for Halifax Chebucto said he was there teaching. There is a bit of a debate on whether that is what he was actually doing, but anyway. (Interruptions) If we want to talk about a waste of taxpayers' money and a waste of tuition money for students, we could start right there. That is one case where I can actually say I sat in the classroom and some of my colleagues were members of this program, which neither the Minister of Justice or the professor from Halifax Chebucto can claim.

Mr. Speaker, I know all too well, as most Nova Scotians do, the challenges being faced by students in this program. Having attended law school, I certainly know of the challenge in finding an articling position, and then being able to find a law firm where one can stay on as an associate. The numbers clearly show this has been an extremely difficult process for graduates of the IBM Program. The results are absolutely dismal, and they are very distressing here in this province.

[4:45 p.m.]

I know of a few colleagues I graduated with who were fortunate enough to actually find articling positions with private law firms, only after articling not to be offered a position as an associate, which is extremely distressing. It has caused many, as the minister has said, to seek opportunities in the government sector, or even outside this province as a result of that. That just cannot continue. I know of the quality of students graduating from that program. They are highly intelligent. They are hard-working people, and it is a shame that they are encountering these difficulties. We certainly need to be working very aggressively towards addressing that.

I cannot encourage enough, on behalf of our caucus, that the Minister of Justice move on this immediately. I have heard the minister mention a few times that he hopes to have a plan in place before Super Saturday. The clock is running, Mr. Speaker. It is now November 29th. Super Saturday is at the end of January. We have the Christmas break which is coming up. For the minister to stand here and say he actually expects to have a policy in place by

[Page 9520]

Super Saturday, considering where we are at now, I am left to question whether he is truly sincere in saying that, or whether that is a statement being made while the House is nearing its closing and hoping that he will be able to slip that by without being held accountable before that time comes.

Mr. Speaker, that is completely unacceptable because the students in this IBM Program and those who have graduated from this program have a right to know exactly what the government is going to do. One of the major things, having been a law student, is - I know a lot of the members have been wondering - what is Super Saturday. Just for clarity, the minister has referred to it a number of times, but basically, a brief description is that it is a day set aside at the Dalhousie Law School here in the province where all the firms interested in getting articling clerks come and do their interviews on that one day. It is an extremely important day for students in law school and just as important for the IBM students.

One of the biggest questions, when you are interviewing with a law firm is not only, am I going to be hired as an articling clerk, but an even bigger question is, what are my chances of staying on as an associate after I have articled with that firm. If we have a clear policy put in place by the Minister of Justice which says what is going to happen from here, that gives those students a better opportunity to identify which firms they would not only have a chance to article with, but would also have a chance to become associates with. It is an extremely frustrating and emotional process for those students. I have been there, I know what it is, and knowing the numbers that currently exist in this province for IBM students, it is even that much more pressure and that much more dismal when looking at what has happened to date. I can't emphasize enough to the minister, not just to give us platitudes today and say I will have a policy in place by Super Saturday, but to make sure that is done, to make sure it is put in place, and so that students clearly know when they get to Super Saturday, when they move from here, they understand what the answer of this government has been.

As pointed out by the Minister of Justice, there have been steps taken, important steps here in this province, in addressing this issue. The minister has already indicated about his staff in the Department of Justice that there have been a number of visible minorities who have been employed by that department. I know under the Liberal Administration, I recall, Mr. Speaker, when I would have been seeking an articling position back in 1997. I remember at that time under the Liberal Administration, the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission would only take articling students who had graduated from the IBM Program. They would only take students outside of that if there had been not enough applications, or the positions had already been filled. So there were steps being taken already. I know the federal Department of Justice here in their Halifax offices have also worked very hard to try to address this issue and make sure there were visible minorities employed and graduates of the IBM Program. So a number of steps have already been taken, but clearly, as a result of the Ruck report and what the Ruck report has brought out, it is absolutely necessary that the government move on this quickly.

[Page 9521]

It is always of interest, Mr. Speaker, to see the NDP bring forward this type of legislation, and trumpet it out, their holier-than-thou attitude, and criticize every previous administration there has been on issues such as this with employment equity.

Mr. Speaker, you were not here at the time, but I remember speaking in this House on a similar issue when the NDP were again trotting out this issue and talking about how they had such clean hands and everyone was bad except them. I remember giving them the example of the lady who worked in their caucus office, a single mother, it was right around election time I believe, and I remember she was asked to work these insane hours by the then Leader, Mr. Chisholm. That particular secretary said, look, I am making a commitment to my family, a single mother, and I will not continue to work these insane hours, I put my family first. She was treated by the NDP, the holier-than-thou NDP, with their proverbial boot out the door. That is what the NDP did. So let's keep perspective here. None of us are perfect. There are serious issues out there, but let's be serious about it and not be just making cheap shots and attacking others when we have our own backyards, even the socialist backyard which is not always very clean.

Mr. Speaker, it is extremely important that this issue be addressed. The Nova Scotia Barristers Society must clearly take a leadership role on this issue. They have been elected to represent barristers throughout this entire province. They know themselves there is a serious problem here. I know that the Minister of Justice has indicated that he has done some consultation, but it is important not only that he has frivolous consultation and continue to consult just to delay here, it is important that he take the Ruck report, take the information he has received to date, and move forward on that and put a comprehensive policy in place to address this inequity which exists right now.

If I am not mistaken, I remember when the Ruck report came out, I believe the representatives from the Department of Justice on that committee refused to vote when a vote was called on the report. So there are big problems there that the Minister of Justice needs to show leadership on and not just sit back and say I am waiting for people to come forward with recommendations. He has the recommendations before him right now. The delay is no longer acceptable and it must be addressed immediately.

[FRENCH SPOKEN]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate this evening on Bill No. 83, An Act to Establish an Employment Equity and Affirmative Action Policy for the Legal Services Division of the Department of Justice and Crown Law Agents. I want to begin though by saying I listened intently to all three speakers. I felt that the member for Halifax Chebucto and the Minister of Justice engaged, I think, in what constitutes an actual debate about the substance of this bill.

[Page 9522]

I must say also, Mr. Speaker, that I was very disturbed that the member for Richmond would take this time in this debate to do nothing but sling personal slurs against another member and to denigrate a fine professor at Dalhousie University. These kinds of pathetic, personal attacks are a poor excuse for debate, when it was that member's Party and that member's Premier who embarrassed all of Nova Scotia with his comments in this very House. Now I will say that the Premier at least, at that time, had the intestinal fortitude to stand up and apologize for his actions. He did that, and it was received by the people of Nova Scotia as it should have been. I think what really ought to happen is the member who spoke today ought to apologize for the kind of debate he decided to engage in on this very important issue.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the recommendations that were made by the Ruck committee were made public, and what we did in this caucus was take those recommendations and make them into a bill. We put them forward for the consideration of this House at this time. We brought them forward, as is our ability on Opposition Day, so there could be a thoughtful debate around how you establish this kind of policy to promote what we consider to be the proper aims of government. The minister talks about his consultations, we don't have a problem with that. We are in favour of consulting broadly with the interested communities across this province. We think that ought to be done. If the minister has a problem with the definitions that exist in the bill, then we invite him to bring forward amendments and we can do exactly what we are doing now. We can have the debate around the amendments he suggests and we can explain to him what our point of view with respect to those amendments are. In fact, the reality is that there is a debate that is going on in the communities around some of these definitions about who ought to qualify and who ought not to qualify. We know that that debate is part of the healthy tension that exists in these communities, but we would like to have an opportunity to have that debate. We think that what the minister ought to do is to bring forward those suggested amendments so we can have an opportunity to do that.

Now, the minister says, by way of his debate here today, he intends by the end of January, to at least make a decision; he hasn't actually said what it is he is going to do, but he is going to make a decision, I assume by the end of January. That is fine. We have to take him at his word, that there is going to be at least some clarification from the benches opposite about what their intentions are. I would draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that what they have not done is said there is, in fact, going to be some kind of legislation; they haven't said there is going to be some real addressing of this type of legislation in the new year. We would be pleased to hear that.

The minister drew as a comparison, and I think an unfortunate comparison, attention to some of the other recommendations that were made subsequent to the Marshall Inquiry. One of the recommendations he talked about was the Public Prosecution Service. I think it is quite ironic, Mr. Speaker, that when he talks about the Public Prosecution Service, here we are without a Director of Public Prosecutions, have been some time now without a

[Page 9523]

director, and we have been inviting the minister to make his annual statement about how he is going to appoint a Director of Public Prosecutions, and still nothing comes forward. Does this not challenge the government's commitment to these recommendations? I think so.

[5:00 p.m.]

It is not good enough just to say that we support these recommendations. I have heard it time and time again in this House, the government stands up and says on the one hand - the Minister of Health is a master at standing up and saying - we support x, y or z, but when you look at what is actually done, when you look at what kind of action was actually taken, there is none there. Empty rhetoric is one thing; actual substantive legislation, like this bill, designed to address the inequities that exist in the system is quite another. I think it is difficult to understand, those of us who (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If we could have a little more quiet in the Chamber, it would be appreciated so we could hear the speaker. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I was just about to say that it is often difficult to understand the situation of people who are differently placed than you are. I had the opportunity to attend Dalhousie University. I went through, I graduated, I had no difficulty finding an opportunity to article. I stayed on with the firm that I articled with and eventually became a partner in that firm. That, to me, seemed like the normal progression through law school, through the profession that was going to happen for myself and for my colleagues, but when I look back, what I see is that did not happen for a lot of people in my class, and specifically over-represented in a category of people who did not have the same kind of experience, might I add pleasant experience, that I had going through that process, were those who made up the visible minority community.

I do not believe that that is a coincidence and I do not believe I guess, on the other hand, that we have understood the whole question of systemic racism. A lot of this systemic racism is latent. People do it and they do not even understand that they are doing it. So that is why we bring forward pieces of legislation like this.

I know that in my firm, or the firm I was associated with and still am, for example, we have an associate in my firm who is a member of the Conne River Band, but has lived in Nova Scotia almost all of his life. When we hired that individual, we felt that this was an asset. This was an individual who was going to bring a perspective to our firm that we did not have and I expect that if I am fortunate enough to remain in association with the firm, which may or may not happen - I do not see any way to have time to spend at the firm anymore because my duties here take all of my time - but I would expect that his normal progression through that firm will eventually be to reach partnership, and that is as it should be.

[Page 9524]

How do we use the opportunity that we have as legislators to see to it that all the graduates from the law school have that opportunity? Well, the way that you go about doing it is you use the ability you have as government to put in place rules, to put in place a system, quite frankly, that will penalize those people who fail to comply with certain basic hiring guidelines and it is not complex. The details of the program may be subject to debate.

As I have said before, Mr. Speaker, we are perfectly prepared to have a look at questions like what the definitions are and we are perfectly prepared to have a look at the suggestions that the Minister of Justice may have in this regard, but as a first step he has to bring forward some kind of a statement on behalf of his government that tells us what his intentions are. To go as long as we have gone now without any indication on behalf of the minister of what the government's commitment is, I think is entirely regrettable.

Right now, in this province - and I have an opportunity to have a look at a review that was in the Ruck report of the number of graduate employment records - I know just how difficult it is for young people graduating from law school these days to get employment in any firm. This was even a number of years ago. I had the placement officer phone me up and ask, can you please take an articling student this year, if you can only take one for just a four-month period, that would be sufficient, because we need to move these people through a program that will allow them to actually get qualified to be admitted to the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.

I understand - I did have a note here - that my partner just called in to say that I was welcome back at any time, so apparently they are watching.

Mr. Speaker, my point is that it is very difficult for young people graduating from law school to find articling positions these days. It is particularly difficult when you see what is happening in the downtown law firms, where visible minorities are not, in fact, being hired at anywhere near representative numbers. I would think that one of the things that we should be doing, and that this government should be doing is looking seriously at this legislation and indicating to us, if they think that it is deficient in some way, what they think the deficiencies are.

We would be more than happy to sit down with the government and to address these in any form. What we need to have is the debate come forward, we need to have the government propose some legislation, and we need to see what their proposal is for dealing with the problem. We don't have a starting point to even engage the government in that conversation. Absent the action of the government, since they have not taken it upon themselves to bring forward any kind of legislation, we are left with the report, and out of the report and the recommendations we drafted this bill for the consideration of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I understand my time has elapsed. Thank you.

[Page 9525]

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3578.

Res. No. 3578, Educ.: Halifax West HS - Replace - notice given Nov. 27/00 - (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by reading the resolution.

"Whereas the parents' group known as the Halifax West High School Feeder School Group deserves credit for their vigorous, well-informed and non-partisan advocacy for a safe learning environment for their children; and

Whereas the Feeder School Group has shown that Halifax West High School cannot be saved for a reasonable cost; and

Whereas time is of the essence for making a decision about building a new school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to approve, without delay, the building of a new high school to replace Halifax West High School."

Mr. Speaker, this resolution was introduced in the House on Monday. Unfortunately, it did not get the unanimous consent of the House, which is why we are debating it tonight in the hope that maybe the members of the government have had an opportunity to rethink the position they took at that time. Moreover, earlier, in Question Period, I had an opportunity to ask the Premier what the government's plans were with respect to Halifax West High School. I would just like to review this question that I put to him, because we have this very generous offer on the table of two hectares of land from HRM, on the mainland North Common, for a place where a new school could be built.

This is not an inconsequential offer. It is an offer that would translate into about $5 million, a contribution toward the costs of replacing the old Halifax West High School. It is something that needs to be seriously considered. When I pointed out to the Premier that HRM was making land available, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. I would appreciate it if the members would take their private conversations outside of the Chamber, please.

[Page 9526]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . that a commitment had been made by the government, by the minister, back in August that the school would be brought down to the beams, and what would be provided would be practically a new school, as is becoming increasingly clear, that is going to be difficult to achieve with the money that the government is prepared to allocate, I asked the Premier, now that we have this offer of land on the table, would he seriously entertain the building of a new school for parents and students in this community and I must say I was very disappointed by the Premier's response. He indicated that he had not read the engineering report and that the decision of the government would be based on a final report from the engineers and that if the school could be renovated at a reasonable cost, then that is what his government plans to do.

When I pressed him further and asked him what the threshold would be, the actual cost, what does he mean by reasonable cost? Is it $5 million? Is it $12 million? Is it $14 million? What is the point at which it is no longer, in the government's mind, economically feasible to renovate the school but rather to replace it, he would not answer that question. He was not prepared to say.

My concern is that the engineers have been sent in by the department with a bottom line in mind. What they are attempting to do is try to establish what in fact, this particular bottom line sum of money will acquire, rather than looking at what it is that really would result in a healthy school and also a school with some modern facilities that will accommodate the real needs of students in this area. I think it is very important to point out that this school is quite a significantly old and ageing school and beyond the environmental concerns, the labs and the classroom space and a number of other features of the school, which I will mention, are really not up to standard.

The parents in this area have been extremely reasonable. I attended a meeting, I think in late July or early August, where they gathered to discuss where the students would go for this school year, what options were available and at that time, the parents had met with the Minister of Education and, I believe, the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin and it was their sense at that time that a retrofit to clean up the environmental problems, the air quality problems and significant upgrades could be done for approximately $8 million.

It is increasingly clear that $8 million will not come anywhere close to doing what has been held out as necessary in that school. The draft engineering report is looking at something much closer to $12 million, in the vicinity of $12 million. Many of the upgrades that are required have been abandoned, have gone by the wayside, Mr. Speaker. There is some suggestion that the asbestos in the inner walls in that school won't even be touched by this process of retrofitting which really is astonishing when you consider the kinds of problems that students and teaching staff have had over the years in that building with respect to lost time, absenteeism and what have you.

[Page 9527]

[5:15 p.m.]

We have put money into the school in the past, Mr. Speaker, and it has not addressed the serious problems. I sincerely hope the government will not take us down this path again where we just throw good money after bad. We all know that there has been an independent evaluation done. We know the students from this school are currently going to another high school in the area, J.L. Ilsley in the Spryfield area, that they are doing split shifts. We know that school has been put on the critical list by the Halifax Regional School Board as a school that needs to be replaced.

Mr. Speaker, I know the Premier takes the position that there are many schools requiring replacement or there are many schools that require retrofitting, but I know of, first of all, very few schools in this province where students today are double-shifting and, in fact, I know of no other high school where students are double-shifting. I think clearly Halifax West High School is a school where there is some urgency for this government to make a decision. Certainly, if you are looking at putting an extraordinarily large amount of money into the school, such as $11 million, $12 million, then certainly that comes very, very close to half of the cost of a new school.

If you consider that what you would get is the existing old school of Halifax West High School that has inadequate labs, that has a gymnasium that is really inadequate, where the floor is a disaster, the level of sound in that gymnasium, for example, the sump pump that is working overtime to try to remove moisture that creeps into the back underneath the stage, the sound, the extraordinarily large amount of noise from the air exchange system that is operating trying to keep air circulating in that building. I think the problems of mould and what have you, Mr. Speaker, it is very clear, that this is not a good use of tax dollars. To build a new school, to amortize the cost over a period of time makes much more sense than to throw good money after bad.

Mr. Speaker, I would urge the Premier and the minister and members of the Cabinet and members of the government caucus to get behind this project, to get behind people in the area of Halifax West High School and the feeder school group. These parents have done their homework. They have been nothing but reasonable. They started with the position, yes, if we can retrofit this school and get some modernization, what we want is a school that is not sick. But they have examined in detail what the government is offering them, and it is not enough, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise in this House and debate Resolution No. 3578, regarding Halifax West High School. I want to start by introducing a group in the gallery, a group of the most hard-working, dedicated parents I have ever had the privilege to know. These are the members of the Halifax West Feeder

[Page 9528]

School Group, and they are led by their Chairman, Jane Davies. I would ask them to rise and receive the welcome of this House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would say that it is a very fair comment that we would not even be discussing this high school, that nobody would even have brought this high school to the attention of the Department of Education had it not been for the hard work and the thousands of hours over the past one and one-half years that this group has devoted to finding out what is the matter with our school.

This is a wonderful school community; 900 dedicated students and teachers, some of whom I count as my friends, most of whom are my neighbours. It is the most culturally diverse school in Atlantic Canada. Over 50 languages are spoken in this school, Mr. Speaker. It is an amazing community. I am very proud of Halifax West High School. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the faculty and the students at that school, and I have supported them long before I was ever an MLA. I served on the PTA committees and the student committees at that school, and so have my children. We are all attendees of Halifax West and proud to be so.

I am very well acquainted with the history of the school, with its successes, and also with its problems. I have had many long meetings and discussions before I ever was elected and since, about what is wrong with Halifax West. This issue started a long time ago, long before this government ever took office, long before anybody in government was ever willing to listen to the fact that there was something wrong with Halifax West.

Mr. Speaker, the minister understands and respects the concerns that have been raised by the community. I share her concerns and I share the concerns of the community, that is why we are discussing this subject today. This school community has been very passionate for their desire for a new school. They have put a great deal of effort into making sure those passions are understood by those who use the school, by the people who make decisions about the school and who will make decisions in the future. They have done their own analysis, very thorough, and they are convinced that a new school is the right option for our community. They have to be commended for this work and thanked for their passion and advocacy on behalf of our students, both now and in the future.

Mr. Speaker, when all of the information is in and when all of the analysis has been done, we will then determine what kind of project makes sense for this school. But it has to make sense for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, for the residents of Halifax West, Fairview, the West End of Halifax, Clayton Park and all the other communities whose students go to this school. We are not in a position to make a judgement yet, and I would like to talk about that for a few minutes, if I may.

[Page 9529]

The problems with this building go back a long way. This is a building over 40 years old. There have been many repairs over the years. Unfortunately, these were very poor repairs, very unsuccessful repairs, I can give you some very good examples because I lived through most of them. Even just eight years ago, as recently as that, when my second son attended Halifax West High School, the entire school population was shoved from two wings into one and split-shifted within the school while they repaired or attempted to repair severe leaks in the structure of the building and around the windows. They did such a poor job at that time that they actually replaced windows without putting in flashing and replaced the roof without fixing the leaks around the gutters. Now that is the kind of thing that this school has put up with for years and I don't pretend to even understand what kind of government would try and make decisions like that and expect them to be in the benefit of the school. (Interruptions) Those repairs were done seven years ago. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Order, please. The member for Halifax Bedford Basin has the floor.

MS. MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, there has been more than ample example of the fact that there has been a great deal of inaction by the previous Departments of Education and school boards on what to do with Halifax West. Health and safety must be the highest priority of the Department of Education and the Government of Nova Scotia, not just for students but for everybody who has to go inside a government building. We recognize it is time to stop patching the symptoms at Halifax West and start looking at the causes of the problems. That is why the Department of Education agreed to fund a proper study of the school, to find out once and for all what is wrong.

Mr. Speaker, over one year ago, when the Halifax West action team started looking at the health and safety problems of the school with the school board, a number of studies were done on the building - there was still no conclusion.

Last spring, the action team came to me and to the chairman of the school board and they asked for help funding yet another study on Halifax West High School. They had found a specialist on indoor air quality, Dr. Tang Lee, and they were convinced after all of their research that this was a man who would finally tell us what was the matter with this school. They were right and I was very pleased to promote and support the payment of that study which the Department of Education cost shared with the Halifax Regional School Board.

Dr. Lee made a thorough and comprehensive analysis of that school and he reported his findings in a draft report last summer. That report was put together with feedback from the feeder school group, from the community and from specialists within the city and within HRM and within the school board and the Department of Education. It identified a number of problem areas and identified a number of changes that needed to be made and repairs. It was extremely detailed, it indicated that in the opinion of Dr. Lee, $5 million would fix the problems with Halifax West High School that we knew of at that time.

[Page 9530]

Within days, the Department of Education and the Minister of Education went to Cabinet and had approval to do exactly that, not only $5 million in repairs, but $3 million in retrofit and at the time based on the information that we had, we truly all believed, the Minister of Education included, that this was an excellent and worthwhile solution for the school and it was supported at that time by the parent committee. It was supported by me.

Since that time we have spent an awful lot more time investigating the issues around Halifax West getting additional information. Dr. Tang Lee's report highlighted the fact that more studies had to be done around the structure of the school, around the drainage issues on the site, there is an entire list. I could spend an hour telling you what had to be investigated to find out what was the matter with that school and if we knew enough to proceed with an $8 million renovation and we are still doing that.

In the meantime, we had to find a place to put these kids - 900 students had to be moved, 32 classrooms, three weeks. There was a tremendous effort, and I want at this time to take a minute to publicly thank the community of Spryfield and the J.L. Ilsley High School community for an outstanding welcome; the accommodations and the changes they made to their structure and their daily lives and their scheduling to accommodate us has been nothing short of amazing. They deserve to be highly commended for that and they are a credit to all students in the community.

Despite the inconvenience to our students, it is important that we get this project right. We are almost there. We are not there yet, but we are very close. To make any decision based on whether or not we should renovate or replace Halifax West High School without having all of the information is not a decision that is in the best interests of any taxpayer in this province. It is not a decision that I will support. I will support a decision based on all of the information. It is what I campaigned on last year when I promised - the only promise I made - that we would be fiscally responsible and accountable to the taxpayers of this community, this province. That is right.

We have had engineering consultants and an architect since September in place going over Dr. Tang Lee's report, investigating the rest of the school to determine if we have all of the information. We are still waiting for another report. (Interruptions) Another report, yes, another report.

We have had very open communication with the school steering team on this project and their input has been invaluable. They have received all the information we have, including the draft report, and it is still a work in progress.

[Page 9531]

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I also want to address the issue of the offer of land. Last summer I had a meeting with Mayor Walter Fitzgerald, and I asked him at that time if he would be agreeable to look at offering us land for a school if it came about that a renovation was not in the best interests of our students. I am very happy that he took me up on my request. I was very pleased with the generous offer made by the council that was then in power and has subsequently been ratified by the council that is currently in power. It is an outstanding offer, and I don't believe any such offer has been received for free land to a school in recent history.

When we have all the information, Mr. Speaker, we will know what decision we must take. Now if the decision to repair Halifax West High School is not found to be cost-effective, and a new school is to be built, I will support that decision happily. I don't think there is an MLA in this House who would not welcome a new school for their students. I also recognize that decision is going to cause a great deal of disruption for our students and our school community for a considerable time to come, much longer than would be a renovation.

Mr. Speaker, our government's objective is to meet the needs of Halifax West High School students, particularly from a health and safety point of view, and we will do that, but we will do so with all the facts at hand as any responsible government should do.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on Resolution No. 3578, "Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to approve, without delay, the building of a new high school to replace Halifax West High School." I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see that the NDP has chosen this resolution for debate in this House today. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that this issue was raised by myself earlier this month. When I look back on Tuesday, October 24th, I, along with our Party's Environmental Critic, actually had the opportunity to visit Halifax West High School on Dutch Village Road. That day, we were accompanied by Jane Davies and Gordon Young. I, too, want to welcome our guests in the east gallery this evening.

Mr. Speaker, Jane Davies is Chairman of the Halifax West High School Feeder Group, and Mr. Gordon Young is Principal of Halifax West High School. Needless to say, that day when we actually did visit Halifax West High School, we were alarmed by what we saw. The building is in complete shambles. You could actually see the walls breaking away from the floor and mould all over the place. It became very obvious as you walked through the building that the only way Halifax West High School's problems could be remedied was to build a new school. Cleaning up and repairing the building, I am sorry to say, will not do the job.

[Page 9532]

There are many reasons why a new school should be built, and I just want to go over some of these reasons. There is a real possibility of mould regrowth. There are probably many areas of hidden mould in this building, the playing field is inadequate, and does not drain properly. I can tell you, just walking out behind the school that day, it was a nice sunny day, and I couldn't believe the condition of the field. I was told that, unfortunately, the field is not being used by the students of that school. They have to be bused to neighbouring areas.

The school sits directly behind a high-volume service station, there is no insulation in the building, the building sits on a concrete slab that sits on a swamp. When the school was originally built, there were many families with school-age children in that area. The growth has now moved to mainland north, and thus the need to move the school location is certainly in order.

The existing class size is 650 square feet. Today's classroom should be at least 900 square feet. There is no adequate computer lab in the school. The school's butterfly roofs have caused a rapid decline in the quality of the roof membrane. This building is 42 years old. It has certainly completed its useful life. There have been a number of reports of health concerns from staff and students that have been raised. Repairing and clearing of the schools would result in throwing good money after bad.

Mr. Speaker, I have raised this on a number of occasions. It just doesn't make sense to throw taxpayers' money into a building that should be condemned. I will table this in a minute, this is a business case that was prepared by the Halifax West High School Feeder Group, entitled, The Business Case for Why Replacing Halifax West High School is the Only Solution. As I said earlier, there are many factors, and I have just listed a few, why we should be looking at building a new high school.

There are many factors here, and I am not going to go over the list. When I look at some of the health and safety factors, site and structure, social environment, educational programming, the environment, the financial problems, there is one here that I certainly have to raise. I have talked about some of the health concerns that were reported earlier by staff and by students. Since the students and staff have moved over to J. L. Illsey, significantly fewer reports of health concerns have been reported.

Mr. Speaker, I think that in itself just shows there are real, serious concerns on the actual site where the Halifax West High School is situated. I am no medical specialist, but I can honestly tell you, when we were over there hearing from the principal and Jane Davies, the chair of the parents group, they basically shared with us a number of these cases that did come forward from staff and students. I think just that in itself should be looked into very seriously. I hope that some decision will be made and will be made very soon.

[Page 9533]

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, again, I don't think it really makes any sense to invest taxpayers' money into this building that should be condemned. It is now estimated that it would cost, at the very least, $12.5 million to repair and clean this building. This is what we are told. I am sure, as we have seen from past experiences, when you start looking at addressing some of these problems, quite often that cost grows along the way.

Mr. Speaker, with that estimate, which I believe will probably and more than likely end up much higher, after the final building evaluation and assessment report is tabled, there is no other solution but to build a new school. Last night, the Halifax Regional Council voted to set aside two hectares of land to accommodate this proposed new school. The school, if built on the North Common, would be able to share athletic and library facilities on the North Common.

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the Halifax Regional Council's interest in the school and they should be congratulated for their decision that they confirmed last night. So, again, I think the Minister of Education and this Tory Government should really take this into account and proceed to build a much-needed new school to replace the old Halifax West High School. Last Friday I met with two representatives of the Halifax West Feeder School Group and it was obvious after our discussion that, again, the only solution to the Halifax West problem is the construction of a new school.

Again the question is, how much more time does the Tory Government need before this government acts?

Mr. Speaker, I will give my colleague the couple minutes left.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West has approximately three minutes.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for bringing this resolution forth today. It is a good resolution.

I would like to compliment the Leader of the Liberal Party for his comments.

In essence, Mr. Speaker, really what we have here is a clear case for a new school. All the documentation shows that the cost factor for repair and renovations is over the 50 per cent barrier, which is the benchmark to determine whether we should go with a new school. Clearly we have passed that. The environmental study shows clearly that there is a major problem there. We have subsidence there on an old marshland, albeit there was compaction there for the last 40 years that sufficed, but that will not do it anymore. We have two and three inches from one end of the classroom to the other in subsidence.

[Page 9534]

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin is saying we need more study, that is pure baloney. Pure baloney. The evidence is already in. The government is dragging its feet. Yes, we toured that. One of the major environmental concerns there, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that we have a service station with a prevailing wind going uphill to the school, seven days of the week, 24 hours a day. No matter what they do to the school, there is an environmental problem there, unless they move the service station.

These children deserve better than that. They deserve better than that double-talk from the member for Halifax Bedford Basin. She was the one who would not stand in her place and support Bill No. 81, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, that we introduced to allow parents and children to participate in the consultation process at the school level. When we introduced that last week, where was she? She did not say boo, and her colleague, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, he said they do not need to be part of an occupational health and safety group. He said they have parents' groups that can resolve that among themselves.

That is the type of double-talk that these parents and these children who need help are getting from this government. The evidence is clear. The evidence shows that if you pass the 50 per cent barrier, there is sufficient evidence. In three different locations in that school there are major air quality problems. No matter what they do to that school, because of the way it was constructed, you will not solve that problem unless you spend millions over $12 million.

Mr. Speaker, I implore that honourable member to ask her colleague, the Minister of Education, to demand the new school for these parents today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to rise to speak to this resolution. If there is any issue I know a little bit about, it is about schools. I was a teacher for 15 years prior to coming to this House. Certainly the experience here has left no curve in my learning curve, I can tell you that. In my own constituency we have had problems with health issues around schools and actually . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You fought for new schools.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: We fought for new schools and I have to say that I have to thank the previous Liberal Administration and the present Tory Administration for recognizing the need for new schools in my area. The most recent one that has been approved, and actually the ground breaking has started, is in the Elmsdale area. It was a situation not totally different from the situation at Halifax West High School, although the

[Page 9535]

circumstances that caused a new school was the fact that there had been an oil spill, and the soil underneath the building had to be removed. That resulted in, I think, three classrooms and the gymnasium having to be torn off the building in order to get the soil from underneath. You can well imagine what that had done to that school and community. The building was over 35 years old, so approaching the age of Halifax West High School.

[5:45 p.m.]

The department entered into an engineering report to determine the best way to spend dollars. The question became whether the department would take that report and implement it to the letter or implement it to the spirit of the report. Actually, Mr. Speaker, I was glad to see - although it was approved by the Liberal Administration prior to the 1999 election, and we thought and worried that it was stalled with the incoming Tory Administration, that perhaps they would change their mind on that, even though the Premier had promised he would not - the Premier and the minister did come through. They analysed the costs again, and it made more sense to build a new building than it did to put money into that older building, almost 40 years old, and plus to have to build onto that building. I think the community was relieved, and I think perhaps the community was a little bit surprised that this was a case where common sense seemed to prevail by politicians. That would throw anyone for a loop. It does, me, when it occurs.

Mr. Speaker, this issue has come before our caucus and before this House, I would say in earlier days, certainly due to the efforts of our former colleague, Eileen O'Connell. Halifax Fairview was her constituency. She raised this issue 10 times in this House. She actually raised this issue in 1998 and 1999 to the present Leader of the Liberal Party when he was the Minister of Education. She raised those environmental issues with the Liberal Government at the time and tried to make the case that the minister of the day should act on the environmental concerns of Halifax West High School. I know that his interest in the problem at Halifax West High School had to have occurred prior to October of this year because it was raised in this House to him when he was Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, our former colleague also taught at Halifax West High School, so I think we could all recognize that that school, the students and the staff would have held a special spot for her, as do the staff at Hants East Royal High School for me. I think members may not know that two days prior to her death, she was concerned about an upcoming meeting that the feeder group was going to have and wanted to be sure that our Education Critic, the honourable member for Halifax Needham, was able to make that meeting. The meeting was on the day she passed away. Up until that point, this was a real issue of concern for her.

Mr. Speaker, there isn't anything that occurs in this province that the government signs its name to that we would argue is not something that the government has to weigh the benefit of taxpayers' dollars. It doesn't matter what list you want to make, you can bracket it and put regard for taxpayers' dollars beside that list. Whatever item is in the list, we have

[Page 9536]

to consider what we are doing for taxpayers' dollars. But the question is, what are the priorities of the government when it is making use of taxpayers' dollars. My thought would be, when you give $3 million to Sobeys, what interest in taxpayers was that? If you don't collect it when you could have, you gave it away.

The present Minister of Education stated in this House, during a recent Question Period, that she didn't tour Halifax West because she did not want to raise expectation. Well, I would think the parents in that community would certainly like to have their expectation raised enough to think the minister was interested to come and have a look. Certainly, the numbers are starting to be inflated to a level where we would expect that the government will make a reasonable decision and weigh out whether or not it is worth it to spend more dollars on that school.

Environmental concerns and, in particular, concerns around mould, is an important issue because not all moulds are created equally. Some moulds are certainly more toxic than others and they have a severe health effect on people, this is not rocket science. The documents are in and the statistics show exactly what happens in regard to these fungi. The question always has to be, what are we going to do with regard to taxpayers' dollars, but that doesn't necessarily mean that has to be the priority. Health concerns and health and safety concerns should be the priority of the government. The question would be, what value for your dollar are you going to get and what value for the taxpayer are you going to deliver by spending their tax dollars? That is a point the government should think about. The money you are going to spend is actually the money of the people of Nova Scotia, and you should deliver some service to them for their dollars. If you spend close to $12 million on Halifax West High School and don't improve that building that already has a 40 year lifespan, then how many more years can you get out of it for the value that you would be putting into it?

It would seem to me that when the Liberal Government entered into the P3 process, those contracts were for 20 years and then the province has an option to buy them after 20 years.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, they don't.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: They don't have an option to buy them. That makes it even worse. I think if you and I were thinking about looking at those buildings, if you were the builders, what would be the lifespan of those buildings do you suppose? I would say about 20 years. So here we have a building that is at the 42 year lifespan point. The question is, how much longer can this building be made useful for the dollars you want to put into it. I would say that if you are even thinking of a 50 year lifespan on a building, which is getting pretty much beyond the limit that we think for any of these buildings, then you are going to get 10 years for the dollars you spend. These dollars are now creeping up to $12 million and we haven't even finished all the reports and all the studies. More information is coming in. Actually, the first report indicated $5 million would do the job. Well, we are over twice that.

[Page 9537]

I have to say to the members of the government and to the Premier and to the minister that I think the parents would like to know you are looking at this information and you are going to make the wisest and the most reasonable decision, but a new school right now, appears - with the information we have, we don't need to even look for more information because there is nothing that we would expect that you are going to find that is going to bring that cost down, it can only bring the cost up - so a new school for that community is really, at this stage, the only logical and most wise use of taxpayers' dollars that would deliver the best service to that community over the longest period of time so that the staff and students live in the healthiest environment we can offer them as politicians, and to make the best use of their tax dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank. (Interruptions)

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, how much time is actually left in this debate?

MR. SPEAKER: About 15 seconds, 10 seconds.

MR. BARNET: Unfortunately, not enough time for me to say what I need to say. I will say, to put it on the record of this House, that in the previous government, they didn't make decisions based on sound judgement, what they did was make decisions based on politics, and that is not . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired on the resolution. (Interruptions)

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise, to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 o'clock noon and the House will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business will be the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, both Public, and Private and Local, and Third Reading of Public, and Private and Local Bills. We will start off with the Committee of the Whole House, and starting at the top, we have an adjourned debate on at the present time. We will complete that, then go through in the order that is on the order paper, do the Private and Local Bills, and then go into Third Reading.

Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 9538]

The House will recess until the noon hour tomorrow. We will now move into the regional meeting of the Nova Scotia Branch of CPA.

[The House rose at 5:57 p.m.]

[Page 9539]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3665

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas religious groups have known for centuries that confession is good for the soul, providing relief from the burden of guilt; and

Whereas I committed a heinous sin by being part of the group which worked on drafting a code of conduct for ministers of the government; and

Whereas to further exacerbate my guilt I had the temerity to suggest to the Premier that perhaps a code for all MLAs should also be developed;

Therefore be it resolved that an appropriate penitence be imposed upon me by forcing me to sit in the House of Assembly and listen for hours on end to the vacuous and sometimes cutting comments which pass for informed and intellectual debate.