The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 10, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Lbr. - Parmedics: Overtime Pay - Equal Rights, Hon. R. Russell 1891
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 564, Veterans Affs. Comm. - Post Card of Thanks Project
(Students Grade 6): Bravery (N.S.) Honour -
Example (MLAs) Follow, Hon. J. Purves 1894
Vote - Affirmative 1894
Res. 565, Human Res. - Long Serv. Awards (25 yrs.): Recipients -
Congrats., Hon. J. Chataway (by Hon. J. Muir) 1895
Vote - Affirmative 1895
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 566, Gov't. (N.S.) - Bill Briefings: Notification (Opp'n. Parties)
Failure - Condemn, Mr. D. Downe 1895
Res. 567, Lbr. - CBRM: Strike - Resolution Assist, Mr. F. Corbett 1896
Res. 568, Justice - Eddie Sheppard, Jr. (Death) Inquiry Called -
Achievement (Family)/Commitment (Gov't. [N.S.]) Acknoweldge,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1897
Vote - Affirmative 1898
Res. 569, EMO - Emergency Serv. (911): User Fee - Stressful,^^
Mr. D. Dexter 1898
Res. 570, Econ. Dev. - LaHave Equipment: Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Downe 1898
Vote - Affirmative 1899
Res. 571, Econ. Dev. - Dart.: Econ. Revitalization - Encourage,
Mr. T. Olive 1899
Vote - Affirmative 1900
Res. 572, Mildred & Bill Perry (Eastern Passage): Wedding Anniv. 55th -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 1900
Vote - Affirmative 1900
Res. 573, Sports - Boxing: Tom Gordon (Sydney Mines), Death of -
Condolences Extend, Mr. F. Corbett 1900
Vote - Affirmative 1901
Res. 574, RCL: Contribution (Can.) - Applaud, Mr. M. Parent 1901
Vote - Affirmative 1902
Res. 575, Gov't. (N.S.) - Power (86 Days): Future - Better Hope,
Mr. H. Epstein 1902
Res. 576, Commun. Serv. - Hbr. View Haven Home: Gordon Crouse
(Admin.) Retirement - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1902
Vote - Affirmative 1903
Res. 577, Veterans - Support, Mr. B. Taylor 1903
Vote - Affirmative 1904
Res. 578, RCL - Veterans: Contribution - Recognize, Hon. M. Baker 1904
Vote - Affirmative 1904
Res. 579, Sports - Curling (Merrill Lynch Maritime Sen. Men-Hfx.):
Greg Thorbourne (L'pool.) - Third Place Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 1905
Vote - Affirmative 1905
Res. 580, Richmond MLA - Assist. Offer (PC MLAs): Gesture Returned
(Sackville-Beaver Bank MLA) Favourably - Recognize,
Mr. B. Barnet 1905
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 251, Exco - Conflict of Interest: Guidelines - Approval,
Mr. R. MacLellan 1906
No. 252, Gov't. (N.S.) - Election (27/07/99): Promises - Keep,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1908
No. 253, Exco - Code of Conduct: Introduction - Date, Mr. D. Wilson 1909
No. 254, EMO - Emergency Serv. (911): User Fees - Status,
Mr. D. Dexter 1910
No. 255, EMO: Emergency Serv. (911) - User Fee, Mr. D. Downe 1912
No. 256, Petroleum Directorate - Sable Gas: Legal Fees - Breakdown,
Mr. J. Holm 1913
No. 257, Justice: Shelburne & Waterville Facilities - Client Transfers,
Mr. M. Samson 1914
No. 258, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Report Table, Mr. D. Dexter 1916
No. 259, Justice - Jail (Yar.): New - Discussions, Mr. M. Samson 1917
No. 260, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Tolls - Remove,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1918
No. 261, Fish.: Lobster Fishery - Contact (DFO [Min.]),
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1920
No. 262, Agric.: Apple Industry - Stabilization, Mr. John MacDonell 1921
No. 263, Health - Pharmacare Prog.: Premiums - Elimination,
Dr. J. Smith 1922
No. 264, Agric. - Allen's Food Industries (Kings Co.): Closure - Impact,
Mr. John MacDonell 1923
No. 265, Commun. Serv. - Seniors: Pty. Tax Rebate - Promise Honour,
Dr. J. Smith 1924
No. 266, Nat. Res. - Woodlots: Private - Sustainability,
Mr. John MacDonell 1925
No. 267, Health - Paramedics: Retroactivity Payment ($3,000) -
Eligibility, Mr. D. Downe 1926
No. 268, Educ. - Teacher (L'Pool.): Investigation - Protocol,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1927
No. 269, Commun. Serv. - Students (Black & Mi'kmaq):
Task Force Report - Reply Status, Mr. R. MacLellan 1928
No. 270, Nat. Res.: Mobile Trunk Radio System - Plans,
Mr. John MacDonell 1930
No. 271, Health: MSVU (Mother Berchman's Centre) -
Licence Revoked, Mr. R. MacLellan 1931
No. 272, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM: Traffic Reduction - Plans,
Mr. H. Epstein 1932
No. 273, Educ. - Schools: Evaluation (5) - Cancellation, Mr. W. Gaudet 1934
No. 274, Justice: Jail (Burnside) - Financing (P3), Mr. H. Epstein 1935
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Nov. 15th at 2:00 p.m. 1938

[Page 1891]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

11:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to first of all just make a comment. Last week I made a statement in the House in response to the Opposition saying that they did not receive ministerial statements and then I rationally made a statement to say, well they will not be introduced in future if the Opposition caucuses haven't got them. So I checked this morning and I know that they went out from my office. I don't know where they are going, they must be going to sock heaven somewhere, but they went out by e-mail, they went out by fax not only to the Opposition officers but also to the House. I have checked with both of the critics before I made this statement, to see if they had them and they didn't have them but anyway, they have agreed that I can bring this forth.

1891

[Page 1892]

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform all members of this Assembly that paramedics in the province now have the same rights to overtime pay and call back pay as other workers in Nova Scotia. This amendment to the minimum wage order fulfils a promise this government made to paramedics in October.

Mr. Speaker, until today, the workers in this industry were the only professionals affected who were excluded from this section of the minimum wage order. This had to be corrected if we are to be fair and equitable. It also demonstrates this government's commitment to improving wages and benefits for Nova Scotian paramedics. It is also important to note that government did not use this clause during the debate on Bill No. 9. The government did not want to negotiate wages while dealing with back to work legislation.

Mr. Speaker, we wanted to effect this change before former Chief Justice Lorne Clarke and his arbitration committee began their deliberations. The new regulations remove an exemption that allowed ambulance drivers to be paid straight minimum wages for any hours worked in excess of 48 hours per week. In addition, ambulance drivers were not required to be paid for a minimum of three hours if they were called back to do additional work. This we found to be unfair.

Simply put, Mr. Speaker, we want a level playing field for all working Nova Scotians. These changes assure that for the paramedics. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for apprising me of his statement prior to the commencement of the House. I certainly appreciate it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister on this very important announcement. I believe it is a good news announcement. It is probably one of the few that this minister has made but you have to give credit where credit is due. I recall, myself, when this issue came before the department when I was minister and, as I have stated at an earlier point in time in the House here, when this session commenced, it was an issue, like a lot of other issues, that seemed to have, for one reason or the other, been passed over. I recall when the minimum wage review and labour standards issue came before my department at that time, the recommendation came back on two occasions to leave the status quo with regard to the paramedics issue.

After the minimum wage, we approved a new schedule by Order in Council. Then I had occasion to meet with the paramedics who raised concerns and I asked the paramedics at that time to go back and give me some substantive evidence that would require the government to move on this rather expeditiously. I am pleased that obviously the minister has taken up the cause and there are a lot of considered opinions and arguments on both sides with regard

[Page 1893]

to this but it is a good-news announcement. There are still other facets in the industry, Mr. Speaker, such as real estate agents, car salesmen and so on. Who knows, we may be dealing with a similar type situation with these exemptions being eliminated on a future day.

Also, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the minimum wage - and I think it is imperative that we draw to the attention of all members of the House and, indeed, all Nova Scotians - after you go over the 48 hours, the minimum wage kicks in, but for example if you are making $10 an hour you do not necessarily get the $10 an hour plus 50 per cent of that $10 dollars, time and one-half, you would by law, under the minimum wage schedule, get the minimum wage plus half of the minimum wage over and above. So there is still a loophole there that has to be corrected, I think, Mr. Speaker.

It is an issue that many of the organized labour groups in the province have tried to address and although they have been fortunate enough to address them through their collective bargaining processes, there is still that 60 per cent or 70 per cent of the labour force that is not afforded that protection. So, Mr. Speaker, I would implore that the minister also address that particular issue on a future day; hopefully when the review comes up next year. Again, I thank the minister and I believe it is a very positive initiative. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the announcement. When it is a good-news announcement like this and you listen intently, as it was well delivered I do not even know if I need the announcement in advance. I thank you for sharing those few moments with me.

I think the intention, of course, is to make sure there is a level playing field and that level playing field is an intent which we all fully agree on. It is unfortunate however, Mr. Speaker, that we had to go through the confrontation and the bitter exchanges that we had with the paramedics. However, the timing is appropriate; it is very important to have this out and public while arbitration - compulsory arbitration, unfortunately, in my view - this arbitration process under the leadership of Judge Clarke is now under way and I know that this news will be well received. I congratulate the minister for bringing it forward.

There is no need following the rabbit tracks from the other member of the Liberal Party;

that is not the intention. Let's move on and let's make sure that all workers in this province are treated fairly. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 1894]

RESOLUTION NO. 564

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

Whereas some 22,000 Grade 6 students in Nova Scotia are taking part in the Thank You - Post Card Program in which each student will write a personal card of thanks to an individual veteran; and

Whereas this effort provides students with a personal contact that will assist in their understanding of the role veterans played in the preservation of our freedom; and

Whereas the program was initiated by a member of this House;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature follow the example set by our Grade 6 students in honouring the brave Nova Scotian men and women who risked and/or lost their lives in the preservation of our values, ideals and freedom.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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 Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish to introduce in the east gallery: David Fairfax from the NSGEU, the first Vice President; Cathy Randall, Employee Relations Officer; and Ian Johnson, Policy Analyst and Researcher. They are present in the gallery on the announcement from the Department of Labour that we are making an amendment to the Labour Standards Code. I would ask everybody to join in welcoming them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 1895]

RESOLUTION NO. 565

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the Honourable John Chataway, Minister of Human Resources, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas yesterday, the government held the 33rd Annual Long Service Award Ceremony to honour civil servants who have achieved 25 years of service; and

Whereas 213 provincial employees from across the province celebrated this achievement among friends and co-workers; and

Whereas these civil servants came from all across the province, from Big Pond to Great Village, from every government department in job positions ranging from administrative support staff to forestry technicians to social workers to lawyers, representing the diverse public services for which the provincial government is responsible;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend its congratulations to the men and women honoured November 9th for their years of service to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 566

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

[Page 1896]

Whereas despite reminders from the Opposition, this government continues to introduce bills and give Ministerial Statements without proper notification of the Opposition; and

Whereas reneging on its promise of an open government by failing to brief the Opposition and media on important pieces of legislation prior to their introduction in this House; and

Whereas this harkens back to the days when the affairs of the previous Tory Governments were conducted in secret without full accountability to the people, the Opposition and the media;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the government for its failure to properly notify Opposition Parties with bill briefings and place the government on notice that the Opposition will not accept any excuse for failure to notify.

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 567

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

Whereas CUPE Local No. 759 are now into week three of their strike with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and

Whereas this strike is the outcome of forced amalgamation in the Cape Breton region; and

Whereas amalgamation was designed by the Cameron Tories and implemented by the Savage Liberals;

[Page 1897]

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government own up to its responsibilities on forced amalgamation and assist both parties in this dispute to reach a mutually-beneficial resolution.

I ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 568

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

Whereas recently, Justice Minister Michael Baker called for an inquiry in accordance with Section 16 of the Fatality Inquiries Act into the death of Warren Edward Sheppard, Jr., who was murdered in a small options home in Dartmouth in March 1996; and

[11:15 a.m.]

Whereas this inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding this tragedy and provide information that will help to ensure that this does not happen again; and

Whereas the announcement by the Justice Minister of the inquiry marks an end to the three year struggle waged by the Sheppard family to see that the process to answer questions surrounding this tragedy was set in motion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the achievement through hours and hours of hard work by the Sheppard family, with the commitment of this government to concretely address this tragedy to the fullest extent possible.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1898]

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. 569

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: 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 now opened the door to taxing people's distress; and

Whereas in times of an emergency people are already distressed enough; and

Whereas user fees of any kind in the health care sector are very distressing to Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government work to lessen the stress of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, rather than overtaxing their distress.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 570

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

Whereas LaHave Equipment has been serving Atlantic Canadians in Atlantic Canada for over 50 years; and

[Page 1899]

Whereas in this time they have provided construction, forestry, mining and municipal equipment for projects throughout the Atlantic Region; and

Whereas LaHave Equipment will be opening their new facility this weekend;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate LaHave Equipment for their grand opening of the new facility and wish them all the best on this, their 50th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 571

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

Whereas economic conditions in the municipality have provided incentives to developers in Dartmouth; and

Whereas a recent announcement by Sobeys to withdraw from a development proposal has thrown water on the fire of development; and

Whereas the citizens of Dartmouth will not be deterred by this reversal;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature encourage the citizens of Dartmouth to continue their efforts to revitalize their local economy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1900]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 572

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

Whereas Mildred and Bill Perry married on November 8, 1944, in Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas Mildred and Bill Perry have lived in the Halifax area since 1945, settling in Eastern Passage in 1971; and

Whereas Mildred and Bill Perry have raised four lovely children and have been active in their community for many years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mildred and Bill Perry as they celebrate 55 years of marriage, and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 573

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

[Page 1901]

Whereas on November 6th, Tom Gordon of Sydney Mines passed away; and

Whereas Tom Gordon was best known in the boxing arena; and

Whereas Tom Gordon was a lifetime member of the Nova Scotia Amateur Boxing Association, and was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame in 1987;

Therefore be it resolved that this House pass along condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Tom Gordon.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 574

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

Whereas proceeds from the annual nationwide Poppy Campaign provide assistance to ex-service personnel as well as community projects; and

Whereas the Kings Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion raises approximately $20,000 a year in its campaign; and

Whereas earlier in the year the Kentville Legion donated poppy funds to such things as Meals on Wheels, memorial scholarships and medical equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members join me, on the eve of Remembrance Day, and applaud the Royal Canadian Legion, along with each of its branches, for their continued contribution to Canada and our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 1902]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 575

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: 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 been in power in our province for all of 86 days; and

Whereas in 86 days they have cut funding to disabled access programs, taken money from charities, angered paramedics, alienated the Black and Aboriginal law students, and are now proposing to tax people's distress; and

Whereas in this time they have also given a large sum of money to a little $1 billion bank, they are funding $600,000 worth of decorative lights and allowed the downtrodden downtown law firms off the equity hiring hook;

Therefore be it resolved that, hopefully, for the sake of all Nova Scotians the next 86 days will not be quite so hurtful, especially for those who are less fortunate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 576

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

Whereas Gordon Crouse has been the administrator of the Harbour View Haven Home for Special Care for 28 years; and

[Page 1903]

Whereas the Harbour View Haven Home for Special Care is home to 130 residents with a staff complement of almost 150; and

Whereas Mr. Crouse is planning to retire in the near future after a long and successful career serving seniors:

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Gordon Crouse on the completion of a successful career and wish the staff of Harbour View Haven and the board of directors many successful years of providing a home for our seniors.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 577

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

Whereas Friday, October 29th, the Nova Scotia Legislature unanimously supported a resolution encouraging the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs to do what he can to increase the number of beds for veterans at the Colchester Musquodoboit Regional Hospital; and

Whereas to quote a wartime leader's statement, Winston Churchill, "Never . . . was so much been owed by so many to so few."; and

Whereas tomorrow we will honour all veterans, those who came home to us and those men and women who made the supreme sacrifice;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature thank and support its veterans, not only at this time of year, but all year through, especially in this, the International Year of Older Persons.

[Page 1904]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 578

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

Whereas on November 11th Canadians will pause to remember the sacrifice of our veterans in defence of our freedom; and

Whereas the Lunenburg constituency is home to three very active Branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, namely New Germany, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion plays a vital part in community life throughout this province and indeed the country;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the contribution of our veterans in defence of our freedom and the ongoing work of the Royal Canadian Legion in making Nova Scotia a better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1905]

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 579

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 final of the second leg of the Merrill Lynch Maritime Senior Men's Curling Trail was recently held in Halifax; and

Whereas Greg Thorbourne of Liverpool claimed third spot in this event; and

Whereas the next leg will be held November 19th to November 21st in Charlottetown;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating all participants of this competition, especially Greg Thorbourne, and wishing them continued success as the season progresses.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 580

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

Whereas recently the member for Richmond graciously offered his help to represent my constituents as well as other Tory ridings; and

Whereas the organizers of Richmond's Stone Mountain Music Festival held this past fall were unable to obtain the assistance of their member in time for the event; and

[Page 1906]

Whereas in the spirit of goodwill and cooperation, I was able to assist these residents of Richmond in their endeavour;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the goodwill offered by the member for Richmond to the government as a favour returned.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the indulgence of the Speaker on a point of order. Tomorrow being Remembrance Day and the debt that we owe those who gave their lives for this great country, those who fought and came back with the memories of war, before we begin Question Period, I would like to ask for the House to participate in two minutes of silence.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Two minutes of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

I thank the Leader of the Liberal Party for that. The time is 11:27 a.m., Oral Question Period will end at 12:57 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

EXCO - CONFLICT OF INTEREST: GUIDELINES - APPROVAL

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the indulgence of the House.

[Page 1907]

My question is to the Premier. The Premier has very thoughtfully stated that he will be bringing forth his conflict of interest guidelines before this House rises at this particular sitting. In response to a question from one of the members of the media, he said that one of the reasons it is taking so long to bring it forward is that he has to vet it with caucus. I would like to ask the Premier, if the conflict of interest guidelines are for the general direction of members of the Cabinet who are also members of caucus, why does he have to get their approval before he brings forward the conflict of interest guidelines?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, all members of this caucus made a commitment to the people of Nova Scotia by way of our platform that we would, in fact, bring forward a code of conduct. It has to be something that, since all members committed, that all members are comfortable with. That is the reason we are vetting this with caucus.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, the conflict of interest guidelines are a direction from the Premier as a show of his leadership of the type of morality and direction he wants his Cabinet to take. I am afraid, after having seen the actions of this Cabinet in the first few months, if he allows them to say what they should have in the conflict of interest guidelines, it is going to be a very short document. I want to know why the Premier has not just said, this is what I believe our Cabinet and our government should follow, this should be the code of conduct, and bring it forward and have his members of Cabinet adhere to it?

[11:30 a.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it must be very difficult for the Leader of the Liberal Party to lecture this government about a code of conduct that will come forward in the next few days when for over six years that government couldn't produce one.

MR. MACLELLAN: This government, of course, has stated that they were going to bring one forward and then proceeded to give examples of why they needed it. They had more examples in six weeks than this government had in six years.

I want to know, too, who else the Premier feels he has to vet this code of conduct guidelines with, who else has to give their approval? When are we going to get this document that has been much delayed?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, that is two questions.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very tempted to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Say soon, very soon. (Laughter)

THE PREMIER: I won't succumb to the temptation but I will recommit to the member opposite that you will see it before the House rises.

[Page 1908]

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

GOV'T. (N.S.) - ELECTION (27/07/99): PROMISES - KEEP

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. On Page 4 of the document called, John Hamm's Plan for Nova Scotia, it says, that a John Hamm Government will guarantee, "that costs imposed by government are the lowest in the region.". Since this government has been in power we have seen probate fees goes up and now we have seen them set the stage for fees on 911. (Interruptions)

I want to ask the Premier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I know it is troubling. It is troubling for all Nova Scotians. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, if he will advise Nova Scotians how soon after July 27th he decided to break his guarantee to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite got away by saying that this government raised probate fees. That is not correct nor is the rest of his assertion. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: A tax is a tax is a tax, Mr. Speaker. To the Premier, the Premier said yesterday this province is full of user fees, it is a bit of a growth industry, he said. I believe it is a fair way to apportion the cost rather than taxation. If somebody is using a service then I believe they expect to pay for it.

Mr. Speaker, a tax is a tax is a tax. I want to ask this Premier to explain to Nova Scotians, why didn't he explain to them that his intention after forming government was to nail it to them through their pocketbook by increasing user fees?

THE PREMIER: It would appear that by way of the question that the Leader of the New Democratic Party prefers a taxation increase rather than user fees. On the other hand, when Nova Scotians receive a service from government, I think it is more equitable that the person who receives the service makes the payment rather than simply to do what it appears that the Leader of the New Democratic Party is indicating his preference is, and that is to raise taxes.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is all coming out of the same pocket. It is all coming out of the same pocket. This Premier, when he was running for that office guaranteed Nova Scotians that he would not increase costs, that he would reduce costs to them. I want to ask the Premier, will he stop insulting Nova Scotians' intelligence about the whole question of what is and what is not a tax and shut down his tax grab and the user fee industry right now?

[Page 1909]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the New Democratic Party started his questioning with an incorrect assumption about probate fees. Does he have any other example that he might care to bring forward to support his line of questioning?

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

EXCO - CODE OF CONDUCT: INTRODUCTION - DATE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The members of this House are certainly eagerly awaiting this government's code of conduct. On August 27, 1999 the Premier said that members of the Executive Council who break the code of conduct would be investigated, penalized or even brought before the courts, but, most of all the purpose of these rules is to help ministers stay out of trouble. It is now 11:36 a.m. Wednesday, November 10th and instead of the obligatory "soon, very soon", I am interested in something more specific. So, where is the Premier's code of conduct?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the members of the Liberal Party opposite should get together before Question Period and coordinate their questions. I have already answered that question for the benefit of the Leader of the Liberal Party and I would refer the member opposite to Hansard. He can get the answer there.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would remind the Premier that we do coordinate our questions, but perhaps the government should coordinate their answers, first of all. On August 27th, the Premier also stated, if somebody gives the minister a gift of a 50 cent ball point pen with a company name on it, is that appropriate? If the minister receives a fountain pen with a company name on it, worth $250, is that appropriate? So my question is, will the Premier undertake to investigate what gifts, if any, members of the Executive Council have received since taking office?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have one here. Maybe all members received it. It was given from MADD, gives their telephone number, and my estimate of the value is that it is well under the $250 limit.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the House, that is the one we have seen; that is the pen we have seen. Perhaps we are looking for others that we haven't seen. It is now 11:38 a.m. and still no code of conduct. So could the Premier explain to this House why members of the Executive Council are participating in drafting the rules of conduct that they will have to obey?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton East brings good questions. As I say, the whole issue of providing a code of conduct is simply to put before ministers a set of values that applies to everyone. This is very important, something that hadn't been done before. I believe it is something that is long overdue. We are prepared to

[Page 1910]

do it and I would really encourage the member to curb his enthusiasm, to look at the code, because it will be before him in a very few days.

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

EMO - EMERGENCY SERV. (911): USER FEES - STATUS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last week, when asked by reporters if he intended to introduce user fees into the health care system, the Minister of Health replied with a hearty no, heavens, no. Yesterday the minister introduced a policy that will allow the government to charge user fees on 911 services. Sadly, it seems, the minister can't even keep his word for a whole week. I want to ask the minister, why should we believe any promise the minister makes when his cries of no, no, heavens, no, so quickly turn into, oh, why not?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I said for the honourable member last week - although I am not entirely sure, Mr. Speaker, I said it as he did, I would have to take a look at the transcript - we have no intention of introducing, certainly, user fees in the health care system.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier promised us a compassionate, honest government and yet paramedics, the disabled, charities (Applause) Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Paramedics, the disabled, charities, health board employees, have all had an unpleasant taste of the compassion of this government since July 27th and now they introduce this distress tax on people in crisis. The list of victims of Tory compassion continues to grow . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please. Question.

MR. DEXTER: My question to the Premier is, since this government seems intent on reducing their costs at great expense to the health and well-being of Nova Scotians, will the Premier at least allow us to brace for the worst by telling us what other user fees he plans to force on Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. I can indicate to you that it is the government's intention every step of the way to be fair to Nova Scotians and to do the best job we can to put this province back on the rails. Now, that will require change and we have never said, from day one, that this could be accomplished without change. There will be change, but it will be change that is as fair to all as is humanly possible.

[Page 1911]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it will be more than change that will be coming out of the pockets of Nova Scotians if this government has its way.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. DEXTER: Yesterday, the Premier said that if Nova Scotians want services, they should be prepared to pay for them. Well, Nova Scotians may be paying dearly for the government's agenda, and soon it will be all Nova Scotians who will be saying, no, no, heavens, no, to this government.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: My question again to the Premier is, if his government can afford to pay nine new CEOs of health boards and over $300,000 for a new Deputy Minister of Health, why can't he afford to provide Nova Scotians with the essential services without user fees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I lost the last part of the question.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask that when the question is being asked that the honourable members would be quiet so that the person being asked could hear, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, just the question only, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to repeat the question, yes. My question again to the Premier, if this government can afford to pay for nine new CEOs of health boards and over $300,000 for a new Deputy Minister of Health, why can it not afford to provide Nova Scotians with essential services without user fees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the inflated cost of the deputy minister that has come across the floor on several occasions from members of the New Democratic Party, those estimates are simply unrealistic and within a few days you will have the contract that we promised to release.

On the other hand, Nova Scotians know that government gives you nothing for nothing; everything has a cost, and Nova Scotians understand that far better than the members opposite.

[Page 1912]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

EMO: EMERGENCY SERV. (911) - USER FEE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier says this government gives nothing for nothing. I think of the poor of the Province of Nova Scotia who are going to get absolutely nothing from that particular government across the way. Shame on them.

Mr. Speaker, in the time that I have spent in this Legislature, I have never experienced what I experienced yesterday by the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. Yesterday, the minister tried to slip in, hide behind what was happening in the House, a bill that would enable the government to charge a user fee for 911, very much the same as what they tried to do with the paramedics bill when they wouldn't allow for the bill to be handled in a way with proper briefings. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order! Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: My question to the minister responsible is quite simple. Did he or his government deliberately not have a bill briefing on this bill because they want to implement user fees or is it simply because their government is trying to get 20 pieces of legislation in to live up to one of these false 243 so-called promises?

[11:45 a.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there were a multitude of rambling questions there, and I will try to pick one. If the question was did we have a bill briefing, the answer is yes. Secondly, I really don't think it was fair to say we were trying to slide something through. Thirdly, I don't think he has read the bill, if he is using the term user fee.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we could refer to it as tax, a user fee, whatever. The minister just indicated the answer is yes to the question that the reason that he didn't have a bill briefing is because they want to bring in user fees to the public of Nova Scotia. What was introduced yesterday is no more than a tax, and we all understand that. The minister responsible for EMO is on record as saying his government doesn't plan to implement the user fee for 911, yet the Premier is on record as saying he supports the user fee.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: My question to the Minister for EMO, who spoke on behalf of the government yesterday, is it the minister who said his government has no intention to introduce user fees or the Premier who indicated that he supports user fees?

[Page 1913]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would inform the honourable member that in reference to the EMO Act, I was speaking.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, I know the member opposite, from the Third Party, is anxious to get on his feet because they too are frustrated by this tax that they want to impose upon the life call of an individual.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the member, you are on your final supplementary which should be a question.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the Premier, your government is on record as saying that you will reduce income taxes in four years. Given the Premier's commitments in the media yesterday, could he indicate if his plan to reduce income tax in four years is going to be done by putting burden fees, increased fees, user fees and hidden taxes on the backs of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite, the former Finance Minister, it is the intention of this government to keep our commitments to lower the tax burden of Nova Scotians by bringing efficiencies into government, so that we can extract 100 cents out of every tax dollar and that we can provide the kinds of services first that Nova Scotians have come to expect. We will do that at a cost that Nova Scotians can afford. That will allow us then to proceed on to what many Nova Scotians are looking forward to, a relief from the heavy tax burden that Nova Scotians are carrying.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - SABLE GAS:

LEGAL FEES - BREAKDOWN

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask for a little latitude. I am going to pose my question to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, but if it should be directed to one of his colleagues, I would ask him to forward it in the right direction, maybe even to the Premier. It is reported in today's newspaper that the province paid to the tune of $4.3 million in legal fees for the Sable gas project. Now the paper did provide a few details but only a few details on how that money was actually spent.

I am wondering if the minister would agree to table, in this House, a detailed break-down of the information, to whom and how that $4.3 million in legal fees was paid, and to provide that before next week?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. I will take that under advisement, to get the information; if it is something that is available to the public, then arrangements can be made so that can happen. I am aware

[Page 1914]

of the expenditure, and it is my understanding that MacLeod Dixon was contracted by the previous government because of the need to have legal counsel who could advise as to processing through the regulatory requirements with the onset of Sable gas.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I know that the contracts were signed by the former government so I am not accusing this government, or this minister, of anything but, surely, this minister would recognize that whether the contract was signed by this government or the former government, it is still the same Nova Scotians who are paying the tune. So I ask the minister, will you agree to provide to this House a proper accounting to Nova Scotians as to how their tax dollars were spent? It is a simple question.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the answer I gave was, yes, I would do that if it was appropriate. In fact, it is interesting to note that information has been contained in the Estimates Books for the last two years. Had the honourable member opposite taken the time to ask the question during estimates, he might have gotten the answer then.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was bad, I missed it, I feel shamed, but the minister knew it and they hid it. It was hidden in the back of the Natural Resources estimates. I ask the minister, what conditions would make it inappropriate to tell Nova Scotians how their tax money was spent? What would make it inappropriate to let Nova Scotians know how their money was spent by government?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, at this point, as I said, I would take it under advisement and seek direction from legal counsel as to possible implications of releasing information that may not be appropriate. If, in fact, it is appropriate to release that information, it will be made available.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: SHELBURNE & WATERVILLE

FACILITIES - CLIENT TRANSFERS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The minister is no doubt aware that the Shelburne Youth Centre is one of the older corrections facilities in the province. In fact, many of our corrections facilities are quite old which is why the government must build a new replacement facility in Halifax metro, Burnside to be precise, with now a cost overrun of at least $1.2 million due to blatant Tory political interference.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could we have the question.

[Page 1915]

MR. SAMSON: I have received information that nine clients in the Shelburne Youth Facility have been moved to the Youth Centre in Waterville. Could the minister explain why these clients have been moved if indeed this is the case?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I thank the honourable member for the question. I can indicate that I was not aware that nine of those individuals had been moved, but I can tell you that the department routinely moves individuals in those facilities between facilities for operational reasons. It is nothing unusual.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the member for Shelburne is quoted, yesterday and today on CKBW Radio, as saying that he had been assured by the minister that the Shelburne Youth Facility will not close. Yet, yesterday, the minister said that this and indeed all corrections facilities are up for review; either all facilities are up for review or they are not.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: The minister says one thing but a Tory backbencher is saying otherwise. Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is, could the Minister of Justice clarify for all Nova Scotians whether or not the Shelburne Youth Facility is in jeopardy of closing as a result of the facilities review?

MR. BAKER: Again, I will repeat my answer to the member, I believe it was yesterday, all programs of the Province of Nova Scotia are under review. That, obviously, includes all programs of the Department of Justice and it would include all facilities in the province. (Interruption) Including all facilities.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, obviously, that includes the Shelburne youth facility. In the absence of leadership, many people in this province are left to wonder what the true intentions of this Tory Government really are. My final supplementary is, will the Minister of Justice explain to this House what kind of influence or representations government backbenchers are bringing to bear on the future of important corrections facilities throughout this province?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the member has one problem, this government is showing leadership. (Interruptions) It is reviewing programs, we are doing what the other government didn't have the courage to do, which is to look at our programs to make sure they are working in the best interests of Nova Scotians. We are doing that in the Department of Justice and we are doing it in other departments. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 1916]

HEALTH - NURSES: SHORTAGE - REPORT TABLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister told us that he has a private, internal report with recommendations on how to address the nursing shortage. The nursing shortage is a crisis that affects the well-being of every Nova Scotian. There should be nothing private or internal about how the government intends to resolve the situation. I want to ask the minister, since this government promised that it would be open and accountable, will the minister table that private and internal report by the end of the day so that Nova Scotians know the real state of the nursing crisis?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I told members yesterday, that was a draft report submitted to the minister. It is a work in progress and I really don't think it would be appropriate to make it public at this time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I will translate: no, no, heavens, no. The task force has been working on the nursing shortage and has said for months that our province must attract at least 650 nurses just to stop the immediate impact of the crisis. That same task force reports to the minister, so that number should not be news to him, yet the minister doesn't think we have a problem. I want to ask the minister, why has the minister not shown accountability to Nova Scotians about which task force recommendations he has chosen to follow and which he is ignoring?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again, it was a draft report that was submitted to the minister and I would suggest that from what the honourable member is saying, he may have had some information about some of the things that were contained in that. I think the fact is that our record, in terms of dealing with the nursing shortage, has been very good in the short time we have been in government; more than 130 full-time nursing positions have been created.

One of the things that I noted in an NSGEU press release yesterday, which I am convinced the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour must have seen (Interruption) The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Shore, whatever (Interruptions) The honourable member who just asked the question, from Cole Harbour. (Interruptions)

For his information, as he knows, the NSGEU, which represents a large number of nurses in this province, is delighted and they think the main thing that should be done right now, Mr. Speaker, is to convert casual positions into full-time positions rather than going out of their group. That came from the NSGEU yesterday.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just don't understand what the minister is hiding. This is a nationwide problem. Other provinces have begun aggressive recruiting campaigns to attract nurses, yet Nova Scotia nursing organizations have not seen any action from this government. Denying there is a problem, to make his government look good, will only make

[Page 1917]

the problem worse. Will the minister table, by the end of the day, his detailed plan on how he intends to deal with the nursing shortage?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the report that I received from the nursing action group was a draft report submitted to the minister. Secondly, as I have said in the House on a number of occasions, there are ongoing reviews and before we make a final thing - obviously, we are in the business of encouraging boards to recruit nurses. As a matter of fact, a call that I had this morning was from a woman in British Columbia who said she wants to come back and nurse in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[12:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - JAIL (YAR.): NEW - DISCUSSIONS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, one can only hope that that nurse coming from British Columbia won't cost this province as much as the Deputy Minister of Health is going to cost. My question is for the Premier. The Yarmouth Correctional Centre is the oldest jail in the province and was built before Confederation. The Premier visited the Town of Yarmouth shortly after the election. Will the Premier provide details of the discussion he had with the Yarmouth Town Council about the possibility of building a new correctional facility in Yarmouth?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know that institution well. With the high wooden fence behind it, it certainly is something from a bygone day. I would refer the question to the Minister of Justice who is obviously going to be wrestling with providing the kinds of services that we require here in the province.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again in answer to the honourable member's question, we are reviewing all of our facilities in the province which would include, obviously, the Yarmouth Correctional Centre and we will determine what facility charges are needed, if any, and act in due course.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, a Yarmouth Town Councillor says the Premier showed great interest in a plan for a new jail put forward by the Town of Yarmouth. The town, with the help of the municipality, will build a totally brand new correctional facility and lease it to the province. My question to the Premier, is the Premier prepared to entertain this proposal from the Yarmouth Town Council to build a new correctional facility?

[Page 1918]

THE PREMIER: Yes, the people of the Town of Yarmouth and the County of Yarmouth are to be commended for their ingenuity and a rather unique proposal. I would ask the Minister of Justice, who is dealing with this, to make a response.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the question. At the Department of Justice we are always interested in looking at proposals that come forward from municipal units as a better way of providing justice in Nova Scotia. We will be glad to look at any proposal which comes from any municipal unit, including of course the good people of Yarmouth County.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how although the Premier makes commitments, he then relies on his Cabinet Ministers to actually try to back up his statements, without showing any leadership of his own. My final supplementary is to the Minister of Justice. The Premier promised to send his Justice Minister to Yarmouth to visit the present facility and to discuss building a new one. What can the Yarmouth Town Council expect you to bring to the table when you make your scheduled visit?

MR. BAKER: I can indicate to the honourable member that it is my plan, some time after the House closes, to travel to southwestern Nova Scotia to visit various justice facilities in that area. Obviously the Town of Yarmouth and the Municipality of Yarmouth are on that list. What I am going to do is bring to that meeting a willingness to listen.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. -

COBEQUID PASS: TOLLS - REMOVAL

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, is to the Premier. We all now have heard about this laughable plan put forward by what is left of the federal Atlantic Liberal caucus. That plan calls for the elimination of Nova Scotia's toll highways; in fact one of the very architects of that toll highway brought forth the idea of eliminating tolls, both amusing and arrogant all at once. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I would like to ask the Premier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. ESTABROOKS: If the members of the soon-to-be-Third Party would be quiet, I will ask the question. (Interruptions)

[Page 1919]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: It reminds me of a Grade 8 Social Studies class. I would like to ask the Premier, what conversations have the federal government initiated with you about their plans to do away with toll highways?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my own personal activities recently, within the past seven days, included a meeting with the Honourable Stephane Dion; it included a meeting with Senator Boudreau, our representative in the federal Cabinet; at which time I advanced among many other issues of importance to Nova Scotia, the importance of a national highway infrastructure program that will allow us to do what Nova Scotians are looking for us to do and that is to provide decent roads.

MR. ESTABROOKS: The Liberals installed a toll highway in this province and then they claimed publicly that they want to get rid of it but they have done nothing concrete, they just make an announcement. I want to ask the part-time Minister of Transportation, what steps are you planning to take, Mr. Minister, to ensure that the federal Liberal Government helps eliminate tolls on Highway No. 104?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. The issue of toll roads in Nova Scotia is one that we have clearly stated our position with regard to and that is we are opposed to any additional tolls. The difficulty that we face as a province, in light of our current financial situation, is the fact that we literally cannot afford to buy out of the existing agreement. The discussions that we have had with the federal Minister of Transport is around that very issue. I would say that he is fairly sympathetic to the situation Nova Scotia finds itself in and that is that the national strategy hopefully will be able to accommodate the current situation.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, as a result of the question asked by the member for Sackville-Cobequid (Interruption) I can't do that?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, at the end of Question Period.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the part-time minister is in a bind, because he says one thing publicly and he does other things privately. So will this minister work publicly and privately with other Atlantic Ministers of Transportation, provincial Ministers of Transportation, to present a united opposition to toll roads in Nova Scotia and in this region?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would assure the member opposite that what I do in public and say in public is the same thing that I said when I was at the meeting of the provincial Ministers and federal Minister of Transportation, and that is to explain very clearly Nova Scotia's position. Are we working together as provinces to try to put forward a plan?

[Page 1920]

Yes, we are. In fact, the federal minister indicated that was his go-forward position, that all of the provinces had to speak with one voice and we are working as hard as we can to ensure that that happens.

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

FISH.: LOBSTER FISHERY - CONTACT (DFO [MIN.])

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries. The 30 day moratorium on the native lobster fishery expired at midnight on Saturday past. My question to the minister is, has the minister contacted his federal counterpart in Ottawa to discuss the end of this moratorium?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, certainly, when I spoke to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on Friday past, one of the situations we discussed was the state of the negotiations in regard to access of the Marshall ruling in the fishery. A number of situations and scenarios were discussed as well as with Mr. MacKenzie, who is currently trying to negotiate the issue.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, Chief Dan Paul of the Millbrook Reserve has publicly stated that unless Ottawa steps up its efforts to buy back lobster licences from existing licence holders that there could be some nasty confrontations on the high seas. My question to the minister is (Interruptions) I am sorry, Lawrence Paul. (Interruptions) It is very good that they are listening to my question, at least, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: They are paying attention.

MR. MACKINNON: My question to the minister is, what action is the minister taking, or contemplating taking, to deal with this potential confrontation?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member again for his question. It is certainly a very intense situation in need of a long-term solution. I would remind the House that the allocation of fishery stock is a federal prerogative, not a provincial prerogative but that being said, we will continue to do, as we have since September 17th, and that is encourage the commercial fishery, the native fishers, to sit down and come up with management plans that are workable. To that regard, we have had two large successes, one in Zone 35, the upper Bay of Fundy, where we have a management agreement for the season, this fall, and also in Zone 34 where a management agreement was resolved between the commercial fishery and the native community. I certainly would commend all of those involved in that. Over the coming winter the negotiations for a long-term arrangement have to occur.

[Page 1921]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it may be a federal responsibility but that seems to fly in the face of what the Premier said on a previous day, asking for a moratorium in the non-native lobster fishery even before it started. Now given the fact that beginning on November 29th in western Nova Scotia, the lobster season will begin, I would ask the minister if he could please apprise members of the House as to what discussions he has held with the federal mediator, Mr. MacKenzie, and the issues that may have been discussed to help bring a resolve to this?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for his question. The fact of the matter is, the Premier's request for a stay, or as the member opposite describes it, a moratorium, was if a temporary management couldn't be found. Again, I reiterate, the fishing season starts in Zone 35 on November 29th and we have a fisheries agreement to move that forward and for the season to be held in harmony between the two communities. I guess the member doesn't realize there is a management plan in place for that zone so apparently he is not aware of the facts.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: APPLE INDUSTRY - STABILIZATION

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my questions to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. On October 15th, the Allen's Food Industries plant in Port Williams shut down. The closure of the plant was a shock not only to the workers but also to the Valley apple growers who are left with only one plant in which to sell their juice apples. My question to the minister is, what steps are you taking to stabilize the apple industry in the Valley in light of the closure of another juice plant?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, indeed the Allen's plant did go into receivership on that particular date. I would remind the honourable member that that plant is a privately-owned facility but in regard to trying to accommodate the largest crop that has come in in recent history in the Annapolis Valley, and that crop offers some potential for juicing, that a number of facilities that had not been fully utilized because of drought conditions in the Valley for other crops, are currently being used to warehouse those apples so that they may be juiced at a later date at the existing plant.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested to us that a provincial grant may have been made to the plant about three years ago. My question to the minister is, what security interest does the province have in the plant and its equipment, and what steps is the province taking to realize its security interest?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I guess my intervention would be that I am not aware that we hold any securities or lien against the company and I can't advise the member today whether we do or we do not, but I certainly

[Page 1922]

will endeavour to check and be back at the earliest convenience with you to see if we have an equity interest there, or if we have a lien, or an outstanding debt against that facility, but at this current time I am not aware. I will return with those facts.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Did the plant owners have any contact with your department to seek out provincial advice, planning assistance or funding to keep the plant going?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, while the management of the plant did not contact us, it came forward as a concern and we did contact the company and have had some discussions with them about a go-forward position.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROG.: PREMIUMS - ELIMINATION

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. This morning your Premier said, you get nothing for nothing. I guess that is some of the direction that we are going to see from this government but when in Opposition, that honourable member and members of his now government indicated that the $215 premium I am seeing on Pharmacare was excessive and it was unfair. Many times they told us that that should be eliminated so they have strong convictions. What I would like to ask the minister is, does his government plan to eliminate the premium on Seniors' Pharmacare?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, like all government programs, the Seniors' Pharmacare Program is under review. Any decision that would be made about that would be made, obviously, in consultation with those affected.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I understand the review is all-pervasive. We are hearing rumours that the government may be planning to enforce the original intent of that Seniors' Pharmacare Program, the 50/50 sharing between government and seniors. This would involve substantive increases in the seniors' contribution. My question to the minister is, is your government, Mr. Minister, planning to raise premiums to over $400 per senior in order to meet the original intent of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I said, programs are under review and I can say that we have no intention to do that right now.

DR. SMITH: I just thought I would ask, Mr. Speaker. It is very important to the seniors. My final question to the minister is, given that the minister was in fact indicating last week that his department may have to increase its revenue-generating capabilities, could the

[Page 1923]

minister please indicate whether his government is also planning to raise the co-pay limit of $200 in order to generate even more money for this program? Is that a consideration at this juncture?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I repeat what I gave in response to his first supplementary, programs are under review. Any changes in those programs, obviously, would be made in consultation with the seniors. There is a group of advisers on Seniors' Pharmacare and we have no intention to do that at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - ALLEN'S FOOD INDUSTRIES

(KINGS. CO.): CLOSURE - IMPACT

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Agriculture, the minister has already indicated that he was aware of the plant closure of Allen's Food Industries on October 15th. I would like to ask the minister what studies or inquiries is the minister undertaking to determine the impact of the plant closure on the Valley apple industry since he has known of it for pretty near a month?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the fact of the matter is, as I answered him previously, that we have done some assessments in finding extra storage space for that bumper crop to ensure that those apples can be preserved for juicing with a plant that is now running. I guess the member opposite chooses to make fictitious remarks about the department or the minister from one question to the next.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the fictitious remark, but my question was regarding impact, and I was certainly thinking of long-term impact not just this year. There used to be four juice plants in the Valley, now there is only one. My question to the Minister of Agriculture, what steps has the minister taken to ensure that the Valley apple farmers will not suffer lower prices because there is now just one plant buying juice apples?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member certainly points out that there were four plants at one time, currently there is one operational, and hopefully the Allen's plant will be back in business once the receivership action is done with because it certainly is a viable plant. I believe the member opposite should check his facts that there is no exportation of juice apples out of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, if there is a viable plant, then why is it bankrupt? The province has a long history of supporting and promoting the Valley apple industry. My final question to the minister, will the minister commit to Valley apple farmers

[Page 1924]

that he will continue government support of their industry by helping them resolve the crisis created by the loss of Allen's?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question and I would remind the honourable member that Allen's is certainly a private company not a government operation. The receivership of the parent company out of Ontario is the problem, and certainly once the assets are settled, hopefully there will be this plant viably going. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the condition of support of the apple industry and apple growers, this department has always supported the apple growers and the apple industry in the Valley. Apple growers can be assured that they are not faced with exporting juice apples out of Nova Scotia, as the member would imply.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

COMMUN. SERV. - SENIORS:

PTY. TAX REBATE - PROMISE HONOUR

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. That minister's government, in the Throne Speech, indicated that they would immediately amend the Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act to extend the property tax rebate to more low income seniors. To date, that has not been done, in fact there is no increase in the budget that has just been passed that would allow for the increase of numbers of people who would qualify for the property tax rebate. In fact, we see a decrease in the budget for seniors' programs from the amount that was spent last year.

My question to the minister is, given that there has been no budget allotted for the increase in the number of people who would qualify for the property tax rebate, could the minister please confirm whether it is his government's intention to honour the promise made to seniors on property tax rebates?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for the question. You have raised two issues. The first issue was regarding the budget, and we did have this discussion during the Budget Debate. As I indicated to you then, the budget amount for this year had to do with people who put in property tax rebates from 1998, the program had to do with the year previous and if you qualified, you submitted and had your tax rebate paid in this year. That is why the budget amount was there. I indicated to the member that there had been fewer people who had put in their request for a rebate.

[Page 1925]

The other part of your question is, are we planning to work ahead and go forward with that rebate, the answer is yes, we are working on that. We have identified that there are probably about an 11,000 additional people that would qualify. We have been talking to the Seniors Citizens' Secretariat on that, and we have been talking about the program, and yes we are moving forward as we indicated we would.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we see a decrease in the budget. We see an increase of 11,000 seniors who would quality, the minister has said, if I understood that right, so there must be either a plan to decrease the amount everyone receives for the plan or not to honour the commitment. My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is, does he plan to decrease the amount seniors will receive in property tax rebates in order to cover the additional people that you plan to introduce to the program, those 11,000 seniors?

MR. CHRISTIE: I will refer again to the honourable member's comment about the budget. The budget item that was there has to do with the amount that was claimed this year from property taxes that were paid by qualifying people in 1998. Our plan is to go forward on that. That program, as I indicated, is being reviewed with the Senior Citizens' Secretariat. It is under review, and when the program is ready, we will be rolling it out.

DR. SMITH: So in addition to this program, there are other programs incorporated in the seniors' program that could be cut, in fact, to honour this commitment. My question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, are there plans being made, Mr. Minister, by your government to decrease the amount of the special social assistance program that is currently available to seniors in order to extend the property tax rebate? Are you looking at other programs, such as the Special Social Assistance Program to cover the property tax rebate?

MR. CHRISTIE: As I indicated to the member, there are a number of programs that are under review and clearly we have been indicating for some weeks now that those programs are under review. Part of his question was, have you targeted any particular program as one that is going to be reduced or changed? The answer is, no, those programs are under review and we will have those reviews and when they are done, we will be rolling out that program.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - WOODLOTS: PRIVATE - SUSTAINABILITY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my questions to the Minister of Natural Resources. On November 8th in this House, the Minister of Natural Resources said that small private woodlots are not sustainable. My question to the minister is, what makes the minister think this is the case?

[Page 1926]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the fact of the response was, in dealing with the Forest Management Strategy Study which was conducted, which showed that the lands of the province of the people of Nova Scotia were in a state of sustainable production now. Large private woodlot owners' lands were in a state of sustainable production right now. The ones at risk, that were not sustaining their volume, according to the Forest Strategy Study were the small private woodlot owners and those are the ones that need to be addressed. That is the fact of the matter.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, he didn't explain why he thought that. I was recently told of a local mill in my area that bid $3,000 per acre for the timber rights - not the land - in Lunenburg and they didn't get them. It seems that one of the reasons small woodlots are not sustainable is that big mills are buying the rights and then clear-cutting. My question to the minister is, what investigation has this minister made into clear-cutting in Nova Scotia?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member in response, the Forest Management Strategy was a study conducted with the input of all participants in the forest industry, rather than the Minister of Natural Resources, to establish whether forestry was sustainable.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, clear-cutting as a management tool does have a place, but as a harvesting method, it must be stopped. My final question to the minister is, when will the minister bring in amendments to the Forests Act that would make harvesting by clear-cutting illegal?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, the amendments to the Forests Act were passed in the last session. Right now we are developing regulations and those will be brought in, in the coming year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH - PARAMEDICS:

RETROACTIVITY PAYMENT ($3,000) - ELIGIBILITY

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister in progress, alias, Minister of Health. In my opinion, the Legislature hit an all time low just a few weeks ago. Paramedics in this province were punished because this government did not do its job. At the end of the day, EMC and the union reached a compromise and one of the agreements was a $3,000 lump sum advance for paramedics on their retroactive pay. My question to the minister is, are all paramedics employed by EMC eligible for the $3,000 advance on their retroactive pay?

[Page 1927]

[12:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is, notwithstanding I don't like to negotiate on the floor, yes, indeed that is the case.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this minister of work in progress, alias Minister of Health, in fact indicated to the House a few weeks ago that this is an agreement that was met and, in actual fact, not all paramedics are eligible for the advance on the retroactive pay. I am in receipt of a letter from a constituent who indicated in his letter that the paramedics who work part time for EMC and are upgrading their training to a Paramedic III status are not eligible for the $3,000 advance payment. The paramedics who are upgrading their skills feel that they are not being treated fairly. My question to the minister is, will he make the appropriate contact with EMC to ensure that paramedics who are currently trained and working part time are being treated fairly with respect to the $3,000 advance payment on their retroactive pay?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that particular arrangement was worked out between EMC and the NSGEU and any change in that would be a matter between the two bargaining parties.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the government of the day pays EMC. The government of the day is the one responsible for EMC, their company that is doing the negotiations. My constituent, like other paramedics in the province, only wants to be respected and treated fairly, as we heard in the House for that whole week.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DOWNE: My question, Mr. Speaker, being that there are so few Paramedic IIIs in the province, will you contact EMC, Mr. Minister, the very company you have a contract with to ensure that the difference in the abilities and education of Paramedic IIIs will be adequately addressed during the contract negotiations?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, that matter, along with other matters, is going out to arbitration and it would not be fitting for me, as minister, to make any statement on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC. - TEACHER INVESTIGATION (L'POOL.): PROTOCOL

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Minister of Education will be aware that last week certain allegations were raised about a teacher in Liverpool. The allegations related to an incident of roughness with

[Page 1928]

a student. My question to the minister is, what procedures or protocols does the Department of Education have for dealing with incidents of this kind?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, for individual schools, it is the responsibility of the school board. The school boards hire teachers and maintain the agreements, so the Department of Education does not have a role in such incidents.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It is a surprise that the department doesn't have any protocols or procedures in place, Mr. Speaker. The RCMP were called in to investigate this incident and they turned the investigation back over to the school board, which upset the parents, because they felt the school board didn't have the ability or the objectivity to conduct a proper investigation. So my question simply to the minister is, what is the department's policy on whether and when a school board should conduct its own investigations into allegations of potentially criminal conduct?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the process is between the school board and its employees, for example the teachers, but if there is an additional process involving the department, I will find that information out and bring it back to the honourable member.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is our understanding that the RCMP weren't satisfied with the school board's investigation and they resumed their own investigation. So my final question to the minister is, what steps, if any, is the department taking now, to ensure that future incidents like this are handled fairly for everyone concerned?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member is making an assumption that the situation was handled unfairly. The situation was such that the parents have one side, the teacher has another. The teacher has a right to be heard, the teacher has a point of view, the teachers and the parents have to be listened to, the school board has spoken to the parents and will be speaking to the parents again.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - STUDENTS (BLACK & MI'KMAQ):

TASK FORCE REPORT - REPLY STATUS

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services in a government that sees no point in keeping commitments to Black and Mi'kmaq students. The former Liberal Government began a process in 1996 for the formation of a task force on services to Black communities. The government then took upon themselves to bring forward a group of senior civil servants to reply to the report on that task force. Is that reply to the task force ready and if it is, will it be made public immediately?

[Page 1929]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the Black community work group has made representations to the government and one of the things that they have been saying to us is that this report was with the government since 1995 (Interruptions) and they were asking, when are you going to get on with this? We have indicated to them that we are going to have some meetings with them. In 1996, they had some meetings on this particular issues and that was approximately the time when the Black cultural funding was removed. So, we have been working with them on that. They brought the report forward and we have been working with them on a couple of initiatives that we will do. Our process is one of consultation and when that consultation is done with them we will be happy to bring forward the report.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, this minister's procedure is to deny the rights of minorities. The task force was set up in 1996, there was a senior committee of civil servants to respond to that task force. You can look through your notes all you want, Mr. Minister, but what we want are answers. Is there a response to that report or not; if not, why not?

MR CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member, we are looking at that, we are meeting with them on that. That report is with us. That report is being discussed by the deputy ministers of those departments and when that comes forward, when we have finished our consultation, we will be happy to make that report available.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, this government is an absolute disgrace. There is no reason, no reason that the Black community cannot expect a response to that task force report that should have been done long ago. It should have been done by this government. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question.

MR. MACLELLAN: This minister does not even know about the task force or the report.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: When is he going to reply to the task force report?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the member for encouraging us to get on with it because it is a very important report. It is a very important something to work with and the Black community does want to move forward with a lot of the recommendations. We are going to work with them and we are going to bring this together and then, in proper consultation, we will bring this forward, the committee on the report to the House.

[Page 1930]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES.: MOBILE TRUNK RADIO SYSTEM - PLANS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the former Premier's impersonation of the Minister of Finance when he was in Opposition. I would like to direct my question again to the Minister of Natural Resources. Last year the former government announced that it was moving forward with a new mobile trunk radio system. In layman's terms, this is the emergency radio network. My question to the minister, what plans does this government have on whether and when it will move forward with the new radio system?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, yes, we are prepared to move forward.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the question was whether or when and I think I got half of it. Some people who are knowledgeable about the new and old radio systems have peppered both the government and the Opposition with concerns about the safety of the new system. In particular, there has been some suggestion that the new 800 megahertz system simply will not work in rural areas, particularly under adverse weather conditions.

My question to the minister, what steps has the minister taken to assure himself that this new radio system will not compromise Nova Scotians' safety in emergencies?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, certainly the people, the expertise in our Department of Natural Resources as well as the industry are working in concert to ensure that does not happen, but in case there is a foul-up or a situation arises, the old system will remain in place for a length of time to ensure there is no disruption in service.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister, what assurance can the minister give that any concerns about the new radio system will be completely and objectively evaluated by this government and how long will the old system be in place in case there are problems?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, certainly, as I answered previously, the consultation is occurring between industry officials with the equipment plus our officials and expertise and the old system will be there as a backup as long as needed to assure that service will not be interrupted. Thank you.

[Page 1931]

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

HEALTH: MSVU (MOTHER BERCHMAN'S CENTRE) -

LICENCE REVOKED

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, before the election when the government was the Third Party, we kept being asked as a government for nursing home beds and a licence for the Mother Berchman's Centre, the Sisters of Charity at Mount Saint Vincent. We were hounded by that Party. We, in fact, granted 10 nursing home beds and gave the licence before we stopped being government. This hypocritical government has now denied that licence in a letter of November 4th. (Interruptions)

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The honourable member is well aware that that is very unparliamentary and I would ask him to retract that, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: This one is nice, because we are dealing with a bunch of reprobates who would in fact (Interruptions)

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

I would ask that if we are going to resort to name-calling, we take it out on the playground. I would ask the honourable member to retract that, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: Yes, I will retract it. In the interest of time, because time is moving on. I want to know from the Minister of Health, after all of the wishes and all of the haranguing to approve this license, when the licence was approved, he has now denied it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame! Shame!

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. Unfortunately, the protocol that was followed by him and his then Minister of Health in making a commitment, the Mother Berchman's Centre was not consistent with the protocol that is established in the department, because we are (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 1932]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member is well aware, and this has been communicated to the people at Mother Berchman's Centre, there is a facilities review going on. We are trying to come up with some concrete criteria about where long-term care beds should be allocated.

MR. MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, supposing that what the honourable minister has said, let's just leave that aside, here are countless pages of Hansard where this Party wanted that licence approved. Did they not know the importance of the licence? Yes, they did. Now they are making a complete U-turn because they don't care. It is another example of the unfeeling attitude of that government.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACLELLAN: Why was this licence important when they were in Opposition, and why is it not important now?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, certainly the application by Mother Berchman's Centre is important, similarly the application by the First Lake people is important, similarly the application by the long-term care facilities up in his constituency are important and certainly the long-term care facilities in the constituency of Truro-Bible Hill are important. Certainly long-term care facilities are important. The department has any number of requests, and we want to make good decisions, not politically expedient decisions.

MR. MACLELLAN: I ask the Minister of Health, was it politically expedient only to ask for the licence when you were in Opposition? Did you not care then and, if you cared then, why don't you care now?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the honourable member, the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, as well as all members of the House, we did and cared very much when we were in Opposition, and indeed we care now.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - HRM: TRAFFIC REDUCTION - PLANS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Yesterday the Downtown . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He's not here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 1933]

MR. EPSTEIN: I am happy to ask the Premier. Yesterday the Downtown Halifax Business Commission sponsored a speech by an American urban transportation planning expert, Walter Kulash. Professor Kulash spoke against Halifax Regional Municipality plans to widen roads, such as Bayers Road, calling such plans unwieldy and destructive of neighbourhoods. Can the Premier tell us what steps his government will be taking to assist HRM and other municipalities to reduce transportation dependence on private automobiles so that solid residential neighbourhoods will not be destroyed?

THE PREMIER: I was not aware of the content of the speech to which the honourable member opposite makes reference, but I would encourage the honourable member to address that question on Tuesday, when the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs will be here and will be able to give the member opposite a complete answer.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have actually looked at what plans the department has that the Premier referred to and it is virtually nothing but while I was at HRM, I served on a special committee to study the possibility of commuter rail in HRM. That committee was chaired by Councillor Peter Kelly who is a determined advocate of commuter rail. I think the councillor is one of yours. What I would like to know is, what will the Premier ask his minister to do to help facilitate the development of commuter rail in the Halifax Regional Municipality?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite knows that cities across North America are attempting to deal with the increased automobile traffic in the cores of cities and are looking at innovative ways to provide access to the working environment from the residential environment that is growing here as well as in other cities. I had an opportunity recently to look at the massive infrastructure program in the City of Boston, the largest infrastructure program in the history of North America, trying to deal with this very issue.

Our resources will be somewhat more limited than are available to the City of Boston, but the member opposite brings a real concern to the floor of the Legislature and I am not making light of his question. It is so important that I want him to get a definitive answer. I do not have one at my beck and call at this minute and I would encourage the member opposite to continue this line of questioning when the minister is in the House.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I will continue this line of questioning right now. The Premier's Minister of the Environment tells us that Nova Scotia is committed to the Kyoto Convention standard of a six per cent reduction in greenhouse gases but, in fact, Halifax Regional Municipality has joined the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' 20 per cent club and pledged itself to an even higher standard of reduction of greenhouse gases.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 1934]

MR. EPSTEIN: Will the Premier tell us how it is that he can allow his ministries to continue to ignore urban transportation issues since they are so central to a sensible energy policy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, to the member for Halifax Chebucto opposite, we have not ignored it and so, therefore, we are not in a position to continue to ignore it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: EVALUATION (5) - CANCELLATION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. I understand that the Department of Education was to carry out a pilot project this year in which five schools were to be evaluated. These evaluations would have given Nova Scotians a snapshot of the performance standards being met by these schools. Can the minister inform the members of this House why the pilot project was cancelled?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, my understanding, for the honourable member, is that this project was cancelled because officials in the department believed it was not something that needed to be carried out. This particular project was one which measured schools as opposed to student performance. It was concerned with individual schools and it was not believed to be as important as some of the other measures that were being undertaken. Thank you.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can't understand why the department staff would have even brought this to the minister's attention. There was no need for this to be carried through. There has been no evaluation of the public schools in this province since the late 1980's. Does the minister not believe that these pilot evaluations, which would have been the most comprehensive of their kind in Canada, should be carried out?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I do trust my department officials. They did not believe that this project needed to be carried out or had a great deal of value. I do not believe that it is the schools that need to be evaluated; it is the students, teachers and the people in the system who perhaps need to be evaluated. Thank you.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, could the minister please explain to the members of this House when the Department of Education intends to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the public schools in this province so that Nova Scotians can determine whether or not they are getting value for their tax dollars being spent on education?

[Page 1935]

MISS PURVES: The department is carrying out a number of evaluations of its students in various grades, Mr. Speaker, and I can provide the honourable member and this House with detailed information concerning the testing going on and that will continue to go on.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

JUSTICE: JAIL (BURNSIDE) - FINANCING (P3)

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the honourable Minister of Justice. One of the very first announcements made by the Minister of Finance was that P3 arrangements were no longer going to be off the books. They were going to be on the books. At that point, the rationale for P3 arrangements expired, so would the minister explain why he is sticking with a P3 arrangement for the new correctional and forensic facility?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, a very simple reason; that contract existed when we came to office.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, you have about 15 seconds.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, the minister may not be aware of it, but it is always possible to renegotiate contracts. Did the minister make any attempt to renegotiate that contract?

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. In Question Period this afternoon, the Minister of Health indicated, and I haven't had a chance to review Hansard, but he implied that myself, in my role as Minister of Health had not followed policy and had, in fact, done something wrong in allocating nursing home beds. We had 170 beds allocated; about 40 had been designated and there were other initiatives that we were allocating. Part of the allocation was 10 designated long-term nursing home beds at the Mother Berchman's Centre and advising them of a licenser for a nursing home. That was part of another group of allocation of the 170 beds.

I rise on a point of personal privilege. I feel that he said my motives were suspect. He is saying that I did something wrong and that I violated policy of that department. The minister can make appointments of that nature, it is my understanding, and I would like your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on that matter.

[Page 1936]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my comment was not to question the authority of the then Minister of Health. It was simply to raise the fact that in that case, the normal procedure was not followed to the letter of the law.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: He is saying that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will take the matter under advisement. I will review Hansard and report back at the first of the week.

HON. GORDON BALSER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I agreed to table some information on a question that was raised by the member for Sackville-Cobequid. I do that now.

MR. SPEAKER: The information is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: He was rising on a point of order. He didn't actually rise to table any information, Mr. Speaker, so I just want to, on the minister's point of order, say that I thank the minister for providing that information and to say that I expect that information to include the details of who was paid, what they were paid for, and that it would include those who were subcontracted and how much was paid to those subcontractors.

[1:00 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no, it doesn't.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it doesn't appear to do that, so he hasn't really provided all the information that was asked for.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, that's right, let's be clear.

[Page 1937]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. To the member for Hants East in regard to the request of Allen's Food Industries and its financing in the Oral Question Period earlier today. The Department of Agriculture has no loans, grants, outstanding commitments of any kind with this private company nor the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On the first point of order, I just wish to advise you, Mr. Speaker, that when the minister stood and said that he was tabling the information that I sought, the response that has been tabled, is far from complete and doesn't even begin to address the kind of detailed information that was being requested.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, while I am on my feet for this point of order, also point out that it is a courtesy of the government to notify members of the Opposition when ministers are not going to be in the House for Question Period. It is a matter that has been raised before. I know that one of the two ministers who were absent today, did let me know, at least, that they weren't going to be here, but I only heard about one. I am not trying to identify anybody but I am asking through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier for the assurance whenever a minister is going to be absent from Question Period that the Opposition Parties are given a heads up of that, at least a day in advance.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. In regard to both of the previous points of order raised by both ministers, neither are points of order but merely responses to information that was requested during Question Period. So neither one is a point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am not rising on a point of order. I am rising to inform members of this House that this completes Opposition business for today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn I would advise the House that on Monday, we will be sitting from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and we will be considering Private and Local Bills in Committee of the Whole House, Public Bills in Committee of the Whole House and Private Members' Public Bills in Committee of the Whole House. We will also be considering Bills No. 21 and No. 22 for second reading and following that, we will be going back into debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, and hopefully conclude that on Monday.

Mr. Speaker, I move now that we adjourn.

[Page 1938]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. on Monday. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 1:04 p.m.]