The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Nov. 15, 1999

First Session

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health: Deputy Minister (Dr. T. Ward) - Contract, The Premier 1939
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 581, Health: Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (Nov. 1999) -
Recognize, Hon. J. Muir 1940
Vote - Affirmative 1940
Res. 582, Aboriginal Affs. - War Veterans (N.S.): Contribution &
Sacrifices - Acknowledge, Hon. M. Baker 1940
Vote - Affirmative 1941
Res. 583, Tourism - Airline Industry: Growth (AC Hfx.-Washington, D.C.
Non-Stop) - Air Accords Comm. Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1941
Vote - Affirmative 1942
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 22, Chiropractic Act, Hon. J. Muir 1942
No. 23, Sydney Casino Profits Distribution Act, Mr. D. Wilson 1942
No. 24, Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Limited Act,
Mr. T. Olive 1942
No. 25, Justice Administration Amendment (1999) Act, Hon. M. Baker 1942
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 584, Gov't. (N.S.) - Issues Real: Action - Consequences
Worrisome, Dr. J. Smith 1942
Res. 585, Fin. - Cuts: Reality - Response (Children) Negative,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1943
Res. 586, Commun. Serv. - Boys & Girls Clubs (Can.): Royal Bank -
Contribution Recognize, Mr. D. Hendsbee 1943
Vote - Affirmative 1944
Res. 587, Tourism - Ingonish-Kingussie (Scotland): Twinning -
Encourage, Mr. K. MacAskill 1944
Vote - Affirmative 1945
Res. 588, UN - Rights of Child Convention: Children's Rts. Election
Prog. (Cdn.) - Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 1945
Vote - Affirmative 1946
Res. 589, Transport (Can.) - Dartmouth CN. Marshalling Yard:
Relocation - Action (Gov'ts. [3]), Mr. T. Olive 1946
Vote - Affirmative 1946
Res. 590, Educ. - Violence: Elem. Schools (HRM [5])/IWK-Grace
Study (Dr. John LeBlanc) - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 1947
Vote - Affirmative 1947
Res. 591, Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.: Accessibility - Ensure,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1947
Res. 592, Commun. Serv. - Bridgewater Interchurch Food Bank:
Service - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1948
Vote - Affirmative 1949
Res. 593, Premier - Dickens Read: Lesson (Holiday Season) - Learn,
Mr. D. Wilson 1949
Res. 594, Devco - Sale: Bill C-11 - Delay Demand, Mr. F. Corbett 1950
Res. 595, Educ. - Westville HS Band: CARAS Instruments -
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1950
Vote - Affirmative 1951
Res. 596, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. Projects: Completion -
Encourage, Mr. B. Boudreau 1951
Res. 597, Health - Sisters of Charity: Long-Term Bed Licence -
Reinstate, Mr. D. Dexter 1952
Res. 598, Environ. - Dumping: Illegal - Discourage, Mr. B. Barnet 1952
Vote - Affirmative 1953
Res. 599, Health - Actions (Sisters of Charity): Target Add. - Recognize,
Mr. D. Downe 1953
Res. 600, Educ. - Dave Dickson (School Trustee [HRM]), Death of:
Condolences - Send, Mr. K. Deveaux 1954
Vote - Affirmative 1954
Res. 601, Cadet Corps (2741 Eastern Marine Royal Cdn.): Award
(Lord Strathcona Trophy) - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 1955
Vote - Affirmative 1955
Res. 602, Gov't. (N.S.) - Good News: Initiatives (Lib. Gov't.
Pre-July 1999) - Credit Taken, Dr. J. Smith 1955
Res. 603, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Paving (HRM Subdivisions): Policy -
Review, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1956
Res. 604, Tourism - River Country Marketing Assoc.: Interactive
Tech. Prog. - Commend, Mr. B. Taylor 1957
Vote - Affirmative 1957
Res. 605, Educ. - Universities: Funding - Responsibility (N.S.),
Mr. W. Gaudet 1958
Res. 606, Hfx. Port. - Growth: Ensure - Co-operation (Gov't. [Can.])
Urge, Mr. Robert Chisholm 1958
Res. 607, Heritage (Cdn.) - Sir John S.D. Thompson (Hfx.):
PM (Can. 1892-94) - Contribution Recognize, Hon. J. Chataway 1959
Vote - Affirmative 1960
Res. 608, Econ. Dev. - Plan: Implementation - Urge,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1960
Res. 609, Justice: Home Invasions Task Force - Form, Mr. H. Epstein 1961
Res. 610, Health - Nurse of the Year (Can.): Joanne Cumminger
(Pictou Co.) - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1961
Vote - Affirmative 1962
Res. 611, Health - User Fees: Real - Remind, Mr. J. Pye 1962
Res. 612, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - MADD (Anna. Valley Chap.):
Red Ribbon Campaign - Support, Mr. M. Parent 1963
Vote - Affirmative 1963
Res. 613, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Crisis - Recognize, Mr. F. Corbett 1964
Res. 614, Culture - GG Literacy Award: Nominee
(Wendy Lill MP [Dart.]) - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1964
Vote - Affirmative 1965
Res. 615, Health: Spokesperson - Clarify, Mr. D. Dexter 1965
Res. 616, Sports - Wall of Fame (Middleton): Al Peppard & Team -
Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1965
Vote - Affirmative 1966
Res. 617, Culture - Jacob Horn (Arr. N.S. 1751) & Descendants:
Contributions - Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 1966
Vote - Affirmative 1967
Res. 618, Justice - SHAID (Lun. Co.): Staff/Volunteers - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 1967
Vote - Affirmative 1967
Res. 619, Commun. Serv. - Wilson Family (Prospect Bay): Fund-Raising
Commun. Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1968
Vote - Affirmative 1968
Res. 620, Commun. Serv. - Mrs. Pearl Wournell (Head of Jeddore):
Birthday 100th - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 1968
Vote - Affirmative 1969
Res. 621, Gov't. (N.S.) - Compassionate: Become - Soon, Mr. J. Pye 1969
Res. 622, Agric. - Col. Co.: Farmers - Dedication Commend,
Mr. B. Taylor 1970
Vote - Affirmative 1970
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:46 P.M. 1971
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:30 P.M. 1971
CWH REPORTS 1971
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 21, Pharmacy Act 1972
Hon. J. Muir 1972
Mr. D. Dexter 1973
Hon. J. Muir 1973
Vote - Affirmative 1974
No. 20, Emergency "911" Act 1974
Hon. J. Muir 1974
Mr. D. Dexter 1975
Amendment moved "bill be read six months hence" 1990
Mr. R. MacLellan 1990
Mr. Robert Chisholm 1993
Mr. J. Holm 2001
Hon. R. Russell 2015
Adjourned debate 2015
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 7:26 P.M. 2015
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 9:56 P.M. 2015
CWH REPORTS 2015
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 2016
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Nov. 16th at 12:00 p.m. 2017

[Page 1939]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1999

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table two letters which constitute the contract between the province and the new Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Thomas Ward. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The documents are tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

1939

[Page 1940]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 581

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

Whereas currently in Nova Scotia and Canada, pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths among women and the fifth most common among men; and

Whereas prevention is the key to this disease as early diagnosis and treatment is difficult; and

Whereas Cancer Care Nova Scotia is working with caregivers, patients, communities and volunteers throughout the province to improve and strengthen all aspects of cancer care including prevention, treatment, research and education;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to recognize November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and thank all those who are helping to raise awareness of this disease.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 582

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

[Page 1941]

Whereas on Remembrance Day the Millbrook First Nation in Truro dedicated a veterans' war memorial; and

Whereas this memorial is in honour of all Mi'kmaq veterans who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly acknowledge the contribution and sacrifices made by Aboriginal war veterans from Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 583

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

Whereas air traffic into Nova Scotia is steadily increasing while going against the national trend; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is showing an 11 per cent increase in overall air traffic into the province while air traffic into the rest of the country has decreased by 8 per cent; and

Whereas the latest opportunity for even more air traffic into Canada's Ocean Playground is the recent beginning of an Air Canada non-stop flight between Halifax and Washington, D.C.;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the work of groups such as the Air Accords Committee, comprised of government and tourism industry representatives, as they strive for additional growth in tourism through the airline industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 1942]

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

Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Practice of Chiropractic. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 23 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Board to Distribute to Charities One Half of the Profits from the Sydney Casino. (Mr. David Wilson)

Bill No. 24 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 156 of the Acts of 1910. An Act to Incorporate the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited. (Mr. Timothy Olive)

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Administration of Justice. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 584

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

Whereas following the July 1999 election, "Honest its John", the Premier, advised that he would take care of everyone and everything and that all should tend to their barbeques; and

Whereas when the people of Nova Scotia later checked, the Premier had his hand in the cookie jar and made off with monies for charities and blocked access for disabled persons; and

[Page 1943]

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Health then fired volunteers of regional health boards without notice;

Therefore be it resolved that the real reason Nova Scotians are worried is that if "Honest its John" does all this damage before doing anything positive, what will happen when he tackles the real issues?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 585

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

Whereas on Saturday at his fall brunch, the Premier assured the luncheon faithful this province has to make do with less for the sake of our children; and

Whereas in 1992, the last Tory Premier remarked that for years governments bought votes with our children's money and that it was time to pay down the bills so future generations are not impoverished by it; and

Whereas both Premiers' tug at our heartstrings, masks an ugly reality of fiscal restraint where programs geared to help those worse off, and their children, are gutted or scaled back;

Therefore be it resolved that the current Premier switch from rhetoric to reality and admit that a future filled with cuts to funding for the disabled, refusing to approve long-term care beds and shortages in nurses, while millions go to Scotiabank to ensure our children can work in call centres, may well bring a resounding no thanks from our children.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 586

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

Whereas last week the Royal Bank announced a donation to the six metro area Boys and Girls Clubs, which supports programs for more than 500 children from Primary age to Grade 12; and

[Page 1944]

Whereas the six after-school programs, including those provided by the Preston and Area Boys and Girls Club received a $40,000 boost; and

Whereas this donation is part of the Royal Bank's new $500,000 nation-wide, after-school program to improve and expand activities to help kids stay in school;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the generous contribution made by the Royal Bank to the Boys and Girls Clubs across Canada, which will help enrich the lives of so many children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 587

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

Whereas the Town of Kingussie, Scotland, is known for scenic highland views, as well as golfing and hiking; and

Whereas Kingussie shares these things in common with Ingonish, Cape Breton, including historic ties between the towns; and

Whereas volunteers are working to twin the communities and hope to develop exchange programs between the two towns;

[2:15 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage the efforts between Ingonish and her Scottish sister, and wish them luck as they forge closer ties between the two.

[Page 1945]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. (Applause)

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, may I say to the members, thank you for that, I guess it is a warm welcome. May I, in return for their kindness, give them a piece of advice. Mr. Speaker, get your flu shot and I urge all the other members of this House to do so as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 588

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this week we will see the first Canadian children's rights election where children will cast their votes on which rights set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are most important to them; and

Whereas leading up to these elections, students have learned about the basic guaranteed international rights of all children under 18 in the world established by the United Nations Convention; and

Whereas children have also learned about the importance of expressing their opinions, the responsibilities that go with voting and the campaigning and voting procedures similar to a regular election;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all the participants in this program of Canadian children's rights election and recognize the value such a program provides to our children.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 1946]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 589

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

Whereas for over 30 years the relocation of CN's downtown Dartmouth marshalling yard has been discussed by area civic, community and business interests; and

Whereas the refinement of this valuable site will represent a prudent and positive initiative for the City of Dartmouth and its residents; and

Whereas there is no better time than the present to begin to take real and decisive action on this long-awaited alternative;

Therefore be it resolved that the three levels of government undertake the necessary action that will lead to the relocation of the marshalling yard and allow for new and positive development on the downtown Dartmouth waterfront.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

[Page 1947]

RESOLUTION NO. 590

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

Whereas five elementary schools in the Halifax area have teamed up with the IWK-Grace to conduct a pilot study on violence; and

Whereas this pilot study is part of a project to develop a better system-wide approach to dealing with school violence; and

Whereas one of the principals involved in the study has said, the process has helped improve communications among teachers, students, principals and parents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to Dr. John LeBlanc of the IWK-Grace and the schools involved in the study, congratulations on this positive anti-violence initiative and wish them every success which hopefully will lead to adoption of this process province-wide.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 591

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

Whereas this week marks Nova Scotia's first College Week in which Nova Scotians celebrate our history of technical and career education; and

[Page 1948]

Whereas the 13 campuses of the Nova Scotia Community College will host open houses throughout the week for the public to view the make over of the community college system in response to the demands of the current economy; and

Whereas the students in our community college system, like their counterparts in the university system, face an ever growing and ever-crippling student debt load that threatens to bar Nova Scotians from equal access to education;

Therefore be it resolved that this government investigate measures to ensure that the community college system remains accessible to all Nova Scotians regardless of economic status.

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.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 592

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

Whereas the Bridgewater Interchurch Food Bank is taking a leap of faith and is going to the community to raise $45,000 towards the purchase of a new location; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Interchurch Food Bank was started 15 years ago; and

Whereas the Bridgewater Interchurch Food Bank served approximately 5,000 people in 1998 in Lunenburg County;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates the Bridgewater Interchurch Food Bank on its record of service to the people of Lunenburg County and wish them the best in their efforts to find a new home.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 1949]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 593

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

Whereas as the holiday season approaches, one is reminded of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as the government takes from the poor and underprivileged; and

Whereas pleas to restore funding are met with the Scrooge-like retort, "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"; and

Whereas instead of doing the right thing, the government is figuratively kicking the crutches from under Tiny Tim;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to read Dickens not for instructions to punish the poor, but rather use it to learn a good and valuable lesson for the holiday season.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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.

[Page 1950]

RESOLUTION NO. 594

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

Whereas Bill C-11, introduced by the federal Liberal Government to authorize the sale of Devco, is currently being fast-tracked through the House of Commons; and

Whereas Bill C-11 would remove a protective clause in the current Devco legislation that requires the government must take every reasonable measure to ensure Devco workers are looked after; and

Whereas the Devco unions currently have a court challenge based on the protective clause;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with Peter Mancini, MP for Sydney-Victoria, in demanding that the federal government delay Bill C-11 until the coal miners have their chance to challenge the decision in court.

I seek 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 595

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

Whereas to celebrate the millennium, one school in each province and territory was selected by the Canadian Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) to receive up to $10,000 worth of musical instruments; and

Whereas the Westville High School Band program was chosen from all Nova Scotia applicants; and

[Page 1951]

Whereas this initiative will provide a much-needed boost to the school's music program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Westville High School Band and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 596

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

Whereas the twinned section of Highway No. 125 from Leitches Creek to Highway No. 105 opened last week; and

Whereas this piece of highway will provide a safer route for drivers, tourists and industrial traffic in the area; and

Whereas this section of road was started because of the solid planning and forward thinking of the former Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government be encouraged to finish many of the other worthwhile projects started by the former government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1952]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 597

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 is constantly talking about looking for savings in government; and

Whereas when provided with such a savings by the Sisters of Charity, who could operate a long-term bed for half the price of the QE II, they turned it down; and

Whereas 66 of these beds would have been paid for entirely by the contracting patient or their family, and 10 would have been subsidized and the actual licence would cost nothing;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government immediately reinstate the long-term care bed licence of the Sisters of Charity and acknowledge the savings it will provide to the people of the province.

I move waiver and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 598

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have made strong progress in our solid waste management goals; and

[Page 1953]

Whereas illegal dumping is becoming an issue in all parts of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas people do not need to break the law, because every municipality has places to dispose of garbage, debris and construction materials;

Therefore be it resolved that all members do their part to discourage illegal dumping across the province.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 599

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

Whereas the government has continued its attack on the most vulnerable in society by revoking the long-term care licences and grant for the Sisters of Charity; and

Whereas straight out of Charles Dickens, the Tories have added this deed to their long list of taking money from charities and the disabled; and

Whereas like Oliver Twist asking for more soup, the Tories have knocked the bowl out of the hands of the most vulnerable in society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize this government has lost its way as it has now added the sick and the underprivileged to its growing list of targetted groups.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 1954]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 600

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

Whereas Dave Dickson was a loving father and husband who passed away on November 6, 1999; and

Whereas Dave Dickson provided endless service to the Cole Harbour community, including the Colby Village Residents' Association, the Dartmouth Chamber of Commerce, the Kinsmen and the Dartmouth Crusaders; and

Whereas Dave Dickson contributed immensely to his local schools, including his work as a trustee of both Cole Harbour High School and Auburn Drive High School and, most recently, as a member of the Auburn Drive High School Advisory Council;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send its condolences to Dave's wife, Judy, his children, the rest of his friends and family, and recognize his lifelong efforts to improve the communities in which he lived.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 1955]

RESOLUTION NO. 601

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

Whereas 2741 Eastern Marine Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps was recently awarded the Lord Strathcona Trophy; and

Whereas this distinguished trophy recognizes the best cadet corps in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the award was presented by Major John F. Harrison of the Army Cadet League of Canada to the Corps' Commanding Officer, Captain Marilyn Hicks-Pierce;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank and congratulate the 2741 Eastern Marine Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps and their leaders who have worked tirelessly and proudly to bring acclaim to their organization.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 602

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

Whereas the nurse training seats that Premier Hamm and his government claims fulfils one of their promises were actually put in place by the previous Liberal Government; and

Whereas the nursing advisor position that members of this government like to take credit for was in place well before the Progressive Conservatives took power; and

[Page 1956]

Whereas these are but two examples of good positive initiatives undertaken by the previous Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this government be aware that, to date, the only good news they have been able to take credit for are initiatives that were already in place when they assumed power.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 603

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

Whereas residents in expanding subdivisions throughout Timberlea-Prospect continue to be frustrated with the existing policy of determining priority projects for paving of streets in these areas; and

Whereas the current policy, involving petitions and a lack of coordinated decision making between the municipality and the province, is confusing at best; and

Whereas these residents expect more from the taxes they pay;

Therefore be it resolved that the part-time Minister of Transportation and Public Works review the paving policy of streets in subdivisions in the Halifax Regional Municipality and clearly identify a priority list for these projects.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1957]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 604

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

Whereas the River Country Marketing Association unveiled its Interactive Technology Program last week at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley; and

Whereas the Interactive Technology Program allows tourists to now view the many attractions, accommodations and services available in the River County region; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture, and the Colchester, Hants and Halifax Regional Development Authorities are part of many groups which played a specific role in this development;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend the River Country Marketing Association as well as the many local sponsors who played such a key role in getting this program off the ground.

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.

[2:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Clare.

[Page 1958]

RESOLUTION NO. 605

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has stated that the department has no money to help universities with building repairs and renovations; and

Whereas university presidents have said that the provincial funding for universities is not nearly enough to make a dent in the deferred maintenance and upgrading of buildings for high-tech programs; and

Whereas the minister is quoted as saying to make a significant dent in the problem, we will have to have federal money;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Minister of Education that education is a provincial responsibility and urge her to immediately provide sufficient funding to allow our universities to continue to offer first-class programs in the new millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 606

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

Whereas Halterm was created through the initiative of business and community leaders, like the late Allan O'Brien, to ensure that Halifax could compete for container traffic; and

Whereas in the past 30 years it has been leadership and investment from the local community and the province that kept Halifax in the competition for North Atlantic shipping; and

[Page 1959]

Whereas despite the history of federal indifference and neglect, Halifax is the only major port that is controlled by federal Liberal appointees;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government to join this province and the metro community in ensuring that Halifax can attract a growing share of North Atlantic shipping instead of putting jobs and our economic future at risk by threatening key operations like Halterm.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 607

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

Whereas last Wednesday was the birth date of Sir John S.D. Thompson, a native of Halifax who served as Canada's fourth Prime Minister; and

Whereas last Wednesday, at Sir John Thompson's gravesite at Holy Cross Cemetery, a special plaque was unveiled to mark his grave as part of Canadian Heritage's National Program for the Grave Sites of Former Prime Ministers; and

Whereas last Wednesday night the Second Annual Sir John S.D. Thompson dinner was held to honour the memory of this accomplished Nova Scotian;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution Sir John S.D. Thompson made to Nova Scotia and to Canada and to congratulate the many groups working to help preserve the memory of this stellar public leader.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1960]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 608

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development has abandoned the Tory Party platform on Economic Development; and

Whereas in a last-ditch effort the minister is now using the media to protect his department's budget, because his pleas are obviously falling on deaf ears around the Cabinet Table; and

Whereas indecision with regard to the economic direction of our province means lost jobs and lost opportunities for Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to implement an economic plan for Nova Scotia rather than fighting over what will remain after the next Tory slash-and-burn budget.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 1961]

RESOLUTION NO. 609

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

Whereas last year an 83 year old Waterville man was injured and robbed during a home invasion; and

Whereas earlier this year the Conservative caucus urged the formation of a task force on home invasions to show seniors and all Nova Scotians that they do indeed take this matter seriously; and

Whereas in May of this year the Conservatives held public meetings with seniors to highlight concern about home invasions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Conservative Government to use its newly won power to take immediate action to form a task force, ensure adequate police resources and increase home safety programs to help assure seniors and prevent other frightening and tragic home invasions.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 610

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

Whereas Plymouth, Pictou County resident Joanne Cumminger was recently chosen Canada's Nurse of the Year; and

Whereas five years ago Joanne returned to the classroom to receive her Canadian Certification in Chemotherapy Administration; and

[Page 1962]

Whereas Joanne, for some time now, has provided an oncology service at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow and works not only in the treatment of cancer, but also on awareness of the disease;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend Joanne for her tireless work in the oncology department of the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow, and for working with cancer patients on a daily basis to assist them as they deal with such a frightening disease.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 611

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

Whereas this Tory Government is becoming like an episode of The Muppet Show as it fumbles from one fiasco to the next; and

Whereas we now have the Minister of Health starring as Kermit the Frog while singing, It Isn't Easy Being Green; and

Whereas special guest appearances have the Premier in his role of Miss Piggy and the Minister of Justice as Gonzo;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind this Tory Government that The Muppets are make-believe, and the user fees this Minister of Health intends to inflict on Nova Scotians are very real.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 1963]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 612

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

Whereas every day, across this country, alcohol-related car crashes claim an average of 4.5 lives while injuring an additional 125 people; and

Whereas last week the Premier officially announced new laws that will see punishment increased for those convicted of drunk driving in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley chapter of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, launched their 5th annual red ribbon campaign Friday morning in Windsor;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of this Legislative Assembly support the red ribbon campaign of the Annapolis Valley MADD chapter, and wish them every success as they work together to curb this crime.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 1964]

RESOLUTION NO. 613

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

Whereas the latest Statistics Canada numbers released show the unemployment rate is up again in Cape Breton; and

Whereas this rate is up 1.2 points from September, which was up 2.6 points from August; and

Whereas this trend is described as more of the same by a spokesperson for Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government recognize the economic crisis in Cape Breton and act quickly to ease the pain for residents on the Island.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 614

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

Whereas Dartmouth MP and playwright, Wendy Lill has added to her impressive list of literary accomplishments with her latest play, Corker; and

Whereas this bittersweet comedy, which was brought to life by Dartmouth's Eastern Front Theatre in 1998, has earned Ms. Lill her fourth nomination for the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award; and

Whereas Ms. Lill's literary talents, which have both enchanted and entertained Nova Scotian theatre-goers, are once again the focus of national acclaim and recognition;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ms. Lill and her family on this wonderful distinction, and wish her bittersweet comedy nothing but sweet success during tomorrow's Governor General's Literary Award presentation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1965]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 615

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

Whereas on Wednesday, November 10th in this House, the Minister of Health indicated that he, not the Premier, speaks on behalf of this Tory Government on health matters; and

Whereas it was the Minister of Health who said no, heavens no, to user fees being imposed on the 911 service; and

Whereas it was the Premier who suggested that user fees are a growing industry in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government sort out, once and for all, who speaks for the government on health issues and the use of the user fees on 911 service soon, very soon.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 616

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

Whereas the Board of Directors of the Sports Heritage Wall of Fame, at the MacDonald Museum in Middleton, is a committee that has been struck to inform the general public about sports heritage in the Heart of the Valley; and

[Page 1966]

Whereas Chairman Al Peppard and his committee undertook a research project identifying significant sporting accomplishments in and around the Middleton area since 1898; and

Whereas one year ago, the committee inducted their initial six athletes, six teams and six builders into the Wall of Fame and followed it up by inducting two additional teams, athletes and builders in a ceremony last month;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Chairman Al Peppard and his dedicated team of volunteers as they continue to promote the history of sports in and around the Middleton area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 617

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

Whereas Jacob Horn arrived in Nova Scotia in 1751 to build a new life in what was then a new colony; and

Whereas the descendants of Jacob Horn have contributed greatly to the communities of Eastern Passage, Enfield and all of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Horn family is celebrating his legacy with a family reunion with relatives from across North America attending the celebration in Eastern Passage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the contributions of Jacob Horn and his descendants and congratulate the family on its reunion celebration.

[Page 1967]

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. 618

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

Whereas the Shelter for Helpless Animals in Distress in Lunenburg County, SHAID, has provided a safe refuge for countless unwanted and neglected pets; and

Whereas in 1998, SHAID adopted 160 dogs and 475 cats to responsible loving homes and returned 40 lost pets to their owners and also provided humane education lessons for children; and

Whereas last week was National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate all the staff and volunteers at SHAID for their assistance to animals in need.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1968]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 619

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

Whereas community spirit is alive and well in the communities along the Prospect Road; and

Whereas on Saturday, November 6th, a successful auction and dance were held at the Bay Landing in Prospect Bay to assist the Wilson family in its time of need; and

Whereas area businesses, volunteers and neighbours gave of themselves so freely to make this event a success;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all involved with best wishes to the Wilson family.

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 member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 620

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

Whereas on September 26, 1999, Mrs. Pearl Wournell of Head of Jeddore celebrated her 100th birthday; and

Whereas family and friends of this remarkable person recently gathered to celebrate her birth and life accomplishments; and

[Page 1969]

Whereas Mrs. Pearl Wournell contributed professionally to the health care system, serving as a nurse until her retirement in 1972;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mrs. Pearl Wournell on this remarkable milestone and thank her for the many contributions she has made to the well-being of our society and to her community and friends.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 621

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

Whereas this Tory Government is quickly establishing a reputation of saying one thing while in Opposition and doing another after becoming government; and

Whereas the latest victims of Johnnie Scrooge are the Sisters of Charity and the infirm seniors they would have cared for; and

Whereas this Tory Government has now failed charities, paramedics, Black and Aboriginal law students, the disabled, nurses, and now seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that soon, very soon, this Tory Government should become the caring, compassionate government it said it would be, for the sake of the least fortunate Nova Scotians.

I request waiver, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1970]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 622

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

Whereas Colchester County is home to 538 farms and has the largest concentration of dairy farms anywhere in Nova Scotia; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas farmers in Colchester County earn 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's gross farm income; and

Whereas agriculture is the economic backbone of rural Nova Scotia and farmers feed us all;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend all Nova Scotia farmers including the many hard-working and dedicated farmers in Colchester County as the Colchester County Federation of Agriculture holds its annual meeting this Thursday evening.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1971]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[2:46 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[4:30 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 12 - Mineral Resources Act.

Bill No. 15 - Public Prosecutions Act.

Bill No. 6 - Maritime Life Assurance Company Act.

Bill No. 1 - Gemstone Emblem Act.

Bill No. 16 - Provincial Mineral Act.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Ordered that these bills be read a third time on a future day.

[Page 1972]

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 21.

Bill No. 21 - Pharmacy Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak on second reading of Bill No. 21, An Act to Amend the Pharmacy Act of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia's Pharmacy Act was originally introduced in 1876. (Interruption) I am pleased to see that the honourable member from across the floor agrees with this. (Interruption) He was in Opposition then. (Laughter) I think it is quite fair to say that a lot has changed as a result and some aspects of the Act are outdated. That is basically what this bill is about.

Previous amendments to the Pharmacy Act have addressed some of its shortcomings but the changes that we have proposed will address three of its outstanding limitations. The amendments could result in more timely treatment of patients and will help to ensure that the legislation around the Pharmacy Act is more responsive to our complex and ever-changing health care system.

The scope of health professionals who can prescribe drugs in Nova Scotia is currently limited to medical practitioners, dentists or veterinary surgeons. Under the proposed legislation, the list would be expanded to include optometrists and nurse practitioners in a limited way.

Optometrists trained to treat specific eye diseases would be able to prescribe from a list of drugs rather than referring patients to ophthalmologists, general practitioners or emergency rooms. This would mean that the patients could receive treatment as soon as they are diagnosed.

The amendments, Mr. Speaker, also allow nurse practitioners to prescribe some drugs as part of the Department of Health's primary care demonstration projects. It is important to note that this prescribing would be limited to the department's primary care demonstration projects. These projects, which were announced last year should be up and running soon. The intention of this initiative is to help us evaluate alternative methods of delivering, funding and

[Page 1973]

managing primary care services. As part of the project, nurse practitioners would prescribe from a carefully selected and limited list of medications such as birth control pills.

The proposed amendment, Mr. Speaker, would only be effective for the duration of the demonstration projects but could provide us with the evidence needed to implement a permanent change to this legislation.

In addition, under the current legislation, pharmacists are unable to refill prescriptions written by physicians licensed outside the province. We know that this has presented problems for some residents, particularly for those in Cumberland County and the plights of some Nova Scotia citizens in Springhill and Amherst at least in this regard have been presented in this House. By removing this restriction, Mr. Speaker, and allowing pharmacists to refill out-of-province prescriptions, we can alleviate these problems.

Mr. Speaker, these are important changes and I am pleased to support Bill No. 21. Thank you.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to take just a few moments to rise in support of the provisions of this bill. I would note that at least in part this bill arises out of a situation that was brought to the attention of the Minister of Health during the Health estimates when I pointed out to him that the situation that was taking place in parts of Nova

Scotia, where prescriptions from outside of the province could not be refilled by pharmacists here in the province, that this was creating a hardship for people in that particular area of the province and I encouraged him at that time to bring forward just this amendment. So, needless to say, I am pleased to see that it comes forward at this time.

In addition, our Party has been on record for a considerable amount of time supporting the other portions of these amendments, including the ability for nurse practitioners to be able to prescribe drugs in certain circumstances. We believed that this was appropriate. We have said so on many occasions. So, again, this is advice that we have provided to the government and I just point to them that when they take our advice, good things happen. This kind of legislation comes forward and the people of the Province of Nova Scotia are better off because of it. With those few comments, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the Opposition recognizes that these are good amendments. We believe they are. They are certainly very progressive and they are much needed. I am pleased to recommend this bill for second reading.

[Page 1974]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 21. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Emergency "911" Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to say a few words about this bill on second reading as the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

In essence, Mr. Speaker, the Emergency "911" Act needed to be updated to reflect current conditions. The amendments to the bill basically do three things. First of all, under the current legislation the hold harmless clause was specifically related to MTT because when the bill was drafted, MTT was the only local carrier in the province. Because there are now other local carriers in the province, in the interest of fairness and then expanding this hold harmless provision to other local carriers is essential.

Basically what it means, Mr. Speaker, is that if you were given a task to do and you do it with due care and diligence, it recognizes, although it has not happened up to this point, it is possible for something to go wrong despite the best efforts of a person to keep it on track, and what it does, it basically means that if you do everything in your power and do things correctly and something goes wrong, that you cannot be hung out to dry for it. This does not remove the liability for the local carriers to exercise due care and diligence as they carry out this responsibility.

The second major change, Mr. Speaker, is to allow people who have some disabilities to program 911 into the telephones to allow it to be speed-dialled. Up until this point, it is illegal for any reason to program the 911 number into your telephone. This is an obvious disadvantage to many people, to a number of Nova Scotians, for whom dialling 911 is a difficulty. Simply what this does, it says if you have a documented disability that would prevent you from dialling 911 by pushing or dialling three digits, then it is permissible to program that number into your speed-dial.

[Page 1975]

The third part of this, Mr. Speaker, enables the minister to prepare and administer policies, programs, standards, guidelines and directives under the bill. To give you an example of what this means, as you know and members of the House know, that 911 calls are taped. There is no policy governing as of yet, the issue of when the tapes of these calls can be released.This is one of the things that would enable the minister to do, to make regulations respecting items like that. To be quite frank, that particular problem or dilemma or situation is currently under review and we have to have some authority to make that decision.

The other thing the bill does, Mr. Speaker, in this regard is, it permits the minister, if, at sometime in the future there was any need to administer fees or if it were the wish of the government to administer fees, then it would permit the minister to do that. Now I should say that this particular clause, what it does is, it simply would line it up with, basically, nine other pieces of legislation in Canada - P.E.I. does not have a 911 system and, therefore, they are excluded from it - but the intent of this is simply to give somebody, at a future time, if they wish to be.

Now I should also explain, Mr. Speaker, if the minister decided to try and get into the business of generating some revenue from the 911 service, it can only be applied against the administration of the service, the fees for the service. I should also point out, obviously, people in Nova Scotia are paying for that service now because MTT is the provider and the cost of MTT is being passed on to the consumer. Make no mistake about it. I should also mention at this time that I believe the former government had plans on the books to introduce legislation which would allow for the collection of 911 fees and I believe, if you look at their estimates from last spring, you would find that figure contained in the Estimates Book. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out that last week that seemed to be the topic, instead of looking at all the positive things in this Legislature people started to speculate on what could be. All three of these changes are good changes. It simply brings this legislation to match the current situation in Nova Scotia and, also, takes care of a current need in terms of establishing policies and processes, which were not necessary a few years ago. If some future government decided they wanted to get into the cost recovery business, the government's portion of this, this legislation would allow for that. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon, or maybe this evening by the time we finish, on the emergency 911 bill. I can't help but draw the parallel or the distinction, perhaps, more appropriately, between the Pharmacy Act, which just came forward, and this bill. With respect to the Pharmacy Act, there were a number of provisions at that time in that bill which we recommended and which the government apparently listened on. Such is not the case with this bill. In fact, the provisions of this bill, we have already made clear to the minister that we do not support. In particular,

[Page 1976]

we don't intend to be party to this government bringing forward what is essentially just a tax increase, a tax measure, on the backs of the people of Nova Scotia. We don't intend to sit here and allow the government to go forward with a piece of legislation which is clearly designed to further burden the people of Nova Scotia. It is essentially just an add-on to the HST on the telephone service in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[4:45 p.m.]

No matter what the minister says, it is just a measure that some future government might choose to use at some point in time in the future, Mr. Speaker. I was outside the House and I heard the minister asked on this very question: will you give us a guarantee that you are not going to use it? That was one of the questions that was asked of the minister at that time. and he said, I will give you a guarantee for five months. Five months. Well that is just coincidentally about the same time that the next budget will come down, so it is clear that they are putting in place the provisions in this bill because they intend to use them. You don't put forward provisions like this, in a bill like this, unless you intend to use them, and that is exactly what this government intends to do.

Mr. Speaker, I was out there and I listened intently to the Minister of Health when he was talking about the principle of this bill and he was trying to explain it to the various members of the media who were - I might add - asking very intelligent questions of the minister and looking for answers that would be commensurate to the questions that were asked. I remember hearing him say: as we have said many times in this House already - when asked do you intend to introduce user fees with respect to health care in Nova Scotia - he replied with that hearty no, no, Heavens no. We have heard that over and over again from this minister.

The reality is, there is just no other way to paint this. This is purely and simply a user fee that is being introduced in this piece of legislation that is going to be a further burden to the people of Nova Scotia. It, in fact, is just a tax grab, a way to raise more revenue for the government in a way which tries to slip it in through the back door. They are obviously trying to sustain the myth out there that they are not going to raise taxes, that they intend to participate in a program that I think they said they could do through the reallocation of administrative costs within the Department of Health.

Well, Mr. Speaker, you would have to be a wizard. You would have to be better than Houdini to be able to pull that rabbit out of a hat, because the reality is that the administrative costs, like the one set forward in this bill which they are trying to recover through a user fee, every indication from this government is that they intend to increase administrative costs. It is clear with respect to their decision to do away with the regional health boards, to bring forward the district health authorities. That is clearly an administrative - I was going to say nightmare, that may be true as well - it is certainly going to be an increase in administration.

[Page 1977]

Perhaps recognizing that already, recognizing that they are going to increase the administrative costs to the health system in this province, this bill presents a way for them to try and recover some of the costs that are associated with the costly administration of those district health authorities. Nine more CEOs, nine more staff. Well, to be fair, it is actually five more. There were four in place, so they are going to add another level of administration to the health care system in this province against the advice of virtually every single interested party in this province. Not just us who sit on the other side of the House and offer our good advice to them, but they have received, over and over again, recommendations from a task force and from committees across this province that have said look, the regional health boards had their problems but we are through that now, we are through that now and we have reached the other side. What they don't need at this point in time is more chaos in the health care system, which is primarily what has been created by this government since they have come to power, just a few short months ago. It is hard to believe that so much damage could be done by so few to so many in such a small amount of time. It is just unbelievable.

One of the things that just amazed me about what the Minister of Health had to say was, and he said it again today, that we are putting this in place in case, just in case, some government at some time in the future might want to use it, just maybe. I am sure the minister is schooled in his history and he would know that income tax was once introduced as a temporary measure. This is the same kind of implementation of a policy. Once it is in place, then it is going to be with us for a long time to come.

I know that the Minister of Health has been out telling people, look, it is not a big amount of money, it is going to be a nickel and all kinds of figures are floating around about what a small, modest amount of money it is going to be to individual consumers. The edges of wedges are always thin. That is the fact. This minister knows that, he knows you get your foot in the door and then you can open it as wide as you like. It is like, you have gotten the till open, you have your hand in, the question is, how much money can you get out. That is the question.

I have to say I am sadly disappointed with the Minister of Health's assertions in this regard, because like many other people I have been reading Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is your copy signed?

MR. DEXTER: No, my copy isn't signed as a matter of fact. In it there are a number of provisions, a number of promises that they make around the whole question of taxation. Although they didn't come right out and say, read my lips, no new taxes, that was clearly the substance of this document. What they clearly intended to do was to tell people in the Province of Nova Scotia that not only were there not going to be more taxes, but eventually taxes would be lowered.

[Page 1978]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow an introduction at this time?

MR. DEXTER: Certainly.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that. I would like to take the opportunity to introduce to members of the House today, sitting in the gallery, the distinguished Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and a former member of this place, His Worship Mayor David Muise. I would ask him to rise. (Applause)

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to see the mayor here with us today. I am sure that he is just as concerned as the rest of us over things like tax increases. Certainly with the downloading that has taken place over the last number of years by my colleagues to the right, both philosophically and physically to the right I might add, and the apparent announcement by the new minister with respect to the review of policies, with respect to service exchange, which certainly is just another administrative cost that this government is trying to off-load.

I don't want to get off on that tangent because the one that we have before us is the cost of the administrative fees, in this particular case, with respect to the emergency 911 service. I think it is fair, in looking at the government's bill, to contrast it with what they said at the time that they were running for election. They said to the people of Nova Scotia in the run-up to the election of July 27th, that they were going to make Nova Scotia a friendlier business environment with better tax policies, it would be for the general benefit and welfare of the people of the province.

Well, Mr. Speaker, certainly this bills goes right smack dab against what they said at that time, and I want to remind them what it was that they were saying to the people of Nova Scotia over the course of that campaign. Now in my list, it is promise number 87. I am not sure where it falls on the government's list and I am sure that they didn't put them in this book in the way in which they intended to implement them or deliver on them.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: They are not numbered.

MR. DEXTER: The member for Dartmouth South says they are not numbered and that is true, so it is difficult to tell where, on the list we are at any given day because they seem to take these promises out and put them back in as they feel are appropriate.

They said, Mr. Speaker, "During its first mandate, a PC government will ensure that Nova Scotia regains its position as the most business friendly environment in Atlantic Canada - and the best place to do business.". Well, they said they were going to make, " . . . Nova

[Page 1979]

Scotia the most attractive place to do business in Atlantic Canada by guaranteeing that the costs imposed by government are the lowest in the region;". Well, you don't reduce costs by adding taxes on top of taxes. That is exactly what this bill aims to do. It introduces another level of taxation, in this case, on a very specific service, on the phone service.

I thought, and perhaps I was mistaken in this but I don't think so, the whole idea or the whole rationalization for the harmonized sales tax was to bring all the taxes together in one tax so that people would know what tax they pay. What this will do, it will be a tax on top of the harmonized sales tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or the other way.

MR. DEXTER: A good point is made. It might well be that when this tax is imposed on the phone bill, that the HST will then go on top of it. So the service charge that you pay, whatever it happens to be - the minister says it is going to be a nickel but we don't really know until we see the regulations - you will in all likelihood, because it is a service, then be charged a tax on top of a tax. Mr. Speaker, it utterly defies any rationale. It defies any sense of logic. It doesn't jibe with what they have said in their blue book and I certainly know that people in the business community will be unhappy, dissatisfied and will ultimately tell their friends on that side of the House that this is just another tax that they are going to have to pay.

I don't know where the other members were over the last couple of days, Mr. Speaker, but I want to tell you I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Legions in my community over November 11th, Remembrance Day, and do you know what they talked about? They talked about this bill. They talked about this bill to me and they said, this is a bad bill. It is a bad tax. More importantly, they don't want to pay any more tax. They have said clearly time and time again, they are paying enough, that the HST is too much for them, especially our veterans who, by and large, are seniors. The reality is that they are already being taxed right to the hilt and they can't afford it already and they see this as just another cash grab by the government to try to sustain them over the next number of years.

They said flat out in their document, Mr. Speaker, that, ". . . a PC government will ensure that Nova Scotia regains its position as the most business friendly environment in Atlantic Canada . . .", and it says, we will do this by, "Guaranteeing we have the most attractive tax structure in the region. Nova Scotia will have the lowest overall business and personal taxes in Atlantic Canada. No other province in Atlantic Canada will more aggressively pursue new opportunities for growing our economy in Nova Scotia through tax structure, ease of start-up and through aggressive marketing;". Well, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the members opposite, as they were going around the province and telling people that their personal taxes were going to go down, didn't say, look, we are going to put down the personal taxes, except for this one little tax we intend to put on the phone. Now it won't be

[Page 1980]

a big deal but it is the one tax that we are going to have to bring in because it is necessary to support the 911 system.

[5:00 p.m.]

I don't think that any of the members opposite, in the candidates debate or on the doorsteps, in shopping malls, wherever they were doing their campaigning, I am just willing to bet, Mr. Speaker, that they never said, oh, by the way, the caveat on these no new taxes is a bill that is going to be introduced, called An Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency "911" Act. I don't think they said that. Now I could be wrong but I am quite sure that when they were campaigning that they didn't tell people there was going to be a distress tax; they didn't tell people there was going to be another tax on their telephones; they didn't tell the seniors of this province that if they were required to dial 911, that they were going to have to pay an additional amount on their phone service to have access to that - not including, as I pointed out already, the HST which, at least in theory, will be added on top of it.

Well, Mr. Speaker, those were promises No. 87 and No. 88, by my count. Then there is Promise No. 89, that says that the PC Government will stimulate, " . . . the economy by reducing provincial personal income taxes by at least 10 %, once government finances and our health care system have been put in order.". (Applause) I guess we should have read this. I guess if you kind of squeeze lemon juice on it or something and hold it up to the light it says something else because what they are saying now is that once the 911 fees are high enough and once all the other user fees are high enough, then they will be in a position to lower provincial income tax. So who is going to win? Certainly not middle-class and working Nova Scotians because they are going to be paying through the teeth for it. They are the ones who are going to have to pay the user fees. They are the ones who, in communities right across this province, are going to be paying taxes like the 911 emergency fee tax. That is what they are going to do.

What is disturbing about this, Mr. Speaker, is that user fees have an essential feature to them. What they do is, they have the effect of flattening the taxes. Out of the income that low income and middle-class Nova Scotians have, those user fees make up a bigger percentage than of wealthy Nova Scotians. So what you do when you introduce user fees is you essentially flatten the tax structure so that lower income and middle income Nova Scotians are paying at a rate that is commensurate with wealthy Nova Scotians.

The Progressive Conservatives have a long history of this. They did away with tax brackets years ago. You may remember this, Mr. Speaker, they did away with the tax brackets so that someone at our income level is in the same tax bracket as Conrad Black - can you imagine. So what happens is that hard-working Nova Scotians are the people who are going to feel the brunt of this kind of a tax measure. It doesn't matter how much they yell or

[Page 1981]

scream or squirm or try to get out of it, the reality is - and Nova Scotians know this - a tax is a tax is a tax.

I want to remind the members, and perhaps at some point in time over the course of debate on this bill, maybe some of the members from the back benches will get up and speak on this particular piece of legislation. We have not heard much from them and I am absolutely sure there are people in their constituencies telling them the same thing - we can't afford any more taxes. (Interruption)

Well, yes, Mr. Speaker, I think that all the members have a duty to stand here in their place and to tell the people of their constituencies how they feel about things like this kind of tax. (Interruption) On Page 25 . . .

AN. HON. MEMBER: The member for Dartmouth South says people want their taxes increased.

MR. DEXTER: I believe the member for Dartmouth South is trying to indicate that people in his constituency like new tax increases. Perhaps that is the case. I do not believe that to be the case, but that appears to be what he is saying. If the member has something to say, he should take the opportunity to stand on his feet and say it.

Mr. Speaker, on Page 25 of Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, the members of the government promised to the seniors of this province that they would, "Provide seniors 65 years of age and older, who voluntarily participate in safe driving programs, with a 50 percent discount on Registry of Motor Vehicles fees.". Now this is a way to reduce a user fee and this is a commitment perhaps the government will move on, but you wonder why would you give with one hand and take back with the other. What is implied in this kind of a promise is that they are going to do something for seniors instead of costing the seniors of the province more money. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but hear the member for Dartmouth South. He says it is called planning. It is a planned tax increase, you are absolutely right, and I agree with you. There is no question about it, that that is what you planned, but I do not think you told the people of Nova Scotia. You did not tell the seniors in Nantucket Place, I will bet. I don't think you told them that you were going to increase their taxes by introducing this kind of a tax increase. I do not think you told them in Elsmere, or in any of the other seniors' residences in your constituency, that you were going to increase taxes by putting a tax on their phone rates.

I will bet, Mr. Speaker, that he never told the people of his constituency that he planned to introduce or to have his government introduce this kind of a tax on seniors.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Seniors understand why we are . . .

[Page 1982]

MR. DEXTER: If they think the people understand it, then I would just tell the member, that when his opportunity comes he should stand on his feet and justify to the people of his constituency what it is that he and his colleagues there are doing. That is what he ought to do; he ought to address the principle of the bill if he has got something to say. That is what I believe.

Mr. Speaker, it was not just this kind of measure that was put forward by the members opposite. It was not just things like reductions in motor vehicle fees for seniors. I remember clearly the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley saying that fishing licence fees and other administrative costs for seniors ought to be done away with. Well, we have not heard or seen anything about that. We have not seen anything about that yet, and I will bet you when he was going around the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, he was not telling seniors we are going to give you a break on your fishing licence fees but, by the way, we are going to tax it back from you on your telephone bill. I will bet he did not tell them that. I will just bet. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the wonderful thing about the Legislature is you do not only get an opportunity to stand here and take these members of the government benches to task for what it is they put in bills, but you get opportunities through other mechanisms of the House to explore the principles like the ones that are set out in this bill, user fees. Mr. Speaker, you might know that just recently the Committee on Public Accounts passed a motion which asked that the Auditor General have a look at compiling all of the user fees from around the Province of Nova Scotia and putting them together in one place, so that the people of Nova Scotia will actually be able to judge just how much revenue the government is bringing in through the user-fee process.

At the time, of course, we were not able to advise the Auditor General that he was going to have to add this one on or that there was at least another fee that could be projected in the future. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, at the time, the Auditor General told the Public Accounts Committee that this was a formidable undertaking, but that the individual departments would know which fees are being charged through the departments and that he should be able to compile that information. I think it is going to be enlightening for not only the members of this House but for the people of Nova Scotia to see and understand just how much revenue that this government raises through user fees. Because no matter what you call it, if you charge for the provision of a government service, it is a tax, one way or the other. The only question is, who pays? That is the only question. It will be interesting to see.

I know, and other members of this House know, if they attended the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees, that there was a very good position paper that was done from the Quebec National Assembly on the use of user fees, just like the one contained in this bill. They made certain, very specific, recommendations, which were drawn on from such organizations as the OECD, for example, about the way in which user fees have to be charged

[Page 1983]

and what the relationship should be between the fee that is charged and the service that is provided.

I don't know if this government has carried out any of that kind of an examination. Certainly, it has never been presented to us. There have been a few platitudes about trying to recover the cost of the service. But it makes you wonder, Mr. Speaker, who they are recovering it from. It is like they are recovering it from some mythical group out there. They are recovering this money from the working people of Nova Scotia. They are recovering it from seniors. They are recovering it from people on fixed incomes. They are recovering it from the least wealthy in our society. That is who they are recovering the money from. They don't have it to spare and they have been telling them all along that they don't have it to spare. What we are saying is that if the government has an opportunity to reflect on this particular principle in the bill, then what they ought to do is to withdraw it, to take it out, because the rest of the bill can stand on its own. It doesn't need this. I have to say, quite frankly, that we will have something to say about other aspects of this bill, as well, but, perhaps, that is something that can be accommodated.

Mr. Speaker, a tax by the very people who portray themselves to be the defenders of the wallets of the people of Nova Scotia, this is untenable. It is a reversal that is just completely unexplainable. I am sure that the members opposite, if they go and talk to the people in their constituency and they put the question to them honestly, if they say to them, look, we have to increase the taxes on your telephone rate. Is that okay? What they are going to hear, as I heard in a legion in my constituency, is no. It is not okay. You said no when you ran and we want you to live up to your word. That is what the people are saying. We want you to live up to your word and not impose and implement a new tax structure on top of the heavy burden that is already being carried by the people of Nova Scotia. That is what they are going to say.

Mr. Speaker, when this bill was introduced into the House, the government, at the time, put out a press release. I think it is only right that we should share some of that press release with you. It says, just in part, and I will be happy to table this if the Speaker hasn't seen it already, "The second amendment deals with the minister's authority under the act. With the proposed change, the minister will be able to set policies and fees in relation to the 911 service.". Then it goes on and talks about the release of recorded calls. Then it says, "At this time, no fees are charged for 911 service . . .". That is true. "Should the province decide to exercise an option to follow the practice in other Canadian provinces and implement a cost- recovery fee, the minister will have the authority to establish that fee after appropriate consultation with the telephone service providers and the CRTC.". It is very clear that the intention of the government is to bring in a tax. They intend to give themselves enough lead time so they can have the appropriate consultation with the CRTC but there is just no doubt, sure as there is going to be snow in February, there is going to be a tax on the phones of the people of this province when the next budget is introduced. That is just the absolute truth of the matter.

[Page 1984]

[5:15 p.m.]

Now, they may not get away with it, and they may not even know this yet, but they may not get away with it because I know, I believe, that members in the federal House are going to raise this with the Minister responsible for the CRTC, and they should. They should raise it and they say, look, exercise your discretion and prevent the provinces from putting a tax on the distress of people in the Province of Nova Scotia and across this country because putting in place a tax on a service that is required in states of emergency is unconscionable. It is an unconscionable transaction of the worse kind, Mr. Speaker. Who knows? There is an Unconscionable Transactions Relief Act in Nova Scotia, I haven't looked at it, don't know if this particular bill would contravene it, but I can tell you, when you look up the word unconscionable in the dictionary, they are going to be able to put a picture of this bill in there, because this is absolutely unconscionable. (Interruptions) Now it is a distress tax.

I can hear the member for Chester-St. Margaret's talking about raising money for fire departments. It is an interesting part of the history of the 911 service, isn't it, Mr. Speaker, because the reality is, that at one time when I lived in the metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth area, I could call 4105 or 4103, and these were the numbers that were in the inside of your phone book. You were taught them when you were a kid. I remember when I went to Bloomfield School, I believe that's when those numbers were first introduced, and I remember being taught them at the time. You could call those numbers if you needed some help. The idea was, that you introduce a service like 911 and you amalgamate those communication centres. You bring together the communication services of the ambulance, the fire department, the police department and you put them all in one location. Now you ask, and rightfully so, why would one do that? Well, you do it for a couple of reasons. You streamline the service like that. You are supposed to be able to better provide service to people. That's a good idea. You are supposed to be able to provide the service cheaper.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. DEXTER: You are supposed to be able to provide it cheaper. You don't say, look, we are going to amalgamate these services and then we are going to charge you more for it. Never saw that anywhere. Never saw that, Mr. Speaker. So, that's what they did. They brought about the amalgamation of these services that were supposed to be able to save money. Why is it every time the government seeks to amalgamate services and tells people that you are going to be better off, this is going to be cheaper, why is it that it costs us more? That's what we want to know. I have said this before, they have always taxed the money we get, now they tax the money we spend. When is it going to end? Every year I look at tax freedom day and it keeps getting further and further down.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: A question, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, from time to time, references seniors and talks about fishing licenses and how dreadful this government is towards seniors. But when that former

[Page 1985]

government, the Liberal Government, was yanking seniors out of their homes, the NDP supported the yanking of seniors out of their homes when their health and safety wasn't being compromised. I know the honourable Health Minister remembers that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question, if you have one.

MR. TAYLOR: The question to the honourable member is simply this, has the NDP policy changed regarding yanking seniors from their homes when their health and safety isn't being compromised?

MR. DEXTER: I really expected a little better than that. I thought for a minute that the member might actually raise a question with respect to what I was talking about on the principle of this bill, because as you know I am limited in my scope to talking about what is going on in this bill. I didn't understand a single word of what the member said, I don't know what he is talking about, but I am sure that wherever it is at right now, whatever that space is, he feels very comfortable in it and I am just going to leave him there. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the amalgamation of the 4103 and the 4105 services and how that was supposed to save money. Somewhere in some budgets, whether it was in the budget of the fire department or the budget of the police department, there existed money in those budgets to fund the individual communication centres in those services. So they amalgamated them, they brought them together. There must have been money in the budget at that time, so they have taken them out of that, and now they have what is supposed to be a better service. Did the budget not follow the service? Did the money not follow the service, because as I understand it that is one of the fundamental principles. I understood that that was what service exchange, for example, was about.

Mr. Speaker, I am at a loss to understand why is it now that they have undertaken this amalgamation, apparently successfully - they have a good service - why is it that this was not an anticipated cost, and why is it that they are now coming to the people of Nova Scotia and saying to individuals right across the province, you are going to have to pay an additional tax to fund the emergency 911 service? I don't understand it.

Mr. Speaker, they can call it a fee, if they like. I am not sure what mythical difference there is between a fee and a tax in their minds, but it is pretty clear. I think the law is pretty clear, I think it has been settled in re: Eurig Estate, about what a tax is. (Interruptions) I think it was re: Eurig Estate. So just like with the probate fees that the Supreme Court decided was a tax, this is the same thing. It is a tax. It is hard to believe.

I want to reiterate that one of the other features of having amalgamation is that you cut down on the infrastructure costs. All around the provision of this service ought to have provided for not only a better and more streamlined service, but it should have been cheaper. This is a turnabout but it is certainly not fair play. That is for sure.

[Page 1986]

Mr. Speaker, I think because it is an important principle of this bill we ought to talk a little bit about the ideology of user fees, because it, in and of itself, has a particular flavour or feature to it. In some senses, user fees are introduced because the idea is that you have the opportunity to choose a service. You have the ability to say, well, I have a couple of options, I can take this service or that service, now if I take this government's service then I will pay a fee for it, I will pay a user fee for it. We have seen them, lamentably, become the position of choice for governments over the last little while, and I have to say every time I see children playing on the ballfields in the municipality and realize that they have to pay user fees to use those fields, much like the soccer teams do, I just think that this is a terrible erosion of the services that are provided to the people in our province.

I know that when they tried to introduce those user fees right across the board in Dartmouth, that we were able to make representations under the Municipal Act, and to have the Dartmouth Common Act strengthened so that you can't charge a user fee to play on the Common because after all, the Common was a trust that was essentially given to the government for the use of the people, in this case, of Dartmouth. There ought not to be a fee charged for those things. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: I think the sad fact is, as I said - Mr. Speaker, were you just calling the House to order?

MR. SPEAKER: I was allowing the member to have the floor, as he should.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you, I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker. The reality is that when they are out giving $2 million and $3 million to Scotiabank and when they are providing money hand over fist to their friends in the multinationals, they don't say, where are you going to cut? They said, here is the cheque, here you go, have that. It doesn't make any difference, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member opposite keeps referring - and I don't know how many times in the last couple of weeks - to this government giving Scotiabank $2 million. The Government of Nova Scotia did not give the Scotiabank one nickel; they put it into training into the community college system, to train people beyond those being employed by the Scotiabank. I think it is important that that be clarified and put on the record.

MR. DEXTER: Was that a point of order?

MR. SPEAKER: No, it was not a point of order.The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour has the floor.

[Page 1987]

MR. DEXTER: I didn't think it was a point of order and I didn't think it was right either, Mr. Speaker, and as you said, it wasn't correct either because the reality is that the chequebook is open and they are only too quick to scribble their names on the bottom of a cheque when it goes to the Scotiabank or when it goes to their friends. (Interruptions) That's right, they know.

The next thing they say is, if we can't implement this tax, where are you going to cut? We need to raise your taxes because we are incapable of administering the system as we said we would and finding the money in administration because we intend to increase administration. We intend to create district health authorities. We intend to layer on administration in the health care system; that is what we intend to do, create chaos. That is what they intend to do.

Anyway, getting back to my point on user fees; as I said, the user fee assumes that there is an option, a choice, that I can select from among a different of services but I choose the government service that I pay a fee for. Well, Mr. Speaker, 911 callers do not have an option. They are not abusive consumers. They need a service and they need it now. When they call, they need the service. They don't have the ability to negotiate with the government and say, well, I can choose not to have a phone in my house, I can choose to find my own way to the hospital if there is a problem. They have no ability, they have no bargaining power. They can't negotiate with the government and the government knows that. They know they are trapped in another tax trap, this distress tax.

Mr. Speaker, the other point I want to make about this particular piece of legislation - I will tell you something that is really interesting, right here I am going to table this. This comes off the government's website, today. It is 911 facts for seniors, information for seniors. It says, in addition to facts for adults, it says call 911 right away in an emergency. Good advice. Call 911 before calling a family member; once help is on the way arrangements can be made to notify your family. It makes sense.

Then it says here and I have highlighted it to make sure the minister can read it - it says, "All calls to 911 are free, even from pay phones and cellular phones.". Now, again, it should say, this page under construction. Isn't that what they always say on websites, Mr. Speaker? A work in progress. All calls to 911 are free, maybe it should say, for now, or all calls to 911 are free (decision pending), or perhaps it should say, all calls to 911 are free, guaranteed for five months. I am not sure what it should say, but one thing is for sure, what it will say is all calls to 911, you will pay for. That is what it is going to say before the Minister of Health is finished with this legislation, because that is going to be the fact.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the other part about this legislation is that once it is in place, you can bring in a fee at any time. You never have to come back to the Legislature. You never have

[Page 1988]

to have it reviewed. As I said with the paramedic bill (Interruption) Well, he is going to argue that they have to go to the CRTC. It is not the same thing. In this province, it is this Legislature against which pieces of legislation are tested. You have to get it by the people sitting on these benches before you get to implement a fee. That is the way democracy in this province works, or at least it should work.

Mr. Speaker, they can do it without consultation. They can do it without debate. They can do it behind closed doors. They can do it in the dead of night, if they want. They can just implement these fees on the shell game of consultation, so they claim. It is like a pickpocket hoisting your wallet when you are not looking. That is what it is like. I am not drawing a comparison to the Minister of Health, I am just using it with reference to tax increases generally. I want to make sure, because I don't want to be accused, as I know the former Premier was, of not being nice. That wouldn't be right and I wouldn't use unparliamentary language.

It is a big problem here, Mr. Speaker, because there is no transparency. When you bring in this kind of a fee, there is no transparency. You don't have to explain to people why the decision is made. You don't have to explain to people what information you found to support the increase or the tax that you want to implement. So who did they consult? You are not told. What is the relationship, and I mentioned this before, between the fee that is being charged and the provision of the service itself and where is the documentation to justify what it is that you are trying to bring about? You didn't put forward any of that information.

Really, in a bill of this nature, where they intend to implement a new tax on the people of Nova Scotia, the first thing they ought to do is justify it by bringing forward the documentation that they have to show that it is justified. Transparency is the hallmark of good decision making. People have an opportunity to test it against all their other priorities, against all of the other decisions that they are making. If it is transparent, then you build confidence in your legislation, in your community, and that is the problem.

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to this because they talk about phones, generically; but what do we know about it? Is it telephones? Is it cellular phones? Is it radio phones? If you have a children's phone in your house, is that taxed as well? What is the scope of the legislation that they are trying to bring in?

Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest to you that the way that this legislation is drafted, it is drafted in the broadest possible way so they can scoop up as much revenue as possible for the government coffers and that is the function of every tax, isn't it, you try to find the broadest base that you can? That is certainly the function of this tax. It was certainly the function of the HST.

AN HON. MEMBER: How about the pay phones?

[Page 1989]

MR. DEXTER: That is why the goods and services tax was so broadly vague. I know that is a personal favourite of the Speaker, the goods and services tax, and then its successor, what we like to refer to as the BST, but I think it is appropriately referred to as the HST. I am not sure how to go about putting it on a pay phone. I expect that that would be too cumbersome to try and put in place but, nonetheless, it is a tax.

You ask the question, if they were going to do a complete program review, if that was the intention of the government to do a complete program review, is the review complete and if it is not, then why are you bringing in this legislation at this time before your program review is complete? I do not understand that. I mean, surely if you were doing a proper program review, then you are going to have in your possession all of the documentation that you need to be able to justify this kind of decision and, surely, Mr. Speaker, knowing that tax provisions are controversial, the government would want to bring forward and put before this House and before the people of Nova Scotia all of the information that they have well in advance, so that we would have an opportunity to be convinced, as we might be, that this is in the best interest of the people of the province.

Has the Minister of Health undertaken to do that? No, sir, Mr. Speaker, we do not see it anywhere. We have not seen any of this information come forward, so people are left out there just, feeling kind of jilted by this government. We thought we were getting a government that had said no more tax increases but, what do we see in the pieces of legislation that have come forward. They have had three pieces of tax legislation come forward in the opening days of their government.

I think people are disappointed, Mr. Speaker, and I know that the other two of them were justified perhaps but, nonetheless, a government elected by making promises to people that taxation would be diminished and what you see is an escalation of taxation at a rate I have to say I have not seen in many years in this province, at least in the number of pieces of legislation that have come through the House, it is very much lamentable. So the question is: if this recommendation was made to the government, if somebody in the department was recommending this information, who was it who provided the information and why is it they have not taken it upon themselves to table it?

Mr. Speaker, my friend here pointed out to people earlier, when I was talking about the web page and the facts for seniors, the reality is that this bill, like all pieces of legislation, is going to be available on the web and, just as my colleague mentioned earlier, people right across this country will be able to see the legislation that is being brought forward by this government at this time. Surely if they get feedback from people across this province and across this country, people are going to be saying an emergency 911 service is so important that you cannot tax the distress of the people of your province and do away with this.

[Page 1990]

Mr. Speaker, I really believe that if this government has an opportunity to review the information before it, if it has an opportunity to look into some of the information that I have just brought forward - as I said, my role here is just to provide the best advice that I can to the government and try to push them in the direction of making the right decision. I have been engaged in that task now for more than a year. (Interruption) Well, more than a year. (Laughter) Whether the government on that side has changed or not, it is only a few individual times that I have been able to convince the government to listen and to do the things that they ought to do.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how much time I have left. I have three minutes left. Well, given that I have just three valuable minutes left, I wanted to make sure that I left the members opposite with the encouragement to get on their feet, to talk about what people are telling them in their constituencies.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to move an amendment now because I want to make sure that the members opposite have the time that they need to be able to address this with their constituents, that Nova Scotians have an opportunity to review the bill, that we here in the House, have an opportunity to marshal our arguments to, for, and against, this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I do move: "That all the words after the word 'that' be deleted and the following substituted therefor: Bill No. 20, an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1992, the Emergency 911 Act, be not now read a second time but that but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.".

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, on the amendment.

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the amendment and through the amendment on the bill itself. I want to correct - and I think the former speaker alluded to this - this potential of bringing forward this revenue and calling it, because it really isn't and it wouldn't be, a user fee. Maybe if it is to be a user fee, the government could give me some information on this later on but my understanding is that it would be an increase on the telephone charge of everybody who has a telephone bill. If that is the case, then that is not a user fee because it is not just applied to people who use the 911 system. It is applied to everybody who has a telephone bill in the Province of Nova Scotia. So, in fact, it would be a tax.

I think that is a very important distinction because where we talked in other instances, for instance with the increase in cigarette tax, it was applied to smokers and on the price of the cigarettes themselves. It is not that we want to in any way encumber people to use the 911 system, that is not the point. I think that we want to make it is as easy as we possibly can for people to use 911 and not have them hesitate because it may be a charge to them and say,

[Page 1991]

well, maybe I don't need an ambulance, maybe the problem, the pain I have, will go away and I won't have to incur that charge. That is not what we are looking for.

I think the important thing at the outset is to define exactly what it is that would be applied under this bill and that is it would be a tax. Now, the minister, and I wish he was here in the Chamber because I feel that a comment that has been made with respect to the five months is an appropriate one and I think the minister has been honest in that and said that there wouldn't be this tax applied for five months. Of course, that would coincide with a new budget in late winter or early spring so that there would be quite probably this tax imposed in that budget.

[5:45 p.m.]

I want to just go back and put this into perspective in that supposedly, in most things - and I will not get into the charities or the dropping of the $700,000 for the disabled or the breaking of the commitment to the Sisters of Charity - but presumably most things are under review. By passing this legislation and in anticipation of this tax being applied, so that it can be applied immediately, because the legislation and the legislative framework will already be in place to allow that to happen and to allow it to happen more quickly is, in fact, not really giving this whole question of this tax a fair vetting because they are anticipating the passage of this tax by the passage of this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Does the honourable member have a copy of the amendment and is he speaking to the amendment or the principle of the bill?

MR. MACLELLAN: I am speaking to the principle, because the amendment relates to the bill, and the fact of the matter is that we are talking about why we need this time to reflect, and I think why we need time to reflect, Mr. Speaker, is because these are questions that we have to get answered. There will not be answers in second reading, but there will be in the Law Amendments Committee and in Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and I just want to put the minister on notice that these are concerns that we have on this side of the House, that the Liberal Party has, and this isn't something that is going to be considered, that it has already been considered and applied because this legislative framework is there to put this tax in place immediately upon the coming into effect of the budget.

If there are other taxes or other expenditures, or other things that interfere with legislation that is as stated right now, then there are going to have to be legislative amendments to accommodate those changes, whether certain services will be cancelled, whether there will be other taxes applied, or user fees, then, of course, there may be legislative changes that will be required. Why you would bring this forward as distinct from the others, I do not know, but what it does tell me is that this has been given a lot of consideration already and the plan is in the works to bring this tax forward.

[Page 1992]

The minister talked about the fact that the former Liberal Government contemplated a fee on the 911 system. I do not doubt the minister on that. In fact, he showed me a letter which showed that there had been some talk and consideration of that, but I can assure the honourable minister, Mr. Speaker, that as long as I was Premier, that would never have happened and that would never have gotten through. The fact of the matter is that because in government things are talked about and, believe me, a lot of things were talked about in the two years that I was Premier that did not get through and that certainly was one of them.

I would say another reason we need this time, Mr. Speaker, is that it is my understanding that the administrative costs of the 911 system have increased $100,000 since the June budget was tabled. I would like to get an answer from the minister on that at the appropriate time. He talks about what we might have been contemplating, but I say this because this government said it wanted to cut back on health care costs. I think it is fine if it can be done without interfering with health care, I have no concern about the cutting of costs if the quality of health care can be maintained. If there is duplication, fine, but in this case I am told, and I am led to understand, that actually the administrative costs of the 911 system have increased. I just ask the question because this is what I have been told. I am not doing it in Question Period, I am putting the point forward now because we have this time and these are questions that we do want to have brought forward.

I want to say too that the minister talks about the fact that there is this fee used in Ontario, but Ontario is slightly different in that they do not have a province-wide 911 system. (Interruption) That is right, but we do. Their system is operated by the municipalities and this one is operated province-wide.

When we initiated the 911 system, which is really the biggest, the most wide-spread in North America because it is province-wide, we had some problems initially because, as you can imagine, a dispatcher at the central 911 dispatch system may not have known a certain place in Shelburne County or Victoria County. So there were some concerns that we had to work through and we did work through. But it is still a province-wide 911 system, which to me is state-of-the-art in North America. I think that it is very important to realize that this has been done as cheaply and as effectively and with the best administrative practices that we, certainly, in the former government, could have put into place.

When the governing Party was in Opposition and we talked about Ontario, their quote was, we are not in Ontario, remember that. I would say that to the government now. I would give their own words back to them that we are not in Ontario. We have, in fact, the best system in the country, the best 911 system, the best ambulance service in the country, the best paramedics in the country. I would hope that the minister would take that into consideration, that we don't try to inhibit users of the 911 system, seniors and the low income families who don't want to incur a cost. If, in fact, it is his intention to use a user fee, which I don't believe it is, I am led to believe and I say this and I talked about it while the minister wasn't here, that it is an across the board toll on telephone charges, that everyone who gets a bill will pay this

[Page 1993]

additional amount, which takes it out of the realm of a user fee and makes it a tax. Because it isn't just the users of the 911 system that are going to be charged, it is everybody who has a telephone bill, will have this tariff put on top. That does, without any question, make it a tax.

I want to say, too, that what we are looking at here is, I think, not what the people of Nova Scotia want. I don't think further telephone charges are what Nova Scotians want. Because what you are doing, and it is a downloading, not on the municipalities, but on the people who have telephone bills who need telephones. It is an essential service today. You cannot have a home and not have a telephone, unless your income is so low that you just can't afford any kind of extra at all. Once you get out of the cost of funding your home, getting out of the cost of the fuel for homes and of the cost of food, telephone isn't very much further down the list of necessities. So to put that tax on the telephone bill doesn't really help the consumer, by taking it off the provincial toll and putting it on the telephone really isn't helping the individual.

I would say, and speaking on the amendment, Mr. Speaker, as you have so delicately requested, I am saying that I am speaking on the amendment on these questions that I think are very important, that I would like to see the minister clarify and, perhaps, elaborate upon in the Law Amendments Committee should this get through second reading. I think people of Nova Scotia want to know the answers and the clarifications on these matters. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for a few moments and speak on this amendment, which is to give us all an opportunity, including Nova Scotians, to understand exactly what is behind this move by the government to tax 911 services.

A report was just released - it was by the former federal Health Minister Monique Begin - it was about the future of Medicare, and in this report that speaks with some considerable concern on the whole question of user fees creeping in through the health care system, and how so often these decisions about adding user fees or taxes of various kinds is happening behind closed doors without public discussion and then, suddenly, consumers are finding that something that they would have received for free before is being taxed or there is a payment being requested.

I, for one, was frankly shocked when I saw the introduction of this bill, when I heard the minister say that, "The second amendment deals with the . . .", this is from the minister's statement, ". . . minister's authority under the act. With the proposed change, the minister will be able to set policies and fees in relation to the 911 service.". That sort of caught my interest and it perked my ears up a bit, but then it went on to say, "At this time, no fees are charged for 911 service in Nova Scotia. Should the province decide to exercise an option to follow the practice in other Canadian provinces and implement a cost-recovery fee, the minister will

[Page 1994]

have the authority to establish that fee after appropriate consultation with the telephone service providers and the CRTC.".

What the minister is doing with this legislation is setting the stage to impose a tax on Nova Scotians without even telling them that it is happening. Who are they going to consult with? They are going to consult with the telephone service providers and they are going to consult with the CRTC. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. We cannot allow this to happen. That is why it is so important for us to vote in favour of the amendment to hoist this bill. The minister himself said, questioned outside when people were asking him: What are you doing? Are you going to increase the fees? Are you going to add this tax on to the 911 service? He said he could give a guarantee for five months that we won't do that.

This hoist is for six months, I think.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: It is for six months. So there, we have it covered. Surely the minister and members of the government side recognize that Nova Scotians deserve fair warning. Nova Scotians deserve to be told upfront and face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, as the Premier likes to refer to his kind of health care.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe the minister started counting July 27th.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Maybe the minister started counting early. The point is that Nova Scotians should be told. The minister should walk into this Chamber and say to us as the representatives of Nova Scotians that he wants to impose a tax on the emergency 911 service in the Province of Nova Scotia. Let's have a debate about it, and I will tell you why. I will lay out all the arguments for why it is important for us to have this tax. You can then go out and talk to Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians can come in and talk to me and my colleagues here in the Chamber of this Legislature. They can participate in discussions at Law Amendments on the whole issue of increasing taxes, and then I believe we are being much more fair and respectful to those very Nova Scotians on that issue. This amendment, this motion introduced by the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour will provide this minister with that option.

[6:00 p.m.]

I understand, I believe, the other provisions of the bill, which is to level the playing field or open up the process to other telephone service providers in the province. I understand that things are changing in how a telephone service is being provided, becoming much more competitive and I understand the need to make amendments to the legislation affecting the emergency 911 service so it can represent that, but I am sorry, I don't think it is appropriate that the minister tries the back-door tax increase. In fact, this is something that should be

[Page 1995]

introduced by the Minister of Finance as a financial measure. Don't you think so, Mr. Speaker?

That is something, just like increasing tobacco tax and other things, that should be introduced by the Minister of Finance, under a financial measures Act. Absolutely, without question, it is wrong to do it this way and we are going to try our best, on behalf of Nova Scotians who feel they are getting taxed far too often and far too heavily by government, that this is wrong-headed and that they should reconsider what it is they are doing. Take this section out of the bill, stick it away for a while, if they want. If they want to bring it back in some other time, giving Nova Scotians fair warning, then that is fine.

Mr. Speaker, the idea that suddenly Nova Scotians will wake up some day and see this new tax on their phone bill for 911 service - the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour talked a minute ago about the government's website and how it says that all calls to 911 are free, even from pay phones or cellular phones. Clearly that would need to be amended if the government is preparing to head down this road for this tax increase and this amendment, this hoist, would give the Minister of Health the opportunity to ensure that the web page Facts for Seniors properly reflected what he is intending to do. Now it says all calls to 911 are free, even from pay phones or cellular phones, but we are now discussing in the Legislature the idea of introducing a tax to this 911 service. He could say that.

In fact, maybe with the six months he could come up with a more creative line, by saying that we told you we were not going to increase your income taxes or we weren't going to increase the GST or the BST, so we have to get the money somehow. The member, I believe, for Dartmouth South, uttered earlier, what do you expect us to do, cut services or add on user fees?

Well, Mr. Speaker, the member for Dartmouth South and his colleagues didn't talk about either when they were travelling the countryside through the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley or through the street and avenues of Dartmouth South or Sackville-Beaver Bank. They didn't talk about tax increases, they didn't talk about service reductions either, did they? Not a word.

All I am saying - and I am sure the member for Dartmouth South thinks this is quite appropriate, that even though he is becoming increasingly concerned that maybe they were not as forthcoming on the election trail as they should have been - they need this time, the six months hoist amendment. They need time to be able to revisit, to go back and patch things up. The member says $500 million. Where has he been? (Interruptions) When we were in this House last spring, we knew that the deficit was at least $500 million. We talked about it. You remember that. When we were out on the hustings, we told Nova Scotians it is probably close to $500 million. (Interruptions) The member for Dartmouth South . . .

[Page 1996]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would caution the member for Dartmouth North to watch his language.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party has the floor. Please try to get off the election trail and focus on the amendment.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that nothing I said contributed to a resurrection of the battle between the North and the South because we don't want to go there. (Applause) An important question is raised in this discussion that is going on outside the microphones and across the floor. It is about what do you do with that $500 million deficit? It is an important question. But this is not the way to do it. You don't spring in the back door taxes like this. You talk with Nova Scotians and that is why this amendment is so important. This amendment for six months is so important. In fact, we could add something to this. We could say that we are going to have a committee. We are going to set up a Legislative Committee where over that six months - I know there has been a plethora of committees set up by this Conservative Government to try to solve its problems, but this committee would be different, in that it would have ordinary Nova Scotians on it. (Interruption)

That is a novel thought, I know, in that it would actually go out and talk with Nova Scotians. I know it causes some concern among government members but it would take that six months provided for in this hoist amendment, Mr. Speaker, to begin to talk honestly and openly about the issues of taxation, the issues of user fees, the issues that weren't talked about in the election campaign. I think quite frankly, the member for Dartmouth South, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank and others would probably feel much better if they had the opportunity to discuss these things openly and honestly with Nova Scotians. Then, when tough choices were beginning to be made, Nova Scotians couldn't say to those members, you sprung it on us; you didn't tell us anything about it in the election campaign; you said you weren't going to increase taxes; you said you were going to ensure that we had the lowest costs of doing business in the Atlantic region, so why are you imposing these taxes?

An honourable member said to me, you didn't believe that, and frankly, I didn't. But some Nova Scotians did and I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, and appreciate the choice that they made. That having been said, our job here in this Legislature, when legislation comes forward, is to identify it for what it is, identify the strengths and the weaknesses, discuss them and try to make whatever changes we can make in order to make sure that legislation, when it leaves here, is the best possible piece of legislation that we can make, that we understand all of the implications of that legislation and what it provides for, and that the people we represent understand all of the implications of that legislation. That is our responsibility and that is what this amendment, to hoist the bill for six months, will enable us to do, and I think that is extremely important.

[Page 1997]

A member earlier said that this matter is going to be discussed with the federal minister responsible for the CRTC. It is not a threat. It is not intended to be a threat, Mr. Speaker. The nervous members opposite thought that maybe this was a threat. It is not a threat. The point is that understanding what is going on is important as we consider the ramifications of this bill because we have proposed a period of six months when this legislation - and I would suggest this legislation, but it could possibly be this section of the legislation - be hoisted for the reasons that I have already provided and for other reasons, which I am going to get to now.

One of which is that there will be discussions with the federal minister responsible for the CRTC about the appropriateness of this tax for Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, that is extremely important. Let's just say that this bill gets passed and then the federal minister responsible for the CRTC says you cannot do it or says, yes, we will let you do it. In fact, we will let you do it to a level, not just to the point of cost recovery, but we will figure out a way that you can do it even more. We know that you guys have a big deficit of $500 million. Let's put our heads together and figure out how we can stick it to the Nova Scotia consumer, sort of back-door attacks so they will not know it, but yet you can help pay off your deficit.

Surely all members opposite understand that that would not be proper and it would not be prudent, Mr. Speaker, and therefore the reason for putting the motion forward for reflection, and reflection is an important aspect of this whole matter.

There is a program review under way. You may have heard about it. It appears to be a selective program review but it is a program review. The government is trying out this idea of a program review every time that they feel it is appropriate. (Interruption)

I will tell the member opposite why this relates to the amendment. It relates to the amendment because that program review is not going to be completed, so I am told, for another four months, maybe five months. So why would we sit here in this House and approve a piece of legislation which allows for a tax increase on a program that may end up getting reviewed and that may end up getting dropped? That just does not make sense and that is why this six month hoist is doubly important, that this minister and his colleagues do not get egg on their face by sponsoring a tax increase through this Chamber that ends up getting nixed by the program reviewers, whoever they may be, Mr. Speaker.

Clearly, if we have a program review going on which is examining all revenue-related programs as well as expenditure-related programs, this is one of those, right? This is one of those on both sides. There is an expenditure. In order to administer the 911 program, and the government is adding a little add-on here, a little proviso that says a former government may, and we know what that means, don't we, Mr. Speaker? We know what that means. When nobody is looking we are going to slip that sucker in. As soon as we can get the CRTC to meet, we are going to slip that in, and there is it.

[Page 1998]

[6:15 p.m.]

What are people going to say? All of a sudden they are going to say, whoops, we elected those guys and we should not have. They are going to say all of a sudden, they get their phone bill and they say, what is this? They call their MLAs and they say, why is that tax on there? We would say we tried, we introduced an amendment to hoist that bill for six months and we would take that six months, what we proposed, six months to consult with you, to consult with all Nova Scotians to make sure you knew what this bunch was trying to do. That is what we were going to do.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South wants an opportunity to go out over those six months and tell seniors how they would be better off with this tax on the 911 service. I would like to hear him. I can understand that look of bemusement. I would like him to come into Halifax Atlantic and try to explain to seniors how adding a tax on an emergency service would make them better. (Interruptions) Now, be careful. You guys cool it down, here.

Mr. Speaker, I would be very much appreciative if the honourable member for Dartmouth South and the Minister of Health - I would like to hear the Minister of Health, maybe on a committee, and let's just say because we will have six months so we will have an opportunity to do this right, come with me and maybe the Health Critic or maybe the Leader of the Liberal Party, and we would travel the province. I would love to listen to the Minister of Health explain to me how this is a health-related matter and not something the Minister of Finance should be taking care of, or how this is going to make the 911 service a better service for seniors and for that matter, why it is not involved in the program review. I still have a hard time understanding why that would not be the case. Why is it that we are not doing this in that way?

HON. JAMES MUIR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. For a number of the honourable members on the other side of the House, this bill was introduced in my responsibility as Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act, not as Health Minister.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health does raise a good point, however, it is not a point of order and I would recognize the honourable Leader of the NDP.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but a good point it is. I was not properly attributing responsibility and sponsorship for this bill, so now I am going to start talking about the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

I heard an argument earlier that these emergency services were amalgamated under the auspices of the Emergency Measures Organization, in order to better coordinate the delivery of this service, and 911 is part of that; someone talked about how we had a different

[Page 1999]

emergency number in metro than we did in the county and than we did in the rural parts of the province or in other towns and communities. Now we have it all together. I think that while we had problems when this service was originally being set up, I think those bugs have been ironed out, although I have talked to a few volunteer firefighters and some of the paramedics and I think there are still some serious problems that exist there. I am concerned that maybe some people who are delivering that service are trying to save some money.

In fact, I listened to a police officer in my riding the other day, who was telling me that it used to be that when you called in to this service, 911, that originally you would have a police officer in there. He described it as originally it was a sergeant and a constable and now there is not anyone there with any police training.

It creates a lot of problems, Mr. Speaker, in that people receiving those 911 calls don't always know how to direct the call or they don't always know what questions to ask. The member for Preston probably understands this better than I because he has had the problem to deal with in the Halifax Regional Municipality, when he was a councillor, when he used to speak. Those problems and those questions can be better addressed, I believe, if we take the six months provided for in this amendment to consider the implications of this bill. The concerns that I have heard from the people in Halifax Atlantic about the kind of service they are getting from 911, if they were suddenly told by me that this government was now going to tax 911, I think they would be pretty upset, pretty shocked.

AN HON. MEMBER: You would have had a larger majority.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Well, they wouldn't be very happy because, there is no question, the people in Halifax Atlantic voted for this Party when they were running for government. They believed them when they said, no tax increases, in fact, a tax reduction in year three. They believed them when they said, we are going to reduce the cost of doing business to the lowest level in this region. That is what they said. One of the first things they do, Mr. Speaker, for a service that is as important as this one, is that they are going to increase the tax on it. I don't think people will receive that information very well at all.

We haven't heard from the minister why this has been put in. He just sort of said, aw shucks.

AN HON. MEMBER:Yes. Maybe some future government.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Maybe some future government might want to do that. It wasn't me. He almost made it sound like the Minister of Finance made him do it. Maybe the Government House Leader made him do it or somebody, but it was like don't talk to me. I will give you a guarantee here for five months. Maybe his tenure is only going to last for another five months. I don't know. Maybe he is going to be moved after the program review is over. The point is, Nova Scotians, I believe, should know. Shouldn't they? They should be

[Page 2000]

able to participate in some discussion. That is what they said when they were running for office in the summer, was that they were going to consult with Nova Scotians about things like tax increases.

It reminds me of the BST, Mr. Speaker, because one of the most egregious things about the BST is that it is applied to family essentials. Somebody send the Minister of Health over a dictionary. The BST is a tax on family essentials. In other words, people have to pay it and for those people on low incomes, on fixed incomes, it is most difficult. It is a greater percentage of their income. They are tied to it. They are captive to it and they can't do it. We need to understand, in the six months that we take for this hoist, that this is nothing more and nothing less than another tax on a family essential. It, again, shows us, every time the Minister of the EMO opens his mouth, it underlines how important this six month hoist really is. Because the Minister of the EMO doesn't seem to understand that this is a tax and this is of serious concern. (Interruption)

I just want to see if there are any cameras here to note what is going on here. If I can get a still camera I will make sure we get a picture of this and then he won't give me trouble in caucus anymore.

Mr. Speaker, I won't take much more of your time. You have been very patient with me. I am concerned. I am concerned about the section of the bill that relates to the taxation of the 911 emergency service. I think it is wrong, I think it is wrong-headed. I think it betrays a trust that this government tried to build with the people of Nova Scotia. I think that we need to hoist this legislation, at the very least we need to hoist this section of the bill to ensure that Nova Scotians know before they have this kind of tax imposed upon them just what is going on.

Believe me, members of this caucus will use that six months to our advantage, to the advantage of Nova Scotians, by making sure that each and every woman and man in this province who has a phone understands that if this bill goes through, if this government is allowed to sneak in this taxation measure, they are going to wake up someday and realize that they are being taxed for emergency services. I don't think those men and women are going to think that that is a very good idea.

Mr. Speaker, that is an issue that we are going to talk about to some extent in the next number of hours in this House today, tomorrow, the next day and the day after that, because we believe that it is extremely important, and we feel it is an issue that cannot be handled lightly. We will not allow this bill, as it stands, to go through this session of the House without a fight. Thank you.

[Page 2001]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand to speak and say a few words this evening for the first time on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: On the amendment, honourable member.

MR. HOLM: Excuse me, on the amendment. I will make passing references to the bill as I am discussing the logic of this amendment, because there are certain things in the legislation that are important to understand why this particular amendment that was moved by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, who is certainly taking his responsibilities in this House extremely seriously and who has brought forward what I think is an infinitely reasonable amendment. It is one that I am sure the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act - he is also called the part-time Minister of Health because he has more than one responsibility - that he in his own mind, would have to concur is extremely logical.

I say that for a number of reasons. One of the things that I remember the Minister of Health saying when he introduced the bill and when he was talking about it, he was talking about the fact that this was not a Tory idea, this was not something that was just started by the Progressive Conservatives, the plan to impose a tax on emergency medical services, but he made reference to the fact that this was a process that was actually started by the former government, the Liberal Government. I am saying this, I am repeating this, and I believe that I am reporting accurately what the Minister of Health said - I know that the member for Cape Breton Nova would like to deny that, but I have also heard the same thing said . . .

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: I do deny that. I deny it absolutely . . .

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, well, he denies it absolutely. So what we have is a disagreement between two members. We have a disagreement from the Minister of Health who is holding up a letter under government stationery, I don't know if he wants to table that letter and whose signatures may be on it, and the member for Cape Breton Nova who never did serve in the Cabinet . . .

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. MACEWAN: I was Speaker of the House for three and one-half years.

MR. HOLM: Yes, he was Speaker of the House for three and one-half years, not that that is relevant, and I won't say a fine Speaker he was, either, but he was Speaker for three and one-half years. But, Mr. Speaker, the reality is, on this amendment, if this bill is hoisted for six months, the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act, might realize that the Liberals are no longer in power. They were defeated for policies like those that the

[Page 2002]

Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act is now trying to impose on Nova Scotians - a tax on emergency medical services. Maybe, it will take the bunch opposite that long to realize that they don't carry red cards in their pockets; they have the blue cards. When they go down into their bunkers and make their decisions, they are pulling a blue curtain of secrecy around them, not the red curtain.

Now I see the member for Dartmouth South has a red card and he is holding it up proudly, and others do as well on that side. Now I don't know, Mr. Speaker, if those red cards that they are holding up, that they are trying to say proudly that they support the policies of the former Liberal Government - that is quite possible that they do - but when you take a look at the legislation that is coming before us, then it is quite obvious that they are quite enamoured with a lot of the policies of the Liberals because here we have the Tories introducing one more agenda item from the Liberals that they, of course, did not make public.

Now, Mr. Speaker, six months - we are not saying never, we are not saying that you would never introduce legislation, we are saying six months from now. Now six months from now - we are in the middle of November - so that would put us sometime around the middle of May, I think, by quick calculations in my head. That is after the next fiscal year. Now the Minister of Health, of course, has said that there are no immediate plans. They don't have any plans to introduce the tax at this time. It is going to be some former government. They are doing this for some former government. Well I don't know. Maybe the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act - I have to be careful that I keep saying the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act instead of the part-time Minister of Health, otherwise he is going to stand on a point of order and be correct, that it was introduced by that.

HON. JAMES MUIR: The minister assigned administration of the Emergency Measures Act.

MR. HOLM: Oh, the Minister assigned responsibilities for the Emergency Measures Act. Maybe, since that is a bit of a tongue-twister, and more importantly, saying that every time I wish to refer to the minister, I would eat up a lot of time, maybe I will just call him the minister responsible for EMO or the EMO Act. Mr. Speaker, the minister has said that this is for some former government.

As I was starting to say, maybe the minister knows something that I don't. Maybe there is discontent on the backbenches of the Tory caucus. I could understand that discontent. Maybe there is a groundswell of resentment on the backbenches of the government and maybe the minister knows that within a few months, many members from the backbenches are going to cross the floor or sit as independents and that the government will fall. But, if he doesn't believe that is going to happen, even though more and more Nova Scotians are hoping that it will - Nova Scotians who shook hands with the Tories in the last election are now counting

[Page 2003]

their fingers. They are saying that commitments were made to us, promises were made, and those commitments were taken back and broken.

Mr. Speaker, if the government is not expecting to fall within six months, and if this government is planning to stay in power for a few years, there will not be another government for a few years. We certainly wouldn't be proposing to introduce a distress tax after the next election, should the New Democratic Party form the government, so one has to ask why it is that the government is introducing this legislation now if, as the minister said, there is no plan to introduce any kind of tax at this time.

Six months would give the government an opportunity to figure out if they do have a plan; it would give them a chance to find out whether or not they do still support the red team's agenda. We know that they passed the red team's budget and it was sort of comical, if it wasn't such a tragedy, to watch the former Minister of Finance standing up to criticize the budget that basically was the same as his that he introduced a few months ago and to see the former Finance Critic for the Progressive Conservatives standing up and defending the budget that a few months ago he was criticizing.

So we have seen that there tends to be this wave motion, this fluidity. It is really giving a lot of credence to this statement about the Liber-Tory Party, that all that has changed are the actual players on the benches, but that the agenda has stayed the same because this, Mr. Speaker, according to the Minister of Health, is the Liberal agenda. Now, let's take a look at some of the things. The government is saying that this is not a tax. So maybe over six months the government would have an opportunity, as I did, to go and look at some definitions. One of the things that it says - for example, what is a tax - a tax is a charge imposed by legislation, or other public authority, upon persons or property for public purposes.

What are we doing here if not by legislation imposing that a charge can be placed upon persons or property, Mr. Speaker? That is what this legislation is doing; that is a tax. The government is calling it a fee and, of course, a fee is a charge fixed by law for the service of a public officer. Call it a fee, call it a tax, it is the same thing. It reminds me of the debate that some members of this House may remember very well, when the government was saying that the charge that was going to be imposed on tires, or that the charge that was going to be imposed upon beverage containers, like pop bottles, juice boxes and juice cans, that was not a tax the government said, that was merely a deposit.

Call it what you will, the general public knew that what the former Liberal red team said when they called it a deposit, it was a tax. Here in this legislation - and maybe it will take the government up to six months to realize - what they are calling a fee, Nova Scotians will recognize as a tax.

[Page 2004]

There are a number of other points. I am just getting started and I do not know if I will be able to get them all covered at this point in time, but there are a lot of things that have to be determined or evaluated. For example, Mr. Speaker, under the bill that is before us, it is giving the government - and not in this House I might add, not in here - if this legislation passes, members in this House will not actually be debating these things again, so much of it will be done in secrecy.

Decisions will be made in secret by the Governor in Council, down in their bunker, down on the floor below the Cabinet Chambers, because one of the things that the bill that is before us does and I think that we need six months to consider it is whether or not it is appropriate to give additional powers to that select few, the inner circle of the blue team. The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, the members for Kings South, Kings West, Kings North; the member for Yarmouth; and the member for Shelburne. (Interruption) Two-thirds basically, Mr. Speaker, of the Tory caucus will not be involved in the decision-making because it is a power being given to those members on the front benches and I don't know if they tell you everything. I don't know if they consult with you on all their plans. My gut feeling is the answer is no. (Interruption) You should not try to read minds, I shouldn't try to read things into what I hear occasionally but I don't think that all caucus members are involved in the decisions taken by the Executive Council.

Under this it says that the Governor in Council, that select group, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, the member for Bedford-Fall River, the member for Hants West, I am trying to remember who sits between the two members right now - the member for Lunenburg, yes, our Attorney General, the Premier and so on, this small group of women and men have the total authority respecting any matter necessary or advisable, they have all wisdom, for the establishment of fees - substitute taxes - to recover costs for any services or materials - it doesn't say to be provided but it simply says provided, the past tense, in the course of the administration of this Act or the regulations.

So a person reading this bill might conclude that what we are being asked to give to the front benches, to that inner circle, the close confidants of the Premier, is the authority to decide what is necessary or advisable to recover any costs for any service or any material provided in the course of the administration of this Act or the regulations.

Then, of course, Mr. Speaker, you can go and look at the Act because the bill we are dealing with today - of course right now we are dealing with the amendment and why we need six months to consider all the complicated issues that relate to this - the bill we are dealing with is an amendment to an Act to Establish and Implement a Province-wide "911" Telephone Number for the Reporting of Emergencies, in 1992 - seven years ago. The bill we are dealing with in this House today is an Act to amend a seven year old piece of legislation.

[Page 2005]

Now over those seven years, I wonder if the government, if the Minister responsible for the administration of the Emergency Measures Act of Nova Scotia has done or has sent his staff, overworked staff in the Public Service, set them about trying to determine what were all of the actual costs that have been incurred over the last seven years, to implement this Act. What we have before us is a piece of legislation that would provide for the recovery of all those costs and all of the materials, all of the pencils, paper, staff time and personnel, all of the telephone systems, you name it, the planning, the consultants, all of the tremendous costs that have been developed over the seven year period to develop this system that we have today, all of those costs can be recovered through this charge that the government wants to impose on those who are in distress - the distress tax, as my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour so appropriately said.

Imagine, Mr. Speaker, this select inner circle, down behind closed doors, in their bunker, with no public consultation whatsoever, no accountability whatsoever to this House. Now I can understand, I don't like it, but I can certainly understand, why they would not want to be held accountable by the former Liberal Government or by the New Democratic caucus, I can understand that. But you know the way they are trying to set it up, they don't even want to be accountable to their own backbenchers, members of their own caucus because there is no requirement for that.

[6:45 p.m.]

You know, members of the government benches, like members of the Opposition, have a right to get on their feet in this place. In fact, they have a responsibility to do that. That is why their constituents elected them and they have the blessing of the Premier, because the Premier stated over and over again that he was going to give members freedom to speak to represent their constituents. Over six months, members of the government benches will have an opportunity, whether it be in community halls, whether they would be in Kinsmen Centres or Lions Dens or community schools, church basements, even in somebody's kitchen, an opportunity to meet with constituents and ask them, now do you want to have taxes imposed on basic essential emergency services?

Mr. Speaker, the bill says, ". . . any matter necessary or advisable for the establishment of fees to recover costs for any services or materials provided in the course of the administration of this Act . . ." If any of you take a look at the main Act, under that, the minister has a lot of responsibilities. Under the main Act, Section 5 in the Act - An Act to Establish and Implement a Province-wide "911" Telephone Number for the Reporting of Emergencies, that was an Act, of course, of 1992 - lists all of the Responsibilities of Minister, eight areas that he has responsibilities for but many of those areas have sub-headings under them. So there are a lot of costs that can be attributed from 1992 up to the present point. Such things as, "(c) entering into agreements with individuals, persons, organizations or governments to carry out the purpose of this Act;".

[Page 2006]

We have heard some discussion already about amalgamation and we have seen amalgamation. There are members of this House who used to belong to the City of Dartmouth. There are members of this House who used to belong to the Town of Bedford. They now belong to the community of Bedford, much to the displeasure of many members of the community of Bedford, who still wish to belong to the Town of Bedford. Many people in the former City of Dartmouth would like to still remain members of the City of Dartmouth and Haligonians wanted to be part of the City of Halifax. But the Liberal Government of the day, that is the former Liberal Government, followed the program that was laid down by the former Tory Government, led by Don Cameron and the Cameron Administration had proposed, in 1992, to amalgamate all of the municipalities within the Halifax Regional Municipality into one. That, Mr. Speaker, was something that the then Liberals were opposed to when they were in Opposition. But once they crossed the floor and formed government, all of a sudden Don Cameron's blue book plan looked very popular and they implemented it, almost to the letter, almost to the tee.

Now we have the Liberal plan of 1998-99 being implemented by the Tory team of 1999 and into the future. Under the Act, "The Minister is responsible for the development and implementation in a reasonable and timely manner of a Province-wide "911" emergency telephone system, including", a whole series of things. Now remember, all of the costs that were incurred, this is like back-taxing. This would be taxation without representation. They had a little party in Boston for that, Mr. Speaker, because what this is enabling the government to do is to back-tax. That is quite the little scheme you are setting up, that you are going to now charge people for services and for the development of services that may go back five or ten years. What kind of a precedent are you setting there?

The minister has the responsibility for developing standards - proper thing, somebody should be, "Providing to Maritime the civic addresses of every residence and business location within the Province; preparing a master street address guide, covering the whole of the Province, comprised of the boundaries of all cities, towns, rural municipalities and communities, whether incorporated or not in the province, the names or other means of identifying all streets, roads and highways situate within the boundaries referred to in clause (i), and the boundaries of each emergency service zone in the Province; the design and use of an emblem to be associated with the system.". It goes on.

The minister was responsible and still is responsible for all those things. The way that the bill reads, the minister has that inner circle - yes, Mr. Speaker, I am very cognizant of the resolution before us, the amendment. It is a fine amendment, a very common-sense amendment. The minister has had all of those responsibilities - the bill as it is before us, would give that inner circle, that closed group whose deliberations aren't public, it gives them the authority to recover all of those costs.

[Page 2007]

I don't know if that is their plan. I wouldn't like to attribute it and say they are going to be trying to do all of this, but they said a lot of things a few months ago. They said quite a few things a few months ago about a caring, compassionate government. We have seen where that has gone. It is not beyond the stretch of one's imagination to believe that one of the ways that they will be trying to retire some of that debt is of course to impose such a regressive taxation system. The cost for amalgamations, the police, the fire, the ambulance services into one, bringing those all together.

Now the government has said - and to a good extent it is correct - that the system is more efficient. It was also supposed to be paying taxpayers some money. What it now looks like, and of course, I don't know about you, but when Don Cameron first proposed it - he is still an adviser to the government I understand - and Dr. Savage then endorsed it after he formed government, they said that our taxes were going to go down, we were going to have efficiencies, but the people in my community of Sackville are saying they haven't seen any decrease in taxes. They have seen their taxes going up. They haven't necessarily seen a lot of services going up, but they have seen certain volunteer services starting to disappear. Whether they be recreational services or the volunteer fire departments, the members are dropping off and costs have gone up.

When these services were amalgamated, there were costs involved to bring about that amalgamation. Now the government is saying we are going to be sticking it to you another way. What we are going to do is impose a charge on your telephone service. Now, they can't do that on their own, but the minister would have us believe, and he says this with a straight face - his nose doesn't grow at all, so it must be accurate - that the government has no plans to impose a tax.

Of course, the government would have to get the CRTC's approval. If the government is actually not planning to impose a tax, then there is absolutely no need for that amendment at all. I want to say to the minister, even though I have some concerns with another part of the bill - which I will also touch on - if the minister were to announce that he would be prepared and is prepared to recommend at the Law Amendments Committee process that Clause 7 of the bill he had introduced would be withdrawn, deleted, or he could do it here in the Committee of the Whole House, then maybe, Mr. Speaker, we could be able to again reward the government for their cooperation, and even though there are some other things in the bill that might cause one to bite our tongue a little bit, we might be able to let the bill go forward a little bit faster, just because, of course, we would have received some cooperation from the government.

I have grave difficulty seeing how I can support legislation without there being any time for Nova Scotians to be heard. Now we could do a number of things. We have some committees of this House; we have the Human Resources Committee, we have the Resources Committee. We could use one of those committees, if we wanted. We could amend the regulations of any group or we could set up a special committee to travel around and hold a

[Page 2008]

few hearings in the most economic way. We could car pool to go to these hearings so it doesn't cost any money. We could use community facilities, or community schools where they wouldn't charge. A lot of service organizations don't charge for public community meetings, so we could even hold our meetings there and we could drive back the same day, even if it is a long day, from most parts of this province, so we will save money. We could do this in a way that is not expensive.

We could announce through the community channels, through public announcements, that we are going to be there, and invite Nova Scotians to come forward and to ask them, do you want to have a charge placed on your telephone system for a basic emergency service? How much do you think the government should be charging you for a basic emergency service? Mr. Speaker, we could ask them what kind of protection, what kind of legislative authority or changes would you want to be made to ensure that the government, once they get that thin wedge in and where they get that authority to do it, what kind of restrictions will be put on it? Will we require that if the government wants to increase this fee that they would have to get the approval of the Utility and Review Board, as well as that of the CRTC? Once they impose it - the CRTC, that is not a provincial body, they are not mainly looking after the provincial concerns.

We have an opportunity to hear Nova Scotians, and that would be in keeping with what the government said when they were in Opposition and seeking the trust of the public and that is, that we want to be open, we want to consult, we want to hear Nova Scotians.

Now on the other hand, if the government was, when they were out on the hustings - of course they would never do it in here - were telling a little fib or misleading, which I am sure they were not because, and I would never suggest that they were, Mr. Speaker, that would be unparliamentary to do it, as well as not being nice, but if there was any kind of suggestion that they might actually have planned to do this before, then it would give them an opportunity to go out and talk to Nova Scotians and to explain why they were not more fulsome with the truth when they were campaigning because they very clearly said that their plans were not to increase taxes.

The Act itself, the main Act, even gives the government, the Governor in Council, the opportunity to redefine or to define any term in the Act which has no definition. In legislation words can have different meanings from what we, the common, ordinary Nova Scotian might anticipate they would mean. For example, what does the word advisable mean? Advisable to whom? Advisable to the Minister of Finance, advisable to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act, or advisable to Nova Scotians generally? No parameters whatsoever.

[Page 2009]

[7:00 p.m.]

The government could decide, we wish to charge all kinds of things to the administration of this Act. They can amend this Act again. They could do that in any piece of legislation. They can say that the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act becomes responsible in the 911 system in his capacity as minister responsible for the 911 system. All kinds of new authorities, maybe some that are dealing with the health care system itself, maybe the actual administration of the ambulance services could be delegated. There is absolutely nothing that would prevent that from happening, delegated to the minister responsible for the 911 service as part of his responsibilities under that service. It is a logical progression, quite honestly, because those who call 911 often need to have an emergency service, like an ambulance being provided and therefore, Mr. Speaker, then all of those other costs can be rolled into this and those charges again tacked on as a so-called fee, tax.

There is another point that I want to make and that I think over six months is worthy of some consideration. It is another important principle in the bill other than the tax grab, as regressive as that is. Mr. Speaker, this one is a problem that exists in the original Act but it is expanded upon here. Now I forget the exact words that the minister used but saying basically that a company cannot be held liable if the service and so on for some reason or other breaks down. I have a fundamental problem with that. We are not talking about a service that is being administered by the public sector by the Province of Nova Scotia. We are talking about a service that is administered and provided by private-for-profit companies.

Mr. Speaker, under the proposed legislation that is before us, it says in Clause 5, Section 9, "The Province, the Minister, a regional municipality, a town, a rural municipality, Maritime, a CLEC, . . .", and that would be one of those companies other than the Maritime Tel & Tel, ". . . the Emergency Measures Organization, . . .", itself a private organization, ". . . and emergency service agencies are not liable, directly of indirectly, for a claim arising out of, relating to or attributable to personal injury, property damage, death or economic loss or for any contribution, reimbursement or indemnification in respect thereof, or a suit, a fine, a demand, an action, a loss, costs or damage of any nature or kind arising out of the operation of, failure of or failure to operate the system or any part of it.".

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid that we are speaking about the amendment and the reason for the hoist, not the principle of the bill or the bill itself. So I would ask you to bring yourself back (Interruptions) Order, please. I would ask the member to refrain from the principle of the bill but bring himself back to the reason for the hoist and the amendment. Thank you.

[Page 2010]

MR. HOLM: Oh, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, indeed, I appreciate your comments because what you are doing is actually leading right into my comments because what we are talking about is the rationale for having a hoist. What I referred to was not only a principle but I actually referred to a direct clause in the bill. I think that we need to have and Nova Scotians have a right to be consulted upon what is being proposed in the legislation.

Now over six months, we had a little bit of a discussion about taxing matters, the tax the government wants to impose, this distress tax on 911 service. The amount we don't know. We haven't got a clue how high it is going to be and once they get started we don't know where the ceiling is going to be.

Do you know, there is more than that that Nova Scotians should be consulted on. They should also be consulted on whether or not, and over the six months, and here is where I was coming from, Mr. Speaker, when I was referring to the particular clause in the Act, and you were quite correct, Mr. Speaker, to remind me of the amendment that is before this House and, of course, you were not aware where my mind may have been going and I am not always aware of that either sometimes when I am standing to speak and that will never stop me either, but on this particular occasion I did know where my mind was leading me, or at least attempting to lead me. On this particular occasion I think that there is a very important principle that should be discussed with Nova Scotians. Should we, by legislation, be passing a provision or a clause that it says it does not matter what happens if those companies, those private-for-profit companies, fail or do not deliver the service that they are contracted to do, that they cannot be held liable for any consequences that occur from that.

I have problems with that. I have major fundamental problems with that. It is not putting a cap on what their level of liability will be and I am not one who wants to see us turned into a system like in the United States where, for example, you can have all kinds of litigations going on and everybody is suing everybody. If somebody leaves a piece of bubble gum on the street and somebody steps on it, then you sue the city or the municipality for not having removed that bubble gum that caused the person's foot to stick, which meant that they slipped. So, therefore, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And the bubble gum company.

MR. HOLM: And the bubble gum company for making the bubble gum in the first place and suing for $4 million or $5 million. I am not interested in getting into that but surely to heavens, Mr. Speaker, if a company is contracted to do something and they are negligent, so if they fail to deliver the service, if they do not have the operators, if they do not have the equipment necessary, if they have not properly trained the people to be able to tell them where somebody is supposed to go, this private-for-profit company, and as a consequence of their negligence, the response of the appropriate emergency vehicle was not what it should be - it could be a fire department did not arrive on time because they were not properly informed - to say that there is no liability for that and somebody's home is destroyed and not

[Page 2011]

only their home but all of their personal possessions, I say that is something Nova Scotians should hear about. They should hear about that. They should have an opportunity to have a say. If somebody loses a loved one because of an accident and, therefore, the support of their family because of negligence, I do not think that it is appropriate for us to be saying, if that negligence occurs by one of these groups, that there can be no liability against them.

I think that certainly Nova Scotians should be heard on that matter and in six months we could hold meetings in your community, Mr. Speaker. You could hold meetings in Chester. You could hold meetings in the Preston constituency and there the member would be allowed to speak and to hear his constituents. You could hear the people in the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, certainly in Timberlea-Prospect. I know that the member in Timberlea-Prospect takes his responsibilities very seriously and he would try to do his darnedest to consult with his constituents. (Interruption) Yes, you do.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things that could be done. Six months, what is the big deal? If this was not your idea in the first place, if this was a Liberal idea, I say to the Premier through you, Mr. Speaker (Interruption) The Liberals can get up and defend themselves. All I am doing, and I may be wrong, I maybe should be punished, I am just repeating what the Minister of Health said and if what the Minister of Health said was inaccurate, I am sure that the members from the Liberal caucus will get up and they will defend their integrity against the comments that were made by the Minister of Health and they will not let him get away with that accusation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not on your life.

MR. HOLM: Not on your life I am being told. So I expect, Mr. Speaker, that they will get up to express their opposition and to point out that what the Minister of Health said was in error, that it was not completely accurate, that he misspoke himself. Of course, if they do say that, and if the Minister of Health is convinced that what he is saying is correct, and if he has any documentation to prove that, then maybe the Minister of Health might even want to lay those documents on the table to back up his assertions.

When I take a look at what I have been seeing so far, I think it is quite reasonable to expect or to believe that this is simply a Liberal plan revisited. I say to the Premier, you didn't plan a tax increase. The Premier can get up and speak because the Minister of Health has said that there are no plans for this government, they are just doing it for a future government, to give a future government an option. Does the Premier have any plans to pull the plug and call a general election? Is he not enjoying himself so much that he wants to have an election in the hopes that he will be defeated? That's possible. I could understand it if he was feeling that way some days.

AN HON. MEMBER: I have heard worse ideas.

[Page 2012]

MR. HOLM: Yes, he said he has had worse ideas and I am sure he has, and there may be many days he would be wishing that he did, but the reality is the minister said there will not be, it is not a plan of this government, so it is being done for future governments.

Well, if it is being done for future governments, Mr. Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker - because it is only polite to speak through you to members opposite - the Premier can say to his Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act of Nova Scotia, take that provision dealing with the taxes out because the government that I lead will not be breaking commitments that we have made regarding taxation and since I am planning to stick around and not call an election for a few years I am not going to do this now. If another government some time in the future after the next election, should choose to bring it in, then they can bring it in, but if the Premier and his Conservative Government want to be progressive, they can turn around and say, no we are not going to follow the Liberal lead on this one.

It is a very easy thing for the Premier to do because we know, based on what the Minister of Health said, that there aren't any plans next spring in the budget to impose a tax as soon as they have concluded discussions with the CRTC. I am sure that was the impression I was left with. Did you get the same impression?

AN HON. MEMBER: I got that, yes.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. HOLM: The same impression, colleagues? Now I am sure if my impression was wrong, I say to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act of Nova Scotia, that he can stand on a point of order and say, no, no. In fact, I would appreciate it if he would stand in his place and say, no, your impressions are wrong. I don't wish to leave the impression that we are not going to impose a tax if, in fact, the impression he wanted to leave was that there is to be a tax imposed next spring, then I would appreciate him telling us that.

If that is not their intention, maybe the member for Kings South has talked to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act of Nova Scotia, the part-time Minister of Health, maybe you have talked to him. Maybe he has a commitment from the minister that there will not be a tax on telephone services or on emergency medical services, 911 services next spring. Maybe he has that commitment. Maybe in the caucus meeting - and I am not a member of their caucus, so I wouldn't know this - over six months, Mr. Speaker, they could educate us over on this side and tell us if they have that commitment. There sure isn't any need if, as the impression that the minister tried to leave us with, there is no intention of imposing a tax in the next budget, then there is no need for that provision in this bill, none whatsoever.

[Page 2013]

However, if they were trying to slip this one through, if they want this slipped through so that they could hold the discussions with the CRTC and have those discussions concluded, I am not an expert on these things, as with many other things I am not, so I also have a tendency to ask people, who know a little bit more about certain topics than I do, for some information and advice. (Interruption) The member for Cape Breton South can also be pretty good sometimes giving me advice. Sometimes I am pretty good by not accepting it.

[7:15 p.m.]

I am told that it takes five to six months for the CRTC to make a ruling, to come up with their decision on things like this. Here we are, November 15th, December 15th is one month, January, February, March, April, that is five months. I wonder if there have been any communications going on so far? I wonder if the former government started some discussions with the CRTC? We know that they did a number of things that we found out afterward. Maybe this Progressive Conservative Government had some preliminary discussions already. You know, the time sequence is rather suspicious, and this is the cynic in me coming out, and it is not good to be cynical, so I am looking forward to the government clarifying this so I can apologize to the government for being cynical and for doubting them.

A budget is expected in about five months. That is just about enough time for the CRTC. Mr. Speaker, the government members are now in the process - excuse me, I take that back because I was going to misspeak. I was going to make an incorrect assertion because the backbenchers are not involved in the making of any kind of budget decisions. Those are made by the front benches, that select group, the close confidants of the Premier, that approximately one-third of the caucus, plus there may be some back-room advisors - we don't know who they are - behind the blue curtain in secrecy down in their bunker, in secret.

Well, if they have (Interruption) I have used the word bunker for more than six years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, I have only had the experience for six years.

MR. HOLM: It grows on you, doesn't it? Mr. Speaker, I understand there are some members who want to get up talking about the bunker. I have heard some sounds that they want to discuss the bunker. That would be off the topic of this bill and it would be certainly off the topic of the amendment. I certainly would never, ever wish to trespass upon the patience of the House by going aside like that. So I am going to go back and I am going to ignore the rabbit tracks that I have been hearing and just strictly stick to the amendment that is before us.

Mr. Speaker, six months ago, in fact less than six months ago, just to show you that many things can happen, we had a blue book being run around the province. It is only about four months ago and we are seeing many of those commitments being trampled on. I wouldn't say that the government has necessarily become lost, but maybe they have discovered that

[Page 2014]

they have an alternate destination. So we seem to be going in a different course. If this amendment is supported and passed, and this bill is not read for six months, then maybe over a six month period of time the members on the government benches can renew their roots, remember where they came from, remember and refresh their minds on those commitments they made to Nova Scotians with regard to taxation and they can hear what Nova Scotians

believe or what they truly feel about this kind of tax.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow an introduction?

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce to the members, sitting in the Speaker's Gallery, a well-known member of my constituency. Both he and his wife Mary are well-established members of the community of Frenchvale. He is also one of my best friends and President of the Cape Breton The Lakes Liberal Association, which I might add is a very fine organization, Harold McKinnon. I would ask Harold to stand and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to add my words of welcome to our guest in the gallery as well. I think that at the moment I will put him down as doubtful, in terms of being a supporter at the present time, but you know we always want to keep working on people and we never give up hoping. Maybe on another occasion we will try to persuade our guests to have another vision.

However, Mr. Speaker, that is off the topic and I am about to conclude my remarks. I know there are some others, I even hear some across the floor. I announce that I am getting ready to sit down and all of a sudden the excitement on the government benches just bubbles. I can just hear the excitement as the members are saying, we have the right to speak; the Premier gave us permission that we are allowed to stand in our places on the floor of this House to represent our constituents. So I know that they are going to be jumping to their feet, they are going to be like jacks-in-the-boxes, as soon as I resume . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the member that we are speaking about the amendment.

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker. You know, if this bill doesn't pass, we could conceivable debate the amendment for six months, which would give the government members an opportunity to stand and speak. You know they could even move amendments to amendments and other amendments, to give themselves even more opportunities to speak. I am not going to drag it out to that point because I do know that there are other members who are anxious to speak on this amendment and I am sure that the Minister of Health - or excuse me, so I am not caught on a point of order - the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act of Nova Scotia, he may also want to speak at some point during

[Page 2015]

this amendment, and he might even wish to make what would be considered by many to be a reasonable suggestion, that is he will commit that he will withdraw that most offensive provision in the bill, that is Clause 7, which has the taxing authority built into it and, in so doing, probably deny himself, of course, the opportunity of hearing some other members speaking about this matter.

I know he would miss that, whether that be in the debate on the amendment, on the main bill, later on in the Committee of the Whole House, and even possibly on third reading. So I am sure that the minister, although I should not try to give him any incentives for standing up because he would want to hear those comments, so I don't want to give him any false incentives, but, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that such a reasonable suggestion from the minister might have a positive impact, or a negative impact, depending upon how you see it, on the speedy passage of this bill in the second reading debate. With those few brief remarks, I will resume my place until the next opportunity I have to speak on the bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the second reading of Bill No. 20 be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment of second reading on Bill No. 20. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[7:26 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[9:56 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2016]

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 11 - Foresters Association Act.

Bill No. 18 - Petroleum Resources Removal Permit Act.

Bill No. 17 - Adoption Information Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 p.m. and sit until 8:00 p.m.

The order of business following the daily routine and Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Public Bills in Committee of the Whole House and if there is time remaining, we will resume the Address in Reply to the Throne Speech.

Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now rise.

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

[Page 2017]

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned.

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]