The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD
01-14

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legi/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 383, Educ. - Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Sch.:
Arts Education Projects - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 888
Vote - Affirmative 889
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 24, St. Francis Xavier University Millennium Centre Grants Act,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 889
No. 25, Justice Administration Amendment (2001) Act, Hon. M. Baker 889
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 384, Petroleum Directorate/Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Nat. Gas. Dist.:
Ministers - Co-operate, Mr. J. MacDonell 889
Res. 385, Rochefort, Nathalie - Montreal Mercier: By-Election -
Victory - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 890
Vote - Affirmative 890
Res. 386, Econ. Dev. - Tesma: Expansion - Congrats., Mr. C. Clarke 891
Vote - Affirmative 891
Res. 387, Wamback, Trevor - Montreal Expos Org.: Status - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Holm 891
Vote - Affirmative 892
Res. 388, Acadian Fed. N.S. - Equipe Acadie: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 892
Vote - Affirmative 893
Res. 389, Jazz Bliss 2001: Performers/Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Downe 893
Vote - Affirmative 893
Res 390, Register.com - Customer Care Ctr. (Yarmouth): Opening -
Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt ~ 894
Vote - Affirmative 894
Res. 391, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads: Subdivision - Petition Process,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 895
Res. 392, Vic. Co. Commun. Access Proj.: Conference - Congrats.,
Mr. K. MacAskill 896
Vote - Affirmative 896
Res. 393, Agric. & Fish. - Outstanding Young Farmers Prog.:
Charlton, Debbie & Kevin - Honour Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 896
Vote - Affirmative 897
Res. 394, Environ. & Lbr. - McIntosh Run Watershed Assoc.: Members -
Commitment Recognize, Mr. Robert Chisholm 897
Vote - Affirmative 898
Res. 395, Debert Arena - Expansion: Commun. Fund Raising - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Langille 898
Vote - Affirmative 898
Res. 396, Econ. Dev. - Tesma: Expansion - Workers Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 899
Vote - Affirmative 899
Res. 397, Health - Alzheimer's Disease: Medication -
Prov. Health Plan Cover, Mr. J. Pye 899
Res. 398, Nordby, Erika - Recovery: Best Wishes - Convey,
Mr. B. Taylor 900
Vote - Affirmative 901
Res. 399, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 327: Repaving -
Min. Commit, Mr. R. MacKinnon 901
Res. 400, Sports - Hockey: Cole Hbr. Red Wings - Atl. Bantam
Championships Participants Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 901
Vote - Affirmative 902
Res. 401, Sports - Hockey: Windsor Royals - Don Johnson Cup Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 902
Vote - Affirmative 903
Res. 402, Fin. - Bracket Creep: Min. - End, Mr. D. Downe 903
Res. 403, Nevin, Rosie - Shubenacadie Dist. Sch./Commun./Businesses:
Assistance - Recognize, Mr. J. MacDonell 904
Vote - Affirmative 905
Res. 404, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - NDP Transport. Critic: Rds. -
Timberlea-Prospect Focus, Mrs. M. Baillie 905
Res. 405, Sports - Hockey: Clare Acadiens - Championship Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 905
Vote - Affirmative 906
Res. 406, Beazley, Ken: Commun. Involvement - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 906
Vote - Affirmative 907
Res. 407, Industrial C.B. Bd. Of Trade - Excellence in Business
Awards (2000): Nominees - Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 907
Vote - Affirmative 908
Res. 408, Educ. - Child Care: Educators - Salary Increase, Mr. J. Pye 908
Res. 409, Hartery, Jack - StoraEnso (Fmr. Pres./Gen. Mgr.):
Retirement - Best Wishes Convey, Mr. M. Samson 908
Vote - Affirmative 909
Res. 410, Wal-Mart (Port Hawkesbury) - Cookbooks: Sale -
Mgt./Staff Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 909
Vote - Affirmative 910
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 106, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sempra: Licence - Approval Explain,
Mr. J. Holm 910
No. 107, Fin. - Tobacco Smuggling: Fine Reduction - Explain,
Mr. D. Downe 911
No. 108, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sempra: Licence - Approval Concerns,
Mr. J. Holm 913
No.109, Fin. - AMC: Fin. Measures (2001) Act - Consultation,
Mr. D. Wilson 914
No. 110, Educ. - HRM Custodial Strike: Learning Environ. -
Safety Ensure, Mr. H. Epstein 916
No. 111, Justice - Freedom of Information Act: Info. - Release Policy,
Mr. W. Gaudet 917
No. 112, Health - Funding: Priorities - Explain, Mr. J. MacDonell 918
No. 113, Priorities & Planning - Spending: Cabinet Approval - Details,
Mr. M. Samson 919
No. 114, Health - Seniors' Housing: Home Sales - Penalty Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 920
No. 115, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Twinning -
Commitment, Mr. R. MacKinnon 922
No. 116, Health - MRI Clinics (Private): Equipment - Usage,
Mr. D. Dexter 923
No. 117, Justice - User Fees: Legislation - Accounting, Mr. D. Downe 924
No. 118, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Plowing (Hwy. No. 28):
Emergencies - Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 925
No. 119, Econ. Dev. - Economy (Southwestern N.S.): Unemployment -
Concern, Mr. Manning MacDonald 926
No. 120, Educ. - French Language: Funding - Equitability Ensure,
Mr. K. Deveaux 927
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. J. MacDonell 931
Mr. K. MacAskill 935
Mr. J. Carey 938
Mr. R. MacKinnon 942
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:27 P.M. 943
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 943
ADJOURNMENT
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Point Pleasant Lodge: Decisions - Min. Reverse:
Mr. J. MacDonell 943
Mr. T. Olive 945
Mr. D. Downe 948
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:29 P.M. 950
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:57 P.M. 950
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 11, Financial Measures (2001) Act 951
Mr. J. MacDonell 951
Mr. Manning MacDonald 956
Adjourned debate 966
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 11th at 2:00 p.m. 966
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 411, All Saints Hospital (Springhill) - Grief Counselling Prog.:
Organizers - Congrats., The Speaker 967

[Page 887]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring the House's attention to the fact that an employee of the House, Commissionaire George Tanner, will be celebrating his 66th birthday on April 14th. As the House won't be sitting that day, I would like to wish Mr. Tanner best wishes on his 66th birthday. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid:

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Health Minister to reverse the decisions his government made which are turning Nova Scotia patients at Point Pleasant Lodge into second-class citizens in a two-tier health care model.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

887

[Page 888]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 383

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

Whereas Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea School has undertaken some ambitious arts education projects this year; and

Whereas artworks by Grade 3 students were selected for display at Mount Saint Vincent University last November at the Inner-City Educators Association's national conference; and

Whereas Grades 4 and 5 students produced watercolours of Nova Scotia for every Commonwealth Minister of Education who attended the 14th Conference of Commonwealth Ministers of Education in Halifax last November; and

Whereas the school will be staging a celebration of the history of the three communities, entitled Roots and Wings, this month;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the outstanding artwork being produced by these students, and congratulate them on their upcoming production of Roots and Wings.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 889]

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 24 - Entitled an Act to Authorize the Municipality of the County of Antigonish and the Town of Antigonish to Make Grants to St. Francis Xavier University. (Mr. Ronald Chisholm)

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

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 384

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

Whereas the Petroleum Directorate Minister stated today that the long-term prospects for natural gas use in Nova Scotia remain positive, after his counterpart in Transportation decided after many months not to allow high-pressure gas pipelines under the shoulders of our highways; and

Whereas one minister preaches all is rosy, while the other seems content to make distribution decisions at a snail's pace; and

Whereas at the same time, New Brunswick is cooking with the very gas piped to it through Nova Scotia lines, and accrues economic benefits to its industry while Nova Scotians wait years for the long-promised gas distribution;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask that the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate and the Minister of Transportation get on the same page and move natural gas distribution forward so that Nova Scotia, like new Brunswick, can reap its economic rewards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 890]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 385

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

Whereas a provincial by-election was held yesterday in the Quebec riding of Montreal Mercier; and

Whereas Liberal candidate Nathalie Rochefort won the by-election, in this Parti Quebecois stronghold, with a majority of 1,026 votes; and

Whereas this win by Ms. Rochefort is a clear rejection of the policies promoted by the separatist Leader Bernard Landry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Ms. Rochefort and Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest, on this victory and rejection of Bernard Landry's separatist agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

[Page 891]

RESOLUTION NO. 386

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

Whereas yesterday, Tesma Precision Finished Components, a division of Tesma International, announced a major $45 million expansion in the Northside Industrial Park; and

Whereas the new project has already created 55 new jobs and is expected to generate a further 55 direct jobs, as well as 65 indirect jobs and $1.7 million each year in direct and indirect taxes; and

Whereas the employees of Tesma in Cape Breton have exceeded international standards of quality and service performance in the automotive parts industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud Tesma International on their expansion project, and thank the leadership of all the people at Tesma for their continued confidence and investment in Cape Breton Island.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 387

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

Whereas Sackville resident Trevor Wamback has moved up this year in the Montreal Expos organization, playing for the Eastern League AA Harrisburg Senators in Pennsylvania; and

[Page 892]

Whereas coaches in the organization have labelled Trevor a major league pitcher, and expect he will soon be appearing in the big leagues; and

Whereas fans who would like to follow Trevor's career can tune in on the Internet for Senators' games at http://www.pennlive.com;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Trevor Wamback, and looks forward to seeing him soon throwing fastballs in major league ballparks across North America.

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. 388

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

Whereas the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia has developed a project called Equipe Acadie; and

Whereas the goal of this major project is to foster a better understanding of the Acadian community, the people and their culture, and to build partnerships between various levels of government and the Acadian community; and

Whereas the federation has just finished a restructuring process and developed a long-term strategic planning session with major national and international events planned for the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud and congratulate the Acadian community and the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia for this initiative and for their efforts to promote the Acadian language and culture.

[Page 893]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 389

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

Whereas Halifax Dance held its annual showcase of jazz dance called Jazz Bliss this past weekend at Dalhousie University; and

Whereas artistic director Kym Butler and five talented choreographers led over 60 gifted performers ranging in age from early teens to late 50's in the performance; and

Whereas the role of dance plays a pivotal role in the cultural sector of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the performers and organizers of Jazz Bliss 2001, and wish them our best on another successful season next year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 894]

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 390

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

Whereas Thursday, Register.com, a leading provider of Internet domain name registration services, announced it would open a customer care centre in Yarmouth in May; and

Whereas this new call centre will bring 300 new jobs and an estimated payroll of $48.8 million over the next six years to the Yarmouth area; and

Whereas this is all thanks to the co-operation of the Province of Nova Scotia, the federal government, the Nova Scotia Community College, the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth, the Town of Yarmouth, the Municipality of Argyle, the South West Shore Development Authority, the people of Yarmouth and, of course, Register.com;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the successful efforts of all the partners involved in bringing Register.com to Yarmouth, and thank Register.com's Vice-President of Customer Services, Jack Kerins, and all the people at Register.com for recognizing the potential that exists in the Yarmouth 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Harbour, on an introduction.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, with your approbation, I am very pleased to introduce Grade 9 students from Brookfield Junior High School. Brookfield Junior High School resides in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley constituency. I believe we have some 29 students today and they are accompanied by their teacher, Ms. Tammy Deveaux, and Mr. Carl Jordan from Bible Hill and Mable Barber from the Brentwood-

[Page 895]

Brookfield area. These students reside in communities like Stewiacke, East Stewiacke, Middle Stewiacke, Brookfield, Hilden and Pleasant Valley. Of course there are other communities, but I would like the guests to rise and receive a warm welcome from the Nova Scotia Legislature. (Applause)

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome the guests to our gallery today.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 391

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

Whereas the residents of numerous, growing subdivisions in the Timberlea-Prospect constituency conscientiously collect signatures for petitions to have their roads placed on a cost-sharing basis with the municipality; and

Whereas this process is frustrating and time-consuming for all people involved while these petitions sit on both municipal and provincial Transportation officials' desks; and

Whereas these residents already pay disproportionate taxes compared to the services they receive;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately instruct his staff to meet with municipal officials to clarify the petition process in determining priorities for subdivision roads.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

[Page 896]

RESOLUTION NO. 392

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

Whereas on Saturday, April 7th, Victoria County's Community Access Project Association hosted the county's first electronic business and information technology conference; and

Whereas over 75 residents attended workshop sessions and panel discussions to learn more about conducting business over the Internet; and

Whereas e-business opportunities provide significant potential for business development and growth in rural economies like Victoria County;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Victoria County Community Access Project and conference co-ordinator, Mr. Gerard MacNeil, for their successful sponsorship of this conference.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 393

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

Whereas less than 3 per cent of our nation's population enter into the challenging yet demanding professions within the agriculture sector; and

Whereas the Outstanding Young Farmers Program credits men and women ages 18 to 39 who have achieved success and leadership in the farming industry; and

[Page 897]

Whereas one of three Nova Scotian couples recently honoured in Moncton for their exceptional agricultural achievements were Kevin and Debbie Charlton of East Torbrook, Annapolis County;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend these two hard-working Annapolis County residents for their dedication and excellence in an industry which contributes so immensely to all Nova Scotians.

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 Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 394

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 March 19, 2001, the McIntosh Run Watershed Association hosted a public meeting; and

Whereas a number of concerned environmental groups came together to discuss the potential impact of future development on an already taxed ecosystem; and

Whereas a working group was formed to look at municipal planning strategies for the area and ways to protect the integrity of the run for future generations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Terry Bobbit, President, all directors of the McIntosh Run Watershed Association, and all others who have shown their commitment time and again to the preservation and protection of the only river to flow in Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 898]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 395

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

Whereas thanks to a major community effort, the West Colchester United Arena is growing; and

Whereas the Debert Arena is a community-owned facility built in 1976-77; and

Whereas the addition, which will continue in the summer, will house four new dressing rooms complete with washrooms and showers, referee room and equipment room;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the community for working together to fundraise to achieve this expansion to modernize this vital facility so that it will continue to offer the people of the area a place for all to enjoy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 899]

RESOLUTION NO. 396

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

Whereas a $45 million expansion is creating more than 100 jobs at Tesma Precision Finished Components in North Sydney; and

Whereas this expansion and creation of jobs is a strong vote of confidence in the 215 employees presently working at Tesma; and

Whereas Tesma, which has been in operation in North Sydney since 1987, is living proof of the excellence of the workforce in industrial Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the workers for their talent and skill which helped bring about this expansion by Tesma.

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. 397

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

Whereas over 364,000 Canadians over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia; and

Whereas this figure is projected to increase by the year 2031 to be over 0.75 million Canadians suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia; and

[Page 900]

Whereas the consensus among medical experts is that drug therapy represents an integral part of the Alzheimer's disease treatment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take the immediate steps to make the necessary medication to treat Alzheimer's accessible through their provincial health plan for those who cannot afford the costs of $150 to $170 per month.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 398

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 nation was stunned to learn of a little baby found frozen in the middle of an Albertan winter night; and

Whereas the country cheered as the miraculous news that the small, 13 month old Erika was alive, thanks to the valiant efforts of the medical team involved; and

Whereas Erika stole the hearts of millions as the country watched and prayed while the small child recovered and medical history was made;

Therefore be it resolved that by way of a missive from the Honourable Speaker that all members of this House wish Erika Nordby and her mother Leyla best wishes for a happy and healthy life and give thanks for this little girl's astounding recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 901]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 399

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

Whereas Highway No. 327 has been identified as the number one priority repaving project in Cape Breton West; and

Whereas despite cosmetic surgeries, costs to the public purse and to individuals whose vehicles are damaged continue to escalate because the paved surface has now exceeded its life expectancy; and

Whereas this fiscal year will mark the second consecutive year in which this necessary repaving project has been delayed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works commit to repaving all or part of Highway No. 327 between Sydney and Marion Bridge.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 400

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

Whereas the Atlantic Bantam Hockey Championships were held this past weekend in Summerside, Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas the Cole Harbour Red Wings became Atlantic Bantam AAA hockey champions after defeating Avalon Peninsula 2 to 1 in overtime in the championship game on Sunday; and

[Page 902]

Whereas 13 year old Cole Harbour Red Wings forward Sidney Crosby was named the tournament MVP and led the tournament in scoring with 10 goals and 6 assists in five games;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cole Harbour Red Wings, tournament MVP Sidney Crosby, and all the coaches and parents for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 401

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

Whereas the Windsor Royals team advanced to the Atlantic championship finals by defeating Fredericton in a sensational comeback last week; and

Whereas the Windsor Royals went on to win the Don Johnson Cup over the Strait Pirates and were crowned the Atlantic Junior B hockey champions in front of a home audience of ecstatic fans; and

Whereas Matt Cormier of the team was chosen as the tournament's overall most valuable player, and coach Laurie Barron, after 10 years leading the Windsor Royals, has decided to hang up his clipboard;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature recognize the dedication and determination demonstrated by the players and the executive of the Windsor Junior B Royals to reclaim their empire as champions, and wish Laurie Barron all the best in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 903]

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. 402

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

Whereas it has been 600 days since the member for Argyle was named to the Hamm Cabinet; (Interruptions)

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

Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am going to start again.

MR. SPEAKER: Start over again, please.

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

Whereas it is with great sadness that it has been 600 days since the member for Argyle was named to the Hamm Cabinet; and

Whereas in that time the minister has refused to implement policy that falls outside the realm of the coveted Tory blue book; and

Whereas such a rigid management style means the public is suffering under poor public policy that sees their taxes rise due to bracket creep;

[Page 904]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance should recognize that good public policy is not a partisan issue, and that he should immediately move to end bracket creep, which penalizes low- and middle-income Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 403

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

Whereas the true test of a community is how it looks after its members in times of need; and

Whereas Rosie Nevin, a Grade 3 student at Shubenacadie District School, had to travel to Toronto to be assessed for transplant surgery; and

Whereas her school, community, and many corporate businesses from Hants East and as far away as Halifax, came to Rosie's aid with a spaghetti dinner fundraiser;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the good deed of the Shubenacadie District School, Rosie's community and the various businesses who made her very necessary trip possible, and wish her good health in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 905]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 404

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

Whereas our local roads are of great concern to each and every member of this House; and

Whereas the member for Timberlea-Prospect shows exceeding distress for all our roads; and

Whereas this same member has undue consideration for the roads in Pictou West;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their sincere gratitude to the troubled Transportation Critic for his concern over roads in each of our areas, and assure him that his energy is better spent on the roads in Timberlea-Prospect. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 405

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

Whereas last month the Clare Acadiens hosted the 2001 Nova Scotia Midget B hockey championship tournament; and

Whereas the Acadiens played very well all through the tournament beating the TASA Ducks, the Trenton Steelers, the Sydney Leafs and the Cole Harbour Wings over the weekend; and

Whereas the Acadiens then went on to beat Trenton to win the 2001 Nova Scotia Midget B Championship;

[Page 906]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Clare Acadiens on their victory and wish them luck in the future.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don't know if it is appropriate at this time, but I think he might have been remiss. Maybe the member for Pictou West did ask for waiver on that, and I - and I know members of my caucus, anyway - certainly would . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on a resolution.

RESOLUTION NO. 406

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: It is a good point, though.

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

Whereas meeting the recreational needs in the communities from Goodwood to West Dover has been a priority for the Prospect and Area Recreation Committee; and

Whereas this committee, for the last eight years, has been chaired by volunteer Ken Beazley; and

Whereas this well-known, local schoolteacher has given of his time so freely for these years;

[Page 907]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank Ken Beazley for his many years of dedication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 407

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

Whereas the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade recently issued its 2000 Excellence in Business Awards to eight companies; and

Whereas more than 43 nominations were received for the 12th annual presentation; and

Whereas the Rising Star Award was presented to Jamie and Fred Whyte for their company Harbax Home Hardware, and the Community Builder Award was presented to EDS Canada Inc. and EDS Systemhouse;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all the nominees and wish them our best for a successful year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 908]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 408

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

Whereas child care educators are charged with a very important role in our society of being responsible for the care of our most valued possession, our children; and

Whereas child care educators are highly skilled individuals with expertise in cognitive and emotional development of children; and

Whereas child care educators are leaving the profession in droves because of low wages, lack of resources for professional development and non-availability of subsidized spaces;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister take the necessary steps to address these inadequacies, and implement a strategy to provide child care educators with a salary comparable with those in other provinces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 409

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

Whereas Jack Hartery has recently retired as President and General Manager of StoraEnso's plant in Point Tupper, Richmond County; and

[Page 909]

Whereas Jack Hartery joined Stora in 1974 as Service Manager, later becoming Production Manager in 1985, and President and General Manager in 1995, overseeing a plant which employs over 700 people; and

Whereas Jack Hartery oversaw the $1 billion expansion at StoraEnso, announced in December 1995, which saw the construction of the new supercalendered paper machine, now producing a product that has become an industry leader;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their best wishes and sincere thanks to Jack Hartery for his dedication to the economic development of the Strait area, and wish him and his family good health and happiness throughout his retirement.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 410

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Let's see if I have the same luck this time.

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

Whereas the management and staff of Wal-Mart's Port Hawkesbury location recently began a campaign to sell Wal-Mart cookbooks; and

Whereas the staff raised a total of $3,165 from the sale of the cookbooks, with Wal-Mart Canada kicking in an extra $1,335 for a total of $4,500; and

Whereas the management and staff contributed $1,500 each to the St. Ann Community and Nursing Care Centre, St. Martha's Regional Hospital Foundation and the Strait-Richmond Health Care Foundation;

[Page 910]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the management and staff of Wal-Mart's Port Hawkesbury location and Wal-Mart Canada for their hard work and support of local health institutions in the Strait 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.

Question Period will begin at 12:35 p.m. and will end at 1:35 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SEMPRA:

LICENCE - APPROVAL EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable but after weeks and weeks of public hearings, after tens of thousands of dollars were spent on high-priced lawyers, after millions of dollars were spent on the process to select a company to distribute natural gas in Nova Scotia, we are back to square one. That is because this government says, when it approved the licence for the distribution it failed to ask the fundamental question where the pipes would be laid. I want to ask the Premier, because Nova Scotians want to know, why did your government approve the Sempra licence without first knowing where those natural gas pipelines were to be laid?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the applicants for the franchise for natural gas distribution were informed by the Department of Transportation, by letter, of the policy of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, Province of Nova Scotia, with regard to laying high-pressure lines adjacent to highways.

[Page 911]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going back to the captain, the Premier. The Premier knows that Cabinet approved the licence. You were even given pictures, Mr. Premier, about where the lines were going to be running. People in New Brunswick, people in New England are cooking with our natural gas. Businesses that are competing with Nova Scotia businesses have or shortly will have access to our natural gas, while Nova Scotians have to sit and wait. That, Mr. Speaker, is all because of this government's incompetence. I want to ask the Premier, what does he have to say to the people who live outside of metro, the people who live in Yarmouth, the people who live in Bridgewater, Kentville, Truro, Sydney, to justify your government's incompetence?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member opposite really wants to ask about what the policy is relative to pipelines along the roadway, and I will refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have no objection to the installation of low-pressure lines adjacent to highways. In every Canadian jurisdiction, from coast to coast, they will not lay high-pressure lines in the shoulders of the highways.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will have to share some pictures with government members. The Premier's government may be extremely incompetent but the Premier is certainly very adept at one thing, that is trying to duck the issue. The shoulders in the roads are not the real issue, it is whether or not this government is, in fact, competent to manage the task of getting natural gas to Nova Scotians. I want to again ask, through you to the Premier, will he tell us an exact date when a new distribution plan will be in place, or will you be revoking Sempra's distribution licence if it does not agree to honour the timeline for distributions that they agreed to, will you do that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite aware that as a result of the URB hearings, Sempra went ahead and made a commitment to provide, over the next seven years, gas distribution to all 18 counties. That agreement is still in place and we expect agreements to be kept.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - TOBACCO SMUGGLING FINE: REDUCTION - EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. In Nova Scotia each year 1,400 people die due to tobacco-related illnesses and unfortunately the health issue has taken a real back seat with regard to the Minister of Finance. Tobacco smuggling fines have gone from a minimum of $10,000 to the tune of $250. On a comparative note, if you disturb a public sewer line in the Town of Bridgewater you are charged $445. My question to the Minister of Finance is, how does the minister justify caving in to tobacco-smuggling interests by reducing the fine so dramatically?

[Page 912]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to this issue, the honourable member is misinformed. It is $250 where no fine is specifically provided. There have been some problems with the courts looking at this situation. If the fines are too high, oftentimes the fines will not be implemented. So there have been provisions in here for gradual increases and I think that what we want to do is when people are brought forward and prosecuted for such offence, they face not only fines but that they be implemented by the court. This change is to do just that.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the minister's comments just recently heard. Littering on the highway, under the provincial government's fine, is $387. Now, littering is a serious issue, but it doesn't necessarily kill people. Somebody has gotten to this minister, somebody has gotten to this government. Somebody has gotten to this government in lobbying them on this issue. It is the only way to explain why littering is more important with regard to the issue, than killing people through tax-free tobacco. Will the minister withdraw the new fine structure and reintroduce the minimum fine of $10,000 for tobacco smuggling?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no. I want to say, first of all, I take offence to the member's comments that people have lobbied me. This is to put in place a process that will work and the honourable member himself knows (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious they don't want to hear the answer.

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

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we want to put fines in place that will be enforced by the courts and the member is using one clause whereby it is not specified. If he reads further in the bill, it talks about if there are less than 50 cartons, being an infraction, it will be not less than $500 and it will be not more than $2,500. Subsequently, with that it will increase, and if you get over 50 cartons the fine is not less than $2,500 and not more than $25,000. I want to see people prosecuted, but I want them to also pay the fines plus the taxes that they would have (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West on your final supplementary.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, no matter how the minister puts it, smuggling is illegal. Smuggling tobacco will kill people in the Province of Nova Scotia. He wouldn't put up the price of tobacco $8.00 a carton because he said he was afraid it would promote smuggling, but he can't be afraid of promoting smuggling if he is prepared to reduce the fine from a minimum of $10,000 to $250. My question again to the minister is, why won't the minister take a harder line on the smuggling of tax-free tobacco or cigarettes instead of caving in to the tobacco smuggling community in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 913]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find the questions amazing. Obviously in his capacity as minister in the past he hasn't been aware of what was actually going on. The changes that we are putting in place means that people will actually receive fines rather than receiving none. If that is what he wants, if he wants to go with the status quo, he can do that. This government wants to have fines that we put in place and smuggling will be dealt with and that is what we are doing.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SEMPRA:

LICENCE - APPROVAL CONCERNS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I won't go to the Premier this time because he doesn't seem to have any answers, so I will go to his hit man, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works said that he wrote Sempra a letter. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works where you and your government were at the time of the URB hearings when that issue wasn't raised. The government was silent. My question to the minister is, why were your concerns not raised before the government of which you are a member approved the licence to Sempra?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I think the honourable member should be made aware of the fact that on August 8, 1998, the Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Transportation adopted a policy with respect to natural gas lines adjacent to the pavement. This policy was sent to the proponents at the URB seeking the franchise to distribute gas in the Province of Nova Scotia. They were aware of the policy of this province which is identical to the policy for every province in Canada.

If the honourable member over there is suggesting that we should be first in line to go off and develop a new policy when we have been in the gas business for a year and other provinces have been in the business for 90 years, well, he is talking to the wrong person.

MR. HOLM: I would suggest an awful lot of people have been talking to the wrong people because they obviously were talking to this government. Quite clearly, the government should have known what their policies were when they signed the contract and gave approval for the licence. If they had a policy, they should have made the URB aware of that and they should have intervened at the hearings and they did not do that. The pictures which I showed before clearly demonstrated that.

[Page 914]

My question to the minister is, why were Nova Scotians misled, why weren't they told when they were approving the licence, that they did not really mean it, but they were going to be calling back on supposedly old policies after the fact?

MR. RUSSELL: The franchise agreement that was forwarded to Cabinet for signing for the URB said absolutely nothing about laying high-pressure lines in the shoulders of the highways of the Province of Nova Scotia. Nothing whatsoever.

MR. HOLM: Many might argue that this government has misled the people of this province and Sempra because that was a fundamental part of their application. By signing it, I would suggest that the government - by granting that licence, some legal people might argue - had approved that. We might be leaving ourselves open, or the government may have left us open, to a major lawsuit.

I want to go to the Premier this time because the Minister of Transportation says that they were in violation. My question again, quite clearly, to the Premier is, if Sempra applies to change their timelines for their distribution system - which they have indicated that they want to do - are you prepared to tell them that if they try to change their distribution plans, that you will ask that their licence be withdrawn?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite can be assured that Sempra has made a commitment to the people of Nova Scotia. They appeared before the URB, laid out their case and the URB made a recommendation to the province that they be awarded the franchise rights for the distribution of gas in Nova Scotia. Part of that contract involves the distribution over the next seven years to 18 counties. We expect Sempra, as we do with all our partners, to keep the contracts that they signed with the people of Nova Scotia.

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

FIN. - AMC: FIN. MEASURES (2001) ACT - CONSULTATION

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has told us about the financial side of this ridiculous decision to reduce tobacco fines, but I would like to know, and ask about, where that idea came from. We all know that AMC, which is a company owned by former Tory Cabinet Ministers George Archibald and George Moody, has been lobbying this government quite heavily. In fact, they recently represented bar owners in discussions with the government. Will the Minister of Finance tell the House if he had been in contact with either George Archibald or George Moody before he drafted the Financial Measures (2001) Act?

[Page 915]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have been in contact with George Archibald and George Moody many times, as former members of this House. I want to say very clearly that neither gentleman spoke to me, in any capacity whatsoever, about this issue, and for the member opposite to suggest that is not true.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is a member of the government that wants to rein in lobbyists but, at the same time, he is not telling us much about his involvement with a pair of Tory cronies who may have influenced his decision. If the minister doesn't want to talk about the two Georges then I will ask him something different. Can the minister tell this House what research was done, and who he consulted with, before he decided to change the fine structure for tobacco smuggling?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question, when I hear the honourable gentleman talk about two distinguished members who served this province for a long time and refer to them as two cronies, I believe he owes them an apology. I think the decorum of this House was lowered considerably with the comment that was made by that member opposite.

In regard to this suggestion, it came through at the staff level. I had no involvement in that. The recommendation came through for the reasons that I indicated earlier in Question Period today, that the present system was not working, these refinements will make the system work, and that is what we want to do, to have fines that will be applied and that people will pay. That is what we are looking to do.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, when the minister and his government apologize to Nova Scotians for what they are doing to them, I will apologize to the other two. Let me get back to the subject we are talking about. If the minister wanted to give the courts more leeway, all he had to do was lower the minimum fine and leave the maximum where it was. Who did this minister hear from that convinced him to lower the fine for tobacco smuggling?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have indicated before that the recommendation came through came from staff. For ourselves, we want the penalties that we have in place to work. The honourable member opposite has made comments that he would rather see the fine structured another way. The present system wasn't working, we made modifications to it, and for that I make no apologies. We want them to work. The present ones don't. For the honourable member to suggest otherwise is inappropriate. The staff recommendations came through, and we have accepted them. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Three questions only, thank you.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 916]

EDUC. - HRM CUSTODIAL STRIKE:

LEARNING ENVIRON. - SAFETY ENSURE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education. The strike of maintenance staff at the Halifax Regional School Board continues today. We are hearing from teachers that conditions inside the schools are getting worse; we are hearing, in fact, that deteriorating conditions are making some students and teachers sick. I take a very personal interest in this matter, both of my children are students in these deteriorating schools. I would like to ask the Minister of Education, is she aware of these occupational health and safety problems, and what plan does she have to ensure that the learning environment is safe for both students and teachers?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, well, obviously in any strike, conditions are not going to be excellent, to say the least. However, there have been no occupational health and safety hazards reported to us. There are inspectors from the Capital District Health Authority making random checks. They are doing 10 schools this week; they did one this morning. They are not informing the board in advance, so no one has any way of knowing when they are going to be inspected, and to date no health and safety dangers have been reported to the board or to the Department of Education.

MR. EPSTEIN: What is, in fact, happening here is that the minister downloaded cuts onto the boards and now the school board and HRM are trying to recoup, to make some savings on the backs of maintenance workers. The board's tactics and their approach are wrong, but let us not forget that the conditions for this strike were created by that government failing to provide enough funding for public education.

I would like the minister to tell us this. Will she revisit the funding level for public education to ensure that high standards of public health and safety are in no way sacrificed to budget trimming?

MISS PURVES: The issues in this strike have to do with pay and working hours and benefits for certain staff of the Halifax Regional School Board. The school board wants certain things and the custodial staffs want certain things. To date, they have not been able to work this out except through strike action. I hope they will be able to work it out.

People, school boards, hospital boards, provincial governments, municipal governments, have to deal with the budgets they have to deal with. It would be wonderful to be able to give everybody all the money they wanted, say yes to all the money they wanted and have everyone peaceful and happy forever and ever.

MR. EPSTEIN: The operative word in that answer was "hope", the minister hopes.

[Page 917]

I will tell the minister what is going on at my son's school. They are being told not to go to the bathroom so much, just to hold it in. Now, that is just great. Safe, clean schools are not an option, they are not a luxury. The work of the maintenance staff is fundamental to the learning environment of our children and it defines the working conditions of all school staff.

My question to the minister is, why will this minister not present her plan instead of just saying she hopes? Why will she not present her plan to ensure a fair and speedy resolution of this matter and ensure the cleanliness and safety of metro schools?

MISS PURVES: I see the NDP is again urging the government to take over school boards and we will take that advice under consideration.

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

JUSTICE - FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT:

INFO. - RELEASE POLICY

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. This morning our Liberal caucus released information on freedom of information requests made by our office. This Premier has said many times that his government is open, transparent and accountable. As far back as Page 145 of the blue book there were promises to improve the administration of the Freedom of Information Act. These FOIPOP requests were straightforward questions that required straightforward answers. Instead, what we got were censored documents and missing information.

My question to the Minister of Justice is, can he tell this House what his government's policy is on release of information through the Freedom of Information Act?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Our policy is to live up to the law.

MR. GAUDET: His government is, we believe, complying with the letter of the law, but when it comes to FOIPOP it certainly is not carrying on in the spirit of the Act. The Act states it exists, "(b) to provide for the disclosure of all government information . . .", in order to "(i) facilitate informed public participation in policy formulation," and of government decision making. Can the minister indicate to us, how can Nova Scotians expect to have access to the information they deserve when Opposition Parties aren't even given reasonable access?

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that in Nova Scotia we, in fact, have one of the most liberal and open disclosure laws in this country. The reality is, you get more information in Nova Scotia than almost any other place in this country.

[Page 918]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. The Premier has claimed that his government is open and accountable, but his own office waited 30 days to ask for an extension for a request the Department of Health met right away. I compliment the Minister of Health. How is his government open and accountable, when his own office drags its heels on a simple request for information?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is always very difficult when the member is not more specific as to which issue was being addressed in the freedom of information. I would remind the member that in complying with the law, requests that come into my office for information are not communicated with me. I don't know that these requests come in because clearly that was one of the commitments that we made, that we would not make a political interference when a request came into an office. So I don't know the request is coming in, so it would be very difficult for me, unless you are more specific, to answer your question if you are not prepared to tell us what freedom of information you are talking about and to allow me to investigate it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - FUNDING: PRIORITIES - EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my first question to the Premier. Every now and then circumstances come across your desk which tend to label a government in a callous nature, I think, of what they really stand for. I think the situation I am about to relate is an example of that. Tera Lee Bird is staying at Point Pleasant Lodge and cannot afford to pay for her own meals. She has recently had a kidney transplant and is on CPP. Tera Lee is receiving two $5.00 food vouchers from the health care system in place of a nutritional allowance that your government just cut. At the same time Tera Lee is being forced to scrimp for food, your government has increased funding to the Lieutenant Governor's budget by $58,000. I wonder who needs the money more. I want to ask the Premier how it is that his government has gotten so wrong. Can the Premier tell this House why his priority is to give the Lieutenant Governor more money while taking money from those who desperately need it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of where the government spends its money is a very difficult one when the government doesn't have enough money to spend. Part of the process that we went through shortly after we took office was to establish a list of priorities. As a result of those priorities, we have actually, this year, been able to put more money in the Education budget, more money in the Health budget, more money in the Community Services budget and I think that is where the money should go. It is true that government has some initiatives that it is has not gone forward with simply because there has not been enough money, but you have also heard the Minister of Health say that these people at Point Pleasant Lodge will not go hungry.

[Page 919]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, this government is providing Tera Lee with just $10 a day in nutritional vouchers, while the Department of Education spends $38,000 on snacks. That money could provide a lot of nutritional vouchers to people who are in need. How did this government go so wrong? When did it get its priorities so mixed up? I want to ask the Minister of Education, does she still feel comfortable spending $38,000 on snacks while people in real need are left to suffer?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the Minister of Health and he has assured this House that people who cannot afford to pay for meals will be taken care of at Point Pleasant Lodge. That is my answer to that question.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Health, instead of assuring the Minister of Education, could assure the people at Point Pleasant Lodge.

Mr. Speaker, the Kidney Foundation has found the level of funding to Terry Lee to be too little and are now supplementing her with a further $5.00 nutritional voucher. The Minister of Health said those in need would be taken care of. I don't think the Lieutenant Governor and the Department of Education staff are the ones he was talking about. I want to ask the Minister of Health, would he look up into the gallery and tell Tera Lee that he will take care of her nutritional needs, that this government will make her needs, and people like her, his number one priority?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I must say that this government has demonstrated its commitment by investing an additional $68 million in Health this year and I would remind the honourable member - and I think he well knows - that Point Pleasant Lodge is administered by the Capital District Health Authority and that was a decision made by it. The other thing is, the people who need the help get it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

PRIORITIES & PLANNING - SPENDING:

CABINET APPROVAL - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this morning, as part of the material revealed by my caucus colleagues, there were several memos to government staff indicating the Tory Cabinet's desire to curtail spending throughout government. There is one memo from the Minister of Finance, dated September 16, 1999; one from Dr. Patricia Ripley at P & P, dated March 9, 2000; and one from the minister responsible for P & P, dated May 24, 2000; that is three memos on the same subject in less than eight months. Can the minister responsible for Priorities and Planning tell the House what sort of things were being bought and how much money was being spent against the wishes of Cabinet?

[Page 920]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the memo was a generic message to the Cabinet Ministers, to pass on to their staff, that the priority of government was that we don't waste the taxpayers' money. I would imagine that the honourable member for Richmond would be onside with that request.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it appears that, unfortunately for the minister, a lot of his own colleagues are not onside with that request. The memo from Dr. Ripley clearly indicates there was a problem with spending in certain departments. It reads, "Cabinet is aware that there have been instances where departments . . . have not followed earlier directives restricting spending . . ." My question is, can the minister responsible for Priorities and Planning tell the House which particular departments were the problem and if they are now under control?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it was a generic message to all departments and the matter that was being looked at, at that time, was how we could curtail expenditures by members of the government in travelling to other venues outside of the province; in other words we wanted all travel expenses to be kept to a minimum.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it appears the message was being construed in different ways by government departments. The memo from the minister responsible for Priorities and Planning indicates that, "Ministerial approval is required for all . . . purchase . . . over $5,000." We have another memo from the Department of Health instructing contractors to simply break invoices down into smaller components so they can be fast-tracked without ministerial or Cabinet approval. We have to question whether this minister has any control over government-wide spending. My final supplementary is, will the minister tell the House how much money was spent without Cabinet or ministerial approval, contrary to the numerous directives, since this government has come to power?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know who writes the questions for the honourable member for Richmond, but whoever it is is certainly not in possession of the facts.

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

HEALTH - SENIORS' HOUSING:

HOME SALES - PENALTY EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health stated last week that when seniors go into a nursing home "the house is protected". Well, this isn't the case. I want to tell you about an elderly woman who needed to get into seniors' housing. She was told by Community Services that she had to sell the family home, but that it was okay because it would actually improve her chances of getting a senior's unit. She did what the department told her to do, she sold the home, she distributed the proceeds to her children. She then

[Page 921]

became ill and had to apply for a nursing home. The Department of Health looked at the income from the sale of the house, three years ago, and said to the children, you have to pay it back.

Mr. Speaker, this woman never even made it into seniors' housing, but she was told to sell her home. I want to ask the minister, why are you telling seniors to sell their home to get one service, and then penalizing them if they need another service?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the case to which the honourable member is referring, although I expect what he said was said in good faith. Although, it appears to me, from my knowledge of how this system works, that there must have been something, some part of the story that is missing some details.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, here come the details. I am talking about housing policy of the Department of Community Services, it is called Policy No. 7, which this family was given less than a month ago. It should be called policy catch-22, that is what it should be called. If you don't sell your house, you can designate it, but you can't get into seniors' housing. If you sell the house to get into seniors' housing and then have to move into a nursing home, the proceeds are seized. The family asked the obvious question, why didn't anyone tell us. The reply is, it is in the policy. I have both documents here. My question to the minister is, why isn't the public informed of the consequences of selling their home until it is too late?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, obviously, if the honourable member is prepared to table those policies - as he knows, those particular regulations are through the Social Assistance Act - I would have to take a look at them, and understand them, before I could give a really informed opinion.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is hard to believe that the Minister of Health doesn't know the regulation that seriously affects the seniors of this province. It is like saying to someone, when they have lost all their savings, you should have read the fine print. This government is taking advantage of the fact that two different departments provide these shelter and care services. I want to ask the minister - he knows that in the end it is the senior who loses out - when will this government commit to reviewing these two policies and making sure that seniors and their families don't lose out in the end?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if there is an inconsistency in the policy, I would be prepared to have that reviewed by appropriate people.

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

[Page 922]

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

TWINNING - COMMITMENT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Back in the provincial election in July 1999, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, when he was a candidate, in an all-candidates debate pounded his fists on the table and said, with or without federal government support he was going to proceed to have the construction of the twinning of Highway No. 101. In fact, he went on to say, in the Hants Journal on July 14th, move immediately to begin twinning Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and Windsor. My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is, does (Interruptions)

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very difficult to hear the honourable member's question. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, question please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, does he still stand by his commitment to proceed with the twinning of Highway No. 101 with or without federal help?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the previous Minister of Finance had not left the province's finances in such a chaotic mess, there would have been money available not only to twin Highway No. 101 but to take care of the mess that your Minister of Transportation left the highway system in.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, that honourable minister, when he was in a previous administration, was responsible for bankrupting the province; that is a fact. (Interruptions) Transportation is an emotional issue.

Mr. Speaker, just on March 29, 2001, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, as well as the Department of Finance issued a press release stating that Nova Scotia would set aside $5 million in capital funding this fiscal year to begin the twinning of Highway No. 101 if federal cost-share dollars become available. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, what happened to his commitment to proceed with the twinning of Highway No. 101 with or without federal help?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member has travelled down Highway No. 101, he will have noted that there has been continuous - and I mean continuous - construction on that highway for the last year and a half. I am pleased to inform the honourable member, that because of our pursuit of the federal government, that tomorrow I will be making an announcement with regard to Highway No. 101. (Applause)

[Page 923]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is good that as an effective Opposition we can force this government into doing things that they didn't want to do. We dragged them to the altar of justice. He knows that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, the final supplementary, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister is indicating that he will be entertaining an announcement tomorrow with the federal government on the twinning of Highway No. 101. Is the minister as well saying that the federal-provincial highways agreement is about to be signed since it has been signed with all the other provincial jurisdictions, for the most part? Is he in a position to announce the federal-provincial highway long-term agreement? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I didn't state that there would be a federal-provincial agreement on highways, I said that I will making an announcement tomorrow with regard to the federal government providing funding to assist the province with the twinning of Highway No. 101. Wait for the announcement, stay tuned.

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

HEALTH - MRI CLINICS (PRIVATE): EQUIPMENT - USAGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday in Supply, the minister confirmed that they had received proposals to establish private MRI clinics in the province. We are aware that space is being sought for these clinics and that the proponents have been saying they are receiving a very favourable response from the government. The minister has said that they intend to lease time from these clinics, but there will be no queue-jumping. My question to the minister is this, what will the company be doing with the MRI scanners during the time when the government is not leasing them?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think, probably to begin with, we should put the question in context. I believe he said we had received proposals, that is not correct. A proposal would imply that there was something formal presented to the department, about the establishment of private MRI clinics. That is not so. There was an inquiry and an expression of interest, it was not a proposal.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, pardon me, the government has received inquiries that have been favourably received by the minister, as I recall. The minister apparently doesn't know what these inquirers are going to do with the MRIs. Inquiring minds want to know. I

[Page 924]

find it hard to imagine that a private for-profit company would allow a machine worth thousands of dollars to simply sit idle. I want to ask the minister, will he assure Nova Scotians that this company will not be providing privately-funded MRIs to a select client base, at a premium?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as part of the ongoing planning process, in terms of capital equipment needs here in the province, we are reviewing how additional MRI services will be established. It will be some time before we determine what additional MRI resources are needed in this province. When we determine what, then we will be in a better position to determine how.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, first it is the MRI clinics that they got inquiries about, and then the minister says, oh yes, there is the contracting out of laboratory services that we have had an inquiry about. This is the thin edge of the wedge into our publicly-funded health care system. This was meant to provide, and ensure health care services are provided, to all persons equally, regardless of their ability to pay. I want to ask the minister, why have you decided to privatize the public health care system rather than protect it?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the Department of Health has not decided to privatize the health care system in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

JUSTICE - USER FEES: LEGISLATION - ACCOUNTING

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Eurig estate court decision requires that government introduce legislation in order to justify the probate fees. The Auditor General recently found that many of the government user fees that are currently in place are not justified as cost-recovery measures. In fact, like the Registry of Deeds, they have no rationale at all. My question to the minister is, does the Justice Minister have any accurate accounting of all the user fees that require legislation, like the legislation required for probate fees?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his inquiry. Frankly, I am not aware of any user fees or fees being charged in the province that require legislation. In point of fact, the honourable member mentioned registry fees. The difficulty with registry fees was that registry fees were a tiny fraction of the cost of actually providing the service. In point of fact, those charges were not sufficient to cover the reasonable cost of service.

MR. DOWNE: It is apparent that this government is very sensitive about the amount of user fees and taxes that they are clawing out of the pockets of Nova Scotians. It is pretty clear that this government also has no idea what fees require legislation and what user fees

[Page 925]

are justified. Does the minister have any idea, any idea at all how much unjustified user fees could end up costing the government if they are not in a court challenge?

MR. BAKER: Firstly, as I indicated to the honourable member earlier, to my knowledge there are no user fees that do not meet the legal test. Secondly, the premise of the question is based upon some court challenge which has not yet occurred. Thirdly, frankly, if there is a problem, we can do what the honourable member's government failed to do, which is to rectify the situation by legislation.

MR. DOWNE: Maybe they will end up in court before they know it with regard to challenges on this issue. My question to the minister is, will the minister, before the end of the day, indicate what legislation must come forward to justify the current user fees?

MR. BAKER: Actually, I will be glad to do that before the end of the half hour. None to my knowledge.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - PLOWING (HWY. NO. 28):

EMERGENCIES - EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this has been a particularly hard winter on Cape Bretoners. Last week as a storm was raging, a young woman named Nicole MacDonald was riding home from work. She became stuck on the main artery on Highway No. 28. The driver behind her who offered her assistance also became stuck, as did a tow truck driver. These three people ended up stuck in the storm in their vehicles overnight. They had to wait 19 hours for a plow to come and give them assistance. Your department justified this 19 hour wait, saying there were other more pressing emergencies where assistance was required. My question to the minister is, what were those more pressing emergencies?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what those emergencies were, however, I will find out.

MR. CORBETT: That is a disgrace in this day and age. As the storm raged, these people were using their cell phones to reach 911, DOT, and the hours grew longer. Their gas ran out of their vehicles that kept them warm, their cell phone batteries died and contacts with their friends and family and emergency services were then cut off. They told me they felt completely and desperately isolated.

I want to ask the Minister of Transportation if he thinks being stranded for 19 hours, for a young woman with an arthritic condition, is an emergency, if not, what would he consider to be an emergency?

[Page 926]

MR. RUSSELL: I have every sympathy for people who get stuck in storms, however, I know that government is omnipotent but unfortunately, we cannot control the weather.

MR. CORBETT: It is not a matter of controlling the weather, it is a matter of providing services to Nova Scotians which they pay their tax dollars for. That is what it is about. To tell the truth, Mr. Minister, this happened because you wanted to save a lousy couple of bucks. The real problem here is that you just do not care about Cape Bretoners, isn't that the fact here?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I care very much about Nova Scotians and in particular, Cape Bretoners. My mother-in-law is one.

[1:30 p.m.]

In all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, I regret to hear about what happened to the lady; I am sure there is a proper explanation. I will find out what the explanation is if the honourable member would supply me with a few facts with regard to place and names, et cetera.

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

ECON. DEV. - ECONOMY (SOUTHWESTERN N.S.):

UNEMPLOYMENT - CONCERN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the mother-in-law of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is from Cape Breton; I knew there was something I liked about him.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Unemployment in Nova Scotia last month went from 8.8 per cent to 10.2 per cent, province-wide; in fact every region of the province saw their rate go up over last month. The worst rise in unemployment came in the southern region of the province, where over 2,000 people lost their jobs. My question to the minister is, does the stalling economy in southwestern Nova Scotia cause this minister any concern about this area and all of Nova Scotia?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. Of course, any time you see a rise in unemployment figures, it is a cause for concern. Certainly southwestern Nova Scotia has gone through some difficult times in terms of the collapse of the fisheries, so we are watching in all regions and attempting to address those problems with opportunities such as the recent announcement with Tesma or Register.com.

[Page 927]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, when did Tesma get into southwestern Nova Scotia? (Interruptions) Anyway, maybe he is telegraphing something today that Tesma is getting ready to go to southwestern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we know that the minister's department is watching it; we want to know what they are doing about it in that particular department. The North American economy is slowing and there is no plan coming from this minister, no alarm bells ringing in his office. I would ask the minister again, what is the minister's plan to deal with the possible economic slowdown in Nova Scotia, and in particular in areas of high unemployment such as southwestern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the member opposite. Certainly the performance of Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Region has been much stronger than our sister provinces, and in fact independent analysis has indicated that while the American economy may be in a downturn mode, they still view that the economic growth for Nova Scotia will be positive in the year to come.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this minister is throwing useless words at the problem. He says the Nova Scotia economy is strengthening when in effect the unemployment rate went from 8 per cent to 10 per cent, and in some areas of Cape Breton it is much higher at 25 per cent to 30 per cent to 40 per cent and in Guysborough County as well.

My final supplementary to the minister is, the 30 or 40 jobs over the next six months to one year in Yarmouth are not going to solve the problem in that area of Nova Scotia, where the unemployment rate is 12.4 per cent at the present time. What is the minister specifically going to do to address the current problems with the unemployment rate throughout this province, and in particular in his own area of the province?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the member opposite. The recent announcement of Register.com in Yarmouth will ultimately result in 300 direct jobs and a number of indirect jobs. Certainly when there are opportunities to help and support and grow business initiatives, whether in Yarmouth or Digby, or any other part of the province, we will be there to assist in the appropriate manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage. You have about 30 seconds.

EDUC. - FRENCH LANGUAGE:

FUNDING - EQUITABILITY ENSURE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Yesterday, for the second year in a row, it came to light that the minister has taken federal

[Page 928]

funds and, instead of spending it directly on French programs, has put it into other services. My question to the minister is, we recently heard from the Federation of Acadians that they believe one of their goals is to obtain equitable funding for education; when is this minister going to ensure that equitable funding for French language education is provided?

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

The honourable member for Richmond on an introduction.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of doing a couple of introductions. In the west gallery, I have the pleasure of introducing to this House, a familiar face for many of us, a former member of this House, a former member for Antigonish and I would say one of the finer gentlemen ever to serve in this House, Mr. Hyland Fraser. I would ask the House to welcome him. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. Fraser to the House today. I sat as a colleague in this House with him and welcome today, Mr. Fraser.

The honourable member for Richmond on another introduction.

M. MICHEL SAMSON: Merci, M. le Président. J'ai aussi l'honneur d'introduire un visiteur dans la galerie de l'ouest. Un résident du Petit-de-Grat dans le conté de Richmond, et aussi le président du conseil scolaire acadien provincial. J'aimerais introduire à la Maison, M. Yvon Samson. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all visitors to the House today.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of clarification. The member for Cape Breton The Lakes asked me a question the other day with regard to a letter from Dr. Jeff Scott. I just want to clarify. I told him I would get back to the House. We have distributed the letter to recreational leaders and municipal leaders throughout the province as well as various sports clubs, and hockey organizations throughout the province. We are currently working on additional strategies with regard to the letter.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. During my questioning of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the minister made some comments about who had written the question, the fact that we did not have the proper information and assuming or inferring that somehow we were misleading the House in the comments that I was making in my questions. I would like to table with the House immediately a memo from the minister, himself, dated May 24, 2000 regarding spending; also a memo from Emergency Health Services suggesting that invoices be broken down so that they do not need ministerial approval; also a memo from Patricia Ripley dated March

[Page 929]

9, 2000 saying Cabinet is aware there have been instances where departments, agencies, boards, commissions and Crown Corporations have not followed earlier directives restricting spending, particularly on new furniture; and also a memo dated September 16, 1999 reducing non-essential spending from the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, I think this clearly shows that the line of questioning was appropriate. I feel that the minister misled this House by making the statements that he did make and I would ask that you have the minister retract those statements.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member rose on a point of privilege and I will take it under advisement and report back to the House.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to rise on a point of privilege and be allowed to clarify some comments which I made and some comments which I did not make and were attributed to me.

There has been considerable interest in the press, the print and in the broadcast media, about some comments I made last week regarding doctors and patients who smoke. Last Friday I was interviewed by a Truro radio station about the increase in tobacco taxes and what it meant here in Nova Scotia and other issues around tobacco use. In response to a direct question, I said that I did hear there were a couple of doctors in Nova Scotia who would not treat patients who smoked.

Today it was reported in the Halifax Daily News that I said that these doctors were from Truro. That I did not say. It was reported this morning in The Halifax Chronicle-Herald that I did not know the names of the physicians who would not treat patients who smoked and that is true. Mr. Speaker, the point of the whole thing was that physicians, and it is part of the education thing, and my comments basically answered direct questions.

One of the other statements that was attributed to me was that I said that people who smoke and they go to the doctor, they should pay a premium as part of the anti-smoking strategy. That I didn't say either. The issue is that some people develop an issue related directly to smoking. The only way that their health will improve is if they stop smoking. If that person doesn't quit or cut down, then it is difficult for a physician, in some cases, to proceed with any other treatment. I don't believe that is widespread. If you hit that situation, then the relationship between the physician, the doctor, isn't really doing much for anybody. Anyway, the way the story has been reported, it has kind of taken on a life of its own, and I do apologize for any confusion that this caused. I would encourage Nova Scotians who smoke to stop. I also encourage doctors with patients who smoke to help them stop.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 930]

The honourable Minister of Health rose on a point of privilege (Interruption) Order, please. Obviously, that wasn't questions or statements directed to the honourable minister here, so it would not be a point of privilege; certainly, a clarification of facts in the local newspapers but not a point of privilege as far as the House is concerned.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, addressing the point of privilege . . .

MR. SPEAKER: It was not a point of privilege.

DR. SMITH: You have ruled already?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

DR. SMITH: Can I compliment the minister, on starting to get it right on about his third try?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West was on his feet first.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege, I, too, would like to stand in regard to the Minister of Finance's comments in regard to the discussion we had earlier in Question Period, where he indicated, as I recall, that the minimum fine would not be $250, where, in fact, in the Act, it points out that on Section 89(1), it goes on to point out, it provides summary convictions to the fine of not less than $250 and not more than $5,000. So I would like to inform the Minister of Finance, if I heard him correctly, that he was not properly briefed on that particular point.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, since we are on a roll, I will try it one more time. In my answer to the honourable member, I indicated that the minimum fine would be $250, where not otherwise specified. If he didn't hear me correctly, that is what I said. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West rose on a point of personal privilege. I will review Hansard and report back to the House with my decision.

[Page 931]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I feel that now would be an appropriate time to speak to the House and, hopefully, to all Nova Scotians about a deterioration, I think, in regard to the agricultural community. In recent days, the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Lyle Vanclief, had made statements around the fact that Prince Edward Island potato farmers should maybe consider not planting a crop this year in light of the battle that has ensued regarding the potato wart since last fall.

Mr. Speaker, scientific evidence has indicated, and I think the government has tried to make a case that there is no significant evidence that the American potato industry would be in any danger if we were to export the crop from Prince Edward Island, or at least that part of the crop from Prince Edward Island that would go the U.S. market. I think what is also evident is that the American potato crop last year was somewhere in the range of the value in tonnage similar to that of the Prince Edward Island export crop. Therefore, to have an equivalent amount of potatoes put on the market that would be similar to the surplus that the Americans had generated last year would obviously cause a problem for American farmers.

I think what we have to consider, in the comments of the federal minister, is that Canadian farmers rely on the federal Minister of Agriculture to take a far more proactive role in promoting and defending the agricultural industry in this country. I would say, certainly his comment related the potato crop to widgets, and to assume that what farmers do, the investment they make, not just in dollars, Mr. Speaker, but also in regard to a lifelong commitment, and perhaps not just one life but in generations, that they put into their farms in blood, sweat and tears.

[Page 932]

[1:45 p.m.]

Now, I would say that certainly the corporatization of the resource base is something that has been going on and some people would say that this is the only way that it can ever survive, but I disagree. What makes any business survive is the relationship of your debt load or your outflow of cash to your inflow of cash. I would say that there is ample evidence to indicate that people can be relatively efficient if they are able to secure a market that is relatively stable.

Now up until this year, the Prince Edward Island potatoes certainly had not run into any recent major problem. PVYN, if members will remember, was another incident that had occurred and a battle ensued. Not that I intend to dwell specifically on the Prince Edward Island potato farmers but I think it is the minister's comments that indicate the emphasis that the federal government - and certainly we would expect the federal minister to be the lead man when it comes to agriculture in the country, and the federal government's particular view toward that industry.

We see that not only in the federal government but we have seen it in our provincial government as well. Last year, in particular, was a particularly disastrous year for the agricultural community in this province with the cuts that were made to the Department of Agriculture and in particular to the Production Technology Branch. Now, Mr. Speaker, I think we all will generally agree that in varying degrees the members of this House will differ philosophically and politically but to that end, we all will agree, very closely, philosophically and politically.

I think that what we have to ask ourselves is do we see a real value in the agricultural community and its contribution to this province? The answer should be yes. There is a real value there. In some of our communities, the resource base is all that sustains those communities. It is all that is a job creator and a generator of wealth. I think if we were to look at what governments have put into the agricultural community over the years and what we have gotten in return, that it has been a good investment. Certainly in recent years we know that the investment has decreased and that is partly due to the GATT agreement, the free trade agreements, et cetera. I can say the Americans have been particularly good at attacking the Canadian agricultural community.

I have a booklet here put out by the former Department of Agriculture and Marketing, Agriculture Statistics 1998. It goes back to 1981, the number of agricultural holdings. So between 1981 and 1996, there was a reduction of a little over 1,000 farms. In other words, 1,000 operations disappeared. I think the common view is that when farms go out of business, that part of the agricultural community buys them up; in other words, that the acreage remains the same and that farms just keep getting bigger. But that is not the case. In the case of those 1,000 operations, the farm size increased by about 11 acres over those 15 years. Even though 1,000 different farm operations went out of business, the existing

[Page 933]

operations in the province basically did not increase significantly, or we could say they did not increase at all in size. When they are gone, they are gone.

I would say it is to the best interest, not only of the government, because farms are a revenue generator and making an environment that is secure for farming, as much as possible, is in the best interests of all Nova Scotians. It is in the best interests of Nova Scotians with regard to keeping communities alive; that allows you to keep a school open, that allows you to keep a doctor in that community, and these are problems that rural communities are facing. I would say it is far cheaper to offer some support to the community rather than abandon it and then try to take care of those people either through community services or some other mechanism.

We know that the agricultural community has lost a voice as far as its collective voice as voters, and we have seen this since the 1940's as more and more of the concentration of the population has been urbanized and less of it has been in the rural areas. Even though not everybody in the rural areas is a farmer, so their clout as a voter has basically disappeared. They rely on the vision of the members who come to this House or come to any House, whether it is the House of Commons or this House of Assembly or any House of Assembly across this country, that the members who go there will consider the significance and the importance of that industry and make decisions that will enhance that industry.

This has not been the case. Last year's budget and what happened as a result of it certainly is an indicator of how this government feels about the agricultural community. The worst of it is that it is still not sure how those decisions are going to spin out. I would say, considering a party that has a significant portion of its voter base, power base, coming from rural Nova Scotia, that the agricultural community should have had a stronger voice. I have to say that I envy the Tory Government. I would love for our Party to have the support in rural Nova Scotia that the Tory Government has.

I would like to know why this Tory Government would abandon rural Nova Scotia at a time when there are so many other factors attacking the farm community, and if the government was to think about creating jobs, this is a sector that you can do that. Even if we regard it in terms of traditional agriculture, there is a place for job creation there. But members never stop to think about the potential in organic agriculture, which is expected to increase by 30 per cent this year; 60 per cent in Europe is the increase that is predicted. There are areas that the industry itself - actually, the market - is moving forward that there is a real potential for growth and there is a place to create jobs, generate revenue which would be to the benefit of the province if you are concerned about debt reduction.

Mr. Speaker, I should get you to tell me how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately two minutes.

[Page 934]

MR. MACDONELL: Okay, thank you. This is a case where all members could recognize that money put into the agricultural sector is an investment, it is not a cost. I think you have to recognize that when Nova Scotians pay taxes they expect to get service for their dollar. We seem to have taken the view, or the government seems to have taken the view, that whatever they take in is theirs and it has no relationship to what it is that Nova Scotians need. We will take it from you, we will spend it as we see fit, and there is no relationship between that and your needs.

Mr. Speaker, I would like all members to consider the danger that lies in abandoning the agricultural community. It is in their best interest, in Nova Scotia's best interest, to support them and I want to thank the members for their time.

MR. SPEAKER: Just before I recognize the honourable member for Victoria, I would like to rule on a point of order that was submitted on April 3rd by the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture while the honourable member for Richmond was debating going into Supply. I have reviewed Hansard and, in fact, it is not a point of order; it is merely a dispute between two honourable members.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification on the issue the member brought up. He indicated that since this government has taken over that tourism numbers have gone down. I have gone back, just to make sure for the honourable member, and since August 1, 1999, the previous 19 months, in fact tourism revenues have grown by 10 per cent - using the economic impact model - compared to the previous 19 months under the Liberal Regime.

MR. SPEAKER: That also is not a point of order, but it does shed some light on the issue.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, just on a point. I am certainly pleased with your initial ruling in regard to the point of order from the Minister of Tourism and Culture. You will recall that I rose on a point of personal privilege after the minister had accused me of misleading this House, whereas I tabled a press release from the minister himself showing that the tourism numbers in this province had gone down, as I had indicated in my statement. I did ask at that time that you review it and that you rule and that the minister be ordered to apologize for making that accusation and to withdraw that here in this House. I have not heard that ruling yet, and I would ask you to make that ruling now and to indicate to this House what your ruling is on the point of personal privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, if you had permitted me, I was going to rule on the point of personal privilege that you did bring to the House on April 3rd and, in fact, I have determined that once again it is not a point of personal privilege; nonetheless, again, it is a dispute between two honourable members.

[Page 935]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I must say that I am very disappointed with the ruling that you have made in light of the press release that was tabled in this House which clearly showed that the minister had indicated that the numbers were down. I find it quite serious when ministers accuse members of the Opposition of misleading this House, especially intentionally misleading this House. I do not feel that that is a dispute among members. I feel that is extremely strong language and something which should not be tolerated in this House. I would hope that the Speaker is not setting a precedent where ministers are able to stand on their feet and intentionally accuse members of misleading this House.

On that, Mr. Speaker, it is clear that those numbers went down. I would suggest that the minister would do best to go back to his department, do his work to get those numbers up, rather than picking fights in this House that he . . .

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

Order, please. I would caution all honourable members and advise honourable members that to accuse another honourable member of intentionally misleading the House is unparliamentary.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege. I, in no way, said that the member would mislead the House. What I did say, and if you will check Hansard - if I remember my words correctly - I believe I said that I would hope that the member would never mislead, and I know that he wouldn't but I just wanted to make that point.

MR. SPEAKER: I think that point is well taken because, after examining Hansard, I didn't denote the terminology intentionally; however I stand to be corrected.

The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to take some time of the House of Assembly today to make some comments and to bring forth some of the concerns of my constituents. As many of the members already know, I represent the beautiful riding of Victoria, which includes all of Victoria County as well as the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, including Meat Cove and Pleasant Bay in Inverness County. I repeat, it is beautiful, even under a thick blanket of snow.

[2:00 p.m.]

I want to thank the good people of my riding for their patience with me as we struggle to raise the issues which concern them as we try getting our message across to this Premier and this government. Our message is that there are rural areas that are completely forgotten

[Page 936]

by this government, and Victoria County is certainly one of those areas that they do not seem to care about.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you have noticed the way I am travelling relative to seating in the House. I began over there and made the circuit and I am still travelling clockwise; although I am getting close to the exit door, that does not mean I am going anywhere for a while. But I am going around and I expect to make another circle and I am sure my constituents will endorse that move. I hope to make my comments today important. As my caucus is looking straight ahead, we are focused forward, not just in the seats across the aisle, but on forming the government after the next election.

The government says it is committed both to enhancing tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia and to improving roads, the latter being at the top of their list of promises to Nova Scotia during the election campaign of 1999. I was happy to hear that at the time since my riding depends very heavily on tourism as an economic base. One of the main attractions which serve to bring the travelling public to the Province of Nova Scotia is the prospect of coming to Cape Breton and driving around the beautiful Cabot Trail.

We all know the 180 miles of the Cabot Trail winds through spectacular scenery, through sloping hills, along the waterfronts, along the shorelines and passes through many beautiful villages. I was happy to hear that this government was committed to enhancing tourism and improving roads. It is my fervent wish that they begin with these improvements to the Cabot Trail that they talked about. Shamefully, last year, only one-half a kilometre of road was paved in my riding.

Last week I brought to the attention of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works a bridge in Middle River which was put out of commission over a month ago. That bridge is still broken and no efforts have been made to repair that structure. The minister said in answer to a question last week that it was only a two mile detour around that bridge - well, the minister does not have his facts straight. I measured it on Saturday and it is a nine kilometre detour.

Not only the distance of the detour, it poses a very dangerous situation in the threat of fire. Firefighting equipment is very heavy-laden equipment and to transport this over an alternate route, over another 100 year old bridge, a one-lane bridge, poses a great risk.

One of the most serious problems facing my riding is that of the high unemployment rate. We are probably the highest in the province at the moment. We have been attempting to find an area of employment for our area which will provide a measure of employment security for all our people. As well, it has to be safe for our environment.

[Page 937]

Mr. Speaker, we think we have found that in the proposal by Bounty Bay mussel farm from Prince Edward Island, who have applied for a lease for St. Anns Bay. They are also proposing to process the mussels in the area, which would certainly provide even more employment opportunities. I would urge the government to support that venture and to finally take the concerns of rural Nova Scotia more seriously.

Mr. Speaker, we realize and we all know that there could be some concerns about the impact of the size of the lease and the environmental effects it may have, but I am confident that the proper assessments will take place to everyone's satisfaction.

I am also pleased to hear that this government is committed to educating our youth and improving the quality of life for our young families. Changes within the Department of Community Services will provide opportunities for people who make the transition from the welfare system to the workforce. Assistance will be provided for those people who want to attend community college, therefore, providing them with the tools to become employed at good paying jobs and here at home.

This brings to mind, Mr. Speaker, a young woman in my constituency who has four small children, who has been trapped in the system for nearly 10 years. She overcame extreme odds to be accepted into the Bachelor of Science and Nursing Program at St. F.X. University in the fall of 2000. She was unable to move her young family to Antigonish, and she thought all was lost. Fortunately, at that time the previous Liberal Government had the foresight to address the nursing shortage problem by funding 25 nursing seats at the University College of Cape Breton. This young woman was able to transfer to the UCCB and is currently finishing her second year of study.

Mr. Speaker, these past months have been a constant struggle for her. She is trying to achieve a nursing degree, which in itself is a difficult task. She is also trying to raise her four young children and, if that isn't enough, the Department of Community Services, which claims to be trying more to move people easily from the welfare system to the workforce, removed her benefits. She was informed in December, as she was preparing to write her exams and worrying about providing Christmas for her children, that she would no longer be eligible for benefits under the Income Assistance Program. She would now be expected to borrow her living expenses through student assistance.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, maximum student aid is not enough to cover the living expenses of a family of five. She continues to struggle and hopes that somehow she will be able to continue until she graduates, which will almost certainly ensure her of a full-time, well-paid, fulfilling position in the medical profession, at the same time addressing the need for additional nurses in this province.

[Page 938]

Mr. Speaker, it would be wonderful if the Department of Community Services had the foresight to help families like this achieve that goal, but instead families are forced to jeopardize their chances for a productive life when they could make a sincere contribution to our society instead of suffering the indignity of being a drain on the taxpayers of the province. No doubt they would love an opportunity to land on their feet and stay there.

Mr. Speaker, I am also reminded of another young woman from Neils Harbour, who several years ago was attempting to improve her employability by attending classes in Sydney in hopes of becoming a personal care worker. There were positions for personal care workers available locally in the community at the Highland Manor, and she was hoping to capitalize on this opportunity. She ran into the same problem, but when she contacted our office and I notified the Department of Community Services of her situation, the Liberal Government took the steps necessary to make it possible for this young woman to attend school and keep her benefits intact. She is now fully employed and doing very well, and her family is happy.

Mr. Speaker, living in rural Nova Scotia has wonderful advantages and most of us do consider it a gift and wouldn't trade it for any other lifestyle. It does, however, have its drawbacks. If you choose to live in rural Nova Scotia, you need to have access to good, dependable methods of transportation.

Mr. Speaker, I note that the Throne Speech indicated this government would like to put Nova Scotians who live outside the urban centres on a level footing with everybody else; therefore, they have committed to fast and efficient government services. There is a gentleman in my riding who would be very interested to hear this. He moved here from Quebec a year ago, after living and working in that province for many years. Although this man had a perfect driving record, even had certificates of commendation from the Province of Quebec for his driving record, and followed the proper procedures, it took nearly eight months for him to get a Nova Scotia driver's license.

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

MR. MACASKILL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to make a few comments on the budget and the estimates, and how they affect Kings West and our people who are involved in it and the contributions that they make. I would like to start out by saying how pleased I am from the health standpoint by our district health board, how I think the quality of people on that board is excellent. They have started to gel and are providing a wonderful service under the chairmanship of Dave Logie.

[Page 939]

Also, I am pleased to say that Health, and other departments as well, were able to increase budget spending somewhat, although not to what certainly we would like to see, but it is an improvement. I think the people of Nova Scotia are looking for that balance of fairness, to deal with the budget and also to balance that along with providing services that needed to be provided. I commend the government on that initiative.

In the health range, I am equally pleased that there are some plans in place to get seniors into housing that they desperately need, for home care improvement and also to have a plan that has obviously been neglected or not in place in the past few years, so that we will have a sustainable health program that is affordable and yet provides the services that Nova Scotians need and deserve. Again, I applaud the Department of Health and the government for that initiative.

I see the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services working very closely together, and I am pleased. There are issues where people who have been caught up in a trap of the Community Services programs for a number of years have an opportunity to get education that they might need to break that cycle, or to stay on Pharmacare for a little bit longer, to have their children receive a little bit more funding so that they can get off this welfare trap they have found themselves in. I think that although it will not serve everyone's needs, it certainly is a big improvement. I think it is to be commended; this is in an initiative that is past its time.

I would like to just take a few moments to speak on, when we talk in here about seasonal workers, I think it is important to realize that every time we eat a blueberry or a strawberry or whatever, these are picked manually by seasonal workers, usually. Somehow we get the impression, people either don't realize or don't appreciate the service these people provide. Seasonal workers are extremely important in Nova Scotia, to the farming community and to the very population, because without them this produce would not come to the marketplace.

I think we need to have a better understanding and systems in place that will help these people. I know many families that have worked diligently and raised their families, provided housing, food and sent them to university, where the mother and father have worked as seasonal workers. It is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. It is an honourable job and these are people who are contributing to our society. I think we need to understand the contribution made by all people in our society.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to just mention two or three people in Kings West who have been innovative and have provided the area with some excellent business opportunities, they have become major employers and have really had exceptional success.

[Page 940]

I would like to point out Steven Avery of Kingston. Steven's family was involved in the farming occupation for several generations, but he saw an opportunity where he not only farms, but has started to put in fresh farm markets. They have grown and he has them positioned in the Valley and also in metro providing fresh produce, breads and pastries and so on. He has now, I think, six or so of these outlets, and what it contributes to our economy is encouraging. Not only is the farm labour involved, but there also is the transportation and the retail clerks, the packaging. So it is interesting how one small individual with a vision can contribute to our economy and make Nova Scotia grow.

Another individual I would like to mention is Rolf Myers, a gentleman who came as a young man to the Kingston area from Switzerland, and is a very well-educated individual. Rolf speaks five or six languages, did tours in the Himalayas and so on, led people and continues to this day to go to various areas of the world doing guiding work in the wintertime. Last winter, for example, he was in Cuba as a translator and as an agricultural consultant.

Rolf bought a farm that many would say you could not grow much on. It had several gravel pits and that type of thing and had not been a successful farm at any time in the past. Rolf contacted the Department of Agriculture asking for assistance and was told that perhaps he should look for better land in the Valley area because there was certainly an abundance of it. Well, Rolf would not accept this, he felt that he could do something - he studied and did research - and lo and behold, in a short period of time, Rolf took what was previously a gravel pit and was producing the earliest crops in the area, receiving top dollar for produce that was probably a month ahead of other people and had developed a program whereby the Department of Agriculture and the college in Truro were asking Rolf how he was doing it.

It was interesting and Rolf has continued this process and the point I am trying to make here is that land that was not seen as viable for farming now is considered Cornwallis soil. The people of Kings County who are working on land usage and controls for farmland are now taking a close look at this to make sure that we don't turn areas that can be used for good agricultural land into residential or into gravel pits. Another success story and Rolf employs approximately 60 or 70 people during the seasons; some full-time, some seasonal.

How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member has about seven and one-half minutes left.

MR. CAREY: A true success story in our area is the Annapolis Valley Peat Moss Company. Those of you who follow the business books and so on, who read up on what is going on in Nova Scotia, are aware of Henry Endres and his peat bog. He has been recognized worldwide as an innovator and a person who has run and developed a world-class business.

[Page 941]

This particular area between Berwick and Aylesford, in the 1940's was strictly a bog. Some local business people invested a small amount of money and found that this peat, they really didn't have much market for it, but they thought it might have some use. They continued to work away at it for a few years until they hired a gentleman from the U.S. to come and he did develop the bog and some markets.

But in the 1960's - I think the mid-1960's, early 1970's - Henry Endres came along and those of you who have met Henry would recognize quite quickly that he is an extremely intelligent, ingenious and innovative person. Henry took this bog as the manager and, in a few short years, he became the owner. Equipment which was specialized for peat bog use, he developed a good amount of it, in the fabrication and so on taking place at his own facilities.

Today, they are harvesting with 150 horsepower tractors and vacuum systems, and it is an environmentally good operation that protects the environment and employs a large number of people. Henry, through this exercise, has developed peat bogs in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and also has an outlet in North Carolina. Also exciting about this industry, with Henry and the people that he employs, is the fact that he has developed products that are used worldwide. When we get mushrooms from Japan, for example, a special variety of peat moss, the type that was used to grow these, came from the Annapolis Valley Peat Moss Company Ltd. When an oil spill takes place anywhere around the world, a product that Henry has developed to absorb oil - because it can also be used on land as well as water, with this peat moss in it - has become a world leader in that market. Of course, we have the potting plants, and for topsoil and various products that have been developed out of this facility.

He continues to expand, to grow the industry. Henry exports to over 40 countries in the world and, as I said previously, is well recognized in not only Canada, but worldwide as a leader in business. I have had the pleasure in the past of dealing with Mr. Endres, and the fact that he purchased 60 tractors a year from my company sort of endeared him to me. Nevertheless, an outstanding individual who has employed many people. We never want to lose sight of the fact that whether it is part-time work or full-time work, people, for their own mental and physical health, want to be working. Most people do not want to be unemployed, they like to feel that they are contributing. Regardless of the job, if it is honest work and providing a service, I am sure people are very encouraged when they do that. It is better for everyone when they do that, it is not only better for the economy but it is better for them.

I would just like to close by saying that as we help Nova Scotia grow, I think this budget will help do that, we will improve the lives of Nova Scotians, and that, of course, is the reason I think everyone, when they put their name on the ballot, came here. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak today.

[Page 942]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West. You have approximately four minutes.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on the honourable member for Kings West's rather eloquent dissertation of some local issues. I want to focus even more so on his comments in The Chronicle-Herald today: I will not support a government that doesn't honour its commitment.

Mr. Speaker, that says it all. That says it all. At the same time, the Minister of Education is sitting by quietly and allowing the Halifax Regional School Board to provide rather generous salary increases for senior administrative staff and forcing the workers who clean the schools, who look after the children, on the front lines, to do absolutely nothing for these individuals, notwithstanding the fact that we have school closures right across this province, several slated here in metro in the next week, and notwithstanding the fact that here in this very same article it states: West Kings parents press politicians to fix school.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Kings West didn't even mention the problem in his own constituency. He did everything but address one of the more critical areas in his constituency. Why hasn't he spoken up about this facility which is referred to, as a great school, but it is located in a sick building?

Mr. Speaker, this is shameful. This is shameful that we have government backbenchers . . .

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Had the honourable member read the rest of the report, he would know that the government has already made a commitment to replace or repair this school in this mandate, and I believe, certainly trust, that my colleagues in the Cabinet will honour that commitment. For the people of Kings West, I have been there, I have addressed this issue.

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

MR. MACKINNON: Anything that he has referred to is only hearsay. Much the same as what the Minister of Transportation and Public Works stated in his reply on the question today on Highway No. 101. We contacted federal ministries, there is no such announcement with the federal ministry tomorrow on Highway No. 101. There is no joint agreement. In fact, Minister Collenette is in Western Canada as we speak, and highly unlikely (Interruption) So, the Minister of Justice is full of bravado again, from the sidelines.

Want to bet maybe the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is going to finally live up to his commitment? He will proceed with the twinning of Highway No. 101 without federal help. So he is going to be on the bulldozer with his hard hat and he is going to make it happen. No more cosmetic surgery, no more cutting bushes, no more flipping around, a

[Page 943]

little bit of cosmetic surgery on the ramps. It is going to be full bore ahead, and he is going to twin Highway No. 101 and I would certainly encourage the member for Kings West to listen to the parents and the students . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for debate going into Supply has expired. Thank you for your contributions.

The motion is carried.

[2:27 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. David Wilson in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. David Wilson in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. Tonight's Adjournment debate was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Health Minister to reverse the decisions his government made which are turning Nova Scotia patients at Point Pleasant Lodge into second class citizens in a two-tier health care model."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - POINT PLEASANT LODGE: DECISIONS - MIN. REVERSE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise to speak to this resolution. Actually, I guess I would call it fate or whatever that this resolution would be drawn today, when we raised this very question in the House during Question Period. I will be interested to hear which member is speaking for the government on this resolution. It is abundantly clear that the government has taken the approach, we have seen it during the 1999 election campaign, of pitting one part of the province against another, or one group against another, and that has continued all through the mandate of this government to this point.

I think you have to ask why that is. I know that, certainly there are those who believe in the notion divide and conquer, if they can't get a concerted effort by those who are most affected by whatever policy the government brings in. They spend more time at each other

[Page 944]

than they do coordinating their efforts against the programs of the government. Probably to a point, this is somewhat successful for the government.

I think there is no getting away, and I think the government has actually made it abundantly clear that there are those in this province who are haves and those who are have-nots. I think the decisions that we have seen, for the most part, tend to be decisions that affect those who have the least, and those who are have-not, in the greatest negative way.

The situation around the Point Pleasant Lodge, there was a nutritional program there or actually a supplier there who took care of providing meals and the government actually paid to see that the patrons or patients were well taken care of. What they did was they cut that nutritional program. What they said was, we will examine your need, the same as if these people were, what we would say, on Community Services, we will do a means test. If you have income and you are able to pay, we are going to make you pay. If you can't, then we will try to support you in some way.

Actually, the evidence that we have seen, and the minister says, quite categorically, no one will be left without being taken care of, but he has never expanded in any way, shape or form on exactly how that care will be provided. I want to say that the evidence that we have been able to discern from one individual there is that the health care system has been willing to provide her with two $5.00 vouchers for food for the day. I would also like the members to be aware, if they weren't listening during Question Period, that the Kidney Foundation also contributes another $5.00, simply because they found that this person was not being adequately taken care of by the government.

You have to ask yourself, is there a point to treating people this way? Certainly, to endear yourself to the patients at Point Pleasant Lodge would not be the motive - at least we would assume that. If you are going to take people who are sick and treat them in this manner, and we would assume that by limiting stress on patients, that that would be a way to guarantee a speedy recovery in whatever their condition at that time would be. I think most people would agree the best way to ensure the health of people, certainly, feeding them well would be item number one, and reducing stress so they don't have to worry about financial regards when they are trying to heal themselves. These would be two major components that, I would think, would go a long way to ensuring that someone would be able to leave Point Pleasant Lodge quite quickly and, thereby, if the government was concerned about dollars, well maybe making this person healthy would be the best approach to not having to spend dollars on that person.

What we see is, by trying to save a few dollars, we have reduced the amount of money that goes to supporting these people and, in doing so, we pretty well ensure that their recovery will be longer and that their need for the health care system will be extended and, therefore, it will cost taxpayers more. So in a kind of a twisted sense of responsibility, the government really is probably increasing their costs rather than diminishing their costs in the

[Page 945]

long run, but this is not new. This is not the first time that we have actually seen that. We have seen it with the Department of Community Services and their approach to try to get people off the welfare system. I would say that it is amazing how good things can sound if you have the right person articulating what you want to say. There is a difference between what to say and the reality of placing that in the real world. I would be really surprised if any of these efforts, particularly the one for Community Services, is able to save any money. The Minister of Health should know that poverty is one of the leading causes of expense in the health care system. What do we do? We treat those who are the most in need in the worst possible way to ensure that they will cause more expense to the system.

I think the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure might be one that the government may want to adhere to. They might find, in the long run, that this is the best approach in saving dollars. How am I doing in my time, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately one minute left.

MR. MACDONELL: What I would like to say is that, in doing this, the minister has drawn a line down through Point Pleasant Lodge and there are those who actually are singled out and unable to pay and, therefore, they are being treated much differently than those who the government feels can pay. Actually, Mr. Speaker, I think the responsibility lies with the government to take care of all those people in the most appropriate way with health as the major thrust in good health. I would say by creating this two-tiered health care model, they have only alienated part of the clientele there and certainly not ensured their well-being or their good health. I hope that the minister will rethink his program, which is not at all to the benefit of the people he is trying to take care of. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for debate on the status of funding for Point Pleasant Lodge. First and foremost, the resolution we are debating - and I hesitate to say this, but I am afraid it is probably quite so - is indicative of the member's selective hearing, because a number of points have been made during this process and it may also be indicative of his limited interest and knowledge in the operations of the province's health system. I hope that is not so, but it would appear that that may be it.

Let me start by making a few points. Very early on in our mandate, we announced we would be moving from regional health boards to district health authorities. We were very clear that the reason we were moving to DHAs was to bring decision making back into the hands of the community. Something that had happened over a number of years where the community did not have direct involvement in the major decisions and, as a result of that, the health care system began its slippery slope.

[Page 946]

Bill No. 34 was introduced and passed in this House officially establishing the district health authorities province-wide. One of the new DHAs is called the Capital Health District Authority. This authority is responsible for the area described within the boundaries of HRM and the Municipality of West Hants and including the area within the Municipality of East Hants. As the member opposite should know, this area would include Point Pleasant Lodge.

Point Pleasant Lodge is a 160-bed facility. It is a not-for-profit organization that has its own board of directors and staff. There are 68 beds traditionally funded through Health that were created as insured beds for patients who are receiving care and treatments from the QE II and the IWK.

As of April 1st, as part of this year's budget process, the monies to pay for Point Pleasant Lodge services were transferred, I repeat, Mr. Speaker, transferred, from the department to the capital district. To the capital district which is going to make community-based decisions. A significant, significant change in the delivery of health care. There was no reduction in funding, just a transfer.

The capital district received $524,000 this year from the Department of Health. This is to pay for hostel services of out-of-town patients and those who do not need to be in hospital overnight, but do need a place to stay while they receive day treatments and support. This is where the honourable member really needs to pay attention. Based on their quotation and the expected usage in 2001-02, CDHA has made the following arrangements with Point Pleasant Lodge: In 2000-01, 55 patients during the week and 43 patients on the weekend. The traditional meal allowance available to all patients would be eliminated. Why? To ensure all guests needing overnight accommodation through the course of the year will have it paid for by CDHA. The funding has been set aside for those out-of-towners whose financial means do not enable them to pay for their meals while in the city. Why? Because the capital district is working to ensure those with the greatest need have their needs met. Again, community-based decision making.

These guests can access meal funding through arrangements with a CDHA social worker, and that is a logical way to go. The meal allowance arrangements are being developed for all guests staying longer than five days and back to day one. The Capital District Health Authority will not pay for rooms that are not occupied during the weekend. This means that rooms occupied during the week must be emptied so that the lodge can rent them through the weekend. Why? Because the money not used to pay for empty rooms will ensure more guests can take advantage of accommodation at Point Pleasant Lodge. Complimentary transportation continues to be available, a point not mentioned by the honourable member.

These were decisions made by the district, not by the Department of Health, they were made by the community. The district identified the need and made the necessary decisions to ensure those who needed help were helped.

[Page 947]

[6:15 p.m.]

When Bill No. 34 was tabled, it was an important health care announcement. It was groundbreaking legislation; it is important and groundbreaking because it gives communities a greater role in health care decision making. The regional health board system which we replaced had no clear connections linked to communities. I think that is an important point and I am going to repeat it. The regional health board system which we replaced had no clear connections linked to the communities. That is what the people in Nova Scotia want. They want community-based health care and that is what we are giving them. The regional health board system which we replaced, the new Health Authorities Act creates and cements these missing links - and there are a few other missing links around too, Mr. Speaker. Maybe we should have some more bills introduced in the House to correct some of the missing links as well.

Essentially, Bill No. 34 gives communities a stronger voice to improve local health care, balanced with the accountability to support effective decisions and management throughout the system. We have an incredibly hard-working and committed group of CEOs and board members working in the districts. As it was made evident by the capital district, there are tough decisions, but decisions being made to ensure those with the greatest need get appropriate services.

The new DHA structure will ensure greater accountability for the money spent and decisions made. There are strict financial reporting guidelines that all district health authorities must follow. We are increasing emphasis on financial management and on accountability by ensuring monthly and quarterly financial statements and audited year-end financial statements are provided to the Department of Health. We need to identify any problems early so they can be addressed accordingly. Deficit planning is not allowed; borrowing must be consistent with the approved business plan; and mandatory recovery of deficits in one year is required.

We are working today to address the problems of yesterday. District health authorities must also submit annual reports, which will include progress on their business plans to be tabled in the Legislature annually. This will ensure accountability through this House to the people of Nova Scotia; an accountability process that was not previously there. The new district health authorities are a significant step forward to a more accountable, sustainable and responsive health care system for all Nova Scotians.

The four guiding principles of the new direction are quality of service, fairness to the regions and to the people in the regions, value for money, and improved accountability for spending. The people of this province have told us that they want a more open and accountable government. They have also said government must change the way it works to better serve its citizens and that we must improve access to health care. We are taking a

[Page 948]

significant step forward to a more accountable, sustainable and responsive health care system for all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the members of the House for their attention during this short response to the resolution. I appreciate that many of the issues that are being brought forward by our government in the development of our health care program are different; they are not what you are used to. They are sustainable, they will allow us to have a sustainable health system and we will be accountable to the people of Nova Scotia, which was somewhat lacking previously. We can go back 25 years, we don't have to go back 5 years, but what we are doing is progressive. It is good for Nova Scotia, it is good for Nova Scotians, and what we will end up with is a progressive health care system for the future of Nova Scotians in our great province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise during the late debate to talk about the resolution that was before us today about the fact that this Progressive Conservative Government is again doing their part to destroy some of the more important aspects of the health delivery system in the Province of Nova Scotia.

As my colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party just finished talking about a sustainable health care system, I think he talked about sustainable and he talked about a Conservative-driven health care system, but he did not talk about a predictable health care system, a predictable health care system that Nova Scotians want to have; a predictable health care system that Nova Scotians can trust; a predictable health care system that Nova Scotians know that they can go to when in need; a predictable health care system that Nova Scotians have learned to expect and, above all, deserve to have in the Province of Nova Scotia.

As this Minister of Health and his colleagues talk about the virtues of the so-called new health care delivery system by the Progressive Conservative Party, let's be very clear that Nova Scotians first and foremost do not want this government to play games with their lives, with their families, with their children and with the future of a sustainable health care system. Nova Scotians will not put up with a government that takes it for granted that Nova Scotians appreciate being abused within the health care system. That is why we are here today to talk about the motion at hand with regard to Point Pleasant Lodge.

The member opposite articulately spoke very well, he is a very articulate speaker and he is a very nice individual. But I want him to understand that whatever member of the political wing of the Department of Health wrote that script, he should have at least gone and picked up the phone and talked to individuals who are being affected by the downloading of this government to the Point Pleasant Lodge and the individuals who are being affected. He should have gone and picked up the phone and talked to individuals in Bridgewater, go talk

[Page 949]

to the families that I have talked to in my riding that use Point Pleasant Lodge. They will tell you that the changes that this government has made have been unfair.

The member talked about the virtue of moving from four boards to nine regional health districts - we have gone from a bureaucracy of four to a bureaucracy of nine - and how those dollars are saving taxpayers money. I would like to see the math that the member and that government brought forward to justify going from four administrations to nine administrations because the bottom line, the difference in the additional staff that are required to run those boards, is coming out of the front-line delivery of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia. Point Pleasant Lodge is a prime example of that.

The member goes on to point out the fact that it is community-based. This is not a community-based decision. I cannot imagine the community in this area, in the capital district or any other district, saying to their good people who are using Point Pleasant Lodge that we are not now allowing you to eat with a subsidized food budget, we are not going to provide transportation dollars to and from your treatments.

That is not what I believe the community people would agree to. I think what community people would say is, listen, you find a better way to find $54,000 or the figure that would be there. I want to give you an example. Back in the 1980's the Department of Health realized that we had a lot of in-patients in hospitals that needed to go for cancer treatments. They realized that these people were in-patients but the beds were very expensive

and they thought, well, if we make an agreement with Point Pleasant Lodge to cover their meals, cover their transportation, and so on and so forth, in effect that is going to save money for health care in the Province of Nova Scotia. That was under a Tory Regime.

They had made an agreement, the Department of Health made an agreement with Point Pleasant Lodge, and said, today about 48 per cent of the individuals who are taking treatments in this province use Point Pleasant Lodge. There are about 68 beds that are being used at Point Pleasant Lodge for people taking these treatments, and they travel from all over rural Nova Scotia. They don't live in downtown Halifax, they don't live in downtown Dartmouth, they live all over rural Nova Scotia. It is a huge expense to come in here. So, when they are in here, the government of the day, back in the 1980's, said that for $15 a day we would subsidize their meals because if they weren't in Point Pleasant Lodge, they would be in the hospital as an in-patient, and we would have to feed them, we would have to transport them, we would have to provide a bed, and we would have to provide nursing services, which is much more expensive.

The government made that choice back then, and now this member and this government are saying to Nova Scotians that the communities across Nova Scotia would support this government initiative of clawing back $15 a day to help feed these people. By the way, you cannot eat for $15 a day, staying in Halifax. I am sorry, you cannot. The $15 a day back in the 1980's might have done it, but today it won't come anywhere near it.

[Page 950]

So, if a person has no money and is on assistance, they will look after them, and that is fine. But there are a lot of individuals out there who are on fixed incomes. They might not be on assistance, but they have a tough go of it, they are counting every penny. When one of their spouses has to use Point Pleasant Lodge because of the treatments they have to take, and the government of day was helping with $15 for food, they were still digging into their pockets to pay for food and as an in-patient in a hospital, they wouldn't have had to pay.

On top of that, the system covered their transportation to and from Point Pleasant Lodge to the facility, if they needed it. Well, as of March 31st, lo and behold, out of the bowels of the Department of Health, comes this letter. The letter states that effective today, we will not pay any more assistance for the people in Nova Scotia who are using Point Pleasant Lodge for the treatments that they are currently taking in the health care system.

AN HON. MEMBER: That came from the Department of Health?

MR. DOWNE: I will correct that if I am wrong, but I believe it came from the Capital District Health Authority. Let's not kid ourselves, they got the directive from one person and one person only, and that is the minister or his senior staff in the Department of Health saying, this is your budget. This government has done this consistently, no matter what. They have tried to pit community against community. They have downloaded, they caused friction (Interruptions) Exactly. School boards. Now they are doing it with health care.

It is because they don't want to take the responsibility for the poor decisions they make, and they are trying to pass it off to some people in the Capital District Health Authority or the other eight districts across this province. I would say that I would ask the good member who spoke earlier, if he would pick up the phone, I can give him a person's name in Bridgewater, Lunenburg County - Mrs. Joudrey is her name - who has a husband using that lodge who is very frustrated, mister, sir, member. She is very frustrated - I was going to call you minister, it is a wannabe minister, I was going to call you minister, they are very frustrated, and they are frustrated because they are suffering because of the decision this government has made.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I believe the member who brought this resolution forward - it was an appropriate resolution - I would ask this government to reconsider this heartless approach that they have given to the people in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

[6:29 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[6:57 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[Page 951]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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. 11, the Financial Measures (2001) Act.

Bill No. 11 - Financial Measures (2001) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Lunenburg West.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will make whatever comments I can to try to convince the House. I do have to say that I have been here long enough to recognize that the Financial Measures (2001) Act is integral to the government, supposedly setting a vision for this budgetary year and for bringing in some of what they have explained in their budget. I would say that certainly this bill, I don't know if there is anything that it would say that is earth-shattering considering the year we have been through, but certainly the government, I would say, is using this bill to maintain their agenda of increasing or imposing more user fees on Nova Scotians.

I am amazed that a government that came into power saying that they were not going to raise taxes, and actually promised a break in taxes, that they really have pretty well milked the system when it comes to causing somebody else to impose a fee. If the government hasn't imposed it themselves, they have caused just about everybody else to bear extra costs, from

[Page 952]

municipalities to school boards, district health authorities, et cetera. The danger of that is that Nova Scotians are not getting services that they are actually paying for with their tax dollars.

[7:00 p.m.]

I think nobody got a clearer message, Mr. Speaker, than our caucus did when we tried to get an explanation from the government as to how they came up with their decision to impose certain fees and to make the cuts that they made to the Production Technology Branch of the Department of Agriculture. There was no evidence that those fees were anywhere related to costs of the program or that the programs that they cut in any way were not necessary, were not valid and were not actually serving a purpose.

If we assume that the government is on a track to balance the books, I think that is an honourable way for the government to go, for sure. I think Nova Scotians would say, look, we have had enough of this, if these guys want to try to balance the books we are all for that, don't believe it for a second, but if they will move in that direction, we would be willing to stand back, watch and see how they make out.

Mr. Speaker, what has happened is a road that is getting pretty well worn by governments in this province. The previous administration tried this and implemented it to an extent, the use of user fees. Maybe it is true that there is no difference between Liberals and Tories, but they took the idea and ran with it and imposed even more of them to the detriment of Nova Scotians.

I think the only thing for sure that the government can be glad about is that Nova Scotians aren't the ones who call for elections. Once you impose these fees and if you have a majority government, then you have the right to stay your course, and then let Nova Scotians decide when your mandate is up, or whenever you decide it is the best time to call an election.

The question has to be, why do we do this at all? What is the basis on which governments make decisions that really cause Nova Scotians to pay more and get less service? Well, I think you have to ask, who complains? Is it purely those of us on the Opposition side, and we try to make a case for Nova Scotians out there who don't have a voice, or are there Nova Scotians out there who don't even know they are paying these extra fees?

I would say that the one big test for Nova Scotians still has to be the Health budget and the delivery of health care in the province because, more than anything else, it is that one service that all Nova Scotians will touch or tap into at some point during their lives or for members of their families. For them, there is very real contact for something that they place a high value on. Sometimes we think Nova Scotians have short memories, but they really have been paying since 1993, when it comes to this.

[Page 953]

I think the health care system hasn't significantly improved under the mandate of this government, and Nova Scotians are getting a bit tired of the taxes they pay for the services they get. Health care is one that they are now feeling.

Mr. Speaker, governments have a responsibility to offer something more, to offer a vision for the future, to make people think that their educational requirements for their children or grandchildren will be respected and advanced into the 21st Century. I think that all we have seen so far, and it will be a difference in definitions between what is prudent and what is sensible, looking into the future, and what is it that the rest of the world is doing and how much of that can we afford.

The handing down of responsibilities of water testing, for example, to municipalities and school boards is just one of the examples of things that Nova Scotians have come to realize and expect that this government is not going to deliver that service to them anymore. We will run the province on luck, whether or not anybody gets sick or if there are any problems with the water system. We actually heard that the Minister of Environment and Labour stood in this House a few days ago and announced that there is going to be a water strategy. It is something that was announced in the Throne Speech.

It is one thing to say that you are going to develop a strategy, there is no timeline as to when this strategy would be developed and there is no indication as to the implementation of that strategy or evaluation of the strategy once it ever came forward. I think that my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, used the analogy of the frog in boiling water and I think this is the approach of government, that if you do something over a long period of time, people tend not to notice it. But if you hit them with a lot quickly, they will. The evidence that putting a frog in hot water, he will jump out immediately, but putting him in cold water and heating the water slowly, he tends to stay there until he boils in the water. He seems to become accustomed to the hot temperature and not know the danger of it.

This is what has happened to Nova Scotia voters or Nova Scotia taxpayers. Over time they have had services eroded to the point that they are almost accepting of the low level of service that they get. The Financial Measures (2001) Bill is not improving that situation, Mr. Speaker. If anything, it is making it worse.

This will allow the Finance Minister to impose what is contained in the bill. It will allow the government to take care of some housekeeping issues, it will allow them to collect more fees and basically deliver less service. For Nova Scotians, considering the length of time that we are through the Tory mandate, it is a shame that by this point in time, the government has not seen fit to give Nova Scotians some break by offering at least, if not more service for the dollars they are paying, to have some concern that they don't make them pay for services that they are already getting.

[Page 954]

You have to question at what point this is going to stop and if the government does plan to deliver its tax break, all I really foresee in a tax break is to stop user fees for taxpayers. That would be break number one. When it really shakes down and the government actually offers their break - and I am assuming that they are going to - it will not be any break at all. It will be trying to offer them service for the tax dollars they pay, but it will appear to be a break because it is something they have not been getting at all.

So the question is, if this Financial Measures (2001) Bill is some indicator of the government's vision, then what is the vision? Where is the vision? What is it that the government is trying to tell Nova Scotians, certainly the next year and maybe in two years, where does this government plan to take them? We don't see it. We don't see it, not only in this bill, we didn't see it in the budget and we didn't see it in the Throne Speech. (Interruption) If any of this is to indicate a vision that the government has for Nova Scotians, then where is it?

I see this as a representation of more of the same that the government has dumped on Nova Scotians, but absolutely no plan in regard to rural Nova Scotia. The minister actually spoke in this House - the Minister of Transportation and Public Works - and made the claim that at one time he wished he were the Minister of Transportation, that he could pave all the roads in Nova Scotia. I would suggest to him I thought a previous Tory Government tried that and that is the reason we have part of the debt that we have incurred.

There has to be some relationship of all the things that the government does for the people that it represents. Even though we compartmentalize the services that we offer to Nova Scotians, there has to be some connection between the departments and the services they deliver that makes up part of a bigger picture that the government tries to offer to the electorate. If the Department of Education has policies that it tries to implement that have no bearing on rural communities but they only are used to address concerns in urban communities, then the government is failing to make the best use of its dollars.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has raised the concern about the highways in this province. I think that more than anything, I think I will paraphrase him, that when you do work on roads it is something that people can see. They actually know that their dollars went into something. It is a visual reminder of what it is that their government is supposed to do for them. There is so much about what happens every day in people's lives, where dollars are spent, that they actually never see. There has to be some way for governments to connect what it is that they do for the citizens that they have.

If you are going to make cuts to a particular sector of your economy, like the services you offer to the agricultural sector, then you have to increase your money and community services to those communities because their economic base has been eroded. You haven't been willing to offer programs that will help either attract new people to that sector or ensure or stabilize the sector as it presently exists. If you don't make any connection between your

[Page 955]

increased community services costs and the lack of funding to that particular sector then you are missing the big picture.

The Minister of Health was just here doing his estimates and we are talking about trying to get doctors in rural Nova Scotia. If the Department of Health is not connected to the economy of rural Nova Scotia and you shut down a school, why would a young doctor come into a community, especially if they are thinking of raising a family there, if there is no school in that community? I think that the government's vision has to be to look at the services that it should provide to the province for its people to cut down on the costs that it takes to fix the mistakes that governments make.

That is not to say that anything that government does happens in a rush, that is not what I am trying to say. As a matter of fact, I would say that for the government to do anything - at least from what I have been able to see - it is like trying to turn the Titanic. It seems to take awhile; but it doesn't take awhile to develop a vision, it only takes awhile to implement that vision.

The Minister of Transportation had talked about a 10 year plan, which I hope he will produce to the House at some point, to bring roads up to a decent standard. He was not talking about an incredibly efficient system or a well maintained system that was heads and shoulders above other provinces, he was talking about bringing this up to the average that other provinces enjoy. Well, if he is going to do that, then along with that he is going to have to consider putting money into those communities that are going to make use of that transportation system, because there is a reason for doing that. It is not just so that people do not have a bad ride over the road, it is so that goods and services can be transported to whatever locations they need to improve the economy of the province and, thereby, improve the lives of the province.

[7:15 p.m.]

That is what I do not see in the Financial Measures (2001) Bill, and I do not see it as a result of where the government plans to spend its money in its budget. Actually, I do not really see it in the Throne Speech. Throne Speeches, I am not sure who writes them but they seem relatively easily put together. It is the touchy-feely things that governments seem to be able to know will strike a cord with Nova Scotians. They put them in the Throne Speech but without a lot of emphasis as to what it is we are going to do with implementing any of those strategies that we have identified. This bill, for what I can see of it, only intends to make the lives of Nova Scotians worse, and I would say on the basis of trying to take money from them so that we can give it back to them later and fulfil a promise that we are going to give them a tax break.

[Page 956]

Mr. Speaker, there has to be more to what the government has to offer. I would say that in the time that the government has been in power that there should be some indication of a vision. To this point we have not seen it, as a matter of fact we really have seen the reincarnation of the Liberals, with the Tory Government. We know what Nova Scotians thought of that. There is time left, and I am glad to see that the Premier is here, for him and his government to actually indicate to Nova Scotians, and maybe it will be in the next government platform, but there is time for him to articulate a vision of where he thinks this province should go. So if people are thinking of working in the offshore, that the evidence we saw today in Question Period around the placement of the pipeline in the shoulder of the road, these are the things that if we are trying to set a tone of vision for the province then the government is going to have to more clearly articulate that because people would be confused. Right now I would say that most Nova Scotians would assume that the provision of natural gas to Nova Scotian communities is definitely on hold. This has been a cornerstone of growth and expansion of this province, increases in revenue. Any Nova Scotian who is aware of what has come forward in the last day or so would definitely be shaking their head. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will relinquish the floor.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will just rise for a few moments to speak on Bill No. 11, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. I know that the debate to date on this particular bill, a lot of it centred around the difference between taxes and user fees. It is really a collection of measures, an omnibus bill, if you will, and one that has great concern for our Party. I am sure that it has some concerns for Nova Scotians.

The question has been asked, more than once, about who will this bill affect? Arguably, it will affect all Nova Scotians in one way or another; various sections of this bill will have the effect of touching the lives of practically everybody in the province. What it does is it provides for legislative changes associated with the budget. It is a bill that causes the government some discomfort, because it is a bill that they want to get passed for implementation reasons. I can remember bringing a similar bill to the House when we were in minority, and were told, time and time again, that we had to present this bill to the House or all our measures were not going to be considered by the Legislature because of the fact that we never had these measures approved.

Mr. Speaker, I knew at the time that if the bill had come before the House for consideration, the Opposition of the day wouldn't have to wait for a defeat on the budget, they would have defeated us on the floor on that bill. So, the bill was never called, and actually we went along with business as usual until the election and the people of Nova Scotia decided otherwise on that date. You have to respect them for that decision. But this is not the case here, we have a majority government here that has put this bill to the House for discussion. Simply put, they would have hoped that this bill would sail through to give

[Page 957]

them the required legal means, I guess, in order to implement their fees and to implement provisions in the budget, which are contained in this Financial Measures (2001) Bill.

The bill is not going through the House as swiftly as the government would like, because there are a number of measures in the bill that deserve to be debated here on the floor of this Legislature, even though we know, at the end of the day, this bill will go through, unlike the situation we faced where we couldn't even call the bill when we were in the government. My good friend, the Minister of Finance, kept telling me that I had to call the bill, and I kept telling him, would you rather wait to get defeated or do you want to get defeated now, because if I call it we are going down now. (Interruptions)

The mandarins in the Finance Department kept telling him to tell the Government House Leader that he has to call this bill or anything you are doing is not legal. I said to the minister, well, that whole question is academic because if we call it we are not going to have to worry whether it is legal or not.

In this particular case, we do have a majority government here that has put this omnibus bill to the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: A little illegal, but that is all right.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: We lived to fight another day at that time, although it wasn't a very long day. There are various amendments contained in this bill and various changes in the way we do business here in the province. One of the amendments is the amendment to the Assessment Act, which enables regulations to provide for cost recovery of assessment services and establish regulation-making power to provide for alternate service delivery of assessment services. We feel, and it is felt that municipalities should be part of the process, in terms of granting the regulation power. Costs, by the way, are being borne by the municipalities, and where they will play a role in terms of cost recovery, where is that role going to be? After all, they are going to bear the costs in all of this, so, certainly their role should be a substantive one.

Clause 4 in this omnibus bill charges a fee for a search under the Child Abuse Registry for employment purposes. This is expected to generate $75,000 in new revenue. Coming up last week, I was listening to a radio show on CBC, they had a caller on, a lady who works in child protection services in Sydney. She was telling the person she was talking to, on CBC, that it was going to be very expensive for their organization, over the long run, and could add up to thousands of dollars. They didn't know where they were going to get this money in order to continue to do searches under the Child Abuse Registry. In other words, the group that she was working with was getting referrals of people looking for work and they would have to, for employment purposes, do a search under the Child Abuse Registry and every one of those is going to cost $20 and that is going to be a hardship for some organizations.

[Page 958]

We believe that is fundamentally wrong. The majority of those people, Mr. Speaker, who are going to be seeking that information are not-for-profit organizations such as Big Brothers, YMCA, transition houses, and other not-for-profit organizations. They are going to have to pay to get information. The fee is waived for volunteers; that is in the bill. But let me say that it is interesting that the word "volunteer" is used in this context when this government has a history of punishing non-profit organizations. Taking the profits from the Sydney Casino, for example, that were earmarked for non-profit organizations; that is still a sore spot with people in our particular area. They are implementing stricter accountability standards with more paperwork and red tape, now charging them to do a search on an employee who will work with our most precious resource, our children.

Clause 30 of the bill replaces Section 89 of the Revenue Act, with a graduated fine structure. We have heard a little bit about that. It would appear on the surface that this clause is substantially cutting the fines that are levied on tobacco vendors or tobacco wholesalers for offences, so that the first time is minimal in comparison to what it is now. I don't think I have ever witnessed, in my years in the Legislature, where the government has actively pursued lowering the fines for an offence in this province.

My good friend, the member for Lunenburg West, stated in this House earlier that he could not see the rationale for the Minister of Finance reducing fines on tobacco smugglers. We still haven't rationalized in our own minds why the government would even consider doing that. There has to be another reason why they are doing it; there has to be a better answer than the one that was given today by the Minister of Finance, that's for sure. That the courts were not levying those fines or they were uncollectible, second-guessing the courts, they were inconsistent, all of those reasons are not good reasons as far as our Party is concerned.

What is logical and should be maintained is the highest fines possible in order to discourage smuggling of tobacco products, not to lessen the fines to make it a joke. If somebody gets caught smuggling tobacco, they get fined $250 or $500; that is pin money to those people. They'll just throw that at the courts and go back and do the same thing the next day; not so if they get hit with $10,000 or more. We were suggesting, and still are suggesting, that the government should go the other way in those fines and up the fines to the point where the smugglers will think twice about what they are doing, and also think twice about what the consequences would be if they are caught.

How does the government rationalize relaxing the fine discouraging smuggling? It is unbelievable. I can't believe that Nova Scotians would see any comfort in the government or in the statements made by the Finance Minister in regard to relaxing those fines. I would hope that the government would take another look at this and realize that the advice they got, from whomever, is wrong and that they should revisit this whole fine-on-tobacco-smugglers issue and put it back where it should be. To say that the courts cannot or will not do the job in levying these big fines, I think, is an abuse of the court's process here and I do not think

[Page 959]

the Finance Minister should be musing in this place about what the courts will or will not do. I think perhaps on a future date, we might ask the Justice Minister what he thinks about that.

[7:30 p.m.]

Clause 19 in this omnibus bill repeals the Municipal Grants Act which requires the province to pay a capital grant to a municipality. Given that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has given an extension of 90 days for the equalization plan, when does this clause go into effect, on the passage of the bill, now or at some future date? If it is on the passage of the bill, are there costs that the province is willing to swap to ensure that municipalities are able to operate as per usual? Is there going to be an accommodation made there? Does the Union of Nova Scotia of Municipalities know that they are repealing this clause? Has there been consultation with them, important stakeholders?

I believe that the greatest deception to date in my mind and when it involves money matters, is the deception perpetrated by the government about the 10 per cent tax cut in 2003-04. This is a fabrication and a charade. The first reason for that is bracket creep. Someone making $30,000 per year in 1999 whose income remains the same, in 2002 will be paying higher taxes. No matter how many ways the Premier and the Finance Minister try to gloss it over, Nova Scotians will be no better off in 2004 than they were in 1999.

Isn't it interesting, though, that when the federal government came through with a tax break for Canadians, the province took it, took the money right out of the people's pockets - the working people of Nova Scotia - and put it back in their revenues. Now I see the government caucus chairman shaking his head, no. If he can tell me that did not happen, then get on his feet and tell me that because it did happen, and Nova Scotians know it happened. But what the government is going to do now is give the same money, that they took from Nova Scotians with the federal tax break, that should have flowed through with an equal provincial break, their own money, back to them as we move towards the next provincial election and they are going to call it a tax break.

You do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out, that the government is taking the people's money in this province, taxpayers' money, a tax break that was given to them by the federal government, taking it right out of their pockets, grabbing it, holding onto it for a couple of years and then giving it back to them and trying to tell them, as we move closer to next election, that they are giving them a tax break, when, in effect, they are giving them their own money back that they should have got in the first place.

Nova Scotians are not going to be deceived by that sleight of hand when it involves the taxpayers' money in this province. They know that the province did not allow that to flow through and they grabbed their money because their paycheques prove that, when people right across this country got a bigger tax break than they did, that they were expecting. But I will let the people be the judge of that themselves when the tax break from this government

[Page 960]

comes out, if it ever does. What is happening is that the government is using the taxpayers' money here for political reasons. There is no question about that. It is like the old story about taking everything from you now and giving half of it back to you in two years time and you figure you have something. That is what is going on here.

But, anyway, after bracket creep, we look at the failure of the government to pass on the corresponding tax cut. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? I would like the chairman of the government caucus to explain to his constituents why his government is reducing fines for tobacco smugglers. To make it easier for (Interruption) he likes to interject in my comments on the tax issue; well let him go back and tell his constituents why this government is reducing fines for tobacco smugglers in this province. I would like to see the rational discussion that would take place between him and his constituents on that issue, or any other member of the government over here.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like to know if the member would entertain a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Cape Breton South take a question from the member for Dartmouth South?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Sure.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. OLIVE: Maybe the honourable member could tell the House why his cousins in Ottawa would take $137 million out of gas tax and give us $5 million back and we are supposed to say thank you. Could you explain to us how there is some justification in that when you are talking about being fair?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I would give him the same answer that I would give him about where the money for the tobacco tax is going. I am asking him a direct question. The federal government is not my concern right now. This government in Nova Scotia is my concern, Mr. Speaker. I want each and every one of those members to tell their constituents why they agree with a government that is reducing fines on tobacco smugglers in this province and blaming it on the courts. The Finance Minister had the gall to stand in this House today and blame it on the courts. It is all their fault. There was no lobbying being done here, none according to the Finance Minister. Nobody was lobbying anybody. His staff told him to do it. The bureaucrats told him to reduce the tax to make it easier for tobacco smugglers. Why else would you reduce the fine? Can anybody give me a rational reason other than the courts would not enforce it anyway or his staff told him to do it?

[Page 961]

Well, who is running the show over there, the Minister of Finance or his staff? I can tell you, I hope it is not his staff if he gets advice like that. I don't know how the press are going to treat this issue over the next few days, but if I was a member of the press, I would want to know why this government is making it easier for tobacco smugglers in this province. (Interruption)

Well, they are making it easier. The Government House Leader says that is nonsense. All I heard were the figures today. If the figures are nonsense, fine. Our Finance Critic asked a question today, the member for Cape Breton East asked a question today and the government emphatically denied that anybody was lobbying them on this particular issue. Well, if that is the case, then there has to be another logical reason. Right? His staff told him to do it. Why? What is the rationale? Does the Justice Minister agree with him that the courts are not doing the job or will not do the job? So in order to solve that problem, you are going to reduce the fines so that everybody can get involved in tobacco smuggling because the penalties are not worth worrying about. Think about it.

I haven't heard any good reason yet why this is happening. Certainly, Question Period today did not give me any comfort. The only thing we got was that isn't it something that the Opposition wants to know if the government is being lobbied, as if this was the first time this was asked in these Chambers, whether anyone was being lobbied. The holier-than-thou attitude over there of, how dare anybody suggest that we were lobbied on this. How dare anybody suggest that. I can tell you, I looked at the faces over there when that question was asked and there were a few of them wondering just what is going on here, because I am sure that a number of honourable members opposite are wondering themselves why a government would reduce fines on tobacco smugglers. I haven't heard a good reason and we certainly haven't heard the end of that.

We talked about the failure of the government to pass on the corresponding federal tax cut. It hasn't been adequately explained to Nova Scotians why the government held on to that money, money that rightfully belonged to Nova Scotians. (Interruption) George 1 and George 2, you mean? We talked about what is happening federally with the tax reductions in the province and how it didn't flow through. I believe that this government knew full well what it was doing here and isn't fooling anybody. Nothing more than a political move there.

I will say this, that the political spin doctors opposite, that the members opposite have have a calculated agenda over the next two years, we can see it starting to evolve and the old boys' club is alive and well. We see that emerging in every department as we move along. Not so sure that the Premier is aware of all of it, but certainly it will come out over the next weeks and months. You have one minister saying that the property of another minister, the courts of this province, aren't doing their job so he has to take it upon himself on advice from his staff to reduce penalties for criminals. I have never heard of that before in this place.

[Page 962]

What I am saying is that this government should give serious consideration to going the other way with those penalties and encourage the courts to enforce the letter of the law to the extreme in this case. (Interruption.) Yes, the George W. Bush approach to the environment, that's a good one.

No matter how you cut it, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians did not receive any tax cut. The Auditor General is indicating that the government must justify user fees to show that they are used for cost recovery; if not, they are going to be considered taxes. Now, the Premier has stated publicly that there will be no tax increases in this province except on tobacco and he has kept that promise to increase them on tobacco. The other part of the equation is that none of them are tax increases, now, they are all user fees. So when you don't want to increase the tax, you don't call it an increase in tax, call it a user fee. It still comes out of the same pocket and it means at the end of the day that the disposable income for that taxpayer is less. Maybe not because of increased taxes, but certainly because of increased user fees.

The 2000-01 user fees, $29 million in user fees from last year's budget, 20 per cent to 33 per cent. Seniors Pharmacare co-pay averaged $5.00 per prescription, $8.4 million per year in total. I remember the 911 - do you remember that? It was going to be 15 cents, it would not impact on anybody, it would just flow right through. The tax didn't go up 15 cents, it went up 46 cents with the MTT increase, 43 cents of it government. So everybody, to dial 911 in this province, now has to pay. So if you are on a minimal monthly income and you are worried that you might need some assistance, some people might think twice before they dial 911. Some seniors I know who are living on very little income from one end of the month to the other, I don't think the Government House Leader has to worry about where the 46 cents is coming from but some seniors might think twice about it.

That is not the point, but it is an insult to people who have paid taxes all their lives in this province, that when they need to dial emergency they have to pay for it in this province. Is the Government House Leader telling me that 43 cents is not true? Is that what you are saying? They don't have to pay it? Who pays it? (Interruptions) It is a flat fee. Now we have a third category. It is not a tax, it is not a user fee, it is a flat fee. That is something else we have now. We have no tax, no user fees, we have flat fees. Well, I will tell you what is flat, it is this government that is falling flat.

So, $5 million in yearly fees - hospital user fees. Preferred rooms, fibreglass casts, TVs, all of those things, all now hit with, no, not a tax, a fee. User fees. Drivers testing handbooks, $950,000 clawed back in revenue for that; $700,000 for prescription drugs for welfare recipients. I might add that we have a situation now that we are looking into where the government has sent out yet another edict to its field people in Community Services that they are delisting some drugs or that they are no longer paying for some drugs that are needed by people on social assistance, some of them in life-threatening situations. A couple of those cases have come to light which we will be taking a closer look at over the next few days and weeks.

[Page 963]

[7:45 p.m.]

The people who are in the field are not pleased but they tell me that this is the policy from the minister's office and that while they do not agree with it they have to adhere to it. You can't blame them for that, you either adhere to the policies of this government or you do not work for this government. So these workers in the field, while they don't agree with what is going on here, the cruelest thing of all is to take somebody who needs drugs, who needs medicine and deny them that medicine when they are on minimal income, when they are on social assistance and only have enough to survive and in some cases it is life-threatening situations that absolutely need these drugs. Yet another policy is coming out saying that they are not going to be available in certain cases. I think that is terrible and I think that is - I will be kind and say - draconian at the best.

In the year 2002 one would have thought that we would be going the other way and trying to look after the needs of those people who by the way are never going to re-enter the workforce. This is another deception that is going around that all the situations in Community Services are being geared to getting people back in the workplace and all of this is being driven towards that goal.

You tell me how a lady who has an inoperable tumour who needs drugs to survive and is on an allowance of something like $850 to $900 a month and who has to pay $120, I believe the figure is, for eight pills to keep her alive is going to go back to the workplace. Then the government tells her, oops, the policy has changed and you are not eligible for that anymore. It is not only draconian but cruel. There are more than one of those situations out there that we are certainly going to be taking a close look at.

Ferry increases; $300,000, another user fee that has gone up - Little Narrows, Digby Neck, et cetera. Insurance agents' licences, another user fee $200,000; $200,000 in environmental approvals; teacher's certificate fees introduced by OIC on February 15th, $80 for a new teacher - another way of grabbing some money; $35 for a teacher's certificate renewal. I do not know whether the Minister of Tourism and Culture renewed his but if he does he has to pay $35 to renew his teaching licence; of course he can afford it.

The 2001-02 user fees - $3 million in new user fees, about $3.00 for every Nova Scotian. New user fees come less than a month after the Auditor General criticized the government for not being able to justify user fees.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member for Cape Breton South keeps referring to the Auditor General and what the Auditor General said. What he has not said is what the Auditor General said. What the Auditor General said was that the current user fees do not cover the costs of performing the function, that is what he said. What he said, in fact, is even with slight increases that many of those user fees are

[Page 964]

not recovering the costs of the services being provided. It is very important, on a point of order, that the people of Nova Scotia fully understand that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would determine that that is not a point of order, it is a point that has been raised . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Quite clearly, the honourable member for Dartmouth South is misleading the House when he says that is exactly what the Auditor General says. What the Auditor General has said, and I would refer the honourable member to the Auditor General's Report, is that the fees may not - he did not say they do not, he said they may not - in some cases they are higher, in other cases they are lower. That is what the Auditor General stated during his presentation before the Public Accounts Committee, so I would ask the honourable member to retract the misleading statement before this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order either. It is merely a dispute between two honourable members.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is nice to finally be back in the debate.

For a few moments, I want to talk about another issue here. I wonder if the member for Dartmouth South would suggest that this is not true, that seniors in the hospital now have to pay $50 a night waiting for long-term care beds; it adds up to $1 million a year. That is not misrepresented in any way, shape or form; that is a fact that is going to happen.

Now $70 to the Registry of Deeds, up from $40, to pay for Registry 2000.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Again, the fact is, if you read very slowly what it says, when a patient in the hospital is eligible and available medically to go into a long-term care facility and doesn't go, then they are charged $50 a day in the hospital. That is not what you said. We talk about misleading - and I am not suggesting for one minute the honourable member is intentionally trying to mislead anybody - the way in which you present that particular scenario is slightly off the actual fact, and I think it is important that Nova Scotians know that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would advise the House that that is not a point of order. Again, the honourable member does raise a point, though.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: As I stated, the Registry of Deeds, again another indication of user fees. But let me go back to . . .

[Page 965]

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker . . .

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: We are going to be on this bill a long time, Ron, I will tell you that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member talks about this registry, and the fact is - previously he made mention about a registry - the fact is that it . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. OLIVE: . . . doesn't cost non-profit organizations. Now he is on to another registry, again trying to twist it slightly. I think it is important that the people of Nova Scotia understand the issues. The honourable member owes it to the people of Nova Scotia to put the issues in front of them in an honest and fair fashion, which he has not done to date.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before I recognize the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid on a point of personal privilege, I would again suggest to the honourable member for Dartmouth South that that is not a point of order. A point of order has to be relative to a breach of procedure, rules and practice in the House. Rarely, according to the House of Commons Procedures and Practices, does a genuine point of order ever occur; nonetheless the honourable member did raise a point.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege. He did raise a point, not a very good one, but he did raise a point. Certainly points of privilege take precedence over points of order, so when somebody is on a point of order, if somebody rises on a point of privilege, the person who is on a point of order is supposed to sit down so that the point of privilege may be heard.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is at the determination of the Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. HOLM: . . . on my point of privilege or point of order, which is a good point, and that is that the member for Dartmouth South, since he obviously doesn't understand what a point of order is, would do well to take a course from the Speaker or one of the other Speakers, so that he may learn what the rules are in this House, so that he will not waste . . .

[Page 966]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Again, I would caution that that is not a point of personal privilege. It is not a point of order. I would ask (Interruptions) Order. I think it is time, honourable member, that we requested the honourable member for Cape Breton South to consider adjourning debate whereas tomorrow is Opposition Day.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I adjourn debate, I would like to say, in continuing the debate on this, that I can understand the frustration of the member for Dartmouth South. Backbenchers don't often get a chance to get up in this House and echo their concerns. In this case, this particular member will probably never get an opportunity during Question Period or anything to answer questions. I can understand that he is playing to the hometown crowd tonight to justify why he is here. I can appreciate that, and I have great empathy for that member. I hope he continues to ask questions from the second row for a long time. With that, I will adjourn debate.

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

The motion is carried.

Thank you, honourable members.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours will, of course, be from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. We are hoping to be able to deal with a couple of items; Bill No. 3 and Resolution No. 360, which was introduced on Monday evening. That has to deal with the caretakers' strike that is going on with the Halifax Regional School Board as we speak. With that information (Interruptions) Pardon me? (Interruptions) Undecided order, but probably not what the Government House Leader was suggesting.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]

[Page 967]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 411

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas while bereavement is a time of confusion and isolation for many, All Saints Springhill Hospital is making grief counselling available; and

Whereas this seven week program, the first of its kind for Cumberland County, will bring needed relief to those experiencing the loss of a loved one; and

Whereas All Saints Hospital, along with the Cumberland County Rural Palliative Care Project, will offer this seven week program to help people through the process of grief;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Terri-Lynn Smith, Cindy Oickle, and the All Saints Springhill Hospital for reaching out to people at their time of need and for providing relief to people in their time of bereavement.