The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., May 29, 2001

[Page 4081]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 Noon

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that this government properly fund children and parents for bone marrow transplant travel costs.

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

The honourable member for Eastern Shore on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to introduce to the House 21 Grade 12 students from Eastern Shore District High School.

AN HON. MEMBER: In Musquodoboit Harbour.

MR. DOOKS: In Musquodoboit Harbour, thank you. Their teacher, Mr. Dennis LeBlanc, also Mrs. Sheila Tully. I am very pleased to introduce Mr. LeBlanc's daughter who is with him as well. Mr. LeBlanc has a history in this House, I believe, attending more sessions than any other teacher probably in Nova Scotia. These are very fine students and I am very proud to be their MLA, as well as the MLA for Preston. I would ask them (Interruptions) No, no, as well as the MLA for Preston, Preston as well. (Applause)

4081

[Page 4082]

I thank the House and thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present this petition on behalf of a father who was visiting Nova Scotia on October 21, 2000; his daughter was killed on Highway No. 101. "On Behalf of all that Highway 101 has effected. It is Time!" The operative clause states, "It is time for 'Killer Highway 101' to be twined from the Sackville/Mount Uniacke turnoff to Yarmouth. Our government has legged on this to long. 66 people killed are 66 too many: plus all the accident that has left people disabled, injured etc. It is not safe for the people that have to travel it for work purposes. If this was on the job sight the Department of Labor would close the work place down until it was made safe. So lets make this a safe work place to. Safe for our tourists and everyone who travels it. Now it is time to make this a safe Highway. We want action now lets stop at 66 deaths . . . I believe that the Government should take action on Twining Highway 101:". There are 1,100 names on this petition and I have affixed my signature to this petition as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the citizens of Torbrook, Annapolis County, opposing a composting facility to be located there. There are 183 names affixed to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 4083]

RESOLUTION NO. 1429

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

Whereas Lindsey Edmunds, a 17 year old student in Antigonish, has had her science project published in today's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, becoming the youngest author in this publication in at least 20 years; and

Whereas her project was based on a survey of 100 physicians' use of probiotics, a microbial supplement that helps replenish the body's friendly bacteria; and

Whereas Ms. Edmunds first learned of probiotics when her sister was hospitalized after taking antibiotics to treat a sinus problem, and her research and the publication of her article has helped her secure two scholarships to attend the University of Western Ontario next year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Lindsey Edmunds for her meticulous research and perseverance and wish her success in her future studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1430

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

Whereas there is a great deal of skill and expertise involved in the making of wood carvings and decoys; and

[Page 4084]

Whereas some of the best in wildlife sculptures in the province were on display last weekend at the 12th Annual Nova Scotia Wildlife Carvers and Artists Association Competition and Show at the Museum of Natural History; and

Whereas the talent on display was of a world wide calibre, as Nova Scotians have over the years been shown to be some of the best carvers in the world, bringing home top ribbons at international competitions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate all who took part in the 12th Annual Nova Scotia Wildlife Carvers and Artists Association Competition and Show and, as well, wish them great success in other competitions they enter 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1431

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

Whereas Lavinia Parrish-Zwicker has been elected to her second term as President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association; and

Whereas Ms. Parrish-Zwicker has been a member of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and the former Kings County District School Board for seven years; and

Whereas she chairs the Annapolis Valley Regional School Boards's human resources committee and is vice-chairman of her board's planning and priorities committee;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Parrish-Zwicker on her re-election to the presidency and thank her for her dedication to education in this province.

[Page 4085]

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 Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1432

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

Whereas highly-skilled mine rescue teams from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick compete every year in an annual mine rescue competition; and

Whereas despite recent difficulties with the future of Devco, it assembled a team to proudly carry the Cape Breton coal mining tradition to this competition in Amherst last week; and

Whereas the Devco team emerged victorious in this highly competitive and important competition, designed to hone mine rescue skills needed in case of a mine emergency;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the successful Devco team of: John Walker, Bill Harris, Donnie Currie, Tony Barrett, Jim Cantwell, Cecil Leblanc, Theo Musial, Blair Boone, George Muise and Cecil Doucette and congratulate them on 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.

[Page 4086]

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1433

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

Whereas a labour dispute has been in progress at Courtesy Chrysler in Dartmouth since May 17th; and

Whereas negotiations between the International Association of Machinists, representing the striking employees, and the employer, Courtesy Chrysler, have broken off; and

Whereas getting the parties back at the table is the first step to their concluding a first collective agreement, a step made necessary because of our lack of first contract legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour offer the services of his department to assist the parties in the Courtesy Chrysler labour dispute in concluding a successful first collective agreement.

[12:15 p.m.]

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 Liberal Party.

[Page 4087]

RESOLUTION NO. 1434

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

Whereas from May 27th to June 10th, Halifax is hosting the Scotia Festival of Music; and

Whereas this festival attracts first-class musicians from around the world, including the baroque orchestra Tafelmusik; and

Whereas in addition to the many concerts that are offered, local music students are given the chance to attend master classes and learn first-hand from these world-renowned musicians;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate managing and artistic director Christopher Wilcox and the festival's many volunteers for bringing these great musicians to Halifax.

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 Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I do my resolution I would like to, with your permission, do an introduction. Today, in the east gallery we are very honoured to have members of the Halifax Inner City Initiative, which is an initiative of the North End Council of Churches. The people who have come from the initiative today are members of a study tour who recently went from the North End of Halifax to Flint, Michigan. The mission of the Halifax Inner City Initiative is to support the community in building a healthy, safe environment in which the citizens can become fully employed, using practical and intelligent practices.

[Page 4088]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce members of the group who are here, and the organizations they are associated with and, at the end of the introduction, I would ask them to stand as a group. Stephen Blackwood from St. George's Youth Net; Marlene Clyke, neighbour of the Minister of Education, who is here with the Black Community WorkGroup of Halifax; Melinda Daye, Principal of Joseph Howe School; Mark Daye from St. Patrick's-Alexendra Full Service Schools; Natasha Jackson from the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority; Marcus James from the Halifax Regional Library, North Branch; Joan Jones from the Black Community WorkGroup Co-operative of Halifax; Scott Lekas from the Department of Community Services; Gordon Michael of the Inner City Initiative; Bill Oland from the Nova Scotia Economic Development Department; Gail Peterson from the Cunard Street Children's Centre; Ann Thompson from the North End Council of Churches, the Halifax Inner City Initiative; and Charlene Watts from the North End Parent Resource Centre.

I hope I haven't missed anybody. There are still a few people on this list - oh, I am sorry, I have in fact - Thelma Coward-Ince, who is also in attendance here today, and I see Reverend Gary Thorne up there from St. George's Anglican Church. I would ask the group to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1435

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

Whereas the Atlantic Writing Awards were held May 25th in Dartmouth; and

Whereas at that ceremony the Halifax Regional Municipality honoured Halifax poet, Sue MacLeod, with the title of HRM's first Poet Laureate; and

Whereas Sue MacLeod has been shortlisted for the Milton Acorn Award, has been widely published, won a Hawthornden fellowship to write in a Scottish castle for a month, amongst other things, and is well-deserving of the honour;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sue MacLeod on being named the first Poet Laureate of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4089]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1436

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

Whereas the Saint John Flames of the American Hockey League has won the Calder Cup 4 to 2 before a crowd of 6,620 at Harbour Station; and

Whereas the Flames have continued an American Hockey League Maritime tradition of Calder Cup victories; and

Whereas the last AHL team from the Maritimes to win the historic Calder Cup was the Cape Breton Oilers;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly in the Province of Nova Scotia congratulate the Saint John Flames on their Calder Cup victory and as well, send such congratulations to the people of Saint John who made this victory possible.

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 Eastern Shore.

[Page 4090]

RESOLUTION NO. 1437

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore Schooners recently won the Capital Region Boys Fastball Championship with an 8 to1 victory over Sir John A. Macdonald Flames; and

Whereas pitcher, Blake Doucette, was hot, striking out seven batters and allowing just two hits before the game ended after the fifth inning on the seven-run rule; and

Whereas the Schooners will now take part in an eight team provincial championship hosted by the Eastern Shore at Musquodoboit Harbour to be held the first week in June;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House applaud the Eastern Shore Schooners boys fastball team and cheer them on in the upcoming provincial championships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House in the east gallery, we have joining us today from Local 1763 the International Association of Machinists, the workers from Courtesy Chrysler. In the gallery is Brian Beaton who is the international representative for IAM & AW along with Kevin and Cathy Parker and John Forest. Would they stand and be welcomed to the House in the usual manner. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1438

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

[Page 4091]

Whereas June 11th is Davis Day in memory of Cape Breton miner, Bill Davis, who died at the hands of provincial police sent in by the Liberal Premier that day in 1925 while protesting British Empire Steel and Coal Corporation's decision to shut off the water supply in the Town of New Waterford; and

Whereas District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America declared Davis Day at its first convention afterwards and no miner in District 26 works on June 11th to this day; and

Whereas Davis Day will live on in the hearts and minds of Cape Bretoners in spite of the impending death of the coal industry in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commemorate June 11th as Davis Day and grieve the death of Cape Breton's long and storied coal industry.

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. 1439

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

Whereas today marks the 158th day that the health and safety of the residents of the Strait area has been compromised due to the lack of a daytime emergency physician at the Strait-Richmond Hospital; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has still failed to attract a mere one physician to the area on a permanent or temporary basis; and

Whereas the minister fails to acknowledge that the salary being offered at the Strait-Richmond Hospital is the major obstacle in attracting a new full-time physician;

[Page 4092]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage the Minister of Health to revise the salary being paid at the Strait-Richmond Hospital so that a new doctor can be found, therefore ending the risks to the health and safety of the residents served by this most important health institution.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1440

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

Whereas in Atlantic Canada there are 72,000 private woodlot owners who contribute to their livelihood through good stewardship of the forest land; and

Whereas 75 per cent of Atlantic Canada's softwood lumber is derived from private sources; and

Whereas only 3 per cent of the United States' lumber consumption comes from Atlantic Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature support Atlantic Canada in its bid to have the Maritime Accord re-signed because of our unique and historic market-driven trade with the United States and the facts supporting this request are as valid today as they were in 1986.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4093]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1441

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

Whereas Highway No. 103 is the route to the Halifax Regional Municipality landfill site; and

Whereas this highway is also a popular tourist road for destinations along the South Shore of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas during the busy tourist season, it is important to ensure that garbage that has fallen from trucks destined for the landfill site is regularly picked up;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Environment and Labour ask his staff to remind the operators of the landfill of the importance of a regular cleanup patrol of this road from the juncture of Highway No. 102 and Highway No. 103 through to Exit 3 on Route 103.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1442

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

Whereas the Florence Volunteer Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Dave Julian, provides an essential service to its community; and

[Page 4094]

Whereas this year the department is celebrating its 40th Anniversary; and

Whereas the department has organized various events throughout the year to promote and celebrate the fire department;

Therefore be it resolved the members of the House of Assembly congratulate all those who have worked for the Florence Volunteer Fire Department over the past 40 years for their outstanding service to the community.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 1443

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

Whereas it is important for those who work in the forest industry to follow strong safety and environmental measures; and

Whereas to honour these people in the forest industry who practice their trade in this manner, the Canadian Woodlot Forum has established an award to recognize their efforts; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia winners of the Canadian Woodlot Forum's Outstanding Contractor Award went this year to the husband and wife team of Andy and Wendy Looke of Scarsdale, who operate Looke Cancut Ltd.;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Andy and Wendy Looke for this honour and also for the safe and environmentally-friendly way they carry out their business.

[Page 4095]

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. 1444

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

Whereas the Leeside Transition House in Port Hawkesbury held its 6th annual fundraiser last weekend; and

Whereas the cost of living keeps going up while the provincial funding for the transition house has not risen in a number of years; and

Whereas last year's event raised $13,000 towards special projects and services provided by the transition house;

Therefore be it resolved that the Community Services Minister take heed of the situation at the Leeside Transition House and other transition houses throughout the province and ensure budgets for these essential services are increased annually.

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 Lunenburg West.

[Page 4096]

RESOLUTION NO. 1445

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

Whereas the results of the annual survey of Members of Parliament and their various talents was released yesterday; and

Whereas South Shore MP, Gerald Keddy, was quoted in the Bridgewater Bulletin as saying he was disappointed that he didn't get picked in any of the categories; and

Whereas Mr. Keddy also suggested that he really could have given Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough MP, Peter MacKay, a run for his money in some category;

Therefore be it resolved that South Shore MP, Gerald Keddy, be encouraged to spend more time concentrating on issues important to his constituents rather than fighting with his caucus colleagues over who has the nicest shoes.

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 Annapolis.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1446

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

Whereas the 400th Anniversary in 2004-05 of the landing at Port Royal and founding of Annapolis Royal is fast approaching and volunteers are hard at work bringing large projects together for what promises to be an incredible commemoration of our history; and

[Page 4097]

Whereas Jerri Costa is one volunteer whose love of history prompted her to become involved and whose love of sailing vessels inspired her to participate in putting together a pinnace, the type of ship Champlain sailed; and

Whereas Jerri is one of many volunteers working hard to make the 400th Anniversary a living history of Canada's first capital and the first permanent European settlement, where survival was the main achievement and help from the Mi'kmaq was indispensable;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud Jerri Costa and all the 400th Anniversary Society's volunteers, and encourage more people to follow their interests and participate in this important commemoration.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1447

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

Whereas bridges in White's Lake and Shad Bay are in bad need of repairs; and

Whereas these bridges are located on the busy Highway No. 333 to Peggy's Cove; and

Whereas tourists and residents of the Prospect Road deserve to travel on safe bridges;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform the Please Respect our Safety organization when these bridges in White's Lake and Shad Bay will receive the attention they deserve.

[Page 4098]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1448

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

Whereas this year, Marine Atlantic introduced a new super ferry named the Lief Ericson which goes into service on June 2nd; and

Whereas the new ferry can accommodate 500 passengers and 250 vehicles, and is expected to increase Marine Atlantic's carrying capacity by 25 per cent; and

Whereas motorists at the ferry terminal in North Sydney are already experiencing two hour delays because of construction at the Little Bras d'Or Bridge;

Therefore be it resolved that this government do its utmost to ensure this road work is completed before June 2nd to prevent further traffic delays when the new ferry becomes fully operational.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed.

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, prior to reading my resolution, I would like your permission to make an introduction. I would like to turn the attention of the House to the Speaker's Gallery where we have four distinguished gentlemen visiting with us. The first person I would like to introduce is Dr. Dalton Fischer Chamone, who is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of So Paulo Medical School and the Head of the Division of Hematology and Hemotherapy. I had the opportunity to read his vitae and he is indeed one of the western world's distinguished practitioners.

[Page 4099]

In addition, Mr. John Souza, who is legal counsel; Mr. Andre Martins who is the Vice-President of WK Trading and Cargo Inc., which is a distributor of MedMira Products in Brazil; and Mr. Hermes Chan, who has been in this House before, who is the Chief Operating Officer of MedMira Inc. All of those four gentlemen are here with MedMira Inc. I would like all members to extend a very sincere welcome to them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly extend a welcome to our special guests in the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Health on his resolution.

RESOLUTION NO. 1449

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

Whereas Jenna McNeil of Truro was awarded a $2,000 scholarship to the University of Western Ontario and $400 in cash for winning a gold medal in the Junior Physical Science Division of the Canada Wide Science Fair; and

Whereas Jenna's project compared floating wood floors and polyurethane synthetic flooring for athletic performance, costs and injury rates; and

Whereas, believe it or not, this young woman is a Grade 7 student at Truro Junior High School and is the first Nova Scotia student in 10 years to win a first-place medal in the annual Canada Wide Science Fair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jenna McNeil on her outstanding achievement at the Canada Wide Science Fair and wish her continued success in her academic pursuits.

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 4100]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1450

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

Whereas the very worthwhile IWK-Grace Telethon for Children will be held this weekend; and

Whereas in providing support to the telethon over the years, many businesses have come up with unique ways to carry out their fundraising activities; and

Whereas in the spirit of finding unique and fun ways to get behind this worthy cause, Doris Smith and other staff members at the Superstore in Amherst have created the Survivor Weekend, which will raise funds by obtaining sponsors for the 78 miles of hiking and camping that they will do over the four day period;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the efforts of all those who will take part in the Survivor Weekend and, as well, all those who will be donating their time to such a worthwhile cause as the IWK-Grace Telethon for Children.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 1451

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

[Page 4101]

Whereas in March, the Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Alaska; and

Whereas Chester resident Jessica Nickerson won three medals in snowshoeing at the games and was, afterward, in recognition of her international success, selected Nova Scotia Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year and was nominated for the Nova Scotia Amateur Sports IKON Female Athlete of the Year Award; and

Whereas Jessica's athletic career is by no means over as she is already in training for the track and field events at the 2003 Special Olympics Summer Games;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jessica on her athletic success and, as well, for all the hard work and determination she has shown in achieving so much in the world of sport.

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. 1452

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

Whereas seven year old Kristen Curry of Falmouth is now the youngest athlete ever to hold a tae kwon do black belt in Canada; and

Whereas Kristen, even at such a young age, is able to break boards with her hands while entertaining audiences with her many tae kwon do skills; and

Whereas Kristen received her black belt on Saturday before Grand Master Woo Jung Yong, a two-time world champion of tae kwon do, a bronze medallist at the 1992 Olympics and a seventh degree black belt;

[Page 4102]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud Kristen's efforts and wish her parents and organizers every success in their fundraising initiatives for her to attend the Korean Open Tae Kwon Do Championships slated July 3rd to July 8th in Korea.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1453

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

Whereas Pier 21-National Historic Site recently won the National Award for Best New Attraction in Canada; and

Whereas this recognition is further evidence that Canadians are embracing their cultural and historic roots and are interested in the shared heritage of our country and its history; and

Whereas it is estimated that one in five Canadians has a connection to Pier 21, and this honour has the potential to increase awareness of both Pier 21 and the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those who have worked to make Pier 21 the Best New Attraction in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 4103]

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 Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1454

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

Whereas there is no greater learning tool for our children than a book; and

Whereas the Halifax Education Foundation, in its continual quest to provide assistance to schools and their students through fundraising, recently wrapped up its 4th annual Bucks for Books Campaign; and

Whereas thanks to the efforts of the committee members, the participation of the metro schools in support of this campaign, as well as the corporate sponsors and private donors, they were able to raise over $30,000 for school libraries this year;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate this tremendous effort by the foundation and its volunteers as a result of this year's campaign, and thank them for what this sum will translate in terms of reading material for our youth and, subsequently, what it will translate for our youth as they work to achieve the all important skill of reading.

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.

[Page 4104]

RESOLUTION NO. 1455

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

Whereas in 1975, Saint Mary's Anglican Church in Belleisle, Annapolis County, was tragically destroyed by fire but, amazingly, was rebuilt within nine months; and

Whereas this feat was achieved through the remarkable and loving support of the congregation, the community and people from surrounding areas who make generous donations of time, money, labour and materials; and

Whereas May marked the 25th Anniversary of the rebuilding of Saint Mary's Church, and Reverend Donald Ruggles, the minister from the time of the fire and rebuilding, attended the commemoration as a special guest speaker;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the capacity of community support in Belleisle and offer their congratulations on the anniversary of the rebuilding for their Saint Mary's Church.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1456

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

Whereas Alan and Tomas Guinan of Bible Hill may be creating a cult-like following with their animated cartoon Eskimo Bob; and

[Page 4105]

Whereas Alan and Tomas have already produced 21 episodes of the cartoon, each of which debuted on the Internet; and

Whereas along with Bob, the program stars include Alfonzo the walrus, Yeti the seal and the fish in the spaceship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Alan and Tomas Guinan on their success with Eskimo Bob and wish them well in future ventures.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Question Period will begin at 12:42 p.m. and will end at 1:42 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS: CHILDREN - FUND

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what could be a more important priority for any government than ensuring children with cancer received properly-funded treatment. Certainly this government, in its Budget Address, said they would focus on children. No one in this House would disagree with that and yet this very Minister of Health has refused to act on repeated calls from an IWK pediatric oncologist to help children with cancer and their families. I will table letters from Dr. Conrad Fernandez asking the province to cover the cost for children and their families who must travel to Toronto for bone marrow transplants. My question to the Minister of Health is simple. Why have you ignored the repeated requests from Dr. Fernandez to properly fund children who require bone marrow transplants to treat their cancer?

[Page 4106]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would welcome the opportunity to see the letter. He has indicated there have been numerous requests and I don't remember numerous requests. However, that is beside the point. I would like to see all bone marrow transplants being done here in the province but again we are in the issue of a good practice and critical mass. While we do do adult bone marrow transplants here in the province, we are not yet in the position to do bone marrow transplants here for children.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Fernandez reports that he has sent 30 children and their families to Toronto for bone marrow transplants. In about one-third of these cases, the donor was a sibling. Before surgery, children and their parents must travel to Toronto for a consultation. Children are required to remain in hospital for about 35 days and must remain another week or two as an outpatient. That is two trips and a month and a half spent in Toronto. My question to the Minister of Health is, why are you forcing the families of children with cancer to pay thousands of dollars in costs in order to get access to life-saving care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, currently there are approximately 12 to 14 bone marrow transplant cases, children who arrive at the IWK who fall into that category. I would like very much to see those young people treated here for their sake and for their parents' sake. Unfortunately, it is not possible but I think the good thing is that that service is available. Our hospital is in contact and has working relationships with the hospitals in Montreal and in Toronto so that those who need this service are able to get it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government said it would focus this session on children and yet this Minister of Health, for two years, has ignored the plight of the most vulnerable children, those with cancer. Dr. Frenandez states that this is not an experimental treatment, it is a standard procedure for children with certain types of cancers. I want to ask the Minister of Health why he has ignored these children for two years? I want to ask him why he is failing these children and their families?

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would wish that the province could be all things to all people. As I say, the important thing is that the people who need this particular complicated procedure are able to get it at either the Sick Kids in Toronto or St. Justin's in Montreal; our facilities here are able to make those arrangements. I feel for the people and the families who must go through this, but I do feel good because it can get done.

[Page 4107]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - NURSES' STRIKE: CONTINGENCY PLAN - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On May 9th, I asked the minister what contingency plans he had in place in the event of a nurses' strike, and there didn't seem to be much in place. Due to this government's inaction, there is a need for a plan now; it is not like the minister has a surplus of nurses in this province to fill in. My question to the minister is, what specific plans has the department and the QE II made to ensure that patient care will not be compromised now that some nurses have decided to strike?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Dartmouth East for that question, because I was quite upset this morning to see the headline in The Daily News of Halifax, which is misleading. I think it was a bit inaccurate. The Daily News indicated that there was only one organization representing nurses in the metro area, and indeed there are two. The headline indicated that all nurses in the metro area had rejected collective bargaining arrangements, and that is not true. There is the NSNU group, as well as the NSGEU group. The NSNU group, we are grateful to say, was able to reach an agreement with their employer and, of course, those nurses include those at the IWK Health Centre, the Dartmouth General Hospital, and other places as well.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have also read that the nurses who don't strike will get the same wage increases as those who do strike, if those who do strike happen to get a bigger wage deal. Again, the classic hallmark of this government, pitting one group against another, rings loud and clear in the behaviour of this government. My question to the minister is, why would he allow patient care in this province to be compromised by allowing one group to do the necessary work for the other group?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the NSNU nurses reached a tentative agreement with employers across the province, and that offer is going out to those people. As you know, it addresses the agreement negotiated, addresses a lot of the workplace concerns that nurses had expressed. I would encourage the NSGEU nurses, now that they have made their voice known, to go back to the table - ask the conciliator to call them back - and continue to talk about issues that are important to them.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, a strike by one group of unionized workers is now very close to reality. My question to the minister is, what specific arrangements can he share with the people of Nova Scotia that would reassure all of them that this minister is concerned about the quality of care come mid-June?

[Page 4108]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am extremely concerned about the quality of care in Nova Scotia not only in mid-June, but at any time. What I have done is - I know that the NSNU is carrying the offer to their members, and I am very optimistic that they will see that it addresses most of their concerns and that they will ratify it - I have asked my staff, and it has been done, to contact both the NSGEU and the Capital District Health Authority to encourage those sides to get back to the table and try to reach an agreement at the table, like the NSNU and the employers did.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WCB CHAIRMAN (INNIS CHRISTIE):

TERM - EXPLAIN

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. Nova Scotia has been fortunate to have one of Canada's most prominent and respected labour lawyers, Innis Christie, serve as Chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board for the past five years. His term runs out on Thursday, but he won't be reappointed because this government offered him only a seven month extension instead of the usual five years. So my question to the minister is, why are you sending the Workers' Compensation Board back to the Buchanan days of patronage politics by refusing to offer Innis Christie a full term?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing this up. We were pleased to offer Mr. Christie an extension to the end of the year and at that point in time we anticipate that we will hear from the Statutory Review Committee of the Workers' Compensation Board and at that point in time we would be in a position to consider a full appointment for a new chairman.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that is a very weak answer because the minister knows that he has on his desk a letter from Mr. Christie explaining exactly why he was not satisfied with a seven month extension and, today, the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil Tory backbenchers on the Human Resources Committee voted against a motion to even ask the minister to produce that letter. So my question to the minister is this, when will you table that letter so that Nova Scotians can see for themselves how this government is clearing space at the trough for patronage politics?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member again for giving me the chance to get up and speak on this matter. Actually the member opposite would be pleased to know that we have checked with the FOIPAP people in the Department of Justice to see if, in fact, we could table that letter and we are advised that it is a matter of personal privacy.

[Page 4109]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that is the most utter nonsense I think I have heard in my whole time in this House. The truth is that the gang on that side want that job vacant because there is a prominent Tory lobbying for that job and prominent Tories who are lobbying for him to get it. So my final question to the minister is, will you finally show some leadership on this issue and promise this House that you and your government will never appoint Jim White as Chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board? (Interruptions)

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I have to take some exception to the member opposite's comments and, specifically, he made reference to the good work of the Department of Justice's lawyers as utter nonsense and I guess that I would have to suggest that, respectfully, I disagree with his opinion.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WCB CHAIRMAN (INNIS CHRISTIE):

RESIGNATION - REASON CONFIRM

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, certainly the people of Nova Scotia require more than the goodwill from the Minister of Environment and Labour on this issue. Bill No. 20 was just passed yesterday which brings politics back into the workers' compensation system. Will the minister confirm or deny that the reason Innis Christie resigned was because Bill No. 20 was, in fact, politicizing the workers' compensation system, that he strongly objected to this politicization and as such was being punished by this seven month term?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for again having the chance to point out that Mr. Christie was offered a seven month term. At the conclusion of that seven months, pending the outcome of the Statutory Review Committee's report, he might well have been offered an additional term.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is becoming well known that Mr. White, who has been referenced here a little earlier, has lobbied very hard to become Chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board and he competed with Mr. Christie for that position, but yet Mr. Christie was the recommended choice of the competency board that interviewed both these individuals. Will the minister not confirm that Mr. White has lobbied members of the Executive Council including his department for the chairmanship of that board?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am not able to speak for other members of the Executive Council or, indeed, I am not aware of this going on in my department, but I would say it seems to me that the person whose name came out of the process was Innis Christie.

[Page 4110]

MR. MACKINNON: This is unprecedented. We have a minister who now wants to go back to the old process. That is the code word. He wants to go back to the point where an injured worker - whether they are justified in a claim or not - all they have to do is call up a Tory MLA if they are on the good side, or call a Cabinet Minister. That is what we were arguing for the last three weeks in this House and yet the minister gives platitudes about it. The fact of the matter is, this is politicization in the worst form that we have ever seen in this House of Assembly. What steps is the minister going to take to ensure that traditional Tory interference doesn't find its way back into the operations of the Workers' Compensation Board? (Interruptions)

MR. MORSE: I would like to point out that the Workers' Compensation Board operates as a semi-autonomous board and as such, there are certain legislation and regulations that are laid out governing its operation and the expectation, of course, is that the board will follow the appropriate legislation and regulations.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - HEALTH DEPT.:

JURISDICTION PROBLEM - MIN. RESOLVE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, 31 organizations who support and endorse the Kendrick report arranged a briefing between Dr. Kendrick and the interested MLAs. Dr. Kendrick told us that the services for over 1,600 adults in this province with mental disabilities are stuck in the 1970's. He says that the system has been frozen for decades with no organization. He told us that jurisdictional authority between the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services is a major part of the problem. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, what are you going to do to resolve the jurisdictional problem between your department and the Department of Health?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that a number of things have been happening. He will remember that back a month and one-half ago, Health and Community Services had an announcement regarding children's mental health. We recognized the problems of the barriers between the two departments, indicated we were going to start to remove those. We also presently have the ministerial review committee that is looking at the Kendrick report and I also had a chance to be at the Dr. Kendrick briefing yesterday and share his views. We are moving forward on the joint ministerial committee to see how we are going to incorporate all of those items.

MR. PYE: Again, long-term conversations. Mr. Speaker, Dr. Kendrick spoke about the bunker mentality with the Department of Health with regard to the service of persons with disabilities. He talked about the need for new ideas and less bureaucratic control over changes. He recommended that people who know and understand the needs of mentally disabled adults should be consulted and involved in changing the system. My question is to

[Page 4111]

the Minister of Health. Will you commit today to put your support behind the recommendations outlined in the Kendrick report?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I should say, I guess, to begin I was not particularly taken with the integrity of Dr. Kendrick by holding that press conference yesterday.

[1:00 p.m.]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh-h-h!

MR. MUIR: I say that I really took offense to it. However, as the Minister of Community Services has said, we are working together for the first time in a long while, something like 30 reports on mental health and finally action is being taken. Yes, the recommendations of Dr. Kendrick will be very carefully analyzed and those that are appropriate will be moved ahead just as quickly as we possibly can.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, what that minister is saying is that if you don't do as we say you are on the outs in this government, and that is the kind of talk that is going on. It seems that the stagnation of the services for mentally disabled adults in the province will only be changed with new ideas and rethinking of the needs of the community, and the minister's department I might also add.

Dr. Kendrick spoke of the blue-ribbon panel to be appointed immediately to provide feedback and direction to this government. The panel should consist of representatives of mentally disabled people, their families and caregivers, and representatives of groups and agencies that advocate for them. My question is to the Minister of Community Services. Will you take some responsibility on this issue and commit to appoint a panel now, as recommended by Dr. Kendrick's recommendations? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I did have a chance to meet with the people who were down here. We had a discussion and I have agreed to sit down with the members of the coalition on June 14th to start the process.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - KENDRICK REPORT:

IMPLEMENTATION - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, as we know, yesterday, all members of the Legislature were invited to listen to an update on the Kendrick report. While the government responded favourably to that report almost three months ago, the government has had

[Page 4112]

absolutely nothing to report, in terms of an update back to the stakeholders. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, when is the minister going to consult with the stakeholders and groups so that they can seriously begin the implementation process of the recommendations of the Kendrick report?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I have just indicated to the member for Dartmouth North, our first meeting is on June 14th to start the discussion.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Kendrick expressed some serious concerns about jurisdictional problems between the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services. As we have heard here today, the Minister of Health was offended by the fact that Dr. Kendrick held his press conference yesterday. You know this is really a no-brainer, what we are dealing with here. This requires little financial resources to rethink the way we do things in the Department of Community Services and the Department of Health. My question to the minister is, number one, can you give members of this Legislature an update on the progress that you have had in dealing with correcting those jurisdictional problems; and would the minister rise on his feet today and tell us if he was offended by Dr. Kendrick's press conference yesterday?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There are two questions there.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the first part of his question was what are you looking at doing between Health and Community Services. As I indicated, in the early part of April we announced that mental health services had to be barrier-free between the Department of Community Services and the Department of Health. We have started to work; we recognize that some of those walls have to be taken down and we have started to do that.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will take that as the minister was not offended. But the Minister of Health is, and we wonder why we have jurisdictional problems between the two departments in this province. The minister has a responsibility here; he should be listening to the people who are protesting outside of this Legislature today because they are calling for action. My final question to the Minister of Community Services is, why hasn't the minister even bothered to reply to Dr. Kendrick and begin to take action to his recommendations?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the question is why we will not reply to Dr. Kendrick. We had indicated when the report was received back in March that we would be looking at setting up a joint ministerial task force to look at it and that we would be bringing it forward to the government to look at the resources, to look at the direction, and that we would be going forward in the fall. Nothing has changed in the last two months. We told Dr. Kendrick that, and he now has that reaffirmed.

[Page 4113]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WHITNEY PIER:

NATIONAL STANDARDS - APPLICATION EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the federal government, in partnership with the provincial government, is proposing to change national standards with regard to levels of toxins in Whitney Pier. They plan to weaken national standards so they will no longer apply to Cape Breton. The residents feel the governments are now trying to raise the bar so they can limit their responsibility and liability. You just don't change the standards in midstream. So I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, why is it that the people in Whitney Pier have to enter a higher threshold than elsewhere in this province and, indeed, the country?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member opposite is referring to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Guidelines. Actually, those guidelines are for whatever it is in the ecosystem that is most susceptible to those particular toxins. The concern here is protecting the people in Whitney Pier. So let's say higher arsenic levels might affect lady's slippers, as an example, then that would be a concern if you were a lady's slipper, but we are concerned about protecting the people in Whitney Pier so, accordingly, really the Department of Health would be better able to answer those questions.

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

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, there was a time in this House where I would probably go ballistic. It is such an appalling answer that I will even change minister's now. The people living near the tar ponds and coke oven sites just don't trust governments anymore. They feel the only consideration given for them to move is how much will it cost. I want to read into the record a little resolution made by the now Minister of Health to the Liberal Government. I will just read this: "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Ministers of the Environment, Health, and Transportation and Public Works recognize that throwing dirt on top of the toxins that contributed to North America's worst environmental waste site is not a solution." So I ask the Minister of Health, what happened in the last two years to make you change your mind?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the issue and the concerns of the residents up in the NOCO area now, we take very, very seriously. There is a plan being implemented to address those concerns and, hopefully, the residents will soon feel a great deal of comfort that the government is taking their concerns very seriously. What we are really trying to find out is what would be the best course of action to take.

[Page 4114]

MR. CORBETT: So by the lack of answer I will take it that he now agrees with throwing dirt on top of toxins. Let's go back to the minister of horticulture. I want to ask why he doesn't want national standards to apply in Cape Breton? This government is trying to get people to buy into a different safety standard for Cape Breton than the rest of the province. So I want to ask you, Mr. Minister, will you ensure that people in Whitney Pier are treated the same as people everywhere else in this province?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite once again for bringing this up. I know it may seem a little confusing to him that we in the Department of Environment and Labour are concerned about all aspects of the ecosystem, and if some aspects are more susceptible to certain chemicals then that is a concern to us. In addition to that, we are clearly concerned about threats to humans, to people, and accordingly, in that area, of course, the Minister of Health and his department are very concerned about just what the thresholds would be as they pertain to people. It is important to set the standards according to who it is we are trying to protect. In this case, it is the people of Whitney Pier.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - KNOWLEDGE HOUSE:

FUNDING [GOV'T. (CAN.)] - CONFIRM

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is hard to follow such a riveting answer from the Minister of Environment and Labour. Over the past two weeks, our caucus has been asking the Minister of Education about her involvement in the deal announced between her department and Knowledge House. It appears that the saga continues. We have learned that Knowledge House had initially applied to an ACOA program for money to expand their business, but was later told that they did not qualify. We are informed that the Minister of Education's department then went ahead and applied for the same money with the intention of passing it on, untendered, to Knowledge House, the company which had been told previously it did not qualify for these funds. My question is, will the Minister of Education confirm whether or not this is how Knowledge House got the federal funding in question?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the funds in question come from something called the Information Economy Initiative, under an Economic Development initiative between ACOA and us. Knowledge House did not get the money, the Department of Education got the money for this initiative with Knowledge House.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. Knowledge House tried on their own, got told no, so they went to see the good Minister of Education, then asked her if she would come with them. She went as the front, got the money and passed it on to Knowledge House, untendered. We know that very well. The minister knows today that there are other companies in this province which could have provided the same level of service, if not a better level of service, and she still refuses to explain why Knowledge House got this

[Page 4115]

untendered. The next obvious question to the minister is this, why is it that the Minister of Education is acting as an agent on behalf of Knowledge House?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have said this before in this House and I will say it again. Knowledge House provides a unique product, a unique opportunity, it is fully tested, and not only can it not be duplicated in Nova Scotia, it cannot be duplicated at this point anywhere in the world.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, different countries have managed to find ways to put men on the moon, but I guess they can't find a way to duplicate the program from Knowledge House, that is what the Minister of Education is telling us. She gets sillier by the day. Nova Scotians are discouraged by this entire fiasco. Knowledge House first gets a lucrative untendered government contract, then they are attending meetings on Canadian history courses. In a question last week, the minister answered, I don't know, and then went on and said, I don't care. Those are the two terms Nova Scotians have used most often to explain the performance of the Minister of Education since she entered that department. In light of the minister's involvement with Knowledge House, my question is, will she be registering under the proposed lobbyist registration system if the Minister of Justice ever manages to get it through the House?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I won't deign to answer that part of the question. There is something that I would like to explain. The question was asked about the Canadian history course. Of course, I have since found out the reason Knowledge House representatives were at that meeting was because Gage Educational Publishing, one of the most respected educational publishers in the world, has, in fact, hired Knowledge House to do the electronic version of the Canadian history course, something I did not decide but obviously people elsewhere in the world respect Knowledge House, if the members opposite don't.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - ABBIE LANE HOSP.: PHARMACY - CLOSURE DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the pharmacy at the Abbie Lane Hospital has closed. We were contacted by a senior whose wife is an outpatient at the Abbie Lane. For over 20 years they have been purchasing her medications from the Abbie Lane pharmacy, now this gentleman and many others must go to a private drugstore for their prescriptions. The closure of the Abbie Lane pharmacy is costing this family more per prescription for exactly the same medications. So my question is to the Minister of Health. Why was the Abbie Lane pharmacy closed?

[Page 4116]

[1:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would have to take that question under advisement.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Central Regional Health Board told our staff that there is a contingent pharmacy operating until the new one can be built. Well, so much for that plan. There is no contingent pharmacy for outpatients. The acting director of pharmacy at the Abbie Lane told us that the review and the decision to close the pharmacy was a result of cutbacks. My question to the minister is, why have you allowed the loss of this much-needed, front-line health service?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my answer to the first question, I would have to take it under advisement. It indeed may be and I don't know, there could be a pharmacy in the next building or something that people have access to. I would have to ask staff for advice on this, I don't know.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Health who knows so little, this is yet another example of this government's unquenchable thirst for privatization. The director of the pharmacy informed us that a new pharmacy will be open sometime this summer and, by the way, it is a privately-run Pharmasave. No, he can't guarantee that the prices at the new pharmacy will be the same as at the old pharmacy. My question to the minister is this, what steps are you going to take to ensure that prices at the privately-run Pharmasave are the same as those at the old pharmacy?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that question under advisement.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - LITTLE BRAS D'OR BRIDGE:

FLAG PEOPLE - MIN. EMPLOY

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, last week the Florence Fire Department was late in responding to a propane fire because construction on Little Bras d'Or Bridge caused serious traffic tie-ups. The firefighters had to wait seven minutes to clear a path through traffic. During a propane fire, minutes can mean the difference between life and death. This letter from the fire chief from Florence, and I will table this letter, suggests that the minister place two flag people on the bridge to stop traffic problems and assist emergency vehicles. My question for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, will the minister take the fire chief's advice and place two flag people at the bridge site immediately?

[Page 4117]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can't guarantee that this is going to happen but, however, I do know that the department is taking under advisement the remarks from the fire chief.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on May 16th, my colleague for Victoria asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to place extra work crews on-site to speed up construction. The minister said he would speak to the contractor about adding more crews and then he committed to report back with his answer. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, can the minister please update the House on this commitment?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there is no update as of today.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, not only is this a safety hazard for emergency vehicles but tourism operators and local businesses fear the delays will have a negative impact on the tourism season. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, will the minister commit here and now that road work on the bridge will be completed at least by the end of June when tourism season is in full swing?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that (Interruptions)

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

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that talks are underway as we speak and it is my understanding that there is some difficulty with changing the terms of the contract to accommodate a three-shift day because of the fact that the specifications and the parameters for the tender did not call for that in the first place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - PHARMACISTS' FEES:

PROV. HEALTH PLAN - COVERAGE DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, pharmacists in Nova Scotia are discussing the idea of billing for counselling, something that is done in other provinces. In Ontario the government has set up a fee schedule outlining what services can be billed. In Quebec, pharmacists can be reimbursed by a provincial drug plan. I want to ask the Minister of Health if there are plans to allow pharmacists to bill for services and whether the province intends to cover the new costs?

[Page 4118]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have a very good relationship with the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia and there is communication constantly with the Department of Health. To my knowledge, that has not been a topic of discussion up to this point.

MR. DEXTER: Well, the minister ought to inform himself. Seniors and families without private health insurance don't need to be faced with any more fees. The reality is that they will be the ones who will be most likely to face any fee imposed by pharmacists. Will the Minister of Health please assure the House that seniors will not be hit again with more fees and that the province will pay fees imposed by pharmacists?

MR. MUIR: I take it from that question, Mr. Speaker, that the honourable member is suggesting that the government go ahead and have pharmacists be paid a fee for consultation, paid for by the government. I guess that is what you are saying. Is that what he is asking, for more fees? Is that what he is asking for? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Opposition on your final supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health really needs to get a grip on himself because he is not only insulting other members of this House but I think members of the public, as well, when he gives those kinds of responses. The Canadian Pharmacists Association is meeting today on these very matters and yet the minister appears to know nothing about this issue. Will the Minister of Health commit to this House that no new fees will be imposed upon seniors but will be covered by the provincial government's health plan?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think I know about as much about the topic as he does because I read this morning's newspaper too. That is where he got his information. He knows nothing about it other than to raise the question. Let's put it in the context of what it is. As medical services change, our approach to medical services change. We have made a number of changes since we have assumed office and we think for the better. I am pleased to see, if nothing else, usually they are back in the dinosaur age and now they are starting to think maybe a little bit differently, that there are people who can provide services rather than those who are typically . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 4119]

AGRIC. & FISH. - BUYER LICENCE REGS:

PROCESSING COSTS - INFO. TABLE

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Currently circulating for public comment until June 1st are draft regulations for fish processors and fish buyer licence regulations. Many concerns with regard to this draft have been mentioned already. Some say these go too far; some say they don't go far enough. There is also a component in these regulations that talks about a new fee structure. As I understand it, the new fee structure that will apply to licences will cost $200. If the application needs to be amended, each amendment will cost an additional $25. Later on, if it happens to be that the application was rejected, there will be another $200 fee to appeal that rejection. That could all add up to somewhere around over $400 to an individual.

My question to the minister is, can the minister table documents in this House showing the actual application processing costs to justify in excess of $400 fees for the fish buyer licences regulation?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable member well knows, the lobster industry in this province is extremely important with approximately $340 million worth of gross value achieved and with an export of approximately 80 per cent of that. The Department of Fisheries enforcement regulation division costs the taxpayers of Nova Scotia several million dollars a year and this is a reasonable adjustment, if it does occur, which goes part of the way toward covering the cost of providing that service to those individuals with the buyer's licences.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I talked to an individual this morning who said that they are paying thousands and thousands of dollars into fees provincially as it is right now and finding it very frustrating that these fees are going up. The Auditor General stated very clearly that any fee over and above actual departmental costs is no more than a tax. Can the minister table any document showing these new proposed fees are tied to real costs or is this just a simple process of another money grab by this government?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, the Department of Fisheries' total budget for enforcement regulation and other services provided is approximately $5 million. These fees do not in any way go anywhere near covering departmental costs and certainly anyone who has the right to be approved as a fish buyer, or lobster licence here in Nova Scotia to buy or process, has the economic advantage of that activity.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we are not going to get the information and maybe we will have to FOIPOP the department to get the information to justify the large increased cost to the producers. My final supplementary to the minister is, I talked to individuals again this morning who only recently received the comments for public consultation, that they are expected to have the reports back by June 1st. In some areas of

[Page 4120]

the province, the fishermen have been out fishing for a number of months. They haven't had time to really get involved with this. My question to you, Mr. Minister, are you prepared to extend the current comment deadline past June 1st to allow the industry more time to respond to you on this matter?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the process of reviewing the fish buying regulations is one that has been ongoing for over six months now, certainly meeting with the buyers association, those discussions began last June. In consultation with the fishing industry, who certainly have legitimate concerns, the lobster fishermen themselves, the position that was coming forward was raised at the minister's conference I sponsored with representatives from the entire fishing industry last fall, in November. A presentation was made earlier in March, early April, at the First Ministers' to all the fishing groups and we have been taking submissions and advisements. This is a review. The deadline is June 1st. Any groups that have concerns or wish to raise other issues, myself and staff are certainly inclined and will meet with them and take them under consideration and are looking forward to incorporating them in the review.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - BUYER LICENCE REGS:

RESPONSE DEADLINE - EXTEND

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the men and women who fish for lobster in the Northumberland Strait are out on the water today. They have a harvest season that takes place in May and June and the two months before the season are busy getting gear and boats ready for the season. In April of this year the provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Department released a draft of the new regulations to dramatically alter requirements for lobster buyers. Any response to these proposals has to be made by June 1st and that is this Friday.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries says that he wants to consult with the fishermen about the proposed changes, but then he goes and imposes an unfair and completely arbitrary date for responses. So why have you not listened to the buyers association and extended the deadline?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly I would like to correct the honourable member on one of his assertions. The buyers association certainly has been consulted. The letter that he is quoting from is from a fishing organization, the lobster fishermen themselves, so he is technically correct on the groups. We have gone through a process of consulting with lobster fishermen at the minister's conference last fall. Again, a presentation at the minister's conference, the deadline was set for submissions and what we allowed to anybody, whether they are buyers or people who are not directly connected in this, or the fishing association,

[Page 4121]

the lobstermen themselves, and we have encouraged them to bring forward their concerns. We will meet with them any time in the coming months.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the coming months is going to be a little too late when the deadline is June 1st. The minister encourages people to come forward but he doesn't listen to anybody who does. In reading this draft, it is unclear whether the new rules apply to all buyers or only new buyers. Some people in the industry estimate that 50 per cent to 75 per cent of lobster buyers will not be around in a few years if the proposed regulations are adopted. We know what will happen when there is less competition, there will be lower prices for producers and higher prices for consumers. My question to the Minister of Fisheries is, why does the minister feel that getting rid of many small buyers will help the industry?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, the honourable member does have trouble listening and interpreting. I would like to explain the situation here in Nova Scotia. There are currently 371 licensed buyers in the Province of Nova Scotia. There are 3,400 licensed fishermen, that is one buyer per nine lobster fishermen. Anybody who is currently in possession of a lobster-buying licence is grandfathered under this legislation with no change. What is being proposed here is new applicants for a lobster-buying licence which would allow them the capacity within their operation to make it a viable unit. There is no intent here to put anyone out of industry. All these buyers are individual business people who have their associations and contacts with other buyers in Atlantic Canada.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, well, it will still be a problem if these new buyers start buying out the old buyers. That is their concern. Our lobster product is already renowned throughout the world. Our lobster industry is an example of a successfully managed fishery. Many people depend on the industry for their livelihood, the inshore fishers, the workers who process the product, and many buyers help make sure that a fair price is reached for the lobsters. Why has the minister failed to realize that his meddling is putting the health of a viable industry at risk?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. What these regulations do is ensure there is competition and a viable industry into the future. I would like to, for the honourable member's information, convey to him that 80 per cent of the lobster caught in Nova Scotia is exported from this province. It is the best lobster worldwide. That is why health and safety issues dealing with storage units, orderly marketing, increase the price to lobster fishermen across this province, not decrease the price of lobster.

[Page 4122]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - CLINICAL FOOTPRINT REPORT:

HOSP. CLOSURES - CONFIRM

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In February, the Minister of Health received a $500,000 clinical footprint report from the clinical services committee. One of the key planks in that report is that community hospitals will be designated. My question to the minister is, given that three months has passed, could the minister please confirm whether hospitals will be closing as a result of the recommendations of the clinical footprint report?

HON. JAMES MUIR: The district health authorities are in the process of submitting their business plans and, I guess, the simple answer to his question is no.

DR. SMITH: I just want to point out that even if the minister changes a hospital into a nursing home or a community clinic there will still be no hospital. The hospital is closed. My question to the minister again, can he tell us which hospitals will no longer be providing their current health care services, Roseway, Guysborough Memorial, Twin Oaks, All Saints in Springhill? Which ones, Mr. Minister?

MR. MUIR: The district health authorities are in the process of submitting their business plans. I would expect that in most institutions there would be some alteration in services that may be increasing things. In some areas, it may be taking away things in as much as there is a shift from one facility to another. Don't forget, we are talking about things such as critical mass and best practices. If he is asking me do I know if there are any radical changes to take place I could, I suppose, give probably a pretty good answer and say the government last year just announced about $15 million in capital equipment costs which is significantly . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That came from the federal government.

MR. MUIR: Well, it did. Yes, it did, Mr. Speaker. I will acknowledge the role of the federal government, but that has been a significant (Interruptions)

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

DR. SMITH: That is a great government that we have in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker. This minister is responsible for the overall health care system for Nova Scotia; he is responsible for the people each and every day in those communities. My question is, since we now know that he is okay with municipally-funded physician salaries, does this mean that he is willing to consider municipally-funded hospitals to make up for their own shortcomings?

[Page 4123]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess the straight answer is no, although I should remind the honourable member that I am very proud of the contributions the citizens of this province, through auxiliaries and foundations, make to the acute care and other facilities in this province, including long-term care facilities, and for that member to get up and denigrate those contributions is wrong.

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

HEALTH - TOBACCO COMPANIES: LITIGATION - PURSUE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This government has been on the record and they have been quite unequivocal in their support for stamping out smoking in this province, and the Minister of Health's government has moved forward with some good initiatives that our Party has supported, but let's get to the heart of the matter, something this government hasn't done, and that is that smoking costs Nova Scotian taxpayers $170 million a year. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why has your government failed to pursue litigation against tobacco companies to pay the taxpayers' costs for smoking in this province?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, obviously the honourable member is correct. We introduced, and will continue to introduce, measures to try and prevent people from taking up smoking and to encourage people not to smoke, as well as take measures to ensure that second-hand smoke is not the problem it is today. The issue of litigation is a very difficult one and he is a man of the law, more so than me, and he probably actually knows a better answer to this question. For example, we are monitoring what is happening in other Canadian jurisdictions, and I would remind the honourable member that what happened in British Columbia - despite the resolution he put in the House yesterday, he knows what happened - it went in and it got thrown out. His resolution only told half the story.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to dwell on what happened yesterday, but let's be clear. Anything that was introduced in this House yesterday was done after the lawsuit and the constitutional challenge and it was re-amended after that. I want to focus on the fact that the tobacco companies have agreed, in the United States, to pay $0.25 trillion. They didn't do that out of the kindness of their heart. They did that because they know there was clear evidence of cover-up and misleading people with regard to the evidence that they had of what smoking did to people. They marketed cigarettes to children and they are doing it here as well. Tobacco companies are negligent, and it is costing Nova Scotia taxpayers $170 million a year. My question to the Minister of Health is, will you do the right thing and commence litigation to ensure we can begin to collect on those taxpayers' dollars, $170 million a year, that we continue to pay because of what the tobacco companies are doing to Nova Scotians?

[Page 4124]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we will continue to monitor our sister jurisdictions that are going through that exercise. As desirable as it is - and I have a great deal of sympathy for what the honourable member says about the difference between the direct health costs that are attributed to tobacco use in this province versus the revenue - it is a battle that if you get into it, you want make sure you have a pretty good chance of winning.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, all 50 states in the United States have won the lawsuit; the federal government in the United States has. British Columbia has initiated a lawsuit; Newfoundland has already initiated a lawsuit. I would say this was leadership. The people elected this government to go out and address issues like smoking cessation, and what the tobacco companies are doing. That is what it is about, leadership. My final question to the Minister of Health is, will you at least commit today to speak to the Department of Justice and your colleague, the Minister of Justice, to review the British Columbia lawsuit, and see whether or not we can report back as to whether that type of litigation can be commenced here in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to discuss this with my colleague, the Minister of Justice, and his staff. I can also tell the honourable member that I will be discussing some anti-smoking policies with people from British Columbia and Newfoundland in very short order.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth South on an introduction.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate Question Period is over, because we have some students from Dartmouth High School, 22 Grade 12 students, with their teacher, Don Houle, who came over here. They were in the Red Room and thought Question Period was a little later. I know they were anticipating the excitement and the learning curve of Question Period, but since it is over, we will let it be over.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to all members of the House, 22 Grade 12 students in political science - what an exercise here - along with their teacher, Don Houle. (Interruptions) There are only 17. I am sorry, there are

[Page 4125]

a few missing. (Interruptions) Would the House please give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome the 17 guests to the House today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

Bill No. 1 - Land Registration Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read for a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 1. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes to speak to Bill No. 15, the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. This caucus is certainly in support of the amendments to this bill, which will allow for the discussions between the

[Page 4126]

Department of Education and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union with respect to collective bargaining, to go forward, to look at those issues that are appropriate for province-wide bargaining and a process that may eventually lead to one level of collective bargaining between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Department of Education.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have had an opportunity, as have members of the NDP caucus, to speak with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and to speak with individual teachers around the province who are very much in favour of the amendments in this bill. Therefore, we think this is a good move and we will be voting in favour of Bill No. 15.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this bill, Bill No. 15, is to allow the NSTU to move from two-tier bargaining towards single-tier bargaining. Over the years there have been some ongoing discussions with all the parties involved - the NSTU, the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia School Boards Association - to look at one-tier bargaining. These discussions have resulted in the introduction of Bill No. 15. As we have indicated earlier, our Liberal caucus is in support of Bill No. 15.

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

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the co-operation of the members opposite and I am certain that this bill will make bargaining less cumbersome and better for all parties concerned. So with that said, I would move that this bill be now read for a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 17, the Optometry Act, and on behalf of the Minister of Health I move third reading of this bill.

[Page 4127]

Bill No. 17 - Optometry Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to take a moment to express support for the amendments to the Optometry Act. I think that the Association of Professional Optometrists has worked very hard through quite a rigorous and time-consuming process that will see these amendments not only benefit members of their association but members of the public. More generally, it is always important to have good standards, good process for accountability and a recognition of the very important place that optometrists have in our health care system. So, certainly I feel that this is a good piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I just briefly want to take the opportunity to speak in support of Bill No. 17, An Act to Amend Chapter 328 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Optometry Act. This legislation allows optometrists in Nova Scotia to incorporate professionally. Dr. Paula Gaudet from the association has indicated the association's full support for this legislation throughout the process that the legislation has followed through the House of Assembly.

We support the government's move to amend legislation through its consultation with the association. The mission of optometry is to fulfill the vision and eye care needs of the public through clinical care and research and education to enhance quality of life.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, just to compliment the optometrists and the practice of doctors of optometry in their bringing forward this legislation for approval. I am very pleased to add our voice of approval from the Liberal caucus of their profession that allows them to become a full professional body and equal partners in the health care team delivering service to Nova Scotians.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members opposite for their comments and I move third reading of Bill No. 17.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 17. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 4128]

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 18.

Bill No. 18 - Registered Nurses Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Health, I move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes in order to speak to Bill No. 18. I did have an opportunity to speak to it in Committee of the Whole House, but as you know Hansard does not record those proceedings, so I would like to get it on the record that we support third reading and passage of Bill No. 18.

This bill does a number of very important things, Mr. Speaker. I think it clarifies the role of the Registered Nurses' Association and it sets up and provides for what will now be known as the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. It delineates their function as a regulatory body for registered nurses in the province and it is an important piece of legislation in that regard alone.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the bill provides for the registration and licensing of nurse practitioners in the province. This is something that we have supported now for a long time. I believe personally that there will be an expanded role for nurse practitioners in this province as time goes on, and as the medical community becomes more comfortable with the roles in which the nurse practitioners are filling and the important contribution that they make to the health care system. So the bill does that as well. It also sets out provisions with respect to professional conduct and the way in which offenses will be dealt with through their discipline committee and through the professional conduct provisions.

All of this is very important and I want to acknowledge, Mr. Speaker, if I can, the tremendous hard work that has been put into this bill by the Registered Nurses' Association. We have heard from them; I have heard from them personally. On a couple of occasions I had an opportunity to meet with them, both formally and informally. They have obviously done a great deal of work. I don't believe that this bill reflects everything that the Registered Nurses' Association would like to have accomplished in it, however, as a piece of legislation that moves forward the objectives of the organization, I think it is important in that regard.

[Page 4129]

I know that there was input through the Law Amendments Committee, and through the consultation process both from the NSGEU and the NSNU which, of course, as well is important. I had hoped that there would have been a little bit more of a consensus in that process. There wasn't, and I guess there were some differences of opinion around the bill, but it is not possible to please everyone in every piece of legislation and so, inasmuch as it is possible, what has to be done is what is right for the people of the province. I think in large measure that this bill is an important advancement for both the nurses' association but, most importantly I think - and I think the nurses would agree - for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

This is a piece of legislation that has been thoroughly vetted both by our caucus and by the Legislature and we would just like to say that we intend to support the legislation and look forward to it going ahead, Mr. Speaker.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to close the debate and thank the members opposite for their remarks and move third reading of Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 18. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 19.

Bill No. 19 - Licensed Practical Nurses Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Health, I move third reading of Bill No. 19.

[Page 4130]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I again want to take a few minutes just to get on the record comments that I had made previously in the Committee of the Whole House and to say that, again, this is an important piece of legislation. I know how hard the LPNs have worked in consultation with the Department of Health to bring forward this piece of legislation. They feel it is important and I believe it is important for their organization to have this legislation passed. I must say it was done in a very co-operative manner. The LPNs went through a broad consultation process. In the end, there were actually amendments which took out some of the provisions, at least temporarily until such time as the continuing competency and questions can be addressed.

All in all, Mr. Speaker, it is a very good piece of legislation. I want to say again that all of the individuals involved should be congratulated. We certainly extend our congratulations to them for the important work that has been done around this bill. I want to say as well, and I have said this before, I believe that LPNs are greatly under-appreciated in our health care system. I think what this bill does in part is it recognizes the important work that is done by LPNs and affords them some of the recognition that they deserve. So I am pleased on behalf of my caucus and on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus to be able to indicate that we are going to be supporting this legislation. Thank you.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 19.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 19. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[The motion is carried.]

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 21 - Transportation Amendments (2001) Act.

[Page 4131]

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move third reading of Bill No. 21.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important at this stage in the passage of this omnibus bill that a few comments are made on behalf of this caucus. In particular, as has been said on a number of occasions as we have seen this bill move through the various stages of this House, it is of real importance that there was a good measure of consultation done by the minister's department. As I have said publicly before and I say again in this House, it is an example of consulting with the various people across the province who have concerns with safety on our highways or concerns with particular sections of the Railways Act.

In particular, I would like to put on the record and I am going to table this e-mail, Mr. Speaker, that is of some consequence. It involves school zones. I would again like to compliment the minister. The minister and his staff have adopted a couple of amendments which were suggested by this caucus, when it comes to making sure there are appropriate fines for speeders in school zones and in temporary work sites. I would just like to point out that I received this e-mail from Bob MacLaughlin and Mr. MacLaughlin is going to point out that he has actually seen where these increased fines work. So this comes from Mr. MacLaughlin, who is from South Ohio in Yarmouth County. I know the member for Yarmouth, of course, is well aware of that area.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. MacLaughlin says, "Read with some interest about your proposal to increase fines for those drivers speeding in school zones. Back in 1997, my wife and I were visiting relatives in Kelowna, BC and whilst we were out sightseeing my sister informed me that Mon. - Friday, 8 - 5 all school zones were 30 kms / hour and that there was a hefty fine to go with it - I recall the amount mentioned being in the $370 range. As there was a school zone not too far from my sisters (sic) house I walked over and watched, slightly awed, . . . " Mr. MacLaughlin writes, " . . . as transport trucks, road construction trucks, and everyone else dutifully slowed to 30 km/h and passed through the school zone." And then he adds, "I'd like to see that province wide, here in NS."

Well, Mr. MacLaughlin, we have doubled those fines and that has happened because of the co-operation of this Party with the Minister of Transportation and his department. Now, as you know from your previous career Mr. Speaker, there will be strict applications of that and better safety will result in school zones when offenders are aware of the fact that these fines are really of some substance and not of the amount that they were earlier.

[Page 4132]

There is one other section and one other point in this particular piece of legislation. I think it is of real importance that I again bring to the attention of the public and members opposite. I heard the minister say this publicly and I am going to make sure that we have it on the record. There is one clause of this bill, Clause 23(5) which allows plebiscite signs and election campaign signs to be exempt from the strict regulations that are expected of private industry, expected of tourist operators, expected of people in the business world in this province when they are advertising their particular point of business. That strict application of signs - there is an exemption for election signs, an exemption for plebiscite signs.

As I have said before, we know how hastily constructed and how quickly election signs can appear and hopefully, we might even see some plebiscite signs over the next few months. Maybe those plebiscite signs would be well received in certain parts of the Valley if we had a plebiscite and a referendum on VLTs and their future in this province. But to allow this exemption as a rather self-serving modus operandi for us as politicians, to allow this exemption because of campaign signs is a concern that I have brought to the minister's attention.

Yet, the minister has replied - and we are going to hold him to it in this caucus - that there will be a provision and we are looking forward to it under the Elections Act and this is a bill that is before this House, Bill No. 29, and I am under the impression that the Minister of Justice will sometime, perhaps in the fall session, be bringing this Elections Act forward and at that time there should be addressed in that bill attention to provisions regarding election signs and the fact that their location and their construction is again during those hectic times of elections, they are of real concern to motorists because of their locations.

So, I will take the minister at his word. I will put a note in there for the fall session that - if and when Elections Act, Bill No. 29, is brought forward, we will be looking very carefully at the fact that there should be a provision in there, a provision concerning the fact that election signs and plebiscite signs must adhere to the strict, well thought out, well prepared policies that this minister has brought forward. I know the Minister of Transportation has consulted with other ministers in his Cabinet. I know that the Minister of Tourism has made sure that there has been some consistency with regard to signage because of the input from his department. That co-operation is the reason that we will be bringing this legislation forward and supporting it and I again remind the minister that when the Elections Act is brought forward, I am looking forward to that particular clause dealing with election signs and plebiscite signs.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place. Thank you.

[Page 4133]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on Bill No. 21. We are supporting the principles of this bill because they are largely administrative and innocuous. But we do have particular concerns, which I want to raise today for a few moments. My main concern reflects back to small businesses within my constituency. Clause 23 of this bill could or may affect small businesses and that is relative to Clause 23, which places limits on signage along highways. This bill will allow the minister to have control over signs within 100 metres of a road. The problem is that it will now be at his discretion as to whether or not a sign is a menace to safety or not.

Mr. Speaker, there will have to be regulations passed by the Governor in Council, and from those regulations the minister will be able to order any sign to be taken down. Our real concern, therefore, will be in the regulations when they are written to ensure that small businesses don't suffer because of this signage policy. For many small businesses in my area, I am sure it is not signage that is on their minds today but the conditions of the road they have to travel on. So I would hope that the minister would pay more attention to the condition of the roads, rather than concentrating on what is on the side of our roads that is attracting or distracting drivers. (Interruptions)

I thought he called for the Speaker, Mr. Speaker, but anyway.

MR. SPEAKER: There are more standing than sitting.

The honourable member for Victoria has the floor.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, as I said in the beginning, our caucus is somewhat supportive of this bill but we do have reservations that I want to express today on behalf of my constituents, and that is relative to the road signs. I had many calls, when this bill first hit the news waves, relative to what harm this could be to small business in my area. As we know, my area includes a significant portion of the Cabot Trail, and businesses along the Cabot Trail, as any other business in many parts of rural Nova Scotia, depend on signage to bring tourists to their business, whatever it may be. There are countless small businesses that depend on the tourism industry to survive.

Mr. Speaker, an important part of this process is attracting new people to the various businesses I talk about. In particular, businesses need to attract tourists onto secondary roads and off Highway No. 105, need to be able to place signs on Highway No. 105 to direct people to their business. So my concern is for Clause 23 of this bill. In this clause the Minister of Transportation and Public Works will be able to make regulations dealing with all signs and advertisements within 1,000 metres of the centre line of the highway. With so many other things that have been introduced by this government, the real meat of this provision will not be known until the regulations are made available to us.

[Page 4134]

As it stands now, the minister has the discretion to make rules about any signs within 150 metres of the centre line of the highway. The result is any sign the minister considers to be a danger he can order them removed. I would like to have from the minister, however, a commitment that he does not intend to eliminate all advertising signs from the highways of Nova Scotia, as the impact on small business in rural parts of the province would be profound.

Mr. Speaker, if the minister is prepared to do that I am sure we would all be supportive of this bill, and we will wait for the regulations and for the direction that the minister will follow, relative to signage on this particular bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise and make a few brief comments in support of my colleague, the honourable member for Victoria. Coming from a rural area in this province which relies heavily on the tourism industry, this is also an important piece of legislation and I certainly hope the government will keep that in mind in its implementation.

Mr. Speaker, one of the concerns that has been brought to my attention is the concerns of the small sign-shop owners. They have been calling and saying, oh-oh, what is going to happen to us now if you are not allowed to have highway signs. In fact I had one of my business owners in St. Peter's contact me recently, and he had had an order, I believe it was for five to eight signs. As soon as the client found out from the Department of Transportation and Public Works about the rules, they cancelled the order. This was a substantial order which was going to provide employment for him and his employees, and substantial revenue.

I would certainly just suggest to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and his government that they keep in mind when they are trying to do the procurement for this that we want them to be as responsible as possible to the taxpayers, getting the best value for each dollar, but at the same time give consideration to the small sign-shop owners, whom we all have in our constituencies, who are struggling to make ends meet. If there is some sort of consideration that can be given to spread the work around while at the same being fiscally responsible, and I am not sure how they will deal that, but I raise that as a concern on behalf of that particular constituent.

I am sure that is a concern that will be raised to members throughout the province, that a substantial amount of work is going to be lost for these small sign shops. They fear they will not be able to compete. If the government is going to put out for a bulk order of 500 highway signs, they feel they will not be able to even participate in this process and that it will be the very large companies that will take all of this business, leaving them empty-handed.

[Page 4135]

Mr. Speaker, with that, I would simply suggest to the minister and to his government that they do keep that in mind. These small-business owners in rural Nova Scotia are certainly the economic heartbeat of our communities. I do hope that serious consideration will be given to try to make it equitable when the government is doing their procurement for these signs, and to see if at all possible some of this work could be spread around to every area of this province to assist these small businesses.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the two Opposition critics and the member for Richmond with regard to Bill No. 21. Bill No. 21 is a bill that I think we can all take some pride in because it has been coming through this House for about the last 15 years in effect. There have been those problems with private, commercial signage, and while this isn't the perfect solution, I think it is a good solution and I think it is one that over the years will be refined to a stage where it will be acceptable to all.

With regard to specifics, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect was talking about the amendment to the Elections Act with regard to political signage during election periods, et cetera. I would advise him that the Legislative Counsel has already been requested to draft an amendment to the Elections Act to incorporate signage regulations within that particular Act.

As far as the honourable member for Richmond's concern, I think that is something that we can certainly look at, and I understand the problem. I think all of us in rural areas have small sign shops who may indeed be adversely affected by this legislation. We will see if we can do something along those lines.

Mr. Speaker, with those words I would move third reading of Bill No. 21.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please Bill No. 32.

[Page 4136]

Bill No. 32 - Livestock Health Services Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in my place today to move third reading of Bill No. 32, the Livestock Health Services Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on Bill No. 32, and let the minister and the government know that we would be supportive of this piece of legislation, and I would like to make a couple of comments as to why that would be. Certainly, the provisions in this bill that kind of bring back an issue that the Liberal Government had moved away from, and that was the topping up of fees, or subsidization of fees for large animal practices for veterinarians. This bill allows for that to come back to its original amounts.

[2:15 p.m.]

Also the Federation of Agriculture has raised concerns around the board's ability to address the concern of dead stock, Mr. Speaker, and I think that all members in the House - particularly those from rural constituencies, if they have significant agricultural operations in their constituencies and particularly those with livestock - would recognize that some of these operations are significant in the number of animals that they maintain, in dairy operations of 400 or 500 head of cattle and in the thousands when we talk about poultry operations.

In any of these operations there is going to be some mortality rate and I would say that for the board to have the ability to address a concern around dead stock is an important one. Although the requirement, I think, by the federation was that the board is mandated to have the power to do this, there was no significant obligation on the part of the board in how they acted in that regard. But I think they are optimistic, and I am as well, that the board will look at this in a serious way and come up with some regulations that would address the concern of dead stock and alleviate the concern that the farmers have about collection of dead stock. This was a concern actually that was brought to the floor by the member for Lunenburg West earlier. I think that if the minister was listening to him and to the Federation of Agriculture, it looks as though the federation is sufficiently appeased that their concern will be addressed.

On those issues around the veterinarian fees for large animal practices and the collection of dead stock, I think the agricultural community would be pleased with this piece of legislation. I also would have liked for the minister to tackle the question of their definition of livestock so that horses would be considered in that definition and I think for two reasons; one is in some operations, albeit they may be small, but there are horses used

[Page 4137]

in the production of food and the other one is the fact that large volumes of horse meat, or horses are sold here and horse meat going to Europe, which is a more significant consumer of horse meat as food, and although it is not significant in this country, but if the origin of those animals is here, then I think that the classification should consider them when it comes to being able to get the benefit of help on the large animal fees.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise here to just say a few words on Bill No. 32. Really in the overall bill we spoke in detail about it here just a few days ago and a concern that was brought forward was with regard to the dead stock and the concern of the Federation of Agriculture on how that was going to be administered down the road, the possibility of implications although it is working fine now, but down the road there could be problems. With the experts who are going to be part and parcel of the new bill, it clearly was a direction to go. I stand here today to congratulate the Federation of Agriculture and members of the Opposition Party and ourselves for bringing this to the attention of the minister and I thank the minister for listening and adding it to the bill. I think now we have a balanced bill and one that we will be supporting.

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

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the comments of the members opposite and certainly the concerns they raised on behalf of the industry and the concerns industry raised with myself as minister. I am pleased to see the right adjustments and compromises made to move this bill forward. So with those remarks, I would like to move third reading of Bill No. 32.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 32. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Order that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 33.

[Page 4138]

Bill No. 33 - Scalers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in my place here today and move third reading of Bill No. 33.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my comments will be brief. When I say brief, I have a different definition than my honourable colleague for Sackville-Cobequid. I would say that the individuals who would be promoting this piece of legislation would see it as timely, I think, with regard to the volume of wood product that leaves this province or is processed in this province every day. I want to say that the Board of Examiners that this bill allows for, I am glad to see that the minister has included one member from small, private land ownership. I would see that to be an important complement to the board and also I think the minister was wise in also allowing a section of the bill to deal with those individuals that a scaling licence is not required and in particular for the counting or grading of Christmas trees. I think it obviously makes sense that scaling wouldn't necessarily be required in the Christmas tree operations.

So for the most part, this bill allows and gives direction on the authority of anybody contravening the bill or not being qualified as a scaler and the requirements of scalers and what would be set out by the scaling manual. It is fairly comprehensive. I would say that the minister certainly would need some help in coming up with this piece legislation, which no doubt he had someone to talk to. So we would be supportive of this piece of legislation and the impact, we think, would be a positive one.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, there is nothing in this legislation that is going to create an uproar in our caucus. It is mainly housekeeping. But I would refer to Clause 4 where the Governor in Council may appoint a Board of Examiners consisting of four persons. Then in Clause 6 it says the chairman and one other member of the board constitutes a quorum. I would say that is not a fair representation of a board. It is 50/50. Probably the minister would look at appointing five people with a quorum of three. That is the only thing that we have seen in the bill that creates a little bit of confusion. But maybe if the minister would look at that and maybe change that a bit so there would be a fair

quorum rather than a split within that board. So, other than that, as I say, it is only a piece of housekeeping, we don't see any troubling sections in it that would create any fuss among us, so with that, we would be supporting this bill.

[Page 4139]

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members opposite for their support and input on this particular piece of legislation and certainly it is a matter of ensuring that there is some balance, including the small private woodlot owners on the Board of Examiners, I think, that helps accomplish that and update the Scalers Act itself. We will take a look at the other concerns raised by the honourable members. So, with that, it is my pleasure to move for third reading Bill No. 33, the Scalers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 33. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Social Workers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased on behalf of the social workers of Nova Scotia who spent a lot of time putting work into this bill to bring it before the House and move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 34. Would all those in favour of the motion, please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4140]

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 27.

Bill No. 27 - Veterinary Medical Act

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, I would move for third reading of Bill No. 27, the Veterinary Medical Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to get on the record as Agriculture Critic that I will be supporting this bill and we will be supporting this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 27, the Veterinary Medical Act. Would all those in favour of the motion, please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24

Bill No. 24 - St. Francis Xavier University Millennium Centre Grants Act.

[Page 4141]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 24, the St. Francis Xavier University Millennium Centre Grants Act.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise in support of this particular bill. Yesterday, when this bill was going through committee, I made some reference to having more than a passing interest in this particular bill. I congratulated the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury for bringing the bill forward. I also want to congratulate the honourable member for Antigonish, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for his role in continuing to ensure that this project gets underway.

As you know, Mr. Minister, the previous government - which I was proud to be a part of - put some initial support towards this particular project as we believe that this project is a fine project for the Town of Antigonish and for that whole area, the whole Strait area right up to Antigonish and up to the Pictou County line. I believe that this centre is going to do great things and giving them the ability to go out and raise additional money, I think, is to the benefit of not only the people of Antigonish but people of all Nova Scotia. It is a much needed facility there. Sean Riley and his committee and all the people involved with St. F.X. should be praised by this House for their efforts and I want to add my support to this entire project in order to get this facility up and running.

Having said that, I want to also say that in the future I believe that this centre is going to prove to Nova Scotians that investments in infrastructure of this type are worthwhile for any community and, in this particular case, the community of Antigonish.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 24. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 26.

[Page 4142]

Bill No. 26 - Chester Trails Act.

Bill No. 56 - An Act Respecting the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Nova Scotia.

Bill No. 57 - Halifax Corresponding Committee Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of these bills. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[The motion is carried.]

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that these bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 45.

Bill No. 45 - Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that this piece of legislation is the consequence of a volunteer fire department in Colchester County, Upper Stewiacke, a volunteer fire brigade, in consultation and in concert with the people in their catchment area moving from a flat tax rate to an area rate. I am very honoured to move this piece of legislation, Bill No. 45, Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act, for third reading. I appreciate the co-operation and support of honourable members opposite, almost.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I guess I am the "almost" component of that particular statement. I certainly appreciate what the honourable member is attempting to achieve here today, but I think noteworthy as well, as has been noted by my colleague, the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Critic, is the fact that the local municipal council has not either given its letter of authorization or endorsation of that and, generally, the protocol we certainly recognize in this caucus that this type of issue is not unique in this particular county. I believe the member for Kings West mentioned it as well, but in that particular jurisdiction the municipal council ratified it.

[Page 4143]

Certainly a public meeting could be called by any non-profit organization or any organization registered under the Societies Act and receive the approbation of the community, in a particular community or district of the municipality. Generally, that is brought back to the council level to receive ratification so that it is forwarded on to the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. That certainly wasn't the case here.

That having been said, the government seems to be quite content to breach the relationship between the province and the municipalities. All we can do is wish the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley very well on his endeavours because he has represented his constituency very well, but I am not so sure that the minister responsible for the department has represented the interests of Nova Scotians very well. In fact, I would say he fell down on the job altogether. That having been said, we made our points at the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will let it sit at that.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 45. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 54.

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move third reading of Bill No. 54, An Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 54. This is a unique bill and usually Private and Local Bills are not too controversial. We want to support the activities and initiative of the member for Shelburne who brings this legislation forward. I am sure, as I said at the Law Amendments Committee, that both he and the council in Barrington are sincere in their efforts to bring better health care to Nova Scotia.

[Page 4144]

They are trying to fill in the blanks, Mr. Speaker, that are present in so many communities throughout Nova Scotia, particularly in rural areas, of doctor and nurse supply, availability of those professionals as well as other services such as home care, physiotherapy and others. So I want to recognize the longstanding tradition of the municipal units that have come forward and supported the recruitment of physicians. I will confine most of my remarks to that of physician recruitment which the bill does address and I know on third reading I should do that. The recruitment of physicians has a longstanding involvement with the municipal units. The advertising, the receiving, the reception that the community gives to the physician and their families, is often so important and actually determines often whether the physicians will move to that community, but we have seen gaps in this government's services to those areas.

As a Liberal Government, Mr. Speaker, we had brought in multiple programs to service areas, so money is not necessarily the issue here. Physicians are quite well compensated in Nova Scotia under MSI and they are paid a fee for service. Some programs I mentioned that our government had brought in and this government has continued, they have supplemental funding for certain areas relative to isolation with low numbers, but in making representation to support this legislation where municipal units will actually pay salaries of physicians is the uniqueness of this bill and ones that we on this side of the House have grave concern about.

We know the concerns about municipal units being downloaded on by the province, picking up the slack when the province doesn't provide the service such as health care here and physicians to these communities. We see this as an entrenchment of that policy where the municipal taxpayers' dollars will go actually in grants or in salaries to supplement physician funding. We don't have any problem with providing the facilities, providing maybe the salary of a nurse practitioner in a community, if that is the public health demands of that community and that is the policy of that municipal unit, but we have problems with municipal units getting involved in taking property tax dollars of taxpayers' money directly into physician services. The representations made in support of this bill have pointed out that there are several thousand persons there needing the services of a doctor. MSI pays that service of a fee-for-service basis. Money will not solve the problem of physician recruitment into Barrington. Money will not solve the problem of recruitment of physicians into that community. It is misguided and misconceived, although it is well intentioned.

We heard from the councillor who was there, Mr. Dwayne Grant, I believe, I had some notes made at that time, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Dwayne Hunt?

DR. SMITH: Dwayne Hunt, yes. He was very sincere in his efforts to provide quality care, physician care to his community of Barrington. As we know, the Shelburne area is not high population, I think probably less than 20,000, probably in the range of 17,000. We have

[Page 4145]

five municipal units right in the County of Shelburne, Mr. Speaker. Don't ask me how that ever evolved, but that is the way they do business there. So what we are concerned about is that even within those communities, there will be bidding wars started for the procurement of physicians - five municipal units right in one county, a county of less than 20,000 people.

What will happen though if the capital region here, HRM starts to bid for physicians. That is a grave concern. The rest of the bill, we don't have problems with. We have two areas I should say. One is slightly beyond the grant, which would pay for salaries of physicians through a grant, but it is also the agreement that they would enter into that would dictate in some way, would dictate in any way, the limitations of services or the types of services provided by a physician.

I think the municipal units are treading on very dangerous grounds here. I would like the Minister of Health to stand up and let us know what the policy of the Department of Health is, whether there is a policy, whether he has changed his mind. He said in this House, Mr. Speaker, and the Premier as well, being a family physician, that it is the policy, if they are in agreement, of taxpayers' dollars going into fund physicians' salaries; that is the issue on this bill and that is the problem that we have with this legislation.

As I said, the municipal units have a strong tradition and I want to compliment areas like the Noel Shore, Canso and other communities that have really helped to recruit physicians. that is not the issue here, Mr. Speaker. We are in favour of that. We want to encourage municipal units. They have a role to play, as foundations do, but that foundation setup for paying family physicians' salaries should not be the municipal council, in my opinion. There is a double taxation issue here for doctor's fees. This is opening the door on the very slippery slope, as the member for Dartmouth North said the other day - opening the door on a very slippery slope to changing the whole funding structure of physicians' salaries and fee for services in this province. I have a real problem with that and our caucus has a real problem with that.

So is there a policy - I am hoping - on a matter of a substantive nature of this impacting on physicians? The Minister of Health is responsible for health care. He is responsible for the payment of physicians in this province. Does he agree with this bill and will the Minister of Health be addressing and telling Nova Scotians what he feels, himself, on Bill No. 54? Mr. Speaker, it is a real concern that it will pit one municipal unit against the other and there will be a bidding war for doctors through their salary incentives, which I believe will not solve the recruitment problem. It is not a money issue in Barrington. Why do we have grants paying for services of physicians that are taken out of property taxpayers' dollars?

[Page 4146]

[2:45 p.m.]

So the other concern, and one of the broader issues is, this is the government that promised community decision making through community health boards, the policy of those boards that would come forward and would be built into the business plans of the district health authorities that would be approved by the deputy minister and the Minister of Health. How does that interact with this system, when you have municipal units, the council of municipal units, determining what services will be provided by physicians in that community? Will that be reflective of the needs of those persons in that community? I think that's a real danger. We have one system that is going through a transition period and now, on top of that, we are going to impose another system. That just doesn't make sense. I would like the Minister of Health to stand in this House and, for the record and Hansard, speak to that issue. Stand right now in this House.

Mr. Dwayne Hunt, who appeared with Mr. Brian Hall, representing the municipal unit of Barrington, did bring forward their support, although it was not very clear. There was a letter from the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister on that issue, maybe he could address that as well, whether the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is in support of this legislation. This brings a whole new formula into play in cost-sharing and equalization grants into services within municipal units. Also, the councillor from Barrington mentioned they were just legitimizing and bringing to the forefront and laying on the table, I think he said, matters relative to recruitment and paying of physicians, that other municipal units were involved but they were doing it under the table.

I would like to address that, Mr. Speaker, in addressing Bill No. 54. I believe the mechanism is there for recruitment, that municipal units can play a large part in recruiting of physicians without this legislation. The ability is there, other areas have done this. To imply that other municipal units are working under the table, to me, alleges some clandestine operations that are taking place. This is usually done through a foundation or some other mechanism that's arm's-length from the community, often supported by auxiliaries and other persons, often centred around the hospitals in those communities.

I know this is a rural community without a hospital directly. In fact, if this government keeps going they probably won't have a hospital in Shelburne either. Those persons will have to receive all of their in-hospital and outpatient care in the Yarmouth community. There is no question that it is an area that needs strong physician, nurse practitioner, physiotherapy, all the services of the health care team. It is an ideal rural community for that within primary care.

Mr. Speaker, I think it was telling that the Coastguard, on May 29th, carried an article, and I can table this later (Interruptions) Pardon? We were concerned, we didn't want to as a caucus, it was fine for all the people in the Shelburne area that the MLA serves, in bringing who brings this legislation forward, we didn't necessarily go against the wishes of those

[Page 4147]

people in that area, although we do have concerns about a bidding war between municipal units throughout all of Nova Scotia.

We know that those communities and the Shelburne community are not the richest in the province. We have Lockeport, we have the Municipality of the District of Shelburne, we have other areas. They have done great programs with limited resources. I think of the recycling initiatives and the waste disposal programs that those units have done. They have done great jobs in those communities. But let's not have them in a bidding war of which municipal unit will be served by physicians.

Getting back to the Coastguard article, I would recommend that it probably would reflect, I believe, a lot of the public opinion in that Shelburne community, The Coast Guard would be serving all of those five municipal units. The second or third paragraph speaks in terms of, again, the bidding war that is the concern of the editor, Kent Blades, that that would be something that would happen in their own community and also with other communities. He said towns such as Lockeport with a much smaller tax base most likely would be left behind as the bidding escalated and health professionals began demanding salaries comparable to overpaid professional athletes.

That is what we are setting up, Mr. Speaker, a national hockey/football recruiting league where you would have doctors and communities bidding on salaries for physicians; competing with MSI even if you will. "It is unlikely that the Barrington council has considered the likely long-term costs of starting such a bidding war." - Mr. Blades says - "Do they feel they have the backing of taxpayers on this issue?" I think there is some concern there. The rush to get legal approval through the House of Assembly here, and this bill that we are asked to approve today has meant that any reasonable opportunity for public input has had to be circumvented. So this person is holding it out that the public process has not been honoured.

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

DR. SMITH: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I would like to thank the honourable member for yielding the floor. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to introduce to members of the House students from the Grade 6 class at Joseph Howe School in the north end of Halifax. I draw the attention of the students who are in the gallery to this picture over here. That is a picture of Joseph Howe, here by the Speaker, after whom your school is named.

[Page 4148]

The students who are here today are accompanied by their teacher, Miss Leih Barton; also by the Vice-Principal and teacher at their school, Mr. Garfield Symonds; and the Principal of the school, Miss Melinda Daye, whose father is well-known to members of this House as a former Sergeant-at-Arms here in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. So I would ask members of the House to extend a warm welcome to our visitors from Joseph Howe School and I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome the visitors to the gallery today.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my welcome as well, and also if I can single out one special person, Leih Barton, I would like to welcome her to the House today. She used to know me in another life, when it wasn't quite as hectic as some of the afternoons here but, when I think back, many of them were.

Mr. Speaker, just continuing - before I table this article from The Coast Guard - " . . . taxpayers are already paying for health care in their provincial taxes and the Barrington bill in fact could take power away from district health authorities and community health boards set up to ensure health services at the local level." That is the article from Mr. Blades.

Mr. Speaker, if nothing else, a piece of legislation that proves that this government is consistent in its ability to pit one municipal unit against another. Municipalities should play an active role in the recruitment of physicians, and they have. They have made provisions for space; the community medical centres throughout the province in many rural communities have done that, and they should continue to do that. Our problem, again, is with the grants that would compensate for services of physicians, but there are alarm signs throughout this bil, the ability of one municipality to use taxpayers' dollars to fund a physician already paid for by the taxpayers' dollars, not serve merely as a form of double taxation on property taxpayers' dollars.

Does passing this legislation effectively take power away from the district health authorities and the community health boards and place it in the hands of a different level of government? If this government is intent on pitting one municipality against another, it means it is intent on bringing forward double taxation, it is intent on shifting the health care decision, away from community health boards and placing it in the hands of councillors. This is the bill that will do all that and it will do more. If nothing else, the government is consistent in its ability to pit one part of the province against another.

However, this idea of the provision of grants using property taxpayers' money is quite another matter and it places the delivery of health care in this province on a very, very slippery slope. Pitting one municipality against another is a battle that should never be allowed to start. If we start now, this is the thin edge of the wedge on this battle.

[Page 4149]

Let me give you a sample. You have two communities, both qualify for the rural incentive program that our Liberal Government introduced and the debt relief program. One of these communities needs two doctors, the other needs one. The community that needs one is able to offer the grant due to financial resources, the other is not. All things being equal, in both of these communities, that is, you had a community hospital in each, then chances are the municipality that has the money and the legal authority to do it, under legislation such as Bill No. 54 will win. There will be winning of one municipal unit over another.

How does this improve health care for Nova Scotians? It does not. While one community wins, another loses. We have spent decades trying to work a fair, standardized system of health care for all Nova Scotians and legislation like this will just turn it loose and upset it.

Physicians are looking for a strong infrastructure. That is really what draws physicians to communities, not the money. The money is there. There are lots of people to serve. MSI pays the money. That is not the issue. This bill will not solve the problem of recruiting physicians, nor will extra money solve the problem. Where you get into a bidding war with one physician like The Coast Guard article said, as if we are bidding for hockey players or baseball players. I believe that is not the way that Nova Scotians want to see their health care system roll out.

So, physicians are looking for a strong infrastructure and they are looking for safe communities where they can raise their families. They are looking for good education, adequate education systems within those communities. That is why a lot of physicians leave because sometimes in communities, they are not happy with the education system. That is very important to all families, and it is equally important to the families of physicians.

More importantly, too, they are looking for strong support in the form of a strong delivery of health care at the community hospital level. That is where the government should be focusing its attention. Today I mentioned to the minister in Question Period, spelling out the designation of the hospitals. What will be the role of the Roseway Hospital? What will be the role of the Yarmouth Hospital? We know that as many as 15 beds could be on the chopping block in Yarmouth. This is going to impact on doctors coming into Barrington. Those are the real issues, that is what will be looked at on the Internet, that will be looked at when they speak to their colleagues and their physician friends that they know throughout the province. How are things up in that western part of the province going? That will be their question. Not whether there is a grant there to pay them.

Sure, they will take advantage of it - why not? They will just have to pay a little bit more income tax. This is where the municipality should be playing an active role in helping to build and secure that infrastructure.

[Page 4150]

I mentioned earlier in my comments the idea that this piece of legislation puts the delivery of health care on a very slippery slope. Let me give you another example. What if down the road, as a result of this legislation, we have larger employers willing to make a contribution to a municipality in the form of a grant? Is that what the municipalities are looking at? Maybe they will be able to get a grant to compensate this. If there were conditions tied to this grant, like the employer may well do, like the legislation provides, the municipal unit could do that on behalf of the employer. Like the condition in this legislation that indicates that the municipality can determine the level of services to be offered by the physician. This is something new in Nova Scotia, this is not generally done. I would like to have the Minister of Health involved in this debate here today.

[3:00 p.m.]

So we see perhaps a coalition and a working of grants and he who pays the money often calls the tune, Mr. Speaker. Right now we have MSI and the Minister of Health responsible; are we going to add in third and fourth and fifth line players in that bidding war for physician services in rural Nova Scotia? What if this company says to the municipality, go ahead and do this and we will give you money, but twice a week that physician needs to be on-site at the company so that he or she is available to our employees, not the arrangements made with the company or the office or whatever it is with the physician coming in through the backdoor with the municipal unit involved as well. This bill allows them to dictate the services that that physician will apply on receiving grants.

If you take this a step further, what happens if an employee is not even a resident of the municipality that has made the contribution? Maybe it is a foreign-owned company even. Pitting one municipality against the other and pitting Nova Scotians against each other is just plain wrong. Government should never forget its primary role in delivery of health care, to build strong community health teams and strong community hospitals. This will do more than any of your grants to physicians that top up already high physician salaries.

I know, Mr. Speaker - and it is not telling stories out of school - that some of the physicians in those types of communities like Barrington have received in excess of $350,000 a year. Do the people in Barrington understand that that is the type of salary that some physicians are earning and that their property tax dollars are going to go to top up salaries of that nature? Do they understand that? I think not. The Coast Guard said they didn't understand it. There was no public process that allowed them to understand that.

So I think there are lots of warning signals here, Mr. Speaker. I can go on, but I think I have had an opportunity to express most of my concerns and the concerns of our Liberal caucus. We want to support the people of Barrington and the Shelburne community served by the MLA. We believe that their intentions are good and honest and fair. They want to do what is right. Somewhere or other, someone has given them misguided information and this

[Page 4151]

bill is not going to solve their problem. It is not an issue of more money for an already well-compensated physician who, as has already been stated, will be overworked if nothing else.

The main thing is the idea of having a community that is well resourced and an infrastructure in health care that is serviced well by information technology; the services of data sharing that are available in the physicians' offices - you can go on and on - the home care; the in-home support that has been put on hold. Those are the issues that the Minister of Health should be debating here this afternoon. I hope that before debate on Bill No. 54 closes, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health will make sure that he receives the courtesy of the House and extends the courtesy himself to the House of saying where the Minister of Health really stands on Bill No. 54. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. Sorry, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I thought I was on my feet well before the member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. SPEAKER: I will apologize for that. I was busy with a sidebar conversation. The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to rise and speak on Bill No. 54. I wanted to do this because I think it is important to put on the record some of the objections that we have with the bill, but also to kind of look at the bill in the context of what it is asking the Legislature to do. This is a piece of legislation that is designed to grant to the municipality the ability or the power and authority to make certain grants. In particular, these grants are to go toward the services of health professionals. I think you can read in there fairly clearly, it has to do with the ability of the municipality to recruit doctors to service those communities.

The first thing you have to ask when you look at a bill like this, when it comes forward, is what motivated the bill to come forward in the first place. I think the rather clear answer to that is it is a response to the failure of this government to be able to recruit and retain doctors for those communities. That is almost self-evident in the bill. If there were a proper number of physicians in the community, if they had been attracted and retained within the municipality then there would be no need for this legislation, it would not be something that was required for the municipality to have in order to provide the services that they feel are necessary for the people of their community.

The other context I think we have to look at is just in the context of the responsibility of the municipality, generally, and what it is that municipalities are in the business of doing. The question would arise and I think justifiably so, and has been raised by other members of our caucus is that perhaps it is not appropriate for municipalities to be giving grants which,

[Page 4152]

in essence, will be used to compete against other municipalities for the purposes of recruiting physicians to those particular communities. Where does it end?

We have seen this phenomenon in Atlantic Canada for some time. One of the reasons why the Minister of Environment and Labour doesn't want to raise the minimum wage is because he wants to compete with the low wages paid in Newfoundland and New Brunswick. He says that is part of the competitiveness of the area. That is the other side of that coin, that's keeping things down rather than adding something else in.

The Greater Halifax Partnership came about because they said, well, look, there is a lot of economic development entities out there that are competing, one against the other, for business. Municipalities are outbidding each other. Indeed, when the Liberals were in power they brought about the amalgamation of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, in part on the idea they were going to eliminate the competition that was going to take place between the municipalities, that was part of the theory.

It seems to be, I must say, consistent with what they are saying now, which is that there shouldn't be competition among the municipalities based on grants given for health services, as I understand their argument; if I misunderstood the member for Dartmouth East he can certainly correct me. This creates a playing field which is not level. Municipalities are giving additional money to attract physician services, they say this shouldn't happen. I think it is a reasonable argument, all in all. There is much of merit in what it is the Liberals are saying.

You look at it in that context and you say to yourself, well, that is a reasonable perspective to take but, Mr. Speaker, here is where it becomes unreasonable, because in this House, oftentimes, the Opposition benches, as well the government benches, contain a lot of people who cut their teeth in politics on municipal government. Time and time again members of this House, members of the government, members of the federal government talk about the respect that municipal governments need and deserve. They talk about the fact that municipal governments are those that are on the front lines in terms of dealing with the citizenry; they are the ones closest to the people; they are the level of government that is the most responsive; they are the ones who are called first when there is a problem in their community.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this community has identified a problem. They have identified a problem, granted it is because of the failure of the government to provide proper hospital services, proper doctor services, a proper health delivery model for their community, but part of respecting that municipality is respecting the request that they make when they come to this House. I don't believe that you can, as an Opposition member or as a government member, say, look, we realize that this is a reasonable request and that you are just trying to provide for the people of your community, but because of a higher principle that

[Page 4153]

we deem more important than the delivery of this service to your people, we are going to oppose it.

Mr. Speaker, that is elitist. It is the theory that goes along with saying, look, we are prepared to make the people of your community suffer because we, who are not part of that community, have no interest in whether or not it actually comes forward; that we, who have no vested interest whatsoever in this, are going to make a decision that you can't have a service that you require. I mean, that is the kind of decision that comes from that kind of thinking. (Interruption) It is truly, and I know he is trying to exhort me to more extreme language, but I am not going to go there because the reality is that the member for Dartmouth East understands that he is caught in a trap. He has set himself up to try to defend what he sees as the health care community in this province, one that he has no legitimacy with because of his own history in that portfolio, but what he is really doing is he has decided and that caucus has decided that they are going to punish people simply because they have decided that there is some higher principle.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. As a member of the Liberal Party, I would take great offence to what the interim Leader of the NDP has just been saying. The member for Dartmouth East is one of the most respected people in the health care industry in this province and that is recognized on an all-Party basis. That is recognized by a lot of people in this province and I think the interim Leader of the NDP owes this member in this House an apology.

MR. SPEAKER: I think it goes without saying, on many occasions I have said in this House, that both sides back and forth have lowered the debate to where it becomes personal. I don't think anyone would appreciate that and I think all members (Interruption) When I say all members, I mean that. I mean all members from all sides and I would ask that all members respect each other because everyone here is honourable. I would ask all members to respect and - that not only the ones who are saying it, but the ones who are asking as well - to bring the debate back to the level where it should be. I am not just addressing that to the member who is on his feet at this present time, I am saying that to all members. I think everyone can understand where we are coming from.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition has the floor and I would ask the honourable members to keep the debate in regard to policy as opposed to being personal. Thank you.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, of course, that is exactly what I did. I talked about the member's role as a minister and the legitimacy that was squandered as a result of that role.

To get back specifically to the bill, you know, I understand why they are so touchy about this because it is clearly about their misunderstanding of the way in which we try to go about making decisions on these things and the former minister probably better than most people know that this is a practice that has gone on in the province through foundations for

[Page 4154]

many years. Foundations receive money and receive grants from municipalities and then use that money to try to solicit services for their hospital, either services or capital equipment, that is not covered through the normal budgeting process.

That is the real question that is here. The real question is not what the money is going to be used for whatsoever, Mr. Speaker, that is a question that the municipality is going to have to rightfully answer to its citizenry for. I think that the people of Barrington, if they are opposed to this, have every right to go to their municipal leaders and to demand from them the accountability that they deserve in the way that their money is spent.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I know as a member of municipal government, certainly if I spent money on behalf of the citizens of Dartmouth and the citizens of Dartmouth didn't agree with it, I want to tell you that we heard about it and we heard about it loud and clear. They would show up in droves at the Dartmouth City Council if they felt that council members were not legitimately spending the money that they had entrusted to them through their property taxes. I would encourage and support the right of those taxpayers in that municipality to do that because that is where the level of accountability takes place. That is where it belongs.

We talked a little while ago about the Government Restructuring (2001) Bill. We talked about whether or not the provincial government should be in the process of controlling what happens in municipalities, whether or not the provincial government should be putting its hand into other entities and controlling them. We said and the Liberal Party said, that is wrong, you shouldn't be doing that. Well this is the same thing. If you decide arbitrarily that you are not going to allow them to have the power to do it, then essentially what you are doing is you are controlling the ability of the municipality to operate. Is that respecting municipal government? Is that respecting the democratic process in which those councillors are elected? I think not.

I think what we are attempting to do here is to deal straightforwardly with a bill that was put forward on behalf of the member for Shelburne who was asking for the concurrence of the House to allow the municipality to fulfil a need that they see exists. For my part, Mr. Speaker, although I must say, and I have said this and I am sure the Opposition Party feels somewhat scorned by some of the things that I have said, but I have said that what is also important here is to recognize that it should never come to this, that this bill ought not to be necessary and that it not ought to be necessary for municipalities to have to provide grants to fill in where the provincial government is failing. It ought not to come to this. But it is not up to us to say this to a group of people, you will suffer because we feel that there is a higher principle at stake and that we are going to punish you because we don't believe that your municipal government has the capacity to make a decision in your best interest. That would be wrong That is not what we are going to do. Thank you.

[Page 4155]

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a fine day here in Halifax to rise and speak on this bill. Of course, as I indicated yesterday when I spoke on the bill, I am rather surprised that it has been taken to this level. In fact, being a former municipal politician, I am familiar with the process and so is the presenter of this bill, which is rather alarming to me, at least in that this bill is not being forwarded to the UNSM, in particular, for comment.

What is more scary is the lack of leadership that is coming from the government benches. In fact, the Minister of Health won't even comment on this bill. He won't make a comment so we don't even know if he is for the bill, against the bill, afraid of the bill or afraid of the backbenchers because one of them presents the bill. Mr. Speaker, it affects more than just that particular minister. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations also has a responsibility in regard to this bill. This is a downloading of responsibilities clearly to the municipal units.

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it and given the fact that we look at historically what happens within municipal units within this province, the bickering will begin along with the bidding for any new health professionals that are required, whether they are doctors or whatever. Now this particular bill is so alarming that property tax dollars now will become involved in subsidizing the medical system in the province, and that is unfortunate. What we are going to see here is we will see the other municipal units will get involved in this particular issue. They will have no choice but to, they will have no option. In order to be successful in obtaining the medical professionals that those individual units require, they will have no option but to enter the fray. Where does that lead us?

We will then see richer municipalities that can afford to subsidize these health care professionals increase the pot, and the bickering, the bidding wars will start. Then the poorer units will be left out in the cold, helpless; in fact it may even create the atmosphere of many rural doctors wanting to leave the poorer units to go to the much richer units where of course the incentives and benefits and higher rate of pay for those medical professionals are. So it is a very serious situation and one not to be taken lightly, at least in my opinion and from what I know from the system here in the government.

I know I singled out the Minister of Health and I singled out the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, but also the Government House Leader has a responsibility here to present this bill for third reading. It is alarming that this bill would come as far as it has, particularly when the UNSM has not even been approached for comment. So they haven't had an opportunity to have either an input or to create a consulting process within their units. That is scary, given the fact that there are so many former municipal representatives who are serving their first term, like myself, in this House. Just a mere 20 months ago, I could not for the life of me believe that these former municipal

[Page 4156]

representatives forgot about the process, or they don't know the process. It is a total disregard and disrespect for the system that they just left; that is what it is. These individuals screamed and hollered - and I was in their company at times - from the floor of many of the conventions when they felt they weren't being allowed an opportunity to have input on issues in regard to the provincial government, and these are the same individuals sitting on that side of the House who are now supporting this piece of legislation.

There is something wrong here, and I keep looking across the floor each and every day that I come in here to see if John Buchanan is sitting over there. It is more a style of the John Buchanan Government and I think it is very alarming when we look forward to the days ahead in this province. In fact, some of the good members over there are even holding up the book for John Buchanan, so they are obviously getting well-versed on activities of that former government. Also, as I indicated before, they had one of the first graduates in the Finance Minister; he was the first graduate, in my opinion, from the John Buchanan school of political learning.

We agree that this municipality probably requires the attention that it is trying to obtain itself because of the weak representation the Minister of Health is providing his department, particularly in regard to doctor recruitment. All I have to do is look in my own area, to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and to, in fact, Dr. Naqvi, whose efforts are second to none anywhere in the country in recruiting new doctors in our community. I would suggest that is certainly a very important element and an asset for any community to have. I can assure you that for us, at least in Cape Breton The Lakes, I have no problem saying, the residents that I represent have a great deal of faith in this individual's abilities.

Mr. Speaker, this is what is necessary. We have to provide the opportunities through the health professionals, instead of dumping on the regional health boards that this government just created. Now they are going to use them like a springboard. When something goes wrong or bad, they will dump right on top of them, they will blame those boards. In fact, this bill interferes, in my opinion, with the very theory of why the health boards were invented to begin with, if we pay attention and can believe the honourable Minister of Health.

As I said yesterday when I spoke briefly on this bill, it is no secret that we on this side of the House watch, when a bill comes up that individual members don't agree with over there, they scatter; they take off, they are gone. They won't comment on the bill, and of course they can't vote against the bill because they are not present for the voting. That was a common occurrence during the John Buchanan days. That is what occurred when their backbench MLAs couldn't bring themselves to bear some of the legislation that John Buchanan's Government brought into this House; they left this place and they went wherever, just so they wouldn't be present and have their vote recorded, a Nay. That is the activity that is going on over here.

[Page 4157]

Our mistrust of this government is growing on a daily basis, because of the activity that we see and witness on a regular basis. If this bill is such a great thing for the health system in this province, why won't the Minister of Health rise in his place and support the bill?

What is the problem? In fact, the Health Minister appears, in my opinion at least, that he is avoiding both the debate and the voting on this bill. That concerns us. Is that what leadership is about? Is that what we require for our health care in this province? The UNSM, through the failed equalization scheme that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations presented back in February, the failed attempt to have the poorer municipal taxpayers in the Halifax Regional Municipality - and it is important to note that it was not the rich ones but the poorer, low-income property tax owners who would - subsidize the poorer regions of the province.

This is what we are doing here. There is no leadership over there. The UNSM requested, in a letter, two things during that process: one, a three month extension so they would have an opportunity to consult, discuss and debate, within their units, the formula as presented by the minister; the second thing, the most important, that I recognize, was they asked for the second thing, they wanted and requested leadership to be shown by this gang over here.

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret the UNSM hasn't seen that leadership yet, neither have we. With the presenting of this bill, it is obvious that there is nobody in control on that side of the House, even the Premier, the good family doctor, the good country doctor from Truro. Where is he? Why can't he rise in his place, Mr. Speaker, and either endorse or criticize this bill and allow the people who he represents right across the province the right to know where he stands on this type of legislation? But no, they vacate the premises and make weak excuses that they have to be here or there or somewhere. In fact, it is a planned operation, that they scat about. Then the people who they represent don't know where they stand on these issues.

[3:30 p.m.]

I sympathize with the Municipality of Barrington, I really do. I sympathize with many other municipal units right across this province that carry the same difficulties that they are experiencing within their health care. But the problem, Mr. Speaker, is clear, is plain. We require a larger presence by the minister himself into the recruitment of health care professionals in this province, but we don't see it because it's not presented. Health care officials in this province are looking for the same thing the UNSM were looking for in February when they asked for leadership to show up and stand up on that side of the House. We haven't seen that to date with this government in any of the ministers over there.

[Page 4158]

When the Premier takes his place and doesn't know that the debt of this province will increase until the year 2007 on a steady basis, if he doesn't know - there are two reasons why he doesn't know. One, he wasn't told, which indicates no communication level between the various departments and their Leader, the Premier; and, two, the Minister of Finance himself didn't know, and he didn't know in order to tell the Premier. So they are the only two obvious reasons why the Premier was not aware that the debt would carry forward for the next six years on a steady-growth path. The same thing is occurring over there in health care, the same type of activity.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that if Dr. Naqvi at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital sat back and allowed and waited for the Minister of Health to provide the leadership that is required in the medical profession in this province, then we would be in the same boat as the Municipality of Barrington. But Dr. Naqvi has taken on the responsibility himself, and he is putting a strong professional effort into the recruitment of doctors. Yes, we do still require more doctors in the CBRM. In fact, particularly on the Northside - the good member for Cape Breton North never indicates - we require doctors. There have been three retirements on that side of the harbour in the past six months, approximately, and at least one doctor who had to take a long-term leave because of health reasons.

This minister did nothing to assist those residents with their difficulties in health care, nothing. That is the same type of activity that is carrying on down in Barrington. That is why the municipality there feels they have to take and grab the issue and do something about it. They have to. I can sympathize with that, Mr. Speaker; however, it is wrong for several reasons. We will have large centres if this is allowed to grow, which it will. Historically and traditionally in situations like this we will see a repeat of what we saw in February, when we saw bickering and snickering and conflict created among municipal units in this province because of the direction of that minister and his government, in particular.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that is not the type of leadership or representation that the people in Nova Scotia voted for in July 1999. They thought they were getting a different package, especially when you look at their blue book, the book of non-committal now. They don't even know what is in it. They don't want to hear about it.

Everything changes overnight with this government. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities deserves the dignity it has earned over the years. It deserves respect from that government over there. I would suggest from the number of former municipal colleagues they have over there, then that should be forthcoming without a blink. That should be one of the priorities those former councillors should be directing their ministers to provide for the municipal units. Instead, all they do is sit there, say nothing, pretend to hear nothing and allow the front line over there, the good sheriff's deputies over there, to tear apart the very foundation on which the municipal units were built in this province.

[Page 4159]

Mr. Speaker, I don't have to remind the residents of Nova Scotia of the commitments of those municipal units. They strengthen this province beyond any explanation or definition. We, on this side of the House, who are former municipal representatives, certainly know and are aware of that tradition. So are those government backbenchers over there, they are well educated. Many of those individuals on that side of the House have been municipal representatives for years, yet they sit silently and trample the very system that they worked so hard over the years to solidify.

Mr. Speaker, something certainly doesn't add up here. Exactly what is going on on that side of the House and who is in charge? We see the Minister of Health vacate, he leaves, he disappears. He is like a magician; climb under this blanket and when we pull the blanket away, he will be gone. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, where is his leadership and his protection of the UNSM? Where is it? He is just like a magician, gone.

The Government House Leader, I don't like to criticize the Government House Leader because he is probably the most senior member in this House. He is a very knowledgeable individual when it comes to government. We respect that, Mr. Speaker, and in particular I do because he has probably been around this House half as long as I have been alive. He knows how government works and he has the first-hand experience to realize the negative impact this bill will have on the municipal units and the health system in our province. Yet he stays silent and allows this rubble to proceed in the fashion that it has. It is scary.

It is especially scary for my former colleagues, my former municipal colleagues, who I am familiar with, they weren't foolish enough to run for that Party over there in the last provincial election. They remain municipal representatives. When I meet them on the sidewalks or within their municipal units, they appear to me and express to me their concern over the direction this government is going forward in. Municipal councillor, and probably in my own light as well as those honourable members over there, was a stepping stone, a learning curve, for the residents that we represent, to allow us to learn the system.

Mr. Speaker, what happened over there? What exactly happened to those municipal representatives that battled various governments on various issues? Where did they go? It seems that when they become part of this particular government, they just go silent. They certainly are good at one thing, that one thing is doing what they are told to do.

The health system in this province is in a mess. It has been in a mess because of the last 20 months of that minister's direction. Never in the history of this province have we seen such highly paid individuals, bureaucrats, being imported into our health system; the highest paid ever in the Province of Nova Scotia, and the numbers are alarming. The last count we had on this side of the House, was something like seven top administrators in that department; two deputy ministers; the highest paid EA on that side of the government, the highest-paid, in the $75,000 range. In fact, I believe the total is approximately over $300,000

[Page 4160]

a year just in new salaries that that minister has brought and burdened the ratepayers with in the Province of Nova Scotia, the highest ever, for any Health Minister in the history of Nova Scotia.

We look at the shortages of nurses. Despite the fact they have spent approximately $300 million in the health system in this province, it is in more chaos today than in July 1999. You don't have to take my word for that one. Ask any health care professional in this province and they will agree with that statement. They are just tearing apart the very foundations upon which these systems have been built.

Now municipal units will be left with no option but to follow the Municipality of Barrington. They will have no option but to follow their footsteps. If they don't, then their sister municipal units will, in fact, rob many of the health care professionals who are available in the Province of Nova Scotia. Is it proper to use property tax dollars for health care? Is that the intention of property taxpayers, municipal taxpayers in this province? Is that the intention? Is that the very soul for which the municipal units were created? The answer to that is a very clear, no. Those former municipal colleagues of mine over there know this. They know it first-hand. They are educated in the municipal system and they are aware, they know this bill is wrong. Yet, they sit silently by and say nothing. It is like, they hear nothing, they see nothing, they know nothing.

[3:45 p.m.]

One of these days, and it won't be too long, and I have said this before in this House, those members will have to revisit the very doorsteps they were on in July 1999 when they conned the people into believing they are the best thing since sliced bread. With the record these guys have going for them: you can look at equalization, the Campaign for Fairness, the Premier, the softwood lumber issue, the mess and the chaos they created in health care, the increasing of debt on a daily basis of approximately $3.5 million, adding $70 million on the amount we pay to the banks each and every year in interest payments.

I am sure that Barrington would like to have a little piece, a little slice of that $70 million that the Finance Minister is now paying the banks, instead of having that amount of money to provide these municipal units to obtain the services they require, particularly in health care. Could you imagine how many health care nurses and health care professionals that we could attract to this province, if we had $70 million in a fund that could be used for that purpose. Instead, as a direct result of the choice the Finance Minister made - because that is what government is all about, choices, we are all aware of that.

The Finance Minister made that choice. He made the choice to increase the debt and not to balance the books this year. He doesn't even know what formula is correct. He is not certain of the amount of money he obtains from the federal government in equalization payments from Ottawa. This individual is in charge of the finances of this great province.

[Page 4161]

So you wonder what is going on over there. The backbenchers recognized the chaos and the weak leadership that is being provided by those ministers and that Premier. They are taking advantage of that environment. Mr. Speaker, I used to have a great deal of respect for many of those individuals over there when they were municipal representatives. I see many of them looking over here at me and they know, I can just imagine how they feel over there today. I can just imagine what is running through their minds over there now. When I am here trying to defend the rights of Nova Scotians, they sit idly by and are silent because one of their colleagues came in here with this farce.

Mr. Speaker, it is alarming, it is baffling why the Premier and the Health Minister and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and the powerful minister and House Leader have allowed this bill to come forward this far. It is alarming, and it is an obvious indication to us on this side of the House that no one is in control over there. No one. When we have a Premier who is not aware of the debt increasing and he is not aware he is paying $70 million more this year in interest payments of taxpayers' dollars in this province - he doesn't even know, he didn't have any idea - you tell me, is that the type of Premier we want to show confidence in? Are we concerned about his abilities? Yes, we are and for good reason.

That gang over there will have a record to fall on this time, Mr. Speaker. I would suggest that their record will be discussed on an individual basis from door to door as they visit each and every door the way they did in July 1999 - and they are like I, they didn't have to resign until they were elected - so many of these candidates on that side of the floor knocked on those doors as the municipal representative for their areas. In all fairness, the residents had to show confidence in something and since they didn't have a crystal ball and couldn't look toward the future, they must have judged them on their past history and their performance as a municipal representative.

Well look at them now; just look at them now, Mr. Speaker. They come across as being very weak and they don't have the stamina to stand up and fight for the people that they represent, to ensure every Nova Scotian has the ability to attract the health care professionals that they require. Any individual, no matter where you live across this great province, whether you live down on the South Shore or here in Halifax or in Glace Bay, a Nova Scotian is a Nova Scotian. It is not about dividing and conquering, gentlemen.

Mr. Speaker, when I see the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations in silence, we can't figure out whether they are either in support of this bill or they are afraid of the presenter. We don't know because they don't have the courage to stand up and state where they stand. The larger municipal units will eat the smaller and weaker municipalities up in regard to providing health care. It is something like the by-election in Cape Breton North. Basically the concern, at least in my constituency, after we saw the shenanigans in regard to the closing of the emergency ward and the outpatients department in that particular location, when we look at that situation and we look at the situation that is occurring in

[Page 4162]

Richmond and other areas in this province, then we are concerned. You don't go to the hospital with your Tory card. You go to the hospital with your MSI card.

It is alarming to see the direction that this government is sailing into in regard to not only health care, but in the manner in which they treat municipal units in this province. The bickering, the divide and conquer, creating competition levels between municipal units is not healthy for our communities. Those members know this.

They are the same members who preached this at Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities conventions on a regular basis and they preached it sitting on their own councils. Yet they come in here and I don't know, we can't figure out, like there is nobody in control. They just go from day to day, from hour to hour, from issue to issue and the UNSM is looking for the same thing we are, leadership. That is what it requires, but where is it? It is not visible.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the UNSM is a very important body. As I indicated before, it has earned the respect and the dignity from that government and from any government, not just that government. Many of the municipal representatives who are elected are amongst the hardest working, dedicated individuals committed to their communities which they represent. It is a little more than that too, because I am familiar and, yes, I will say it right out - I don't have a problem saying it - that the municipal administrators in this province are second to none in this entire country. We don't have to take a back seat to anybody within our municipal structure. We are as good as Ontario, or B.C., or Alberta, or New Brunswick, or Newfoundland. We are as good as any other province in this wonderful country of ours.

You know, Mr. Speaker, it is those individuals who have provided the inspiration for many of those representatives that are out there toiling now, today, dealing with the issues that are being created by that gang over there. They should hang their heads in shame. It is terrible. I cannot believe, I cannot grasp why any member of this House would promote the bickering, the divide and conquer structure that is in place now when we deal with municipal units in this province. It is alarming. It is disgraceful and it has got to stop. It has got to stop, gentlemen.

Mr. Speaker, can municipal taxpayers afford to pay for these types of things? I know in the CBRM - and I don't have a problem saying it - my residents cannot afford it. My residents who I represent cannot afford to pay any higher property taxes to subsidize the tax dollars that they are already paying provincially to recruit medical professionals into this province, whether it be in the CBRM or the Halifax Regional Municipality, Truro, New Glasgow, Antigonish, down the South Shore; they cannot afford any more added burdens that this government is downloading and swamping and just pounding them with.

No new taxes, that is what the Premier said, no increase in taxes. That was the message that Premier sent, that good-hearted, family-oriented country doctor from Pictou, but to be honest with you, Mr. Speaker, most of the people who I speak to in this province couldn't

[Page 4163]

care less where he came from. Their only hope is that he will go back to where he came from and forget about wanting to be the Premier.

[4:00 p.m.]

He will provide the same type of representation, Mr. Speaker, as he did the people in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality last year when the new jobs were announced for Marine Atlantic. Instead of the Minister of Education and the Minister of Economic Development getting together and sponsoring training programs to ensure Nova Scotians had the ability to apply for those federal jobs, and not only the ability but so they would qualify, they would have the qualifications to be hired, that government did nothing; no training programs, not a thing. Nothing. And we have the community college system in this province that is second to none in this country; we don't have to take a back seat to anything in this country. We have the educational professionals here to train people so that they would be qualified. (Interruption)

One of the individuals across the floor here asked me where Mark Eyking is. Well, Mark Eyking wasn't elected until November of last year, when it was too late. He wasn't responsible for any training programs. That should have been sponsored by the provincial government . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, too late, too late! He's on the government . . .

MR. BOUDREAU: . . . and not only that, he is busy these days cleaning up the mess that the former MP left him.

Mr. Speaker, this government is headed in the same direction of the John Buchanan and Donnie Cameron days . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And John Savage.

MR. BOUDREAU: . . . in 1992. I would suggest that those guys are going to get the same treatment that Donnie Cameron got when he went on the doorsteps.

Mr. Speaker, I have said since the day I got elected that when this government does something good and we can recognize it, I will give them credit; and I have on some issues. But when they are not doing what is in the best interests of Nova Scotians, it is my responsibility to rise in my place, as well as my colleagues, and remind that government what direction they are going in.

The Education Minister, just within the last month, created so much stress in the teaching profession in the CBRM that I haven't witnessed while I have been involved in politics since 1991. She had no money; 53 pink slips were sent out, prepared to be sent out

[Page 4164]

at least. They had to be sent out, to my knowledge, by June 1st. But this honourable minister found the purse somewhere; all of a sudden, overnight, she found the money to provide those teachers after creating an uncertain atmosphere and an environment of uncertainty and stress, and everything else, that these teachers, among some of the youngest and brightest in the country, and then they turn around and they must have gotten the money, I don't know, it must have been the Finance Minister's slush fund or something; the money just appeared out of the sky.

We are grateful for that. I don't want to leave the false impression that we are against that, because we aren't, we support that. But what we don't like and what was not necessary, was the environment and the atmosphere of uncertainty that was created by that minister and that government. We see it in the health care, we see it in economic development. Over here on this side of the House we don't even know why we have a minister over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do we?

MR. BOUDREAU: There is nothing left of that department, it should have been just absorbed by another department. There is nothing left - there are a couple of clauses - basically he has no responsibilities that are left that are of any importance to anybody other than himself, to continue to draw a salary as the minister and reap the benefits that go with it.

The farming industry in this province, the same thing, divide and conquer. Split one section of farmers from one area against the other and get them competing against each other and bickering and snickering. Divide and conquer it is called, Mr. Speaker. Is that what the people in this province would traditionally accept and recognize from their government? I would suggest not.

Administrators from the municipal units deserve more credit. They have the ability to lead, they have proven that. Even in the CBRM, where many times other elected officials - and sometimes it is justified - and even some of the municipal representatives, question the ability of the administrators in that particular unit. But I know first-hand that those administrators are second to nobody with their abilities to provide what is necessary for that unit to get over the difficulties that it is experiencing on a daily basis. Yes, that burden is enlarged since this government came to town.

The destruction of Sysco; what individual in their right mind would take a contract, tear it up, with the very workers that were waiting for this work to begin, that had their UIC benefits exhausted, that have children at home and that had an opportunity to get 8 to 10 months work daily with a contract from CN? This government walks in there, tears up the contract, waits until they leave to go home for the day and then locks the gate.

[Page 4165]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We are speaking on third reading of a bill regarding allowing municipalities to help draw doctors into an area. I appreciate the member opposite speaking about the Sydney Steel situation, but I fail to find the relevance in regard to the bill. As much as I like to have latitude offered to all members, I find that we are straying considerably away from the bill. (Interruptions.)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member, I would just like to, if I could, offer a comment on the honourable member's point of order. The honourable member is quite correct. I, myself, was having some difficulty making the correlation between Sydney Steel and this particular piece of legislation, Bill No. 54, the District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.

I think the point is well taken and I would ask the honourable member, when he has the floor again, if he would try to focus more on Bill No. 54, especially where we are in third reading. A lot of the comments, too, are quite repetitive and I would ask the honourable member if he would speak directly to the bill in third reading.

MR. RUSSEL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order that was raised by the Minister of Finance, I believe he is totally incorrect in what he says. He says that this Bill No. 54 is to allow municipalities to offer financial assistance, to be able to attract medical professionals to their municipal units.

That is not what this bill says. This is specifically directed at one municipality, and he is incorrect. Perhaps what he is saying is that this is the government's back-door policy on using municipal taxes for attracting medical professionals, given the fact that the Minister of Health has failed.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If I mentioned municipalities, I meant the Municipality of Barrington, but it was considerably more relevant to the discussion than what was going on previous to me getting up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think for the benefit of all members and, of course, the Speaker, I would like to quickly read what Beauchesne does say about relevance: "Relevance is not easy to define. In borderline cases the Member should be given the benefit of the doubt, although the Speaker has frequently admonished Members who have strayed in debate."

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes does have the floor.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am explaining the Sysco situation because the same thing occurred here. Barrington really wouldn't have to do what they are attempting to do here with this bill if the Minister of Health provided the leadership that was required. If he

[Page 4166]

had any abilities to attract health care professionals to this province, then Barrington would not have to do what they are doing.

It is the same thing as the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. He would not have had to increase the equalization payments to CBRM if they had not eliminated the $1 million in tax revenue that unit received from Sysco; $1 million a year in lieu of taxes that the provincial government paid to CBRM was eliminated because of the mess they created with the steel plant. Then they created a formula for the low-income earners in the Halifax Regional Municipality to foot the bill, to pay the bill to clean up the mess they created.

Mr. Speaker, that is the irresponsibility of the ministers involved. That is what we have here, it is the same thing. They created the mess that Barrington feels they have to get involved in to repair. They are grasping at straws.

It is okay for me to stand here but the good citizens of Barrington, in all fairness, when they require a doctor they require a doctor. When they arrive at their hospital in an emergency with one of their children they feel it is necessary to have that health care professional there to deal with that type of situation. They see the same weak representation that the Minister of Health is providing that we do. As a result, they requested their member to present this bill because it is the only way they know to deal with the type of situation that has been created for them with the direction in which the Department of Health is going forward.

This is what all these high-paid bounty hunters are causing in the health care system in Nova Scotia that the Health Minister is importing into the Province of Nova Scotia. I am sure that if I talked to the municipal representatives in that unit, they would not support the fact - and I know this, I know the answer to this question before I ask it - would they support property taxpayers subsidizing their already provincial tax dollars for the benefit of the health care system in Nova Scotia? Would they support that? No. I am certain that they would say no. However, they probably feel they have no recourse, there are no options; they need a facility, they need someone to man the facility, yet they see no leadership, no activity, nothing from this Health Minister. So, they have to take their plight in their own hands and try to deal with the situation that has been created for them by that gang over there. It is simple.

[4:15 p.m.]

The Minister of Community Services, I don't want to sound disrespectful because to my knowledge he is an honourable individual; however, I think it is important to note that he is in fact the former Mayor of Bedford. Now the former Mayor of Bedford is very well versed and educated on the UNSM system yet he sits there like a lamb spinning wool representing all the rich people in Bedford who aren't, the last time I checked, in need of any

[Page 4167]

health care professionals. So, there is no leadership over there, summing up because I know my time is about to run out, they have no leadership. They are like a spaceship that has been in outer space with the engine shut off, all they are doing is floating, they don't even know where their destiny is.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today because I have a great deal of concern about this bill and because I think that possibly, and I say that there is the possibility - this bill could lead to trouble. I think that is something that we have to seriously consider when we are talking about this Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality. I think there is one key thing that we should be dealing with here today and we should be dealing with the phrase of reasonable doubt. Does this bill give you any kind of reasonable doubt that perhaps it is not the right thing to do? In some instances that can either send you away a long time or free you.

In this instance we are going down a very slippery slope here because we are trying to put a different spin on it such as the NDP has tried to put on it in this instance. As before, the interim Leader of the NDP stood in his place and said that this is dealing with municipalities, not the health issue here, but dealing with whether or not a municipality has the right to come before this Legislature and ask that it do what it is there to begin with, that it deal with its own monies and that it transfer those monies to wherever they deem that they should be going to. In the process - and I want to stay with this subject not very long but for about 15 minutes or so - the interim Leader of the NDP looked across at the Liberal Party and said because we are standing in our place expressing concerns with this bill that we are elitist. He used the word elitist.

Mr. Speaker, the pomposity of the NDP and the pomposity of the Leader of the NDP to stand in his place and suggest that because we are concerned about health care in this province that we are elitist, to suggest that because we are concerned that a municipality may be able to get a doctor because it offers more money than another municipality, that that would make us elitists; indeed, I would suggest to the Leader of the NDP that what he is looking at by supporting such a bill is setting up a very elitist system in this province. That is what we are talking about, that is exactly what we are talking about today.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps, if that is the case and if the NDP is supporting this bill, which I am sure I heard the interim Leader of the NDP say, although I am pretty sure that he could have borrowed a picket fence somewhere to sit on during his speech because I wasn't sure what side he was going to fall on, but if that is the case, that we are elitist, then perhaps the interim Leader of the NDP should purchase a mirror somewhere. What he is proposing here

[Page 4168]

is that, indeed, an elitist system be set up in this province, that one municipality could start a bidding war to offer as much money as that municipality deemed necessary to get a doctor to go to their municipality.

Mr. Speaker, that is taxpayers' dollars from a municipality to attract physicians. We know that we use taxpayers' dollars already in this province, provincial taxpayers' dollars, to cover health care. Health care is not an issue on a municipal level, we know that. What is needed is good recruitment, incentives from this government, from the provincial government that is responsible for health care, that is what we need to attract physicians to municipalities. What is also required here and has not been seen as yet is that the minister responsible for health in this province, the Health Minister, stand in his place and tell us where he is on this issue. He has not said a word. This is a bill that is before the Legislature that has ramifications unheard of previously on the health care industry in this province, and we have not heard from the Health Minister.

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to start a bidding war in any one municipality in this province, as to who attracts doctors, once that starts, we have no idea where it is going to end. I can use many examples, but one of the best examples that has been used so far in this debate is that you take a look at professional athletics, the athletic industry and professional athletes. You take a look at them and you will see where a bidding war will get you when it starts. If the municipality, in this case the Municipality of Barrington, decides to pay whatever the amount may be for a doctor, who is to say that any other municipality in this province can't offer more for a doctor, and they may be offering more for that very same doctor who goes to Barrington. If that is the case, the people of Barrington are being placed in a war that they should not be in in the first place.

It is unfair. It really is unfair that the lack of ingenuity and the lack of creativity of this government and this Health Minister has forced the Municipality of Barrington into this situation. There is no one else here to blame, no else to blame except the government of this province and the Minister of Health in this province. Those are the only people to blame.

Mr. Speaker, if you want an example of good recruitment, you go to Cape Breton. You go to the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex and you talk to a person by the name of Dr. Mahmood Naqvi, who has, not just because it is for the government but because he cares about his community and he knows what he is doing, who has embarked on a campaign to attract physicians to Cape Breton which has been unequalled in this province, and I would say would be unequalled in many other parts of this country. That is done with simple, honest, decent, hard work, not extra money, not a bill that it comes in from a municipality that gives them the financial power to use grants to attract physicians.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I stand here and the Minister of Health shakes his head, but still there is absolutely no comment from the Minister of Health on this bill. Yes, I am pretty sure I heard something rattle when it did shake. I am not positive about that. What we have been

[Page 4169]

calling for, in order for all of us to finally make up our minds, and we have expressed grave concerns about this bill, is for the man who is in charge of the health care industry in this province to give us some indication of where he stands on this issue. Every time we have called for that, it has been met by absolute silence by the Minister of Health.

Now the Minister of Health had no problem whatsoever today standing up in the Legislature and criticizing Dr. Michael Kendrick for having a news conference yesterday in this building. Dr. Kendrick, as everyone knows, is the man who is responsible for putting together an evaluation of community-based options and community residential services system in this province. The Minister of Health stood here in his place today during Question Period and said that he finds it offensive, that that man would have a news conference yesterday and hear from the stakeholders in the whole process.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and I in the Liberal caucus find it very offensive, extremely offensive that that minister has not taken his place and said whether he is for or against this bill. This is nothing more than an underhanded way of letting this whole process sneak through on behalf of one municipality and that it will spread like wildfire. If the people from Preston want to give more money to attract a doctor to that area and they happen to take the doctor away from Barrington, what are we going to do? What is the government going to do? What is the Minister of Health going to do? Where does it all end up? It takes away from district health authorities and from community health boards which are set up to ensure that health services are there at a local level. What it sets is a very dangerous precedent in this province.

All we are asking for, to go back to my original argument, is that for one minute, if you really consider this bill, if you consider Bill No. 54, and you take a look at the clauses and you, as any member of this Legislature can say that among the clauses, Clause 3(2), "The amount of any such grant shall be determined by resolution of the Council." Clause 4(1), "The Municipality may enter into an agreement with a health professional to whom a grant is made respecting (a) the services to be provided by the health professional;"

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

MR. WILSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member yielding the floor for the purpose of an introduction. Today, we are very fortunate to have with us a distinguished group of jurists from the Commonwealth, members of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, who are today with us in the House. They are from a number of countries in the Commonwealth and I will only indicate them by country because, to be

[Page 4170]

honest, my ability to pronounce some of the names would be highly doubtful and would not be in the interests of Hansard, who would have to try to transcribe the record. So you will forgive me, if you might.

The members present would include members of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute from Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Fiji, Jamaica, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Tortola, Trinidad and Zambia. Accompanying them today are the Honourable Judge Sandra Oxner, President; Kathie Swenson, Program Co-ordinator; and Geraldine May, Program Assistant. If all the members of the group could stand and receive the warm recognition of the House and I thank them for visiting us today. (Applause)

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for welcoming our guests here today. I had an opportunity downstairs to speak to the guests, and this branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has very close ties with all of your countries. We enjoy a lot of good exchanges of information between your countries and this country and this province, and we certainly want to welcome you to Canada, especially here to Nova Scotia. We hope you enjoy your stay here.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to welcome our distinguished guests to the Legislature. Perhaps just as an explanation to our guests, what we are trying to do here is to change the minds of government. I am sure you are familiar with the process in the Commonwealth, and we have just as tough a time of it here as you do where you come from.

Mr. Speaker, as I return just for a few minutes more on Bill No. 54, as I said, you know the municipalities here that are most affected will not be the Municipality of Barrington which is looking for this government to give it permission to borrow, to take its monies from its own coffers and try to use financial incentives to attract physicians to that municipality, but the municipalities that will be in the most trouble here are the poorer municipalities in our province, the ones that can't afford to get money to attract physicians to their various regions. Those are the municipalities that I am most worried about in this instance, and again that gives me just cause to think about it and say there is reasonable doubt - more than reasonable doubt - that says this is not a good bill, this is not a good indication of where we should be going with health care in this province.

Mr. Speaker, if we can give it some sober second thought, you know what the article that was quoted in today's Coast Guard, by Kent Blades, one of the things that he mentioned in that article regarding this very issue was that the best medicine in this case would be patience. That would be the best medicine in this case, to sit back and rethink this, and give it some sober second thought, because I know not only on this side of the House, but I know

[Page 4171]

there are others on the government side of the House who say maybe this is not the right thing to do. Fools should not rush in.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where angels fear to tread.

MR. WILSON: Fools should not rush in in this instance because, as it has been cited many times before, this is a very slippery slope that we are approaching here, and that is why we have expressed concern about this bill. You know it could, among towns and villages, lead to a bidding war that we have never seen the likes of before in this province, and it is just not necessary which leads me to believe - and another question for the Health Minister, Mr. Speaker - if this was such a great idea, if this is the way to go in this province - if this is the way that my cell phone rings occasionally when I am not supposed to have it on . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member would shut his cell phone off.

MR. WILSON: I am just wondering right now, Mr. Speaker, if I could turn it off. (Interruptions) I am sure that that call right now is someone watching Leg TV who says you make sense. (Interruption) I am not getting personal because one of the members over there just said something to me, and again we were admonished here today by the Speaker for being too personal and I am not going there, okay? I won't go there. I have been there occasionally, only when I was enticed let me tell you, only when I was provoked to be there, and I am just not going there because we are dealing with an issue that is too important right now than to deal with a few jabs and a few hecklers over in back row. You know, I am not concerned about them whatsoever.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member is quite correct, he would be advised to focus on the bill at hand. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: That is what I was saying, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and that is what the Speaker would like you to do. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Thank you very much and I will go there immediately, Mr. Speaker, because once this bidding war heats up, as I have said, it is not a good thing. It will not be a good thing and we will see, as I was saying - to the Health Minister again - if this was such a great idea and if this is the future of health care in Nova Scotia in terms of attracting physicians, then why didn't the Health Minister introduce it? Why didn't the Health Minister stand in his place and say, on behalf of the people of Barrington, and on behalf of the MLA for the area, that I am introducing this as the Minister of Health because I happen to personally think this is the answer for attracting physicians to Nova Scotia?

[Page 4172]

Why did he not go to Barrington Municipal Council and the MLA for Shelburne who introduced the resolution, why did the Health Minister not go to them and say, by golly, you have hit it right on the head? You have the answer for attracting physicians to Nova Scotia. Do you mind if I do a little PR job with it and take all of the hype and all of the praise that is going to go with it, do you mind that? I am sure the MLA for Shelburne would have said, no problem, Mr. Minister, this is your ball game, you go ahead, so you run with it.

But he has not. As a matter of fact, he is hiding from it. He is hiding from it at every turn. He has had no comment on it, he has not been paying attention in this Legislature to anything we are saying in a constructive manner. Constructive criticism, which this government is scared to death of and has shown no other example on any other bill that they are going to listen to constructive criticism because there may be something wrong with this bill, reasonable doubt that this bill may or may not be a good thing. But, as in jurisprudence, when that doubt is planted, it is a very hard thing to ignore.

I am drawing to the close of my remarks and I know that there may be others - I certainly know that there are others in this caucus - who are going to speak on this bill, but again, it is a dangerous bill, it will set a dangerous precedent. One of the other sub-items in the articles in the bill refers to the area for which the services are going to be provided. That is another red area. Very carefully consider that. If the Municipality of Barrington, in this case - and I am not just picking on Barrington, this could have been any municipality that would have presented this bill - decides what services a doctor is going to provide, where they are going to be provided and how much more money they are going to be given for providing those services, then it will not take long to start an all-out war in this province.

The richer municipalities, ultimately because this deals with finances, in the long run will win that war. They will win out, it only makes sense. They have more money, they will have more money to attract doctors. Halifax, the capital region, has been very fortunate in the past because of the great services and hospitals and institutions that are here; they have attracted doctors from across this country and from all over the world because this is where the action is. They have been able to do that and they have been very fortunate because of that and we in other regions of the province have also benefited from that as well. Many of us came here for health care from time to time.

Let me make a prediction. I think the Minister of Health will soon rise to say something.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. An accurate prediction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. A number of the honourable members have been up and raved on eloquently, or not so eloquently as in the case of a couple of people from across the way.

[Page 4173]

MR. WILSON: Do you support that bill?

MR. MUIR: The fact is, in this legislation, I would expect the honourable member for Cape Breton East supported the legislation when it appeared in the CBRM bill and all supported it in the HRM bill. If I could just read from the municipal Act, which I probably should have done, and it is with your indulgence. It is in the municipal Act, the operative thing, the buildings for a medical centre, to encourage medical doctors, dentists and other health professionals to locate in a municipality or part of it; for hospitals so that they can act on - it is in the municipal Act as it is. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: He is just trying to educate you.

MR. MUIR: I am just trying to educate you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't believe that is a point of order.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East has the floor.

MR. WILSON: For a fleeting moment, I was glad to see the minister get to his feet because I thought finally he was going to clarify whether or not he supports this bill. But, again, in the longest point of order probably on record in this Legislature (Interruption) Maybe there has been longer, I am only a rookie. Since I have been here, that is the longest point of order I have ever heard.

As some of the backbenchers who know absolutely nothing about this Legislature are indicating over there, I am not challenging the Chair in any, way, shape or form. The Speaker knows that. Perhaps the backbencher in the back would stand up and give us a lecture on the inner workings of the Legislature here. (Interruption) Well, that's any time he wants to, I will be glad to take him up on that.

Back to the bill, Mr. Speaker, and the fact that the minister has had the opportunity when he rose to his feet today to tell us whether or not he supports Bill No. 54. He has not indicated - again, he has been there, he had the opportunity - whether or not he, as the minister responsible for health care in this province, supports this bill. Is it a good idea or is it not a good idea to let this bill pass and allow for financial assistance to be given to the municipality to give financial assistance to physicians and attract them, and start what we know (Interruption) I have no idea why that is going off, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if somebody could just take the cellphone outside, whereas it will not shut off.

MR. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I apologize profusely, I did turn that off.

[Page 4174]

MR. SPEAKER: The apology is accepted.

MR. WILSON: I know you told me to shut off the phone, but not shut up, I understand that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct, honourable member.

MR. WILSON: I will immediately order that it be dropped in a bucket of water somewhere, Mr. Speaker.

Seriously, I am baffled by why the minister has not indicated in this instance whether or not he is in favour of Bill No. 54. That's not a difficult task to do that. I am not asking for something out of the ordinary, I am asking for the minister to give me his opinion on whether or not he agrees with this bill. Mr. Speaker, ministers give their opinions sometimes every day on various things, whether or not they are in favour, and they have no problem doing that. I just can't understand why the minister, in this case, is making an all-out effort to totally avoid answering my question about whether or not he supports the bill.

We have raised concerns about it, we have raised those concerns, we have said that taxpayers' money from a municipality to attract physicians and recruit physicians, in our opinion, is not a good idea. We know that, Mr. Speaker. We know that there are other ways of doing it, there are other ways to accomplish this: it is through good recruitment, it is through a lot of hard work and a lot of effort on behalf of the minister and the Department of Health and all of those who are concerned, and we know that is where to go. That's why we are bringing up those concerns. You know, we think, for the most part, that we have planted a reasonable doubt here in the minds of a lot of people, not only in this Legislature but in the province, and I think they should start to rethink exactly where we are going on this.

Mr. Speaker, the only ones, of course, who have raised this concern is the Liberal caucus. What has happened with the Official Opposition is that they have said they are in favour of this bill in terms of the municipalities. They have taken it from a different approach, which is usually the case between the Liberal Party and the Official Opposition. It doesn't matter whether you are right or wrong, it is a different approach; we know where the right is and we know where the wrong part of it is. But because of philosophical differences, I would say to some extent, and to another extent, perhaps just because we agree to differ, I guess would be the best way of saying it.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, let me again, just to reiterate, that the District of Barrington Financial Assistance Act, Bill No. 54 - another prediction, Mr. Speaker - is and will be trouble, with a capital T in the future. It will come back to haunt us at some future point in time. What happens here is we have not given enough time to sit back and reflect on exactly what that bill is going to mean for all Nova Scotians, not just for the Municipality of

[Page 4175]

Barrington but for all of Nova Scotians. Indeed, if we gave it more time, and in this case I guess that is going to require that that bill be defeated in order to give it more time, or there may be other avenues to follow as well to give us more time to rethink exactly what is going on in terms of health care and the attraction of physicians, the recruitment of physicians to the Province of Nova Scotia, the entire province.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, for the information of my colleague, I plan to speak for approximately 20 more seconds, then we will wrap things up. In closing, again let's be very careful that we do not rush in too quickly to legislation that in the future could come back to haunt us. Having said that, I would say that we should not be supporting this bill, and I will take my place.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will take this opportunity to speak on third reading of Bill No. 54, better known as an Act to encourage the district of Barrington health professionals to provide assistance to attract a medical practitioner for the district of Barrington. In all sense of fairness, I have to acknowledge a point of order that was raised by the Minister of Health in terms of the fact that under a particular section of the Municipal Government Act there is provision for a municipality to provide funds for a building that could be used for medical practitioners (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: . . . I apologize for missing your speech.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is comforting to know that the socialists are waiting with bated breath as I make my dissertation on this . . .

MR. HOLM: No, that is why I am leaving.

MR. MACKINNON: . . . third reading. I, too, would encourage them to leave; in fact, after the next election, we will be encouraging a lot of them to leave, and I am sure all Nova Scotians will too.

AN HON. MEMBER: Russell for Leader.

MR. MACKINNON: Let's not be sidetracked by rabbit tracks. The best you can do with the socialists at this point is just feed them carrots, because that is what rabbits will chew on.

[Page 4176]

Bill No. 54, it enters a rather interesting form into the debate, equally so is the fact that this is not what Bill No. 54 speaks to. One could argue it is semantics, and what is the difference between giving money to a community to build a building as opposed to giving the money directly to the medical practitioner. Well, I am sure we could debate that for a considerable length of time, as to what, in fact, municipalities' roles and responsibilities are.

Isn't that what municipal taxes are for? They are for property and property services. When the municipal government provides funding to build a building, that is a property, that is a property service, but it is going a stretch to start involving itself directly in the provincial responsibility of health care in this province by allowing municipalities to go that extra step. My colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, when he spoke earlier referred to the editorial in The Coast Guard, and that particular article entitled How much for a doctor? by Kent Blades. Ironically, the editorial board of The Coast Guard took issue with the municipality, took issue with the fact that the municipality was involving itself in a process that it really should not have been involved in. That is very important to note because I believe that as well intended as it is for the municipality to try to encourage, in whatever way it can legally, to make provision for full medical services in its community, I applaud them; where is the Minister of Health and where is the Department of Health on its responsibility here?

This is very dangerous to allow municipalities to start taking over the responsibilities of health care in Nova Scotia. That is exactly what Bill No. 54 does. It opens the door, as innocuous as the bill may seem, as innocent as it may seem, as well-intended as the member for the particular constituency is - the member for Shelburne - it flies in the face of our legislated responsibility, not only as a provincial government but as a partner in the Canadian federation on health care.

What happens, Mr. Speaker, if the provincial government at this point is allowed to start downloading the cost of health care onto the property taxpayers of Nova Scotia? They already pay a considerable amount of taxes for their services. They pay provincial taxes, they pay municipal taxes, they pay federal income tax, they pay HST, they pay fuel tax, they pay tax on tax. Now the Minister of Health and his department, because they don't have a comprehensive recruitment policy for doctors in Nova Scotia, are prepared to sit quietly and allow Bill No. 54 to proceed through the House. I believe that is the equivalent of rewarding someone when they do something wrong. That is essentially what we are coming to.

The municipality and the sponsor of this bill and all those who support this bill may be well intended but when we look at the issue of roles and responsibilities between the province and the municipalities, all 55 within the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, we can see that this is a deviation away from those roles and responsibilities. The province clearly has a responsibility to ensure that they pay for health care.

[Page 4177]

I am sure there are other jurisdictions in the province that provide some funding to build facilities or to provide certain municipal services that would encourage doctors to come to their community. I have no doubts about that. Clearly, Mr. Speaker, this is not what Bill No. 54 does. Bill No. 54 opens the door for the province to start downloading the cost of health care to the municipal taxpayers.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has said absolutely nothing on the implications of what this bill will do, in terms of the provincial government's commitment to municipalities, on the issue of equalization. Yes, Mr. Speaker, what is even more disturbing about this particular piece of legislation is we are dealing with a municipal unit that can't afford, presently, to make ends meet. It can't pay for what it has committed to the people already. These are figures that are provided by the Minister of Health's colleague, and I will quote them.

We recall back in February of this year when the proposal for equalization came forth. I am sure this particular issue will be of considerable concern to the members for the Halifax Regional Municipality: the member for Preston, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank and yes, the members for Dartmouth South, the Eastern Shore and indeed, the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

There is concern on another front. Back in February, through the equalization process, the provincial government would have been paying Barrington an additional $54,000 just to help meet its payrolls for all its municipal responsibilities. Barrington made the argument that although that wasn't enough, it was a help. Under the new formula the Municipality of Barrington would receive $137,347 to meet its obligations. Well, if the Municipality of Barrington is so well off, so financially solid, why does it need additional transfer dollars from the Province of Nova Scotia? Why on one hand is it saying that it is so poor, poor as a church mouse, and on the other hand it is going to take property tax dollars and commit itself to provincial health care issues. It flies in the face of all logic.

I am sure that any member who is concerned about the tax issue in their municipality would take issue with this. The fact that we have a municipal unit that can't even pay its bills, because if it could pay its bills, why is it looking for more money from the provincial government? That is the equivalent to being on emergency funding. Isn't that the same argument that was made by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality? Oh, the silence of the Hamms. Yes, not a boo on this equalization program when it came to Cape Breton, other than the hushes and the whispers from the members for Dartmouth South and Sackville-Beaver Bank and a few others that were dead set against that proposal.

If they were dead set against that proposal, they were dead set against giving additional funding to Barrington because it was one and the same proposal. They can't have it both ways, Mr. Speaker, they can't. Yet, under the revised formula, the Municipality of Barrington would be receiving two and a half times more than was proposed back in February. That is

[Page 4178]

a serious issue, so what is going to happen? Are those dollars that are going to be transferred from the Halifax Regional Municipality going to be used to pay for a doctor in Barrington? That is the evidence, the Halifax municipal taxpayers are now going to be paying for a doctor in Barrington under this proposal by the minister responsible for municipal services in this province.

We could certainly rationalize to a greater level of confidence, not a lot, but a little if, in fact, Barrington was on a solid financial footing, but it is not.

[5:00 p.m.]

Why didn't the municipal council from Barrington come to Halifax, go to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and have a meeting with the Minister of Health and plead their case. There is already a process commenced to attract a doctor to Barrington that would be in place in less than a year. Yes, Mr. Speaker, why hasn't the Municipality of Barrington, as this editorial has so eloquently stated, focused its energy on pursuing the immigration issue to have this doctor from Ireland come forth. I am sure with the experience and the wealth of knowledge that individual would bring from a country, a part of the British Empire that has seen some of the greatest research and development in science as any country could possibly think.

Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing. It is disappointing because these fundamental questions have not been answered. I find it very distressing to ask the municipality of Guysborough to take money from the municipal taxpayers, as per this proposal, to take money from the taxpayers of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and give it to the Municipality of Barrington for a doctor. That is what this proposal speaks to. As well, in the Halifax Regional Municipality, again, considerable dollars will be spent; the Halifax Regional Municipality will spend over $8 million.

If the idea is the principle of fairness and equity across this province, how will the members who represent the constituencies in the Halifax Regional Municipality feel about paying for provincial health care costs with property taxes? I dare say that Mayor Kelly and his council will be quite concerned that Barrington is holding its hand out saying that it needs more money for property services and yet they are going to redirect those dollars to pay for provincial health care issues. I think this is disgraceful. It is absolutely disgraceful. You have to give credit where credit is due, Mr. Speaker.

At least with the Upper Stewiacke fireman's bill that was introduced, the sponsor of that bill followed through the legislative process here, as flawed as it was at the local level, and that is why we took issue, we took, as the Rambo Justice Minister would say, umbrage at. At least the two ministers responsible for those departments gave some letter of validation to this particular issue. I will be very interested to see how the member for Sackville-Beaverbank or the member for Dartmouth South or the member for Preston are going to go

[Page 4179]

back to their constituencies and explain to the property taxpayers in their constituencies why the property taxes from the Halifax Regional Municipality are being used to fund the provincial health care system in Nova Scotia. That is the issue. You can certainly understand the principle of fairness if they are going from one municipal service to another, but they are not. That is one issue.

The other issue is the fact that the minister responsible is taking the easy way out. He is taking the easy way out and I am at a complete loss as to why the honourable member for Shelburne would hijack this Legislature just to serve the interests of one small group. I believe that the municipality, the municipal council in Barrington, are misguided; they are well intended but they are misguided in what they are doing. I think that it will come back to haunt the honourable member for Shelburne in more ways than he may think. So we now have the municipal taxpayers from the Halifax Regional Municipality, in concert with the silence of the honourable members for Halifax Bedford Basin, Halifax Citadel, Bedford-Fall River, Chester-St. Margaret's, Sackville-Beaver Bank, Preston, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Eastern Shore and, of course, Dartmouth South, they all support using property taxes from the Halifax Regional Municipality to pay for health care services in Barrington. That is what it says.

Now, if it doesn't say that, then we can dispose of one of two elements in this equation. We can dispose of the transfer of equalization dollars or we can dispose of this bill, Bill No. 54. We have one of two options before us. I am sure that even the honourable member for Dartmouth East would be a little concerned if he knew that his constituents would be quite upset to find that the District of Barrington is in need of equalization dollars, transfer dollars, because it is on the equalivent of emergency funding. Now if it needs emergency funding, for heaven's sake that is the very basis of an argument for the Minister of Health to step in and accept his responsibility. I have never seen the likes.

Now I am sure, as I have stated before, Mayor Kelly and his council will be quite concerned about all those people who are making less than $20,000 a year in the Halifax Regional Municipality that are now going to be using their property tax dollars that should be going to pay for water, sewer, sidewalk, curb and gutter, streetlight, snow removal, salt and sand, all these municipal services, those dollars, some of those dollars, almost $138,000 is going to be taken away from the Halifax Regional Municipality, go to the District of Barrington so they can use those property tax dollars to fund health care in Nova Scotia. Hello, anybody home over there?

I don't think the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality are going to be too happy with this. They are not going to be too happy when they find out what this government is all about, this convoluted, mumbo-jumbo, disjointed, dysfunctional public policy approach under the new restructured government is wreaking havoc. It is pitting one part of the province against another and for what? Just to meet a political obligation or two.

[Page 4180]

We have to ask ourselves if the Rambo Justice Minister, why did we use such precious dollars fighting a constitutional challenge on the gun control legislation which we were pretty well given the indication right from the start that it was a no-brainer, a no go, it was a waste of time and money. Why wasn't that money used to fund a doctor for Barrington; precious provincial tax dollars? No, the vanity of that member who lives in a right-wing part of the province, because he has a large constituency, so he says, of people who like to have unrestricted use of firearms.

Now, is that what he is in this Legislature for as a minister? He shouldn't be a constituency minister. He should be a minister for the entire Province of Nova Scotia and stop robbing provincial tax dollars that we need for vital services in health care. Stop robbing the municipal taxpayers in the Halifax Regional Municipality, to pay for a doctor in Barrington which is on emergency funding. It is disgraceful. It is absolutely disgraceful, and now they are talking about putting the taxes up in Barrington on top of the fact that they are going to receive emergency funding. If they are doing so well why are they coming into Halifax and asking the property taxpayers to divert the taxes that they are assessed for property services to pay for a doctor in Barrington?

Yes, Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, is absolutely correct when he takes issue with this particular piece of legislation. It is the lack of accountability, it's the lack of proper process. This is what this new restructured government is all about. We saw clear evidence today during Question Period of potential impropriety with the Department of Environment and Labour. (Interruptions) Yes, we saw what happened to Mr. [Innis] Christie, the way he was treated after what he and David Stuewe and the board of directors have done to provide good management and good leadership at that board, and just like a bunch of starving crows the government couldn't wait to get its grimy little paws on that unfunded liability account because they think that they can get some votes in the next election. That will come back to haunt us even more, which means less money for health care, which means less money to attract a doctor in Barrington; provincial taxpayers' dollars.

So, yes, Mr. Speaker, it all ties in. It all ties in when we have, perhaps, one of the most well-respected authorities on the workers' compensation systems in Canada right here in Nova Scotia being treated like a second-class citizen. Why? Because some political hack, as has been suggested, Mr. White, a former provincial President of the Tory Party, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Say it ain't so.

MR. MACKINNON: I would like to say it ain't so, but the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago both competed for that job and Mr. [Innis] Christie won hands down on that fair competition, and what do they do, they punish him because he takes considerable issue with the fact that Bill No. 20 has politicized the workers' compensation system.

[Page 4181]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West is drawing a long, long bow here and I would ask him to get back to the piece of legislation before him, which is Bill No. 54, a Private Member's Bill.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is all relevant. It is all about how we manage our provincial tax dollars and because they have now embarked through Bill No. 20 on a process to mismanage money that, first of all, is not provincial taxpayers' dollars but will ultimately end up costing the provincial taxpayers money, that will mean less money for health care, less money to attract a doctor to Barrington. That is what it is all about, good management.

[5:15 p.m.]

What do we get? Absolute silence. The Minister of Environment and Labour will say, oh well, after the review takes place over the next several months, that select committee, notwithstanding the fact that I did appoint some people who didn't know they were appointed and refused to stay on the committee because they didn't know they were appointed, and all that sort of stuff - how silly can you get? Is he just the choir boy of the Cabinet? Is he just the cheerleader at the back of the classroom, saying me too, while his department and the management of taxpayers' dollars in this province go up in smoke; while the safety laws of this province are being compromised?

It all goes back to the efficient management of our precious provincial taxpayers' dollars. Instead of rewarding inefficiency, ineffective, partisan, patronage-driven government, we should be taking a serious look from within and not downloading health care onto the municipalities.

The Minister of Finance let it slip when he stood up on his point of order. Yes, he stood up when my colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes was speaking about other issues that related to the bill. Mr. Speaker, you yourself raised the issue of relevance. Through that point of order he let it slip, he let the cat out of the bag. He said this Bill No. 54 is not about Sydney Steel, it is not about other issues, it is about municipalities being able to attract doctors to their municipal communities.

If that is not clear evidence that this bill stands for much more than the government is pretending it is, then what is? When you have a senior member of the government, the Minister of Finance, who, in all likelihood - with the evidence that is mounting on the restructuring of government - is sitting on a slush fund. It was no problem for the Minister of Education to find $140,000 or $150,000 or so for the Cape Breton-Victoria District School Board, and as she said, and perhaps rightly so at the time of this issue when she was asked, how are you able to come up with this money. Her response was, you are always able to come up with money in times of need in cases like this.

[Page 4182]

Well, if they can do it in Education, they can darn well do it in Health and stop downloading onto the municipal taxpayers who are on emergency funding. They need another lifeline, they don't need an anchor thrown to them, that is what is happening, Mr. Speaker. The government, under the guise of supporting the local member, is not giving him a lifeline, they are throwing him a two ton anchor. Maybe they don't see it as a seat they can win in the next election. They can kind of kill two birds with one stone, as one would say; they can get rid of the member for Shelburne and they can download onto the municipality.

So where is it all going? Another disappointment. It would have been nice if the Minister of Health had been able to stand in his place and defend Bill No. 54. I don't think the member for Colchester North appreciates the fact that dollars are being used from the municipal taxpayers of Colchester County to pay for a doctor in Barrington. Yes, the municipal taxpayers of Colchester County are paying for a doctor in Barrington with Bill No. 54 - I will table this document so the member for Colchester North can read it - $150,000-some of municipal tax dollars going to pay for a doctor in Barrington. That is what it is.

If you have Barrington on an emergency funding and then you are asked to take money from the Halifax Regional Municipality property taxpayers and from the municipal taxpayers in the County of Colchester, I think the taxpayers in Colchester County would have something to say about this. I know my former colleague, the former Minister of Agriculture, Ed Lorraine, when he was here as the member for Colchester North, he would take issue with this. He wouldn't allow his property taxpayers in his constituency to be paying for provincial tax paying issues in Barrington. In Colchester South it would be even worse.

It would be fair to say that some individuals in that particular constituency are a little right of centre. I know that it is important, at every opportunity I have in this House, that I support the member for Colchester North, and I support the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I don't think their taxpayers, those municipal taxpayers, should be expected to pay money. The Municipality of Colchester, in that deed transfer issue, will have a targeted expense of $258,000. I think the members from that municipality, that county would be quite upset.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that I think the taxpayers in all these municipal units would be quite upset with. The Premier is talking about fairness, his Campaign for Fairness. Well, we saw what happened when he tangled with Newfoundland, he came back with his tail between his legs. He was whipped, big time. Why? Because he injected politics into the process. That backfired. He is talking about opening up the federal equalization program, between the provinces and the federal government. My heavens, since this government took over, we are now the number one dependent of the federal government in terms of transfers. That will speak to how effective the Minister of Finance is on this issue.

[Page 4183]

We have not only lost on the boundary dispute with Newfoundland, meaning less tax dollars to be able to fund health care, in turn going down to Barrington, but now we are the number one pauper in the country, thanks to the Minister of Finance and his management team. They got our oil, and now they have us on bended knee, running around with a tin cup, while this government proposes to download the cost of health care onto the municipal taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

Well, what a legacy. We didn't expect much different. As we recall what I stated yesterday, you have to remember where you came from, you have to know where you came from, before you know where you are going. The Minister of Finance knows where he came from, he came from the Buchanan era, so he knows where he is going, he is going back to it. He is going back to his roots. That is the only style of government they know, patronage, political interference, downloading, blaming others for their problems, shunning, casting out people who would disagree with this government. I feel sorry for the member for Shelburne, because I believe, again we have another member of the Tory backbenchers who is being used. They are being used as a pawn on a chessboard.

Yes, the argument has been made that this is the thin edge of the wedge. Well, I think they are moving up along the edge of the wedge considerably fast. Can you imagine if any of those Tory backbenchers from any of those five ridings in metro were sitting on this side of the House, and either the NDP - Heaven forbid if they ever became government, but it is important to dream every so often - if they were ever government and they tried to bring in a bill like that, or we as a government tried to bring in a bill like that, they would be all over us like you wouldn't believe. They couldn't wait to run to the media, to call their constituents and demand that they voice their concerns.

I am sure your constituents, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would be very upset at the thought of using the property taxes that are being used to pay for services such as water, sewer, street lights. (Interruption) Thank you, Mr. Speaker, the silent interventions are sometimes a little distracting, but the point I am making is can you imagine the members for Halifax Bedford Basin, Halifax Citadel, Bedford-Fall River, Chester-St. Margaret's, Sackville-Beaver Bank, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Eastern Shore, Dartmouth South, and indeed Preston being asked to use their property taxes to pay for provincial health care in another jurisdiction. I think that is unacceptable; it is not only unacceptable, it is unfair. It smacks in the face of everything that the province has in its relationship to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, i.e., through the roles and responsibilities process.

For those who aren't 100 per cent familiar with that, this roles and responsibilities process clearly delineates as to what is provincial responsibility and what is municipal. We know that health care is a provincial responsibility. To provide a property service to support health care, yes, we could accept that, but this is not what this speaks to. It speaks to directly a municipal unit jumping in and taking over the responsibility of the Minister of Health and

[Page 4184]

his department. Maybe this is part and parcel of the brainchild for this hired hand from British Columbia who cost us $180,000, plus shipping and handling.

What about his associate deputy minister? What about all the other support staff that have been hired as of late? What about his two EAs? What about his spin doctors? All the extra money that is being spent to promote the government could be used very effectively and the government could still get its message out.

Mr. Speaker, that is what this government does very well. It uses the provincial taxpayers' dollars, and anybody else's for that matter; we saw what the Minister of Community Services did with the $66 million on community services. Boy, that was clever. I have to give him credit; it was clever. A little mischievous, but clever, using $66 million of federal taxpayers dollars to make it look like he was the one who was spending the money.

That was good, clever PR, but isn't that what this government does very well? Good PR, poor on substance, good - not so good. They are good on the PR, they are good on the spin-doctoring, but they are poor on the substance. We can see it. We can see it with the Minister of Finance, we can see it with the Minister of Health, we can see it with the Minister of Education, we can see it in just about every department over there.

[5:30 p.m.]

So what about this slush fund? There is lots of money there. It was revealed during the budget that there is a surplus this year alone of $24.6 million left out of the restructuring fund; there was something like $74 or $75 million that was allocated and they only spent $50 million. So where did the money go? The government will say, oh, you know, we are using it. Yes, they are using it. The Minister of Finance is hiding it somewhere within his Ouija board there. Then, lo and behold, just like magic he will find all these dollars next year. Well, the people in Barrington need it right now. The Minister of Finance could easily appropriate an extra $1 million to the Minister of Health to address this inequity.

As the member for Dartmouth East has stated, it is not just about pouring more money. It is about an effective recruitment policy for doctors in Nova Scotia. If we had one, we would have one in Barrington, we would have one in Richmond, we would have one in the areas of the province that need one. Why don't they? Because the minister has delegated the almost full authority for his department to the deputy minister, who doesn't even have the courtesy to come before this Legislature during the budgetary process. Two years in a row he has failed to show for accountability on the expenditure of the taxpayers' dollars - unprecedented in the history of this Legislature. Tell me that is not shameful.

That will show the type of contempt that this government has for the democratic process. That is why the member for Shelburne has been forced into capitulation bringing this Private and Local Bill before the Legislature, to try to maintain some semblance of

[Page 4185]

support at the political level in his constituency. However in the name of heavens the municipal government in Barrington came to the conclusion that it was their responsibility to start paying for doctors in Nova Scotia, is beyond my comprehension.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely shameful. We have seen a lot of slippage that has contributed to the delinquency of this process. When I say contributing to the delinquency of the process, it is because this government is more concerned about politics and getting re-elected than it is about good public policy. That is why they will politicize the workers' compensation system, that is why the Minister of Finance will play mind games with the people of Nova Scotia on the figures of what the budget really is. Last year's deficit, it was so high, you know, the Liberals almost bankrupted the province. They didn't have a balanced budget, this was so terrible, and they booked over $300 million for Sydney Steel. They should have shown all that and that is why the debt was so bad.

You know what, Mr. Speaker? This year he admits it was just paper talk, it wasn't really dollars. So he didn't really subtract those dollars, take those dollars out of there, or they weren't really an expense to the province, because they never really existed. He can't have it both ways. Because of that type of economics, we are now the number one pauper province in the country. Every chance he gets, he chastises the member for Lunenburg West who did twice the job in half the amount of time that that minister has done. He had brought more accountability into this Legislature than that member ever will. And, do you know what? He was part of the problem under the John Buchanan Regime. That is why there is no money for the member for Shelburne. (Interruption) He did twice the job. (Interruption) He did a very professional, efficient and effective job. (Interruptions)

Never mind. Two sidebars I am not certainly going to get into. Never mind the cracklings from the NDP House Leader. I am not sure if he is still House Leader, or what the situation is. It is like musical chairs in the NDP caucus. You don't know who is who.

The fact of the matter is, if the government were providing good management for the taxpayers' dollars, this bill would be totally unnecessary. The government is deliberately trying to pit one area of the province against another; the poor against the poor, one municipality in one part of the province against another. I don't think for a moment that the provincial members of the Legislature that represent the nine constituencies in the Halifax Regional Municipality are going to be too happy when they find out that their tax dollars are going to be used to pay for provincial health care in Barrington.

AN HON. MEMBER: Repetition.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, repetition. And do you know why there has to be a little bit of repetition sometimes? Because it is slow for some members on the government benches, it is slow to sink in. The member for Preston, who was supposed to be such an advocate for the property taxpayer when he was on the Halifax Regional Council is doing

[Page 4186]

nothing. He is doing nothing for his constituents on this issue. He is an apologist for the government. That is all he is. (Interruption) Well, it is best probably he go back out - the flowers are starting to bloom, he could go back out and get some more sleep, that is about the best we can expect from him. But don't chew on the dandelions. They are not good for your health.

The fact of the matter is, we need competent leadership to manage these (Interruptions) tax dollars. We won't waste too much time on the Wal-Mart greeter from Preston.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member to refrain from dandelions and Wal-Mart greeters and get back to the piece of legislation, Bill No. 54. It might be a good opportunity to advise the House that in regard to relevance and repetition, Paragraph 459 of Beauchesne's 6th Edition states: "Relevance is not easy to define. In borderline cases the Member should be given the benefit of the doubt, although the Speaker has frequently admonished Members who have strayed in debate. The presiding officers are directed by Standing Order 11(2) to call to order members who indulge in persistent repetition. The rule against repetition is difficult to enforce as the various stages of a bill's progress give ample opportunity and even encouragement for repetition. In practice, wide discretion is used by the Speaker and the rule is not rigidly enforced."

Now, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, I know, will extrapolate from that whatever he wishes, but I would ask him in the few moments that he does have left to try to be just a little more topical, relative to Bill No. 54. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: I appreciate that because - as you have noted - sometimes repetition is important because you made that point a little earlier with another member and perhaps I didn't attend to the wisdom of your words as well as, perhaps, maybe I should have. That is why sometimes repetition is important, and that is why sometimes I have to repeat certain things to certain members on the government benches, so it will sink in, what this bill is really doing to the people of Nova Scotia, and particularly to the municipal taxpayers in your constituency and to the constituency of the Halifax Regional Municipality. I concur with you, it is very important to be cautious on Beauchesne and the points of order in this House.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I would like, at this particular moment, to move a motion that Bill No. 54 be amended and I will provide a copy of the motion for the Clerk and for your approbation. In essence, it is a six months' hoist. I will allow the proper reading from either yourself or the Clerk, to see if, in fact, it is in order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, honourable members. I would like to advise the House, and for the information of the House, when Orders of the Day for the third reading of a bill is called, so states Beauchesne, the same type of amendments which are permissible at the

[Page 4187]

second reading stage are permissible at the third reading stage. I therefore have ruled that this amendment is, in fact, in order. For the benefit of the House, the motion is that

"Bill No. 54, An Act to Authorize the Municipality of the District of Barrington to Provide Financial Assistance to Encourage Health Professionals to Locate in the Municipality, be not now read a second time but that it be read this day six months hence."

I would caution future speakers on the amendment that the speaker, and I would suggest all speakers, be vigilant and, in fact, insist that honourable members speak to the amendment.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today and to speak in support of the amendment put forward by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West. Certainly, I have taken very seriously your opening comments and would encourage you, if at any time you feel I am not speaking to the amendment or to the principle of the bill, please assist me and provide me with the necessary direction to bring me back on the right course.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke for a few minutes yesterday to express the concerns that I had as the MLA for Richmond County, and the concerns of our caucus, which you have heard today, about Bill No. 54. One would have thought, after raising the concerns that we raised, that the sponsor of this bill, the honourable member for Shelburne, would have done the responsible thing, taken our concerns and withdrawn this piece of legislation, after we had presented our case and our concerns about this bill. He, being a backbencher, we don't hear too often from him. One would hope that maybe we would even hear him yodel sometime in this House so that we would know that we are getting some noise from him.

One would have thought that the Government House Leader, who has seen co-operation in the last few days in the passing of numerous legislation would have done the responsible thing, after being clearly told that the Opposition, the Liberal caucus especially, had some fundamental concerns with the principle of this legislation, that he would have withdrawn the legislation and sought further input from not only the community of Barrington but from the Department of Health and from health care providers and from Nova Scotians throughout this province, as to whether they support this sort of legislation.

But that is not the Tory way, you know that yourself. The Tory way is to try to ram through legislation. We have seen that throughout our 11, 12 weeks here in this House, 12 weeks here in this House. One would have thought, after the third week, let's say, the Tory Government would have caught on to the plan that you are not going to ram legislation through this House or you are going to be here for a long time. Obviously, the House Leader has decided that he is going to give it one more kick at the can. So, it is with honour that I do stand here in my place and speak on this hoist amendment.

[Page 4188]

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 54, I would submit to you, is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation that has yet to come before this House. We have over, I believe, 60 pieces of legislation currently in front of this House of Assembly during this sitting and out of those 60, Bill No. 54 stands by far as the most dangerous piece of legislation to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the next because what does it do? It opens the door to privatization in our health care system. It opens the door to two-tier health care in the Province of Nova Scotia - better health care for the municipal units that are wealthy, substandard health care for the municipal units that are not as well financially. That is what is being set up and is being set up through legislation which causes me great concern.

As I spoke before, Mr. Speaker, we all know that physician recruitment and the retention of physicians in Nova Scotia, and especially rural Nova Scotia, is of major concern. From one area of this province to the next, from Yarmouth to Cape Breton County, from Halifax way up to Amherst, the recruitment and retention of physicians is a major concern. We faced that when we were in government. It was a difficult issue. I can tell you in my own riding, shortly after being elected, the physician at the time at the Strait-Richmond Hospital decided to go to private practice, to his own clinic, and withdrew daytime emergency services at the hospital.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, as a newly-elected member at that time, that was one of the most difficult issues that I had to face as a member. People were frustrated - why could they not get a physician, why did they have substandard health care compared to other areas of the province, why could they not have a doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital, or could they have the necessary doctors in the rural communities such as Arichat, Louisdale, River Bourgeois, St. Peters, L'Ardoise and all the other communities, Lower River Inhabitants, where the Strait-Richmond Hospital is?

We worked as a government, it was difficult I know, and I have said it many times and I want to thank again, publicly, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, who was the Minister of Health at the time, who said that he would make sure that all efforts were concentrated on trying to assist us in the Strait area. I have stood proud in this House in working with my colleagues who clearly, Mr. Speaker, Hansard will show, were effective representatives for their areas, colleagues such as Charlie MacDonald from Inverness, Ray White in Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, and Hyland Fraser in Antigonish, all very effective members, members who did not hesitate to stand on their feet and to fight on behalf of their constituents and to fight on behalf of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, through our efforts back in 1998, not only did we find a full-time physician for the Strait-Richmond Hospital emergency room, we found four additional physicians for Richmond County. So within a six month span we had five new physicians in that county. I would not say that that was a miracle, it took a lot of hard work, it took a lot

[Page 4189]

of effort and it took a determination from a Minister of Health who clearly made a commitment to the people of the Strait that he would work with them to address their needs of physician recruitment. Unfortunately, that is not what we are getting from the Minister of Health today.

I have stood in this House I don't know how many times, Mr. Speaker, to try to plead with the minister and with this government to provide a daytime emergency room physician at the Strait-Richmond Hospital. How many times have I stood having to remind him? It is 90 days, it is 100 days, it is 120 days, it is 130 days and, most recently, today, 158 days; five whole months.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Good government.

MR. SAMSON: Well, the member for Preston calls that good government. Good government because it is doctors for Tory ridings, yet nothing for Liberal ridings, but the ironic thing here, Mr. Speaker, is that the Strait-Richmond Hospital, while physically located in Richmond County, doesn't service only the people of Richmond County. The Minister of Tourism himself, his constituents, not only those geographically serviced by the hospital, but many of his constituents who work at Stora Forest Industries, now known as StoraEnso. He also has constituents who work at Statia Terminals; he has constituents who work at Nova Scotia Power; he has constituents who work at the Sable Gas fractionation plant.

The member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury who is being repeatedly chastised by the Mayor of Port Hawkesbury for being ineffective and not speaking; I would say that that chastising has also gone to the MLA for Antigonish, the honourable minister, and the honourable minister from Inverness for not speaking on behalf of the people of the Strait area. Mr. Speaker, 158 days, yet I am told today by my very hard-working assistant that in today's local Reporter there is a plea there, and an apologetic statement from both the Minister of Tourism and the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, saying, aw shucks, physician recruitment, it is tough and we are hard-working, it is not easy, be patient with us, life is throwing us curve balls all the time - five months.

Now, for the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Speaker, this is even more of a pressing issue; on top of the Strait-Richmond Hospital, he has two of his family physicians leaving his county, which is going to be a serious loss for his county and not something anyone is proud of but something I would hope he will not wait five months to start addressing, that he will speak with the Minister of Health immediately and make sure they have recruitment efforts to replace those much-needed doctors for the good people of Inverness County.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 54, as I have said before, I know what the member for Shelburne is going to say when he goes back home; I know what the Tories are going to say, the Minister of Health, the House Leader, they are going to say, oh, those big, bad Liberals don't

[Page 4190]

like the people of Barrington, they won't let you use municipal tax funds to pay to have a doctor in your community.

Mr. Speaker, that is clearly not the argument being put forward. What the district of Barrington is doing is a cry for help. You know what? One would probably - and it is tough, you can't really get into the mind of another individual, but if I had to get into the mind of the MLA for Shelburne, he probably believes that in Bill No. 54 he has done a good thing, that by bringing that forward he has represented his constituents well.

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member for Shelburne that had he any clout with the Minister of Health, if he was an effective member of this Legislature, if he was an effective voice in the Hamm Government, if he was doing what he was elected by the people of Shelburne to do, he would get a doctor for the people of Barrington without needing municipal funds to do so.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 54 from the member for Shelburne says one word on it - failure. It says shame for a member who is part of a government that said they would deal with the issues of physician recruitment in rural Nova Scotia. This is option B because option A failed. Option A is going to the Minister of Health and saying, listen, the good people of Barrington deserve a family physician. We need you to put your efforts towards recruiting a physician for Barrington. Can you help us? We pay taxes, we support the health care system, we deserve top-rated health care in our area.

Now there are two options here; either he never went to the Minister of Health and said this, which I doubt - I think the honourable member would have at least done that - or, the more realistic option is that the Minister of Health has given him the same response that he has given me time and time again in this House about the Strait-Richmond Hospital, which was to take his thumb, stick it in his mouth, suck on it and say, there is nothing I can do, life is tough, sorry, can't get you any doctors. I think that is the more realistic one.

So what does the member for Shelburne say? Well, I can't really go back home and tell them I have failed as a member and I can't get the Minister of Health or this government to pay any attention to me. What else can I do to try to make my constituents believe that I am somehow trying to be an effective member?

Well, someone came up with the hare-brained idea of, why don't you put a bill in and tell the municipal unit that they should pay to bring a doctor down to Barrington? Really, Mr. Speaker, imagine. So this is his attempt, saying, I couldn't get the Minister of Health to do anything to help me. So, rather than go back and say I have been a complete failure I am going to try to pass this bill, sneak it in as a Private Member's Bill and say that I am going to allow the good taxpayers of Barrington who have paid for health care, who paid for top-rate health care, to be taxed once again to pay for a local physician.

[Page 4191]

Mr. Speaker, what a sad statement, that a member of this House would suggest to his own constituents who elected him and gave him the privilege of serving this House, that they should be doubly taxed, imagine. One would expect that from the Minister of Finance. He has done that for us all session. We have uncovered the double taxation taking place in this province. But for a backbencher, through a Private Member's Bill, to suggest more taxation has really gotten preposterous. What message does it give to the people of Richmond County or to the people of the Strait area, Inverness, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury? It says, if you want a doctor the Department of Health, here, through Bill No. 54, their position is if you really want a doctor then pay for one yourself. Show us how much you really want a doctor. Put up your money and show us how much you want a doctor because here I am. I said that when I was elected, we would cut administrative fat, we would provide top-quality health care at a cheaper price to the taxpayers. Instead, the cost of health care continues to rise.

The Minister of Finance refuses to give him the money he needs so, now again, here is option B for physician recruitment. The Department of Health and the Minister of Health have been failures, so let's see if we can't dump it on municipalities and blame them and say, hey, if you really want a doctor then you will pay for your own doctor. Mr. Speaker, what a sad day in Nova Scotia.

As I said before, this is a cry for help from the people of Barrington. It really is. They are saying now, look, our health care is so important to us we are willing to even put up our taxpayers' dollars to pay for a doctor. Then again let me revise that statement, because in an article today it doesn't appear that Bill No. 54 is supported by anyone in Barrington, other than possibly the municipal council. It appears there has been no public discussion, there has been no public debate as to whether this is what the people of Barrington would support. At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, these are the people who are going to be expected to pay for the money going to this physician.

Now, if you want to see what it is like to be a responsible member with a Private Member's Bill, then look no further than my good colleague, the member for Cape Breton East. He brings forward a Private Member's Bill which deals with a name change in his riding. What does he do? He immediately goes to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, his municipal representatives and brings forward the bill and says, look, here is what I would like to do in recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the Town of Glace Bay. I would like to change the riding's name. Do you support this or do you not support this? On top of that, he also went out - in fact, that was even on the suggestion of the honourable Government House Leader, look, you should get municipal support. You should get as much community support as you can. That member did that, Mr. Speaker. He came back to this House. The media reported that the CBRM supported this, the mayor and all the counsellors. We heard the people of Glace Bay say, yes, we do support having a riding change. Yet, today in the Coast Guard it clearly shows that the advice that the honourable House Leader for the Tories gave to the Liberal caucus appears to not be the same advice that he has given to his own backbencher.

[Page 4192]

Clearly, the MLA for Shelburne does not have consensus to have tabled that bill. He does not have the support of the people of Barrington to have tabled this bill. He does not have the support of the people, I would say, in the County of Shelburne to even set this precedent and, more importantly than that, he clearly does not have the support of Nova Scotians to go down this road with Bill . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the subject for this evening's late debate.

"Therefore be it resolved that this government properly fund children and parents for bone marrow transplant travel costs."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS:

TRAVEL COSTS - CHILDREN/PARENTS FUND

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is my very great pleasure to rise this evening to participate in the Adjournment motion under Rule 5(5), late debate, which calls upon the government to properly fund children and parents for bone marrow transplant travel costs.

Mr. Speaker, earlier in the day I raised with the Minister of Health what is a chronic problem in this province, which is quite simply put, that the province refuses to pay for the costs of children and their families who have to travel to hospitals outside of Nova Scotia in order to receive treatment and coverage that they require and need. This is the case even though in the Budget Address for the fiscal year 2001-02 the provincial government declared that their goals for this year was to create a better future for our children. They say that a number of times in the Budget Address and clearly intended to say, and did say, to the people of Nova Scotia that children were going to be the focus, or at least part of the focus, of this budget. Yet, when children in this province require bone marrow transplants to treat cancer and are sent out of the province to Toronto and to other places if other places are used, their travel costs and those of their siblings and/or family are not covered under the plan by the Department of Health.

[Page 4193]

What is astonishing about this is that the minister and the Department of Health made a decision, they made a financial decision that they would not in this province set up a clinic to deal with the bone marrow transplants and that wasn't going to be something that was done in Nova Scotia. They decided that financially they were in a better position to simply send those children out of the province and that they would in fact save money in this province. The minister will say because there wasn't a critical mass or a number of cases that were needed in order to be able to justify the service and I suppose that even though he would be able to draw on the Atlantic Region, he may even say that there wouldn't be enough cases in the Atlantic Region to justify the expense. Perhaps that is so, but clearly this is a service that should have been provided within the province. It is not and the government has made a decision not to fund the travel costs even though those are directly related to the cost of having the service provided.

I want to just pause and think for a second about the children who are the subject of this kind of treatment. These are young people in many cases, and I understand this to be true from the letters which we tabled from Dr. Conrad Fernandez the Pediatric Oncologist at the IWK . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You are prepared now to talk about the date of those letters, are you?

MR. DEXTER: Sure, these are dated August 12, 1999 and October 14, 1999, which makes it all the more astounding that although the Minister of Health has known about this problem for more than two years, they have not done anything about it. (Interruption) My understanding, unless my memory is faulty, the government took office in July 1999. The first one is in August 1999 and the second one is in October 1999 and he wants to quibble about what the transition date was. Well, you know Mr. Speaker, that does no credit to this government to try and slough off their responsibility by talking about what the transition date was to government. I can't even imagine that the Minister of Health would try to say something like that. If he says he is not aware of the problem, can you imagine that you can be Minister of Health for two years and not know that the kids you are responsible for, the children that you are responsible for providing a service to, you don't even know that you are sending them out of the province and heaping additional stress on those children, and not just on them.

Mr. Speaker, what is amazing about this particular issue is that in most cases the donors for these children are their siblings, so they have to send not only the one child, but two children in a family out of the province, and on top of the stress of going through this treatment they have to absorb the financial burden as well. What is really quite unbelieveable about the Minister of Health is that outside the minister was telling the press that it is complicated, I am not sure what could be covered or what should be covered, which costs could come into play, or you can't get an accurate read on how much it is going to cost.

[Page 4194]

Mr. Speaker, I want to table for your edification and for the edification of the Minister of Health, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of Health and Community Services Medical Transportation Assistance Program forms. It is a very, very simple little program. What they do is: You fill out the form and you account for your travel costs, your accommodation costs, the cost for an escort if one is necessary, and you submit it back to the government and they reimburse you for your travel costs. It is not rocket science, it is not that complicated, and what it does is it deals in a very straightforward manner with the question of assistance for travel costs.

What is interesting about it is that it operates like an insurance program and they have a $500 deductible on the insurance program. So in other words you add up all your expenses that are claimed, you submit it, and the government will deduct $500 from it and they will remit the rest of that to you by way of a cheque. Now, if it is that you are a hardship case, if you are unable to absorb even the $500 deductible, you can make an application to another department, the Department of Human Resources, state your case to the department and what the department will do is then refund even the deductible. So there is a means test at least for the deductibility portion, but the bulk of it would be universally available to all the parents and children of all those who would have to go out of the province to receive this kind of treatment.

So, for the Minister of Health to muse with the press about this being a very complicated issue and something that it would be very difficult to assess the costs on, well that is just not the case. Mr. Speaker, he knows very well that there have been some 30 cases over the last couple of years. More or less they can determine what the costs are associated with those, and although to say it wouldn't be a big percentage of the Department of Health's budget is a gross understatement, it would be a minuscule amount of the Department of Health's budget.

But to those children, to their siblings, to the parents and families of those children who are already dealing with a very difficult situation - children who are in need of bone marrow transplants for the treatment of cancer - this would alleviate an incredible burden and stress on those people; something that, Lord knows, if you were dealing with this situation, you wouldn't want to have to deal with as well. Disease doesn't know income level, it doesn't know social status, it doesn't know whether or not the children are from families who have employment or are unemployed, or on community services, or are very wealthy.

Mr. Speaker, to not understand that, to be incapable of understanding the need for alleviating the distress from people in these circumstances, I think, is very regrettable. I want to tell you, I was certainly pleased to be able to raise this issue with the Minister of Health; I was certainly pleased to be able to bring it forward here. I am looking forward to hearing his response, because our responsibility is to speak up on behalf of these people. We are here to speak up on behalf of people whose voices are not always heard in this Chamber. That's why we're here.

[Page 4195]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: That's why we're here.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, while we wait for the minister's response, I will use the 10 minutes afforded me under the Adjournment motion rule to address the resolution as presented. I would like to thank my honourable colleague for bringing this resolution this evening.

"Therefore be it resolved that this government properly fund children and parents for bone marrow transplant travel costs."

There is no question that the families face great challenges when they are forced to leave the province for care, such as bone marrow transplants and to obtain other health services. This price pales in comparison, but it significantly contributes to the already personal stresses of the family. The families that are suffering as a result of having a critically ill child - they have already been through various crises and challenges and also impacting on the work of one or both of the parents, so the whole family - I would suggest - we are not just talking about children, we are talking about families here and families that do suffer together at the critical illness of a child. So many times in dealing with our children, their illnesses are self-limiting to a two or three day nature and we know how we feel about that and what a concern it is. When we have those pronouncements made - usually by a specialist, along with the family doctor - that there is need of outside, innovative treatment of a specialized nature, then the whole family is put under stress.

I gather that the resolution is narrow on purpose because certainly, the travel costs are significant and often bring hardship to families. Any family doesn't have that much of an extra pot of money to draw on that would be able to fund the travel costs, but the issue of accommodations, particularly waiting for any kind of a transplant, you may just be waiting for periods of time. As a family physician, I sometimes shared waiting with families and I know how stressful the waiting was and the reality of it was not only the travel costs, but also that of accommodation. Living in a strange city, usually with no relatives, and I would like to come back to that later, because I think that is an issue of having services that are already here in Nova Scotia.

So, there is a need for a network that would support children and their families and that is why organizations like the Ronald McDonald House charities provide such a valuable service to critically ill children and their families. In the International Year of Volunteers it is appropriate to honour the countless volunteers who are involved in this worthwhile organization.

[Page 4196]

However, there is a much bigger, larger and a more important issue and one that my honourable colleague missed in his resolution. I do say it is narrow. To bring forward a program that would assist in travel costs should never be good enough for the people of Nova Scotia, the children and their families. The Minister of Health has stated many times that the issue here in Nova Scotia is that of a critical mass and we know that is an issue. Any centre, any team, specializing in bone marrow transplants, other transplants, must have a critical number to keep their skills of those surgeons and nurses and specialized care people at a high level.

I would question this evening during the time allotted to me that I would implore upon the minister that he fight stronger to establish and expand the Atlantic Canada pediatric bone marrow transplant unit at the IWK, plus, while doing that, trying to maintain services such as pediatric cardiac services that we have lost in this area and pediatric renal transplants - a program that is very vicariously balanced.

Those are some of the broader issues of living in a province with less that 1 million people, but we do have the Atlantic Region, Premiers do meet and speak of matters. I know health matters are on the agenda on occasion, but this is a really crucial issue. That we have such a fine medical school and that pool of very talented surgeons, world-class services, we have seen innovative inventions and applications applied to neurosurgery recently and those types of specialties. So we can do them here and we have the skills and the personnel available. It is really that critical mass but it also means co-operation at a regional level.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, in speaking of an expanded Atlantic Canada pediatric bone marrow transplant unit, my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, suggested that in a resolution in the House, I believe on May 8th of this year, that this would be of even greater assistance to the people of Nova Scotia. I would like to just table that for members, Resolution No. 962, calling on the government, that " . . . members of this House urge the Government of Nova Scotia to work with all Atlantic Canada Governments towards the establishment of an expanded Atlantic Canada pediatric bone marrow transplant unit at the IWK." I would like to table that for the information of members.

So while patients in those circumstances would obviously have to travel to Halifax, at least there is a better chance. They have family here, the systems are a little more informal, population is a little more manageable. So they wouldn't see a situation where they would have to uproot their family to such an extent and to travel to another province or outside the country. The development of an expanded Atlantic Canada bone marrow transplant unit at the IWK would solve the minister's critical mass program. So there is a critical mass here in Atlantic Canada, so let's get on with it and work towards that.

[Page 4197]

Not dwelling on the resolution that I found particularly narrow but maybe it is the thinking of the NDP, that they are narrow in their focus, plus the fact that they are poor managers but I won't get into that tonight. While they are well-intentioned, often they don't address the bigger problem. So while specifically here with this specific issue, I think we will get nowhere really just addressing specific issues, although because the minister has the decision-making on individual cases, as he well knows and as I had learned earlier.

We have one of the greatest children's hospitals in Canada and, indeed, in North America here. We have programs in areas such as cystic fibrosis that have brought great recognition to this area. We can do them here and we can do them well. Why not recruit a pediatric bone marrow specialist to Halifax to service Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotians would benefit, Atlantic Canadians would benefit and, indeed, it would enable our children here in Nova Scotia and in Atlantic Canada to access care in a more timely fashion.

Mr. Speaker, while the resolution may be well-intentioned, we must be encouraging the government to develop our health care services for Nova Scotia, here in Nova Scotia, in partnership with other Atlantic Canadian governments. So here in Nova Scotia, for Nova Scotian children and their families, it is that type of government action that would serve in the best interests of Nova Scotia.

The minister has a choice in these matters and he can okay the travel and related costs. It is not a perfect solution but it will address the issue as addressed here in this resolution for debate this evening. Expanded services are the key here in Nova Scotia, for the children of this area. They deserve that, Mr. Speaker, they and their families deserve that. There is enough stress without picking up your family and siblings and others, to move out of the area, to another province and even, in some cases, another country.

It is not just a band-aid solution, as this resolution calls for. While it is helpful, it does not address the full issue of the complete care, the comprehensive, integrated program of bone marrow transplants here in Atlantic Canada situated in the IWK Health Care Centre. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening and speak for a few moments about the resolution that government properly fund children and their parents for bone marrow transplant travel costs. I listened with interest to the member for Dartmouth East who has some intimate knowledge of these types of situations and I appreciated his comments.

I just want to make a couple of things clear in the beginning. One is that the diagnosis of cancer in a child is devastating to families, it is shocking to a child's community. I know this first-hand, I have seen it in my own community. I can well appreciate the impulse of

[Page 4198]

compassion and kindness that was behind the letters written by Dr. Fernandez two years ago to the then Deputy Minister of Health and tabled in the House today.

To be quite frank, Mr. Speaker, as a layperson I can only imagine the situations Dr. Fernandez must encounter daily in his practice. For most people when you are dealing with young children who have cancer - and I can tell the House I have personally experienced that in my own family and it did not have a positive outcome although today it would have - I expect that it is a very difficult situation. I admire those who treat a seriously ill child. They have a special calling and indeed a special job. That is why when I am faced with a situation like this that I wish I lived in some other more prosperous place, a place where it would be affordable and realistic to meet every societal need. Quite frankly, I don't know where that place would be.

As Minister of Health here I know all too well that many important needs cannot be met in Nova Scotia at this time. Mr. Speaker, there will come a time, I believe, when the finances of this province will again be healthy enough so that we can do things which we cannot do now; when we don't have to stretch resources among needs that are undeniably very great; when we don't have to divvy up scant resources among huge responsibilities; when the books are in order and the coffers are full. Until that time, my job is a job that few perhaps might envy and that many would find reasonably difficult in some of the decisions that we have to make. One of the very hardest parts of the job of the Minister of Health, as the honourable member for Dartmouth East could tell you, is to tell people no or that, quite frankly, there simply there isn't enough of the resource to go around and do everything that we would like to do no matter who is asking or why they are asking.

One of the things Mr. Speaker - and I suppose that I should put on the record if for no other reason that there may be some people out here who are interested - is that in the period from August 1, 2000, to March 16, 2001, there were six young people sent to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital for bone marrow transplants. The total bill to the province at that time was just about $457,000 for those procedures. What I am trying to say is that health is expensive and specialized health is expensive and I would not want the honourable members of this distinguished Chamber or the public to think that the province is shortchanging people when it comes to treatment. Although we cannot do it here right now in our province, the treatment that these young people are getting when they go out of province is first class. They are getting the best that our country has to offer and I am grateful for that. I would like to be able to do it here in Nova Scotia but right now we can't.

So what I am saying Mr. Speaker, is that we do recognize there are a lot of needs that we would like to meet and unfortunately we are not in a position to do it right now, but I think that people understand that it is not hard-heartedness, it is not unkindness, it is a reality in our province right now. We do what we can as best as we can. Right now Nova Scotia is in a position that it can comply with the Canada Health Act but we don't have the resources to go much beyond that, as much as Health Minister, and as a person who has had four

[Page 4199]

children, would like to do. The Canada Health Act outlines exactly what each province in Canada must do for its citizens who are sick.

Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Speaker, travel and accommodation are not on that list. Therefore, the reality is, like most other Canadian provinces, Nova Scotia does not cover for the most part travel or accommodation costs for out-of-province medical procedures of any kind, either for adults or for children. In Canada only four provinces - Newfoundland, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, as well as the Northwest Territories and the Yukon - have full travel policies. In Nova Scotia we do not because right now we cannot.

Currently, there are between 12 and 14 pediatric bone marrow transplants each year at the IWK or through the IWK, I should say, cases at the IWK. These children come from Nova Scotia, P.E.I., New Brunswick. The IWK does everything it can to treat the child who needs a bone marrow transplant. For the procedure itself, most children go to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and some go to Montreal. These out-of-province hospital costs alone are quite expensive, as I have just mentioned, and bone marrow transplants are highly specialized treatments. The hospital cost for pediatric bone marrow transplants can range somewhere, let's say, between $21,000 and over $200,000 depending on the case.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have a reputation for kindness and generosity. What the government cannot, unfortunately, provide at this time, the community often does. The community often covers the travel and accommodation costs for a family and, indeed, like other members of this Legislature, I have contributed personally in situations where people needed additional help to cover medical expenses. At the IWK, a social worker is there to guide families through the process of finding money to help with accommodation and travel. What is available often depends on each family's unique circumstances. Help could come from a third party payer or from a non-governmental organization.

However, most families rely on the generosity of community fundraising. Nova Scotian communities are known for their generosity and the IWK itself is very generous. Sometimes air mile points that the hospital itself has may be used to cover flight costs. I could tell you, Mr. Speaker, Dr. Fernandes in one of the letters that he wrote indicated that the department in which he worked also covered travel costs from their own budget. The Department of Health will, in an emergency, pay for air medical transport for a child requiring a transplant. We do all we can. I send my highest regards to Dr. Fernandez and the many like him who work passionately every day with people who need his expert care. I send my quiet, sincere and personal best wishes to those families who have very sick children.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell all members of this House that this government is very concerned about this issue of transportation funding. I, as minister, have raised it with my staff and in my department and I can tell you that when circumstances change, as minister I am committed to picking up travel costs and to defining them appropriately. I hope that

[Page 4200]

when we get our books in order, I may still be in the portfolio and will be able to address this issue a little bit more fully.

Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member for Dartmouth East has said, we provide wonderful care and compassion to young people, particularly through the very well recognized IWK Health Centre. I would just like at this point perhaps to put in a little plug for those who are listening. I believe that the IWK is having its annual telethon this coming weekend (Applause) and I would encourage all members of this House to take out their chequebooks and to write a cheque to the IWK, not a small one but a large one, to help this telethon and help that hospital continue the marvellous service that it provides for the children of Atlantic Canada. Thank you.

[6:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The time for this evening's Adjournment debate has expired. We now return to debate on Bill No. 54. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor and he is speaking to the hoist amendment.

[PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

Bill No. 54 - District of Barrington Health Professionals Assistance Act.] [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure again to rise to say a few words on Bill No. 54 and the amendment put forward by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, who has spoken on this on a number of occasions, a few minutes each time, to express his concern about Bill No. 54. As I was saying earlier, we have been in here 12 weeks, 12 weeks away from our families, 12 weeks away from our constituents, 12 weeks away from attending important functions in our ridings, which we all like to attend and to be visible, especially, as you would know, Mr. Speaker, being a member from outside the HRM, it is extremely difficult on us as rural members in trying to continue to represent our constituents as best as we can. It has been a very long session.

As I said earlier, we have up to 60 pieces of legislation before this House of Assembly. Often you wonder, especially if you are in Opposition, which bills - should you even care about it? What impact is it going to have? How is it going to change your daily life? How is it going to change the life of your constituents? Does it really matter? You are tired. You have been up long nights. We have been sitting for 10 hour days for the last six weeks. You really wonder, should you even continue to debate.

[Page 4201]

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, how proud I am to be a member of this caucus, the Liberal caucus. We are 10 members, yet we have remained vigilant in keeping this government accountable on major pieces of legislation, tenacious, refusing to give in, continuing to fight on behalf of Nova Scotians. I would say that we have been very focused. We have been focused on the Conservative Government directly across from us. We have been representing our constituents, and I would say Nova Scotians, as best as possible.

When you look at legislation, you ask yourself which ones, as we like to say in our caucus, are you going to plant the flag on. Which legislation are you going to say, that is unacceptable? That is not acceptable to Nova Scotians. That is going to hurt our constituents. We cannot allow this legislation to go undetected without proper debate and without trying to urge the government to re-think its decision. We have done so on the Financial Measures (2001) Act. We have done so on Bill No. 20, Government Restructuring (2001) Act. We started to do so on the johns bill, and as soon as we did, the Minister of Justice and the House Leader got so scared that for the fourth time, they pulled out that bill, not wishing to even hear further debate on that.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 54 is an example of a bill where we as a caucus have decided that this is unacceptable. Many of you would say, it is a private member's bill. My God, why are you talking so much on a private member's bill? This isn't that important, this is Barrington, it is one little community throughout all of Nova Scotia. What is the per cent of population? It is probably less than 1 per cent of the total picture. Why would you want to plant the flag on Bill No. 54? Why would you support a six months' hoist amendment on a bill like Bill No. 54? Because this bill, as I have said before, out of the 60 pieces of legislation before us, as much as we have said the Financial Measures (2001) Act was bad legislation, as much as we said Bill No. 20 was bad legislation, it is my humble opinion that Bill No. 54 is the most dangerous piece of legislation to the people of Nova Scotia and to the people of Richmond County, to whom I have the privilege of serving and representing.

Mr. Speaker, to say that Bill No. 54 is not going to have serious implications for our health care system and for Nova Scotians is another example of the short-sightedness of this government. As I said many times, this is a government by disaster because they wait for disaster to happen and then they try to find a quick fix. There is no long-term planning with this government. It is a quick, political fix. What can you do to make it look like you fixed the problem, because that is the difference between a quick fix and a quick political fix, because the quick fix might actually have a hope of fixing the problem, in an expeditious way, but a quick, political fix is one where you give the appearance that you have addressed the problem for today and for tomorrow, which in fact, you have done neither.

Bill No. 54 is a quick political fix, and it will do neither. Bill No. 54 is not going to get a doctor to the people of Barrington. That is not the job of the people of Barrington. That is the job of the Minister of Health. He has a $1.8 billion budget, and he can't find a doctor for Barrington? He has asked the people of Barrington today, through Bill No. 54, to pay for the

[Page 4202]

services of a doctor out of their hard-earned tax money, not only the tax money they pay to the province, now a double taxation they will have to pay the municipality to pay for a doctor; incredible, a $1.8 billion department.

I would challenge the Minister of Health to stand in his place and say that he supports the idea of municipal units paying the salaries of doctors, imagine. I see him now consulting with the member for Shelburne, maybe he is giving him some speaking points. Hopefully the member for Shelburne will stand in his place and tell us his plan to actually be able to find a doctor for Barrington and tell us all the consultation he has done with the constituents of Barrington who will be double-taxed under this plan.

Mr. Speaker, I wish him well in trying to explain to the media what he is going to try to do with this bill because he certainly hasn't explained it to the people in this House, to the members of this House or to Nova Scotians. One of my colleagues, in fact, is going to go listen and report back to the House exactly what sort of justification he gave. It is pretty sad when you have a piece of legislation, which the Opposition, especially the Liberal caucus has raised so much concern about, one would think at least one government member would be able to have the backbone and the spine - which they spoke about in their budget, heart and spine. There is not much spine around here these days when it comes to Bill No. 54, not even the minister, not one of them has stood in his place to say they felt this was good legislation and that we should pass it now.

Not one, which is why I stand to speak in support of a six months' hoist, to give them six months to be able to review this, to be able to go out to public consultation and see whether this is the way to go. In good Tory fashion, what do they do when an issue like this comes up, muddy the waters. Muddy the waters as much as possible. I listened to the House Leader recently say, well, look, they pay for clinics and they pay for physician recruitment, they build clinics and that. That is not the issue. This is not about building clinics, this isn't about contributing to physician recruitment efforts, this isn't about any of that. This isn't about building homes for doctors to stay in in communities, many of them do that, provide homes for them. This is about paying the salaries of doctors.

Maybe, if the member for Shelburne could do like the member for Cape Breton North - he laughs at this, he thinks this is funny, he thinks taxpayers having to pay for doctors is funny, it's hilarious. I look forward to him going back to Cape Breton North and telling them, you guys should be paying, through your municipal taxes, for our doctors. No, no, not just through your taxes which go to the Health Department, which has $1.8 billion, you should pay directly for the salary of doctors in this community. He is going to say (Interruptions) property taxes, that's right. He is going to say I got you a doctor the last time at the Northside General Hospital, but from now on you are going to have to put up some money. That is the way it is going to be. He thinks that is a wise idea.

[Page 4203]

As I mentioned to that member before, anyone can get elected once. It is the second time around. You know that, Mr. Speaker. You have faced your electorate twice. You know what it is like.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: It's the third time around.

MR. SAMSON: The Minister of Tourism and Culture says maybe it is the third time around. I look forward to the third time around. He still has to look for the second time around, and I can tell you right now if he needs the support of people like Billy Joe MacLean for re-election, he is in hard shape. The mayor is not a great friend of the Tory members in the Strait area.

Back to Bill No. 54. Mr. Speaker, I certainly know I digress and I know you want me to continue to speak on that six months' hoist. As I said before, this is unprecedented legislation to ask for people in municipalities. Richmond County, I have talked to you about the Strait-Richmond Hospital. The Strait Area Physician Recruitment Committee receives funding from the Municipality of Richmond, the Town of Port Hawkesbury, the Municipality of Inverness, they receive money from Stora, they receive money from Statia Terminals, they receive money from Nova Scotia Power, they receive funds from Canso Ford, all sorts of businesses to help in their efforts to recruit physicians, and they have been doing their best to be able to do that, and I applaud them.

It is interesting because one comment was made where they said that one of the Strait area MLAs had said that the physician recruitment committee wasn't doing enough work, that they were at fault. I will stand in my place right now and I can assure you it wasn't the MLA for Richmond who would have made such a comment. I am curious whether it was the MLA for Inverness or the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, but we will never really know because they won't stand in their place and speak on the issue of the Strait-Richmond Hospital or on Bill No. 54 and its impact on health care. I have already introduced resolutions praising the physician recruitment committee for all the hard work they do, but it is hard to do work as a recruitment committee when you do not have the support of the Department of Health.

The people of Barrington, Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, this is a cry for help. They are saying, look, we cannot wait any longer to have the proper amount of physicians. We have waited for the Minister of Health; we have elected an MLA who told us he would be a strong voice in the John Hamm Government. He sits almost directly behind the Minister of Health, albeit two rows behind him. One would think he had been able to speak to him, to even plead with him to see if he could not get a doctor for his area of Barrington.

As I said before, rather than go back home and say that he had achieved complete failure, he says well here's a solution. I am going to get the municipality to pay for the services of a doctor, and now I am told that the MLA for Shelburne said it was the

[Page 4204]

responsibility of the people of Barrington to pay for their own doctor. If you want it bad enough, then you pay for one. My God! Coming from a member who won from a draw. I can tell you right now I would encourage that member not to do any long-term estate planning based on the salary he receives from the Province of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

Well, we hear the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, another one-term wonder who should not do any long-term estate planning based on the salary he receives from here. He would do best to keep rubbing his rabbit foot than be worrying about long-term planning, because he too will be judged on Bill No. 54, and if that is what he supports he will be judged on the fact he has been voiceless in this government. To see that the member for Shelburne, this is a cry, it is a plea for help saying that we are going to force our municipal unit to now pay for physicians. That is unprecedented; we have said that before, Mr. Speaker.

Not one government member has been able to stand, and the Government House Leader continues to say they are going to build clinics and build houses, and that is not the issue. This is taxpayers and municipal units paying directly for the salary of a physician. Not only that, but as my colleague for Dartmouth East was so quick to point out, they will actually contract out for what services are to be rendered.

Mr. Speaker, that is unprecedented. I am sure my colleague for Dartmouth East, having been a former Minister of Health, will confirm that that has never been seen before, where a municipal unit could actually decide what services a physician was going to provide. Will he only treat the rich? Will he only treat the poor? Will he give priority to wealthy individuals? Will he leave the poor waiting longer? Will councillors themselves have preference as to when they go see him for treatment? How is it going to work? What does that mean, contract out for services and determine what services are to be rendered? This is legislation which is going to create waves from one end of this province to the next.

You know, in the old-fashioned Tory way, try to slip it by. Throw all sorts of legislation out, even the johns bill appeared again, Lobbyist Registration bill, all stuff we know they never intend to call. Yet what do they do? Let's slip an extra little bill in here. Let's give a little bit of a way out to our poor Minister of Health. My God, he's overworked. You know he thinks everyone in Whitney Pier wants to stay in their houses, even though they have yellow goo coming out. He says he would love to stay there himself. Well, it looks like there are going to be lots of homes on the market soon, Mr. Minister, if you are looking to relocate. You might get a good deal for moving down in that area. He might not get elected, so maybe that will be his retirement home come the next election, to move down there.

This, (Interruption) he can take the member for Shelburne and the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank along with him also. They will all be looking for a place to stay after the next election. It certainly won't be in Province House unless we allow them and you will decide . . .

[Page 4205]

[6:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will just remind the honourable member he is to speak on the hoist motion for Bill No. 54 and I would ask him to bring his comments back to that amendment motion, please. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Thank you. As I was saying earlier, six months would give this government, especially this member, an opportunity to go back home. In the fall sitting, if the member for Shelburne comes back and says, here is a letter from Barrington Municipal Council, here is a letter from my church groups, here is a letter from the district labour council or the economic development group, or the chamber of commerce, here is a letter from prominent people in the county, business leaders, all saying they support Bill No. 54 and they support the idea that they should pay directly for the services of physicians in their area, then he will have some credibility in coming here.

When you look today at The Coast Guard, which I understand is the local newspaper for the member for Shelburne, if he is looking to see how he is doing in Province House and how impressed they are with him, this would be the paper he would refer to. And, what is the editorial today, Tuesday, May 29, 2001, "How much for a doctor?", the question. It says, "It appears that Barrington Municipality is ready to forge ahead with plans to establish a medical clinic in the area . . ." and indicated it is ". . . ready to use taxpayer's money to attract physicians to operate that facility."

How much money, Mr. Speaker, $10,000? Is it $20,000? Is it $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $60,000? How much? How much can the District of Barrington afford? That is the big question. It goes on to say, that even the good editors and the writers of The Coast Guard, they see what the Liberal caucus is saying and they go on and they say that this ". . . could lead to a bidding war among towns and villages desperate to attract doctors and other medical professionals to their areas." It goes on to say, "Once the bidding commences, it would be anyone's guess . . ." where it would end.

The people of Richmond County don't want to bid against anyone else to have an emergency room doctor at the Strait-Richmond Hospital. They don't want to have to bid against Barrington. They don't want to bid against Halifax or Yarmouth or anyone. They pay their taxes. This government is now, today, a $5 billion corporation based on the revenues it receives from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, plus the transfers from our good, very generous federal colleagues in Ottawa. They have the money necessary to provide a first-rate quality health care system in this province. Yet, now they have resorted, as a form of desperation, the Minister of Health says, I have struck out, I have hit rock bottom, I have no new ideas, I have allowed the Strait area - one of the areas which even my government recognizes as having the greatest potential for economic development - to go five whole months without a daytime emergency physician.

[Page 4206]

That is a desperate plea, not only from the MLA for Shelburne, but from the minister himself. The minister is tired, he has had enough, he is frustrated. Some days he looks as though he wants to pull his hair out or that he is just going to say, I have had enough, I am going home, I am tired of hearing you guys holler at me. We are not quite sure which one it is, but he has had enough. He has had enough and if there is one member out of the 52 members of this House who cannot wait to go home, it is the Minister of Health himself.

He is bruised, he is beaten, he is damaged, he has had enough. He wants to go home. I think he would even be willing to give his job to the member for Dartmouth South. But for the member for Dartmouth South, I would consider that more of an insult than as a favour to be given that portfolio based on the performance of the Minister of Health and based on the issues which he has allowed to fester here in this province.

I have said it before. Our federal government in Ottawa has been fighting to stop the privatization of our health care system by Tory Provinces such as Alberta, Tory Provinces such as Ontario, who have been trying to privatize our medical system so that those with money can get medical services ahead of those without. Our caucus has fully supported the efforts by Ottawa to put an end to that. The Minister of Health himself, I believe, has even said that he supported those efforts to stop privatization.

Yet, Bill No. 54, as I have said before, you can put the name of Cecil O'Donnell, MLA, Shelburne, on it all you want. The name on this should be the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance, the Premier, the House Leader, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the Minister of Justice and the rest of the Cabinet, the honourable member for Dartmouth South, the honourable member for Kings North, the whole crew of them. Their names should be on Bill No. 54 because all of them by presenting this bill and by not withdrawing this bill after the concerns that have been raised, their silence is consent to Bill No. 54 and that is how every Nova Scotian should see it.

Mr. Speaker, I predict in the days ahead and the weeks ahead, that the papers, the columnists, the editorial writers, those who contribute to the papers, will write as to how fortunate they are that the Liberal caucus and that the Liberal Party in this province have upheld Bill No. 54 and will continue to fight on behalf of Nova Scotians to not allow this dangerous piece of legislation to go forward. We are tired, we are frustrated also, we want to be home with our families, we want to be home with our constituents, we want to be able to do our constituency work, return those phone calls, work on those files. At the same time, when we look back on our years in this House, we want to be able to say when we did what we thought was best. On Bill No. 54, I want to be able to say that we fought the good fight, we knew that it was bad legislation, our caucus stood up against it. We are only 10 members, they are a majority, they clearly can pass this bill if they so want to, if they are bullheaded enough they will ram it through the House, that appears to be the tactic that they are going with.

[Page 4207]

Mr. Speaker, we will be able to look back and say that we fought the good fight. We knew that Bill No. 54 was bad legislation. We knew that Bill No. 54 was going down, as it has been said many times, a very slippery slope and that it is establishing a most dangerous precedent. If this was coming from a wealthy municipality, then I could see that they have the dollars, they figure we are tired of the Minister of Health, we are tired of his lame excuses, we are tired of him sticking his thumb in his mouth and sucking on it and blaming everyone else for his problems, we are going to take charge. Barrington is not that municipal unit. The MLA for Shelburne would stand up and say that himself. I believe my colleague from Cape Breton West has gone through some financial information indicating that.

I can tell you that as frustrating as this is, in Richmond County, while I am concerned about the impacts, we tend to be a fairly well off municipality. So compared to Barrington if it comes to a bidding war, good luck because they will never keep up with us, but is that where we want to go with the health care system? Do we have to stand here in this House and pound our chest as to which municipal unit has got the most money to pay for doctors and ha ha you can't get a doctor because we have more money than you have. Mr. Speaker, we all pay taxes, Nova Scotians pay taxes and Nova Scotians expect a first rate health care system. Why do they expect this? If you look in the Tory blue book, that is what they promised, that is what they said they would deliver. Not only would they deliver a better system than the Liberal Government had, they would deliver a cheaper system than the Liberal Government had.

AN HON. MEMBER: What a joke.

MR. SAMSON: That is two strikes on them because they failed on both counts. It is not a better system, it has never been worse and it is certainly not a cheaper system. The Department of Health budget continues to increase every year, the Minister of Health has absolutely no idea how to keep it under control. That is what is happening right now with Bill No. 54 and that is why our caucus continues to say that this is unacceptable legislation. We would all love to go home, we would all love to wrap this session up, it has been 12 weeks, but that would be negligent on our behalf. It would be neglecting our duties and I am proud to be part of a caucus that has stood and has spoken and has spoken at length and has used our parliamentary privileges to try to represent our constituents as best as possible and to represent Nova Scotians.

As I have said to you, when it all comes down, if Bill No. 54 goes through, at the end of the day in Richmond County we will put our bidding up against anyone else. That is not the way it should be. Nova Scotians shouldn't have to determine their health care system based on their property taxes and what their property assessments should be. The whole idea of our health care system when it was put in place, when Medicare was first instituted throughout this country by Allan J. MacEachen, a man who, I am pleased to say, represented the riding of Richmond County federally, as the member for Cape Breton Highlands-Canso. He was the one, as a federal minister in the Trudeau Government, who instituted a national

[Page 4208]

system of Medicare. When he did so - and I know the MLA for Antigonish has tremendous respect for Allan J. because he had the gumption to stand for office against Allan J.

I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, you had to be brave to have run against Allan J. If I am not mistaken, I don't think the MLA for Antigonish got his deposit in that election. I could be wrong, and I am sure he will stand and give us the exact figures - I would love him to give us the exact figures of that election, if I am not correct in that he lost his deposit, Tando, when he ran against Allan J.

Mr. Speaker, six months would give this government an opportunity to reflect on the principles of our health care system, the Canada Health Act, the system put in place by Allan J. MacEachen years ago, the idea being that any Canadian, whether you are poor, whether you are rich, whether you are underprivileged, whether you are disabled, whether you are white, whether you are of a different nationality, you all deserve the same level of health care. That is the notion of our health care system that we, as elected officials, have defended for all of these years and that we should continue to defend for the remaining 100 years-plus, from here forward.

When we were elected, I would say that every voter who elected us voted for us on the basis that we would support that principle. Six months would give this government a chance to review the real implications of Bill No. 54. It would give an opportunity to speak to the district health boards, the professionals, the doctors themselves, the nurses, the volunteers of our health care system, and ask them, do you think municipalities should fund the salaries of doctors and other professionals in this province?

You know what the answer is going to be, Mr. Speaker. We know what the answer is going to be; the answer is going to be no. That is why the Government House Leader, who has been trained very well in the idea of ramming through legislation from his days in the Buchanan Government, is going to do it one more time, to make sure this legislation gets through.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have stood in my place to fight against this legislation. I am proud to be part of a caucus that has stood up for Nova Scotians, that has supported a free Medicare system from one end of this province to the next, recognizes the dangers of Bill No. 54 and knows that it should not be supported and we will continue to lead that fight.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the privilege of having spoken on this and I move that the debate now be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 4209]

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, if I might, just before a recorded vote is called for if the Opposition (Interruptions) the Leader of the Liberal Party might give us our business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The honourable House Leader of the Liberal Party.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, following Question Period tomorrow, Bill No. 46 and Bill No. 59 will be called. The hours, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond has moved adjournment of debate. A recorded vote has been called for.

Ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips. (Interruptions) It will be until 7:59 p.m.

[6:59 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. A recorded vote was called on the adjournment of debate, however, we do not have a quorum, so the House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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

[Page 4210]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1457

By: Hon. John Hamm (Premier)

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

Whereas in today's ever-changing workplace, students are giving their future options close consideration but do not always realize that they can create their own opportunities and choose entrepreneurship as a viable career option; and

Whereas "Open for Business", an international network of youth-friendly walk-in centres, fosters entrepreneurship, focuses on the personal qualities required to be a successful entrepreneur, and employs dynamic, self-starting youth to lead their peers through the early steps of business development; and

Whereas Sonya Vaschel, an Entrepreneur Apprentice with "Open for Business", has been working in Sweden under the Canada Sweden Youth International Program and will return next week to New Glasgow's Open for Business to apply her self-confidence, skills and knowledge of the venture-starting process, and help develop and encourage entrepreneurship among our youth;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud Sonya Vaschel for her part in cultivating entrepreneurship in this province, and support initiatives encouraging young people to be self-confident and to explore all their options for the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 1458

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas it was pure magic - blue and gold magic - when the Middleton Magic Bantam Women's Volleyball team recently won its first-ever provincial championship; and

Whereas these junior high-level volleyball players, experienced only at the regional level, rose to the challenge posed by province-wide competition, enjoying the contest and challenge; and

[Page 4211]

Whereas a win like this is a win for each team member and all their supporters, including a large and dedicated coaching staff who worked hard to prepare these players;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Middleton Magic Women's Bantam Volleyball team: Stacy Elliott, Ashley Sampson, Becky Boutilier, Alicia Neily, Ashley Crocker, Katrina MacFarlane, Caitlen Aker, Kristen Crocker, Holly Lightfoot, Kailey Brown, Caitlen Coleman, Jessica Pelton and Coach Jane Bent-Cameron on their championship win, and for their willingness and effort to meet new challenges.

RESOLUTION NO. 1459

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Ashlea Sanford is Saint Francis Xavier University's Women's Volleyball Rookie of the Year; and

Whereas Ashlea was satisfied to be part of the team and expected to spend the season cheering from the sidelines but circumstances provided her a chance to step in and show her stuff; and

Whereas although her team missed the playoffs, Ashlea's season was a big success and she managed to finish 7th overall in the Atlantic Conference in "digs percentage";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ashlea for her outstanding freshman year, and wish her and her team all the best in the next season.

RESOLUTION NO. 1460

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 the Springhill United Baptist Church Youth Group participated in World Vision Canada's 30 Hour Famine and raised relief money for earthquake-ravaged El Salvador; and

Whereas education is as important a goal as fundraising for World Vision Canada's organized youth famine, and Springhill's youth took this opportunity to reflect on the needs of others as well as the many blessings in their own lives;

[Page 4212]

Whereas because of this cause, those who participated now have more compassion and a clearer understanding of the real hunger that plagues millions of the world's people;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these Springhill youth for rising to the challenge of the 30 hour famine and for their willingness to become more empathetic members of society.

RESOLUTION NO. 1461

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 parental support in a child's education is a cornerstone of literacy, academic achievement and lifelong learning; and

Whereas teachers and staff of elementary schools are also encouraged by the support and interest of parents and family and community members, and can be inspired by this interest and help; and

Whereas the River Hebert Elementary School is enriched by the participation and helping hands of numerous volunteers who provide assistance with a variety of school activities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate River Hebert Elementary School for welcoming so many volunteers, thank the volunteers themselves, and encourage more parents and families to show their interest, in any way they can, in the activities of their children and the schools they attend.

RESOLUTION NO. 1462

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 Lesley and Mallory Ross have recently returned from the Weston Invitational track meet in Boston, Massachussets, as gold medal winners in the 4 x 800 metre relay; and

Whereas these students of Advocate District High School were spotted last year by Coach Charles Scarrow at a cross-country meet and asked to participate in a five member team he would train for the American Competition; and

[Page 4213]

Whereas these athletes took up the challenge and went the whole distance travelling to join the team for training while also maintaining a home-training schedule;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Lesley and Mallory Ross, and commend them for the athletic drive and self-discipline they have demonstrated, qualities which are sure to bring future success.

RESOLUTION NO. 1463

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 palliative care brings comfort to those in need and in the words of Cindy Oickle, "Palliative care is very much about living. It's not just about dying"; and

Whereas the Rural Palliative Care Project, an interprovincial initiative, has made great progress in its first year by offering welcomed care to people in rural communities who too often must leave the familiar comfort of their homes for end-of-life care; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia pilot, 1 of 3, was developed and implemented in the Northern Health Region and has received excellent co-operation and involvement from various health providers as well as general support from the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the importance of palliative home care and thank the health professionals who have undertaken to provide this service in areas with small populations across large regions.

RESOLUTION NO. 1464

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 the Annual Springhill and Area Irish Festival will be held for the third year on June 15th, 16th and 17th in Springhill; and

Whereas as a result of having lost the Springhill arena, the organizers had to find a new venue and have moved to the Springhill Senior/Junior High School to host the very popular event; and

[Page 4214]

Whereas the Springhill and Area Irish Festival organizers work very hard year-round to raise funds to make this a very successful festival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate all the volunteers and organizers of the Springhill and Area Irish Festival on their commitment to their community, and wish them a very successful three day event.