The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., May 23, 2001

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HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

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 honourable member for Eastern Shore on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today, I am very pleased to introduce a young man from the beautiful community of Mushaboom on the Eastern Shore. Mr. Bobby Boutilier is a gentleman who is job-shadowing me today. He is an example of the young intellectual minds on the Eastern Shore. He is in Grade 11, to be in Grade 12 next year, and is going on to take a commerce degree at St. Mary's or Dal and then study at a university in Toronto and Montreal. So I am very pleased to introduce Bobby Boutilier and I ask him to stand and receive the warm welcome of this prestigious House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and make this introduction on behalf of my colleagues and family. As you know, we are celebrating a birthday in this House today; one of our Pages has just turned 23. Her name is Sara Knezevic and she has been a bright light in this Legislature for the last year and a half or so. (Applause)

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Sara arrived here from Bosnia approximately four and a half years ago. She attended CEC in Truro. My daughter taught her in Grade 12 and our family sort of tucked her under our wing. She spent many a night and every Christmas, but last Christmas, at our place at the farm. So, Sara, I know that you might be travelling away overseas again for schooling, however you are always welcome at our place. On behalf of Debbie, Robert, Harvey, Ema, Riley, my wife Libby, and Coady and Scout (Laughter) we wish you a very happy birthday and many more, and thanks for working here. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of all members, Sara, you are certainly welcome in this House at any time as well.

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, five years ago a study called Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation, or HOPE, was launched and I am pleased to introduce to all members

today some representatives and they are in the east gallery and I would ask them to rise: Dr. Iqbal Bata, a cardiologist at the QE II Health Sciences Centre; Joan Fraser, Executive Director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; and Sharon Hollingsworth, who is also with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The fact they are here today is no coincidence. On June 6th, a Nova Scotia Heart-HOPE initiative will be launched with Dr. Bata teaming up with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The first information given by the team will be held on June 6th in Halifax, and the second on June 11th in Kentville. These sessions will provide a chance to discuss heart disease and prevention with experts. I encourage all people to take advantage of these important sessions. I would ask the House to join me in welcoming these very special guests in the east gallery. Thank you very much for the work that you do. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton East on an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery today there are five people, some of whom are from Glace Bay, some from out-of-province and I would like to introduce them. They are: Barb Stetter, Heather Stetter, Trudy Stetter, Ed Bogart and Enid Warner. I am told Trudy Stetter and Ed Bogart are involved with the New Jersey Devils fan club, indeed they may be the head of that organization, and they are paying a visit to the province. The real reason for them being here is that Barb Stetter, who is the head of one of the most famous bands in the country, the Glace Bay Schools Band, her daughter, Heather, has just graduated in computer science from Dalhousie University. If the members of the House would join me in welcoming them and congratulating her on her graduation as well. (Applause)

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

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to welcome to the House four members of the Nova Scotia Chapter of the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, in the east gallery: Carol Veinotte, Pam MacDonald; Mary Greatorex, and Shirley Morash. They are here in reference to the presentation of a submission on behalf of the Osteoporosis Society in today's sitting. I would ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome all of our guests in the House today.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to the House today, Paulette Sadoway, who may be well known to others in this House as well. With her is George Nickerson, who I understand is the President of the CUPW Local in Yarmouth, President of the Yarmouth-Tri-County Labour Council, also President of an organization near and deal to our hearts, the Yarmouth NDP Riding Association. We would like to welcome him and Paulette here today, if you would join me in welcoming them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction - or Finance, sorry, the honourable Minister of Finance. (Interruptions)

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: My heart is faint, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Sorry, that is tomorrow.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and introduce to you a former member of this House, who served with me a few years ago, the member Danny Graham, who represented the riding, I can't remember the name, Port Hawkesbury, Inverness. I would like him to rise and receive the warm applause of the House. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all the guests to the Legislature today.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

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MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me today to present a petition on behalf of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Osteoporosis Society of Canada. "Approximately 35,000 women and 15,000 men in Nova Scotia suffer from osteoporosis . . . most of them remain undiagnosed due to a lack of access to bone densitometry." The Osteoporosis Society of Canada is submitting 15,638 letters from Nova Scotians, who are asking the government to move forward and provide timely access to publicly-funded bone densitometry services in all districts of this province without further delay. I have affixed my signature to this petition, and I am submitting to the House on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 15 - Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act.

Bill No. 17 - Optometry Act.

Bill No. 27 - Veterinary Medical Act.

Bill No. 34 - Social Workers Act.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I realize that the former member was already introduced, Danny Graham, but I also want to introduce the students who are with Danny today. Actually, Danny is my uncle by marriage. (Interruptions) Many an interesting conversation around the kitchen table. (Interruptions) I am my father's son, I guess. In all seriousness, I want to introduce the three students who are with him. They are part of his class of Grade 12 history, I believe. We have Kenneth MacKenzie, Dalbrae Academy, Kenneth is actually a very good fiddler in our local area, and a Gaelic speaker as well. Kenneth MacKenzie, Nathan MacDonald, and Jordy Gillis, we have somebody from Mabou,

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Whycocomagh and Judique. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1286

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

Whereas Kristi McKinnon, a former student in Sackville High School's Entrepreneurship Class and a client of CEED's Open for Business Project, has been nominated as a finalist in the YTV Achievement Awards; and

Whereas Kristi developed her own clothing business, Phatty Cakes, to serve the plus-size market niche; and

Whereas Kristi has received national recognition for her clothing designs, and is Atlantic Canada's only finalist in the competition;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Kristi McKinnon for her accomplishments, and wish her success on June 3rd as she represents Nova Scotia at the YTV Achievement Awards.

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 Finance.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1287

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Monsieur le président à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que les dix-septième jeux régionaux des Jeux d'Acadie ont pris place à Dartmouth en fin de semaine; et

Attendu que 650 athlètes ont compétitionné dans ces jeux de l'Acadie, des jeunes venus des régions acadiennes de Par-en-bas, de Clare, Pomquet, Sydney, Dartmouth, Halifax, Rive-Sud, Truro, Richmond, Chéticamp et de Greenwood; et

Attendu que les athlètes et les entraineurs ont atteint un haut niveau d'excellence et d'esprit sportif tout en promouvant la langue française et la culture acadienne; et

Attendu que la région de Par-en-bas a remporté les honneurs de la région gagnante en remportant premier prix en handball, volley-ball masculin, tennis et badminton;

Qu'il soit résolu que l'assemblée législative félicite tous les participants et toutes les participantes et tous les bénévoles qui ont rendu cet événement possible et que cette même assemblée formule ses voeux de bon succès a l'équipe de la Nouvelle-Écosse qui participeront aux finales des Jeux d'Acadie à Wellington, IPE du 27 juin au 1 juillet.

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

Whereas the 17th Regional Acadian Games were held last weekend in Dartmouth and 650 athletes competed representing the 11 Acadian regions of this province; and

Whereas the athletes and the coaching staff met the goal of athletic excellence and sportsmanship, while at the same time promoting the French language and Acadian culture; and

Whereas Argyle took the provincial banner, excelling in handball, men's volleyball, individual tennis and individual badminton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the participants and especially the volunteers who made this event possible, and extend best wishes to the successful teams competing in the final of the Acadian Games to be held in Wellington, P.E.I. from June 27th to July 1st.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 61 - Entitled an Act to Encourage Public Participation and Dissuade Persons from Bringing or Maintaining Legal Proceedings or Claims for an Improper Purpose and to Preserve Access to the Courts. (Mr. Graham Steele)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1288

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 Financial Post/William M. Mercer survey of executive compensation shows that the CEOs of Canada's top companies, which include the big five banks, scored a whopping 42.9 per cent median pay increase last year; and

Whereas the survey indicates that these CEOs make an average of $6 million per year, but as Revenue Canada has noted, the tax burden on these banks and other corporations continues to decline; and

Whereas this increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few places a crushing tax burden that is shrinking the backbone of the country, the middle class;

Therefore be it resolved that this government calls upon its federal counterpart to join it in reforming our tax system so that the banks and other corporations pay commensurate with their ability to do so.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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.

RESOLUTION NO. 1289

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

Whereas the Atlantic Indoor Regional Archery Tournament was held on April 29th in Sheet Harbour; and

Whereas nine archers from Ecole Secondaire de Clare Archery Club won bronze, silver and gold in their respective categories; and

Whereas two archers from the club, Paul Marc Dugas and Danny Gaudet won the Jack McKenney Club Trophy;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the participants and organizers of the Atlantic Indoor Regional Archery Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1290

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

Whereas Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, announced on Friday the names of 17 recipients of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Awards; and

Whereas Daisy Ward from Aylesford was one of the 17 recipients from across Canada to be honoured; and

Whereas Daisy was recognized for her years of service, especially to young people which included her involvement in the Harmony-Nicholsville 4-H Club, the Western Kings Community Fair, the Children's Aid Society and Canadian Red Cross Youth;

Therefore be it resolved that Daisy Adele Ward be recognized by members of this House of Assembly for her caring and meritorious service she has provided to her local community for more than 60 years.

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1291

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

Whereas each year junior high school students across Canada write a series of mathematics comprehension tests call the Pascal Mathematics Assessment Tests; and

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Whereas this year, 2001, the students at Cornwallis Junior High School in Halifax placed first in Nova Scotia, first in Atlantic Canada, and 16th overall nationally in an evaluation of test scores; and

Whereas while 67,000 students wrote these tests nationwide, 27 Cornwallis students finished in the top 25th percentile in the country and three of the top five students in Nova Scotia were Cornwallis students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students of Cornwallis Junior High School for their exemplary results in the Pascal Mathematics Assessment Tests and the teachers and parents who have instructed, supported and encouraged these young scholars.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1292

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 4-H Club is an international youth organization dedicated to the growth and development of farm and non-farm rural youth; and

Whereas the 4-H Council of Nova Scotia will host delegates from across Canada at its 70th Annual Canada 4-H Council general meeting being held this Thursday to Sunday in Dartmouth; and

Whereas the meeting will focus on ways to improve the 4-H program in a time of increased demands on volunteers;

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Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the participants and organizers of the meeting for continuing to develop the 4-H program in Atlantic Canada.

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. (Interruptions)

Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I can't hear the honourable member on the floor.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1293

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

Whereas grief, that deep sorrow felt at the loss of someone we love, passes only with time and is comforted by the memories we have of those we have lost; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore Palliative Care Association is bringing comfort to those in mourning by offering them a beautiful way to commemorate their departed; and

Whereas this caring organization has created a living memorial, a garden, on the grounds of the Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital and Duncan MacMillan Nursing Home, furnishing it with plants that had special meaning to those deceased and preserves their memory for their loved ones;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the Eastern Shore Palliative Care Association for this act of kindness and thank them for bringing comfort to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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. 1294

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

Whereas Nova Scotians again this summer will have the wonderful opportunity to enjoy our provincial parks; and

Whereas the Lewis Lake Provincial Park on the St. Margaret's Bay Road in Upper Tantallon is now open; and

Whereas this facility is much enjoyed by area residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the Department of Natural Resources and its employees on their conscientious attention to our provincial parks for another year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1295

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

Whereas Canadians enjoy freedom and democracy thanks to the service and sacrifice of our veterans; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas six veterans were awarded peacekeeping medals by MP Mark Eyking during the Armstrong Memorial Branch 19 Royal Canadian Legion's honours and awards night; and

Whereas awards were also granted for meritorious service, long service, recruitment, lifetime service and membership;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate all recipients from the Armstrong Memorial Branch 19 Royal Canadian Legion.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1296

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

Whereas even though he is no longer chairman of the QE II board, Charles Keating is still doing all he can to garner support for the hospital; and

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Whereas he showed his support in February by donating $50,000 to the QE II Hospital Foundation and earlier this month he truly outdid himself by pledging another $1 million; and

Whereas Mr. Keating for years has been a dedicated and generous supporter of his community in so many ways;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thanks Charles Keating for his commitments both financially and personally to the QE II foundation over the years and as well, to the community of Dartmouth.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1297

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

Whereas a sense of volunteerism often begins at an early age; and

Whereas volunteerism often leads to involvement in the creation of many worthy and needed community facilities; and

Whereas at the East Hants Volunteers Award Night on April 27th, Ms. Marie McKeen of Enfield was honoured for her many contributions since her salad days and especially for her part in the transformation of the E. H. Horne Elementary School into a community facility;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Ms. McKeen on her recognition as a stellar volunteer by the Municipality of East Hants and for her many years of dedication to the betterment of her community in particular and society as a whole.

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Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1298

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

Whereas Suas e! the first of its kind international festival was held at Centre 200 in Sydney on May 20, 2001; and

Whereas Suas e! is the Gaelic phrase that translates to "throw your heart and soul into the spirit of the movement" and is the brainchild of music teacher and Howie Centre resident Eric Favero; and

Whereas Suas e! attracted over 500 singers from across Canada and the United States;

Therefore be it resolved all members of this House congratulate the organizers, conductors, singers, sponsors and all those who helped to make Suas e! a resounding success.

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.

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The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1299

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

Whereas in 1988, United Nations' Peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their collective efforts in the cause of peace, thus inspiring the creation of the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal; and

Whereas this medal, which recognizes the extraordinary efforts and leadership role of Canadian Peacekeepers will be awarded to all members of the Canadian Forces, members of the RCMP and other police services, as well as Canadian civilians who contribute to peace on specific missions; and

Whereas in New Glasgow, two members of the Royal Canadian Legion Zone 6 have been duly recognized for their peacekeeping service, Norm MacInnis for five tours of duty with the United Nations in Cyprus and Royce MacPherson for his service in both Egypt and Cyprus;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the courageous peacekeeping efforts of Norm MacInnis and Royce MacPherson and congratulate them for receiving the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal and thank them as Canadians for their efforts which have made us all so proud.

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.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1300

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

Whereas Richard "Dickie" Doubleday is remembered as an old-timers hockey player who loved the game with unmatched passion; and

Whereas the Richard Doubleday Memorial Award is presented each year to a player in the St. Margaret's Masters Hockey League who best typifies the true spirit of the game; and

Whereas this year's winners of this prestigious award are Dave Roberts, Ron Jackson and Doug Barkhouse;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Doug Barkhouse, Ron Jackson and Dave Roberts on their selection as the winners of the Richard Doubleday Memorial Award for the 2000-01 hockey season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1301

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

Whereas Russell MacNeil was elected as MLA for Cape Breton Centre in a by-election in 1990 and was re-elected in the general election of 1993; and

Whereas Mr. MacNeil during his years at St. Francis Xavier University excelled as an athlete in both basketball and rugby; and

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Whereas Mr. MacNeil is to be honoured by his alma mater this Saturday by being inducted into the St. F.X. Sports Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations and best wishes to Mr. MacNeil on this recognition of his excellence in the field of intercollegiate sports.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1302

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

Whereas 4-H is an international youth organization dedicated to the growth and development of both farm and non-farm rural youth; and

Whereas the 4-H program focuses on developing technical skills related to agriculture and life skills such as citizenship, leadership, responsibility and independence to more than 36,000 members and 10,500 leaders in 3,000 4-H Clubs across Canada; and

Whereas most of the finest leaders in our rural communities have 4-H training;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contribution of 4-H in our communities and welcome 4-H members from across Canada who will be participating in the 70th Annual Canadian 4-H Council meetings from May 24th to May 27th in Dartmouth and in Truro.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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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. 1303

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

Whereas the Organization of Responsible Bikers held its 13th Annual Bike Blessing Memorial Run in Truro to remind all motorcyclists of safety first during the motorcycle season; and

Whereas approximately 75 riders and passengers were aboard the nearly 50 motorcycles in the run; and

Whereas the Organization of Responsible Bikers promotes safe driving for motorcyclists and operators of other vehicles, and at the same time holds events such as the Ride for Sight in support of many worthwhile charities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members thank the Organization of Responsible Bikers for their ongoing promotion of motorcycle safety and their support of charities, congratulate them on the success of the 13th Annual Bike Blessing event and wish all motorcyclists safe biking in 2001.

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.

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The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1304

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

Whereas Trevor Creaser recently competed at the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology Skills Competition; and

Whereas Trevor finished in first place in the building competition; and

Whereas Trevor will also compete as Nova Scotia's representative in the national competition to be held in Edmonton at the end of this month;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Trevor Creaser on his excellent performance at the NSIT competition and wish him the best of luck as he competes in Edmonton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1305

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 auxiliaries within our hospitals are often the driving force behind the fundraising efforts of the facility; and

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Whereas these volunteers give freely of their time to support their hospital's equipment needs; and

Whereas three members of the Nictaux Hospital Auxiliary were, this month, honoured with lifetime memberships as part of the auxiliary's 40th Anniversary, Nilda Banks, Hazel Lightfoot and Irene Neily;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the four decades of the work of the Nictaux Hospital Auxiliary, and congratulate these three women for being recognized for their exemplary service to their hospital and 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 Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1306

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

Whereas Mary Jess MacDonald, Vice-Chair of the Strait Regional School Board and First Vice-President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, has been selected as the recipient of the NSSBA's School Board Member Recognition Award; and

Whereas Mrs. MacDonald retired after 36 years of teaching and has served two terms as Second Vice-President with the NSSBA and Vice-Chair with the former Inverness District School Board; and

Whereas presentation of the certificate to Mrs. MacDonald on Friday will acknowledge her exemplary service to public education;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mrs. MacDonald for her lifelong commitment and service to the public education system in Nova Scotia.

[Page 3810]

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 Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1307

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

Whereas on August 6, 1984, Frank Amero and Billy Amero of Plympton responded to a call for help from Roy Boudreau who, after his boat had overturned, was in the cold water of Saint Marys Bay; and

Whereas after Frank swam out to assist Mr. Boudreau to shore, it was determined that Mr. Boudreau had been in the water for well over an hour; and

Whereas Mr. Frank Amero was credited for his bravery by Chief Robert Sweeney and the members of the Plympton and Gilberts Cove Fire Department in December of 1984, but no other acknowledgement was received;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Mr. Frank Amero for his selfless act of courage.

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 3811]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1308

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

Whereas 2001 is the Year of the Volunteer; and

Whereas Mary Catherine McDonnell of First Peninsula, Lunenburg County, recognized the importance of volunteering and has been active as a volunteer for many years; and

Whereas Mrs. McDonnell was honoured recently in Ottawa, along with 60 other Canadians, for the tremendous contribution she has made as a volunteer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulates Mary Catherine McDonnell on being honoured for her volunteering efforts throughout the years.

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 2:43 p.m. and end at 4:13 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 3812]

HEALTH - SYDNEY TAR PONDS: LEWIS REPORT - RESULTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we now have proof the Minister of Health and this government were dead wrong when they said there was no need to move any of the residents living near the coke ovens. The Lewis report shows there is an acute health risk for people living near the Sydney tar ponds, and residents have been advised to treat the soil in their community as a dangerous substance. I want to ask the Minister of Health to answer how he could honestly have believed that decades of coke and steelmaking involving countless tons of arsenic and other carcinogens, would have no effect on health in Whitney Pier?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I should correct the honourable member. What was found is there was one small area, and the spot on it was less than 1.7 acres, away from a residential area. Dr. Lewis confirmed the findings of the federal health officials and the provincial health officials that in general there was no acute health care risk.

MR. DEXTER: It is hard to believe he is the Minister of Health.

Dr. Lewis has discovered arsenic levels so high a small child ingesting the soil could suffer acute health problems, yet the minister and the Premier are putting their energy into finding excuses instead of solutions. I am tabling a list of toxic substances that cannot be tolerated in the environment, some of which were found in Whitney Pier. I ask the minister, why does this government find it so easy to tolerate these toxins in Whitney Pier?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would tell the honourable member that this is the first government that has really taken serious steps to address this problem, in partnership with

the federal government and the JAG group. Clearly, there are toxic substances in the soil up there, testing has revealed that. What we are trying to find out and we will act on science, is there a chronic health hazard? Obviously Dr. Lewis has reinforced the position of the federal and provincial health officials that there is no acute risk with the exception of that one hot spot they found.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this was the minister who preached evidence-based health care and now he ignores irrefutable evidence that this government has subjected people in Whitney Pier to acute health risks. I believe this transformation has come about because this government cares more about money than about health. The minister counts the dollars, he counts the cents but not the cost in people's health. I want to ask the minister, how in all good conscience he can refuse to relocate residents when he now has proof they face acute and chronic health risks?

[Page 3813]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is taking things out of context again. Dr. Lewis did confirm the findings of the federal and provincial officials about the immediate acute health risk is that the acute health risk was determined to one, basicaly, hot spot not located in a residential area. He has recommended further testing to determine what appropriate steps of action should be taken to protect the health and safety of the residents if other steps are needed.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - LAURENTIAN SUB-BASIN:

ECONOMIC GROWTH - PLAN DETAILS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Nova Scotians were very disappointed in yesterday's ruling in the Laurentian Sub-basin dispute with Newfoundland. Another drilling season will come and go with no work for the area. Between exploration, filling the necessary documents, seeking environmental and development approvals, a Sable-style project would take between 7 and 10 years. Given that the Premier said he wants a quick Laurentian resolution for the sake of jobs and growth, my question for the Premier is, what specific plan is the government proposing to ensure economic growth and jobs from activities in the Laurentian Sub-basin?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is aware, the possibilities of three Sables and a Hibernia exist out in the Laurentian Sub-basin. Somewhere in the middle of the Laurentian Sub-basin is a dividing line which determines how much of the resource belongs to Nova Scotia, how much belongs to Newfoundland and Labrador. I believe that we have claim to our share of what is out there based on a line which is enshrined in the legislation passed by both the federal and the provincial government. We will pursue that. Until that situation is clarified, it is extremely difficult for us to make a judgment as to how much of that resource, in fact, will accrue to us. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable members to give the honourable members who are asking the questions the respect of hearing what they are asking. I would also ask the honourable members to respect those answering, because it is very difficult to hear the questions or the answers from where I sit.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Premier said that arguments that he had made at the Laurentian hearing were political arguments and not legal ones. In other words, the Premier can't even get his political arguments right. This is far too important of an issue to be left to the second-rate political skills of the Premier. My question to the Premier is, what specific resources is the Premier devoting to resolving this dispute quickly?

[Page 3814]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite is trying to be helpful, but I would like to read, and I will be prepared to table this, a couple of lines from an editorial in The Telegram, which is an out-of-province paper, "Already, the Liberal leader there, Wayne Gaudet, is urging the Hamm government to strike a deal with Grimes. The point, Gaudet said, is to 'do something now to maximize employment for Nova Scotians.'" It goes on to say, "Gee, you would think Gaudet was unaware that Newfoundlanders can read the news as well as Nova Scotia premiers." (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Come on, settle down so we can hear, please. Thank you.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I think we saw the news last night where the Premier of Newfoundland said where he stood on this matter and he will be fighting on behalf of his province. Time is running out. This morning, OTANS has called on the government to devote more resources and a full-time Petroleum Minister. If the Premier had those resources we might have won round one, but we have lost. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to providing the resources for a full-time petroleum ministry with a dedicated budget?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I commend the member opposite for making a sensible suggestion and it is one that I will take under advisement.

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

HEALTH - WHITNEY PIER: TOXIC IMPACT - ACTION EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, first we got reports that indicated arsenic in Whitney Pier was 70 times higher than the allowable limit. The minister responded that he needed more studies and more proof. Yesterday, the study that he commissioned found people who live near the tar ponds face acute health risks and, again, the minister says he needs more studies. The only action he is taking is to dump sand on arsenic. I want to ask the misguided Minister of Health how he could possibly believe 200 truckloads of sand could possibly cover up the toxic impact of 100 years of steelmaking?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if I could just again re-emphasize that what Dr. Lewis said was that there was one isolated spot that could conceivably pose an acute health risk. It was not in a residential area. In reference to covering that particular spot, which is a relatively small area, I understand that the residents weren't all that happy with that proposal, and other options are being explored.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, lives continue to be at risk in that area and all this government wants to do is study. Hiding a small section of the problem under a little bit of sand is not the solution. It is nothing more than a public relations stunt similar to the minister

[Page 3815]

of landscaping cutting shrubs instead of twinning Highway No. 101. I want to ask the Premier, at what time in the last two years did you allow your government to become one of inaction and cheap political stunts while people's health is at risk in Whitney Pier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the one thing you cannot accuse this government of is being inactive. We have been the busiest government in this province in decades. We have taken on many of the challenges that governments heretofore have ignored. So we are a busy government and we plan to keep all of our commitments. I would perhaps suggest the member opposite would have a good look at what this government has been able to achieve in the last 21 months.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, he should talk to the citizens who belong to Rescue Our Community. They will talk about inaction. When have you talked to them, Mr. Premier? How many times have you or anybody from your government talked to them? Nobody officially, so don't tell me about inaction. More than two years ago the JAG group asked this government and the previous government for studies on exactly what is going on today. Both governments refused. They were ignored and the people of Whitney Pier were ignored.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Health, why did you take two years to respond to JAG's call for studies and, therefore, putting people's lives at risk? Why did you take so long?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it has been in relatively recent times that an executive committee was formed to work with JAG and to move this process along. I think the honourable member would agree that more action has taken place with regard to that in the last three months than it did in the previous 10 years, and he should be standing up acknowledging and thanking this government for doing it.

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

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE - PETROLEUM MINISTER:

FULL TIME - PREM. COMMIT

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Premier. This morning, OTANS called upon the government to dedicate a full-time petroleum minister so the interests of Nova Scotia will be asserted. Before the last election, the Premier argued we needed a full-time Tourism Minister. At least in tourism, the benefits from tourism stay in Nova Scotia. The benefits of the multi-billion dollar petroleum industry flow largely south to New England. In an earlier question, the Premier stated that he would take the question of a full-time minister under advisement. My question to the Premier is, when will the Premier commit to dedicating the ministry of petroleum with a full-time minister so Nova Scotians can assert their rightful interest in the oil and gas industry and commit sufficient human resources to get the job done?

[Page 3816]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would suggest that the legal proceeding that went on in Fredericton would somehow have been influenced by another politician. That is what he says today while yesterday he said just the opposite, there was one too many politicians in the process.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the problem with our presentation in Fredericton was that we had a politician at the table who couldn't get the job done; that is what the problem was in Fredericton. My first supplementary is, Nova Scotians are seeing opportunities slip from our grasp because the Premier has no vision for the growing oil and gas industry. We lost the first round of the Laurentian dispute, PanCanadian is going to process offshore instead of onshore, there are not enough people around to ensure Nova Scotia is getting its fair share of royalties with the Petroleum Directorate and the Premier has yet to indicate how he will stop a subsea pipeline from bypassing Nova Scotia. My question to the Premier is, why is the Premier failing to dedicate a full-time petroleum minister and sufficient staff to look after the interests of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for, and the staff of, the Petroleum Directorate are doing an excellent job but what we are faced with is an oil and gas industry that will continue to grow offshore in Nova Scotia. Obviously the job is going to get bigger and as the job gets bigger, the appropriate adjustments will be made to accommodate that growth in size.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, by the time, in his vision, that the department gets bigger, the opportunities will have been lost. The time for action is now. He mentions the minister presently in charge; the part-time minister who is presently in charge doesn't have a clue as to what is going on in the petroleum industry, not a clue. That has been demonstrated time and time again in this House. The time for a full-time minister dedicated to that particular department is now, not when more opportunities are lost. I would challenge the Premier to appoint a full-time minister for the Petroleum Directorate immediately.

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: The member opposite fails perhaps to understand, or would not like us to remind him, that since the new minister has taken over, there have not been the serious mistakes made in dealing with the oil and gas industry that were made by the previous government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 3817]

HEALTH - INTEGRATED PEDIATRIC REHAB.:

SERVICES - PROVIDE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have been approached by the family of a young child who suffered a very serious accident which resulted in brain injuries and long-term impairment. The child was a patient at the IWK for over three months and the family was impressed and grateful for the excellent care received. However, since being discharged from the hospital, this family has experienced continued stress and frustration with the lack of an integrated pediatric rehabilitative program for their child. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why doesn't this province provide integrated pediatric rehabilitative services for children recovering from serious injuries?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I know that in this province we provide excellent care for children who have needs, both at the IWK Health Centre and follow-up. If the honourable member could provide some information about this young person to me I would have staff take a look.

MR. DEXTER: The problem is that the Minister of Health should know the answer. This family has had to turn to private companies to supplement inadequate rehabilitation available for their child. Children with brain injuries and other serious traumas require rehabilitation to develop their potential. Investments in rehabilitation now can result in a substantial cost saving in both health and social spending later. My question is this, will the minister commit to establishing an integrated pediatric rehabilitation program in this province?

MR. MUIR: As I indicated in my first response, we provide excellent care both in hospital and following hospital, but if the honourable member would be kind enough to give me some details of the young person to whom he is referring, I would be happy to have staff take a look at the situation.

MR. DEXTER: The details are straightforward. There is no integrated rehabilitation program for children in this province who suffer serious brain injuries. What more does the minister have to know? Nova Scotia is one of the few provinces that does not have a pediatric rehabilitation program. We are not just talking about cities like Toronto and Ottawa, but even cities roughly the same size, like London and Kingston have pediatric rehabilitative programs. So, my question to the minister is, why are seriously injured children in this province not entitled to the same support programs as other Canadian children?

MR. MUIR: I really think the honourable member inferring that children in this province are not well treated at the IWK and follow-up services is misrepresentation of health care and he shouldn't be reflecting on our health care professionals that way. However, if he would care to provide me with specific details of the young person to whom he is referring, I would be happy to have staff take a look at the case.

[Page 3818]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

TOURISM & CULTURE - CULTURAL EVENTS:

FUNDING - ADEQUACY

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Nova Scotia was surprised and disappointed to learn that this government will not be funding cultural events - the Springhill Festival, the Nova Scotia Tattoo, Celtic Colours, the Stan Rogers Festival, the Multicultural Festival, Festival of the Tartans are all threatened to lose public support under this minister. Now that market forces are going to determine which events will survive and which ones won't, my question to the minister is, will the minster explain how multicultural and minority community events will survive?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Perhaps, I realize that the member might be a bit confused today, but the fact is that we are putting money into cultural events and I can talk about Celtic Colours. In fact, we are putting $125,000 into this year's Celtic Colours this fall. Last year we made a commitment of $150,000. The member is obviously confused and we can cite many more examples, but the fact is, Mr. Speaker, that the festival he referred to in Springhill - I know it is a place near and dear to your heart - did receive funding from the government last year. As you know, that commitment was for last year and for this year. He can check that out with the chairperson of the festival.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some misinformation out there with regard to what this minister is saying and what the reporters are reporting and what others are indicating to us. The first major announcement of a Tourism and Culture Minister, after two years in a portfolio, is a policy statement saying that he will not continue to support the cultural community. Can you imagine? That is the only thing he has to do. I hope when they get the minister of the petroleum secretariat he is going to be more effective than the Minister of Tourism and Culture, that is for sure. My question is, if you are no longer going to be funding cultural events across the Province of Nova Scotia, why have a Department of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Minister?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the media asked me yesterday with regard to Springhill. I said that I didn't know if there was an application on file. I did go back today and check with staff and indeed I did see that we gave $20,000 last year to the festival. We made an agreement with the chairperson that that would be for last year's festival and for this year's. That is, as the story goes, for Springhill.

With regard to numbers, Mr. Speaker, when he talked about tourism, and I have said it in this House before, in the first 16 months of this government, compared to the previous 16 months, we increased tourism by 10 per cent. If he thinks that is not good, well, that's tough.

[Page 3819]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister misspoke in the House here. It appears to me that under the previous minister we had the largest growth in tourism in the Province of Nova Scotia. It was only when that minister took over the portfolio all by himself that the actual numbers declined in the Province of Nova Scotia and he knows it.

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

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister, will the minister publicly table a list of those organizations his department will not be supporting so all Nova Scotians can understand how little they care about culture in Nova Scotia?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to, once the application process follows through and I think that is fair to the organizations. To preempt that would be unfair to those organizations. I am not going to argue about numbers with the honourable member. I know he does have some trouble with numbers from his last budget and I am not going to get into that argument.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

TOURISM & CULTURE - SPRINGHILL MUSICFEST:

SUPPORT - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for that minister about Springhill. This week, we did learn that the Springhill MusicFest cancelled its 2001 festival. This was to have been the third time for that musicfest, but it looks like it won't happen this year. One of the main reasons cited for the cancellation is the lack of support from the province. As you will now, of course, Springhill is a lot like many towns in rural Nova Scotia, there are not many jobs available and the spin-offs from well-attended festivals are vital to the local economy. We know this is true of Springhill and cancellation of that festival has been a real blow to the town. My question to the Minister of Tourism and Culture is, why did your government fail to provide the necessary support for the Springhill MusicFest?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. As I indicated before, I was asked the question last night with regard to the Springhill MusicFest. I went back and checked with staff. We did talk about what was given last year. It was $20,000 and it was supposed to be for last year's festival and this year's. You can check that

out with the chairman of the festival - I believe it is a Mrs. Dickson - and she will confirm that.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, festivals, carnivals and all of our summer celebrations are very important to the tourism industry; now they draw tourists and provide

[Page 3820]

jobs. Many small businesses depend on the economic boost that comes from these celebrations but now we hear from the Minister of Tourism and Culture that what he is saying is that all of these festivals have to stand on their own feet, even after just two years.

I would like to ask my question, though, now, of the Minister of Economic Development. Mr. Minister, no doubt your department recognizes the value summer festivals bring to our tourism industry. Will you commit to working with local groups to make sure they get fully established before being thrown out on their own resources?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development works with small communities right across this province to ensure that when viable plans come forward they are supported.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, that wasn't a lot of help and I am sure that the many volunteers in Springhill who have put in so much hard work and many hours of time are not going to be very impressed with that answer. I am sure they are very disappointed that this government does not consider their efforts worthy of support but the people of Springhill, you will know, Mr. Speaker, are not quitters. They are not giving up, they are hoping to hold the musicfest next year and the years following.

My final question is again to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Will the minister and his department revisit the decision to cut support for the Springhill MusicFest?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, we didn't cut funding to the Springhill MusicFest. I don't know how more clear I can be with that. He can check out his facts with the chairman of the festival. We work closely with community festivals, closely with the Celtic College, for example. I made reference last night to the Celtic College because they have a five year plan. I met with the chairman of that committee as well, indeed, a year and a half ago. We talked about the five year plan. I believe it is year four. It is a sensible plan, and of course we would all hope that they could stand on their own two feet once that five year plan is done with.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS/COKE OVENS:

MIN. VISIT - COMMENT EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour. Back when the minister was appointed to his post, he visited the rather infamous tar ponds and coke ovens site which included the streets that have just been reviewed by an expert from the United States. I quote exactly what he said to departmental staff, "I am so overwhelmed by the sight and smell of this place that I am

[Page 3821]

speechless." My question to the minister is, would he please explain as to what he meant by those comments that he made to staff within the Department of Environment and Labour?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am interested in the quote that is attributed to me. I would like to know where the honourable member got it from. He is right that my first trip to Sydney I did spend some time, in fact the best part of a day, reviewing not only the tar ponds site and the Muggah Creek but also the old Sydney landfill because the three all flow together, but I have no recollection of that specific quote.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, there is no sense continuing with Dr. Prozac from Environment and Labour. I will turn my next question to the Premier. Mr. Premier, when you were on this side of the House, you indicated, if for no other reasons, compassionate reasons, that the residents from Frederick Street should be moved. Even more compelling evidence is now before the government with regard to the study that was just released yesterday. Will you not do the honourable thing and alleviate these residents of the stressful and, some would say, unnecessary strain that is put on themselves and their families by moving those residents from this toxic site?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right. I did have an interest in what was going on with Frederick Street and as a member of the Opposition Party, I encouraged government to communicate better with the residents of Frederick Street because they, in fact, were isolated at that time by government, were not able to contact government persons, were not given the kind of information that this government is providing them, and as well were not able to make the contacts with people who have the scientific information. We are making those people available to the residents of the Frederick Street area. So we are taking their concerns very seriously. We are giving them the full attention of this government, something that they haven't had in the past.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. We want to be moved. We don't want more studies; we don't want more experts from the United States; we don't want more lip service. We want to be moved; that is what the residents are saying. Why won't the Premier do like we did when we were in government and move those residents on compassionate grounds, if for nothing else?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we will not keep those residents waiting nearly, nearly as long as that government did.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 3822]

HEALTH - PEDIATRIC PROCEDURES:

OUT-OF-PROVINCE - EXPENSES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, despite the Tory Throne Speech, integrated pediatric rehabilitation is not the only area where sick children in this province are not getting their needs met. When a child is in need of a certain life-saving procedure that is not provided here, they must be sent to Ontario or elsewhere for treatment. This can be devastating and very costly for the families of sick children who are responsible for their own transportation and living expenses. I would like to ask the Minister of Health this, exactly what expenses are paid for by this government when a child must be sent away for an operation?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member has a specific instance to which he is referring, I would be pleased to take a look at it and provide a detailed response to that. There is not a blanket answer to that question.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, hospital personnel tell us that dozens of children each year are sent out to other provinces for operations such as bone marrow transplants and liver transplants. Not only are the transportation costs of the parents not covered by this government, but neither are the patient's travel costs. The fact that a child must come up with their own travel expenses for a necessary procedure not provided at home, quite frankly is unbelievable. My question to the Minister of Health is this, why is it that this province does not cover the travel costs of a child being sent elsewhere for a life-saving procedure?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer that question two ways. First of all, as the honourable member would appreciate - and I am sure he does - sometimes, if a person is going to receive the very best treatment there has to be a critical mass of patients, so that those who are performing the treatment can have the appropriate skills to see that the outcomes are good. That is why, to be quite frank, there are certain procedures not offered in Nova Scotia. Two things: either we may not have access to the qualified personnel, or there may not be the critical mass of patients that would ensure quality outcomes because there is a critical mass. Again, the circumstances vary from case to case. If the honourable Leader of the Opposition has specific . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I believe my question was whether or not the travel costs of the patient were covered. He never came close to that question. The latest medically necessary procedure that this government is forcing our children to seek in Ontario is pediatric cardiac operations. Bone transplants, liver transplants and now cardiac surgery. I will ask the minister, will you table in this House a non-identifying list of all the incidents over the past year when children have been forced to leave this province for medical services, and what those services were?

[Page 3823]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I probably could compile a list, but I would think probably that would best come from the IWK Health Centre, through whom most of those services are coordinated. We would simply have to go look at the MSI records, and I guess we could if we had to, but I don't know what he is going to do with them if he gets them.

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B.: MOVIE/TV LOCATION -

PROMOTION EXPLAIN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The film sound stage at Point Edward in Cape Breton is idle, since the demise of the Pit Pony series and many trained employees are left without work and no opportunity. In the meantime, Shelburne is being utilized and there are no less than five movies being filmed in the Halifax area at any given time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am glad to see the New Democrats are happy about that. Can the minister explain what actions are being taken by this minister and the Film Development Corporation to promote Cape Breton as a movie and TV production location?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, this year Nova Scotia is enjoying the largest number of come-from-away productions in its history. The industry is growing and I think it is in large part due to the fact that we have created a special tax credit that encourages film production in rural Nova Scotia. So certainly it is not simply a matter of offering a facility. It has to fit with the plan. So we are working very closely with Cape Breton to try and ensure that come-from-away productions and local productions are looking to Cape Breton.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there we go again with this minister. There is all kinds of activity going on in the movie business in Nova Scotia, but there is none going on in Cape Breton at the present time, even though we have a production facility down here that is prepared and willing to do the work and a workforce to do it, more platitudes on behalf of this minister for what is not going on in Cape Breton. My first supplementary to the minister is, with the level of production in Nova Scotia, there should be plenty of work to go around. One of the mandates of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation is to grow the film industry by promoting Nova Scotia's locations, skills and creativity in global markets. My question to the minister is, could the minister table what specific actions have been taken by the Film Development Corporation to promote Cape Breton's locations, skills and creativity in the global markets?

[Page 3824]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the facility that was built in Cape Breton was built for a specific production, Pit Pony. That was cancelled and it was perhaps a lack of foresight on the part of the previous government that they would build such a facility with only one permanent production in place. So what we are attempting to do is find other productions to locate there and in fact, as we speak, the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation is in France looking for productions to locate here in Nova Scotia. They are also putting together a film mission to New York to try and attract interest there.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that every time a question is asked about what is not happening in Cape Breton, that minister refers to what is happening in Nova Scotia. I want him to tell me specifically what is happening in Cape Breton in terms of why hasn't a tax credit been enhanced in Cape Breton to ensure that some of these productions would find their way because he knows, as well as you do, there is a trained workforce ready and willing to do the job in industrial Cape Breton. That minister talks about growing the economy in Cape Breton, waxing eloquently all the time about that, but there is no evidence to support anything is being done. My question is, why won't this minister specifically put the resources of his department to work to bring the Film Development Corporation and its movie productions into industrial Cape Breton now, not in 10 years time?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we are encouraging film production in rural Nova Scotia. It sounds as though the member opposite is disappointed that we now have production occurring in Shelburne, a sound stage that also sat empty for some time. So we are working to ensure that those productions are located in areas that are there.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - PIONEER COAL:

HIGH-WALL MINER - CESSATION ACTIONS EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of this Assembly a matter of very serious concern. The miners at Pioneer Coal are raising serious safety concerns about the high-wall mining equipment approved for use underground by this Department of Environment and Labour. I want to quote from a letter sent to the Premier on Friday and the quote I am going to use is, "The experimental use of unproven mining technology in the volatile coal mines of the Stellarton area is extremely ill-advised and presents an unacceptable risk to the safety of the miners." I want to ask the Premier, what steps have you taken, Mr. Premier, since Friday to stop the use of the high-wall miner in this methane-ridden coal field?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the letter to which the member opposite refers. I immediately delivered that letter for the consideration of the minister appropriate and I would ask him to respond.

[Page 3825]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on your first supplementary.

MR. CORBETT: No, no, he handed it off to Bert and Ernie there.

MR. SPEAKER: Sorry. The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there has been quite a bit of material that has been gone over since Pioneer Coal proposed to move this high-wall mining technology to their Stellarton site. I would like to assure the House and the member opposite that great consideration was given to this before it was done. There is an approved code of practice which is put in place. This was done after reviewing similar operations in Virginia in the U.S., and in Queensland in Australia. I think that due diligence was done to reach this decision.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this minister knows as much about coal mining as he does about safety practices for workers. If this minister had one iota of what was going on in his department he would realize that the methane in the coal in Virginia is nowhere near the methane in the coal in Stellarton, in the Foord seam in particular.

Mr. Speaker, one spark from this machine and we would have a Westray all over again. So, I want to quote again from that letter, "It is a concern that the safety of the miners may be taking a back seat to the employer's desire to expedite the introduction of untested machinery that may assist in reducing its operating costs." So I want to ask this Minister of Labour, why is he willing to jeopardize workers' safety so a big supporter of your Party can make more money? Why are you willing to jeopardize their health and safety?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite and reassure him that he may not be aware of this but this is a remote control mining device and actually there is no miner that is on the machine. So I hope he sleeps better tonight with that information.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, if this wasn't such a great, great concern of health and safety, that answer would be laughable. That minister has proven time and time again that he doesn't care about workers' safety, whether he is encouraging his deputy to intervene in investigations or changing inspectors. This minister knows very well that the person who owns this mine gave over $38,000 to this Party in the 1999 election campaign. I want to ask the Premier, why is his government overlooking the serious safety concerns of the workers of Pictou County just so this man could make a fast buck?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite provided me with a bit of information of which, before now, I wasn't aware. I don't look at campaign contributions to this Party either at the local level or the provincial level. So the member opposite has provided me with some interesting information. But I can assure the member opposite that even armed with the

[Page 3826]

information that he has provided, this government will do what it is in the best interests of the safety of workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - NURSES: WAGE PACKAGE - ADEQUACY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Last week we heard loud and clear from this minister's attitude about the wage package that was offered to nurses. Nurses will soon have a chance to respond to the minister's position and the situation may not be pretty. My question to the minister is, given that there is a national shortage of nurses, why does the minister feel that offering a wage package that doesn't compete nationally will be good enough to keep graduates and practising nurses here in Nova Scotia?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell people in the House the number of nurses, full-time, and just numbers, went up in Nova Scotia last year. As I understand, the compensation package that was offered to the NSGEU nurses - and I should point out to the House that the nurses who belong to the NSNU are currently in conciliation and my understanding is that no wage offer has been made to them yet. I think it is important that people understand the distinction - the wage offer put on would certainly make the nurses competitive in Atlantic Canada, indeed would be the highest paid nurses in Atlantic Canada and would be among the top half of the provinces in the country.

DR. SMITH: Every jurisdiction in this country is offering the same type of incentives to lure nurses to their respective provinces. This means that without a competitive wage package, we won't win the battle. My question to the minister is, when will he be sitting down - in spite of what he said here today, divide and conquer and all the other issues - with all the other Cabinet Ministers to tell them that he will need more money to save and enhance nursing services here in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: In addition to the government's commitment to see that nurses are compensated fairly and competitively in Atlantic Canada, this government has put in place in the past year a number of items that were commitments to the nursing profession in our campaign. For example, the Nurse Policy Advisor. We have also committed, and it was endorsed by both Opposition Health Critics, the $5 million nurse recruitment package that was announced about two months ago, the province's first nursing strategy. We have done these things, and in addition to that we are doing what we can to retain and attract new nurses here. In addition to the current items that are on the table . . .

[Page 3827]

DR. SMITH: He did everything but read the list of Liberal policies that he voted against in that budget on nursing. That has been the tragedy of nursing. The increase in nurses that he speaks of were a few temporary nurses' positions that were made permanent.

MR. SPEAKER: Your final supplementary, please.

DR. SMITH: The Dallas newspaper recently reported that Texas needs 40,000 new nurses. There are search companies right now that can offer nurses almost $17 more an hour to practice in health care in that area. You, Mr. Minister, will have to do better than what you are doing. My question to the minister is, how does the minister plan to compete on the international scale when he offers graduating nurses a wage that cannot even compete with wages earned outside of Atlantic Canada? In spite of what he said here today, those just aren't the facts. What is he going to do about that?

MR. MUIR: In attracting and retaining a nursing workforce as well as other health care professionals, it is important the province be honest with people. Let's talk about what is fair and what the province can really afford. I want to tell the honourable members that we appreciate the nurses in this province, as we do other health care professionals. What we have said that we would do, and we believe that has been done, is to put forth an offer that is fair, it is competitive in Atlantic Canada and it is one that the province can live with because there is no sense in making promises that you cannot keep, which that bunch did.

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

FIN. - MONIES COLLECTED: FOI REQUEST - DETAILS EXPLAIN

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is for the Premier. In April, I filed a freedom of information request asking for an itemized recording of what the Department of Finance has gathered in user fees, has gathered in tax increases, and has gathered from decoupling from the federal tax system. I have in my hands a copy of the response through the Freedom of Information Commissioner where the Department of Finance has stated that they need more time to gather that information because this government has never gathered the information as to where that money is coming from. So, I want to ask the Premier, how is it possible that the Department of Finance has no clue how much money it is taking out of the pockets of Nova Scotians in user fees, tax increases and the decoupling from the federal tax system?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question is of such importance the minister has returned to the House.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the request opposite for information, we had made some changes in our (Interruptions) in regard to our government, we have brought forward some changes in cost recoveries from the previous administration,

[Page 3828]

since the previous administration lost power. A lot of those are for services that provide a specific service to certain segments of our population. We think that is appropriate. The member opposite said there is a freedom of information request within my department, and those are prepared by staff, they are not prepared by myself. If the member wants to ask me those questions I am more than prepared to take it as noted and offer whatever information I can to the member opposite.

MR. DEVEAUX: I think the Minister of Finance is missing the point here, so let me be clear. His government has raised over $120 million in new taxes per year since it came into government. I guess there is only 1 of 2 explanations for why his department is delaying providing us with the information. Either they genuinely have no clue how much money they are taking from Nova Scotians, taking out of their pockets and quite frankly, that is a shameful sign of incompetence, or they are withholding this information in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, and that is illegal.

My question to the Minister of Finance is, will the minister take his pick? Is his department incompetent and, therefore, have no idea how much money they are taking out of the pockets of Nova Scotians, or are they just breaking the law with regard to the Freedom of Information Act?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite is a lawyer and he knows how the freedom of information operates. I want to say, in regard to his contention that we have taken money out of the pockets of Nova Scotians by not giving tax reliefs, we told Nova Scotians we would give them tax relief in the fourth year. Now the member opposite is saying that we are actually taking money out of their pockets. That is not the case. The honourable member opposite knows very well that the fact of the matter is that we have maintained levels of taxation at the levels that they were. That is what we told Nova Scotians we would do and that is what we did.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance truly was doing what he said he would do, then we would have a long list of exactly where that money is coming from, but his department has no idea, so they claim, where that money is coming from and I find that shameful. Maybe there is another explanation. I want to ask the Minister of Finance whether it is true that his government is delaying the production of how much and where their money is coming from in user fees and tax increases until this House closes so they can bury this issue after the House closes?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite knows what day the House is closing and, maybe, if you give me that date I would have a better idea of how to answer the question. I want to say that the information was requested through the freedom of information process, that is handled by an individual in the department and the information is supplied to the honourable member. It doesn't come from myself, as minister.

[Page 3829]

The member opposite knows that very well and, obviously, he is not satisfied with the answer. There was a process for him to follow and he very well knows that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - RICHMOND VILLA:

REPLACEMENT - CONSTRUCTION TIME FRAME

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday was the final meeting of the facility planning committee set up to discuss the needs of Richmond County in terms of replacing the Richmond Villa, a long-term care facility. In October 2000, Department of Health officials told the board of the Richmond Villa that they could expect a new villa within 18 to 24 months. In light of the fact that this consultation period has ended, can the minister tell us today when construction of the new Richmond Villa will begin?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am told, actually, by one of the municipal people from Richmond County that it was a very positive experience, that process. When I get a report from the committee, I would be better able to answer the question.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the minister is aware, the fire marshal ordered, in October 2000, that no new entries be permitted in the Richmond Villa due to mould, health and safety concerns. This has clearly caused a great deal of fear and anxiety for the staff, the residents and their families. While new entries have recently been permitted, it is clear that the current facility is not suitable for the long term. Will the Minister of Health commit today that a new Richmond Villa will be built, and that it will be built in the Village of St. Peter's?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the community process that was recently completed, yesterday, was to answer those questions. I have not yet had a report of the results of those deliberations, and will await that before I make any statement.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health's continual refusal to commit that a new Richmond Villa will be constructed is causing fear and anxiety throughout Richmond County. In fact, many residents fear that this government will tamper with the Strait-Richmond Hospital, which, as you know, has not had an emergency room doctor in over five months. In order to put this fear to rest, will the Minister of Health confirm, right now, that the replacement facility for the Richmond Villa will not be the Strait-Richmond Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, about two months ago, I met with municipal officials from Richmond County. At that time, we committed to a community process to discuss the future of long-term care for that community. There were a number of options, I believe, that that committee was going to address. I assume that they have been addressed in the report. When

[Page 3830]

I receive the report and have had a chance to examine it and discuss it with staff, I would be better able to answer his questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - HARBOUR HOUSE: FUNDING - STATUS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community of Services. Last month, I questioned the minister about this government's commitment to services for victims of family violence. I alerted the minister that Harbour House, a shelter for abused women and children, was actively considering reducing services and laying off staff for budgetary reasons. This shelter is struggling with an operating deficit, and they are trying to repay a loan of $35,000 to this minister's department. I would like to ask the minister what, specifically, he has done to assist Harbour House with their financial difficulties since I first raised this issue?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member did raise that about three weeks ago. Since that time, I have had numerous discussions with the member for Lunenburg West. Today, staff from Community Services are down meeting with the board of directors to review their business plan, so that we can work with them and establish the service so they both serve their needs and our needs.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a copy of the 2001 business plan for Harbour House. This plan states very clearly that without loan forgiveness from the Minister of Community Services there will have to be a reduction in wages, personnel and services, leaving South Shore women and children with nowhere else to turn. I want to ask the minister does he realize, by not assisting Harbour House by forgiving this loan, he is jeopardizing the safety of women and children of the South Shore community?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the honourable member that the member for Dartmouth North gave me a letter with the same instructions and the same request on it, I would say, two and a half weeks ago. That particular loan issue seems to be around an issue, but there is more to do than that. As the honourable member would be aware, the president has stepped aside, and they have a new president there and a new board. As I indicated, our department is working with them. There are a number of issues. There is the issue of the business plan; there is the issue of the loan; and there is the issue of stability. We are working on all three of those.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it would be nice to hear more than we are working, but we are going to take care of this situation, we are going to ensure that reduction in services doesn't occur.

[Page 3831]

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take my final supplementary to the Premier. Mr. Premier, in the past year your government has forgiven $12 million in loans to profitable corporations in this province. Harbour House owes the Department of Community Services just $35,000. So will the Premier explain why his government can afford to forgive millions of dollars to profitable corporations yet a transition house for abused women and children faces a closed till when they see this government?

THE PREMIER: I would remind the member opposite that one of the easiest solutions that we have in this province to continue to provide the kinds of services that Nova Scotians need and deserve is to encourage the economy, to encourage employers to provide the jobs that will generate the revenues that will make balancing the budget so much easier and we will not abandon that. We will continue to make strategic investments that result in good high-paying jobs for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - EQUALIZATION PMTS.:

SHORTAGE ($88 MILLION) - MIN. INFO.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday we heard this minister kind of brush away the fact that Ottawa is indicating that they are going to be $88 million short on equalization. In fact, it was almost like the minister had his head stuck in the sand, saying, don't worry, I will find a solution, it is only $88 million and it doesn't mean an awful lot. Even though this money is coming from Ottawa, this Minister of Finance is questioning the accuracy of the Ottawa numbers. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what proof does this Minister of Finance have that he will not be receiving $88 million less than he expected in regard to equalization payments?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I indicated to the member opposite that for ourselves as a province, the assumptions that we use in calculating the amount of equalization hasn't changed from the time that we tabled the budget. I also indicated that the numbers that Ottawa provides always differ from the ones that the province calculates. So this is no different than it has been in the past and I said to the member opposite, the same answer to the same question.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I understand minor adjustments, but $88 million is a huge amount of adjustment that will have to be made. Last year this minister received $249 million in windfall and it is absolutely a crime that this minister was unable to balance the budget. Union negotiations are currently underway and it is going to put stress on the public purse. Nurses alone have asked for approximately 20 per cent in a pay increase. Has the

[Page 3832]

minister budgeted for any cost overruns as a result of the collective bargaining agreements that are currently going on?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, there are provisions within our budget for collective bargaining, as the member opposite realizes, being a former Minister of Finance himself, and those funds will make do with the negotiations that we have in this province during this fiscal year.

MR. DOWNE: So, Mr. Speaker, there is not much point for the nurses to negotiate. It seems like the minister has already determined the amount of raise that they are going to get, if any. The bottom line here is, Mr. Minister, don't blame the nurses for the lack of planning on behalf of your ministry. The bottom line here is that there is an $88 million shortfall in equalization. There is going to be a large settlement required in regard to the union negotiations that are currently going on and yet this minister wants to stick his head in the sand and say the problem is going away. When will this minister stop living in denial and present to this House a fiscal contingency plan that undoubtedly we will have to deal with shortly?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we have put in place a four year plan which deals with the problems of this province. I find it incredulous that the member opposite is saying here today that perhaps $88 million is in jeopardy. This same member is saying that we should balance the budget no matter what and this same member is saying we should give tax cuts at the same time. I am not God, himself. We have put in place a four year plan that will bring a surplus to this province, but it will also bring a tax cut in year four, something that member never had a prayer of doing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ECON. DEV. - MARK-LYN CONST.:

RELOCATION LOAN - DETAILS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. In 1995, the government was warned that Mark-Lyn Construction's compost operation would stink up the Kentville Industrial Park, and stink it up they did. The province was desperate to get rid of Mark-Lyn and they paid the company over $90,000 just to get out of the park and then they loaned them another $90,000 to relocate. The problem is that the relocation was to an environmentally sensitive bog in Coldbrook. The operation created no new jobs, put the environment at risk, and was contrary to local zoning bylaws. My question to the minister is, what is the matter with your department that it could authorize such a boneheaded loan?

[Page 3833]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that loan was approved by the Business Development Corporation, and the environmental permitting and so on was all in place.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, there is more to this story. The Department of Economic Development engaged in protracted negotiations with Mark-Lyn over the terms of its departure from the industrial park. It turns out that the local Tory MLA was kept fully briefed by the department in its attempts to move the operation out of the park and into the bog. My question to the minister is, how long has it been your department's policy to politicize its decisions by including a local Tory MLA in its decision making?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, is the member opposite saying that we shouldn't keep people informed as to what is happening in their community?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, those residents are now trying to get their MLA to return their phone calls and he won't even do that. The real problem is that the MLA involved here is now the Minister of Environment and Labour. The minister helped put Mark-Lyn into a place that it should not be. He cannot possibly police the company's activities; he may as well be policing himself. My final question to the Premier is, when will you order the Minister of Environment and Labour to turn over this fumbled file to someone else, who can offer real environmental protection to the people of Kings South?

THE PREMIER: I have been impressed with the way in which the new minister has carried out his duties. I would anticipate that he will continue to do as good a job in the future as he has done in the immediate past.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

TOURISM & CULTURE: PRIVATIZATION

(GOV'T. RESORTS) - TIME FRAME

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. For more than a year now the minister has indicated that private management would take over the operations of Digby Pines, Liscombe Lodge and Keltic Lodge. I do appreciate the fact that the minister did meet with me and staff to bring me up to speed last fall on where they were at that point in time. He also told me that the management would be in place for this tourist season and the tourist season is fast upon us. My question is, could the minister indicate when the private sector management will be in place?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for the question. There were two companies shortlisted in Phase III. There were a variety of aspects to Phase III, including a site tour as well as oral presentations, along with a number of other

[Page 3834]

listed items. I believe the last oral presentation was a week and a half ago. There should be something coming forward to my desk and then to Cabinet within the next couple of weeks. It won't affect this year's operations. It will go in place though for this year's operations.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister. I assume hiring has already been done for this year's operations, so any disruption to the management structure could very well hurt these signatory resorts. So I ask the minister, what steps has the minister taken to ensure management changes are not disrupting the quality of these Nova Scotia masterpieces?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member. As I indicated during the meeting with staff and the honourable member for Victoria, there will be very little change with respect to staffing at the resorts this operating year. I would be happy to set up another meeting for the member or any other members who would be interested in learning more about the process. I will try to keep the member up to date on the ongoing results.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the minister has yet to indicate to the House or to the people of Nova Scotia that this move is cost-effective. So I ask the minister today, will he commit to providing evidence that the change in management will be more cost-effective to the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member. Once the process is completed, once we have gone through Cabinet, once the process has ended, I will be glad to share whatever information I can with the member and to all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - PAVING: PRIORITY LIST

(HANTS EAST/NORTH) - STATUS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Tory blue book spoke of a list that would prioritize roads based on need. In 1998 the Liberals had Highway No. 354 from East Gore to the Kennetcook River at the top of the list for paving in East Hants and they removed it after the 1998 election. To date it has never gotten near the list. So I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works where is the priority list and when can the residents in the Hants North area who use the road through the Kennetcook woods expect that it will be repaved?

[Page 3835]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member for East Hants is aware, we have difficulty finding funding to pave all the roads that require paving. Highway No. 354 is no different from any other highway. It is on a list. When that list will be completed, I have no idea.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the residents who use the road, although they would love to have it paved this year, they certainly would just like to know where it would be on the list. I tabled a petition in this House three years ago on behalf of the residents of the East Uniacke Road in Mount Uniacke. As yet, not only have we not had a response to the petition but we never had any indication of priority this road had with the department. The minister has indicated that the East Uniacke Road will not be repaved this year, so can the minister tell the House and the residents of the East Uniacke Road, where is this road on the Department of Transportation's priority list and would he indicate a date for paving that the residents would find acceptable?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the most accurate answer that I could give the honourable member is around about in the middle.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, so I guess no answer. Two years ago, Highway No. 1 in Mount Uniacke was paved from the Irving Station to the Uniacke Mines Road. Residents felt that this section of Highway No. 1 was in better condition and that the section from the Uniacke Mines Road to Lakelands was the worst, and I agree. Can the minister tell the residents using Highway No. 1 and in particular those living in the Lakelands area that this section of the road will indeed be repaved and when that repaving will happen?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly wish that I could accommodate the requests for the honourable member because that road runs into my riding as well. My end of that road certainly needs paving too. I can tell the honourable member that it is on the list but, however, it is some time in the future before it will be done.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND BOARD (RRFB):

FUNDING SALARIES - PROPORTION

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the Resource Recovery Fund was set up by the previous Liberal Government to divert resources from the waste stream. This year the Tory Government has taken 10 per cent out of the 50 per cent share that RRFB pays municipalities to handle recyclables. My question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. Will the minister confirm that funding that should be going to the municipalities is, in fact, paying salaries in his department?

[Page 3836]

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the chance to answer that question yet again. I am pleased to say that the whole purpose of the Resource Recovery Fund Board is to assist the municipalities with their waste diversion and that no programs are paid out of that fund unless they are approved programs.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the funding municipalities receive helps them pay for infrastructure they need to carry out the province's solid waste strategy. This Tory Government has found another angle to download on municipalities. My question is, will the minister give municipalities a longer time to implement the solid waste strategy since he and his government cut the funding to set it up?

MR. MORSE: I will try to comment on those interesting statements, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, I think that the member opposite would be greatly reassured to know that in addition to the 50 per cent that we are committed to turn over to the municipalities last year, in actual fact 74 per cent was turned over directly in cash to the municipalities. So I want to thank the member opposite again for allowing me to clarify that matter for the House and, indeed, for Nova Scotians.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's recycling revolution is a headline on this month's Canadian Geographic magazine. If this minister is so committed to resource recovery and so proud of the province's waste reduction record, my question is, why would he destroy that by clawing back the funding in favour of some administrative spending in his own department?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I commend the Liberal Party for, once again, giving Nova Scotia, and indeed this government, the opportunity to again point out to the world how well-known we are becoming for our waste management practices.

Yes, indeed, the Resource Recovery Fund Board, which was brought in by the previous government and it is good that we are improving on some of their initiatives and, indeed, as long as we are on the subject, in addition to that 74 per cent that went back, the member opposite would like to know that some of the value-added programs were not fully used last year. So, in fact, it will be more than 74 per cent and, in my view, all the monies that are collected by the Resource Recovery Fund Board are ultimately, in one form or another, put out to assist the municipalities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 3837]

EDUC. - HFX. WEST HS STUDENTS RELOCATION:

B.C. SILVER JR. HS - PREPARATION FUNDING

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Last night, the Halifax Regional School Board announced its plan for Halifax West High School. B.C. Silver Junior High School is part of that plan, but it needs major renovations to accommodate the plan. The renovation costs aren't the responsibility of the school board. The minister knew Halifax West High School would close and she remains responsible for its students, but she has yet to make a firm commitment to the Halifax West community. So my question to the minister is, exactly how much support will the Halifax Regional School Board receive to make B.C. Silver Junior High School ready for Halifax West students?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, actually the deputy was talking to the superintendent of the school board this morning about the costs at B.C. Silver Junior High School. Those are not yet determined, but we have committed to share with the school board any reasonable costs of making that school ready for the Halifax West students.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this is a school board that has been squeezed by this government so that the bus drivers have taken a hit, the custodians are taking a hit. I want to ask the minister to explain here and now - she said that the province will share with the school board - exactly how much is the province willing to pay?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member for Halifax Fairview will understand when I say, since we don't know exactly yet what has to be done to that school, that I am unable to commit to exactly how much the province will pay. I will say and repeat, that we will share reasonable costs with the school board, we will do our part to help the Halifax West students until their new school is ready.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am looking for a proportion, I am looking for a ceiling, I am looking for any more information than let's just wait and see; so is the entire Halifax West community. In order for this move to work for Halifax West the province has to come forward with a substantial amount of money. My question to the minister is, will you join me at the public meeting scheduled for the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse tonight, and if you are not going to go, Madam Minister, why not?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the first questions I answered about money, we are willing to share and we are willing to share when we know what the costs are going to be. No, I am not able to go to that public meeting tonight. I have a previous commitment, and that is all I can say to that.

[Page 3838]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - CHILD CARE CENTRES:

FUNDING - ALLOCATION EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Earlier this month the Minister of Community Services, along with the Minster of Health, laid out a framework for early childhood development here in Nova Scotia. My question focuses specifically on the investment in childcare centres. My question to the minister is, given that the minister signed an agreement and knew that he was getting additional federal money last September, that was the money that he tried to pass off as provincial money, why did the minister not have something more to say in terms of how the money was going to be allocated for programs and salaries for and within childcare centres?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quite aware that part of the federal program that was announced is that each province had to develop a plan that they were going to do. They had to speak with the federal government to see that it was tied into the federal/provincial territorial agreement and then we had to announce it. After we did that we indicated to the childcare sector that we would have discussions with them to ensure that we met their objectives, and that is what we are doing now.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the minister gave the federal government some credit for a change, instead of trying to steal the thunder as he did with the $66 million. This minister told childcare centre operators and workers that he could not indicate how much money would be going to improve salaries for early childhood care workers. The minister promised childcare workers who were protesting late last fall at the Legislature that they would see increases in their salaries. The best this minister can do is tell them that he is still working on a formula and, maybe, in September 2001, daycares would know what is happening. My question is, given that daycare workers have been waiting since September 2000 for an announcement, why would the minster raise the hopes of daycare workers by not having specifics?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the answer is very simple, because we told the daycare workers and the daycare operators that when we had the program ready to go we would consult with them and that is what we are doing now; in a consultation process before we work out the final formula.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister, at the announcement, alluded to the fact that while some childcare workers may see increases, those on the so-called higher end of the scale, which is equivalent to a part-time call centre worker, may not see any increases at all. My final question to the minister is, will the minister commit here today that when that formula is developed, daycare workers directly, not management, but daycare workers directly, will get a chance to play a role in developing that formula?

[Page 3839]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member was at that press conference and he heard the question was, will a daycare centre that pays higher than normal be penalized? The answer to that person was no, that we would be looking at all of those combinations. That is why we are working on the formula reduction. That is why we are working on the formula and they will be part of the formula development.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - TIBBETTS PAINTS (TRENTON):

EAST RIVER/PICTOU HBR. - CONTAMINATION PROTECTION

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. There is an environmental mess developing right in the Premier's backyard. I am talking of course about the Tibbetts Paints plant in Trenton on the banks of the East River in the constituency of Pictou Centre. The plant went into bankruptcy last year and the receiver has just walked away. The plant is abandoned and I am told there is plenty of toxic material there, including a container of PCBs. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, what is your department doing to protect the East River and Pictou Harbour from contamination?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right. The Tibbetts plant has gone into receivership. There was an attempt to sell the property. They had an offer of some $50,000 and they came to the department and they wanted to have us provide, I think the term was, some comfort to the purchaser that we would not require them to do the necessary remedial actions to the site. We would, of course, not give them any such assurance.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the minister's briefing note gave him an answer that was different than the question I asked. The sorry saga of this plant has been brought up in this House before. Management, who included some of the leading players in Pictou County, some of whom were personal friends of the Premier, abandoned the workers and then the province, which is a major creditor, abandoned the workers. Now the receiver has walked away. He even tried to hand the keys to the Department of Environment and Labour. My question to the minister is, what steps is your department taking to ensure that the cost of this environmental clean-up is carried by the people who caused it - even if they are the Premier's friends - and not by the taxpayers?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his concern. Indeed, as I said before, we have been consulted on this matter. There was an attempt by the receiver to do just that and to pass responsibility over to the department. As I indicated before, it is not the intention of the department to shrink from its obligations.

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

[Page 3840]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 53. The rest of the agenda for this afternoon has been distributed.

Bill No. 53 - Labour Standards Code.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to kick off the debate this afternoon on a bill that I was pleased to introduce last week entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Labour Standards Code to Improve Labour Standards. Last week, our Labour Critic, Frank Corbett and I met with the media to talk about our legislation and then we brought it forward and introduced it. The focal point of this legislation is straightforward, to improve the lives of Nova Scotians at work and at home.

Everyone in this Legislature and I am sure all the people who are working and watching at home know the increasing challenges of juggling your work and your life. We are all asked to do more, to work longer hours. As they say in business circles, we are asked to do more with less. Well, Mr. Speaker, if your partner or child is sick for a day, you are faced with the impossible balancing act of meeting work and family obligations. An increasing number of workers face unique challenges, part-time workers who receive few or no benefits or the over 20,000 Nova Scotians who get paid minimum wage, on which they struggle to support their families. It all means greater stress in the workplace and at home.

[4:15 p.m.]

Nova Scotia lags behind most jurisdictions when it comes to approaching workplace change with progressive solutions. That is why the NDP caucus is here. It is here to provide good ideas that will improve the lives of Nova Scotians. The changes that we introduced in this bill would attract and maintain a well-trained, highly-skilled and productive workforce. These measures would bring Nova Scotia in line with many other provinces. Many employers already understand the importance of providing these kinds of benefits.

[Page 3841]

The bill proposes improvements in the minimum wage and working conditions. First, this legislation reduces the work week to 40 hours from 48 hours before overtime is paid. Workers are increasingly asked to work longer hours away from their families, and they should be properly compensated for the extra sacrifice. This change is in line with what happens in most other provinces.

Second, under this legislation, benefits would be prorated to the number of hours worked to ensure that part-time workers are covered. Part-time workers and their families deserve benefits, just like full-time workers. Under this change, if you work 15 to 30 hours, you will receive 50 per cent of the benefits that full-time workers receive. Over 30 hours, you are considered full-time and will receive all the benefits that you opt to take advantage of.

Third, this legislation that we are proposing will index vacation time and vacation pay based on years of service. For example, workers with one to five years of service will be eligible for two weeks of vacation time and 4 per cent vacation pay. Five to 10 years of service translates into three weeks of vacation time and 6 per cent vacation pay.

Fourth, employees will be given five days unpaid leave per year. This is for workers who have to respond to family emergencies, like a sick child or spouse.

Fifth, a mandatory annual review of the minimum wage will be established. It will be done by a committee of employer and employee representatives. The minimum wage will increase each year by the equivalent of the increase in the consumer price index plus 2 per cent. The committee can recommend a greater increase but must give employers three months' notice if it does so.

Mr. Speaker, what does it mean? What does it mean for working families? This would mean an increase in Nova Scotia's minimum wage this year, beginning in October, to $5.97 rather than the planned increase to $5.80. Nova Scotia's minimum wage currently lags behind every province except Newfoundland. The average minimum wage in Canada is $6.24. By the way, our minimum wage also lags behind almost all of the New England States which we compete with. In fact, if you saw the graph as I did, you would know that it lags behind the U.S. New England States by a considerable degree.

The annual increase would mean that the poor would no longer become poorer every time the cost of consumer goods and services increases but the minimum wage fails to keep pace. It will enable the working poor to provide for their families without having to work several jobs or to rely on food banks. The Hamm Government would take this approach if it was truly serious about getting people off of social assistance and into the workforce. That is good for business. These are the kinds of progressive measures taken by a government that wants to see that everybody shares in prosperity.

[Page 3842]

Mr. Speaker, I have managed to touch on each of the provisions in our bill in a rough way. I would like to go back now and proceed through them again with a little bit more detail, and perhaps to answer some of the questions that either members on this side of the House, in the Opposition caucus, or in the government caucus may have with respect to the specifics of this legislation.

For example, the indexation of vacation time, in order to reflect the time earned by people after years on the job and to keep pace with other Canadian jurisdictions, we are proposing to index vacation time and pay based on the years of service. So, to make it more clear, what would happen is: 1 to 5 years you would get 4 per cent vacation pay and two weeks of vacation; 5 to 10 years you would get 6 per cent vacation pay and three weeks of vacation time; 10 plus years you would get 8 per cent vacation pay and four weeks of vacation time.

Mr. Speaker, presently the Province of Nova Scotia's Labour Standards Code provides only for 4 per cent vacation pay and two weeks of vacation time regardless of how many years of service you may have with a company. If you ask, what do the other jurisdictions have? I can tell you that more than half of the provinces in Canada offer indexed vacations including New Brunswick which gives 6 per cent pay and three weeks vacation after eight years. Only Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Ontario have no indexation of vacation time.

Mr. Speaker, what about part-time benefits and what does that mean to part-time workers? Look now at what we have in this province, currently employers are able to offer part-time workers benefits if they wish but the right of part-time workers to benefits is not guaranteed in the minimum labour standards. Under this legislation a part-time employee would be offered the same benefit package as full-time employees at a firm employing 10 or more equivalent employees. These benefits would include things like dental, group life, accidental death or dismemberment and prescription drugs. A part-time worker working between 15 and 30 hours per week would be entitled to 50 per cent of the benefits. A part-time worker working more than 30 hours would of course be considered full time. Saskatchewan has explicitly put these rights into law.

Mr. Speaker, what about moving the minimum wage to a living wage? Our bill moves Cabinet's powers to set minimum wage from them to a review committee. This would help to take the politics out of the minimum wage. What would it mean to the minimum wage? Currently the minimum wage is $5.70 an hour, it is supposed to be going to $5.80 in October. This year the cost of the consumer price index is 2.7 per cent, adding 2 per cent would mean a 4.7 per cent increase. That would put the minimum wage in October at $5.97, a $0.17 increase over the already scheduled increase in October. For an employee working a 40 hour work week, that would mean about $6.80 more a week. It doesn't sound like a lot, but I want to tell you, think about what it is that they are already receiving. It is so much less than the provisions that we put forward in this bill. Right now the minimum wage is set by Cabinet,

[Page 3843]

there is an annual review of the minimum wage by the minister but he does not have the authority to change the rate.

Mr. Speaker, only Newfoundland has a lower minimum wage than Nova Scotia, New Brunswick is currently at $5.90. The average minimum wage in Canada is $6.24 for the year 2001. What about emergency parental leave? There is currently no allowance in the minimum standards for emergency parental leave. If you leave because of a sick child or spouse, you can be fired. Looking at other provincial jurisdictions, Quebec currently allows five days emergency parental leave, certainly not an unreasonable suggestion. What about shortening the hours of work before over-time? Nova Scotia currently has 48 hours before over-time, this is the longest week in Canada. Nova Scotia is one of only three provinces in Canada not to specify that over-time be paid at time and a half of the employee's regular rate. Nova Scotia only sets a minimum overtime, an overtime of time and a half the minimum wage. What do other jurisdictions have? Well, Mr. Speaker, half the provinces in Canada have a 40 hour work week, including Newfoundland. New Brunswick has a 44 hour week while P.E.I. currently shares the longest week with Nova Scotia at 48 hours.

All of the provisions that we have set forth in the Labour Standards Code are provisions that exist either in other provinces or in the majority of other provinces. They are reasonable suggestions put forward to improve people's lives. Speaking up for measures and proposing legislation like this is why members of the NDP caucus are here. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank the Official Opposition for tabling this bill and, indeed, giving me a chance also to comment. I always feel that anybody who comes into public life does so with good intentions and I think that it is no different with the members opposite. Indeed, with this bill I think that they are focused on some things that are near and dear to them. I have had a chance to consider and, indeed, inquire about some of their proposals. I think to quote the honourable Leader of the NDP, he says that these are progressive solutions. My concern is that they may be progressive and expensive solutions which ultimately may undermine the generation of new jobs or, indeed, the sustainability of jobs.

I am not sure that comparing the Nova Scotia minimum wage to other parts of Canada or the U.S. is necessarily a valid comparison. Indeed, if we look at the New England area where there is considerable competition for jobs, I understand that $8.00 or $9.00 U.S. per hour is not unusual for starting in places like McDonald's or Burger King and that is a happy circumstance for that area of North America. What that means is that demand is driving the minimum wage; it makes the minimum wage irrelevant in places like that because there is such a demand for qualified employees. That is what pushes up the real minimum wage, not the legislated ones.

[Page 3844]

So I have a few minor concerns with the NDP's suggestions and I would like to spend some time on them. First of all, I am curious what sort of consultation process the NDP perhaps went through before tabling this bill, not only speaking to various employee groups, but I am wondering if they went out to employers and tried to get some sense of what their reaction would be. There are some pretty ambitious suggestions here, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I do appreciate the argument that when somebody is with an employer for more than five years and then again more than 10, that perhaps there should be some recognition. But my gracious, Mr. Speaker, one would hope that an enlightened employer who has had somebody that they see fit to keep with them for five years would no longer be paying those employees minimum wage. Those employees become very valuable to that employer's business and, indeed, the future success of that business depends on the continued presence of those employees.

One way to retain employees, as the Opposition has pointed out here, is to increase their wages and I think any enlightened employer would concur with that. Additional vacation time is one, but those are things that I think the employer would want to do to retain those valuable employees.

The Opposition also points to the subject of group plans and it just happens that that is an area where perhaps I have some knowledge from the last seven years. In fact, I did some work in the insurance area and I am also wondering how much time that the Opposition spent talking with the insurance industry. Indeed, some of the proposals to extend the coverage perhaps to all employees, including part-time ones, should be checked out with the insurance industry because, Mr. Speaker, and forgive me, I still have my licence as a life and disability insurance agent and maybe the Opposition knows more about this than me, and that is possible, but to the best of my knowledge that is not something that is particularly attractive to insurance companies and so they should really discuss this with the insurance industry before they start proposing legislation that would perhaps not conform to what they are prepared to offer.

[4:30 p.m.]

With regard to that, Mr. Speaker, as my former colleague on the Public Accounts Committee, you would know that sometimes just because the private sector is not willing to perhaps concur with some of the NDP's views of the way things should work, such as when we had very high diesel fuel prices I can remember that the NDP Energy Critic in fact suggested we get into the retail gasoline business to help lower the costs. So maybe the NDP is suggesting here that they would like to go into the insurance business and start to show the insurance industry how it can be done to extend that coverage.

[Page 3845]

Mr. Speaker, I should not make light of the NDP's legitimate concern because their concern also concerns members on this side of the House, and you know the subject of health and dental benefits is something that is important to everybody, but I think that it would be appropriate to check out just what vehicles are available out there before we start passing legislation that may go completely amok of an industry.

Another interesting thing about that, Mr. Speaker, is that health and dental benefits, - and I am sure that members opposite are well aware of this - are tax deductible to the employer, but they are not a taxable benefit to the employee. While that is wonderful for somebody who is paying income tax, it is not a tremendous benefit to somebody who is on minimum wage, because in Nova Scotia there is a special accommodation for low-income earners, and in fact they do not start paying tax until they are well along above the minimum wage level.

So it would be a questionable benefit, and the other thing, Mr. Speaker, I think that you would want to be aware of - and I am sure the members opposite would want to be aware of this - is that quite often when people put in health and dental plans, the expectation is that the employee pays 50 per cent of the premium and that would be a difficulty for these people. So those are just a few minor observations there.

Mr. Speaker, I also noticed that with a guaranteed 2 per cent increase per year, and I think all members in this House, having some grasp of numbers, might be familiar with the rule of 72. The rule of 72 is a financial planning measure and what it means is that the product of the two numbers, when they come up to 72, it gives an indication of the number of years it would take to double. So in the case of a guaranteed increase of 2 per cent per year over 36 years, that would effectively be a real doubling of the minimum wage, plus all the increases to inflation, plus the 8 per cent vacation pay. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting notion and what it would mean is that if we were to turn the clock forward into today's environment, what they are proposing is a minimum wage by the end of the year of approximately $11.60. I think that that is a very interesting notion and I would be interested to hear the NDP go out and perhaps talk with the employers in the province and get their reaction to this. Indeed, one employer group that I think would be particularly interested in this might be the tourism industry. We talk about the tourism industry quite a bit in this Chamber, and one of the things we talk about is the growth in the tourism industry and how important it is to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, my sense of the tourism industry is that, in fact, it hires a lot of people on a seasonal basis, maybe university students, and it pays them what it can, but that may be something closer to minimum wage. I just wonder how that would impact on the tourism industry, which is a major employer in Nova Scotia?

[Page 3846]

Let's say the member for Cape Breton West, for instance, after his illustrious political career is over, decides that he might like to invest substantially in opening a tourism facility somewhere in Cape Breton, because I understand that there are people there as well as in other parts of the province who would like to seek employment. Let's say it is a major investment and he gets some backers. It is a $25 million proposal and perhaps there is a change in government and members of the Official Opposition become government, kind of a scary thought to me, but they come in there and they bring in this legislation.

The member for Cape Breton West has $25 million lined up and he is going to open a beautiful spa and they pass this bill. He looks at it and he says, on his 20 year amortization, this means that the cost of wages, let's say they go from 50 per cent of his operating cost to 90 per cent and he is projecting losses by the end of the time, all because of the good intentions of the NDP. Well, Mr. Speaker, he and his investors might not choose to make that investment any more. I think that is a concern to me and I think it is a concern to Nova Scotians, especially Nova Scotians who are looking for those jobs, those jobs that start them off in life. It is very important to be able to work in this province and I have a lot of sympathy for the working poor and I think the NDP wants to help them. But the worst thing we can do for them is to rob them of the opportunity to work. I feel that these good intentions ultimately may defeat the very purpose that they wish to achieve with this bill.

Other interesting things about this - and Mr. Speaker, I am also interested in the numbers from the Official Opposition. They have not given us some sort of impact of what the cost would be to the economy and to employers, some interesting suggestions. It seems to be perhaps somewhat a lack of homework as to what the actual outcome might be. The inflationary impact would be substantial. What an interesting suggestion to transfer the minimum wage from an elected official to an unelected board. I wonder who they would be putting on that board? I just wonder what the effect of people wanting to come and be employers here in this province would be if they felt that an unelected board was controlling the cost of what major inputs would be and that being the cost of labour.

Mr. Speaker, I have quite a bit more that I would like to say on this, apart from probably destroying the tourism industry over time and many other important industries in Nova Scotia. Somehow or other this does not sound like it would bode well for the working poor in this province. In fact, I think what it would do is it would swell the ranks of social assistance as those jobs dried up with passage of such a bill. Thank you.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I have heard a lot of stuff. I don't know what that minister is smoking, but I tell you, it is strange. What we have heard today from the minister on this particular issue demonstrates quite clearly how little he knows about labour standards and the issue of minimum wage in this province. Does he not know about the variables, the parameters by which we measure what minimum wage is by doing

[Page 3847]

comparables, by doing an analysis of our GNP, by not assessing the impact of what minimum wage will do in the various sectors in the economy and so on and so on? Is that how little that minister knows? Does he not know that 75 per cent to 80 per cent of all individuals receiving minimum wage are part-time workers and students? Is that how little he knows? He is talking about inflating welfare? Who in the name of heavens prepared his briefing notes? Certainly, it couldn't be him, or maybe it was because that would clearly state my case. He doesn't know what is going on. Do you not know, Mr. Minister - through you, Mr. Speaker - that any impact from the minimum wage, 10 per cent, a 10 cent increase would represent .2002 per cent of the GNP of this province? That is how minuscule it is.

That is how little that minister knows about his department. That is absolutely shameful, for him to stand and attack a fairly reasonable proposal; for him to suggest that it may have a negative impact on the insurance industry. Does he not know about the exemptions for the minimum wage, such as those receiving commissions, as those individuals employed in the insurance industry? Does he not know about car dealers and all those self-employed individuals or those who act on commission? Has he not even read the Labour Standards Code?

It is an absolute disgrace, when we have a minister stand in his place and prove to all members of the House that he doesn't know what is going on in his department. I don't necessarily agree with the full dynamics of what is in this particular piece of legislation, but I do know one thing, it is a fairly honourable attempt to examine the dynamics of the process, by having this Labour Management Board take the politics out of it.

Mr. Speaker, I can speak from experience as to how difficult it was to change the mindset of industry. What do you think industry is going to say? We want to pay our employees more money and make less profit. Duh, has that not sunk in to the minister? Is that all he wants to do, listen to industry? Because he was an insurance salesman, he thinks everything is around that little cocoon. Well, get out of your cocoon and look at the big picture, understand what is happening in the economy of this province.

Mr. Speaker, we could easily increase the minimum wage by another 10 cents per annum for the next three years and it would still not keep up with inflation. It would barely put us on par with the rest of the Maritime Provinces, the New England States, with which we do the vast majority of our business. Has he not done an analysis on that? I would say not. If he had, he would have given some consideration to what this particular piece of legislation says.

Mr. Speaker, how many people are we talking about in Nova Scotia on minimum wage? It may seem like a lot. The last time we did an analysis, we were only talking approximately 30,000, maybe 40,000 maximum, of which 70 per cent were either part-time or students, and a large percentage of those were students depending on tips, if they worked in a bar or a restaurant or some type of hospitality industry. What the minister said is

[Page 3848]

absolutely unfair and, in many respects, untrue, because it does little to engender the dynamics of the good points that are in this particular piece of legislation.

Changing the definition of a minimum wage, I don't necessarily agree with. To be honest with you, I haven't given, perhaps, close enough scrutiny to exactly what the NDP is trying to accomplish - I will certainly put that caveat there - and maybe I should have. That having been said, you just don't cast it off without doing a proper analysis, as the minister has done. It is most unfair. There are a lot of good things with this particular piece of legislation that are worth supporting. The minister talks about consultation. Who did he consult with before he came in and embarrassed himself when he spoke?

There are certain things in this particular piece of legislation, this bill, that are supportable. The idea of bringing labour and management together to be able to develop a meeting of the minds on some very serious issues that have polarized labour and management for generations, I think, is a very worthwhile option to consider. As well, maybe the minister should examine exactly what the definition is, what the purpose is, what is the intent of a minimum wage? He hasn't even come close to the Richter scale and this is something that this particular piece of legislation is trying to address.

The whole idea is to guarantee a minimum source of income for those who would be coming into a training process - whether it be tourism, forestry or what have you, the retail industry or some student or person working in the hospitality industry as a waitress or a bartender, what have you - then when they get up to a certain level, the presumption would be that the employer would treat them in a reasonable, fair manner. Maybe this is what the NDP is trying to address, the fact that too many employers have been using the minimum wage as a crutch to hold the employees from receiving a fair and just wage. That is a separate and above issue that could be addressed in a different way.

But, the minister missed the point. He is talking about how - because we are guaranteeing a minimum wage - that may force welfare rolls up. I fail to see the logic. The Minister of Community Services himself, under this new process that he has involved his department in, the reform bill, in concert with the federal government would completely and unequivocally dismiss everything that the Minster of Labour has said on that.

The issues that have been raised in this particular piece of legislation are worthy of consideration. Now, if the bill were to go on to the Private and Local Bills Committee or the Law Amendments Committee or what the process would be - further examination - and if the government still doesn't like what they see, they can hold it to task. It certainly is supportable going on to the next level. We would expect at the very minimum, a reasoned and intelligent debate from the chief labour officer in this province on behalf of his department.

[Page 3849]

When we examined the minimum wage issue once before, we had to examine, we had to consult with just about every facet of labour and management. The federation of independent business, Canadian manufacturers' alliance, individual employers whether it be in farming, forestry, fishing, any type of resource, the manufacturing, the retail, we consulted with the Nova Scotia restaurant and food association - all these different groups. Yes, we did listen to labour groups as well and we did listen to individual employees who were not members of an organized labour pool; 70 per cent of Nova Scotians are not members of organized labour groups. That is why we had to listen to a lot of them. That is why, when we were in government, maybe it wasn't a perfect solution, maybe it wasn't enough, but given the dynamics and the information that we had at that time, it was a good start; 10 cents a year for the following three years to set the stage to at least allow enough time perhaps for bills, like Bill No. 53 to come before this House and receive some certain consideration from the government and from all members of the Legislature, to allow all stakeholders to come forth.

What is so unreasonable? I applaud the sponsor of this particular piece of legislation. Exactly. Whoever introduced this particular piece of legislation, the Official Opposition, they may always be Opposition, but that doesn't preclude that they can't have some good ideas. That is right and that is why they are there. That is why they will probably stay there.

I think that we have to examine - we are in a changing economy here in so many ways. The government is talking about restructuring the whole organization of government. At the rate it is going, it is going to be all about big business and who you know in government and what type of influence you have - the more money, the more influence, the more power. That is wrong, and I would invite the Minister of Environment and Labour to speak with his colleagues in the other jurisdictions. It was always an annual event to have the ministers come together and have a roundtable discussion on a whole variety of issues, including the minimum wage and labour standards issues.

At the time when we introduced increases to the minimum wage we were the highest in Atlantic Canada, we were the highest. Since then, Prince Edward Island and then New Brunswick all started to follow our lead. Is it enough? Who knows? That is open for further debate but, at least, we did the responsible thing when we were in government, under the MacLellan Government, because we were listening to what people were saying. We were not talking in a very myopic, single-minded cocoon that the Minister of Environment and Labour is talking about.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly support the intent of this particular piece of legislation. There are some issues that require fine-tuning but I certainly would be supporting it going on to the Private and Local Bills Committee. Thank you very kindly.

[Page 3850]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to come up and speak on this bill because the Minister of Environment and Labour, in his lengthy dissertation and discussion on this bill, kept ripping it apart and saying things, that I put forward to you, Mr. Speaker, are blatantly untrue. One of them is that we have talked to people, indeed, in the tourism industry. Those people, I know in Cape Breton, have said there is no way to build an economy on the backs of low-wage earners, that these have to be moved forward, yet, this very government seems to think that that is where it is at.

I have seen how they have used labour standards in this very House, where the people who work for us in this House, the Pages and the messengers, because they found a loophole in labour standards, they don't pay them holidays any more, Mr. Speaker. So the few lousy bucks this government pays its workers in this very House, it circumvents it again by not paying them any listed holidays. I guess that that really shows you where this government's mind is at. It tells you where their mind is at when it comes to helping families, because this is what this is all about.

We put a bill forward that wants to improve work and home life and what this government does is - is it worried about families? Is it worried about single-waged families? No. This government led a vicious attack against this bill, led by the minister of unlabour who wants to champion the cause of large insurance companies and big business. Where in his diatribe against this bill did he say anything reasonable about workers?

Speakers before me have talked about the amount of non-unionized labour in this province and that is a problem because they have no voice in the workplace. If their final court of appeal in this province rests with this Minister of Environment and Labour, then God help them because they are in a bind. Yet, when we bring in a reasonable request which takes us from the second lowest of 10 provinces, the second lowest minimum wage in this country - and this government is proud of that. What do they want us to become? Nicaragua North, Mr. Speaker? Is that what this is all about? Is this all about valuing Nova Scotians and their work? Is that what it is?

No, it is about toadying up to a corporate agenda. There is no difference. We will have members of the Opposition go to other provinces and go to other countries, go to other hemispheres and talk about workers' rights, but yet when it comes down to looking in their own backyards they turn a blind eye to it.

These proposals, this bill is not a revolutionary-style bill. Let's look at some of the aspects of it. To allow overtime to start at 40 hours, I want to say that again Mr. Speaker, because I think it has to be sunk in; allow overtime to start after 40 hours. To allow a worker to have an eight hour day; now, what is wrong with that? What subversive message could we be putting in that? It is a very straightforward idea, it is an idea that the federal Labour

[Page 3851]

Relations Board buys into, that you get overtime after 40 hours. Why is that so foreign to this government?

Mr. Speaker, why is it foreign to this government to allow part-time workers to get benefits? What is so foreign about that? You know, the vast majority of casual part-time workers in this province don't work for mom and pop little grocery chains or whatever, because they are non-existent. They have been bought out by the Weston family or the Sobey family and they are large wealthy conglomerates. Why shouldn't they get involved, why shouldn't they have benefits?

The minister likes to hearken back to his connections with the insurance industry. I will tell you that I would think the insurance industry would jump at that chance to get involved. It is a matter of doing more business. If there are more people, there are going to be more premiums paid, Mr. Speaker. It makes eminent sense. But this government wants to say, oh no, that is going to retard growth in an industry. What it tells me, what I have to go back to, Mr. Speaker, is this government I should say, not this province, this government seems to believe that economic renewal will be done at $5.70 an hour and no more.

Let's look at another aspect of this bill. Let's talk about five days of unpaid leave. Is it a radical concept? I say no, Mr. Speaker. The one thing that everybody in this House says they believe in is the family, that it is important that we get out and work hard and try to support our families. From time to time, especially for ones on the low end of the wage sector, there are emergencies. They may have a small family and there is an emergency with child care or with sickness with your child or your spouse, this is what this is intended to help. This is intended to allow these people, because they don't have the financial wherewithal to go and hire someone extra to look after their child because the wage is literally too low. That would help them.

I was just bowled over by this statement, that if we raise the minimum wage to a working wage, to a fair wage so they can participate in the economy, that this government, this minister, tells us that it is going to swell the ranks of people receiving Community Services money. What planet did he just drop in from? Where is he from? Where does he get this? Where is the correlation with raising the minimum wage and swelling the welfare rolls? Where did he come from? Who beamed him down? This minister is so out of touch with the reality of the workforce in this province that it is shameful.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what we are trying to introduce here, and I want to go back because it is important, we are trying to drill into that member's head that we are talking about a living wage. When we talked to the former head of Tourism Cape Breton, he tells us that we cannot live on that stuff. People cannot raise a family on $5.70 an hour. That is simple. So let's look

[Page 3852]

at some other aspects because it is frightening how ill-informed this minister is. Let's talk about the form of a progressive vacation credit system.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about tourism and its effect. What about our own low-wage Nova Scotians who may want to, you know, their wages are so low that they certainly not going to jet off to Cuba for a couple of weeks, but what they would like to do is have a vacation and by and large that vacation is going to be spent here in Nova Scotia. So it is money going into the economy, that money. Whereas, people who are making a greater wage may go to the United States, or to Ontario, but these people are restricted. So, this economy, they may go to Halifax or they may leave this area and go down and spend a few days on the Cabot Trail. Heaven forfend that we would take any money out of the capital area and spend it in Cape Breton, heaven forfend that.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is extremely important that they understand that these are progressive ways to grow your economy. These aren't, as that ill-advised minister would have you believe, a downward pressure on your economy, but what it is, is actually a growth to your economy. Yet that minister because, he hasn't been briefed on this bill, they wound him up like a cheap Mickey Mouse watch and he stood in his place and rambled for 13 minutes and prattled on about nothing. He cares not one iota about workers in this province. He cares not one iota about employers in this province, about having workers who are rested, workers who have the respect and have the time they need with their families to be productive workers. That minister should be ashamed to say what he says.

If you listen to him like I listened to him, Mr. Speaker, the only thing he worried about was the employer side of it and not even in a strategic way. He didn't even look at it in a real way, a well-paid employee, a well-rested employee, an employee who is respected by their employer is a productive employee. Yet that minister, a minister who probably failed more at business than succeeded, is telling us how our Labour Standards Code should act.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope what I just said was true, that that minister got up and prattled on for 13 minutes about his position and not that of the government. I would hope that this government is much more forward-thinking than that because I think it is necessary that we have progressive legislation to help the working families of this province and we are here to support this. That is why we are here and I am going to take my place and get a vote.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I don't have much time. As a matter of fact, I believe my time is almost expired - 5:04 p.m. - but I am pleased . . .

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

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

[Page 3853]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think that was one of the longest speeches I have heard from this member in the House so far.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Workers Health and Safety Act.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in the words of Yogi Berra, déjà vu all over again.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, sir, Yogi, you're the man.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this is a timely bill. We had decided to call this long before we knew about the goings on at Pioneer Coal Mine today, where this minister is comparing - has the gall to compare - a soft coal mine on the Foord seam in Pictou County with Virginia. I think if anywhere they should use that mining and boring drill is to channel something into his brain. He has no idea about workers.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, that wasn't very nice.

MR. CORBETT: Well you know what, Mr. Speaker? You are absolutely right. It wasn't nice and it wasn't intended to be nice. They can moan all they want over there, but you know what? Silly me remembers when there was a Premier from Pictou County before this Premier from Pictou County and miners died. They may think that is funny, but as a son of a miner of 47 years in the underground mine, that is something I take very seriously. If they are laughing, well, the heck they can laugh because I take it seriously. It is serious business to me. Obviously, that lot over there, and I see a little scowl and stare from the erstwhile member for Dartmouth South. I know what his thoughts are on worker safety.

Mr. Speaker, it is important in this day and age. As the previous bill, it is all about moving this province forward. It is not about letting it languish in the Dark Ages. It is talking about, as the previous bill was, giving workers some time with their families and a living wage. This bill folds in nicely because what it talks about is when the worker is at work that they have the right to a safe environment. Now we know this government cares very little about a safe environment that you live in because we heard questions today about north of the coke ovens site and tar ponds. They think by studies that is going to help these people. They are wrong. We have schools in the HRM.

So, Mr. Speaker, all these things are important. These are bills designed, not as some people in the government would have you believe as ones that are a deterrent to growth, but I challenge this government to see them as bills that grow the economy, that tell people of

[Page 3854]

the value of work and the value of a safe workplace. They are the type of businesses that we want to attract to this province. We want those businesses to come here and realize that we are going to have safe, healthy workers.

I want to go through a few of these, Mr. Speaker. One of the major planks of this bill is establishing a corporate responsibility for health and safety. The Westray Inquiry concluded that the corporate officers and the executives must have liability in the event of health and safety violations. I guess, by way of example, would be if we look at the responsibility and how it comes down. If you remember some very compelling evidence from Judge Richard's inquiry, they spoke about monitors being tampered with gum and other substances. There is a responsibility chain that should come right down and should be acted upon and should be enforced. That is where it comes from; it comes from the top.

Mr. Speaker, you, as the Chairman of this Assembly, you are the person who is ultimately responsible, as you sit in that Chair, as the corporate president, the CEO has to be the one where the buck stops. They have to be involved, they can't just wash their hands of responsibility. I know I only have a short time to speak today, so I am trying to hit on much of the information I have here. For some time, since the mid-1990's at least, we have seen undue violence in the workplace and air quality regulations being stymied by the previous Liberal Government and now this government on a few occasions.

Violence in the workplace takes many forms. We had talked in this House last week about an extremely unfortunate incident in a convenience store in Antigonish, where a young clerk - working late, an overnight shift, was apparently the victim of - I am not sure if there have been any charges, I don't believe there have been - a robbery - and ended up being fatally stabbed. It brought into play, violence in the workplace regulations. At that hour of the night, should they have - if the convenience stores are going to stay open - two employees?

Mr. Speaker, again, it is a cost. We know that. I guess it begs the question, what cost is human life? If you are not willing to pay that extra money, what is it going to cost? We have a problem with that. We have many instances, in many of our working mills in this province, with air quality. Again, we are fairly fortunate in areas where we have unionized shops. They are the ones that roll out a lot of our workplace safety regulations and enforce them. Again, this is all about a government that is not willing to spend on that resource.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other highlights I want to talk about is ensuring a full-time trained prosecutor whose first responsibility is prosecution on the Environment Act and occupational health and safety. Again, from Justice Richard's inquiry, it is a direct result of the Westray Inquiry. Why is that important? Because these burdens of proof are somewhat different in a case involving occupational health and safety than it would be if you are prosecuting a case strictly on the criminal code aspects. That is one that I believe has to be

[Page 3855]

upheld. Again, these go back to the mere fact that this has been requested, and it should be upheld.

This is not a radical topic put forward or a piece of legislation merely thought up by our Party or another Opposition Party. This was a direct result of an inquiry into a fatality in this province. We should be implementing an annual report on workplace health and safety in order to put these issues on the front burner. These are important. Why won't this government see that? Why is worker safety not important to this government?

When asked the question today about the high-wall mining equipment used at Pioneer, not once did the minister answer by saying, well, we have talked to the union. (Interruptions) No. Where were they? This minister did not table any JOSH meeting's minutes. They weren't there, and I will tell you it scares me when you think of this government. This government is writing a blank cheque, if you will, for one of its largest donors during the last provincial election, Mr. Chisholm.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, how can we have faith that this is going on? Why wouldn't the minister take seriously the position put forward last week by the union representing the workers? It was less than a year ago when the owner of that mine was charged and accused of running a worker over with a front-end loader. Look, the minister is laughing over there. That is what they say about workers' rights. (Interruptions) It is too pathetic to laugh at, says the member for Dartmouth South. It's too pathetic to laugh at, workers' rights. That pillar of the hardware community is telling us that, that it's too pathetic.

These guys just don't get it that workers have rights. They are human beings. They are not chattel to be used at the whim of the large donors of this government. What it is about is respect. It is about respect for the work and the dignity of that work. It is about knowing that if your mom, your dad, your sister, your husband, your wife, your daughter, your son, when they go to work they go there and there is an expectation that they can work in a safe and clean environment. That is not too much to ask. That is reasonable in a society in the year 2001. Yet, this bill put forward by us, I think, are all reasonable requests that would help move the cause of a safe workplace in this province forward. There is nothing in here that puts the onus on any one Party. That is not what health and safety used to be. What health and safety is meant to be is that we respect each other in the workplace. That is what this government fails to realize. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: It is just delightful to be able to get up here again today and enter into some of the debate here. I always appreciate the comments from the members opposite. I may not always agree with them but I do think they mean well with this bill, and

[Page 3856]

the member speaks passionately. I do disagree with some of his points and I would like, over the next few minutes, to perhaps address some of them.

First of all, I would like to recognize that the member opposite does believe passionately about health and safety, and I share his passion. By introducing this bill he has brought attention to this and, indeed, it was not too long ago that all Parties in this House, including me, as the minister, endorsed his resolution on national Occupational Safety and Health Week. We also endorsed the one from the Liberal Party. Of course, the Liberal critic vetoed ours and then got up and bragged about it, but at least the Official Opposition and the government do take health and safety seriously. It is regrettable that the Liberals would have such a spokesperson who takes it so lightly. That was their Party's decision.

I would say that many of the members suggestions have some merit but I am not convinced that the need for legislation is necessarily the appropriate way to address them. I would like to make the member aware that many of the issues that he raises in his bill are in fact already currently in place. There are two outstanding regulations that we are working on in the department and he makes specific reference to these in his bill, trying to put a time frame in place for them to come into place.

Again, I appreciate his passion for this, but I would say, Mr. Speaker, just because you legislate that something comes into place, you have not addressed the quality of the regulations to be brought in place. That is a process that is being dealt with through extensive consultation with the various stakeholder groups and is being vetted through the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council, a council that I hope the member opposite becomes familiar with someday. He should be aware of it because, in fact, appointed to that council is the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and I understand that he, in fact, sits in on the caucus meetings of the members opposite. (Interruptions)

With regard to indoor air quality regulations, I would like to just go over a few of the things that have happened in bringing them forward. These regulations have been worked on since 1994, which would be a credit to the previous government, although perhaps not the previous Minister of Labour, not their last one. When a public consultation document was distributed, a working group of stakeholders was put in place to discuss the need for regulation and, if needed, the content based on the public input. A draft regulation was proposed and was subjected to review. That consultation resulted in some changes to the draft; the working group was brought together again to review the suggested changes and in 1998, they made a recommendation to the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council and subsequently to the department.

There were issues such as smoking where there was non-consensus, and a recommendation in these areas had to be developed by the department. The draft was taken back to the advisory council and made available to the working group for any additional comments. The stakeholders have at this time asked for some additional time to review the

[Page 3857]

impact of the regulations and we expect to complete this round of consultation towards the end of June this year.

Describing the process I hope impresses upon the member that work on this regulation has been ongoing for several years. It would appear to be drawing to a conclusion. The department's intent is to bring the regulation forward. The point here is that when we bring this regulation forward, it will be a reasonable balance between protection for the workers and a requirement for the workplace, employers and owners. We are committed to completing the process. Creating a requirement of a bill with an artificial time frame is not needed to ensure the work is completed.

Violence in the workplace regulation; the recent tragedy that the member has spoken of in Antigonish reinforces the requirement for some action in this area of workplace violence. If these experiences in Nova Scotia weren't compelling enough, we only need to look to our neighbouring jurisdictions, perhaps particularly to the south, to see that violence can be a real hazard in the workplace. The development process with these proposed regulations has been lengthy but we are approaching the point where Cabinet will be asked to consider the need for and the content of a specific set of regulations. The support of the member in moving this initiative is appreciated. As with the indoor air quality regulations, work is proceeding and an artificial time frame for passage proposed by a bill will not add value to the development process.

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has requested that the bill be brought forward to require that an annual report be prepared and submitted to the House of Assembly. The information being requested in this report is, for the most part, presently available from the Occupational Health and Safety Division. In that regard, I cannot be as kind in my comments of the member opposite because he just got up and said that workers' safety is not important to this government. Well, I have to take exception with that quote. I would think that if he was so fixated on the importance of workers' safety, he might want to familiarize himself with this which I will table at the conclusion of this, because a lot of the questions that he says he is looking for answers for are indeed readily available. Again, if workplace safety was so important to him, he might use the tools that are already available instead of drafting a bill legislating that this be done, because it is already in place.

There is a reporting requirement presently in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 9(f), which specifies a report to the Advisory Council on health and safety is to be prepared annually, and I will be tabling the documents. Not only that, but also the framework for the annual report, which is something that I would encourage the members opposite to familiarize themselves with so it can assist them in directing a future debate, both of which have been discussed with the Advisory Council . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North on a point of order.

[Page 3858]

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the minister would entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour entertain a question from the honourable member for Dartmouth North?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, would the member opposite forego his 13 minutes at the end and let me tack it on to mine so that I not be shortchanged in my time?

MR. SPEAKER: I guess the answer is no. The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour has the floor.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, however, there were some additional items that were brought forward in this bill and I have asked my department to prepare a letter to the Advisory Council to consider their suggestions that are not already in the Act.

Mr. Speaker, Clause 4, they are recommending that officers and directors of corporations take some personal responsibility for the actions within their company. So the proposed revision to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to create an offence that is specific to directors and officers of a corporation, is presently addressed in Section 76 of the current Act. Again, I would ask the member to check out the current Act before proposing to create a new one.

He would know that as a party, an officer acquiescing to an unsafe act or violation of the regulations is personally guilty of an offence. Again, in fact the Act deals with a great part of this. The suggestion about directors is something that has been forwarded in the letter for consideration. There has been considerable review already of these provisions during the last round of discussions on the Act. The proposed offence provisions will be referred, as I said before, to counsel for their advice. We would not be proceeding with any changes without the proper consultation. As to the Director of Public Prosecutions assigning somebody full time for Environment and Labour, I would suggest that is something that the members might take up with the honourable Minister of Justice.

I would like to go on, Mr. Speaker, but the 13 minutes that I was trying to bargain for from the member for Dartmouth North was not given to me. So as a little throw back to the budget debate, I would like to share some statistics that I will then table and these are from the annual report of the Occupational Health and Safety Division. What it shows is that there is almost a 50 per cent increase in general inspections in 1999-2000, and that is increased on as we ramp up the inspection activity. There was an increase from 14 to 37 prosecutions initiated by my department. There was an increase from 143 to 258 re-inspections; we increased the number of complaints investigated from 533 to 703; and the incidents investigated were increased from 185 to 239.

[Page 3859]

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think it is important to recognize that this bill is dealing with some very serious issues. The Minister of Environment and Labour, quite frankly, is dealing with them in a fairly dismissive way, and I would have hoped he would have taken the time to deal with them in a more productive manner.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 52. There are a considerable number of issues in Bill No. 52 that are worth supporting. The only issue I would have some difficulty with is the methodology by which the NDP approaches this particular issue. That aside, I believe some very valid points have been made about occupational health and safety. The minister during his dissertation indicated that they were dealing with several sets of regulations that are now before his department, but he refused to state what the status is. Yet during Question Period the other day, he indicated that the violence in the workplace regulations were now before the Department of Justice for fine tuning to go on to P&P and they would soon be approved. With that, the look of absolute shock from the Minister of Justice who didn't even know what the Minister of Environment and Labour was talking about . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He was quite surprised.

MR. MACKINNON: I wouldn't be one bit surprised that no such regulations are before the Department of Justice.

I am not saying that the Minister of Environment and Labour was up to a little bit of mischief. I would be just as anxious to give him the benefit of the doubt. That is not surprising, Mr. Speaker, because some of the critical issues in this particular bill, such as Clause 2 which speaks to the development and adoption of indoor air quality regulations and violence in the workplace regulations, well we saw some pretty substantive reasons as to why we should support this clause. Just in the last year, after an order was issued to two hospitals in the Valley area, one in Yarmouth and one in Annapolis, with regard to the Stationary Engineers Act violations, there were some very serious issues. Orders were issued by inspectors within the minister's department and what does the minister do . . .

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: On a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker. There is no hospital in Annapolis, his government reduced it to a health centre. That is just a point of clarification.

[Page 3860]

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order, but a point of fact.

MR. MACKINNON: That goes to show you how frivolous the government members are when dealing on some health and safety issues in this province. They would rather be more concerned with rabbit tracks than the health and safety of the workers or, indeed, the patients in that facility. Call it a hospital; call it a health care centre; call it a bamboo shoot if you like, it doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is there have been infractions of the laws of this province and what does the minister do? He issues an order through the auspices of his department directing the officials to rescind orders that were issued by the inspectors, violating the laws of this province. And what do we get? Frivolous diatribe from backbenchers as to what they want to call a facility.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we need to give some support to occupational health and safety issues such as Bill No. 52 and some of the good issues that are in this particular bill. We don't need more political interference that is coming from that government. We don't need some of that senseless diatribe that is coming even from the highest level within labour

laws of this province.

Mr. Speaker, remember back on June 3, 1999? Yes, you perhaps remember it in a previous life, when you were sitting on this side of the House, like many members of the Tory caucus, when this infamous bill, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Amended), was introduced by the member for Digby-Annapolis and what does it propose to do? It proposes to do, just as I have just done, rip up the occupational health and safety laws of this province. He wants to rescind occupational health and safety laws. That is what he proposes to do and this minister is just a rubber-stamp for what the Minister of Economic Development was proposing on this side of the House: do away with the occupational health and safety laws. Why? Because it is not good for big business; it is not good for political interests; it is not good for friends of the government.

Mr. Speaker, that is the type of foolishness that is coming out of the Department of Environment and Labour these days. The minister stands up with statistics about increased inspections, increased re-inspections. Do you know why? Well, I will give you some statistical information why. Since this government came to power in the year 2000, the total number of time-loss claims in 2000 has increased by 11 per cent; that is why. Despite the political interference, inspectors are trying to do due diligence. They are trying to do their job despite the fact that the minister interfered with such major inspections as what happened in Amherst Fabricators. Yes, it is very difficult to be a professional under that political regime.

Another reason perhaps why the inspections are up, Mr. Speaker, is by his own report the average duration of time-loss claims increased by almost 4 per cent in the same period. The fact of the matter is because they tampered with the occupational health and safety laws, because his predecessor, who is now the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, actually brought in a sunset clause to do away with the occupational health and

[Page 3861]

safety regulations, they have caused more disharmony in the workplace, and do you know what is going to happen? With Bill No. 20 that we now have, because of what they are doing, we will have more political interference. We will see increases in injuries. We will see an increase in deaths in the workplace whether we like to admit it or not and, do you know what? If you are looking at it strictly from a monetary point of view, we are going to see an increase in the rates to employers in the long term.

Yes, in the short term, Mr. Speaker, they will be able to gerrymander and interfere with the process, manipulate the rates for some 30,000 employers in this province going into an election year, but do you know what will happen? Just as I suggested with the member for Preston, there will be political interference and there will be political pressure put on employers to compromise not only their operations, but the well-being and the safety of their employers.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is why Clause 2 of Bill No. 52 is very important and I support that. I think that is a good piece of legislation to support. The minister stands in this House, as feeble as it is, we have got to give him credit for one thing, at least he stood up this time, but he didn't say much, and there wasn't much logic to what he said, aside from that semi-prepared text that was provided to him.

Mr. Speaker, how much does he really know? Let's talk about occupational health and safety and the review of the workers' compensation system. Let's look at the letter that was provided to Mrs. Lewis, President of the Cape Breton Injured Workers' Association, on April 2, 2001, signed by yours truly, David Morse, Minister, thanking her for accepting the post, this job, this volunteer position on this committee, and then we find out she is in England. She didn't even volunteer, she didn't ask; she didn't submit a name; she didn't submit a request to be on it. I mean is that how poor the political flow of information is coming out of this department? It is so pathetic, it is almost laughable.

Mr. Speaker, even today, when it came to the safety and the well-being of the residents in Whitney Pier, the minister wouldn't even have the gumption to go and respond to the request by CBC Newsworld and give some straight answers. The same minister who went down to the Whitney Pier and said to his employees in the Department of Environment and Labour, I am so overwhelmed at what I see and what I smell that I am unable to speak.

Well, it must have had quite an impact because he hasn't said much in this House since. A little gobbledegook, a little mumbo-jumbo about his previous life as an insurance salesman. Is that the only criteria that is required to make a Minister of the Crown these days? Maybe that is what he thinks he is at - he is at an Alliance meeting. Maybe he should give Stock a call. Stockwell Day's stocks seem to be falling and at the rate this minister is going, he is not going to be far behind.

[Page 3862]

We see what he did when it came to the health and the safety of the residents in Kings County. Yes, he played politics with that and do you know what he is doing now? He is now perpetrating his mischief on the residents of Halifax County by shipping the garbage up to Halifax County. Yes. And when he got caught with his finger in the cookie jar there, what did he do? Now he is shipping it down to Queens County. Yes. What county is next? Musical garbage. Is that what he is doing? Which is going to be next? Colchester County? It is an absolute disgrace. He won't even go and test the water out behind the Halifax International Airport to see if the residents are drinking safe water. He can't even tell us how much water supply we have in the province. Maybe he is going for a drink of some of that water from the Pier.

I guess it is getting a bit much for the minister. The facts are the facts. Maybe that is what he is not accustomed to. It is an absolute shame. He stands in his place and talks about occupational health and safety, well he is the biggest apologist for certain interests that have no regard for occupational health and safety laws of this province that I have ever witnessed. Second to his partner, who was in that ministry before him. We could go on and on. He is the same minister that stands in his place and chastises the sponsors of this bill by saying, they lack consultation. Well, here is the same minister, "We respond to the chief medical officer's request, not to requests by members of the Legislature . . ." Well, have you ever heard the likes? A Minister of the Crown who is supposed to answer questions in this House in Question Period or in any other forum, whether it be budgetary process or what, it is an accountability process.

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

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: How do I follow that up? Staying with the Sesame Street theme, earlier in the day we were talking about Bert and Ernie and some of the comments around my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, made around one of the ministers - a resemblance to a muppet character on Sesame Street. After following the Minister of Labour and following the member for Cape Breton West makes me think of the old Sesame Street song, One of These Things is Not Like the Others?

I want to take a couple of minutes to talk about the issue of the workers' health and safety bill. It is vital that this piece of legislation be debated. Now, there are many issues that my colleague for Cape Breton Centre spoke about, I am going to particularly draw on a couple of them. One from my own personal experience, I truly believe need to be addressed in the Legislature. Many of you may know, or if you don't I will give you a brief synopsis, I worked on that Occupational Health and Safety Act that is now the law and I feel pretty good about that.

[Page 3863]

The former Minister of Labour, Guy Brown, who was in this House earlier today, good man. You know, at one point he said to me today, he was in the lounge and he came over to me and he said - the member for Victoria was also there - and Mr. Brown looked at me and he said, yes, of course, I remember you, you used to be in my office giving us advice on the health and safety Act. Now that I see you in the Legislature and I shake my head and I say, what did we ever do to convince you to run for the NDP? I said to him, it wasn't you, Mr. Brown, it was Jay Abbass who was there before you who convinced me that I should probably run for the NDP. Mr. Speaker, the point is that Guy Brown did a terrific job in getting through a piece of legislation that is so important to the workers of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, you know there are times in which legislation over the years needs to be adjusted. I would like to tap into a couple of the issues that clearly need to be addressed. The thing about the Occupational Health and Safety Act is that it is a skeleton of the law that must be applied in every workplace, whether it is the internal responsibility system, whether is it the fines, whether it is who has responsibilities and what defences they may have through due diligence, all of that is in the legislation. The details, the nuts and bolts of how the workplace is safe, whether it is the width and the thickness of planks for scaffolding, whether it is the type of certification you need for a forklift or some sort of lifting device, hard hats, steel-toed boots, all of that stuff is stuff that must be put into regulations. Those regulations were being worked on at the same time as the Act. The Act was passed, very few of the regulations were passed at the time; I think the first aid regulation, fall protection and scaffolding regulation, but many regulations were delayed, including occupational health, including violence, including indoor air quality.

The point has to be that our province, if we are to move ahead - this whole Act, this whole review started in 1993 was not meant to create Nova Scotia on the avant-garde, to put us at front and create laws that are going to, as some would say, scare off business. This was only to harmonize, in fact, we would argue that we were creating legislation, we were creating regulations that were harmonized with the rest of Canada. You would think that would actually help business; business would be more likely to come here because they know the rules here are the same as they are somewhere else, and that is the kind of business we want. We don't want to be the Mississippi of Canada, where businesses come here because this is the place to be because they can get cheap labour and the rules are much more limited, that is why we had Westray.

We, in that legislation, wanted to ensure that we were creating regulations and laws that would ensure that the people of Nova Scotia would be meeting the same standards as the rest of Canada. It couldn't be done, Mr. Speaker, unless we provided the regulations that were needed as well. Until we provide violence regulations, until we provide indoor air quality regulations, we are sadly lacking key rules that ensure our hospitals, our schools, our institutions, our office buildings are protected. Whether it be from indoor air quality problems, we have sick schools all around this province and an indoor air quality regulation

[Page 3864]

would go so far in helping protect our students and our teachers and our janitors and our secretaries.

Mr. Speaker, a violence regulation, how many times have we heard situations, whether it be a clerk at the Green Gables - or recently, here is a good example in Antigonish, that poor individual who was murdered. Maybe if we had violence-in-the-workplace regulations there would be opportunities to ensure that that workplace and the employer of that worker would have an opportunity to ensure that they would have in place security measures that maybe might have prevented that; maybe they would have had a video camera that would ensure that we would be able to recognize that person; maybe they would have alternative exits and other security measures that could be in place. We don't know because in our province we don't have requirements for them to have to put that in place. There are no requirements, and all we ask that violence regulations be considered so that the people of Nova Scotia and the workers of Nova Scotia have an opportunity to have the same level of security and safety in the workplace as anywhere else in Canada. You know, the old saying is, and you hear this often, no one should have to die because they go to work.

Mr. Speaker, it is still happening in this province. I don't know how many died in the last year, they just had the day of mourning, probably over 10 or 12, that is what it annually is. Nova Scotia has quite a high rate of fatalities in the workplace because our legislation is always lacking compared to other provinces. That has to end, and that is why we need new regulations with regard to violence and indoor air quality.

I want to tap into another issue, one that is quite clearly one that is important to me, the issue of a full-time prosecutor. I have raised this time and time again since I have been elected because I see this as such a crucial issue. When I first graduated from law school and articled and practised law, it was in Ontario where I worked as a Crown Attorney specializing in occupational health and safety prosecutions.

Mr. Speaker, Ontario never had that in place until 1985 when they had the coalition or the accord between the NDP and the Liberals. The NDP in one of the five clauses of their two-year support of the Liberal David Peterson Government was that they insisted that there be full-time prosecutions and full-time prosecutors who would deal with the issue. What they have found is that they have safer workplaces. Why? Those lawyers aren't actually doing any inspections, but I have seen, time and time again in this province, inspectors who have done a fabulous job of doing an inspection. I have seen inspectors who have crossed their t's, dotted their i's and have produced an excellent prosecution and they hand it over to a Crown Attorney. Now I was a Crown Attorney here and - no disrespect to the Crown - but let's be clear, there is a big difference between an environmental, or health and safety prosecution, and drunk driving or even a murder. The facts that have to be proven, the issues in place, make health and safety, and environment prosecutions infinitely more complicated than even a murder trial and I have heard Crowns actually say that. A murder trial is much easier to prosecute.

[Page 3865]

The old saying goes that at a murder trial you are proving that someone pulled the trigger and killed someone else. In a health and safety prosecution, just like a fraud prosecution, you have to prove a trail of events or as sometimes I like to say, instead of proving that someone pulled the trigger to kill someone, prove that the mother who raised that person who pulled the trigger is responsible and that is quite complicated. These are complicated trials, much like fraud trials, and that is why we need special prosecutors. We have a special prosecutor in Nova Scotia for fraud. We should have a special prosecutor in this province to deal with health and safety prosecutions. We would have a much better opportunity to send the message to corporations, to individuals, to supervisors, to employees that we are going to take the prosecutions seriously. We don't do that here.

We can have a Cadillac Act. We can have good regulations which still haven't been passed, but even if they are passed, Mr. Speaker, it will go nowhere if we have prosecutors who don't have the special skills necessary to prosecute under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Even if they do, there are many times in which appeals are lost because of judges who don't understand the Act and we have lawyers on appeal who don't understand the Act and that results in complications that result in - even if there was a win at trial - it being tossed out on appeal.

Mr. Speaker, all this can be resolved with one or two full-time prosecutors. This government will be sending a clear signal that it is committed to the workers of this province, to their safety, to their health and to the fact that we are going to ensure - this isn't about discouraging business. Some people over there may say, if we are too tough on regulations, business will be scared away. Let's be clear, we don't want the Westrays of the world coming to our province. That is not what we are here for. Our workers are not cheap commodities that can be tossed on a heap when they are injured or when they are killed on the job. We want companies that will come here and build partnerships, recognizing that there will be basic dignity and basic rules in place for the safety and health of our workers.

We have companies like that now, companies that ensure that they come here based on not wanting to go to the lowest common denominator, of not wanting to be part of using cheap labour or poorly regulated workplaces, but want to be part of a workplace that is going to have highly-skilled workers, that is going to be protected, is going to be healthy and they are going to work in the long term to ensure that they will build a good company. It will be good for their bottom line. It will be strong communities and will ensure that we are better off. That means regulation, that means education, that means a government that is active in ensuring that Nova Scotians have health and safety in their workplace.

That is what is needed, Mr. Speaker, yet this government has no commitment to that. It has proven no commitment to it. From the day it was elected, it delayed the implementation of the regulations. It is not committed to providing a prosecutor that will ensure that companies understand that government has a role to play in education and in regulation and in prosecution. The carrot and the stick, we need both of them and that is why

[Page 3866]

we need Bill No. 52. It gives us an opportunity to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia are going to have workplaces that work for them. The bottom line is what is important to corporations and that is okay. But the life and health and safety of workers is what is important to any government, to the people of Nova Scotia and that has to be part of any equation. We need a government that is willing to be active in ensuring the protection of those workers.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, on the issue of fatalities. Fatalities in the workplace happen. What we need, and I can refer back to Ontario when I was there, they would actually produce fatality reports that had to go all the way up to the minister. The minister would have to sign off on them, the lawyer would have to sign off, the manager of the department, the inspector who did it. It would be quite a brief. It would include photographs; it would include a detailed analysis. There would be a chain of events that would result in the minister having to sign off on it. Why? Because when a fatality occurs the minister should know about it and should have to make a decision one way or the other that that is going to go ahead to prosecution or it will not.

It is that important that we need the minister's involvement. The minister should be able to be part of that decision before they send it to the Public Prosecution Service because it is important that we ensure that fatalities be taken to the highest level. It shouldn't be dismissed. The minister must know what is going on with regard to those prosecutions. That is why we need legislation that ensures that those fatalities are going to be addressed properly. We don't have that in this province. Right now, you can have a fatality that is dismissed by an executive director or by an assistant to the executive director and they decide not to go any further; the minister may not know about it. The political decisions may not be there. Quite frankly, if the minister thinks they can use politics to stop a prosecution, that is noted as well. It is on the public record. If everyone else signed off on it saying to prosecute and the minister said no, they are going to be accountable for why they made that decision.

Fatalities are of such importance that we need to ensure that there is a chain of events and a chain of reporting that ensures that people of Nova Scotia are getting clear, unequivocal reasons why or why not the government isn't prosecuting or is prosecuting. Until that happens people will continue to ask questions about interference, they will continue to ask questions about whether government is serious about prosecuting. That is what is necessary, that is what is lacking in the current legislation. That is why we need Bill No. 52, so that we can ensure that we can continue to improve on health and safety in the workplace for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for debate on Bill No. 52 has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3867]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could we revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 32 - Livestock Health Services Act.

Bill No. 33 - Scalers Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at 12:00 noon. The House will sit from 12:00 noon until 10:00 p.m. The order of business will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills, Bill No. 20, and if there is time remaining we will move into Public Bills for Second Reading, commencing with Bill Nos. 25, 28, 31, 14, 12 and 9. I move that we now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow, to sit until 10:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We are adjourned until noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:59 p.m.]

[Page 3868]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1309

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas caring is showing an interest in others' lives and concern for their feelings, and loneliness can come from days without companionship; and

Whereas the Marine Drive Pentecostal Church in Head of Jeddore has extended the spirit of comradeship to the seniors in their community by opening their doors every month for a free potluck lunch; and

Whereas with the help of volunteers the church's congregation has, for the past several years, welcomed many seniors into their church where companionship and camaraderie thrive;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the congregation of Marine Drive Pentecostal Church for its great heart and thank them and their pastor, Reverend Dan Gunther, for their consideration of their community's seniors.

RESOLUTION NO. 1310

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas the best choices are made after careful thought and good information, and the RCMP is making a conscientious effort to give children a chance to consider all the facts; and

Whereas as part of their youth initiative, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education curriculum (DARE), developed by educators for students, is being offered to Nova Scotian students for the first time this year and being delivered authoritatively by trained officers; and

Whereas at Atlantic View School in Lawrencetown, Grade 6 students have taken part in a 17 week DARE program under the guidance of Constable Brian Venoit and now have the tools pre-teens need to face the hard choices that are fast approaching;

[Page 3869]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Grade 6 students at Atlantic View School for considering all the options to drugs and violence, and thank Constable Venoit and the RCMP for positively impacting young people and providing them with good options for their lives.

RESOLUTION NO. 1311

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 Matt Gamblin has demonstrated exceptional athletic skill while playing on the Advocate District High School basketball team and an Oxford-based Bantam level team; and

Whereas Mr. Gamblin has been named to the Nova Scotia Midget provincial basketball team, making him the first student to represent Advocate District High School on a provincial basketball team; and

Whereas the 13 year old Mr. Gamblin is now the youngest player on the under 15 provincial team;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Matt Gamblin on his hard work, athletic achievement, and dedication to sport and fitness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1312

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were Adolescents Coming Together for Change in Antigonish ($18,500), the Antigonish & Area Inter-Agency Committee on Family Violence ($12,000) and the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre ($25,000); and

[Page 3870]

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these Antigonish organizations for helping to foster safer communities.

RESOLUTION NO. 1313

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas our Royal Canadian Legion branches are the heart of our communities; and

Whereas the Legion members are the driving force by performing countless duties from within the Legion for the community; and

Whereas members of the Middleton Branch were honoured with 75th Anniversary medals at a recent Legion ceremony; those awarded were: Bill Spurr, Larry Sabean, Morna Robar, Hugh Lawrence, Joyce King, George Foote, Dick Martell, Jack Rhodda, David Banks, Bob King, Ross Cropley, Tim Gillis, John Prince and Malcolm Ryan, as well as local residents who have been most helpful to their organization: Brian Morrison, Richard Bennett, Chris Roop, Roger Boutilier, Eric MacDonald, Don Sherman, Mike George, Betty Sabean and Bill Hayes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all who were honoured through the Middleton Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for their service to the Legion and to their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 1314

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Minister of Tourism and Culture)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

[Page 3871]

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Baddeck and Area Youth Action Society ($7,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Baddeck and Area Youth Action Society for helping to foster safer communities.

RESOLUTION NO. 1315

By: Mr. David Hendsbee (Preston)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the Black Community Workgroup of Halifax Co-operative Limited ($3,000), the Black History Month Association in Halifax ($5,000) and the East Preston Recreation Centre ($30,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these area organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1316

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Minister of Justice)

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

[Page 3872]

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the Bridgewater and Area Crime Prevention Association ($8,000) and the Martin's River and Area Crime Prevention Association in Mahone Bay ($6,500); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these area organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1317

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the Burnside Business Watch Society in Dartmouth ($20,000), the Dartmouth North Community Centre ($25,000), the District 9 Citizens Association in Dartmouth ($20,000) and the Pyramid Training Crime Prevention Association in Dartmouth ($49,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 3873]

RESOLUTION NO. 1318

By: Hon. James Muir (Minister of Health)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the Central Nova Women's Resource Centre in Truro ($5,000), the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board in Truro ($20,000) and the Millbrook First Nation Ami Ki'juaq (Grandmothers) in Truro ($48,500); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1319

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Eastern Shore Safe House Association in Musquodoboit ($9,815); and

[Page 3874]

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Eastern Shore Safe House Association in Musquodoboit for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1320

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the Kentville and Area Youth Association ($30,000), the Kings Citizens Patrol in New Minas ($4,179) and the Kings County Family Support Centre ($19,390); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these area organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1321

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the

[Page 3875]

Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the Law Society of Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School ($5,000) and the Parents' Place - Yarmouth Family Resource Centre ($25,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these Yarmouth organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1322

By: Mr. Cecil Clarke (Cape Breton North)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded were the New Deal Development Inc. in Sydney Mines ($10,533) and the Northside Community Network in Big Bras d'Or ($15,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend these area organizations for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 3876]

RESOLUTION NO. 1323

By: Hon. John Hamm (The Premier)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Pictou Landing First Nation Warmer Wigwam in Trenton ($25,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Pictou Landing First Nation Warmer Wigwam in Trenton for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1324

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Retirement Planners Association of Nova Scotia in Middleton ($20,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Retirement Planners Association of Nova Scotia in Middleton for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1325

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Shelburne County Youth Health and Support Association Inc. ($14,125); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Shelburne County Youth Health and Support Association Inc. for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1326

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Spirit of the Eagle's Feather in Shubenacadie ($50,000); and

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Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Spirit of the Eagle's Feather in Shubenacadie for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 1327

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Honourable Peter Christie, Minister of Community Services, recently announced jointly with the Honourable Anne McLellan, federal Minister of Justice, that the Government of Canada has awarded over $1 million to fund 39 crime prevention projects in Nova Scotia under the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention; and

Whereas included among the projects funded was the Valley Restorative Justice to support its "Choices for Youth" project in Kentville ($12,000); and

Whereas these projects will help Nova Scotia communities develop and implement grassroots responses to crime and safety problems and through local action these initiatives will reduce crime, increase public safety, and enhance public awareness about the causes of crime;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Valley Restorative Justice in Kentville for helping to foster safer communities for all Nova Scotians.