The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 7, 2001

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HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2001

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to reply to a point of order raised by the NDP House Leader and MLA for Sackville-Cobequid, made at the end of late debate last evening. In his point of order the NDP House Leader said, "Emotions may be running a little bit high, but I would like to, through you, request that the member withdraw his comment where he said referring to those in our military who serve as peacekeepers is mocking them." I would like to draw the attention of the House to my actual comments as recorded in Hansard:

"Mr. Speaker, we are at war, this country is at war. We support that war effort, we support our men and women not as peacekeepers but going to defend us as part of a war, that is the purpose of this resolution. They" - meaning the NDP - "had an opportunity to say that they support our men and women going off to war to protect our country, to protect democracy. They continue to mock them by calling them peacekeepers going on a humanitarian mission."

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Mr. Speaker, unlike the interpretation given to my comments by the MLA for Sackville-Cobequid, my intent was to highlight the fact that the 1,400 men and women sent to the Arabian Sea as part of the war effort are not acting as peacekeepers, nor are they on a humanitarian mission as stated several times by the NDP caucus; for example, the resolution read by the NDP MLA for Halifax Atlantic referred to those who sailed out of Halifax to participate in the war as peacekeepers.

Mr. Speaker, it is my position that the men and women serving us in the Arabian Sea are not peacekeepers but are representing us as part of the war effort against terrorism. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who have and who continue to represent our country as peacekeepers. I, like many other members of this House, have stood in my place to read resolutions commending those who have served as peacekeepers, especially from my own constituency. Upon reflection, it may be that the NDP position is to refer to all our men and women in the Armed Forces as peacekeepers, regardless of their particular missions. If that is the case, I will withdraw my comment saying that they are mocking our men and women participating in the war against terrorism as peacekeepers.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I fully respect your decision to close debate last night after the point of order was raised by the NDP House Leader. In my haste to provide clarification for the House, I may have shown disrespect to you personally and to your position as Speaker of the House. If I have done so, I offer to you, and to all members of this House, my sincerest apologies and hope that in considering my apology you will keep in mind the sensitive nature of the topic being debated last night. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. First of all, let me say, again, for the record, that our caucus and our Party has said steadfastly that we very much support the men and women who are off serving our country during this theatre of war. We have said that over and over again. I won't bother going into that.

Aside from that, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to indicate to you and through you to the honourable member that we accept his apology.

MR. SPEAKER: I, as well, would like to thank the honourable member for Richmond for his comments and for the apologies to the House. I accept it and I am sure that all members do as well.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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There are several requests for introductions.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have some very special guests in the east gallery today. Before I introduce them I would like to point out that on Friday morning the students at Auburn Drive High will be participating in a Remembrance Day event involving music, drama and presentations to members of the Royal Canadian Legion. They are doing this because the November unit of the new Canadian History curriculum focuses on Canada at War and Peace and it explores Canada's military roles and contributions to the First and Second World Wars. So I would like to introduce some of the participants in this history lesson.

First of all, I would like to welcome Principal Bill Kilfoil of Auburn Drive High, their drama teacher Mildred Hunt, and students, Terry Crawley, Brian Dupuis, Stephanie Higgins, Cory Leach, Amanda Leblanc, Natasha-Lee Rice, Chris Nickerson, Rowena Porter, Amy Tobin and Scott Whitehead. If they would rise and receive the welcome of the House, please. (Applause)

With them, Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the second group. They are members of the Royal Canadian Legion Scotia Branch No. 25. They will be honoured by the Auburn Drive High School students on Friday. These people are Mary Bishop, Ernest Campbell, Victor Dingle, Gerald Jewers and Michael Podrouzek. I would also like to welcome these members to the House today. (Applause)

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, sitting in the west gallery, we have a special guest here with us here today. Today is an important day for Grade 9 students throughout Nova Scotia. Grade 9 students are participating in Take Our Kids to Work, and today our Liberal caucus is shadowed by a Grade 9 student from Hants North Rural High School. His name is Luke McLellan. Luke is interested in learning what our caucus and staff do in the run of a year. Luke is accompanied by his uncle, Leo VanDijk, from Dartmouth. I would ask both of our guests to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it's also the case that in our caucus we have a young visitor who has come to observe adults at work or at play, perhaps a little of both. We have with us a Grade 9 student from Oxford School, here in Halifax. On a previous occasion I have introduced his older sister, Hannah to this House. I am pleased to introduce,

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today, my son, Noah to this House. I would ask that he be given a welcome by the members. (Applause)

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

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank members of the Opposition for giving me the time to introduce young Devin Radcliffe, who is also job shadowing today. Devin is the son of Nancy Radcliffe, whom we all know and love dearly. Devin is a 13 year old, Grade 8 student at Ellenvale Junior High School. I understand that someday he wants to be a great writer like his mother. I would ask the House to welcome Devin to the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity, if I may, to introduce, in the west gallery, a student who is job shadowing Ron Sherrard of our office.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does he do?

MR. DEXTER: We're still trying to figure that out, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) In the gallery is Charlie Mancini. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring through you to the rest of the members, three of my constituents. We have Jill MacDonald, and Jill was job shadowing with the Premier today. She is a Grade 9 student from East Pictou Rural High School, and is also a member of the East Pictou Blue Eagles Basketball team who trimmed - for the benefit of the honourable member for Pictou West - the Pictou Academy Bulldogs just last evening and showed them how to really play basketball. (Interruptions) No, they are a very good team too, and they have a lot of fun. Jill is joined today by her grandparents. I would like the MacGregors to stand, we have Hughie and Marg MacGregor, and Jill. A warm welcome of the House, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce, for the benefit of the House, a person who is no stranger to the House, Marg Forbes, a school board member from the South Shore District School Board, and who is also here in her capacity today as the Education Committee Chair with the South Shore 2004 Celebration Association. Welcome, Marg. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: I would like as well to welcome all our visitors to the galleries today and hope they enjoy the proceedings. Now I will begin with the daily routine, but before I do, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton North:

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support all efforts with a unified voice which will encourage our youth to 'Never Forget' the sacrifices of our veterans.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I was presented with this petition this morning and I am very pleased to beg leave to table the petition. It is signed by residents of Stewiacke and area and they are opposed to the telephone rate increase proposal that has been submitted to the CRTC by Aliant Telecom Inc./MTT (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, possibly if the NDP has trouble with the rate increase, they would want to get a copy of this petition and send a letter explaining their opposition to this petition to each and every one of the signatories.

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to this petition and the last sentence of the prayer reads, "An increase to rural customers is unfair and unacceptable." I would hope the NDP caucus would support it, too. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The petition is tabled.

Any further petitions?

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House a report entitled Nova Scotia Department of Health Budget Review and Implementation Planning, dated February 2001.

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MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2185

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

Whereas Wanda Thomas Bernard has been named Director of the Maritime School of Social Work in Halifax, effective July 1st, the first African Canadian director and only the second female to head the school; and

Whereas with her qualifications and background - important clinical and teaching experience as well as current and pertinent research - Ms. Thomas Bernard's contribution will prove invaluable;

Whereas among the general goals of her tenure is increasing the diversity of the student body and the staff as well as the faculty at the Maritime School of Social Work, Ms. Thomas Bernard's presence promises to have a positive impact;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House congratulate Wanda Thomas Bernard on her appointment and acknowledge the important experience and perspective which she brings to this important role of Director of the Maritime School of Social Work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2186

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

Whereas on November 8th and November 9th the 25th Anniversary of the fall conference of the Mines and Minerals branch of the Department of Natural Resources will take place at the Westin Nova Scotian; and

Whereas the two day conference is open to members of the mining industry as well as the general public and government employees; and

Whereas the conference, known as Mining Matters, will raise awareness of the mining industry, geoscience research and their benefits to the Nova Scotia economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of the mining industry in Nova Scotia and encourage Nova Scotians and government employees to attend the conference and gain an increased awareness of the resources of our province and the economic importance of the mining industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2187

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

Whereas across the country Grade 9 students are learning about the world of work today by participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day; and

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Whereas this program demonstrates to students the clear link between a good education and a good job; and

Whereas about 6,000 Nova Scotia students from more than 80 schools will gain insight today to help them make decisions about their own futures;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House thank teachers, parents and workplaces for giving students the opportunity to safely participate in this valuable educational program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge two visitors in the east gallery today, Jillian Moors is a Grade 9 student at Clayton Park Junior High and she has come to work today with her father, Ken, who works at the Department of Education. I ask that members of the House welcome Jillian and wish her well during her days of development work. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome Jillian to Province House today.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2188

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

Whereas the Tourism Awards of Excellence was held last evening as part of the annual Tourism Conference and Trade Show; and

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Whereas last evening, Ivan Boyd of the Prince George Hotel, Phylliss Jordon of Atlantic Tire, Rhonda MacKinnon-Shaw of the Port Hastings VIC, Betty Zazinsky of Keltic Lodge and Shirley Robinson of the Kentville Wandlyn Inn received Pineapple Awards; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Pineapple Awards honour individuals for their exceptional service which enhances the stay of visitors to Nova Scotia and is the most important contribution to the development of tourism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate this year's Pineapple Awards recipients for their outstanding contribution to making visitors to our province feel welcome and at home.

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 2189

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

Whereas each year, the Nova Scotia 4-H Program selects and sponsors a group of members and leaders to attend conferences hosted by the Canadian 4-H Council; and

Whereas 4-H members will learn new skills and meet new people, which are invaluable experiences that they bring back to their 4-H clubs and communities; and

Whereas 4-H volunteer leaders will learn more about how to improve their skills and knowledge for training tomorrow's 4-H leaders;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the 11 4-H members and volunteer leaders who were selected from across Nova Scotia to represent our province in Toronto at the national level during National 4-H Week.

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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 Dartmouth South on an introduction.

MR. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and to all members of the House three students who are on job sharing today at the government caucus office.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shadowing.

MR. OLIVE: Shadowing, isn't that what I said?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Sharing.

MR. OLIVE: Well, they may be doing some of the work over there, too, honourable members. We are on a very tight budget. I would like to introduce to the House, Mr. Speaker, Adam Newton from Gaetz Brook, Cole Webber from Chester and Alex Harper from Bicentennial Junior High, if they would like to stand and receive the appreciation of the House. (Applause)

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

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 80 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 (1992 Supplement) of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The House of Assembly Act. (Hon. Ronald Russell)

Bill No. 81 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 (1992 Supplement) of the Revised Statutes, 1989. The House of Assembly Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 82 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act, and Amend or Repeal Certain Other Statutes Relating to Municipal Law. (Hon. Angus MacIsaac)

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[2:30 p.m.]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2190

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

Whereas it is an old truism that those who forget the past are doomed to relive it; and

Whereas Nova Scotia high school students seeking a well-rounded education should not forget that a solid knowledge of Canadian history can help them achieve that end; and

Whereas the students and staff at Auburn Drive High School have seized the initiative and joined with 13 other high schools as a pilot school for the new Canadian History curriculum;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students and staff of Auburn Drive High School for their initiative and wishes them every success with the new Canadian History curriculum.

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.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2191

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

Whereas Jim Vance retired this summer after a long and varied career with the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Vance served as an executive assistant to Tory Cabinet Minister, Tom McInnis, and in various capacities with the Liberal Government, then a stint at the Planning and Priorities Secretariat under the present Tory Administration; and

Whereas Mr. Vance has now come full cycle, joining the New Democratic Party office as a researcher;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Vance on launching a second career and for bringing new meaning to Johnny Cash's hit of 1966, "The One on the Right is on the Left".

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2192

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

Whereas the Atlantic Jewish Council is celebrating Dignity Day today, a day of respect and remembering; and

Whereas Dignity Day is a day to affirm the better qualities of human nature and to stand against intolerance; and

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Whereas Dignity Day is a day to remember Nazism's victims and to set a distinction for the servicemen of allied armies and honour the present day servicemen;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Atlantic Jewish Council on a peaceful and meaningful day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2193

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

Whereas the first week of November is Literacy Action Week with the theme, "Life Long Learning: A New Face for Literacy", raising awareness of the issues surrounding literacy; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Provincial Literacy Coalition provides support for the literacy community by supporting literacy programs, increasing access to new and existing programs and cultivating relationships with the corporate and government community; and

Whereas on November 8th the Provincial Literacy Coalition holds a reception at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to celebrate Literacy Action Week;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the scholarship and grant recipients who will be honoured by the Provincial Literacy Coalition at tomorrow's celebration at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and affirm their support for lifelong learning.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2194

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

Whereas the Yarmouth District Labour Council and Juniper House, an emergency shelter for women and children, have teamed up to design and purchase a monument to honour victims of family violence; and

Whereas the monument will be dedicated to local women who have been victims of family violence; and

Whereas the monument is expected to be delivered later this month and unveiled in December, it will coincide with countrywide vigils in memory of the 14 female engineering students murdered in Montreal in 1989;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Yarmouth District Labour Council and Juniper House for honouring victims of family violence.

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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Just before we go on to the next resolution, I would like to, at this time, ask Angela Lessard, who is in the gallery and who works in the Legislative Library, who is here today with her daughter, Ashley if they would rise. (Applause) Ashley is here with her mom, taking part in Take Your Kids To Work day. We welcome them to the Legislature today, and wish you and your mom all the best.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 2195

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

Whereas the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal was created in the spirit of the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to United Nations Peacekeepers, recognizing their collective efforts in the cause of peace; and

Whereas this medal recognizes the extraordinary efforts and leadership role of Canadian peacekeepers; and

Whereas among those recently honoured were two members of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 148, Don Smith and Joseph Symonds of Cape Sable Island, who served in the interest of world peace;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Don Smith and Joseph Symonds on 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 Hants East on an introduction.

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MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to introduce a young lady who is also a Grade 9 student from Graham Creighton Junior High School. She is here shadowing one of our staff, Regina James at the NDP caucus office. I would like to ask Ashley Beals if she would stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2196

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

Whereas November is Adoption Awareness Month, a time to make the community aware of the trials and tribulations of the adoption world; and

Whereas now is the time to promote positive perceptions, debunk the myths surrounding the adoption process and make information available about adoptions; and

Whereas a commitment by government to foster well-being and solid understanding and co-operation in the adoption community is essential to the long-term success of adoption measures;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services demonstrate his good faith and advise the adoption community during this special month his intentions for the Adoption Information Act.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 2197

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

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Whereas today marks the 63rd Anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of Nazi murder and looting that initiated atrocities against Jews; and

Whereas the event remembers the victims of the Night of Broken Glass and urges all people to stand against intolerance; and

Whereas in light of the tragedies of September 11th, this year's event will be of significant importance;

Therefore be it resolved that this event is a reminder of how fragile our freedoms are and the importance of doing what is necessary to protect and value them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2198

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

Whereas Robert (Bob) Harvey has represented Lower Sackville since 1989, when he became a Municipal Councillor, first with the Halifax County Municipality and then with the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas a resident of Sackville since 1970, Bob has always been an active and committed part of the community as a member of many local organizations and as chair of the Sackville Community Council and its successor, the North West Community Council; and

Whereas Bob has been elected, among his peers, as the new Halifax Regional Municipality's Deputy Mayor and will serve in this capacity for one year;

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Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Bob Harvey, the new Deputy Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality, and wish him well in his new undertaking and responsibilities, which I am confident he will carry out very well.

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. 2199

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

Whereas this Friday marks the 63rd Anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, when a Nazi Government on November 9, 1938, unleashed a pogrom against the Jewish people in Germany; and

Whereas Kristallnacht marked the beginning of a Holocaust, an unspeakably horrific attempt to annihilate an entire people; and

Whereas the Dignity Day ceremony this evening in Halifax serves as an occasion to affirm the better qualities of human nature, an occasion to stand against intolerance, an occasion to remember Nazism's victims and an occasion to honour Canadian Forces and their tradition as peacekeepers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House gives thanks for the peace that prevails in our nation, condemns government violence and terror directed against defenseless people and reaffirms the commitment of "Never Again.".

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2200

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 Children's Wish Foundation of Canada grants special wishes for children suffering from high-risk, life-threatening illnesses; and

Whereas in the past three years, the Children's Wish Foundation has supported the dreams of eight children between Chester and Liverpool on Nova Scotia's beautiful South Shore; and

Whereas on October 13th, the foundation held its annual Wishmaker Parade in Bridgewater, along with festivities in 17 other communities around the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada and the South Shore chapter for their successful fundraising efforts and for the lasting gifts of joy they give to children and families living with the stress of serious illness.

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 Education on an introduction.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery visiting us today is Lavinia Parrish-Zwicker. She is a member of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and she is also President of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. So if she would rise to receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2201

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

Whereas the Thorburn Fire Department recently embarked on an excellent safety conscious campaign involving senior citizens residing in their fire district; and

Whereas during the recent National Fire Prevention Week, Thorburn firefighters provided a smoke detector to those senior citizens who were without one and encouraged those with detectors to check for non-working batteries; and

Whereas smoke detectors sense abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gases in the air and can detect both smoldering and burning fires;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly extend our congratulations to Fire Chief John Palmer, Deputy Chief David Sponagle and members of the Thorburn Fire Department for playing such an active role in fire prevention.

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 Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 2202

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

Whereas the Spryfield Single Parent Centre is leading the charge at the Halifax Regional School Board in its efforts to have the Grade 12 Business Course at J.L. Ilsley High School reinstated; and

Whereas the centre has gathered support from graduates of the program and community members; and

Whereas many mature students have taken the course in its 30 year history and have gone on to become confident, self-sufficient members of society;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Education, together with the Department of Community Services find it within their budgets to reinstate the Grade 12 Business Course at J.L. Ilsley High School.

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2203

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Hospital Charitable Foundation has received a $500,000 bequest from the estate of Jean Maude Bezanson of Halifax and Guysborough County; and

[Page 6669]

Whereas we are all aware of the increasing costs of health care and hospital equipment; and

Whereas this gift enables the foundation to continue to endow much-needed equipment and materials for southwest Nova Scotia's principal hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize this generous gift from the estate of Jean Maude Bezanson that will allow for the purchase of new hospital equipment and encourage all those who can donate to consider a gift to a local hospital foundation.

[2:45 p.m.]

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 on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to introduce special guests in the west gallery. We have the Grade 12 Political Science class from Middletown Regional High School. They're accompanied by teacher, Bill Hines, a good friend of mine, and another good friend, Dwight Brownell, and Clinton Lewis. I would like to point out that there's another gentleman accompanying them, my son, Dana, and I am very proud that he's here today. It has been said many times that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, and you know what I mean by that. Would our guests please rise and receive the welcome of the House? (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 6670]

RESOLUTION NO. 2204

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Sports Fish Awards are presented in recognition of the outstanding contribution that volunteers make to their communities through the sport fishing sector; and

Whereas these awards were presented to one individual from each of six recreational fishing areas by the Inland Fisheries Advisory Committee; and

Whereas Mr. Dave Dagley of the Queens County Fish and Game Association is one of this year's recipients, awarded for his long-standing dedication to sport fish issues, his concern for the Mersey, Jordan and Broad Rivers, and his volunteer involvement in habitat restoration and temperature-monitoring projects;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dave Dagley on his award and commend him for his proactive involvement in the sport fish industry and the habitat which supports it.

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. 2205

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 21, 2001, a cruise ship visitor suffered a heart attack and was transported through incredibly thick fog to the Freeport ferry dock where the EMC ambulance was waiting; and

[Page 6671]

Whereas upon arrival it was noted there was not sufficient room in the ambulance for family members; and

Whereas Vaughn Tidd of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation ferry Joshua Slocum loaned his truck to the family for their use when he learned that they had no way to accompany the ambulance to Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the generosity of this Nova Scotian.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2206

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion is Canada's foremost veterans' support association and one of the country's largest community service organizations; and

Whereas each branch of the Legion works within the community to ensure its specific needs are met; together they contribute millions of dollars and voluntary hours every year across this country; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Armstrong Memorial Branch, in North Sydney, has answered the call of the Northside Hospital Foundation and recently donated $2,500 to help purchase mechanical beds;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the significant role the Royal Canadian Legion plays in Canada and commend its members, like those at the

[Page 6672]

Armstrong Memorial Branch, who work so diligently to improve the quality of life in our communities.

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. 2207

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

Whereas founded in 1957 by master knife-maker, Rudolph Grohmann, Grohmann Knives of Pictou has made the world its marketplace, crafting knives envied and owned by chefs, collectors, outdoors people and military personnel across the globe; and

Whereas with a huge knife jutting out of the side of its brick building, the Grohmann storefront office is itself an attraction, and visitors from all over, recognizing the Grohmann name, line up to see the crafting of these knives; and

Whereas excellent management and a top-quality product are really what sets this family-owned company apart, which today is at full capacity and employs 20 artisans and craftspeople;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the quality and reputation of the Grohmann brand and applaud this company as a distinct and long-standing part of Pictou.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6673]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 2208

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

Whereas the Musquodoboit Harbour Fire Department is an energetic, determined, and capable volunteer fire department providing fire protection around the clock to the area residents; and

Whereas Chief Carter Falkenham and department members held their 40th Anniversary and Awards Dinner October 20th to recognize the dedication and hard work put forth on an annual basis by the department's 26 members; and

Whereas to date this year the volunteer firefighters of the Musquodoboit Harbour Fire Department have responded to approximately, yes, 60 alarms;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House thank these volunteers, past and present, for their courage and dedication, which has made such a difference in the lives, health and safety for more than two generations of residents in Musquodoboit Harbour.

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 Justice.

[Page 6674]

RESOLUTION NO. 2209

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

Whereas the South Shore Players provide local theatrical entertainment to the residents of the South Shore of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the South Shore Players sponsor an annual $500 bursary to a local student who is pursuing the study of theatre; and

Whereas Laura Burke of Lunenburg is presently studying Theatre Performance at Concordia University and has been chosen as this year's recipient of the South Shore Players Bursary;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Laura Burke on receiving the South Shore Players Bursary and wish her much success in her studies and future career and thank the South Shore Players for their commitment to theatre.

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 2:52 p.m. and end at 4:22 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - C.B.-VICTORIA REG. SCH. BD.: EMPLOYEES - THREATS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I want to table two letters from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. In these letters, the Director of Human Resources

[Page 6675]

threatens a board employee with disciplinary action. Why? Because the employee dared to write a letter to the editor criticizing budget cuts board supervisors made while continuing to rake in huge salaries and running up large legal bills. This is the very principle that has been before this House for several days now. My question to the Minister of Education is this, what does she know about why the Cape Breton-Victoria School Board employees were threatened for simply speaking their minds on the alleged misuse of public funds?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, before I comment on any such thing, I would love to see a copy of the alleged threats. So if the member has something he would like to table, I would be very glad to get a look at it.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, apparently the answer to my question was not much. I want to table another letter from the Director of Human Resources at the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to another board employee. This time, they threatened disciplinary action against employees for daring to write a letter to the editor criticizing schedule changes for teacher assistants. My question to the minister is this, when did it become the policy of school boards under your watch to threaten employees who speak publicly in support of a better education for their children?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition would seem to have it that the Minister of Education should know of every piece of correspondence that goes out from a school board. The same people are saying don't touch school boards, how dare you think about taking them over. Which way do they want it?

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what we want is for the Minister of Education to do her job. The law firm of Sampson McDougall is being paid thousands of dollars right now for a lengthy school board arbitration hearing. The sole purpose of this hearing is to keep employees quiet about excessive school board salaries. Sampson McDougall is a law firm that is well known to the Liberals. My question to the minister is, will she ask the school board to drop the arbitration, which is an egregious waste of education dollars, and withdraw all disciplinary action?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the legal bills of school boards are something our government is taking a very close look at. In the future, it may be that all legal services to all school boards will be centralized. In the meantime, if the Leader of the Opposition would like to suggest that I take over school boards and tell them what to do in every detail, I will consider it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

[Page 6676]

HEALTH: PWC REPORT - INFO.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday we heard the results of the minister's $47,000 PricewaterhouseCoopers' consulting report. The results weren't pretty for the Nova Scotian taxpayers. The consultants recommended two options: No. 1, tax the employer a health care premium or No. 2, charge residents a tax premium. Would the minister please confirm whether yesterday's report was the first time that he heard the idea of charging a tax premium for residents?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would well know, when one occupied the position of Minister of Health you hear of many options in the course of your duties. Was that the first time I had heard of that? Probably not, and I guess I would say no.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we did have a freedom of information last spring, and particularly I call attention to the South Shore District Health Authority who floated the idea - in a way to meet their budget commitments - of going to the municipal units to see if they would be willing to pay an increase, property taxes, in order to pay for acute health care services. They estimated that if they did that, they would realize about $1.3 million. My question to the minister is, could the minister please confirm whether he would now be receptive to the district health authorities approaching municipal units to increase property taxes to pay for health care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the position of the Department of Health has not changed since we responded to that letter from the municipal units.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have only one taxpayer, and whether the province chooses to tax employers, individuals or through a back door, a municipal tax increase, he, the minister, will be held responsible for taxing the people of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, yes or now, do you favour district health authorities approaching their municipal units for an increase in property taxes so that you can distance yourself and your government from a tax increase to pay for health care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that question seems to me to be just about identical to the one which he asked in his first supplementary, so I will give the same response. The position of the Department of Health and indeed, the government, has not changed since we responded to that request last spring.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 6677]

EDUC.: STRAIT REG. SCH. BD. - REGS.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the scandal involving the Department of Education and the Strait Regional School Board is much worse than we had imagined. Yesterday, the minister told this House that $250,000 was misappropriated. Outside the House she was confirming for reporters that the amount was as high as $400,000. This is a minister who has plundered classrooms, put school boards on the rack until they no longer had the funds to provide the kind of education our children deserve. This minister has the sole legislative authority to enact regulations on public disclosure of school board spending. My question to the minister is, if your regulations were being ignored, why didn't you act? If your regulations weren't strong enough why didn't you create new ones?

[3:00 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to correct an inaccuracy here. The school board itself reported funds missing of more than $250,000. That is absolutely correct. It is more than $250,000 that had been discovered that weekend. It is actually considerably more, maybe $450,000. But again, this is being investigated by the RCMP and by our own team.

MR. DEXTER: Now it's $450,000. Mr. Speaker, sinister minds would say that the minister let this problem fester in the Strait so they could make it stick to the Liberals. School boards are accountable to this minister according to the Act. That can't be denied. From day one as minister, she's been expressing concerns about the accountability of the boards, but now we see that despite her doubts, she didn't do a single thing about it until it was too late. My question is, what reason can you give this House for your evident failure to improve or enforce your own regulations?

MISS PURVES: Yet another inaccuracy. The Education Act requires that the salaries and expenses of school board employees be submitted to the department every year, that they be public. They are so public that they've been in Frank magazine for the last 18 months. That is not the point. The rules do not include . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MISS PURVES: Neither the regulations nor the Education Act talks about total compensation or about benefits and that is precisely where some very smart individuals have been able to circumvent the Education Act.

MR. DEXTER: What's obvious is that the Minister of Education has blown it. In her zeal to squeeze money out of education, she missed the most egregious misuse of public money we've seen in this province for years. She's blaming others; she's refusing to take responsibility. It's time, Mr. Speaker, for the minister to step up to the plate with a few

[Page 6678]

answers. The people of this province are demanding that this minister do something about hundreds of thousands of dollars that are being siphoned out of the classrooms. My question to the minister is this, can you tell Nova Scotians if you are considering a civil action to recover money from the people who took it?

MISS PURVES: This situation has gone on for years. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. What I am doing about it is making it public, and I made it public very quickly after I heard about it. We have an investigation; there is also an RCMP investigation and we are acting very decisively on this matter. (Applause)

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

HEALTH: PROP. TAX - REVENUE CONSIDER

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: My question is for the Minister of Municipal Relations. We have all just heard about the South Shore District Health Authority and their plans for approaching six municipal units. The Minister of Health was informed on this back in February 2001 and my question to the minister is, has the minister had any discussion with the Minister of Health regarding the potential of increasing property taxes to pay for health care?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Yes.

MR. GAUDET: Quite honestly, I am worried that this government has no plan for health care and will not take responsibility for their own actions. This government could use the recommendations of yesterday's consulting report that was tabled and see the potential for using municipal units as scapegoats for their own government's mismanagement. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit here today that if approached by the Minister of Health, he will quickly shut the door on this idea of increasing property taxes to pay for health care?

MR. MACISAAC: That was done last February.

MR. GAUDET: I think the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities would be very interested in knowing that they were a revenue target in early spring to pay for this government bungling of the health care system. My final question to the minister, will this minister state for the record that he will not be including in his yet-to-be announced equalization formula a plan whereby a portion of property taxes will be used to fund health care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to have destroyed the cadence of the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party's questioning, but if he had listened carefully to me in the answer to the first supplementary, he would have recognized that I shut the door on

[Page 6679]

that issue last February and that was the end of it. I was not requested by the Minister of Health to entertain such an idea, I was requested along with the Minister of Health, we were both requested to consider the idea by a municipal unit in this province. At that time, we shut the door on the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: NURSES - REGISTRATION DECLINE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. October 31st is the annual registration deadline for the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia. According to the nurses association, only 61 per cent of the nurses who graduated in 1999 have re-registered to work here this year, just 53 per cent of the class of 2000 have re-registered, and only 51 per cent of the 2001 class has registered. Can the Minister of Health explain why fewer and fewer nurses are registering to work in Nova Scotia since he became minister?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member spoke of the October 31st deadline, and I am pleased to tell her that really is a sliding date. (Interruptions) Since October 31st, there are at least 150 nurses who have added their names to that roll.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think it's the first time since I have been a member in this House that the Minister of Health actually gets something. It's a sliding scale alright and it's sliding down, and that's the point. A closer look shows that not only are fewer nurses registering from each graduating class, but many existing nurses did not renew their registration as of the deadline. Fourteen nurses from the class of 1999 did not re-register, and we lost 21 nurses from the class of 2000. I want to ask the minister whether he can consider his recruitment and retention scheme as anything other than a failure given these alarming numbers?

MR. MUIR: The numbers, as I have pointed out, Mr. Speaker, in my answer to her first question - she is out of date - which doesn't surprise me. Secondly, we have a very good nursing strategy that was developed by nurses for nurses to address recruitment and retention issues. I am really disappointed if she is standing up in this House and taking a slap at the efforts of the nurses in this province to recruit and retain (Interruptions)

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I am not going to dignify that slight with a response. Mr. Speaker, when you add it all up, we have graduated 408 RNs in the last three years and just 224 are registered to work here this year. So my question to the Minister of Health is, how can you possibly say your retention strategy is working when you have lost 184 RNs from the last three graduating classes?

[Page 6680]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would have to say that I don't want to dispute her numbers, but simply that they are not accurate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH: BLUE BOOK - COMMITMENT

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In the Tory blue book, the Hamm Government promised generous tax incentives would be provided to family caregivers who stay at home to provide care for people who would normally be provided for in long-term care facilities throughout the province. My question to the minister is, why has the minister failed to live up to the blue book commitment that would assist families and, in the long term, save money in the health care system?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question and, indeed, we continue to work on that problem. As the honourable member knows, we can't do everything all at once. It is a promise. We will meet that promise and hopefully we will be able to meet it within the next couple of years.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is quite ironic to hear the minister say, in the next couple of years. It appears that in 1999, they were prepared not only to make lots of promises, but to tell us when they would carry them out. In fact, the Tory blue book clearly pointed out that this commitment of tax incentives would be lived up to in year two of their mandate. Now, not wanting to dispute all the numbers flowing around here today, but I believe it is safe to say this is the second year of your mandate, Mr. Minister. We haven't seen a thing done yet on this issue. It was bad enough that we are charging seniors $50 a day for long-term hospital care and it is bad enough that people are giving up their homes to go into nursing care and Lord only knows where the in-home support program has gone. Why won't the minister just live up to a commitment which their own blue book said they would be able to pay for through savings to the health care system?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we have made numerous improvements in long-term care and in home care and we continue to do that. I don't know if the honourable member attended the Public Accounts Committee meeting this morning, but certainly some of his caucus colleagues were there, I am told. The reports on the efforts of the Department of Health were pretty positive.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the minister to actually leave his ivory tower here in Halifax and speak to caregivers around this province, many of whom are facing personal financial ruin in their efforts to try to care for their loved ones at home. This minister and this government have clearly broken another promise they made to Nova Scotians. It is an example of wasting valuable, long-term care resources that Nova Scotians simply can't afford. My question to the minister is, will the minister do the honourable thing

[Page 6681]

and help families give long-term care at home by providing immediate tax relief, as promised in their blue book?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am going to refer that question to my colleague, the Minister of Finance. (Interruptions)

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we have a very lively bunch here this afternoon. I do want to say that the honourable member brings up a good question in regard to tax relief for many people who take care of people at home. The definition of a legible expense comes under the federal Income Tax Act; however, some of the changes we brought about in regard to the tax on net income give more latitude to the provinces to initiate specific initiatives that than could consider on their own.

[3:15 p.m.]

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that in regard to the timing of the issue, we as a government have a lot of challenges facing us at this present time. I don't diminish the importance of this issue, and we as a government will continue to look at this issue as to what we can do for those Nova Scotians in need.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: NURSING STRATEGY - ASSESS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is again to the Minister of Health. It's not only the number of new nursing graduates registered to work in Nova Scotia that's declining, last year in October 2000, there were 8,532 nurses registered to practise. Even at that, we were experiencing a serious shortage of nurses. One year later, the number of registered nurses to practise has dropped to 8,285 nurses. Now, that's 247 fewer nurses available for employment this year than last year.

I want to ask the Minister of Health now that your nursing strategy has been in place six months, would the minister please explain what part isn't working, the retention or the retraining?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'll go back to her previous question in which I explained to members of the House and to her that, unfortunately, she's working with the October 31st data which is now outdated. As I explained, there are at least 150 nurses who have renewed their registration after that date. Our strategy is six months old. We had a tremendous uptake on parts of the strategy, including the number of third-year students who were out in internships last summer; that were fully subscribed. The nursing seats in university are fully subscribed and, indeed, there is a waiting list. The LPNs at the community college, there is a waiting list all over the province, and that's in about five or six

[Page 6682]

sites. Certainly the recruitment part is working, and we believe that the retention part is going to work too.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ with the Minister of Health. Those statistics are not outdated; they came yesterday from the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia. The figures that are being used here are comparative - on October 31st, each year for the past three years - a consistent point. It's clear that the number of nurses available to practise in this province has drastically decreased since this government has come to power. The numbers clearly demonstrate that the problem is a crisis right under this minister's watch and he doesn't even know it. Elective surgeries have been cancelled and postponed; we need more nurses, not fewer.

My question to the Minister of Health is, when are you going to stop burying your head in the sand and making excuses, and admit to Nova Scotians that you have failed abysmally in addressing the nursing shortage problem?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we do need more nurses in this province, and that's something that this government has acknowledged and certainly our department has. That's the reason that we have taken significant measures to increase the number of nurses in the province. We expanded the number of nursing seats in the province by 33 per cent; unfortunately the 33 per cent doesn't pay off for four years, and that's a fact. Similarly, I said the $5 million nursing strategy has had a tremendous uptake on it; it was developed by nurses for nurses. We, I believe, have turned the corner. We are getting nurses now looking at coming back to Nova Scotia, more so than ever before. We don't have enough now. I agree with the member that way. But I want to tell you, we are making progress and if we get some support from other members of the House . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, I have news for the Minister of Health, Mr.

Speaker; my job is not to support an incompetent minister. My job is to ask the minister to fix this problem. The evidence is clear. Nurses who are graduating are not staying to practise nursing in this province. My question to the Minister of Health is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the Minister of Health is, why can't you simply admit that Bill No. 68 has negatively affected this province's ability to recruit and retain nurses?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, part of the nursing strategy was a co-op nursing experience. There were 82 young people, and some not so young, I guess, who took advantage of that last

[Page 6683]

summer. Thirty-seven bursaries were given to students in the spring of 2000 and most of those people, up to this point, have completed their years return of service, as required.

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

FIN. - SABLE GAS: AGREEMENT - INTENTIONS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. Given the province's past public experience with Sydney Steel and NSRL, could the Minister of Finance inform the House whether or not the province is intending to enter into an agreement to acquire a portion of the Sable gas pipeline for $150 million, yes or no?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: No.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: He said no, for the record?

MR. SPEAKER: He said no.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My first supplementary is also to the Finance Minister. Mr. Speaker . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that no, he won't answer, or no . . .

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I don't know what it was, but it was a no, anyway. I wish to table a quote first, Mr. Speaker, from the 2001 Nova Scotia Budget, attributed to the Finance Minister. "But, as history teaches, government is a direct player at the taxpayers' peril." I just want to table that. I also would like to ask the Finance Minister, is the Finance Minister aware that the province is going to spend $150 million of taxpayers' money on a gas pipeline, yes or no?

MR. LEBLANC: No I'm not, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will go to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. I wish to table, again, what should be a familiar section of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Act, for the House, which gives the right for the province to purchase 50 per cent of the Sable offshore pipeline. Will the minister table in the House any agreement or letter of intent which shows Nova Scotia has indeed signaled its intention to purchase $150 million worth of the gas pipeline? Are we getting back into the gas business in Nova Scotia with Sable, yes or no?

HON. GORDON BALSER: No.

[Page 6684]

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

NAT. GAS: DISTRIBUTION - DETAILS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, very much, to the very articulate Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Mr. Speaker, there are 350 New Brunswick residents and businesses that have signed up to take and use Nova Scotia's natural gas. Today, 65 of those New Brunswick customers are hooked up, yet we don't have a single Nova Scotia family having the access to our natural gas. Enbridge, the New Brunswick distributor, is signing people at a pace that will exceed their first year target. By next year, the company says it will have 3,000 New Brunswick customers signed up to take and use Nova Scotia's natural gas. My question to the articulate Minister responsible for Petroleum Directorate is, how many Nova Scotians do you expect will have an opportunity to use our natural gas next year?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the first step in ensuring that Nova Scotians have access to gas is to award the franchise. Once Sempra had announced their intention to withdraw, we need to deal with that issue before we can look for a new distributor.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, it sounded like zero to me. Enbridge tells us the demand for our, that's Nova Scotia, natural gas in New Brunswick right now is outpacing the supply of contractors able to connect the homes. The company tells us they have huge employment opportunities, something we could use here, arising from their distribution scheme. In fact, Enbridge expects to be able to create 3,400 person-years of employment over the lifetime of the franchise. To the minister, why is it that New Brunswick has a distribution scheme up and running with New Brunswick workers hooking up New Brunswick homes to use Nova Scotia natural gas while you haven't even managed to hook up one single home?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. What I am interpreting from his question is that they are going to be fully supportive of this government's efforts to re-award that franchise.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, out West what they say is that Nova Scotia doesn't have natural gas, we pass it. We pass it to places like New Brunswick, where they have a distribution franchise holder, they have five marketers and dozens of installation service contractors, all providing our Nova Scotia natural gas to New Brunswick customers, and creating jobs in New Brunswick. The province has customers hooked up and hundreds more waiting to be hooked up. Will the minister, this very articulate minister, tell us how much longer Nova Scotians will have to wait before they have access to their own natural gas?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are seeing the benefit of natural gas in the fact that Nova Scotia Power is burning gas. Again, I hear from the member opposite that he wants to work with this government to ensure that we do have a distribution system in place in the very near future.

[Page 6685]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: DATABASE - IMPLEMENT

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, one of the recommendations of the recently-released Russell report was the implementation of a database system developed back in 1994 to track performance of the justice system. The government response to this is inaction stating that further analysis is required. Last month this government made a big to-do about launching the on-line Nova Scotia Business Registry. Cutting red tape and enabling 24 hour Internet access for business is commendable. However, my question to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General is, will he commit today to stop procrastinating and search for the means in his current budget to begin implementing a database that could save lives of women and children throughout this province?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Tory Government made the deliberate decision not to take steps to introduce a central database that is desperately needed as a vital risk assessment tool. Clearly, this is a very bad decision. Instead, the Department of Justice and the minister said it will begin by instituting a manual monitoring system to track family violence cases through the system and monitor emergency intervention orders. What does that mean? Does that mean they intend to use a filing cabinet and fax documents around the province to monitor cases as they go through our justice system? My question to the Minister of Justice is, you have had responsibility over these issues for the last two years, why isn't even the simple manual monitoring system already in place in your department?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: I thank the honourable member for the question. Quite simply, the answer is, Mr. Speaker, that the matter is being worked upon, as I understand it, within the department. As the honourable member knows, we have a real commitment to working with respect to domestic violence in this province, as shown by our response to Dawn Russell's report.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, just another example of another broken Tory promise to the people of Nova Scotia. The Russell report also calls on government to support victim support services. You will remember very well that this is a Tory Government that eliminated the Family Violence Prevention Initiative and cut funding to transition houses like the Tearmann Society in New Glasgow. They now propose to hire 3.5 assistant coordinator positions to provide victim support and flag high-risk situations throughout the entire province.

[Page 6686]

My question to the minister is, can the minister stand in this House today and tell Nova Scotians in all honesty that creating three full-time and one part-time positions is an adequate response to a province-wide crisis in family violence?

MR. BAKER: I can tell the honourable member that I am, indeed, incredibly proud of the commitment of this government, which is spending $1.6 million over the next three years to not only create a domestic violence legislation but on top of that, Mr. Speaker, we are also introducing in this province a very important justice training initiative that is going to create a training opportunity for police officers and court officials throughout this province. I am, indeed, very proud of that response.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

PETROLEUM DIRECTORATE: ELPASO EXPLOSION - AWARENESS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: To the minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate, Mr. Speaker, this minister's government has fumbled time and time again in all aspects of its handling of oil and gas. Whether it's being spineless on royalties or inept in setting up a province-wide distribution system, the whole situation has been a very sorry story. Now we have learned that the latest company the government wants to cozy up to, elpaso, was fined this past summer by the United States Department of Transportation a record $2.5 million U.S. for safety violations at its system in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Those violations resulted in a catastrophic pipeline explosion. The cause of the explosion was corrosion and poor inspection practices. Does the minister know about this and when did he learn about it?

HON. GORDON BALSER: I follow the newspaper printings the same as anyone else does. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, that's a completely unresponsive reaction from the minister. He probably didn't know about it, but I will tell you that the explosion for which elpaso was fined killed 12 people. That's 12; five of them young children. This was clearly a major pipeline explosion. Nova Scotians have to ask themselves whether elpaso is the kind of company they want to do business with. Is the government going to take any leadership in how our offshore is developed or is it going to continue to sit back and let any company that comes along set the whole agenda? That's what I'm asking the minister.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, this government is taking a leadership role in developing an industry and an industry starts, first of all, by having exploratory wells drilled and certainly by having elpaso put forward an expression of interest to be involved in the construction of a pipeline, as has Williams, as have a number of other companies. In order to build an industry, you certainly have to encourage investment and interest.

[Page 6687]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, leadership is not the word that anyone uses with respect to this government or that minister. Make no mistake, we in this Party want the offshore to be developed, but it has to be developed in a way that maximizes benefits for Nova Scotians, in a way that does not threaten the fishery, in a way that puts domestic needs first, in a way that protects the environment. My question to this minister is, in light of elpaso's history, is he prepared to take steps to give other companies the opportunity to be involved in this latest project? I want to know that.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I assure the member opposite that this government takes safety and regulatory regimes very, very seriously. The point is that this government wants to work with industry to create a future for this province, unlike those members over there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES.: SOFTWOOD LUMBER - EXEMPTION

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister is aware that Canadian softwood lumber, including Nova Scotia softwood lumber, is now subject to a 12.5 per cent anti-dumping duty. The Maritime Lumber Bureau was fortunate to get an exemption from the last countervailing duty but we are not sure that things are looking good at this point in time. My question to the minister is, could the minister inform the House what recent actions the provincial government has taken to try to get an exemption for Nova Scotia softwood lumber?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks a very good question and that is really an update on what has taken place. The Nova Scotia Government, along with all Maritime Governments, have worked closely with the Maritime Lumber Bureau and was successful in avoiding the countervail duty of 19.5 per cent. This current duty has been imposed industry-wide against all softwood at 12.56 per cent and is a temporary measure. We are working with our Maritime counterparts, with our federal counterparts and the Maritime Lumber Bureau to put forward the arguments before this ruling is made permanent by the end of March next year.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, all sectors of the forest industry contribute $1.4 billion or so to the economy and they employ over 20,000 people. Keeping access to the U.S. market is vital and I am pleased that the all-Party Resources Committee has unanimously agreed to press for greater access to the American market for the Christmas tree sector. Let me ask the minister, just what action has the minister taken to ensure access to the American market for Nova Scotia forest products?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Government and the Department of Natural Resources, along with our Maritime partners and the Maritime Lumber Bureau, continue to press on all fronts for fair and equal access. I certainly know that the member opposite, as

[Page 6688]

well as all Opposition members in this House, will be supporting the government's action in the days ahead to try to prevent the countervail from being permanent.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I know the Premier has this on his agenda in Newfoundland over the next day or two, but instead of traveling east the Premier should be traveling west or south to deal with this problem that we have. Could the minister inform the House as to what contingency plans are in place to enhance the softwood sector if this duty is not lifted?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, there are a number of WTO restrictions on subsidies and those types of issues. This government, with the Premier leading the way, is meeting today with our Maritime counterparts in Newfoundland, representing the lumber industry and all industries in this province the way a proper government should interact and lead.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH.: FARMERS - AID INFO.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The minister is well aware of the crisis in the agricultural industry created by the prolonged drought conditions in four of the last five years. Farmers organizations including the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and the Atlantic Farmers Council are calling for drought relief that goes beyond existing aid measures. Conditions are so bad that farmers are overcutting their woodlots to supplement their incomes. Will the minister tell the House what additional aid he intends to give farmers to help them through this current crisis?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, this government gave unprecedented support to the agricultural industry over the last two years. From a level of slightly over $9 million in 1998, this government last year gave over $19 million in direct support to farmers across Nova Scotia - over a doubling. It has happened nowhere else in Canada.

MR. MACDONELL: Again to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The farm community needs our support. The Federation of Agriculture appeared before the Standing Committee on Economic Development on September 25th and made a convincing case for this government to take action to relieve the great distress that drought has inflicted on the agricultural community. So, will the minister admit that without additional aid, particularly for water infrastructure, our agricultural industry is in deep trouble?

MR. FAGE: This government and this ministry work very closely with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and to that end we have worked with our federal partners

[Page 6689]

on two programs - NISA as well as Disaster Relief or CIFA programs so that there are 50 per cent interim payments eligible immediately now to those farmers who are in need.

MR. MACDONELL: The minister forgot to tell the House that the application forms for relief in 2000 just became available so that means for 2001 that they'll be available next year. That doesn't sound like very speedy relief. My final supplementary to the minister, Peter Hill of the Atlantic Farmers Council has stated that without some sort of government assistance to help farmers through the current crisis, a considerable number of farmers, possibly as many as 10 per cent, may be forced to stop farming. Such an outcome could devastate rural Nova Scotia. They need aid, Mr. Minister, yet the Minister of Finance committed to reduce spending across the board. So, will the minister admit to farmers then that he can't convince his Cabinet colleagues that saving Nova Scotia's farmers is as worthy an endeavour as wage subsidies and government bucks for sweet deals to school board officials?

MR. FAGE: I would like to correct the honourable member on some of his facts. With regard to the payments - the 50 per cent advance payment is open for the year 2001. The individual farmer just has to apply to receive that 50 per cent advance payment. I think it's very important the honourable member understand that particular issue. I would remind the honourable member that this government has doubled income support and agriculture development directly to farms. Again, from slightly over $9 million in 1998 to over $19 million at the present. That is the best record in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

TOURISM & CULTURE: DECLINE - MIN. EXPLAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: My question is for the Minister of Tourism. On November 2nd, the minister released the Tourism Visitor Exit Survey, that indicated between 1992 and the year 2000 both the length of stay has increased and the amount of money each visitor spent had gone up some 34 per cent - which I understand the member for Cape Breton South was minister for at least two of those years. But, in the last two years, however, the overall value of tourism has dropped 1 per cent last year and 3 per cent this year. Can the minister explain to the members of the House and to all Nova Scotians why the industry is not growing under his watch as the first sole Minister of Tourism in 10 years?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I thank the member for the question. Indeed, this past week during the tourism conference there was a sign of true strength for the industry. The industry put on a tremendous show. The member brings up a good question - in fact, if he takes a look back to August 1, 1999, I brought this up in the House before. In the first 15 months - and I can get the correct calculations for after that - a comparison between this government and the previous government, tourism was up 10 per cent.

[Page 6690]

MR. DOWNE: Tourism is down this year for a variety of reasons, as has been indicated. The minister dedicated solely to the task of tourism is not changing the department and making a strategy for the future. Given that the last two years have shown a decrease in tourism in Nova Scotia, why is it that the minister has not taken a new approach to marketing the Province of Nova Scotia, to correct the problem that he created two years ago?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the member has been watching the last couple of days, but in fact if he took a look at the TIANS conference, the very thing he is talking about, we have taken a new approach to tourism marketing in this province and a combination of the product and marketing plan was shown two days ago.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as I understand the last few days, this industry is looking for a minister who shows leadership, a leadership within his Cabinet that is obvious he doesn't have, leadership in regard to his department that it shows he does not have, and leadership for the industry in the Province of Nova Scotia that he is showing he does not have. It appears that the minister has not been involved with any kind of visionary approach in showing new leadership in this province. What are you going to do, Mr. Minister, to provide leadership so that the industry once again can start growing instead of falling behind?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member is obviously asleep at the switch. He hasn't been watching what's happening in tourism in the last two years. In fact, we put together a five year plan for the tourism industry and this is year number two. I can talk about some of the other initiatives that we are embarking upon, including a CAT promotion in the spring, including an enhancement of the Boston tree lighting; in fact this government made an additional $1 million commitment to the Department of Tourism and Culture this year. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COMMUN. SERV. - SUNRISE MANOR: RESIDENTS - CONCERN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. On August 29th the minister's department informed residents of Sunrise Manor of his decision to relocate 11 residents of the Halifax Regional Rehab Centre to their building. This decision was made without consultation with residents of the manor, the majority who are seniors who have lived there anywhere from a few years to several decades. On September 7th, after meeting with residents, I asked the minister to meet with residents to hear their concerns, but two months later we haven't had any response to that request.

[Page 6691]

Mr. Minister, could you please explain why you have so little respect for the residents of Sunrise Manor that you wouldn't even meet them face to face to hear their concerns about your decision?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings up the issue of Sunrise Manor. The Residential Tenancies Board met with the residents, staff of Housing met with residents, people from our department met with residents, and we have kiosks there, we have people there every day to answer their questions and their concerns. We have met with them and responded to all their questions.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Minister, you haven't met with them and that was their request. Mr. Speaker, as we speak, construction work is going on at Sunrise Manor because this minister was so lacking in respect for the residents that he wasn't prepared to meet with them. If he had met with them, as I have done, he would have found out that they are trying to cope daily with elevators that break down, a lack of recreational space, criminal activities perpetrated against seniors who are vulnerable, and now he has taken away the limited space they had for recreation and he has introduced another high-risk population into this building.

My question to the minister is, what plan does he have to address the serious and the real security and recreational issues of residents in Sunrise Manor?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member raises two issues. The first issue was surrounding the state of the building. What we have been doing with that building is that building needed some repairs. There was work that needed to be done and that is being done. What we have indicated to residents is the people coming there will have 24 hour professional staff with them. We believe we are providing more security for them in that area.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister is spending a lot of money renovating space to house residents of the former rehab centre, a situation he says is a temporary solution. Frankly, many of the Sunrise Manor residents find it hard to believe that so much money would be spent for a short time period. So my question to the minister is, will you commit here today to the Sunrise Manor residents that the time frame for housing the rehab centre patients will not exceed one year?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, one thing that we do not do in this government is discriminate against people. We believe that the people who are challenged and are going there need housing as much as anybody else. We have indicated that we are going to put them there temporarily while the other facilities are developed. We have told them that. They see the construction going on, so they know we are following up on that problem.

[Page 6692]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC.: C.B.-VICTORIA REG. SCH. BD. - TEACHER LAYOFFS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The minister should be aware that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is once again facing a budget shortfall. There is a dramatic reduction in enrolment and the board has lost 700 students a year for the last two years. The Tory blue book, on Page 16, indicated that traditional funding would be reviewed and a new program would be implemented to protect schools from untimely reductions in teaching staff, due to high drops in enrolment. My question to the minister is, could the minister outline what exactly is being done by her department to avoid the layoff of 43 teachers in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and where is her long-awaited blue book promise?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member for Richmond has raised a serious issue. It has been brought up many times in this House over many years and the key word in that promise is untimely. The situation is, though, that we have maintained a base grant to school boards and if we move more of the money towards where the students are, which is only right, we are not doing it in a dramatic and drastic fashion. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is well aware of the reduction and they are able to plan because they know in advance approximately what the reduction will be.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, clearly, in the blue book, the minister said, recognizing that traditional funding methods should not be used for boards where there are high drops in student enrolment, which is why, for two years, we have waited for this plan and there is none in sight. It is another broken Tory promise. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is being forced to cut $1 million over the next year, which could result in the closure of eight schools, the layoff of 43 teachers and who knows how many support staff. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister intervene to ensure the unnecessary and detrimental cuts will not result in the loss of 43 teachers from the classrooms of this board?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, last year, the honourable member will recall that the department did provide additional money above and beyond what had been planned to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. We did that because they needed some more help, but the loss of schools . . .

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

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the fact that some schools have to be closed and some positions lost because of declining enrolment is a province-wide problem. I agree it is worse in Cape Breton but it is something we as a province have to deal with. All governments have to deal with this because that is the way the trends project into the future.

[Page 6693]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, clearly the minister has indicated that she is aware of the problem. She has indicated that it has been a problem for quite some time. So we again ask the question, where is your solution, minister, and when are you finally going to act on your long-term promise to deal with the situation rather than continually, year after year, tell us it is going to be a continuing problem?

Mr. Speaker, under this minister we are moving toward a system where there are going to be two types of education systems for students in this province. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has hired very few teachers in the last two years as a result of the funding reduction. The teachers who will lose their jobs for the most part will be among those with three to four years of experience, those we like to term our best and brightest young teachers.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what action is the minister going to take this year to ensure that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board does not lose these valuable teachers?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, my job is for all the students and all the school boards of Nova Scotia and all the areas, not just Cape Breton. I can assure you I want more than anyone to keep our young, valuable, better-trained teachers, but not all of them can stay in Cape Breton because the student population is declining too dramatically, as everyone knows.

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

STATUS OF WOMEN: JUSTICE BILL - MIN. INPUT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. Yesterday, the Minister of Justice introduced the Domestic Violence Intervention Act, a good first step towards protecting abused women. But what the minister failed to mention is that his bill just replaces cuts that his government had already made with regard to services for abused women.

The Minister of Justice was faced with a damning report and he acted, but instead of being proactive, Mr. Speaker, this minister has been reactive. I am concerned that the Minister responsible for the Status of Women has not spoken on the Russell report. She has not spoken up for women who live with domestic violence every day. So I would like to ask the Minister responsible for the Status of Women if she had any input into the Minister of Justice's bill and why she has not spoken up for abused women?

[Page 6694]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I fully support the Minister of Justice in his bill and the Status of Women organization does too. I agree that we would like to do more faster but we are doing that which we are capable of, fiscally, right now. I have consulted often with people in the Status of Women Secretariat over this issue and they support the minister in his plans.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I had hoped that the minister would go beyond talking to her own staff and go out and talk to the women who are on the front lines: those who are being abused and those who work with abused women. The Minister responsible for the Status of Women must surely understand that her role is to advocate for women. She must step forward with her Cabinet colleagues and remind them that $1.6 million is a drop in the bucket for providing proper services to protect abused women. So my question is, will the Minister responsible for the Status of Women agree today to approach the Minister of Justice to expand further his programs to ensure the safety of all women in this province?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, before I answer that question I would like to say that I spend a lot of time speaking to women and I resent the implication that every woman in this province is a victim and abused. There are many, many successful women in the province who are capable of taking care of themselves. (Applause)

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, well, I guess that gets the minister up on her high horse but still hasn't admitted whether or not she has actually spoken to women who are abused, who were abused or those who work with them. This isn't about every woman, you're right, but it is about those women who are at risk and I would hope that you would actually talk to them, Madam Minister. Maybe the minister responsible is too busy with her other portfolio and the problems she is having there to worry about the concerns that the women of this province have.

My final question is, will the minister responsible agree to seek input from women and women's groups and transition houses on the Russell report and bring them to the attention of her Cabinet for future consideration?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I have met with women from transition houses. I have met with women who talk about these situations and certainly these women's concerns are brought to the attention of Cabinet and are brought to the attention of the Minister of Justice, in particular.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 6695]

COMMUN. SERV.: CHILD CARE SYSTEM - COMMITMENT

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. A May 9th news release from the department states that a plan was created to deal with a range of programs and supports that would make a difference in the lives of Nova Scotia's youngest children and their families. The federal government contributed $66 million over five years to provide those programs and supports. The minister will remember that because he tried to take credit for it. One of the department's priorities for this year is $6 million to stabilize and enhance the child care system. Some of that $6 million is supposed to be used to improve the salaries of child care workers in order to attract and retain qualified workers.

Mr. Speaker, today is November 7th and the Department of Community Services has still not committed any of that money to the child care system. My question to the minister is this, are you going to live up to your promise of putting $6 million into the child care system this year?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we have been working with the child care sector. We have spent the summer working on the Beech report, with the people, the Funding Review Committee. The report came to us in September and we're just finalizing on that and we're moving forward.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, those empty words don't mean one iota to child care workers who are looking for a salary increase in this province and the minister knows that. The minister said that this new plan presents Nova Scotia with an excellent opportunity to make substantial improvements in our child care system. Child care workers are underpaid and the minister knows that and if this province is going to retain and attract child care workers who are qualified to care for our children, then those workers require an increase in salary.

My question to the minister is, yes or no, are you going to allocate the federal funding to increase the salaries of those overworked and underpaid individuals who we entrust the care for our children?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member and this government agree on one thing, that we do need to support and we do need to work with child care workers to improve their lot and to help them be more beneficial to our children. That is why we have worked with the federal government for the last couple of years, that's why we have worked with the child care sector, so we can move on and get that program ready.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, don't give them empty words, show them the money, Mr. Minister, that's what they're looking for, early childhood development education specialists. (Interruptions) I can hear from the backbenchers who don't give a damn about Cape Breton.

[Page 6696]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: We know that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay would know that to use that type of language here, at least in my House, would be unparliamentary. I would ask him to retract that, please, and then ask his question.

MR. WILSON: I certainly would retract that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, sir.

MR. WILSON: Not the part about not caring, but I will retract that word, that's for sure. Mr. Speaker, my final question is also for the Minister of Community Services. Early childhood education specialists have commented on the need for improved salaries for child care workers. So my question to the minister is, what action are you going to take to implement the recommendations of those specialists and finally give child care workers the salary increase that they deserve?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member before, we take this seriously and we agree on one thing, that there is a need, and we will be developing that and coming forward with that very soon.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: APPEAL BDS. - QUALIFICATIONS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services as well. First, the Minister of Community Services decided it was not necessary to advertise for appeal board members, instead they used the applicants from a year ago. Second, some of the approved applicants didn't include any real information on qualifications. Third, I am tabling copies of departmental e-mails obtained through a freedom of information request that reveals officials didn't even check the background and the references of applicants. My question to the minister is, how do you expect people to believe the appeals process is going to work when you couldn't even take the time to check the qualifications of your appointments?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we expect the new regulations to work quite well. As the honourable member knows, we changed the appeal process so that they are done by districts and they can be in smaller groups. That's why we appointed people from different areas, so we could have competent people in all the areas to carry out the appeals.

[Page 6697]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the minister didn't answer the question. The appeal process for Community Services is a farce. The minister wasn't interested in setting up an appeal process that would be fair and just in its decision. The board was set up to guarantee that the department is always right; that's how the board was set up. In fact, the main criteria for selection was Tory affiliation. My question to the minister is, why don't you admit to this House that the selection of the appeal board members was an exercise in patronage politics?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member knows that when we changed the appeal process there were two things that happened. There was the administrative review that was designated to happen on a certain number of days, and then there was the hearing by the appeal board that had a certain number of days. If the honourable member has checked, and he has, he knows that a lot of those appeals that would normally go through to the appeal board have been intercepted and the resolve has been made in the administrative process.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you how bad it is, it's not bad enough that the minister didn't find it necessary to check for qualifications of the applicants, it's not bad enough that the whole selection process was fraught with patronage, now this minister has changed the rules so that the appeal board has a quorum of one, one member, one person whose qualifications may not even be appropriate but will be making decisions that could affect the very basic needs of vulnerable Nova Scotians. I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, how can you so blatantly disregard the rights of the very people you are sworn to represent?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, I will take him back to when we had budget estimates last year. Some of the questions that we had from the Liberal caucus and from your caucus on the setting up of the appeal boards was that you wanted it to be more user-friendly, to be able to go to people, to be able to deal with. That is why we made appeal boards of one, so they could go and stop off with people. That's why we did it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, and I see he is not in the House. I don't know, maybe . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West knows he is not to indicate the absence of a member. However, we will ascertain (Interruptions) The Minister of Tourism and Culture is on his way to Cape Breton. (Interruptions) Order, please. He's on his way to a funeral.

[Page 6698]

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my point is, I want to say I would have thought the minister would at least have had the courtesy to inform the members of the House or at least the critics about the fact that he's going. (Interruption)

AN HON. MEMBER: He told me.

MR. DOWNE: Did he tell you? Well, I wasn't aware.

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

N.S. BUS. INC.: CHAIRMAN - APPT. DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Business Inc. So far, Nova Scotia Business Inc. has done absolutely nothing to foster economic development in the province since last April. Appointing well-known Tory, Tom Stanfield, as Chairman, carries on a well-known Tory tradition of handing out key patronage appointments to Tories so they can dole out the taxpayers money to Tory friends. My question to the minister is, how can this minister justify appointing another well-known Tory as chairman of Nova Scotia Business Inc.?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I think it is indeed unfortunate the member opposite would cast aspersions on such a credible candidate and the fact that this man is a leading entrepreneur in this province and has taken Stanfield's into an international market and brings to that chair a great deal of expertise and, in fact, has the respect of the business community of Nova Scotia. I personally have no idea of Mr. Stanfield's politics. He is making an assumption. There are members opposite, in that very caucus, who have embraced a number of political ideologies over their career. So I think it is indeed unfortunate that because of an individual's last name, you make assumptions about their political affiliation. Indeed, Mr. Stanfield, in conversation with me, indicated that he worked with Premier Regan during his administration, as well.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, compared to Dan Potter, the minister is probably right. It is not a bad appointment, compared to Dan Potter, who was the previous chairman. You know, this appointment was probably brought about at a barbecue that the Premier attended last summer with Mr. Stanfield. They probably discussed where they were going with Nova Scotia Business Inc. Inheriting this portfolio is hardly entrepreneurial. The Nova Scotia economy has been in a decline for over a year and the government is failing in its commitment to offer tax incentives to Cape Breton and to rural Nova Scotia. How can the minister justify waiting so long to replace the original Tory chairman of Nova Scotia Business Inc., given the state of the economy in Nova Scotia?

[Page 6699]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, unlike that government, we want to do it properly and correctly and so we took the time to put in place the regulation that ensured that we had a board that had the competency and the skillsets and the chair to do the job correctly, unlike that government.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, here we have a chairman, a well-known friend of the government, appointed to a board made up of 12 people who are not going to be responsible to this Legislature - they are only going to be responsible to the Cabinet periodically - to spend $30 million worth of government money, as they see fit, with no public accountability on the floor of this place. I think that is an affront to the people of Nova Scotia, that $30 million in public money is going to be spent without anybody having to answer on the floor of this House. I want to ask the minister, does he agree that Nova Scotia Business Inc. should not be reporting to this Legislature on a regular basis?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the members opposite, all members of the House and, indeed, all Nova Scotians that a great deal of effort went into ensuring that there would be tremendously strong regulations around accountability. I would cite what has been done with NSBI and compare it very favourably with that administration when they in fact were government, some of the deals that they undertook.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: APPEAL BD. - FAIRNESS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is to the Minister of Community Services. This government has no heart. Worse, like bullies, they pick on the weak and the vulnerable. They have changed the regulations for income supports so drastically that many of the front-line workers are still struggling to familiarize themselves with the changes. The early days of such a drastic change in regulation is when the greatest number of mistakes can be expected. The appeals are inevitable. My question to the minister is, why won't you admit that your hand-picked, quorum-of-one appeal boards are designed to allow you to exclude as many people from the benefits as possible?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: As I indicated to the honourable member before, there's a two step process. The first, if somebody wishes to appeal, it's an administrative appeal and then after that it goes on to the appeal board. The decision to have one-person appeal boards was to accommodate people so people who are far away from the centres where the appeal boards used to meet could be heard in their own location.

MR. PYE: Not true. The Minister of Community Services was quoted in the media saying that his program eliminates people. I suggest that the manner in which the Community

[Page 6700]

Services Appeal Boards have been set up could well assist the minister in his efforts to eliminate people and to get them off the income supports in any way possible. My question to the minister is, how can you justify speaking about vulnerable human beings in terms of eliminating them?

MR. CHRISTIE: The honourable member indicates that we indicated that we were trying to eliminate people. If he would recall the time when we brought our legislation in we used the word "assist" people. That was the program we brought in for additional support, for additional transportation. It was to assist people to get off income assistance and be able to get them back to the work force.

MR. PYE: I have further proof that the real motive with this minister is not assisting people in need, but in fact the bottom line. I am tabling a memo from the minister to, among others, the appeal board calling for fiscal restraint. The minister emphasizes the need for exercising professional judgment and balancing the provisions of critical services with the needs of exercising fiscal restraint. My question to the minister is, how can you treat people in need as if they were obstacles in the way of your fiscal restraint?

MR. CHRISTIE: To the honourable member, I can indicate that we sent out to all of the agencies that get grants from Community Services - some 135 - that we were under fiscal restraint and we expected them to meet their budget targets. That's what we indicated to them, that we had to meet our budget targets and we expected our partners to do the same.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: SINGLE-ENTRY ACCESS - BEHIND SCHEDULE

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is to the Minister of Health regarding single-entry access. We're hearing the single-entry access into long-term care is becoming a bottleneck. People are being increasingly forced to wait. My question to the minister is, will he finally be up front with the people of Nova Scotia and admit that the single-entry access system is behind schedule and that Nova Scotians are being forced to find their own way to long-term care?

HON. JAMES MUIR: The single-entry access system is being rolled out over a 15 month period rather than a 12 month period as we had initially set. We had two very successful pilots - it's certainly not providing any bottleneck and I have explained to members of the House sometimes that the decision was made last February that all people who would enter into long-term care would have a financial assessment. The honourable member is right - there was some slow-down at that point, but five new financial assessment officers have been hired and are operational. I have not heard of any great delays recently. I want to again say to the House on financial assessment and single-entry access - the financial assessment would have been done if there were no single-entry access.

[Page 6701]

DR. SMITH: During the last election and several times after, the Premier of this province has made long-term care a priority. We don't hear it so much lately. In July, 2000

the MacLeod report relative to capital investment in long-term care was released. It was not until September of this year that the Department of Health acknowledge that it had finally begun to work on the recommendations.

My question to the minister, is this kind of action by his government what the Premier meant when he made a personal commitment to look after long-term care in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, long-term care in Nova Scotia has had its difficulties over the course of time. As the honourable member would know, it was, I believe, in 1998 basically when long-term care was moved fully from the municipalities into the Department of Health and into the Department of Community Services. We have also this past year incorporated a number of facilities that had been previously part of the Department of Community Services and this is making things better for seniors in particular.

Mr. Speaker, we are making great strides in long-term care. It took a long time to create the difficulties we find ourselves. . .

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, simply if Saskatchewan and Manitoba can subsidize long-term care, are there plans that the minister has to make long-term care an insured service in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, at the present time we do not intend to make long-term care an insured service. As desirable as it may be, it isn't an insured service in those provinces. Things that are insured are under the Canada Health Act. Those not insured . . .

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable NDP Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have given to you and to the House Leaders and acting House Leader for the government the agenda for this afternoon.

Would you please call Resolution No. 2121.

Res. No. 2121, Gov't. (N.S.): Public Servants - Respect - notice given Nov. 5/01 - (Mr. K. Deveaux)

[Page 6702]

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I will just read the therefore be it resolved part of the resolution. "Therefore be it resolved that the next government of this province should end the pattern of extraordinary and unjustified pay packages for a favourite few administrators in the public sector and start treating all public servants and citizens with respect."

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be able to have a few minutes to talk about this particular resolution. I had an opportunity last night to go to one of the school advisory councils in my riding which I have a tendency to do from time to time. In this case it was Caldwell Road Elementary and I took the time during the meeting to get their perspective, the parents, the teachers, the principal, some of the community members, as to what has been going on around the school boards and the extravagant salaries that are being paid to superintendents and to the Deputy Minister of Education and to many other people.

They are most concerned with accountability, with knowing that their tax dollars are going into the classroom. It is that simple. They don't really care if it goes through a school board, they don't really care necessarily how it gets to them, just as long as their classroom is going to get as much money as possible to ensure that their children have a strong curriculum that they are being taught, that the teachers are well educated and trained on a regular basis, that the buildings are safe and healthy. These are things that they want so that they know when their children go to school at eight o'clock or nine o'clock in the morning they are going to get the best education possible. That is what parents in the communities of Nova Scotia want.

I think the other thing that they want when they talk about accountability is knowing that decisions are going to be made by people that they can talk to, people that they are going to be able to sit down and have a chat with, people that they are going to be able to know are the ones that are making the decision. Unfortunately what we are seeing potentially in the past five years through consolidation and amalgamation and more and more power being put in the hands of the minister's office and the Department of Education, is an education system in which, whether you live in Digby or Cole Harbour or Mabou, the decisions are being made by people that you do not necessarily have a chance to ever talk to or meet with and that is a disturbing trend.

Part of that trend, I suggest to you, is part of the reason why we came to amalgamation. Originally you may remember it was all about trying to save money. We owe - the economy of scale, we will have bigger school boards so that we can save money. It didn't really happen that way, we didn't save money. I would suspect in many cases what we have done is created super superintendents, for lack of a better term, who are paid $100,000, $120,000, $130,000 a year plus many benefits. Then under them, we have assistant superintendents who are paid what used to be paid to the old superintendents of the smaller school boards.

[Page 6703]

There have been no real savings, there has been no real opportunity to ensure that that money that is supposed to be saved is going to go into the classroom. Mr. Speaker, let's remember who did this, this was under the Liberal Government, it was a Liberal Government in 1995 that created these seven super school boards. As well, at the same time, in 1996 as these boards were coming together, we had an amalgamation coordinator that was put forward by the Liberal Government of the time for every one of these new school boards. Their job was to go out and help negotiate and identify superintendents for the jobs, in fact there were guidelines set down by the Department of Education on how to negotiate salaries and benefit packages for these superintendents.

I think that is what is most disconcerting to parents in our province, parents I talked to last night and probably parents all across this province; that we have a Department of Education and we have school boards that clearly have not ensured that every dollar possible was being squeezed out to put into our classroom. I will deal specifically with the Department of Education that hasn't done that. Whether it be the coordinators of amalgamations who were there when these contracts were being negotiated and people were being identified, whether it was the guidelines that were set down on how to negotiate these contracts, the Department of Education has, for lack of a better term, quarterbacked the amalgamation process from day one. It was always meant as a way to put more control in the hands of a few bureaucrats in Halifax.

Maybe it has been effective in some ways, but with regard to making sure that every tax dollar that goes to the Department of Education, or as many as possible are being spent on the classroom and our children's education, it has been a failure. No one can take more blame for that than the Department of Education, Mr. Speaker. It is that department, from day one, that has set up a fiefdom to ensure that they could control a lot more of the spending. It is they who put people in place to hire superintendents of the school boards, it is they who consolidated school boards so that they would only have to control seven instead of whatever the number was before.

Mr. Speaker, this has created a situation in which the Department of Education is fully responsible for the salaries of those superintendents; it is fully responsible for the salary being provided to its deputy minister; it is fully responsible for the waste that should be going into our classrooms. You are going to hear from a Minister of Education who is going to dispute that, she is going to say she needs more power in order to do what's right. We have a Department of Education that has not proven in the past two years that it should have more power because it is not accountable for the money it is spending now.

Here are a few examples, starting with, Mr. Speaker, when the budget came out in the year 2000, this government announced cuts in education. Less than a month or two months later, that government was retracting some of those cuts and adding $50 million to the budget of education. Why? Because it felt that it cut too far. Clearly the system couldn't handle the cuts that it was trying to impose. That is clearly a financial blunder if I have ever seen one.

[Page 6704]

More recently, we had this government admit that there is $10 million going on the deficit of this province because the Department of Education couldn't calculate correctly the amortization of certain things it had purchased. I would suggest to you, there is another example of a department that is not accountable enough that it is spending our money properly. Then, of course, we have Knowledge House, where hundreds of thousands of dollars were given to a private company, in return, less than a day later, the company goes belly up.

Mr. Speaker, those are three examples, there are many more. I can talk about the P3 school system and the money that was wasted on that. We can talk about contracts that have been given out. The fact is that we have had a Department of Education in the last five or even six years, since the introduction of the bill to amalgamate school boards, that has been more interested in private greed than they have been in educating our children; more interested in privatization, more interested in outsourcing, you can use whatever key word you want. The point is that this Department of Education is more interested in providing funds to the private sector and the profit margin that they are trying to create, than they are in educating our children.

The symptoms are things like superintendents who then become greedy themselves and look for large pay packages and benefits. The symptom is a Knowledge House that is asked to set up an advanced studies curriculum and then doesn't finish it, goes bankrupt and takes the money.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, those are just two key examples of a Department of Education that is more interested in private greed and privatization of our education system than they are in ensuring that our children are getting the best education possible. Another key symptom of all this is that the Department of Education is not accountable for the money it is spending, it is not ensuring that our school boards are accountable for the money they are spending, and it is putting money into things like salaries of senior staff, whether it be the Deputy Minister of Education, Deputy Minister of Health, or superintendents of school boards. It is that Department of Education that has the power to fix this problem. It is that Department of Education, with the school boards, with the elected officials, to ensure that there is accountability and that every possible dollar is going into the classroom, but that is not what we have seen. That is not what we have seen for the last five years and under this government for the last two and a half years.

The people of Nova Scotia deserve better. When I talked to those parents at Caldwell Road Elementary School yesterday, (Interruption) they made it quite clear that they want to ensure that their children are getting the best education possible. They know the teachers and principals are doing the best they can in a system that over the last six years has been struck time after time after time with major cuts, major funding cuts. Whether it be in real dollars

[Page 6705]

or in actual dollars, they seem to always be trying to deal with more cuts in the education system - buildings that are unhealthy, classrooms that are over capacity. These are the things that we've had to deal with, and at the same time there are people out there who are getting greedy, who are benefiting from a Department of Education that's more interested in that private greed, in privatization, than they are in the education of our children.

That must stop, Mr. Speaker. That must stop if the people of Nova Scotia are going to get an education system that works for them. This Department of Education and this minister, instead of trying to identify bogeymen and trying to point the finger at superintendents, should be looking in the mirror and saying I'm the head of a department, I'm solely responsible to this Legislature and to the people of Nova Scotia as the Minister of Education for a department that has set up a system that allows this to happen.

Yes, it started under the Liberals. We'll give full credit to them for that, but this minister, this government and this department have done nothing to stop that. Well, they did slow down the P3 process, I will give them credit for that, but, Mr. Speaker, they still have allowed the greed to come before the education of our children. That must stop. The people of Nova Scotia must have a system and trust that when their tax dollars are being paid, they are being put into an education system. Then they begin to see that this government is investing in education, not seeing it as one cost factor in a budget, but realizing that cuts in education mean long-term costs 5, 10, 15, 20, 80 years from now.

These are the things that we must be looking at and, Mr. Speaker, this is why this government has failed the people of Nova Scotia. They have failed the parents of Caldwell Road Elementary School, they are failing the school boards, they are failing the elected officials because they have not created a system that has as its only goal the best education possible for our children. Instead we have a government that is more interested in private greed, privatization, and ensuring money can go to a Knowledge House or to superintendents who are interested in benefit packages. That must stop and I hope that this resolution will have an opportunity to address some of that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to talk to the resolution. Believe it or not, I have good news for the member opposite. His resolution states that the next government should end the pattern of extraordinary pay packages and, believe me, he will not have to wait until the next government.

Mr. Speaker, the events of the last month have been very distressing for a number of people. The discovery of some of the benefits for superintendents and other senior staff in this province was a shock to me. It was a shock to people in my department. It was a shock to the elected officials because in the cases that have come out, even though some of the elected boards did act to correct the situation, essentially they had been unaware of what was

[Page 6706]

going on. The Education Act does not require the reporting to the department, or even to its own board, of the total compensation package for superintendents and senior staff. What it requires is the reporting of salary and expenses.

I have here actually, Mr. Speaker, to table one year's worth of the reporting that school boards must do to the department. Again, as I said earlier, most of these figures have already been reported in Frank Magazine. The openness of this procedure is not in question. What has been happening is that because the total compensation package was not required to be reported, some individuals have been obeying the letter of the Education Act and not the spirit and, therefore, not reporting these facts.

Mr. Speaker, this government is doing something about that. On October 4th, when I first learned of the situation in the Strait and then later in Chignecto Central, we decided we had to act and act quickly. We did not try to cover up this situation. On the contrary, we brought this situation out into the public. The so-called bogeymen that the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is talking about were not created by this department. We went out of our way not to name people, but the situation that existed in these boards could not go on. Some of the deals that were had by senior staff were unconscionable and they are not going to go on.

Mr. Speaker, some people think and, indeed, particularly the New Democrats, say that my aim is to abolish school boards. That is not the case. My aim is to improve accountability. Nova Scotians want more accountability and they want a system that has broader policies and plans throughout the government, including its third party agencies. That is why this government, in the spring, when it introduced Bill No. 20 and when it passed it, extended the power of the Public Service Commission to audit third party agencies like school boards. Because what has happened in the past, I would say 10 to 15 years, is that governments have found it easier to turn parts of their jobs over to third party agencies in order to distance themselves, perhaps, from some of the difficult decisions that have to be made, like closing schools, closing hospitals, deciding where to build new schools.

The end result has been, yes, some local autonomy, but what it has meant, really, what I see, is that provincial governments get blamed for all these things anyway, yet they have far less power than the local agencies. I think it is pretty obvious to anybody here and to people reading or watching the news that the health boards, and the school boards in fact have a great deal more power at times than the provincial government does because we give them the money, they spend it and we take the blame anyway.

Now that being said, Mr. Speaker, I have to reiterate that we now have a stronger mandate for third party agencies and that we are going to use that mandate in order to improve the system of remuneration to senior school board staff. If we have to change the Education Act, which we may well have to do in order to require the reporting or making public of the broader pay package that includes benefits, we will do that. We are also asking

[Page 6707]

the Public Service Commission to come up with a scheme whereby the salaries, benefits, perks and so on are standardized across the system, probably according to the number of students in a board, and yes, that may be a small amount of power that we will take away from local boards, but I believe that the public cannot any longer allow a system to exist - I, certainly, and this government - whereby all these side deals and secret deals can be made, and the money can be paid out year after year without the elected boards or the Department of Education knowing, even though all the rules have apparently been followed.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition likes to portray this as an unnecessary power grab, but I think, as Minister of Education and as a government, we realize that the public does hold us accountable. It does not like to see the government blaming health boards and school boards for all these things, and it thinks, essentially, that the ministers should have, if not more power in the way the Opposition likes to portray it, at least more control over the tax dollars, because they are not dollars that belong to the government, they are dollars that belong to the people. They do, indeed, want them spent on health care for Nova Scotians and on education in the classroom. They want the money spent on kids, teachers, teachers assistants and so on, not on administration. We know that because talking about administration and non-essential spending was part of our mandate when we were elected. We have moved to try to try to accommodate the needs of the people without spending more money.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a minute about the Southwest pilot project, which we initiated in the first year of our mandate. I would like to take the members in the Chamber back to the situation in the Southwest Regional School Board when we were first elected. We had promised to do a review of school board boundaries, and we did that. We had an excellent panel going around the province talking to school board members about this situation. That committee reported back and said that most of the boards seemed to be working fairly well with some minor changes needed, but it reported, essentially, that Southwest Regional School Board was dysfunctional and indeed it was. The board members will admit that. The amalgamation in that case had been an unmitigated disaster.

The committee recommended that we abolish the school board. It recommended we abolish the school board and put all the power in the hands of school advisory councils. We did not do that. We felt, at the time, that by doing that we might be recreating a situation of schools banding together, mini school boards operating, eventually turning into more school boards, and setting up their own trading and their own administration. What we did in order to accommodate the needs, essentially, of the elected members was to split the board in two and centralize the administration, not because of mismanagement of funds but because we were not going to set up a situation with two superintendents instead of one, two CFOs instead of one, multitudinous curriculum directors, et cetera, all across the system, because that would have cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and the taxpayers of that area too much money.

[Page 6708]

Mr. Speaker, we are not after perfection. I know that probably the members of those school boards now, although they much prefer this situation to the one they were in previously, would like their own administrations back. We are not, as Progressive Conservatives, in quest of perfection, unlike the New Democrats across the way. We want reasonable government, good schools, good education at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to talk a bit about amalgamation and some of the problems that led to, essentially, some of the situation that we have now. Amalgamation was done under former governments for a very good reason. I am not sure they anticipated all the results because what we have, of course, are now sort of monster administrations responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars each that require professional management at a very high level that was not required previously. It also put elected members together across a broad geographic area, and it was a hard thing for them to adapt to. I think it probably did save money, but it also created problems. I would say that we inherited a system that had some flaws, so did the previous government. All governments work to improve the system that they are given, they fix their own problems, things improve, we move on. The next government - which I hope will be ours - will continue to improve the education system.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am pleased to rise to speak on Resolution No. 2121:

"Therefore be it resolved the next government of this province should end the pattern of extraordinary and unjustified pay packages for a favourite few administrators in the public sector and start treating all public servants and citizens with respect."

A very nice statement. Unfortunately, the government minister who spoke to that zeroed in on her own department and waxed eloquently about all the things that she's doing in her department to curb expenses and to cut down on waste, probably sending out a great deal of speculation, perhaps, that things will change in the way school boards are going to operate in this province. Perhaps even to the point where, in the not too distant future, we may see some resolution coming from that minister that will severely alter the way school boards operate and the way they pay their people. That's another day that we'll have to wait for.

However, what she didn't touch on, and what I believe that the resolution was taking a shot at, was the fact that in this province we pay senior administrators extraordinarily high salaries in terms of what we pay other civil servants and the people who work for the Province of Nova Scotia and, indeed, comparable positions perhaps in the private sector.

[Page 6709]

For example, it's always bothered me as to why we pay deputy ministers who have come from afar, outside of the Province of Nova Scotia, more money than some of the deputies that have been with the government for a long time. Does this government feel that those deputies are worth less than the imports that have been brought in, particularly in some of the major line departments of the province?

Let me say to you, there's no question that the next government that will deal with the administrators and staff throughout the province will be a Liberal Government. (Interruptions) I can tell you I hear the cackling from the socialists over there - the socialists had a chance and blew it. We stopped them at the one yard line and they've been going backwards ever since. We saved Nova Scotians from the horrors of the NDP; that's what we did. They thought by putting us out, they were going in but, unwittingly, they put you people in there. But we're going to do our best to rectify that situation.

Our track record in dealing with public servants has been good. When we sat at the negotiation table over the number of years that we were in office it was tough. It was tough to negotiate and hammer out settlements, but it remained just there at the negotiating table. We ironed out our differences and we compromised, and that is the key to bargaining and negotiation. I believe, as most Nova Scotians believe, that our record in dealing with health care workers and with our teachers and with our civil servants was a good record. It wasn't easy, but it was a good record; it was a good record of settling some of these problems. We also recognized that their daily jobs are not easy, but we did however allow them to maintain their bargaining rights. There was no Bill No. 68 when we were in office. There was no Bill No. 68, we allowed them to retain their bargaining rights.

The tone of future negotiations in the government probably won't be as easy as they were, because times have changed and we're dealing with a shrinking economy in this province right now. We're dealing with a government that has very little in its pockets and no direction.

We are aware, and have tried to ensure that benefits to civil servants in this province would be fair and would continue to be fair. That they would be treated with dignity for the work that they do on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. The current government has failed, Mr. Speaker, to realize that and has failed to realize the impact that they do have on the future of this province. It might be said that the workers are nothing but an inconvenience to this government. The Premier took great pride in signing a five year point plan for dealing with the Civil Service. Too bad his word and signature turned out to be worth nothing.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't make a comment on the CEO salaries for the Tory district health authorities. I want to refer to - I'll table this - a news release by Dr. Jim Smith, the MLA for Dartmouth East and Liberal Health Critic: Administrative empire keeps growing. Nova Scotia Liberal Health Critic Dr. Jim Smith continues to amass proof that the Department of Health is building an administrative empire, rather than increasing front line

[Page 6710]

health care services. We had to get the Freedom of Information Act to ferret out some information - a favourite word that this government has used - to get the information to back this press release up. In the northern region, $238,690 more spent on CEO salaries than under the former Liberal system. The department is also spending an additional $272,450 on CEO salaries in the western region.

Smith points out that this information is further evidence that the Tories have never been serious about cutting administration costs. In June, 1999, then Tory Leader John Hamm said that every position that we can eliminate in administration allows us to have one more nurse, technologist or physician, and that's what the people are looking for. Those are empty words again from this Premier. In the past month the Liberal Caucus has revealed new spending by the Tories of $500,000 to prepare the clinical footprint, $100,000 salary for the department's new chief information officer and salary increases of over $300,000 at Priorities and Planning; all of this, in spite of what the Premier has said. With today's new figures, Dr. Smith goes on to point out, new spending in administration amounts to over $1.4 million. For $1.4 million, the government could cut the $50 fee for seniors in long term health facilities and still come out on top. These kinds of things could have been worked on.

I will table this now and refer again to what the Minister of Education was trying to tell this Legislature, that her department was going to tighten up on school board spending, on where funds were being spent in school boards and saying they should be in the classroom, and I agree with that. There shouldn't be the types of contracts that are out there, I agree with that, too. What she is saying and what is being practised over there, Mr. Speaker, are very different, light years in difference. I suggest to you that all of these major departments of government and the consultants this government are employing, the salaries they are paying, are way out of whack with what the government is trying to tell Nova Scotians - that we don't have any money.

You saw the spectacle yesterday about the trip to Victoria. The Premier thought nothing of that, trying to tell Nova Scotians that by staying overnight you save $3,000 a ticket. Will somebody please inform this Premier or clue him in on what is going on here before he keeps making a fool of himself with statements in this House and then going outside and being told that he did know things and coming back inside to apologize to the House. Will somebody please tell the Premier what is going on in the spending department of that government.

Then they ran around yesterday, hurriedly, to try to get the expenses of the previous Minister of Economic Development to give to the press, which they did. It made interesting reading, Mr. Speaker, because they did table some documents and it showed that the Minister of Economic Development, when I was minister, for two years spent $65,000. They spent $35,000 in one weekend in Victoria. So that is the defence mechanism they try to foist on the people of Nova Scotia. Their spin doctors couldn't even come up with anything better than that. It is absolutely ridiculous.

[Page 6711]

Again, the workers are nothing but an inconvenience. Telling the correct story is nothing but an inconvenience to this government. Accountability is nothing but an inconvenience to this government. Saying one thing and doing another is commonplace with this government, on a daily basis, two ministers telling very different stories about what is going on. We must also remember, Mr. Speaker, that it is our considered opinion and the considered opinion of many Nova Scotians that the elected officials in the Tory Government have lost control of their departments to senior bureaucrats in the Premier's Office. Until that changes, the people sitting on that side of this House are going to be even less informed in the future about what is going on in that government than they already are. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I can assure you, it is with a great deal of pride that I take the opportunity to speak on Resolution 2121. I want to particularly congratulate my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for bringing it forward today under Opposition Business.

Mr. Speaker, I am in the business of hearing from a lot of people these days. It is of real interest that the word on the street lately, when it comes to what do you think, Bill, about these recent salaries that we have been hearing about? Let's be clear on this. That minister did the correct thing by making these public and that is to her credit. I have said that to her privately and I now say it publicly because it is of real consequence that we, after all, are in the business. We know that when our salaries are up for negotiation, everybody wants to know what we make. You know what? In a previous life, as a school administrator, when you open that particular magazine that some of us of course never buy but always read, and you look through it and there is your school administrator's salary. It is public knowledge and there is nothing wrong with public knowledge on what people make as a salary. But the concern that is being voiced lately on this issue, we are talking about those special perks, those special extras, those are the concerns that have Nova Scotians, and in particular I want to say the residents of Timberlea-Prospect, upset.

Let's talk about some seniors that I had the opportunity to speak to last evening, seniors who are concerned about the fact that when it comes down to long-term care and some of the clawbacks that have happened there and we heard some of those things at Public Accounts Committee today, a committee that I have the privilege of being the Chairman of. When I heard some of the questions that were brought forward, those questions are brought forward by people who have concerns all around money. When we look at some of the dollars that have been wasted on these particular perks, you can see why seniors are upset when we are facing long waiting lists, when we are facing difficulties in long-term care.

[Page 6712]

[5:00 p.m.]

As you well know, the people I hear a great deal from are in the education business. I want to share a few of their comments with you. I would like to thank the Page for bringing this forward properly. This is photo-enhanced so that I can bring it to your attention and I will table it - and this is the editorial today in The Halifax Chronicle Herald and it says, "School salaries just too super." Now I don't always agree with The Halifax Chronicle Herald let alone their editorials, but when you look at this carefully - and I am going to have to refer to it again and I congratulate Jennifer the Page for being here so quick, but if I used the regular copy I wouldn't be able to read it. So I will give you the heads-up, Jennifer, when you can come back and pick this up - but I want to you look at the balance here.

The balance that comes forward in this editorial. It says, ". . . where there isn't enough paper for children, where there are 32 children in a Primary class, where special needs students are forced to get by without full time teacher's assistants, where there aren't enough textbooks, where classrooms are too cold . . .," and I will tell you about an example of that in a moment, ". . . or too hot, or smell mouldy . . .," why are we paying these particular perks? The concluding paragraph in this editorial says it best, " . . . surely superintendents can make do without car phones."

We are talking about frills as opposed to basics and that is a concern for young people, a concern for parents, and a concern for school teachers. I had a guidance counsellor tell me last evening that she is disgusted with these disgusting numbers. That is a guidance counsellor that I listen to; that is a guidance counsellor who has influence with the young people in her school, and she is disgusted with the fact that some of these sweetheart deals are made with these particular senior officials. That is absolutely unacceptable, according to this guidance counsellor.

A band teacher who has great difficulty moving students around described some of these perks as scandalous, absolutely scandalous. We have to collect $5.00 a student to move students four kilometers up the road to a band rehearsal at Exhibition Park, the Atlantic Winter Fair site as we call it. Meanwhile they are allowing senior officials in some school boards in this province perks that are just unacceptable when it comes to transportation.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity last week to teach a class in Canadian History for Grade 12 at Sir John A. Macdonald High School. I want to tell you it was one of those days where we got a bit of a cold snap. When I came into the class the students in this glorious old high school were sitting there with their coats on. In fact, some of them had their hats on until they realized who their guest speaker was, and out of respect for an old schoolteacher with an old rule which they admit still has a bit of credence, they took their hats off, which I expected and I certainly appreciated. But I want you to know that by the time that I finished teaching that class on Joseph Howe, the anti-confederate that he was at the time, I put my coat on. It was that cold in that school, that early fall day or is it late fall day. We are talking

[Page 6713]

about a comfortable level in schools when we have a school board that is nickel-and- diming heating costs but it certainly is not nickle-and-diming any kind of negotiations with its superintendent.

I have very carefully looked over the superintendent's salary - I guess we call him the CEO now - the CEO's salary in the school board in which my children went to school. I know that much of the attention has been directed to other school boards. It does concern me

that when you set aside $600 a month for transportation, and when you are looking at the fact that it's $7,200, if my math is correct, over the span of 12 months. In that particular Canadian History class, there were not enough textbooks. It concerns me that what parents and young people and teachers are pointing out, that is just unfair.

How do you explain these perks to the parents of BLT Elementary School, where there are five Primary classes of over 31 students a class? The excuse of course is this is a fast-growing area. There are, after all, portables around these classrooms. How do you explain five sections of Primary education of 31-plus? More importantly, how do you explain to the parents of Brookside Junior High School that the French Immersion class in Grade 9 has 43 students in it? The answer comes back to the principal, there is just no more money available. Let me tell you, there is $7,200 out of the Superintendent of Education's travel allowance in the Halifax Regional School Board that could go to a lot better place than that particular $600 a month. We are in the age of e-mail and faxes and phones. It seems to me, in the years that I was a school administrator, I don't recall too many CEOs visiting the schools were I was fortunate enough to teach. Yet, that travel allowance is included.

There are other perks which, of course, concern parents. Mr. Speaker, there is a huge responsibility for those ministers opposite, a huge responsibility when it comes to dealing with the best bang for their buck. I hope the Minister of Education is aware of the fact that I passed on to her congratulations for making these particular salaries and perks public; but I want to point out the Deputy Minister of Health. I am finally going to meet him, as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. The Deputy Minister of Health is coming to that meeting. Not once did he ever show his face in here during estimates; not once did he accompany the Minister of Health here, not that the Minister of Health, perhaps, needed his expertise, but are we getting the best bang for our buck when it comes to the Deputy Minister of Health? That's a question the Health Minister has to answer.

Mr. Speaker, people in Nova Scotia find it offensive that those big bucks are paid fromo out-of-towners. I will come to the Deputy Minister of Education in a moment, and his background and where he's from. Is the deputy minister of such consequence in the bureaucracy of these departments that it's necessary to pay him that amount? I hear the answer coming, well, if they were in the private sector they would be making comparable wages. Well, we're in the business of public service. A Deputy Minister of Health or a Deputy Minister of Education, he or she is in the business of publicly offering service, accountable to an elected official, accountable to an elected official.

[Page 6714]

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has shown some foresight in making these contracts public. Many times she's perhaps heard me as she gets up quite candidly at times and answers us with, I'll have to get back to you on that. I want to compliment her on that, because your predecessor or one of your predecessors, used to tell me, I know everything about Education, I know everything about Education; and I challenge the member, the current member who has that seat, just for one day, to allow Mr. Harrison back in this House. Just one day, bring him in front of the Public Accounts Committee so you could learn Mr. Harrison knew everything. He certainly never candidly would reply to us - and I find it quite odd that the members of the Liberal caucus are addressing the issue of the fact that these and the opportunity . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has exhausted, as has time for Resolution No. 2121.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the next resolution, Resolution No. 2090.

Res. No. 2090, PSC: Civil Service Master Agreement - Arbitration - notice given Nov. 5/01 - (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, things were just getting really interesting in the debate in the previous resolution. I wouldn't have minded hearing a little more from my colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect. At any rate, we're now debating a resolution and I would like to read the operative clause:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon this government to show the respect due its public servants and let arbitration commence at once to come to a fair and reasonable settlement of the Civil Service Master Agreement.".

In the Province of Nova Scotia there are many people who work for government, but there are a specific group of government employees who are employees of the Civil Service. They're a small group, in fact they are a group that has declined somewhat dramatically in the past 25 or so years. Today their membership stands at approximately 5,400 persons who are employees of this government, public servants in the Province of Nova Scotia. That number hasn't been that low - I went back and I checked - we haven't seen such a small number of public servants since 1968. This really does reflect the kind of reduction in public services - not just public servants, but also the reduction in public services - that members of the public and the Province of Nova Scotia have seen.

[Page 6715]

The Civil Service in this province during the 1980s and in the early 1990s numbered approximately 10,000 workers so we've seen a dramatic decrease in the number of people providing public services as a central core function of government under the Civil Service Commission. This group of workers are workers who are not covered by the Trade Union Act although they are unionized. They're members of the Nova Scotia Government Employees and General Workers Union. They have a collective agreement. The collective agreement is a collective agreement that is negotiated pursuant to a different piece of legislation - the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act - and these are a group of workers in the Province of Nova Scotia that do not have the right to strike.

It's a different process under the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act than under the Trade Union Act. It's a process where the parties come together and they exchange proposals for a new collective agreement. They have the discussions, they find the areas where they can agree, they settle those areas and the areas where they're unable to reach agreement, are submitted. Lists are submitted for arbitration and the process of arbitration is a process that is binding upon the parties. That's sort of a crude synopsis of the way the process works under this particular piece of legislation.

True to form, this government has not shown the respect that is due the working men and women in this specific group. Somewhat rhetorically, I would ask, would you want this government to be your employer? I think if you just think about it for a moment, think about the Premier being your employer, the Ministers of Health, Education, Labour, Community Services and what have you, after Bill No. 68 it's very apparent that people in the Province of Nova Scotia would shudder at the thought of this government being their employer. But for these women and men, that is the case. This is the situation they find themselves in, this government indeed, is their employer.

[5:15 p.m.]

The contract of members of the Civil Service expired in March 2000, one year and eight months ago. For that period of time, they have had no contract and they have been trying very hard to bargain with their employer and to reach a collective agreement. Mr. Speaker, I was quite surprised to learn how long it was taking for this process to unfold. I can find no reasonable explanation for why the government would be dragging its feet in terms of bringing forward a list of items that they would be submitting to an arbitrator. It is often the case where first collective agreements often take a year or a year and a half to settle. There is an agreement in place here. There is a basic framework. Really, we would encourage the government to just get on with settling this collective agreement.

Mr. Speaker, earlier in the debate that just occurred, a number of points were made by the honourable House Leader for the Liberal Party talking about what exemplary employers they had been and how well they had treated workers in the Province of Nova Scotia. But

[Page 6716]

when you review the record, the facts speak for themselves and they are not the facts as being portrayed by the members of the Liberal Party, for example.

Mr. Speaker, when I finish with this chart I will table an analysis of just two categories of workers, two categories of workers that are affected by government contracts and government as their employer over a 10 year period. Forestry technicians are members of this group. Bi-weekly, their take-home pay has increased by 4.1 per cent between 1991 and the year 2001, their gross pay. Yet with deductions and what have you, their take-home pay, in fact, after a 10 year period, is 3.7 per cent less than it was in 1991, even though the cost of living in Nova Scotia has gone up over 15 per cent in that period of time. So you can see that members of the Public Service have seriously fallen behind in their standard of living in terms of their wages keeping pace with the actual cost of living.

Secretaries and clerical workers make up a significant number of the civil servants in this province. Mr. Speaker, in 1993, the bi-weekly take-home pay of a secretary at the clerical 14 level was approximately $661.25. In the year 2001, the take-home pay of a secretary, clerical category 14, was $685.72. This is an increase of 3.7 per cent where the cost of living in Nova Scotia over that period of time was 12.8 per cent. What this says to me is that workers in the Province of Nova Scotia continually see not only their own wages not keep pace with the cost of living, but they see those around them, they see other public sector workers, people in the health care system, paramedics, they see nurses, in fact they see members of the Nova Scotia Legislature realize wage increases that they can only dream of, and this government is dragging its feet and leaving those workers in a position that I submit, Mr. Speaker, must have a tremendously negative impact on their morale.

If I had a nickel for every person I know who works for government who has said in recent weeks and months how much they're looking forward to their retirement, Mr. Speaker, how they can't wait to get out of the Public Service, I probably would be a wealthy person, because the morale in the Public Service is horrendous and I would submit this is no way to treat the hardworking women and men in the employ of this government on behalf of Nova Scotians. I would urge the minister and the Premier to get off their backsides and really do something to address the need for a collective agreement for these workers. By the time a contract is signed, it will be time to negotiate a new one - the contract that's being negotiated is a three year contract and almost two years is gone. (Applause)

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

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to get up and speak here today on this resolution. I would like to start by saying though, so there'll be no confusion, I'm the Minister of Environment and Labour and not the Minister of the Public Service Commission, so I very much appreciate the chance to speak today, but I want to make clear that I am not that minister.

[Page 6717]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to first of all acknowledge that the member opposite brought up some good points that she touched on in the process. I would like throughout my response to perhaps embellish some of her comments a little bit as to how this process has been put in place. I would also like to point out that some of the whereases, perhaps all three of them in her resolution, are perhaps not entirely fair and I would also like to address that afterwards.

To elaborate, Mr. Speaker, collective bargaining in the Civil Service is carried out within a legislative framework. For those in the House who are not familiar with it, it is called the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. To make sure my colleagues here in the House understand how this works, when the employer and the union - and that's defined in the Act as the Public Service Commission and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union - are unable to conclude a collective agreement through negotiations the Act provides a mechanism whereby the Civil Service Employee Relations Board determines the arbitral issues in dispute.

From here the Civil Service Employee Relations Board establishes an arbitration board to make a final and binding decision on those items. This provides a lawful process to resolve disputes without recourse to strikes or lockouts, something that I think all members in this room and I feel that members of the Civil Service appreciate. Important public interests are protected and an independent arbitration board makes decisions which effectively conclude the collective agreement for a defined period of time.

Mr. Speaker, this board, created under legislation, carries out a quasi-judicial function. It is entirely inappropriate and improper for government to interfere in its functioning in the manner this resolution suggests. This begs the question, is the honourable member opposite suggesting we begin to manipulate the process? I think not. The system is designed for fairness.

I would remind the House that the government has been participating in this process in good faith. Just to take you back through this particular process, as allowed within the process, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union rejected government's last offer and chose to go to arbitration. This is built into the process. Currently, the Civil Service Employee Relations Board is making its decision on the issues that are arbitral. This process involves the union making its submission, on issues it feels are in dispute, to the board; in turn, the government makes a presentation to the board. It is then in the board's mandate to make its own independent decision on which issues will be resolved through arbitration.

Mr. Speaker, when this happens an arbitration board will be struck, and the process will continue from there. Beyond this, it is inappropriate for me to discuss the details, but it is critical that we respect the rules and the process. This is the process the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union endorses; it is the process that they have asked for.

[Page 6718]

Mr. Speaker, in debate around Bill No. 68, it is the process the Official Opposition demanded be used. Now you are suggesting we change this process? Well, sometimes they can seem a bit cumbersome and perhaps frustrating for both parties. Years of experience has taught us that processes, like the ones in place for collective bargaining, must be respected. The government and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union have not been able to reach consensus. It is unfortunate, but it happens. So, we go to the next stage. We cannot rush that process. We cannot make that happen any faster. It would be entirely inappropriate for us to do so.

Mr. Speaker, as government, every day we work to strike a balance. We have many responsibilities to the people of Nova Scotia. Those responsibilities involve offering the services Nova Scotians demand and deserve, managing taxpayers' dollars effectively, because after all they are the ones paying the bill, and making decisions that best position our province and the people of Nova Scotia for the future.

Mr. Speaker, we want to strike a fair deal with our workers. We must trust the process to work. It will work for all of us, we simply must be patient. I would now like to go on beyond that brief description of the process in place, and I think a lot of the members are familiar with that process, but it is appropriate to go over it again, and perhaps for any of the viewing public who are paying attention, to give them some comfort that there is a method in place to address these disputes with the Civil Service.

Now, I would like to deal with a few of the whereas clauses. The first one, and this is quoting from the honourable member's resolution. She says:

"Whereas Nova Scotia's demoralized Public Service has for years served as a government whipping boy and endured cuts, freezes and rollbacks;".

Mr. Speaker, when I think of the Public Service, and perhaps I think particularly of the ones who have assisted me in carrying out my duties as an MLA, through my constituency office and my assistant, and perhaps I think of those who work so hard in the Department of Environment and Labour. All I can think of is appreciation, appreciation for those hours of work that they put in, their caring.

[5:30 p.m.]

It seems to me that not too long ago, for some reason, I ended up being the first minister in the estimates here in the main Chamber and you will note, if you go back and check Hansard, that in my concluding remarks I referred to some examples of just that dedication. Can you imagine being down in that underground parking lot, its 11:45 p.m., you think there's not a person in the building and all of a sudden as I turned to get into my car,

[Page 6719]

somebody from behind says minister. I turn around, and lo and behold, it's the Executive Director of Occupational Health and Safety.

Yes, we do have fiscal challenges in the government, and we are trying to balance that and we are trying to protect those services and that does mean that there has to be a balance. We have to be cognizant too that so many of our senior management people are able to retire in the next four years at 57 per cent. Then again, going into the second whereas and the third whereas, we have to be competitive so that we can retain them, so that we can encourage them to take those extra courses, and yes, when they graduate, maybe we do spend $15 a head to recognize the Saturdays they have given up for their job.

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

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: I was going to start by trying to speak as the Minister of Environment and Labour, but unfortunately I can't seem to copy his eloquent way of speaking in this House, but I certainly appreciate his lecture on negotiation history and policy here in this province.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and speak on Resolution No. 2090, introduced by the NDP, which says:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon this government to show the respect due its public servants and let arbitration commence at once to come to a fair and reasonable settlement of the Civil Service Master Agreement."

Last Thursday the Minister of the Public Service Commission denied that his government had stopped talking to unions. He actually stated that " . . . negotiations are still underway." Negotiations are not underway, there are no negotiations going on between the government and the NSGEU with respect to the almost 5,000 civil servants who have been nearly two years without a contract.

This government is refusing to even come to the table and put the outstanding issues before an arbitrator. Since the NSGEU requested on July 24th of this year that an arbitration board be established, this government has done nothing constructive on this issue. Instead, it's done everything in its power to bog down the process, even putting the Chairman of the Civil Service Employee Relations Board into a situation where he had to apologize for this government's delays in submitting materials required by the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act.

[Page 6720]

The NSGEU has even requested a meeting twice with the minister and they have been answered with silence. What reasons can this government possibly put forward to explain the disrespect that it has shown toward these unions? The answer, I think, can be seen in the broader picture of how this government views and treats the union movement, and workers in general.

We don't have to look too far back in the past to see how much contempt this government holds for public sector workers. Bill No. 68 marked this government's darkest day, when it passed one of the most regressive pieces of labour legislation in the history of this province and even of this country.

It was not only a blight on this government's record, but it cast our entire province in a bad light through the media attention it brought upon us throughout the rest of the country. Most of all, Bill No. 68 set the tone and the standard for how this government will deal with all of its employees.

Sitting down and negotiating at the bargaining table where workers can freely negotiate is no longer an option that this government is willing to consider. The agenda of this government is being driven by one single agenda - their narrow-minded and divisive agenda. Harmonious relationships and good morale in the workplace mean absolutely nothing to this government and I don't think a $15 barbeque at the end of 30 or 40 years of service is going to make up for that, with all due respect to the minister and his barbeques.

Mr. Speaker, collective bargaining and negotiation mean nothing to this Hamm Government and, obviously, taking the minor steps necessary to appoint an arbitrator to address the situation of 5,000 civil servants without a contract means nothing to the government as well. Workers want to know that they are respected and trusted by their employer and, once again, it would be nice to have this respect throughout their employment, not only at the end of their employment with the minister's famous barbeques.

Mr. Speaker, however, the public sector unions don't harbour any illusions that this government has even a shred of respect for them, their concerns and their rights. We shouldn't forget that this is a public sector which has already seen some major cuts at the hands of this government. It is no secret that they are terribly demoralized by their treatment at the hands of the Tories. They must be finding it really hard to go to work on a daily basis under this government. We must keep in mind that negotiations are never easy. The Liberal caucus knows that very well. However, I'm pleased to say that when we were in government, we stayed at the table; we negotiated eyeball-to-eyeball; we respected our employees. We kept the lines of communication open and we talked.

Mr. Speaker, that's something that this government can't say. Last Thursday the Minister of the Public Service Commission actually had the gall to stand in this House and say, "Mr. Speaker, we have the finest Public Service in Canada in the Province of Nova

[Page 6721]

Scotia and I can assure the honourable member that this government will protect that Public Service." I'm surprised that those words didn't catch in his throat when the minister actually uttered them. How amazing to believe that a minister would make such a statement in light of the current situation this government finds itself in and the actual negotiations that they are undertaking with these employees.

Mr. Speaker, our caucus is afraid that those words are going to come back to haunt this minister and this government next spring when the Hamm Tories try to cover up their two years of fiscal mismanagement by balancing the budget on the backs of the Civil Service, but then, again, all Nova Scotians are now asking whether we'll actually have a balanced budget because it appears that the seven seconds of silence have been replaced by the Premier with seven seconds of hypocrisy. As well highlighted in local papers, the Premier now reneging on his election commitment to balance the budget. There were three big commitments - health care, balanced budget, 10 per cent tax cut. Well, the health care one, forget that one. Balanced budget appears to be out the door. We'll have to wait and see how much longer before the 10 per cent cut is gone also.

Mr. Speaker, the minister said that we have the best Civil Service in Canada. If this government doesn't change its tune and start to care about its employees, then this province is going to wind up with the worst Civil Service and most demoralized Civil Service in the entire country. Nova Scotians can see that this clearly is a government without vision. Although they asked to be elected in 1999 with over 240 promises, they now spend each day being chief apologists, apologizing and saying that they cannot carry out the very promises on which they were elected - a government that is prepared to engage in a scorched-earth policy in the Civil Service to save their own political necks. We also can't forget that we have an aging Civil Service. As waves of retirement start to hit the Civil Service, who among our youth is going to want to make a career in a Civil Service that has been shaped by this government, where they can serve in a demoralized workforce, where they can be ignored and dismissed from the negotiation table like a child who is told to go to their room without supper.

Mr. Speaker, this government has no vision and it has clearly no answers to these issues. We have seen too well this spring how this government decided that they would tackle the question of labour negotiations in our health care sector. As stated before, Bill No. 68 will continue to be the most repressive piece of labour legislation that this country has seen. Yet, ironically, when the House began, the first bill tabled by our caucus and by our Leader was a bill to repeal Bill No. 68, which the government said it was going to do. I hope that when we have the opportunity on our Opposition Day - or even better than that, that the government on its own initiative will call our bill, bring it to the floor for debate, and immediately pass that bill so that Bill No. 68 is a thing of the past. (Interruptions)

[Page 6722]

I am informed by some of the members this may take place tomorrow. I am pleased to see that the backbench is being spoken to at least by the front bench as to what the agenda is. It appears that maybe Mr. Reddy is doing his job in communicating with them. I certainly hope that this bill is called and that we can finally take Bill No. 68 off the books. I certainly won't say that we are going to forget about it nor do I think that anyone from Nova Scotia will forget about it.

Clearly this government, we all know, faces some tough financial times. Our government was also in tough financial times. It is all a question about what the priorities of government are. Are you going to respect your hard working civil servants and try to provide them with as much as possible under the given circumstances or are you going to continue to declare war with those civil servants? This government is clearly sending the message that they have no intentions of settling this in any sort of a reasonable manner and instead it is going to go to the bat again and if required, there will be a new Bill No. 68, or in fact if they don't repeal Bill No. 68, maybe they will be included under that bill and also have to face the restrictions that were put in under that bill.

With that I am going to wrap up my comments and one can only hope that the government will try to show respect to the civil servants, go back to the bargaining table, start to negotiate with them in good faith and at the end come together with an agreement and we can continue to have a well-functioning Civil Service and a Civil Service where each one of them can say that they are proud to be members of that Civil Service and respect is something that should be shown to them. As I stated earlier, in closing, it is something that should be shown to them by the Minister of Environment and Labour and by this entire government, front bench and backbench, on a daily basis and not at the end of their career with a nice little barbecue and a can of pop. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand today and speak about Resolution No. 2090; not much pleasure to follow the Minister of Environment and Labour because every time that minister gets up he certainly does an exhibition of showing us all how little he knows about the collective bargaining process. It is somewhat pitiful when you consider that that member is in charge, by virtue of his portfolio, of looking after the collective bargaining process in this province.

He certainly is trying to kill some time in talking about how this process works, but one thing that you will have to notice, and I am sure that most people in this House know how that works, but the one part he did not bother to tell us is that the main cog in that wheel, one of the main cogs is government bringing its position to the arbitrator. There is the problem, that is what we are talking about in terms of this resolution, is to try to push government along, try to get government in a meaningful way to the table.

[Page 6723]

We know the process, NSGEU knows the process, the problem is that the government is not being forthright with the process. The government is doing what one would call one of the most abysmal things that you can do as an employer, is not to bargain in good faith.

Mr. Speaker, before I get into talking about the people who work for this province, I want to make sure that people know some of the ramifications of the efforts of the government, what it does in the whole collective bargaining process. What the government says to private sector employees when it flouts the rules as it is doing here, it is saying look, here is a way around it, you don't have to sit down face to face with your employees, you don't have to give any urgency to settling this dispute. You can just drag it along at your own good pace. So what happens is you bring out the worst in the collective bargaining process. What is going to be the result of that? Well, assume people take leadership from this government, quite possibly more work stoppages in this province and I am not talking here about the public sector, but I am talking about the private sector, who see this government as one that sends out a signal that reasonable and fair collective bargaining with your employees is not to be taken seriously.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, back in July, the union started this process and put its desires in front of the arbitrator, put their board nominee to him. But since then, this government has done neither. It hasn't given its list of proposals and hasn't give a nominee to fill out the board. There is a chairman and that's it. So another part of this resolution that the Minister of Labour and Environment seems to be upset about - and it just made absolutely no sense what he said, but what else is new - is when he said he took exception to the "Whereas Nova Scotia's demoralized Public Service has for years served as a government whipping boy and endured cuts, freezes and rollbacks."

Well, what part of that isn't true? Which part, for the past 10 years, has not been true; from Donnie Cameron on to today, which part of that isn't true? When is it that everybody realizes, at what point does it come, that these governments said, oh, the books are in bad shape, we have to punish the people that work for us. For some reason, government says we are going to balance our budget and we are going to do it on the backs of our employees. Well, successive governments have tried that and it doesn't work. That's not where your cuts are needed. One could reasonably, and I would say honestly and openly, make the argument that a well motivated workforce would help you alleviate some of these government backlogs. What this government and previous government to it are telling people, you are the problem; we are billions of dollars in debt, you are the problem.

I don't know how a clerk in a government agency making somewhere maybe in the vicinity of $24,000 to $30,000 a year, depending, how they are responsible for the debt of this province and how the debt is going to be any better served by having that person unemployed, when they don't have any job to go to, that is wrong. The Minister of

[Page 6724]

Environment and Labour seems to think that is okay and that these people - because a civil servant works late at night, is that they don't feel that they are demoralized or that the government has used them for a whipping boy or has not seen freezes and rollbacks. All those are accurate. What I tell you, Mr. Speaker, what he should take from that, instead of just cheap talk of telling people what good employees they are, is to realize that and do something constructive.

Now, I perhaps got a bit ahead of myself because the second whereas, Mr. Speaker, talks about the shameful Tory-Liberal legacy of lousy labour relations by crying poor mouth and allowing their public servants to go without a new contract for two years and refusing to go to the arbitration and Civil Service Master Agreement. Most people in the private sector have a right to clearly negotiate and take it right to the very end, if you will, to the least desirable part, and that would be to take it to a strike.

Mr. Speaker, I know there are some people with some fairly red necks around who think that is all unions do strike, but I have not met a union leader yet who didn't realize that that is your last resort, that nobody wants to do that. If your employees are out on the street, they are losing wages while they are out there, the employer's productivity is down, there is a friction that starts there and in some strikes, I would say, after they are settled that level of animosity is never decreased.

Mr. Speaker, that said, this group of employees doesn't even have that option, the option they would least want to use, the strike option. These employees do not have that basic right of a lot of other Nova Scotians; they don't have the right to withdraw their services, lay down their tools, so to speak, and walk away. What they do have is a system where they both - the process, if you will, will put items that are outstanding to a tribunal and try to resolve them. Now unlike the infamous FOS - Final Offer Selection - there is leeway with this board. This board can make variances in it, it is not a take-it-or-leave-it proposal.

What is happening here - the fly in this ointment, Mr. Speaker, is clear - is this government's unwillingness to respect its employees, its unwillingness to stand up and say two years is much too long for this to go on. We have got to get this settled and therefore we are going to put our proposals and our nominee forward. This government has steadfastly refused to do this, much as they have precipitated the labour ill will that was gotten through Bill No. 68.

If I can take you back to those heady times, if you recall, there were segments of those health care workers that were in a locked down situation with negotiators, with probably one of the finest arbiters in this country, Mr. Bruce Outhouse, presiding over this with a midnight deadline to get an agreement. They were locked down and they were trying to bang out an agreement. Did this government wait until the clock struck midnight to see if they got a deal? No, Mr. Speaker, they didn't. This government went out behind the backs of the parties that

[Page 6725]

were trying to negotiate and called the House back for that regressive piece of legislation called Bill No. 68.

That type of stuff is why the workers of this province don't trust this government. They did something as sneaky and as mean-spirited as that. Now instead of bringing in a piece of legislation, what they are doing is over on the other side of the hall, holding the ball, not wanting to put it in play and allowing these people to go without. This money will go back in the economy of Nova Scotia. It won't go into a fat cat's pocket; it will go to help pay heating bills, grocery bills, utility bills, income taxes, municipal taxes; it will be spent here in Nova Scotia for Nova Scotians. Therefore, it is incumbent upon this government to get to the table, negotiate in a fair and honest manner with these people, and do it today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired. There are approximately four minutes left. The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is indeed a great pleasure to stand here tonight and speak on this resolution.

I found it a little bit humourous when the honourable member for Richmond was up speaking, all the good deeds they have done over the years they were in power for the labour movement in the province of Nova Scotia. I recall, I guess back in 1993-94, there were rollbacks imposed on government workers. After that their wages were frozen; there were no increases. They were also required, Mr. Speaker, to take five Savage days - they were called at that time - without pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is good labour relations.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: I also remember one day, Mr. Speaker, in this very Legislature where a construction worker jumped over the railing up there, down onto the floor of the Assembly, when they were in power. So I find it very amusing that they could get up in the Legislature and brag about what good deeds they have done. I would have to tell you also, that rollback, the frozen wages, the five Savage days, they didn't affect me because in 1993 they had fired me as a road foreman for the (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: And you don't hold a grudge, do you?

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: But I don't hold a grudge, no, I don't hold a grudge.

Mr. Speaker, I was only 1 of 160 people who lost their jobs at that time, within the Department of Transportation. I guess I would have to thank Richie Mann and some other members of the Liberal caucus for me being here today; as a result of that I'm here. (Applause)

[Page 6726]

Mr. Speaker, collective bargaining, it is a difficult process, but there is a process in place. I can recall back in 1980, when I was fortunate enough to represent the IBEW in negotiations with the Nova Scotia Power Corporation - at that time Nova Scotia Power was a division of the provincial government - we were successful at that time, in four years we negotiated two agreements with Nova Scotia Power. We negotiated agreements for the Town of Liverpool, we negotiated agreements for the Town of Antigonish, and we did very well in negotiations, but there was a process and we followed that process.

Some of the things I see today, there are a lot of negotiations that are taking place within government departments as well as other areas, school boards and that sort of thing, the negotiations are taking place on the floor of the Legislature here and around the Legislature, I would say. I don't think that is the proper process, and I believe that if . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member, although he is very relevant, his time has expired. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Opposition Members' Business as expired.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and business.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn, to sit tomorrow. The hours will be from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill Nos. 11, 79, 80 and 82.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

The House will now adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton North:

"Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support all efforts with a unified voice which will encourage our youth to 'Never Forget' the sacrifices of our Veterans."

[Page 6727]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

VETERANS: SACRIFICES - 'NEVER FORGET'

MR. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak on the motion tonight, which is:

"Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support all efforts with a unified voice which will encourage our youth to 'Never Forget' the sacrifices of our Veterans."

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the honourable member for Preston, last evening had an opportunity, while speaking of the present-day deployment of troops, to reference those sacrifices made for our freedom by our veterans whom we will honour on Sunday at the 11th hour of the 11th day. This is an issue, I am sure, that will not warrant debate, but will bring forward instead a unified voice extolling the great pride we have for our veterans and our current military personnel. There is a quote from William Shakespeare that brings to mind the sentiment of Remembrance Day, "Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear." That is why we revere the veterans of the First, Second and Korean Wars on Remembrance Day, to renew in us all a fundamental appreciation for the gifts they secured through sacrifice: the sacrifice of men, women, families and the communities of our nation.

I was proud when last year on November 9th Highway No. 102 from Truro to the intersection of Highway No. 118 and Bicentennial Drive was commemorated as Veterans Memorial Highway. The signs are a constant reminder when we travel that route, not just to Nova Scotians, but to all visiting, of the great respect we hold and will always hold for our veterans. This was an idea of one of my colleagues, the honourable member for Colchester North, which was pushed forward in conjunction with Clarence Dawe, President of the Royal Canadian Legion. This is a visual, year-round reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of so many of our veterans and the commitment of countless others so many years ago.

What is so very important is to ensure that we do all that we can so that our youth never forget those sacrifices of so many years ago. Our veterans do what they can, but we have to show stewardship on this issue as well. I was pleased when last year we moved forward, thanks in part to the advice from the Royal Canadian Legion, to have the initiative to have high school history made mandatory in Nova Scotia. I think this initiative is a

[Page 6728]

wonderful way to give students a link to the past and an appreciation of what was lost so they could thrive.

Unfortunately, the events of September 11th are a very real lesson to the children today. However, by remembering our Canadian past, we will educate students so that they understand the present and are able to face the future, a future, hopefully of peace. It is imperative that we instill in our young people a commitment to uphold the principles of peace and freedom fought for during the last century so that those whose lives were lost did not die in vain.

This Friday our Education Minister will attend a Remembrance Day ceremony at Auburn Drive High School, and we met some of those students here today. She will also present the school with a certificate of recognition for its participation as a pilot school for the new Canadian history curriculum. The event will involve students, music, drama and presentation to members of the Canadian Legion.

Mr. Speaker, without exposure to history in our classrooms and in our lives, these events and national achievements would be unknown to us all. Three-quarters of Canadian teachers agree that "History courses should be specifically designed to foster a student's sense of national identity." This is according to results released recently by the Dominion Institute. As part of the new Canadian History course being piloted in 14 schools this year, our students are gaining exposure to the part that their ancestors played in the history of the development of Canada.

The current unit being studied involves exploring Canada's military roles and contributions to the First and Second World Wars. A war was a catalyst for huge societal change for women, minorities, children and government and how Canada evolved from a colony to a nation. Additional courses offered to students will include Acadian, African-Canadian, Gaelic and Mi'kmaq studies. Students will learn about Canadian heritage, who they are and why their society espouses the values it does through its governments, its institutions and its culture.

Canadian history is unfolding before our eyes. The events of September 11th and Canada's military and humanitarian response will be written in our history books for future generations. While the outcome of our efforts is yet unknown, future generations will experience these events through the study of history, the way we learned about the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and the efforts of our military as peacekeepers around the world.

Mr. Speaker, the November unit of the new Canadian History curriculum focuses on Canada at war and peace. Students are learning about the origin of Remembrance Day and are encouraged to connect with their community. Schools across the province are commemorating Remembrance Day through drama, music and storytelling. Through the new

[Page 6729]

Canadian history curriculum students are eager to learn and participate. They are about who they are and where they come from. They are reaching out to their communities to speak with veterans who fought for our freedom, our true historians and our link to the past.

As I said previously, the war on terrorism has brought a new appreciation of our Armed Forces that extends to all our service personnel all year round, not just on November 11th. It has renewed in all of us a fundamental appreciation for the gifts that Canadians, past and present, secured through sacrifice. An initiative of the Legislature Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs is ensuring that young people truly understand and appreciate the role of veterans in Canada's proud history.

This month, Grade 6 students from across Nova Scotia will have the opportunity to send a personal thank you to a veteran through the Postcard of Thanks program. Students were given a postcard and a stamp so they could write to a veteran in their community. The cards, provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, feature the role Canada's Armed Forces played in maintaining and promoting peace worldwide. This year, the postage is being paid for by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and PanCanadian Petroleum, and for that expression of kindness, I extend thanks. This is a tangible way, Mr. Speaker, for our youth to say thank you. This is the sort of effort we must ensure continues so that we, as my colleague said last night, take up the gauntlet passed on to us long ago.

Our service personnel are doing that today. They are at sea now to support Operation Apollo. I know we all look forward to their safe return. I am proud of all members in this House who have been supportive of any initiative which has come forward with regard to remembrance.

How much time do I have, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately two minutes.

MR. CLARKE: In a personal context, I look at the images of my family, of knowing from the past, having a grandfather that served in the Second World War in France and the stories upon his return and his involvement as member of the Royal Canadian Legion, to just recently. My brother, who is a member of the DND fire service, was part of the present day movement as his service in helping prepare ships for their mission, previously noted.

As members of this Legislature, we will go out throughout our province and participate in Remembrance Day services this weekend. I hope that we, as legislators, and any leadership that is throughout the province, will take up the opportunity when we see the record numbers of young people and families coming to Remembrance Day services, to take that opportunity to thank them and encourage them to continue that tradition in the years to come. I also think, Mr. Speaker, that while as Canadians we may not maybe be outwardly patriotic all the time, we are not afraid, nor should we ever be afraid to recognize our heros,

[Page 6730]

and Remembrance Day is a time to do that from the past and those present. Youth are our future, but our past is essential to their perspective. In closing, to young and all, lest we forget.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is with pride that I take the opportunity to speak on the late debate topic brought forward by the good member for Cape Breton North "Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support all efforts with a unified voice which will encourage our youth to "Never Forget" the sacrifices of our Veterans."

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that there are teachers across the system and across the province who are involved in preparations in respective schools, junior high schools, elementary schools, high schools. In fact, in particular, I would like to draw recognition to a teacher at Sir John A. Macdonald High School by the name of Art Campbell. Mr. Campbell each year coordinates the presentation of Remembrance Day. It is a touching ceremony, as veterans from across Timberlea-Prospect are invited into the high school. I want to tell you that there is a wonderful lesson to be learned here because I have been put in this situation, a situation that I treasured each time in November.

There is a wonderful learning opportunity that takes place with a young person of any age, but let's take one of those difficult, know-it-all teenagers. You know, Mr. Speaker, I was one of those. I knew everything. My father, God bless his memory, said to me at one time, so you want to be a history teacher. From a very young age, I wanted to be a teacher. It was my father who encouraged me to be a history teacher because of his own love of it and because on certain occasions he would point out to me the nearby Town of Dieppe. What was the significance of that place? My father was there and not in the Town of Dieppe, New Brunswick, the Town of Dieppe, France. A pretty quick history lesson for the know-it-all teenager.

I wanted to know about Holland. What was the connection between Holland, and why did my dad each Christmas receive a Christmas card from Holland? I had to ask that question - the answer of course came, because Canadian troops, after the landing of Normandy, liberated Holland.

The very first time I had the opportunity to visit Ottawa with a group of students, the significance struck me as I looked at that nice spring day and those tulips being planted. How did I learn where those tulips came from? I know some history teacher somewhere probably stood in front of me and told me, but the history lessons that I remember best are my father's, the Second World War veteran.

[Page 6731]

I want to reassure you Mr. Speaker, and members present, there are young people who treasure our history, and I would like to mention one to you today. His name is Zack Warden. He is an outstanding young man in the community that I represent. Zack could stop this place in a heartbeat, because Zack plays the pipes. He plays the bagpipes and there is no more stirring moment at the cenotaph that I will visit this Sunday than when young Zack Warden, teenager and at times one of my students - and he knew everything - but Zack Warden will stop the crowd that day. He will make young and old remember the significance of that event because afterwards, of course, he will pipe in the veterans. He will also, if it's a correct term for a piper, serenade the seniors. There are amazing tunes that this young man can play on those pipes.

So let's be clear. Young people are understanding the significance of history, and Canadian history in particular is a course that is badly needed as a compulsory course. This minister knows that in the midst of the announcement that was made in this House, I stood in my place and congratulated her. It's of real significance that young people know of our history.

One of the greatest ways to learn history is from somebody who has lived it. I had the opportunity to speak to veteran Nick Ryan, and Nick's heavily involved in the Korean Veterans' Association. Take Nick Ryan into a history class and very soon those young people they respond so appropriately. Their questions are direct, and the answers from Mr. Ryan are as direct in response. And when you have a veteran such as Nick Ryan or Tommy Waters - or other ones I know you could mention in your community, in Springhill - that's the occasion when history comes alive, when people who have lived it and people acknowledge it to young people.

The cenotaphs that I will visit - and I have two, I alternate, I go to the Whites Lake Legion and then I go to the reception in the Lakeside Legion, and next year I will reverse that. At that time you see many young Scouts, Guides, Cubs, you see them all there. You see them recognizing history and, afterwards at the reception in each respective Legion, you see them talking to these veterans. The veterans in turn take their time and they patiently make sure that these young people understand the significance of the contribution that they made, and make sure that history will never forget them.

I am not allowed props, let alone anything else that would be partisan, but I want to share with you and the members present - and I will present it if you wish and I can table copies of it - the commonly used community telephone numbers that I publish each fall for my community. One of the pictures on the front of this is of a gentleman by the name of Smokey Smith. In this picture Tom Waters, Robert Purdy and myself are posing with Smokey Smith. Smokey Smith is the only living Victoria Cross winner in Canada. What an opportunity to sit and listen to some history. I can recall after that awards night that we attended at our local Legion, in the midst of all the awards and the celebrations - because in the communities that I represent, the Legion is a dynamic, involved community organization

[Page 6732]

- there were some speeches, even a politician was allowed to speak for a moment, but who literally stole the show? Smokey Smith.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Smith stood in his place and thanked us all for listening to what he considered to be his contribution that night. Then, smart ex-soldier that he was, there was a dance afterwards and he turned and said, I would like to have the privilege of dancing with the best-looking girl in this house. He turned to my wife Carolyn and said, Mr. Estabrooks, you were a history teacher. I noticed that you were even taking notes on your napkin, but in return for the history lesson that I gave you, I want to have the first dance of the night with your wife. Mr. Smith not only has a good choice in women to dance with, he has a tremendous knowledge of history, a tremendous opportunity to pass it on to young people, some who were there that evening and some, of course, who will be at various cenotaphs around this country and this province.

Let us be clear: young people stand in their Grade 8 classrooms at Brookside Junior High, where they are taught by an English teacher named Joan Kaulback and they recite "In Flanders Fields." Old-fashioned Joan - that is a compliment Mr. Speaker - old-fashioned Joan Kaulback has them memorize that poem and they never forget it. "In Flanders Fields" is living testimony to the fact that young people will not forget their history, and on Remembrance Day our youth will acknowledge the contribution of our veterans of the past.

Thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will take advantage of an opportunity to speak. It wasn't my plan originally. I think, for all members of the House, when we go to cenotaphs on November 11th that we have been the fortunate ones to live in a country that up until recently has been able to avoid war. I want to say that if we truly believe what we say on Remembrance Day, lest we forget, then we will remember those who gave their lives that our life would be a better one.

I think that every year when we go, one thing that we notice is that there are fewer and fewer old soldiers at Legions around our constituencies. I think it is incumbent upon not just all members of the House but all of us in our communities that more and more of us who don't have a service background, who never served in the military in any way, take up the challenge to ensure that those who have served this country are remembered. I had two uncles who were overseas. One of them didn't come back. I think it was early in 1943 actually that he was killed. In the Christmas previous, if I am right, it was 1942, my two uncles met in England and celebrated Christmas together and then it was shortly after that that one was killed, a man who never got to be as old as I am. I think that in his memory and

[Page 6733]

in the memory of my uncle who luckily has been able to enjoy some longevity and will be, I think, 85 this coming spring - to their memory I often think that we should do better; we should always do more.

I want to say that I am troubled quite often by the lack of services given to our veterans by the federal government. It would seem to me that they deserve so much more than what they get by way of pension and services that could be given to them to enhance their later years.

It's obvious that in a perfect world there would be no soldiers, but that's not a world that we are going to envisage any time soon. To ensure that we never forget those who were willing to lay down their lives, and those who have, that we do talk about this with the youth, that we incorporate them into our ceremonies, and we make them aware of the fact that those men who died were not old men, they were young men and women who were just starting their lives. I think that the fact that this year poppy sales have really actually outstripped supply has given us the indication that a lot of people are thinking about Remembrance Day in a way that they haven't for a very long time. I know, from watching interviews of young people, the recent events in the United States have made them think about the world and peace in a way that they never have before.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that it's entirely appropriate we discuss this resolution this evening, and I would support the resolution. I would say that it's incumbent on us all to ensure that those who made the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the members, as well, for taking part and bringing this issue forward this evening. If I could just take a minute, if the members wouldn't mind, I don't very often take the opportunity but there is a minute left and I would appreciate the members allowing (Interruptions) Yes, thank you.

I know in my own community, in the past year we had the Legion in Joggins that burned. We all see the Legions with lessening numbers of members, and it would be very easy for the community to turn away from it, but the community came together, worked very hard and last week we had an official opening of a new Legion in Joggins. It's a bit of the old building but mostly new. I know for a small community like that, it's quite a feat. The other thing is, in my community tomorrow, in Springhill, the two elementary schools are having their fifth annual service where the local Legion comes to the community and they judge the young elementary students on the speeches they prepare and provide them with awards. Then they will come to their members day meeting supper or banquet, receive those awards and receive recognition.

It means a lot to those young people, as well as getting them involved. As the member for Hants East said, to see the young people involved, I think it's the future for our communities and for the country. What really comes to my mind is over the last little while

[Page 6734]

we have seen in our provincial paper here that identifies the death of veterans by the Canadian flag. Do you know that really catches your eye when some days you see two, three, five, maybe six or seven that we are losing on a daily basis. That shows us how fast we are losing our veterans. (Interruption) And the postcards as well.

The other thing I would like to say is that the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect mentioned about going back between two cenotaphs, two Legions. In my area, I have six Legions and nine cenotaphs. It's very hard to visit them all, but what I try to do is to get to at least three of them throughout the day, some way or somehow. I know I have a lot of respect for veterans, as I know all members of this House do. Again, I would like to thank the member for Cape Breton North for bringing this debate forward this evening, and I would like to thank the members for taking part in what's probably one of the most important debates and, I have to say, one of the most beneficial I've seen since I've been Speaker. I want to thank the members for the debate.

The House is adjourned until tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 6:24 p.m.]

[Page 6735]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2210

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 Leigh Kent of Kentville and Richard Harrie of Kingsport, Kings County volunteer their time to be members of the Nova Scotia disaster response team; and

Whereas following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Leigh and Richard agreed to go to New York City to help at Ground Zero; and

Whereas from October 7th to October 27th, Leigh and Kent volunteered in the capacity of logistics specialists agreeing to return in November to provide further aid;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate and thank Leigh Kent and Richard Harrie for their work in helping others in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks.

RESOLUTION NO. 2211

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas the Tory Government has repeatedly told Nova Scotians time and again that it did not raise taxes in the last budget; and

Whereas the Tory Government has imposed a wide range and number of user fees on Nova Scotians through many departments and agencies; and

Whereas the Tory Government does not even have a consistent definition of what constitutes a "user fee";

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government should start being upfront with Nova Scotians and admit to them that it has actually imposed many taxes during its two years in power.

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RESOLUTION NO. 2212

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 Royal Bank annually presents the Economic Development Program Award in recognition of Canada's best and most effective programs, whose mandate is to foster economic development; and

Whereas the West Nova Agro Commodities Grain and Forage Centre in Lawrencetown replaced the Middleton Grain Centre in 1998 as a community-centred operation, owned and managed by local producers; and

Whereas the Western Valley Development Authority was recently presented with the 2001 Economic Development Program Award in recognition of its work in establishing the West Nova Agro Commodities Grain and Forage Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Western Valley Development Authority for their hard work and dedication to local economic development which led to their recent receipt of the Royal Bank Economic Development Program Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 2213

By: Hon. Murray Scott (The Speaker)

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

Whereas the Canada Games have been held at two year intervals since 1967, allowing approximately 45,000 young Canadians to participate in the games and allowing another 180,000 to engage in tryouts and qualifying events; and

Whereas Ms. Kate Scallion of Wentworth participated in the cycling division of the 2001 Canada Summer Games and was ranked the top female junior rider in Nova Scotia in 2001; and

Whereas through her hard work and dedication, Ms. Scallion has helped to promote excellence in sport, sport development and healthy, active lifestyles;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ms. Kate Scallion for her dedication to sport as demonstrated by many long hours of training and practice.