The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

HANSARD 01/02-91

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Health - Capital Acquisitions, Hon. N. LeBlanc 8759
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3366, Car Free Day (04/25/02) - Celebrate, Hon. D. Morse 8760
Vote - Affirmative 8760
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3367, St. Mary's Elem. Sch.: Children/Parents/Staff - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8761
Vote - Affirmative 8761
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 911, Martin, Rollie: Remuneration - Justify, Mr. D. Dexter 8762
No. 912, Educ. - FOIPOP Request: Refusal - Reasons, Mr. M. Samson 8763
No. 913, Health - Bus. Plans: NSP Increases - Inclusion,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8765
No. 914, Environ. & Lbr.: Water Strategy Report - Release,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8766
No. 915, Health - EMC: Double Billing - Details, Mr. G. Steele 8768
No. 916, Environ. & Lbr. - Asphalt Storage Facility: Permit -
Requirement, Mr. R. MacKinnon 8769
No. 917, Educ.: Inclusive Funding Strategy - Introduce, Mr. F. Corbett 8770
No. 918, Health - Med. Equip. Fund: Disbursement - Details,
Dr. J. Smith 8771
No. 919, Educ. - UCCB: 65/35 Criteria - Details, Mr. F. Corbett 8773
No. 920, Educ. - École Beaufort: Protection - Action, Mr. M. Samson 8774
No. 921, Educ. - HRM Sch. Bd.: Classroom Space - Review,
Mr. H. Epstein 8775
No. 922, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Mechanical Branches: Closure -
Justify, Mr. P. MacEwan 8777
No. 923, Gov't. (N.S.) - Premier's Office: Expense Claims - Release,
Mr. G. Steele 8778
No. 924, Pet. Dir. - PanCanadian Line: Option - Benefits,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8780
No. 925, Agric. & Fish. - Gov't. Inspected Abattoirs:
Usage Regulations - Explain, Mr. J. MacDonell 8781
No. 926, Educ.: Untrained Teachers - Acceptability, Mr. B. Boudreau 8782
No. 927, Educ. - Schools: Smoking Ban - Implementation,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8783
No. 928, Educ.: Student Enrolment/Student-Teacher Ratio - Details,
Mr. K. MacAskill 8784
No. 929, PSC - Civil Serv.: Aboriginal Percentage - Explain,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8785
No. 930, Health - Blood Collection Serv.: Yar. Reg. Hosp. - Effect,
Mr. W. Gaudet 8787
No. 931, Health - Recruitment Goals: Service Cuts - Correlation,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8788
No. 932, Educ. - Univ. Bds. of Governors: Vacancies - Number,
Mr. D. Wilson 8789
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 25th at 12:00 noon 8791
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3368, Sports - Truro Jr. A Bearcats: Can. Jr. A Hockey
Championship - Best Wishes, Hon. J. Muir 8792
Res. 3369, Dunphy, Jeremy: Prov. Rep. Vol. (2002) - Congrats.,
The Speaker 8792
Res. 3370, Five Island FD: Mortgage Payoff - Congrats., The Speaker 8793
Res. 3371, Bragg, Courtney Lynn: Youth Vol. of Yr. Award -
Congrats., The Speaker 8793
Res. 3372, Springhill Cadet Corps (1859) - Physical Fitness Awards
(Silver): Recipients - Congrats., The Speaker 8794
Res. 3373, Springhill Cadet Corps (1859) - Physical Fitness Awards
(Bronze): Recipients - Congrats., The Speaker 8794
Res. 3374, Jones, Indiana: Purina Animal Hall of Fame Award -
Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 8794
Res. 3375, Ferguson, June - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8795
Res. 3376, Gaetz, Elvin - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8795
Res. 3377, Glennie, Sylvia - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8796
Res. 3378, Grandy, Alice - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8796
Res. 3379, Hemming, Jean - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8797
Res. 3380, Moore, Pat - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8797
Res. 3381, O'Sullivan, Shirley - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8798
Res. 3382, Rennie, Bill - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8798
Res. 3383, Warner, Deborah - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8799
Res. 3384, MacDonald, Carol Ann - Oakwood Terrace: Service -
Congrats., Mr. T. Olive 8799
Res. 3385, Ryder, Mary - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8800
Res. 3386, Warner, Wilfred - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8800
Res. 3387, Wilson, Jean - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8801
Res. 3388, Brown, Marie - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8801
Res. 3389, Erskine, Rita - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8802
Res. 3390, Langille, Marg - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8802
Res. 3391, Campbell, Sharon - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8803
Res. 3392, Crook, Jean - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8803
Res. 3393, Stewart, Vivia - Oakwood Terrace: Service - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8804
Res. 3394, Educ. - Directives: Min. - Responsibility, Mr. H. Epstein 8804
Res. 3395, Sports - Sackville AAA Flyers Hockey Team:
Fundraising - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 8805
Res. 3396, Cobequid Multi-Service Ctr. - Sackville Students
(High School): Support - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 8805
NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS:
No. 3, Fin. - Budgets (1999-2000 to 2002-03): Errors - Enumerate,
Mr. G. Steele 8806
No. 4, Fin. - Offshore Oil & Gas: Royalties - Revenue Estimates,
Mr. G. Steele 8806
No. 5, Pet. Dir. - Royalties: Revenue - Projections, Mr. G. Steele 8806
No. 6, NSLC - Revenue Target: Directive - Table, Mr. G. Steele 8806

[Page 8759]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

11:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, during my estimates yesterday, I mentioned to my critics that I would table an explanation of capital acquisitions, Department of Health, and as such, I do table that.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

8759

[Page 8760]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3366

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

Whereas April 25, 2002, is Car Free Day within the Halifax Regional Municipality, with the goal of reducing car usage and encouraging alternate modes of travel; and

Whereas it is the goal of the Department of Environment and Labour to promote a healthy environment while helping the Halifax Regional Municipality win a friendly competition with the City of Fredericton; and

Whereas the Department of Environment and Labour is helping to spread the word that Halifax residents should make an effort to get to work by means other than their automobile;

Therefore be it resolved that we celebrate Car Free Day by busing, walking, pedalling, paddling or car pooling to work on April 25th and encourage others to do so.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 8761]

RESOLUTION NO. 3367

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

Whereas the classroom reality for children who attend St. Mary's Elementary School is enriched by the diversity of multicultural experience and knowledge; and

Whereas the school's success in embracing many new Canadian children into its tight-knit community earns St. Mary's School national attention in the February edition of Today's Parent, Canada's parenting magazine; and

Whereas every Spring for many years the cultural origins of all children at St. Mary's are celebrated during a special pot luck supper in the school gym which, this year, will occur tonight;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature extend our congratulations and best wishes to the children, parents and staff of St. Mary's Elementary School who are a wonderful example of how we can all successfully learn from one another.

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: Question Period will begin at 11:10 a.m. and will end at 12:40 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 8762]

MARTIN, ROLLIE: REMUNERATION - JUSTIFY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate provided more details about the government's super-consultant, Rollie Martin. Mr. Martin billed the Petroleum Directorate $243,000 from September 2000 to January 2002. Last week we tabled a document obtained through freedom of information which showed that during the same time Mr. Martin billed the Premier more than $90,000 for work on the failed Campaign for Fairness. My question to the minister - wherever he may be - what's so special about this super-consultant that justifies making him the equivalent of the highest-paid civil servant in Nova Scotia history? Maybe the Minister of Finance is going to have to answer that. (Interruptions)

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

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have to apologize. The member directed his question initially to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate and, as such, I wasn't listening. If he could please repeat the question, I will endeavour to do my best to answer it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. If you want to talk, go outside.

The honourable Government House Leader. (Interruptions)

Order, please. There's an inquiry as to where the ministers are.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister who is missing is at the end of this row and I thought he was there as well because there's somebody in that seat. We will make sure that the minister is here very shortly. I would perhaps ask you to add a minute to Question Period to take care of the previous question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question Period will now begin at 11:13 a.m. and end at 12:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it was such a good question, I don't mind repeating it at all. Yesterday the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate provided some details about the government's super-consultant, Rollie Martin. Mr. Martin billed the Petroleum Directorate $243,000 from September 2000 to January 2002. Last week we tabled a document obtained through the freedom of information which showed that during the same time Mr. Martin billed the Premier more than $90,000 for work on the failed Campaign for Fairness. My question for the minister is, what's so special about this super-consultant that justifies making him the equivalent of the highest-paid civil servant in Nova Scotia history?

[Page 8763]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday in estimates, the money that was spent to retain Mr. Martin to coordinate the development and completion of the energy strategy was money well spent - in excess of 2,000 hours, and it worked out to be something in the neighbourhood of $170 per hour, which is well within the realms of reason for hiring consultants of his stature.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at the numbers just a little bit more closely. I want to quote the minister from estimates yesterday when he talked about a bill for $44,000 from Mr. Martin. He said it, ". . . was related to his work on benefits and for helping Nova Scotia understand, or certainly myself and the government, where opportunities to increase benefits actually exist." The minister went on to say the issue of offshore benefits is a very difficult concept. My question to the Minister of Finance then is, why did you approve this choice, deep pockets for Minister Balser's tutor and cuts for child protection workers, transition houses and the Arts Council?

[11:15 a.m.]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, there have been no cuts to the Arts Council.

MR. DEXTER: That answer tells more about the minister's attitude than perhaps anything he has said so far.

Mr. Speaker, my office has confirmed that Mr. Martin's work is not done. He is currently ensconced in Intergovernmental Affairs. This government's super consultant is now working just down the road at the Joseph Howe Building. This government shut down the Arts Council because it said it could save more than $300,000 in administration spending. My question to the Acting Premier is, why don't you just fire Rollie Martin? You would've saved $350,000.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure exactly what the question was, if the honourable member would like to direct a question to me, I will answer it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - FOIPOP REQUEST: REFUSAL - REASONS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this morning the Canadian Association of Journalists held a news conference to criticize this government's handling of freedom of information requests and the proposed fee increases. Over the past six months, we have requested the schedules of the Minister of Education and the Deputy Minister of Education for a specific period of time. All we have received are refusals. Even in the face of the FOIPOP Review Officer recommending that the information should be provided, these refusals continue from her department. On top of this, now if people want to pursue filing

[Page 8764]

a freedom of information application with this government, it is going to cost substantially more to do so. My question to the Minister of Education is, what does the Minister of Education and her deputy minister have to hide in refusing to disclose this information?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I think everyone in the House is well aware that ministers are not apprised of freedom of information requests at the time they are made nor do they know who made them nor do they involve themselves in the decision whether to comply or not to comply. Neither I nor the deputy have anything to hide about the business we conduct in our daily lives.

MR. SAMSON: Well, Mr. Speaker, someone clearly in the minister's department is refusing to give this information. Clearly, we already have Darce Fardy, the FOIPOP Review Officer, saying this information should be released and someone in the minister's department, if it is not her and not her deputy, as she claims, is refusing to do so. What is being requested here is who the minister and deputy minister met with, not personal information such as doctors' appointments or something of a personal nature; that is not what's being requested. We want to know who the minister and the deputy met with as representatives of the Province of Nova Scotia.

My question, again, to the minister, with the personal information such as doctors' appointments removed from the information, will the minister commit today to finding out exactly why there has been a refusal to give this and commit to seeing that this information is immediately provided?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, the decision on this request was made corporately and I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Justice so it could be answered today instead of having to wait for my answer tomorrow.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to actually take an opportunity to answer this question. What the honourable member is asking for is - in the words of the federal Information Commissioner - informational rape. (Interruptions) That is, in fact, the position taken by the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada with respect to the information request for the same kind of information. It is pure irony on the part of the honourable member that the honourable member should take a position that his own Prime Minister takes as informational rape. That information is personal information. The position of the government is that that is personal information and is not subject to disclosure under the Act.

MR. SAMSON: How ironic to hear the Minister of Justice quoting anything from the federal Liberal Government. Mr. Speaker, the fact is it is this own government's review officer, Darce Fardy, who has said to you, Mr. Minister and Madam Minister, that this information should be disclosed. That is who is saying this; not the Opposition, not the Liberal caucus, your own review officer is who you are contravening. Now it's ironic that,

[Page 8765]

in her original answer, the Minister of Education said that her deputy and the minister had nothing to do with freedom of information requests. What I have here is a letter, dated November 14, 2001, to our caucus office from the Deputy Minister of Education saying that our freedom of information request is being denied, so for her to claim that they did not have the information is clearly false.

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is, this government has claimed that it has the most open and accessible government information. This is information not from bureaucrats, but from the minister and deputy minister. Is this minister hiding behind the refusal simply because to do otherwise would mean revealing information about who they're actually meeting with?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I repeat, when those requests come in, the minister is deliberately not informed of them so as to not have information about who is seeking requests. At the time the information or the decision is released, that is the time that the minister is informed. I would refer the rest of that question back to the Minister of Justice.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again I would refer, for the benefit of the honourable member, that this is a situation where the honourable member knows full well that mixed amongst the information is information that is personal to the minister, and no one has a right to that information. That is personal information that should be protected, no different than the honourable member's personal information should be protected.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The questions and the answers are becoming too long and it's really infringing upon the rights of the other members who want to ask and have questions answered.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - BUS. PLANS: NSP INCREASES - INCLUSION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. Nova Scotia Power is in the midst of hearings before the Utility and Review Board in its bid to raise power rates. The board has been told by interveners that hospitals will be among the largest customers to feel the pinch if this rate hike goes through. Now hospitals have indicated that if their power bills increase, they will have no choice but to cut programs. I'd like the Minister of Health to tell us whether the power rate increase was factored into this year's business plans for district health authorities or not?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, when district health authorities construct their business plans, obviously they do take into account incremental increases or year-to-year increases. I heard something about that this morning. I didn't read or see the news item, but

[Page 8766]

I'm sure that increases in power rates and fuel costs would be considered in the business planning process.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister better skip to it on this one. The average rate increase that Nova Scotia Power is asking for is 8.9 per cent. That's a significant increase. Hospitals and schools, whose budgets are already stretched to the limit, will have difficulty paying for these increased power costs. My question to the Minister of Finance is, what impact does he anticipate a power increase of this nature will have on his budget and the razor-thin surplus in that budget?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, that's a hypothetical question. If I could answer that question, I'd probably be playing the stock market rather than being Minister of Finance. I do want to say I have indicated before that if there are challenges that come up during the year and additional pressures on the government, we will have to make adjustments. That is no different in regard to power rates. It is no different than if they have more firefighting required because of drought. Those are the challenges that we, as a government, face. We face them 365 days a year and we will do the job that we were elected to do.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's important that Nova Scotians have some reassurance from this government that power rate increases won't result in further cuts to health care and educational programs.

Mr. Speaker, as the saying goes, you can't get blood from a stone and that's exactly what hospitals and schools have been expected to do in this budget. So I want to ask the Minister of Finance what contingency plan has he in place to cope with an 8.9 per cent increase in power rates?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I basically answered the question the time before. We have made provisions within our school boards and hospital boards for some increases. The member opposite is asking us to predict in advance what will come out of a URB hearing and we can't do that. If the demands are higher than what we've provided for, we will have to make adjustments. We have a $5.3 billion budget and we'll be able to do so. I should point out for the member opposite that in this fiscal year we added $134 million to health. She may not feel that that is a meaningful contribution, but our caucus differs.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WATER STRATEGY REPORT - RELEASE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. We recently applied to his office to receive a copy of the water strategy report through the Freedom of Information Act. The report due over one year ago has been paid for

[Page 8767]

already to the tune of $850,000 by taxpayers. The department has refused, saying it's before Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, the report supposedly has been before Cabinet for a year now and my question to the minister, you know, the fact that the report has already been available, why is the minister hiding behind the Freedom of Information Act guidelines instead of releasing the report?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing up the subject. The water strategy is something which is near and dear to this government's heart and also I think to that of all Nova Scotians. I would say that once we started on this process, which actually began back in 1991 under former Minister Leefe with his clean water task force, we discovered that there was a lot more that we could incorporate into the plan as we went out and asked for the comments from the other departments and I'm very pleased with the way that the plan has grown over the year.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, in our same Freedom of Information request we asked for background materials for the long- promised water strategy. Instead of granting this particular request, the department has a condition with a price tag. Apparently this request requires 40 hours of work for a total price tag of $1,200. So to do the math, that price tag works out to be a yearly salary of $62,000. So my question is, can the minister confirm whether or not, if there is a freedom of information researcher in his department who makes $62,000 a year, or is it just another way of keeping information away from Nova Scotians?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member points out an important feature about providing services. I think that it's very important that when somebody applies for any government services, especially if it's a discretionary one, that they pay part of the freight and in this case this is the rate that has been struck. There is a person in the department that is in charge of freedom of information requests and, as the Minister of Education indicated earlier, she operates in a somewhat autonomous fashion and I am only apprised in a very general form after the fact as to what group may possibly have been inquiring about a particular subject. Excuse me, not what group, on what topic, not the group.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the review officer for the Freedom of Information Act has stated some concerns about how the Act is applied within government, citing cases of waiting 30 days to apply for a 30-day extension, or using large processing fees as a deterrent. My question to the minister is, can the minister tell this House whether or not he has pursued the concerns of Mr. Fardy?

[Page 8768]

[11:30 a.m.]

MR. MORSE: I think such a question would be better answered by the Minister of Justice, who bears responsibility for the carrying out of that Act, so I would refer the question to the Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: The reality of freedom of information requests is that there's a very huge cost to the public of these requests. Government has only applied a reasonable charge to make sure that the information being requested is partially paid for by the person requesting it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH - EMC: DOUBLE BILLING - DETAILS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: I can't resist saying how surprised I am to hear the Liberals lecturing anybody on freedom of information.

My real question is to the Minister of Health. When someone is in the middle of a personal health crisis, the last thing on their mind should be ambulance fees.(Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: My question is to the Minister of Health. When someone is in the middle of a personal health crisis, the last thing on their mind should be ambulance fees. That was the case when Russ Fraser of Enfield and his daughter were in a car accident in June. They rode in the ambulance together, his daughter on a stretcher and Russ seated up front. You can imagine their shock when each of them received a bill for $500. My question to the Minister of Health is, why is the minister allowing EMC to double bill and, in some cases, triple bill for a single ambulance trip?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I will not be answering questions about ambulance fees from that member, simply because he is representing a group of people as a lawyer about ambulance fees.

MR. STEELE: It's true that I did write to the minister as a lawyer, although not about this case. You know why? It was in order to get the hard-nosed collection agency used by the government off the back of these hard-working and honest Nova Scotians who are getting outrageous bills from that government. Another case - not one of the cases I wrote to the minister on - two women rode in one ambulance, each was billed $500. At $1,000 for a five-minute trip to the hospital, you'd think EMC was serving caviar and champagne. My

[Page 8769]

question to the Minister of Health is, why are honest, hard-working Nova Scotians being targeted unfairly by this unfair, unreasonable ambulance pricing policy?

MR. MUIR: In terms of ambulance fees, as the honourable member is aware, there was an external audit of our Emergency Health Service and one of the conclusions of that audit was that the fees for ambulance service here in Nova Scotia were indeed reasonable and appropriate and well-thought-out.

MR. STEELE: Now, that is the point exactly. That audit showed that the average cost of an ambulance trip in Nova Scotia is just about exactly $500. So, if it costs $500 on average for an ambulance trip, as the minister argues, then it should not be permitted for EMC to charge $1,000 or $1,500 or $2,000 when more than one person is in the vehicle. So I would like to ask the Minister of Health how long is his department going to allow EMC to add insult to injury by double- and triple-billing accident victims?

MR. MUIR: As the honourable member knows, if people are unhappy with bills that they receive for ambulance service here in Nova Scotia, there is an appeal process which can be followed.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - ASPHALT STORAGE FACILITY:

PERMIT - REQUIREMENT

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: My question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Yesterday while questioning the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I began to have some concerns about paving projects taking place across Nova Scotia. I think it would be safe to assume that if roads are being repaved, that old asphalt, in some cases, is being removed and new asphalt is going to be laid down in its place. My question, quite simply, to the minister is, does a contractor, or a company for that matter, need an environmental permit to establish a storage facility to dump large quantities of asphalt in this province?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. Used asphalt is considered to be an inert material and, as such, as long as it complies with the zoning regulations there's no need for an environmental permit.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it comes as a bit of a surprise, because back in the middle of 1999, just after the government took power, the minister and his department issued a permit to a company in the Annapolis Valley on the Meadowvale Road to permit the dumping of asphalt. In fact, there are five sites. I will table the copy. The minister is shaking his head no, but I will table a copy of the permit. The fact of the matter is, there are five sites on Meadowvale Road that residents are raising concerns about the impact of the dumping

[Page 8770]

of large quantities of waste asphalt. Given the concerns the residents have about the water table, the flow from a large brook going through the property where a lot of the asphalt is dumped into the Fale River which eventually feeds into the Annapolis River, my question to the minister is, what impact will there be on the water table when these stockpiles of asphalt begin to break down and its chemicals released?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, from the point of view of clarification, I think it should be pointed out that I believe the site the member is referring to has an industrial permit that allows aggregate operations on a one-acre area, it's not as it pertains to the storage of used asphalt. The approval actually does not apply to the asphalt.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how in the name of heavens he could store 50,000 tons of asphalt on a one-acre lot. I would like to see the minister try that for size. I spoke with the environmental officer from CFB Greenwood. They did not test the asphalt before it was dumped on this site. I spoke with the local councillor for the area and she confirmed that the PAC meeting that took place and the public hearing, the consultants conceded that they did not test this asphalt, particularly with the possibility of some de-icing contaminants and so on before it was dumped here. There is a real concern to the water table. My question to the minister is, what precautions is the minister taking to ensure that the Valley's water supply and wells of homeowners in the near proximity will be safe from the possibility of these toxic chemicals?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as an additional clarification on this, the site is actually much more than an acre and the asphalt is not stored on the acre that's under excavation as a quarry. That's the first clarification. The second one is that, again, asphalt has been deemed as an inert material and therefore is not a concern as a contaminant to the environment.

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

EDUC.: INCLUSIVE FUNDING STRATEGY - INTRODUCE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. This government is destroying rural Nova Scotia and, indeed, Cape Breton piece by piece. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has just announced the layoffs and the letting go of 42 teachers this year. That's on top of 43 from last year. In two years we lost three schools and 85 teachers. That's a lot of call centre jobs to replace those jobs. Rural schools are the backbone of Cape Breton and many rural areas of this province. I want to ask the Minister of Education what will it take for you to introduce an inclusive funding strategy that will help rural communities in Cape Breton to stay alive?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, schools - rural schools and urban schools - are very important to their communities. I well recognize that, but in areas of declining population, which include Cape Breton-Victoria, Chignecto-Central and, indeed, all school

[Page 8771]

boards, the school boards have to take some measures to ensure that the children are in enough critical mass in schools that they're getting the proper education. We do have a formula in place that does take into account declining populations.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, she knows very well that the funding strategy they have in place is ill-conceived. We know that dollars following students doesn't work. She knows that and the rest of the province knows that. Populations in this province fluctuate in rural areas, as they do in urban areas. Cuts and neglect are taking their toll. Read any newspaper, Madam Minister; you should know that. But now this neglect is threatening the identity of rural Nova Scotians, indeed, the identity of Cape Breton. They like to use Cape Breton and roll it out when they want to put it on their postcards, but they won't use it to help our children. I'd like to ask this minister, when will you fund Cape Breton schools properly so children will have a school to go to and teachers will have a school to teach in?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is my job to fund all schools properly, not just Cape Breton schools, and we are doing that. The bulk of the funding that is given to school boards is based on 1996 enrolment, not on today's enrolment. The fact is that some funding has to follow the student. The logic interruptus of the member would have us have all the schools and all the teachers with no kids in them.

MR. CORBETT: I might have just had a short moment of interruptus, but hers is forever. It's a mental block that's going to be there for quite some time, Mr. Speaker. As she very well knows, she's killing rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton with her devil-may-care attitude about school closures and teacher layoffs. The Tories need to start thinking long term and not the short term, trying to get to the next election. I'll tell you something; rural Nova Scotia isn't buying any of their bunk. I'd like to ask her, when will you promise Cape Breton and rural Nova Scotians that you will start thinking long term and investigate how you can protect the schools, the children and the teachers?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, one of the problems that we have had to try to correct in the education system is precisely the product of short-term thinking. We are thinking long term.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - MED. EQUIP. FUND: DISBURSEMENT - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. After almost 40 hours of estimates, and after hours of Finance and Health Estimates, we finally learned that the $15 million for medical equipment from the federal government is being held in a trust fund at Montreal Trust. What we don't know is when the money will be spent and what it will be spent on. Either the Health Minister or the Finance Minister didn't know what was going on or they were deliberately hiding what it is to do from the Legislature and from

[Page 8772]

the people of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, what is this $15 million fund going to be spent on and when will it be spent?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is two questions.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the accounting of that is something that the Minister of Finance can explain. What I can tell the House is there is $15 million there that will be spent this year. As a matter of fact, the DHAs have been asked to submit their lists. They're supposed to be in by Friday. Once the lists come in, we will proceed to buy appropriate pieces of equipment and it will go where it's most needed.

[11:45 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: I don't believe that is so, and I think the Critic for Finance would probably like to come back on another day because that's not what the estimates are saying. But I don't want to get into that. This is Question Period. Mr. Speaker, and to the minister, the biggest problem we have in the health care system is the complete absence of any plan to deal with the health care needs of Nova Scotians. The whole system is being run on an ad hoc basis, and I think Nova Scotians deserve better. My question to the minister is, could the minister, today, outline his plan for the purchase of medical equipment from the $15 million federal fund from last year and what criteria will be used?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is going back to a statement I made the other day. When we got in there, we were looking for the plan for health care that the previous Liberal Government had. I opened the drawer and it was empty.

Mr. Speaker, we do have a plan and you will find that in terms of the expenditures for capital equipment last year, if you check with the long-term care facilities, the district health authorities and people like the Radiology Association here in Nova Scotia, the money was distributed appropriately and it really meets the needs of Nova Scotians.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister had a plan there, left him, but I don't think today if you asked him - and I don't intend to do that - I don't think he has even read it. That's the disdain that they've had, but anyway either the minister has a plan or he does not. The district health authorities have recognized the need for equipment so the minister should have some criteria and a priority list available to him. Why won't the minister just admit that he has no idea what he will do with the money and he has no idea where the money, in fact, will do the most good for Nova Scotians?

MR. MUIR: One of the reasons that we have to wait to get the submissions from the district health authorities, and we did it last year, I think about four CAT scans were either purchased or upgraded as a result of that $15 million, and if you can group purchase you can save significant dollars. So it makes sense to get the list together and analyze it. I can tell the

[Page 8773]

House that the CEO for the Cape Breton District Health Authority discovered the other day another sort of national buying plan from St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, and there is some interest in buying into that, and we'll even say we can make those equipment dollars go even further. That's what we're trying to do, Mr. Speaker, is get the biggest bang for those bucks.

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

EDUC. - UCCB: 65/35 CRITERIA - DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is in regard to the University College of Cape Breton. My question is about UCCB and the budget they are planning to bring down this Friday - this is the second budget they've brought down this year. The first one the board of directors would not look at on Friday, March 15th. As part of this budget, there's a plan to cut up to 48 jobs, suspend programs, and a tuition increase. I want to ask the Minister of Education, does the UCCB budget fit the 65/35 criteria of her department for spending on teaching and non-teaching activities?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the UCCB budget is a product of the university administration; the Department of Education does not produce the UCCB budget. I understand there are going to have to be some layoffs at UCCB, and that is entirely within their purview. If they need to lay off or change programs, that is their job to do that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we wonder what the province has people on the board for if the minister is just going to rubber-stamp what the rest of the people are saying. The lack of direction by this government is unbelievable. Students have to pay more for higher education in Cape Breton and travel further to obtain it, and she should know that full well. The University College of Cape Breton offers programs that are unique to the area, allowing students to say home and work in their community, which doesn't seem to have any effect on this government.

My question to the minister is can students from UCCB get a commitment from her, today, to do an impact analysis on the effectiveness of the programs slated for cuts before they are actually cut, will she do that?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have an advisory council on colleges and universities. We have staff in our department that work with the universities. There has been no indication from my staff that there is anything going on at UCCB that I should be interfering in, and if the member is suggesting that the province take over universities or some universities, I would like to see their plan.

[Page 8774]

MR. CORBETT: There's the real problem, Mr. Speaker, that department, that government has no plans at all. They came to power by tearing down a steel plant and not opening beds. That's all the problems we have here. For all her government's words to say they have the best interests of Cape Breton at heart, we know that's totally false. The University College of Cape Breton has serious consequences for the economy of Cape Breton. We can't afford to lose another 48 jobs, Madam Minister, good-paying jobs, and these people will leave our communities, taking their families with them. I want to ask this minister, will she finally take a leadership role in this problem and call for a full management audit of the University College of Cape Breton; will she do that?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this is a Conservative Government, not a New Democratic Government. We do not believe in taking over everything, making the taxpayer pay for everything, if we did it would be in worse shape than we are now. We would be just like B.C., and we're not. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Richmond.

EDUC. - ÉCOLE BEAUFORT: PROTECTION - ACTION

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are seeing an attack on French immersion education in this province like has never been seen before. Ironically, it's taking place in the minister's own backyard. The Halifax Regional School Board has chosen the board's only single-track French immersion elementary school - which, ironically, has one of the highest enrolments - for closure. Not only is the board looking at closing École Beaufort, it is proposing dividing the existing student population and sending them to three other area schools. My question to the minister is, what action are you prepared to take to protect these French immersion students and represent the concerns of your own constituents?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have done everything as an MLA and Minister of Education that exists under the power of the Education Act and the regulations thereof.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this minister, each week, seems to have a different answer when it comes to school boards. First she says they're elected boards, I can't get involved in their decision making. But this is the same minister who, on two separate occasions, has assumed financial control over two elected school boards in this province. Now, today, we learn that the minister has written, as the Minister of Education, not MLA, to the tri-county district school board demanding that they explain their actions in a specific manner. So this minister is clearly getting involved in school board decisions when it suits her, but doesn't want to get involved when its in her own backyard.

[Page 8775]

Mr. Speaker, the facts in this matter are that there were a number of proposals before the Halifax Regional School Board, yet they chose to close the one school that had one of the highest enrolments of elementary schools under the board. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit today, as she has done on other occasions, to demand from the Halifax Regional School Board that they explain their actions in this matter, which directly affects her own constituents?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I should explain to the member opposite yet again that in the areas in which the Department of Education has taken control over school boards, it has been very careful not to interfere in educational matters. In terms of the school closure process, my department has gone over, and I have gone over the regulations and the powers under the Act. I take my duties very seriously as Minister of Education and, yes, I admit this may hurt me as an MLA, but I take my duties very seriously, and the member opposite should not be suggesting that I act differently.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the minister, we've learned, has written to the tri-county school board demanding to know a decision made on a specific education matter. We support the decision in that matter to look into that case and to look into it seriously. What we are asking is for the minister to grant the same respect to her own constituents and to look into a matter where her constituents are saying that the Education Act has been violated by the Halifax District School Board and that the closure of École Beaufort is not within the meaning of the Education Act of this province.

My final supplementary, will the Minister of Education stand in her place today not only for the interests of her own constituents but for all parents and students involved in the French Immersion program throughout Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this is a very difficult situation. As the member opposite knows, this government and governments before have been very committed to French Immersion. The school board assures the parents they will still have their French Immersion programs. The difficulty is, in this particular case, it is both a French Immersion school and a community school. No, I do not agree with the school board decision, and they do not agree with many of my decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

EDUC. - HRM SCH. BD.: CLASSROOM SPACE - REVIEW

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to welcome the Liberals to the debate about École Beaufort. I guess they finally realized that Danny Graham is an École Beaufort parent. My question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday, outside this Chamber (Interruptions)

[Page 8776]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please. Obviously I missed something there, what was said, but I am going to review Hansard just for my own understanding of what was said at that point. The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto has the floor.

MR. EPSTEIN: To the Minister of Education, yesterday, outside this Chamber, the minister told parents from her constituency and parents from mine that she cannot do anything about the closure of an overcrowded school in an area with a deficit of classrooms and the dislocation of 320 elementary school students into three other schools that are kilometres apart. Last night, the Halifax board said it is acting under her direction to rationalize its use of classroom space. I would like to know why the minister won't have her staff review whether, by any reasonable definition, the Halifax Regional School Board's plan is, in fact, a more rational use of its space or is not?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I have asked staff to review the school closure process, and they have done so. They have assured me that they see no breach of the closure process. Everything that I could have done and can do has been and will be done.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows of course, regulations guiding the process are written by her and her Cabinet colleagues. The parents requested portables for the Beaufort students. They and the minister know that would save more money and avoid the dislocation of the 320 students. This is exactly where the rubber meets the road. The minister has often sent staff in to review school board spending; this minister has demanded that school boards stop the flagrant waste and abuse of public funds. What I would like to know is, why is it now of no concern, apparently, to the Department of Education and the minister that the Halifax Regional School Board staff are making choices that mean higher costs and needless disruption of the school program for what will amount to some 1,000 students? Why?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the portables - the portables were offered to the school board, they were offered by me at a meeting, they were offered again in a discussion among staff. The school board chose not to accept that offer.

[12:00 noon]

MR. EPSTEIN: That isn't very helpful. Let's try another angle. Last June the minister signed on the dotted line to get $2.5 million a year in federal money for French as a second language school program. Her signature is on an action plan that promises better access to quality programs and improvement of existing programs. She contracted to ensure that the quality of the education taught in French will be comparable to that taught in English. So what is the minister doing to fulfill her contract in view of the very serious concerns raised by French immersion parents right here in the Halifax region in the minister's own constituency?

[Page 8777]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the issue of funds from Heritage Canada spent in the delivery of French education has been reviewed again and again. There is no problem with the funds for the programs. But I have an observation about the member opposite. They're constantly talking about how we shouldn't interfere, we shouldn't do this, we shouldn't do that and the member opposite said at the meeting that certainly that he and his Party would interfere in school board decisions such as École Beaufort. So I'm wondering what that Party's position is on the takeover of school boards?

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - MECHANICAL BRANCHES:

CLOSURE - JUSTIFY

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works concerning the recent announcement by his department that three mechanical branches would be closed at the end of May and one more at the end of this year. As a result of these closures, there will be only three mechanical branches for the eastern and northern districts of the province. That means that hundreds of square kilometres will now be serviced out of less branches. My question to the minister is, can he justify these three mechanical branch closures when it will result in longer times to have needed equipment repaired or replaced?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the justification for those closures and the consolidation of the mechanical branches was one that follows a plan set out by one, Mr. Clifford Huskilson. (Interruptions)

MR. MACEWAN: I have no doubt that if you want to go back along that track, you could probably find that the honourable A. Garnet Brown recommended some things that are being done today too. But, he's the minister now and he's answerable, Mr. Speaker. The closure of these mechanical branches will result in longer wait times for repair, for equipment replacements that are often much needed, and this additional time that is required to bring in new equipment or repair broken equipment will make Nova Scotia highways more dangerous. If a snowplow breaks down on the highway during a storm, it will take longer to be repaired or replaced. The safety of Nova Scotians will be in jeopardy. My question is, why is the minister risking the safety of Nova Scotians by closing much-needed branches throughout the province? Please don't tell me the honourable A. Garnet Brown recommended it - that was a little long ago.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this methodology that we've introduced is contributing to the safety of our Nova Scotia highways. I would suggest to the honourable member that it's much better if a truck loses its brakes to take the mechanic to the truck rather than drive the truck to a base.

[Page 8778]

MR. MACEWAN: That one was recommended by the Honourable G. I. Smith when he served as Minister of Transportation and Public Works. In any event, my final question to the minister would be this: at what point will the minister realize that cuts to services that protect Nova Scotians are risking the lives of the very people the minister is supposed to protect?

MR. RUSSELL: That is an absolute untruth. We are contributing to the safety (Interruptions) I apologize for using that statement, Mr. Speaker. That is an exaggeration of the facts because in fact, the methodology that we're using at the present time is not only going to add to the safety of the motoring public in Nova Scotia, it is also very, very cost- effective.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

GOV'T. (N.S.) - PREMIER'S OFFICE: EXPENSE CLAIMS - RELEASE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said that when it comes to freedom of information, all you have to do is ask and you shall receive. The reality is that what you get from this government are unreasonable delays, exorbitant fees and patent stonewalling. Let me give one example. Our office requested the expense claims from the Premier's Office. The Premier's Office waited the maximum 60 days before they even responded with a fee estimate. They said it would cost $1,200 to produce that information. Then, after some negotiation, they revised it down and now they're demanding a cheque for $1,000 before they release the expense claims from the Deputy Office. My question for the Acting Premier is, when will this government show its commitment to freedom of information and release expense claims from the Premier's Office?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of that request, but I will certainly take the matter under advisement.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, more delays. We also asked for something that you would think the government would release just because we asked for it, the government's royalty projections from offshore oil and gas, but instead we've run into stonewalling. Every time we demolish one of the government's arguments, they come up with some new reason not to release information on offshore royalties. So my question to the Deputy Premier is, when will this government show its commitment to freedom of information and release the government's projections for revenue from offshore oil and gas?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again, I'm not familiar with that particular request. However, I can advise the honourable member - and I presume that he's not talking about FOIPOP requests with this particular question?

MR. STEELE: Yes, I am.

[Page 8779]

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, you're talking about FOIPOP requests. Okay, well, then I'll pass that question to the honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I didn't catch the member's question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, just your question only on the supplementary.

MR. STEELE: Can I not give the preamble again, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the question is, when will the government show its commitment to freedom of information and release the government's projections for royalties from offshore oil and gas?

MR. BAKER: Quite simply, Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of that request by the honourable member because, quite honestly, as the Minister of Education indicated earlier, those requests go to staff and aren't seen by the minister. All I can do is, if the member would consent to me knowing that information, I would be glad to check it out for him.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby, and on the public record, absolutely consent because that information should have been released a long time ago. The minister likes to say in response to freedom of information questions that we have the most open Act anywhere in the country because that's what the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said. But this government is not following the Act. That's what the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal said. They said this government is breaking that Act, and it's ironic, to say the least, to hear this government citing the openness of the Act while they're fighting the NDP caucus all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to withhold information. So my question to the Deputy Premier is, when will this government show its commitment to freedom of information and drop that ridiculous case in the Supreme Court of Canada?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again, I would defer that question to my colleague, the honourable Minister of Justice.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, very simply, the matter is before the courts. The honourable member understands that matters that are, as he said, before the court are not subject to questions.

[Page 8780]

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

PET. DIR. - PANCANADIAN LINE: OPTION - BENEFITS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the part-time Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Last year it was revealed that the government is exercising its option for 50 per cent of the PanCanadian gas transmission line. At the time, the minister said that Nova Scotia was not under any financial obligation to exercise that option. We were assured that it would only be used to leverage greater benefits for Nova Scotia. Given that PanCanadian is only promising 18 per cent Nova Scotia content, my question to the minister is what benefit has there been in exercising that option?

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we are still determining what is the best course ahead in terms of the 50 per cent back-in option, but I can reassure the member opposite that we will not give it away as they did.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, you can't give away what you don't have and the minister should know that in terms of the last decision that was made regarding the Laurentian Sub-basin. Maybe the minister would like to tell Nova Scotians what happened with that agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: We won.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: We won, yes. You couldn't wipe the smile off Premier Grimes' face when that decision came down.

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary: Nova Scotia content is 12 per cent less than Sable and PanCanadian is processing offshore and this minister still claims that he's doing a good job. The minister said last year he would use the 50 per cent back-in provision to some advantage. Again, Mr. Minister, I would ask you what is the advantage for Nova Scotia?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the advantage is that we have the opportunity to leverage opportunities with PanCanadian or any other company. It may well be El Paso and what that looks like at the end of the day remains to be determined. It may be in the form of an equity investment. It may be in the form of increased benefits and it may be in the form of investments to develop infrastructure. What we have to do is determine what plan makes sense for Nova Scotians to ensure that the development does occur.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, here we go again with this minister - maybe, maybe, maybe, some day, we're not sure but, yes, maybe they should hire Mr. Martin.

[Page 8781]

Mr. Speaker, here's another maybe. The government promised some time ago, and this was another broken promise of the Premier's, that a full-time Energy Minister would be in place by April 1st and as of yet we don't have that particular promise fulfilled. In the past they have promised better royalties, more development and more Nova Scotia content. My final supplementary is, what Nova Scotians need to know is when exactly is this government going to devote the resources of a full-time Energy Minister towards maximizing the benefits of oil and gas profits for Nova Scotia?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, as to when Cabinet changes are made, I think that's a question better directed to the Premier of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - GOV'T. INSPECTED ABATTOIRS:

USAGE REGULATIONS - EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. It amazes me how this government can trumpet itself as the champion of rural Nova Scotia. This government prepared new meat inspection regulations that could have drastic effects on small family-owned farms that do custom killing of livestock for themselves and for their neighbours. These regulations tell farmers they have two choices - butcher their own livestock or take them to one of 20 inspection stations around the province.

So, Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, will the minister explain why he's forcing many small operators who raise beef, poultry or sheep, who are pleased with the service provided by their local small facilities, to use government-inspected abattoirs?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member refers to is a draft set of regulations that have been put out to the industry and rural Nova Scotia for public input. There have been no changes made and we value their input and they will be reflected in those regulations when they would appear again.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will table this before I'm through, but according to Farm Focus, the manager of food safety, Mike Horwich, for his department, indicates that changes have been made. It's not bad enough that four out of five years of drought have increased costs and reduced farmers' incomes, now the minister wants to add even more costs to farmers who run farm-gate businesses that cater to the end-user. This is an attack on rural businesses, Mr. Minister. Does the minister realize that he will put these small operators out of business by forcing them to upgrade to provincial inspection standards and thereby eliminate the spinoffs for feed companies and local suppliers?

[Page 8782]

MR. FAGE: Obviously, the honourable member is not concerned about health and food safety in this country with his remarks. Again, I will reiterate to the member, these are draft regulations that went out for public comment. The public comment will be reflected in the final product. There have been no decisions made.

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about food safety. I even sat in on a meeting on one of these issues with Dr. Strang and Mike Horwich where they even indicated that there was no indication of that product in issue that showed any reason for food safety concerns. My question for the minister is, who's driving this agenda? Does he really have safety concerns, or is he simply acting at the call of a handful of provincially-inspected facilities who stand to profit when their competition is driven out of business by this government?

MR. FAGE: Certainly the honourable member would hopefully be aware that the review deals with all sections of food inspection, from restaurants throughout the whole food industry chain in Nova Scotia, not one particular sector of that industry.

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

EDUC.: UNTRAINED TEACHERS - ACCEPTABILITY

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In January we became aware of the fact that some school boards were experiencing such a difficulty in finding qualified substitute teachers that they were forced to advertise for unlicensed teachers for substitute positions. Just before that we heard the Department of Education had completed research stating that a shortage of teachers would begin around 2005. It is obvious from what we are hearing from school boards, teachers, and principals that that research was incorrect. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union president has agreed, stating we must address this problem now. My question to the minister is, does the minister believe that it is acceptable for the students in this province to be taught by untrained teachers?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of questions there. That report that he refers to was done by a number of the stakeholders in the education community, it was not done by me personally. Yes, we are facing some shortages in some areas, and we do have difficulties with substitutes. I believe he's referring to the Chignecto board, they are working with the department and the Teachers Union to deal with the substitute issue there. It is not that we do not have enough substitutes per se, but the problems occur in certain areas.

[Page 8783]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Minister of Education. Teachers are going to school sick rather than see their students fall behind in their work. Three-quarters of principals report that it is significantly more difficult to find qualified substitutes than it was two years ago; 90 per cent of principals in one district school board are having trouble hiring substitutes, and 6 out of 10 principals are having difficulty hiring supply teachers. These situations are occurring now in the teaching profession; these are not anticipated problems that could occur four years from now. My question is, what is the minister doing about the lack of trained substitutes that school boards are currently facing?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, one of the things we are doing is trying to address the substitute issue with technology. For example, a lot of principals have to spend a huge amount of time on the phone trying to track down who might or might not be available. I don't deny there is an issue with substitute teachers, but the biggest problems are in areas where there may be qualified teachers but they have to travel a long distance, and they're not compensated for that distance. The subject of substitutes is part of the current negotiations between the department and the NSTU.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my final question is also for the Minister of Education. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: My final question is also for the Minister of Education. Teachers in this province receive training and special education to teach our children for a reason. My question is, how long are students in this province going to be forced to attempt to learn from untrained, unlicensed teachers?

MISS PURVES: We don't have untrained people teaching our children in the classrooms of Nova Scotia. That is absolutely untrue.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: SMOKING BAN - IMPLEMENTATION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is for the Minister of Education as well. This government has gone on the record as stating that it will be moving towards an anti-smoking policy in public areas. I'm going to table in the House today that the Department of Health, in its comprehensive tobacco strategy, noted that Nova Scotia has the highest rate of smokers in Canada. My question to the Minister of Education is, with regard to our schools, what are her department and her government doing to implement a ban on smoking in school buildings and on school property?

[Page 8784]

HON. JANE PURVES: To date, various school boards have taken various actions regarding smoking in schools and on school grounds. There has been only one very serious issue in this matter and that is teachers and principals have been loath to force kids onto roadways and possible places of danger where they smoke. We take it very seriously and I think when we introduce our legislation, the Opposition will see that.

MR. DEVEAUX: The minister is saying that they take the issue seriously, she also says it's the school boards that should be dealing with it. I would like to note that she is the Minister of Education. Many schools in this province ban smoking in the actual building, some have even gone as far as to ban it on the school property. This government continues to move towards a no smoking ban in public places and public areas, yet in the places where we have the highest concentration of young and the ones who are most likely to pick up smoking, we don't have any policies across the province. My question to the minister is, what is her department doing to reduce the number of young people who are smoking at school?

MISS PURVES: We have many policies in place and educational programs to try to keep children from smoking, period. Schools are a public place and there will be no smoking there, but I think the member opposite well knows the biggest problem is smoking at home and that is something the school system cannot do anything about.

MR. DEVEAUX: I would suggest there are some situations - maybe just some - in which there are teenagers who might actually be smoking at school and their parents don't know about it. I'm not sure if that would actually be happening in today's society. Again, we have a minister who has words, but has no actions. She can blame the school boards, she can blame individual schools, but she and her department will not do anything to address the issue of smoking in our schools and on school property. Young people are affected by their health when they smoke and they affect others with second-hand smoke. My question is to the minister. Will she outline for parents what her plans are to have anti-smoking strategy in place for all school premises and property?

MISS PURVES: Yes, we will.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

EDUC.: STUDENT ENROLMENT/

STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO - DETAILS

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: On the jacket, Mr. Speaker, they were offered a better deal yesterday than I got. My question today is for the Minister of Education. Student enrolment in public schools in Nova Scotia continues to drop. Consequently, fewer students mean fewer schools to this government. At the same time we are seeing schools closing, classroom sizes are getting larger. I know that this declining enrolment has created a

[Page 8785]

dilemma for the minister and her department, but the government formula for declining student enrolment and student to teacher ratio will most seriously affect schools in rural Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit today to excuse certain areas in the province from this formula that closes schools and make larger classrooms?

HON. JANE PURVES: This government, as well as previous governments - to give them some credit - do protect certain schools, and one of those schools is in the member opposite's own area where the numbers don't necessarily justify keeping the school but the distance does.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, schools in the Cape Breton-Victoria school district are proposing to eliminate 42 teachers' positions. This is because of the declining enrolments and the trend we are seeing by this government to reduce spending on smaller areas of the province. Again, my question to the minister is, can the minister foresee how many schools will close in this area and reveal what alternatives will be offered before more dollars are cut from the education of our young people in Cape Breton?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have, year after year, put more money into the education of school children in Nova Scotia and we will continue to do that. We do protect certain areas where, because of distance or whether because the children attend schools on islands or peninsulas, we do save those schools even those numbers might not warrant; we do do that and we will continue to do that.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to hear that the minister is considering alternative measures in areas where we are seeing huge student enrolments. But classroom size, teacher resources and professional development options will be important to the new and existing teachers coming forward. So my question to the minister is, how does this government intend to recruit new teachers to Nova Scotia when offers include salaries below that of neighbouring provinces, larger classrooms and schools that are falling apart?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we offer very fair, competitive salaries in Nova Scotia. Future salaries are a matter of negotiation. I would like to take this opportunity to say that we have very high standards for our Nova Scotia teachers. They are very good, they are doing an excellent job. Recruiting teachers to Nova Scotia and keeping our own is not our problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

PSC - CIVIL SERV.: ABORIGINAL PERCENTAGE - EXPLAIN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to direct my question to the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. We've obtained information from the Public Service Commission about a breakdown of civil servants. We're concerned about some of the breakdown, in particular as it relates to the number of Aboriginal Nova Scotians

[Page 8786]

employed in the Civil Service. Out of a total workforce of 6,881 civil servants, 34 are Aboriginals - an interesting figure, an interesting reflection, perhaps, of this government's efforts in this area. I would like to ask the minister if he would explain to this House why any Nova Scotian should deem this at all acceptable?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I welcome the honourable member's question. I would agree with him that it would be far, far more desirable to have many, many people from all visible minority groups, in particular Aboriginal people in Nova Scotia be part of our Public Service. Mr. Speaker, the government does encourage that through a number of initiatives designed to encourage diversity in the workplace. I would join the honourable member in agreeing that we would like to see the situation improved.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the minister opposite that I've been in this House for 11 years now and this is an issue that we, in this caucus, have taken quite seriously and have raised with the government, this government and former governments on a number of occasions, and we don't seem to be making any progress. Clearly, it's important that all Nova Scotians see themselves represented and reflected in the faces of the Civil Service, and it's time that this government started to put some action to its words and start to change this situation. So I want to ask the minister, will he commit to all Nova Scotians and present a plan on how, in fact, the Civil Service will become completely and totally representative of Nova Scotians?

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would again indicate to the honourable member that we have a number of programs that encourage, in government, equality in the workplace and diversity. We have in fact, for example, had a number of programs that have made a degree of sensitivity to Aboriginal issues. We have been very successful. We have had a number of public servants involved in those issues. We continue to do everything we can to encourage diversity in the workplace and to make our workplace welcoming to all Nova Scotians, including Aboriginal Nova Scotians.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's stay focused on the representation of Aboriginal people in the Civil Service. Let's do something about our commitment that we talk about in this Legislature and that this government and this minister have just talked about, and let's set a target. Let's set a target to the end of the year 2003. Will the minister commit to a very modest improvement in the number of Aboriginals employed in the Civil Service? Let's talk about an additional 34; let's talk about doubling the number that is there now by the end of the year 2003. Can the minister make that commitment, set that target and attain it?

[Page 8787]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the honourable member about how laudable it is to encourage additional hiring in the Public Service. I can tell you that I intend to do everything I can to encourage the hiring of all visible minorities, but in particular of Aboriginal peoples. We will do all we can, as a government, to make sure that those Nova Scotians are represented in our workforce.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HEALTH - BLOOD COLLECTION SERV.:

YAR. REG. HOSP. - EFFECT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This year the Health budget in the Province of Nova Scotia reached an all-time high, but despite this, seniors on fixed incomes in the southwest district health authority will have to pay a $7.00 user fee for blood collection services at four satellite sites. However, at least this government has a small bit of compassion left. If seniors drive up to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, they don't have to pay. My question to the minister is, when approving this initiative, did the Minister of Health even think of what impact this could have on wait times at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that the reason for satellite collection clinics is really more for convenience for the person who has to get their blood taken, as opposed to taking pressure off the facilities. He would also know that collection of blood outside what we would call a hospital facility is not an insured service. Indeed, there are many areas that provide clinics, and some of them are actually private, where they will take blood simply to provide a convenience to consumers. The blood is then shipped to a hospital for analysis.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, for a senior who may require blood work four times a month, that $7.00 is definitely not a bargain. This new blood collection fee is expected to yield $80,000 in revenue. Forty seniors admitted overnight at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital because they did not have blood work done could cost the district health authority $80,000. Routine blood work prevents hospitalization. My question to the minister is, in approving this initiative, did the minister ever consider the fact that saving a little more now could cost a lot more in the long run?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the district health authority made that decision, submitted in their business plan. Again, satellite clinics - if folks want to go to an accredited hospital-type facility, they can have their blood taken for free. The issue of the fee for collection of blood - once it gets away from the hospital it's not an insured service and it's really a fee for convenience as a fee for blood collection. Now, on the other hand, I do understand and I do sympathize with those who are unable to travel and for whom the $7.00, I guess, if that's what the fee is, is a problem and I'm sure that they can work that out with their DHAs.

[Page 8788]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this Minister of Health can hide behind the district health authority, but he approved that new $7.00 user fee. The Minister of Health approved that. Seniors on fixed income deserve better from this government and my final question to the minister is, how can this minister justify his approval of this initiative that charges residents $80,000 given that he spends twice the amount on assistant deputies?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear the last line of his question, but I do know that since we have come into government, we're only paying one deputy, not two like they did on two or three occasions in the same position.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - RECRUITMENT GOALS:

SERVICE CUTS - CORRELATION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the fall-out from underfunding of the district health authorities continues. The South Shore district health authority, DHA 1, is struggling to meet its budget requirements and it may have to close its pediatrics unit and move the beds for general use. The hospital is currently attempting to recruit an ear, nose and throat specialist and a pediatrician, something local doctors say will be nearly impossible if the pediatric unit closes. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how does cutting services help the department achieve its recruitment goals?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is the second most successful province in Canada at recruiting physicians. The thing that the honourable member is implying, if that change is to take place, which is a decision by the district health authority, is that the pediatric service would not be available there, and that's simply not true.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the hospital needs to be able to recruit the specialists it needs in order to treat children on the South Shore and you can't blame any doctor for deciding not to come when there's no stable funding in place for these programs. So I want to ask the minister what he's prepared to do to clean up his department's reputation of uncertainty in program funding for health care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we would like to do is, obviously, to get into a three year funding formula. We're sometime removed from that and I've spoken of that, I spoke of it in this House and I've spoken of it publicly in other places, not only for the Department of Health, but for my colleagues in the Departments of Education, Community Services and a good many others, we would like to do that. We are into long-range planning now probably for the first time in a really serious way, but I would just want to remind - to say that the government is not recognizing health - that $134 million, new dollars, has gone into health in the 2002-03 fiscal year.

[Page 8789]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, women and children don't seem to come very high on the John Hamm Government's list of priorities. I want to ask the Deputy Premier, why does his government continue to enact policies which pick on and hurt the women and children of this province?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that's a question I believe that can be better answered by the Minister of Community Services.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, this government does not single out and pick on women and children. We have initiated a number of things to help people in the housing area and in the area of health. We have a number of things that work towards those people.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - UNIV. BDS. OF GOVERNORS: VACANCIES - NUMBER

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Students in this province have lobbied for increased student representation on university boards of governors and as part of their lobbying strategy, they've asked for the support of the Minister of Education as many others are doing these days. The Executive Council, of which the minister is a member, has the duty to appoint members to university boards of governors. My question to the minister is, would the minister report to this House the number of current vacancies on university boards of governors?

HON. JANE PURVES: I don't have that information with me right now, but that will be no problem whatsoever to provide that information.

MR. WILSON: To my knowledge there has been a government-appointed vacancy on the Mount Saint Vincent Board of Governors for at least a year. Last year the minister made a commitment to assist universities in increasing the number of students on their boards and I will table a letter from the minister to Dr. Colin Dodds, the President of Saint Mary's University. A Mount Saint Vincent University student applied for the seat that was vacant. I would like to ask the minister, why have no appointments been made to fill the vacancy, in this particular case, of the Mount Saint Vincent Board of Governors?

MISS PURVES: As I recall, we recently appointed someone to the university board of governors at Mount Saint Vincent University. I do support more student representation on the boards of governors - indeed, I have asked all the university presidents to do what they can to do that and some have been quite willing to do so.

MR. WILSON: The minister may say that she supports it, but as she has said in many other cases, what she supports and what she comes through with - the proof; the proof is what I'm looking for. This minister has a miserable track record of appointing students to

[Page 8790]

other government committees including the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission and the Student Assistance Higher Appeal Board. Her track record is nothing to brag about in those two instances, let me tell you. My final question for the minister is, why, in the face of the student applications that have been made for vacant seats, has the minister failed to honour her commitment to ensure that there is student representation on those committees?

MISS PURVES: I repeat, we certainly favour student representation on all our boards and commissions in which student affairs are involved. May I please remind the House that we've appointed a Student Education Council with high school representatives to comment on education and give advice for the first time in Nova Scotia history.

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

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to make an introduction. In the west gallery are 38 Grade 6 students from Mount Edward School located in my riding. With them is Tyler Rutledge, a teacher; Roz Rossi, a student teacher; Mrs. MacKenzie, a parent; and Joanne Stonehouse, a teacher. They're here today to have a look at the building, to watch the business of the government, including Question Period. I wonder if we would welcome them today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER; We welcome our special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business following Question Period will be estimates and on completion of Supply, we will move into Public Bills for Second Reading and we will resume the debate on Bill No. 109. Following that we will move on to other bills in numerical order. I move the House do adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 8791]

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 12:45 p.m.]

[Page 8792]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3368

By: Hon. James Muir (Health)

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

Whereas the Eastern Canadian Junior A hockey championship, the Fred Page Cup, begins today in Truro, concluding with the championship game on Sunday; and

Whereas this event brings together the top Junior A teams from Eastern Canada; and

Whereas when the host Truro Bearcats take to the ice tonight, they will have their eyes on the championship game on Sunday;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the Truro Junior A Bearcats organization and its many volunteers whose efforts will make this tournament a success and wish the Truro Bearcats best of luck in their quest for the championship trophy.

RESOLUTION NO. 3369

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2002 Provincial Volunteer Awards will be presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Luncheon on April 19th at the Westin Hotel, to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Jeremy Dunphy, representing the Town of Parrsboro, will be named as a Provincial Representative Volunteer in recognition of significant community volunteer work and contributions, such as Chief of Parrsboro Fire Department, Secretary-Treasurer of Cumberland County Firefighters Association and Director of South Cumberland High-Angle Rescue Team;

[Page 8793]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jeremy Dunphy for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2002 and offer thanks for the continued hard work and dedication of all volunteers throughout the province.

RESOLUTION NO. 3370

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas as part of Five Island's Community Appreciation Day activities, the local fire department held an important event at the fire hall; and

Whereas Five Island Fire Chief, Glen Davis, and past chief, Vincent Chambers, set fire to the fire hall mortgage to celebrate the department's ability to completely pay off the mortgage; and

Whereas this tremendous goal was achieved in less than 10 years through the various fundraisers held by the fire department;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Five Island's Fire Department on its recent achievement and pay tribute to the efforts of its members to realize this goal and thank the community for all of its support.

RESOLUTION NO. 3371

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Municipality of Cumberland has recently held its annual volunteer luncheon and ceremony; and

Whereas Courtney Lynn Bragg of Collingwood was recognized as the county's youth volunteer of the year; and

Whereas Ms. Bragg received the honour from Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter and District 6 Councillor Kathy Redmond;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Courtney Lynn Bragg on her youth volunteer of the year award and wish her success in all her future endeavours.

[Page 8794]

RESOLUTION NO. 3372

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the 1859 Springhill Cadet Corps held its annual special awards ceremony in March at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas awards for physical fitness were given out at the ceremony; and

Whereas recipients of the award at the silver level were Matthew Allan, Michael House and Neil Calder;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend these three outstanding cadets on their achievements and wish them luck in all their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 3373

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the 1859 Springhill Cadet Corps held its annual special awards ceremony in March at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas awards for physical fitness were given out at the ceremony; and

Whereas recipients of the award at the bronze level were Kyle House, David Ferguson, Keith McFadden, Alan Ferguson, Nick White and Amelia Hunter;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend these six outstanding cadets on their achievements and wish them luck in all their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 3374

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

[Page 8795]

Whereas Indiana Jones, a year-old purebred Weimaraner, saved his owners Larry and Chris Stevens and their two children from dying in their burning home in Hubbards last July, waking the Stevens family in the middle of the night and leading them to safety just before their home went up in flames; and

Whereas the canine's heroic actions qualified him as one of four pet heroes inducted this year into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Monday in Toronto; and

Whereas the Purina Animal Hall of Fame award, which includes a medal, a plaque, a framed painting and all the dog chow the recipient can eat, was begun by Nestle Purina in 1968 and has been awarded to 112 animals to date, including 93 dogs, 18 cats and one horse;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the canine hero, Indiana Jones, for his notable display of valour and bravery which qualified him as one of four 2002 inductees into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 3375

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas June Ferguson will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of June Ferguson to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3376

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

[Page 8796]

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Elvin Gaetz will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for his 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Elvin Gaetz to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3377

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Sylvia Glennie will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Sylvia Glennie to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3378

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

[Page 8797]

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Alice Grandy will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Alice Grandy to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3379

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Jean Hemming will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Jean Hemming to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3380

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

[Page 8798]

Whereas Pat Moore will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Pat Moore to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3381

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Shirley O'Sullivan will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Shirley O'Sullivan to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3382

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Bill Rennie will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for his 100 hours of volunteer service;

[Page 8799]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Bill Rennie to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3383

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Deborah Warner will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 100 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Deborah Warner to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3384

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Carol Ann MacDonald will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 300 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Carol Ann MacDonald to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

[Page 8800]

RESOLUTION NO. 3385

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Mary Ryder will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 300 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Mary Ryder to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3386

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Wilfred Warner will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for his 300 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Wilfred Warner to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

[Page 8801]

RESOLUTION NO. 3387

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Jean Wilson will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 300 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Jean Wilson to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3388

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Marie Brown will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 500 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Marie Brown to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

[Page 8802]

RESOLUTION NO. 3389

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Rita Erskine will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 500 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Rita Erskine to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3390

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Marg Langille will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 500 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Marg Langille to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

[Page 8803]

RESOLUTION NO. 3391

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Sharon Campbell will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 1,000 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Sharon Campbell to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3392

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Jean Crook will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 1,000 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Jean Crook to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

[Page 8804]

RESOLUTION NO. 3393

By: Mr. Timothy Olive (Dartmouth South)

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace will be holding its Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on April 24, 2002; and

Whereas during Volunteer Week 2002, Canadians celebrate all volunteers and their significant contributions to their communities under the theme Experience Matters; and

Whereas Vivia Stewart will be recognized by Oakwood Terrace for her 1,000 hours of volunteer service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the selfless service of Vivia Stewart to the people of Oakwood Terrace without which our province would be a poorer place in which to live.

RESOLUTION NO. 3394

By: Mr. Howard Epstein (Halifax Chebucto)

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

Whereas the Minister of Education has told the parents of 320 École Beaufort students that she cannot act on their behalf because the school is in her constituency; and

Whereas yesterday the Halifax Regional School Board said it is closing École Beaufort because of directives from the Minister of Education; and

Whereas Gorsebrook School students were told yesterday that there will no longer be enough classrooms for all junior high subjects because the board is closing a full school in peninsula south which already had a classroom deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education should take responsibility for her own directives on the rational use of classroom space, her own regulations establishing criteria for school closures and her own requirements that boards provide quality public school programs.

[Page 8805]

RESOLUTION NO. 3395

By: Mr. Barry Barnet (Sackville-Beaver Bank)

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

Whereas the Sackville AAA Flyers have great team spirit both on and off the ice; and

Whereas the AAA players raise money throughout the year to help fund their hockey season and this year, as the season's end approached, there was some money to spare; and

Whereas by giving up on new sweaters and a big end-of-the-year party, the players saved $1,000 and chose, instead, to give it to the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre capital campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Sackville AAA Flyers for this act of generosity and for carrying their hard work and team spirit into their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 3396

By: Mr. Barry Barnet (Sackville-Beaver Bank)

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

Whereas the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre capital campaign has received an unexpected but very welcome commitment from local high school students; and

Whereas students from Lockview, Millwood, Charles P. Allen and Sackville High Schools, with the guidance of Sackville High School teacher Ken Strugnell, have drawn up a five-year fundraising plan to benefit the Multi-Service Centre; and

Whereas these students are confident that through teamwork and co-operation they can meet their $80,000 goal to contribute toward a new building for the Cobequid Centre and thereby make a real difference in their community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize teacher Ken Strugnell for helping students establish big goals and building their confidence to reach them, and wish these students every success in their support of the Cobequid Centre's capital campaign.

[Page 8806]

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on April 23, 2002

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 3

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

To: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Minister of Finance)

(1) The minister is on the public record as saying that there have been mistakes in previous budgets. Please enumerate all known errors in the 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 budget documents.

QUESTION NO. 4

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

To: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Minister of Finance)

(1) What revenues for royalties from offshore oil and gas were incorporated in the revenue estimates found on Page B22 of the 2002-03 Budget Address?

QUESTION NO. 5

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

To: Hon. Gordon Balser (Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate)

(1) What is the Petroleum Directorate's projections for revenue from royalties for offshore oil and gas for the next 20 years?

QUESTION NO. 6

By: Mr. Graham Steele (Halifax Fairview)

To: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Minister assigned the supervision of the administration of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation)

(1) Will the minister table the directive sent to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, in advance of the 2002-03 budget, directing the NSLC to achieve a specific net revenue target for 2002-03?