The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., June 5, 1998

First Session

FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 456, Health - ALS Soc. (N.S.): Efforts - Appreciate, Hon. J. Smith 885
Vote - Affirmative 886
Res. 457, Sheldon Kennedy (Former NHL Player) - Skate
(Across Canada): Courage - Commend, The Premier 886
Vote - Affirmative 887
Res. 458, Sheldon Kennedy (Former NHL Player) - Skate
(Across Canada): Abuse Elimination Initiative - Commend,
Hon. R. Harrison 887
Vote - Affirmative 888
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 459, Health - ALS Soc. (N.S.): Volunteers - Acknowledge,
Mr. R. Chisholm 888
Vote - Affirmative 889
Res. 460, Nat. Gas - Distribution: Access (N.S.[W]) - Commit,
Mr. J. Leefe 889
Res. 461, Health - Budget (1998-99): Promise Broken - Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 890
Res. 462, Sysco - Funding Addt'l.: Promises - Broken, Mr. N. LeBlanc 890
Res. 463, Health - Budget (1998-99): Promises Broken - Explain,
Mr. J. Holm 891
Res. 464, Econ. Dev. - Shipbuilding: Industry - Address, Dr. J. Hamm 892
Res. 465, Educ. - P3: Methodology - Abandon, Ms. E. O'Connell 892
Res. 466, Health - Musquodoboit Valley Mem. Hosp.: Ambulance -
Place, Mr. B. Taylor 893
Res. 467, Econ. Dev. - C.B.: Job Creation - Action, Ms. Helen MacDonald 893
Res. 468, Justice - Crime: Victims - Rights, Dr. J. Hamm 894
Res. 469, Women, Status of - Women's Centres: Funding Inadequate -
Condemn, Ms. Y. Atwell 894
Res. 470, Environ. - Meadowview (Kings Co.): Landfill - Visit (Premier),
Mr. G. Archibald 895
Res. 471, Health - Yarmouth: Funding Inadequate - Regret,
Mr. John Deveau 896
Res. 472, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Rural Econ. Dev. Plan: Comm. -
Establish, Mr. G. Balser 896
Res. 473, Veterans - D-Day (06/06/44): Heroism - Thanks Offer,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 897
Vote - Affirmative 897
Res. 474, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Harvey Webber Award (C of C [Atl.]):
Ed MacDonald (Glenholme) - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 897
Vote - Affirmative 898
Res. 475, Health - Extended Care Beds: Addt'l. (1998) -
Absence Condemn, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 898
Res. 476, Culture - West Pubnico: Historical Acadian Village -
Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 899
Vote - Affirmative 900
Res. 477, Fin. - Accounts (N.S.): Audit - Aud. Gen. Use Urge,
Mr. H. Epstein 900
Res. 478, Fin. - Budget (1998-99): Balanced - Reason Acknowledge,
Mr. E. Fage 900
Res. 479, Reform/Bloc Québécois Parties - Meetings (Al. & Que.):
Alliance Cynical - Condemn, Mr. D. Dexter 901
Res. 480, Educ. - East Pictou School (G8): Multimedia Award -
Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 902
Vote - Affirmative 902
Res. 481, Fin. - HST: Promises Fulfilment - Seniors Efforts Congrats.,
Mr. J. Pye 903
Res. 482, Educ.: Anna. Valley Honour Choir - Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 903
Vote - Affirmative 904
Res. 483, Agric. - Farms Taxation: Policy Change - Min. Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 904
Res. 484, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Road Construction: List (1998) -
Table, Mr. J. Leefe 905
Res. 485, Fin. - HST: Relief - Review Urge, Ms. R. Godin 905
Res. 486, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pictou East: Roads Rural -
Min. Travel, Mr. J. DeWolfe 906
Res. 487, Sheldon Kennedy (Former NHL Player):
Child Abuse Prevention - Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 906
Vote - Affirmative 907
Res. 488, Educ. - Students: Tuition Fees Freeze - Inaction Condemn,
Mr. P. Delefes 907
Res. 489, Capt. Morris Nowe Dec'd. (Lun. Co.):
Community Contribution - Recognize, Mr. M. Baker 908
Vote - Affirmative 908
Res. 490, Fin. - Budget (1998/99): Coal Industry (C.B.) Excluded -
Explain, Mr. F. Corbett 908
Res. 491, EMO - Eastern Shore Civic Sense Program: Initiative -
Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 909
Vote - Affirmative 910
Res. 492, Educ. - Trade School (Priv.): Concern - Demonstrate,
Ms. E. O'Connell 910
Res. 493, RCL - Army Cadet Corps Prog. (Cumb. Co.): Commitment -
Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 910
Vote - Affirmative 911
Res. 494, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Commun. Econ. Dev.:
Budget (1998-99) Cuts - Condemn, Mr. J. MacDonell 911
Res. 495, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads Rural: Maintenance Cut -
Apologize, Mr. W. Estabrooks 912
Res. 496, Health: Medical Research Foundation (17/03/98) - Status,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 912
Res. 497, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Jobs/Commun. (Rural):
Neglect - Condemn, Mr. D. Dexter 913
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. R Matheson 914
Hon. F. Cosman 924
Mr. W. Estabrooks 940
Adjourned debate 945
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., June 8th at 7:00 p.m. 946

[Page 885]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 456

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

885

[Page 886]

Whereas the month of June is ALS or what is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease Awareness Month; and

Whereas throughout this month volunteers from across Nova Scotia will be stationed at public places and canvassing door to door to raise funds to support research for ALS; and

Whereas the ALS Society of Nova Scotia is a non-profit charitable organization committed to improving the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with ALS and to raising funds for research;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend their appreciation to the Nova Scotia ALS Society for their efforts on behalf of individuals stricken with this debilitating disease.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 457

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas National Hockey League veteran Sheldon Kennedy is currently engaged in an 8,000 kilometre, 136 day long in-line skate marathon across Canada to raise awareness and understanding of the issue of child abuse; and

Whereas funds raised by this marathon effort will in part build and endow a summer ranch for the treatment of children who have survived abuse; and

Whereas there are many organizations active within our communities, which share Mr. Kennedy's vision and which will benefit greatly from the profile and dialogue on child abuse raised by Mr. Kennedy's actions;

[Page 887]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend Mr. Sheldon Kennedy for his courage and candour and express to him, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, our appreciation for the benefits we all gained from his efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 458

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

Whereas National Hockey League veteran, Sheldon Kennedy, is skating across Canada to raise awareness and understanding of the issue of child abuse; and

Whereas in response to his courageous personal campaign of awareness, other groups in our society have actively engaged in a dialogue on the impact of child abuse and effective strategies for its elimination; and

Whereas as a direct result of Mr. Kennedy's action, the Sport and Recreation Commission, Sport Nova Scotia, the School Athletic Federation and the Council for the Family are developing guidelines and processes aimed at protecting children and youth in sport and in recreation in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Province of Nova Scotia would like to thank Mr. Kennedy for his courage in speaking out on the issue of abuse and harassment, and acknowledge the many ways in which his initiative has promoted positive action to eliminate abuse.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 888]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members of the House, I would like to make an introduction. In the west gallery, we have 28 Grade 6 students from St. Mary's Elementary School in Aylesford, Kings County. They are visiting the city today and part of that visit is to visit the Legislature. With the students are chaperones and teachers: Mrs. Marlene Connell, Mrs. Cindy Easson, Mrs. Cathy Best, Mrs. Cheryl Hiltz, Mr. Murray Brooks, Mr. Jack Metcalfe, and Mrs. Lisa Morton. I would ask them all to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to introduce some special guests this morning. As I mentioned in my earlier resolution in celebration of ALS Awareness Month, the month of June, in your gallery this morning, and I would ask them to stand as I call their names, the President of the ALS Society of Nova Scotia, Mr. Brian Smith; the Vice-President, Mr. Anthony Brunt; Jennifer Moran of Patient Services; and volunteer, Rebecca Brunt. I would ask them while standing to receive the warm welcome of the House in celebration of ALS Awareness. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 459

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

[Page 889]

Whereas volunteers from the ALS Society of Nova Scotia are at Province House today and will be stationed across the province and the country this month selling silk cornflowers and canvassing to raise funds; and

Whereas fund-raising for research and support of individuals with ALS is a significant contribution to the search for a cure and the means of improving the quality of life of these individuals; and

Whereas this month's contribution by the ALS Society volunteers further demonstrates the growing role of volunteers and volunteer caregivers in maintaining our health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the dedication and invaluable work of the ALS Society of Nova Scotia, in particular the work of ALS volunteers during this month, National ALS Awareness Campaign.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 460

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

Whereas Sable gas is a Nova Scotia resource belonging to all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas access to natural gas by all parts of Nova Scotia is essential if we are to avoid two classes of Nova Scotians, those who have and those who have not this cheaper, cleaner energy resource; and

Whereas without access to natural gas as an industrial and domestic energy source, the economic opportunity in western Nova Scotia will be depressed;

[Page 890]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government commit to supporting natural gas distribution applications which will assure access to natural gas by communities throughout western Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 461

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

Whereas on March 4th the Premier promised as his entire one-plank election platform to "provide a further $80 million annually to the health care budget"; and

Whereas exactly three months later the budget presented by this Premier's government shows provision of only $37 million annually to the health care budget; and

Whereas the budget represents yet another broken promise by a crowd of Liberals who have made the broken promise their specialty;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn the Premier for the cavalier way in which he has broken his election promise to increase the health care budget by $80 million annually.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 462

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

[Page 891]

Whereas this Liberal Government repeatedly stated that it would not be putting any more tax dollars into Sydney Steel; and

Whereas the minister responsible for Sysco is quoted in this morning's newspaper saying nobody, ". . . should be surprised . . .", that the budget includes an additional $5 million for Sysco; and

Whereas yesterday's budget provided virtually no relief for seniors on fixed incomes, go to the capital budget for rural roads, and failed to address numerous other areas of concern;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for Sysco recognize that the only thing that does not surprise Nova Scotians is that this government broke yet another promise by putting millions more into Sysco.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 463

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

Whereas during the election campaign the Premier promised to add $80 million annually to the health care budget as part of the Liberal plan but broke his promise; and

Whereas the Budget Speech has already announced postponement of the 170 long-term care beds promised by the Premier as part of the Liberal plan announced during the election campaign; and

Whereas the Budget Speech made no mention of many promises in the Liberal plan, including new MRI units, Dexa units, mobile mammograms, a CT scan, and a 25 per cent increase in dialysis machines;

Therefore be it resolved that the House calls upon the Premier to explain to Nova Scotians how many other elements of the Liberal plan will be sacrificed because of the Premier's broken promises.

[10:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 892]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 464

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

Whereas the Marine Workers Federation has 5,000 members in Atlantic Canada with 1,800 members being Nova Scotians; and

Whereas only 350 to 400 members are currently working in shipyards in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the federation has presented a plan outlining the requirements for a vibrant, economically sound shipbuilding industry which was eagerly accepted by the Liberals when in Opposition, but now when in government is being deliberately ignored;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, together with his federal cousins address the recommendations of this industry so Nova Scotians and Canadians may once again take their place as first-class shipbuilders in the world.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 465

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

Whereas the Liberals have been trying for three years now to get the kinks out of their unworkable and unwise P3 approach to school construction; and

Whereas the Budget Speech is just the latest admission by the Liberals that they can't get schools built the P3 way; and

Whereas the Budget Speech finally acknowledges that there are ways other than P3 to build urgently needed schools, without adding to the province's net direct debt;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to abandon approaches that don't work, and get on with the construction of needed schools using other means.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 893]

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 466

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

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Government's Central Regional Health Board invited and encouraged the Eastern Shore, Musquodoboit Valley Community Health Board to involve itself in an extensive and challenging process of dialogue and discussion with the community so as to establish a health plan; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore, Musquodoboit Valley Community has the largest community health board in the area, and equals three-quarters the size of Prince Edward Island, yet the board's recommendation that an ambulance be stationed at the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital has been ignored for over a year now by the Savage-MacLellan Government; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government confers on the Minister of Health the overall responsibility for the province's health care system, including ambulance services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately exercise his responsibility by ensuring that an ambulance be placed at the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital as per the community health board plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 467

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

Whereas last year's Liberal budget promised to focus on lasting jobs for areas of high unemployment like Cape Breton; and

Whereas the success of that focus can be judged by insightful statements, like the one in this year's budget, that says "the needs of businesses in Glace Bay are quite different from the needs of businesses in Burnside"; and

[Page 894]

Whereas this year's budget proposes to build on such statements of the obvious, with the appointment of a business-dominated Economic Advisory Council to duplicate the work of Voluntary Planning;

Therefore be it resolved that on behalf of the people in areas of high unemployment like Cape Breton, this House inform the Liberal Government that we need action to solve economic problems, not another public relations exercise like the one that Nova Scotians rejected when they saw it emerge in the 30-60-90 fiasco.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 468

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

Whereas a recent meeting in Stellarton dealt with issues concerning the prevention of crime through such avenues as attacking poverty, improving education and putting more resources into justice programs; and

Whereas some suggestions made by panellists include speeding up the court process to allow victims to get on with their lives, making perpetrators understand how they have hurt their victims and making the sentence fit the crime; and

Whereas the people of Stellarton and across the province want victims to have more rights, to live in a safer society, and not have to worry that the offenders will be able to walk away from their crimes through legal loopholes and court delays;

Therefore be it resolved that this government listen to the pleas of Nova Scotians to give victims justice and to make the sentence of criminals fit the crimes they commit.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 469

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

[Page 895]

Whereas women's centres across Nova Scotia provide essential services and are often a lifeline for women in crisis; and

Whereas women's centres continue to be underfunded and understaffed; and

Whereas the lack of government support will necessarily result in a marked decrease in the level and quality of programming women's centres are able to provide;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be condemned for their refusal to provide adequate funding to women's centres and for their lack of support for the women of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 470

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

Whereas this House of Assembly yesterday passed a unanimous resolution calling for the Premier to immediately address the concerns about the Meadowview landfill site in Kings County; and

Whereas myself, the Meadowview Property Owners Association, and the association's lawyer have all written letters to the Premier requesting compensation for the property owners; and

Whereas the Meadowview landfill site is in the news today because of a special permit issued by the Department of the Environment, stating the dump does not have to comply with the requirements of the new Environment Act, which has resulted in a large pile of discarded tires posing a serious fire hazard as well as high levels of methane gas;

Therefore be it resolved the Premier begin paying close attention to his mail and, further, that the Premier accompany me to meet with the residents of Meadowview to learn, first-hand, the plight of the Meadowview Property Owners Association.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on the motion.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 896]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 471

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

Whereas more than 6,000 Yarmouth residents have no family doctor and little help from this government to address the severe strain this creates for individuals and the health care system; and

Whereas many Nova Scotians were reluctant to vote for the Premier's promise of 100 more doctors and $80 million more for health care this year, based on his record of keeping promises; and

Whereas yesterday's budget provided only $37 million more spending this year for health care, and almost $31 million of that is for negotiated wage increases;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regret the gap between Liberal promises of $80 million more for health care and the Liberal reality of no more than $6 million of new money for adequate health care services in communities like Yarmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 472

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

Whereas the revitalization of rural Nova Scotia is dependent on a combination of government intervention and the private sector to bring about the social and economic transformation needed for rural areas; and

Whereas one method of turning the rural economy around would be to allow economic development agencies that are autonomous, entrepreneurial and willing to take risks; and

[Page 897]

Whereas the implementation of a rural economic development strategy will require a long-range plan;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism act immediately to establish a working committee to develop a long-range rural economic development plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 473

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

Whereas "We will remember," as we pledge each November 11th, the contribution that our veterans have made in our country's history; and

Whereas these veterans displayed untold valour on so many occasions; and

Whereas it will be 54 short years ago tomorrow, on June 6, 1944, that Canadian troops, along with our Allies, stormed to shore on the beaches of Normandy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their thanks to all these veterans and legion members, as we remember their heroism on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on this motion.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

[Page 898]

RESOLUTION NO. 474

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

Whereas Ed MacDonald, owner of Maritime Auto Recyclers in Glenholme, was recently presented the Harvey Webber Award by the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce for his work with chamber groups throughout Eastern Canada; and

Whereas Mr. MacDonald has served on the Central Nova Industry Education Council, where he initiated career selection programs for young people; and

Whereas the current President of the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce, Diane Fitzgerald, says that the past-president's, ". . . drive, determination, organizational skills and leadership has been a great benefit to our town, our community and our province";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend congratulations to Ed MacDonald on receiving the Harvey Webber Award and thank him for his years of dedicated and tireless service with the communities and the local chambers of commerce.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 475

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 Premier promised during the election campaign his government would add $80 million annually to the health care budget but broke that promise in the budget; and

[Page 899]

Whereas that big broken promise means that there will only be $37 million instead of $80 million to pay for the Liberal health plan, which included 170 new long-term care beds; and

Whereas because of the Premier's big broken promise, the 170 additional long-term care beds have been postponed until 1999, thus creating a second smaller broken promise;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn the Premier and his government for breaking their promise to provide 170 new extended care beds this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 476

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

Whereas the construction of an historical Acadian village gets underway this week in West Pubnico; and

Whereas the project includes moving and renovating buildings to portray an Acadian setting of the 18th Century as well as the construction of a wharf, outdoor theatre, and an information centre, which will contain a craft area for Acadian artisans; and

Whereas the President of the Historical Acadian Village in Nova Scotia, Réal Boudreau, and the many members of his group are pleased to see their months of planning finally be put into action;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend warmest wishes and congratulations to the people of West Pubnico on the start of the construction of the historical Acadian village.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 900]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebutco.

RESOLUTION NO. 477

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

Whereas in the past two years, the Auditor General's Annual Report has indicated that he would be reluctant to give an unqualified opinion on the government's financial statements; and

Whereas in the Throne Speech, the government rejected the Progressive Conservative and the NDP position that our Auditor General, like all others in Canada, should be the only auditor of the books of the province; and

Whereas the government may soon face the decision on whether to submit its bookkeeping to the authority of an independent officer of this House;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Minister of Finance and his colleagues to think long and hard about whether they will continue to block legislative authority for the Auditor General to audit the books of this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 478

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

Whereas in yesterday's budget, the Minister of Finance sailed on about how economic growth is superior in Nova Scotia under a Liberal Government; and

Whereas the economic growth in Nova Scotia during the last year is below the average growth in Canada; and

Whereas as a result of the Liberal Government's dismal economic record results in an extra $45 million in equalization transfers to Nova Scotia because of this inferior economic growth;

[Page 901]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance acknowledge that his so-called balanced budget was achieved not as a result of this government's superior economic record, but rather its poor economic record.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole-Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 479

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

Whereas the Reform Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois are holding joint meetings in Quebec and Alberta to complain about Canada; and

Whereas the purpose of this meeting is to undermine the stability of the country while advancing their narrow political objectives; and

[10:30 a.m.]

Whereas the members of this House support and defend the federation of provinces which makes Canada one of the most prosperous countries in the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn both the Reform Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois for their self-serving and cynical alliance to achieve political gain at the expense of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 902]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism on an introduction.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the members in the House the presence in the gallery today of Mr. Leroy Peach, a distinguished citizen of Cape Breton and a member of the Cape Breton District School Board, as well as a distinguished poet in Cape Breton. I would like the members of the House to acknowledge the presence of Leroy Peach in the audience today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 480

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

Whereas a group of Grade 8 students and their teacher in East Pictou won first place at a recently held heritage fair in Truro; and

Whereas the East Pictou students along with their teacher, Denise Duguay Wilson, won the award for their multi-media computer presentation on women in Canadian history; and

Whereas one student will be selected to represent the group in the national competition in July in Manitoba;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of the House of Assembly extend congratulations to the students and the teacher receiving the first prize and wish them the best of luck in the national competition this summer.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

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 903]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 481

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

Whereas seniors, most of whom live on fixed incomes, have pressed this government and all Parties in the House for fulfilment of the Premier's promises to provide BST relief on home heating, children's clothing and other family necessities; and

Whereas Nova Scotia seniors resent every dollar they pay in additional taxes on heating oil, wood, propane and other home heating items because of the unfair Liberal BST deal; and

Whereas the Liberal Party should remember how few seniors were willing to come out and vote for a candidate of the government who would not keep this straightforward promise;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates seniors for their honest and forthright effort to get the Liberal Government to keep the Premier's BST promise and urge them to press even harder for a promise kept to become one of this year's budget priorities.

I request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 482

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

Whereas Dr. Peter Jackson of Port Williams, head of the Honour Choir Parents Association, has suggested the expansion of the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir; and

Whereas the honour choir began in 1988 to promote choir singing at the junior and senior high school level; and

[Page 904]

Whereas there are currently 76 members in the choir and this year 40 students auditioned for 12 positions which illustrates the need for expansion;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the honour choir, the parents association and wish all concerned a successful and fulfilling year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 483

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

Whereas many in the farm community were amazed and angered when this Liberal Government opened farms up for taxation, and taxation at commercial rates; and

Whereas the present Minister of Agriculture was outspoken in his criticism of this measure which brought in relatively little revenue while increasing the cost price squeeze on farmers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Minister of Agriculture for winning one small but worthwhile victory for the voters.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 905]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 484

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

Whereas good roads are essential to move Nova Scotia products to market and serve the needs of travelling Nova Scotians and encourage tourism; and

Whereas good roads are essential to public safety; and

Whereas the provision of good roads requires fairness in the distribution of road construction;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government immediately table the master list of capital road construction intended to be tendered in the 1998 construction season.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 485

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

Whereas most Nova Scotia tenants cannot afford to buy their own homes, and the poorest of them live in rooming houses or apartments where heating costs are included in the rent; and

[Page 906]

Whereas these tenants, like other Nova Scotians living at or below the poverty level, may have held some hope that the Premier would finally keep his promise of BST relief for poor families; and

Whereas until yesterday, neither the Premier nor any other Liberal suggested that BST relief would be one-time only despite the permanent BST headache;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to go back to the drawing board and finally deliver its promised BST relief in a manner that fairly reaches each and every Nova Scotian living at poverty levels and in poverty conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 486

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

Whereas secondary roads are the lifeblood of Nova Scotia's rural economy and the condition and maintenance of these roads is of critical importance; and

Whereas this present Liberal Government has lost sight of rural Nova Scotia and what it means to travel on roads that are at the very least safe; and

Whereas estimates presented to this House of Assembly yesterday show a combined reduction of $28.3 million in both capital and regular expenditures for taking care of Nova Scotia's roads and highways;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation spend some time travelling throughout rural Nova Scotia, including the great constituency of Pictou East, to see the state of deplorable road conditions which actually exist.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 487

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

[Page 907]

Whereas Sheldon Kennedy is visiting Halifax today as part of a courageous cross-Canada skate to raise awareness of the issue of child abuse; and

Whereas the Department of Community Services works to ensure the safety and well-being of children through prevention, protection and community outreach; and

Whereas the government relies on the commitment of individuals in every community of this province to provide safe and nurturing environments for children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Kennedy for his efforts to prevent child abuse, and remind all Nova Scotians of their duty and obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect to a child welfare agency.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 488

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

Whereas during the recent election campaign the Premier promised a freeze on tuition fees for post-secondary students; and

Whereas the budget presented to this House yesterday made no mention of the Premier's promised tuition fee freeze and restored only a fraction of the $40 million the Liberals have cut from university funding; and

Whereas the budget will make it difficult for universities to freeze tuition fees on their own;

[Page 908]

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with Nova Scotia students, who face crippling student debt and the highest tuition fees in Canada, to condemn the Premier for breaking his campaign promise to freeze tuition fees.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 489

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

Whereas Captain Morris Nowe of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, recently passed away; and

Whereas Morris Nowe had a long career as a first-class master mariner; and

Whereas Morris Nowe was one of the central figures in the construction of the new site of the Lunenburg Rod and Gun Club range and clubhouse on the Fish Peddlers Road in Indian Path, Lunenburg County, and the ongoing operation of the club;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly extend its sympathies to the family of the late Captain Morris Nowe and recognize his contribution to his community.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

[Page 909]

Whereas the Premier has gone to great lengths to tell everybody in industrial Cape Breton that he is one of Devco's biggest boosters and that he leaves no stone unturned in his efforts to get a three mine operation; and

Whereas the budget is the Liberal Government's major economic statement; and

Whereas the word coal does not appear once in yesterday's budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and Minister of Finance should explain to coal miners, other Devco employees and the thousands of families who depend on the coal industry why this Liberal Government does not think the coal industry is important enough to mention.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas official 911 civic address signs can make the world of difference between a successful emergency response or a tragedy; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Community Health Board, local volunteer firefighters, the RCMP, emergency response workers, and the local Lions Club recently spearheaded an innovative life-saving program designed to ensure area homes are properly identified with civic addresses; and

Whereas the blue and white signs, which are essentially spotted by emergency vehicles, are or soon will be posted at 80 per cent of the homes in the communities of Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley with the money made from the sale of these signs going to provide for signage for those who are financially unable to purchase one;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and thank the participants in the Eastern Shore Civic Sense Program for their life-saving initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

[Page 910]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 492

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

Whereas yesterday in this House the Minister of Education became infuriated when informed that a private trade school has caused serious disruptions in the lives of some young Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the minister's fury arose not because of the hardship and disappointment caused these young people, but rather because he worried about the reputation of the school; and

Whereas it is the responsibility of government to regulate private trade schools for the benefit of the students who attend them;

Therefore be it resolved that this minister begin to demonstrate as much concern for the students of this school as he has for the reputation of the institution.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 493

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

Whereas the local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion continue to sponsor the Army Cadet Corps Program in their respective communities in Cumberland County; and

Whereas these Cadet Corps groups recently held their annual reviews and several cadets were recognized for their achievements; and

[Page 911]

Whereas the values instilled upon these young Nova Scotians as a result of their training will be carried throughout their adult lives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these branches of the Royal Canadian Legion for their commitment to the future leaders of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 494

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

Whereas the best way to create jobs in rural and coastal communities is to support local economic development rather than handouts to big corporations; and

Whereas this Liberal Government continues to provide corporate handouts while reducing the budget for community economic development programs; and

Whereas the budget presented to the House yesterday cuts spending;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal budget for slashing community economic development spending thereby continuing its abandonment of job creation for rural and coastal communities.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 912]

RESOLUTION NO. 495

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

Whereas it was not so long ago that Liberal MLAs in this House crowed with delight whenever the budget for road maintenance was cut by the then Conservative Government because they knew good roads are vital for strong rural communities; and

Whereas Liberal MLAs in this House now claim only that their constituencies also suffer from poorly maintained roads; and

Whereas the 19 remaining Liberal MLAs were elected on the basis of their government's promises to increase spending on roads last year and this year again;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal MLAs apologize to every voter who put their faith in the Liberal promise of two consecutive increases in the budget necessary to end Nova Scotia's days as at a pothole paradise.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

[10:45 a.m.]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 496

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

Whereas on March 17, 1998, the Premier and Health Minister issued a government news release announcing $5 million for a new medical research foundation, which the Liberals had promised five years earlier; and

Whereas the Throne Speech failed to mention research of any kind, yesterday's budget somehow failed to mention this foundation, and no other announcements have been made; and

Whereas the budget, instead, praised the results of the medical school's essential search for corporate funding to try and keep quality researchers here, but ignored the well-known ethical issues raised by major corporate sponsorship of medical research;

[Page 913]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Health Minister to put to rest any question as to whether the March 17th announcement of a new medical research foundation was actually just another Liberal promise made to be broken.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 497

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

Whereas each Liberal Throne Speech and budget duly notes the severe economic disparity between the metro area and the rest of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas every major economic consultation and plan since 1990 has pinpointed community-based economic development as the key to rural economic development and jobs; and

Whereas yesterday's budget cut almost $1.2 million from the community economic development, a reduction of more than 20 per cent, bringing the total down to $4.3 million, less than 10 per cent of the money handed out to Michelin in the last year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the neglect of rural jobs and rural communities by this Liberal Government, which is so evident in the continued cuts to community-based economic development.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 914]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today, we will continue with the Address in Reply and the debate was adjourned, I believe, by the honourable member for Cape Breton East.

MR. SPEAKER: The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage completed his remarks, and the next speaker is Cape Breton East.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Cape Breton East, I believe that's what I said.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I'm sorry, my apologies.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Let me say that first, what an honour it is to have the privilege to stand here in this Chamber as the representative of the people of the Town of Glace Bay, and I want to say, despite the difficulties of the last several weeks, that there is nothing that I would rather be doing at this time than to be standing here and to be granted the privilege of addressing the honourable members of this Legislature on behalf of the people of the Town of Glace Bay.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on being the first elected Speaker of this Assembly, and you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on being the first elected Deputy Speaker of this Assembly. In an institution such as this one, with such a great tradition of the democratic process, I would think it was about time that democracy prevailed and that all the members of this House were afforded the opportunity to sit together and elect the person or persons they felt best qualified to direct the affairs of this House.

I want to acknowledge my wife, Valerie, who is in the gallery. I met Valerie when we were 15 years old. She was my first date and has been my only real date since that time. I want to thank her for her tremendous strength over the years in support of me and particularly, I want to thank her for her strength over the past several weeks, in the manner in which she has stood by me and supported me through what are particularly difficult, personal times. (Applause)

I want to thank the people of the community of Glace Bay for having had the confidence in me in March to elect me as their representative to the House of Assembly here and to have afforded me the opportunity of being able to speak on their behalf, today in this Assembly. It is a privilege that they have granted me, an honour that they have bestowed on me that I will not soon forget. Despite the fact that because of my personal circumstances my stay may be shorter than I would have anticipated or liked it to be, I want to assure them that so long as I sit in this House that I will remember my first duty is to them and that I will represent them to the best of my ability, always with their best interests at heart, always recognizing the tremendous responsibility that they have placed on my shoulders to carry the

[Page 915]

message that they wanted delivered to this House by me, by granting to me the vote of confidence they did in March. It is my intention to deliver that message.

Glace Bay is a proud mining community. There are no mines there now but I can assure you that growing up and coming home from school I can remember bare-faced miners, their faces blackened, coming from No. 26 Colliery and from No. 20 Colliery and walking down the roads of New Aberdeen to their houses, with their children coming from school. I can remember a time when despite tough, economic conditions, there was a spirit of pride, a spirit of hope and a real promise of a future for my community. Those men, those miners, were the symbol of that hope and the hopes and aspirations of all of the people in the community in which I lived.

Things have never been easy in Glace Bay, at least not in my experience. We have and the community has always existed and functioned under the spectre of systemic unemployment that seemed to defy every reasonable attempt to come up with some solution to make it go away. We have had unemployment rates of 25 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent and indeed, Mr. Speaker, if you can believe it, at times quoted to be as high as 50 per cent in a community of approximately 20,000 people.

As a result, we have had to watch year after year, month after month, every day, our young people leave because there is no work, to go away because there is no reasonable prospect for them to raise a family and to live out their lives in the town with some degree of economic certainty and some degree of reasonable expectation for the families that I am sure they all wished and wanted to raise in Glace Bay.

However, Mr. Speaker, despite how difficult it was in that community there was an indomitable spirit, that anybody who lived or came from there could quickly recognize, that preserved it, that allowed its people to maintain a precarious balance. It was said that we did not have to worry about economic good times or recession because we never really saw the good times, and things were always generally tough enough in the town that when they got bad we were thick-skinned and tough enough to survive and work through them.

Mr. Speaker, that particular scenario presented itself and existed in the town up until approximately the year 1990 and then, I want to suggest to you, things began to happen that upset that critical balance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West on an introduction.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member for Cape Breton East. I would like to make an introduction of a group of students in the west gallery who are visiting with us today. It is the other part of the Grade 6 class from St. Mary's Elementary School. We had one group earlier this morning. The school is in Aylesford, Kings County.

[Page 916]

With them is their teacher, Mr. Bill Dickson, and chaperons Marilyn Foster, Margaret Phinney, Laurena Vandeudekom, Mary Ella Cleveland and Judith Ogilvie.

I told one of the parents I wouldn't say this, but I am going to. I taught one of the parents, Marilyn, in Grade 4, so it tells you how long I have been in this Legislature. Thanks Marilyn. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, there was no greater example of the spirit of community, there was no finer example of the town's and its people's ability to persevere in hard times than was demonstrated by the town in the turn into the 1990's when they hosted the first-ever Canadian Little League Championship series in Glace Bay. I remember that particular time so well and I use it as an example of that character.

[11:00 a.m.]

It was just shortly after a tragic fire at No. 26 Colliery wiped out the only remaining mine or industry related to mining within the town. As you know, No. 26, as a result of that fire, was closed and there was considerable loss of work and for the first time since its inception coal mining was not done or carried out in the Town of Glace Bay. In addition to that, at that time, a fire had devastated the Highlands Fisheries plant and wharf in Glace Bay throwing an additional 200 to 300 fish plant workers out of jobs and further darkening the cloud of uncertainty that existed over the community.

Nonetheless, in 1989 or 1990 or thereabouts, the town hosted that little league championship. It was interesting to watch the manner in which the community pulled together despite all that adversity, despite all that uncertainty, to watch volunteer after volunteer plant the thousands and thousands of flowers and the sign that was embedded at the side of the Renwick Brook with the words, Welcome to Glace Bay; to watch the recreation director in the town work countless hours over and about any call to duty that he was reasonably expected to make to get that field ready; and then to sit and watch as 16,000 people clung to every rock, nook and cranny in the Cameron Bowl amphitheatre as the Glace Bay Colonels won the Canadian Little League Championship. (Applause)

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that despite its adversity, despite the problems that it was facing there was a character, a strength and a will to persevere demonstrated by those children and by those people who came out to watch them that convinced me, without question, that that community would continue to sustain itself, would continue to maintain that precarious balance and that that there was still hope that they would persevere even though they had been through and were still facing extremely tough economic times.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, what has happened since that time? How has the community fared? Has it rebounded? Are things better? Are our children able to stay home? Is there work? Do our elderly people feel that they are safe if they are sick, that they have a health

[Page 917]

care system that they can go to and rely on? Does the young person who wants to raise a family have any greater prospect of finding work? Are the social safety nets that were in place still there to sustain him and his family or to sustain the young mother or young single mother or those who for no reason beyond the fact that there is no work have to rely on government assistance to help them meet the daily demands of their life? Is it better? Have things changed?

Mr. Speaker, I can say with every degree of certainty, no, they have not, they have gotten worse. They are not worse because the resolve of the people of the Town of Glace Bay has weakened or that the dreams and aspirations of parents in the Town of Glace Bay are any different than they were in 1990 when they cheered those little league champions. The fact of the matter is that the Town of Glace Bay since that time has been left to die on the vine.

In 1993, the federal Liberal Government of the day determined in response to the mantra from the boys on Wall Street, that this country had a deficit crisis, and that if this federal government didn't respond in an appropriate manner, the country would come to economic ruin. Remember, this is 1993. With that in mind, the then Finance Minister and the present Finance Minister tendered a budget document in the House of Commons that promised to balance the federal current account by the year 2005, and he cautioned all Canadians to brace themselves for the cuts and the sacrifices that would have to be made. However, this was to be for the betterment of all Canadians and, as a result of it, a day would come when we would prosper and we would be able to take our rightful place again on the economic stage in the world at large.

So, in 1993, we were told that we can balance this budget by the year 2005, and if we all put our shoulder to the wheel, happy days will be here again. I was concerned then about what that would mean for the community of Glace Bay, because it is a very simple and clear economic fact that communities that are stressed, communities that have been suffering under the oak of economic disparity for years and years and years, are the communities and are the people who are most vulnerable to the kind of exercise that the federal government was about to embark on. So I knew that if it was going to be tough in Halifax because of these cuts, or if it was going to be tough in Toronto because of the cuts, or in British Columbia because of these cuts, I knew in my heart, I knew and I felt it in my bones that in Glace Bay it was going to be doubly, triply tough, and it has been.

The government of the day, in its fight to wrestle the deficit to the ground, cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from transfers to the Province of Nova Scotia. Besides that - and I'll get into the effect of that on the Town of Glace Bay - the federal Crown Corporation, Devco, was to be privatized; it was given five years to stand on its own feet. The federal Member of Parliament at the time, the Minister of Health, stood in the amphitheatre at the University College of Cape Breton with 500 laid-off coal miners and defiantly said "No more bags of money, no more help, you're on your own."

[Page 918]

It's not surprising that the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova would reference the fact that the federal government had deserted Cape Breton Island in 1993. In Hansard, in his speech of June 2nd, he is quoted, "Now there is no doubt that the area I come from, right now is having its fair share of problems. I think that most of them are due to the federal level of government, certainly far more so than the provincial level.".

I remind him, when he trumps this book about all the wonderful things that Dave Dingwall did for Glace Bay and for Cape Breton East and for the communities that he represented in his time in the federal House, that he was a minister of that same federal government that visited that type of ruination that you are referring to in your speech of June 2, 1998. Not just Devco but, in addition, reforms to employment insurance in a community where unemployment ranged from lows of 25 per cent to highs of 50 per cent, disenfranchised approximately 50 per cent of the people who ordinarily might have been entitled to collect some sort of assistance through employment insurance and left them to their own devices.

This, while the federal Member of Parliament, the same person who was touted as being the saviour of the industrial area of Cape Breton, sat in the federal House as those changes were made and it can be no accident that the legislation passed and that he supported it. There can be no doubt that he had to have known what the consequence would be to a community such as Glace Bay or to an area such as the industrial area of Cape Breton. Not only that, so efficient was the same federal Liberal Government's management of our other principal resource, the fishery, that it collapsed, throwing hundreds and thousands of fishery workers out of work and sentencing them to years of uncertainty as to what their future would be, untrained to do any other work in an economy that would not accommodate them in any other occupation because there was none there.

What is really tragic about this federal deficit crusade, in terms of what it did to the economy of the industrial area of Cape Breton Island, is that it was not necessary. It was not necessary to carry out the kinds of cuts that were carried out and the manner in which they were cut, to achieve the targets that the Finance Minister said he could achieve in 1993 when he said he could balance the budget by the year 2005. Now either those in his Finance Department were incredibly naive or incompetent when they projected that, we can balance the budget by the year 2005 because we know that, in fact, the budget was balanced just five years after the tabling of that document in 1993.

What was the plan? Was it to cut and fight the deficit and balance the budget by 2005 or was it to tell the people of the country and the people of the industrial area of Cape Breton that we can balance it by the year 2005 knowing full well that the plan was to do it much quicker, to cut much more deeply than was necessary and to disenfranchise and hurt a lot more people than was necessary. If it was sound financial planning in 1993 to balance that budget by the year 2005, I can only assume that the cuts that were made, the manner in which they were made and the debt to which they were made were not necessary and could have been done much more compassionately over a much greater period of time, recognizing and

[Page 919]

taking into account the effect it would have on people in Glace Bay and the industrial area of Cape Breton Island and still have met the targets of that government to balance that budget by the Year 2005. If it was necessary it was cruel.

I would suggest that it was not necessary. Not only was it cruel, it was in total and utter disregard to the responsibility of that government to ensure, in the management of its finances, that it always took into account the general well-being of those areas of the country that were disadvantaged, that were suffering under the yoke of economic disparity to a greater degree than say, Toronto or Ottawa or those areas that those honourable gentlemen spend their time and discuss the problems and solve the issues that confront areas such as the industrial area of Cape Breton.

They savaged our area in those six years and we have shown the scars. Communities such as Glace Bay have shouldered the weight in an unfair and undue proportion in terms of achieving that goal. When you hear, as we have heard in the last week and one-half, that there is a surplus in an employment insurance fund to the tune of $15 billion. That fund has been channelled into the general revenues of that federal government. When they talk about their balanced budget, when you understand that $15 billion is more than the entire assets of the Bank of Montreal, and it is growing in proportion, regardless of what bank merger takes place in this country over the next year, there will not be any bank in this country that will be able to declare assets that would be larger than the surplus in the employment insurance fund of this country.

[11:15 a.m.]

When you consider that those funds were raised on the backs of the unemployed, or people who are struggling with low-paying jobs, and small businessmen who are employing two, three and four people, when you consider, it borders on being immoral. Nonetheless, that is how they balanced their budget. So what did it do to the provincial government here? In 1993 the Savage Government was elected on promises of jobs, improvements to health care, 30-60-90 plans to restore economic prosperity to Cape Breton Island. What happened in Glace Bay? We lost our hospital, although the Liberal member of the Cabinet of the day said that they would never touch a brick. He was right. They just did not touch one, they levelled it. They took it all. They cut back on the ability of the medical community to provide essential services that the community had come to know, to the point that doctors began to exit the area in record numbers, to the point that in 1997, 8,000 to 10,000 residents of a town of 20,000 people had no doctor, and no reasonable prospect in the near future of having one.

Now, some people might say, well, that is all right, but consider the demographics of a town like Glace Bay. Because of its economic uncertainty there are not great numbers of what you would call employed people. The population is aging. There are a large number of senior citizens who, it would be expected, given their advancing years, would be placing greater demands on that health care service and think how it affected them to see it being

[Page 920]

pulled out from under their feet. Think of the uncertainty. Think of the hurt. Think of the pain when they went to outpatients, when they could not find a doctor, when they got sick or felt they were getting sick, of where do I turn and what do I do?

In addition to that, in areas of economic hardship such as Glace Bay, the stress of everyday life is harder. It is tougher. It takes a greater toll on the population that is there just because it is tougher to live when you are not sure that you have the economic means to get on with your life. You have more need as a consequence because of breakdowns that occur, as a result of that stress, in your health to access that health care system. How did it affect them to see it being pulled out and taken away? Then there are those who depend on government assistance of any sort that was available to meet the daily demands of their life. How did it affect them?

In addition to that, that same senior citizen who worked for 40 years to keep his home had to not only experience the thought that if I get sick, the health care system may not be there for me, but the provincial government as well tinkered with the tax system and what did it do? It hit every one of those senior citizens and those mothers on fixed incomes with a 15 per cent hike in taxes on essential goods such as food, clothing, fuel and power, 15 per cent on those persons all of who are on fixed incomes who had nowhere to go to make it up but had to look again at their budget and cut some of the things that they had determined up until that time were essential and begin to do without them. So that was fine.

The health care, they hit them with the HST then, in addition to that, they decided that we need to have municipal reform and without so much as asking any resident of the community that had existed for 94 years as to what they thought about municipal amalgamation, they amalgamated the Town of Glace Bay with the surrounding other municipal units in industrial Cape Breton into a giant regional municipal unit with the promise that we will save money, that your taxes will go down, things will be better, this will be better managed. Remember at the time, it was we will save $20 million; it went from $20 million, by the time it got set to be amalgamated it was down to $6 million and before you know it, it cost them $10 million. But worse than that, what it did for a community like Glace Bay is that they lost their local representation. They lost the ability to manage their own affairs. They lost the ability to deal with that stress, to have somebody at the local level that they could turn to, that they had confidence in, that they could speak to in tough times. They lost it, 94 years.

If it had been a provincial government and somehow the federal government had come along and said to the Province of Prince Edward Island and it said to the Province of Nova Scotia and to the Province of New Brunswick, as of October 1st, you are no longer provinces on your own, you are being lumped together, it would have sparked a constitutional crisis in this country, the likes of which you have never known because they couldn't do it. But just because there was no constitutional protection for local government, 94 years of local government in Glace Bay was wiped out with not so much as even a consultation, not so

[Page 921]

much as, what do you think, and they were left on their own and again, everybody knows the result on those senior citizens.

Not only did they lose their local voice at the town hall, taxes increased just this year again 1 per cent and not only that, things are so good that the municipal government said to all those people who live in those coal miners' houses that are 70 years old because that is what they can afford, that is what they worked all their lives for, they said you have to pay a minimum tax of $400. Now remember this is a community with unemployment of 40 per cent, with approximately another 45 per cent of its population senior citizens, and the rest dependent on some type of government assistance to get by. You know what kind of homes they are living in. They are modest homes. The very people who are going to pay the $400 minimum tax are the people who can't afford it. That is what they got from local self-government. That is what they got from amalgamation and the old town hall stands as a reminder as it rots away on the corner of McKeen Street and Main Street as to what was lost. Tax increases.

So what else happens as a result of these changes? Well, try to sell a home in Glace Bay. If these seniors or these people who are being taxed want to sell the only asset they have, what they have worked for all their life, try to sell it. If you want to get out from under it, if you want to say I am going to go to an apartment, go to Glace Bay and try to sell your home. For most people it is an undeniable fact if there is any asset that they have, if there is anything that they could point to in their retirement years as being the net result of their life outside of raising their family, it is their home and what equity they have in it. Everyone would like to think that there is a reasonable prospect that you will be able to sell it in your later years so that you can enjoy your retirement. Go to Glace Bay and try to sell your home. So they are caught in that vicious catch-22 of fixed income, incredible increases in the rates of taxation, losses of essential services, and now stuck with the realization or the prospect that they have, cannot sell or cannot recoup what they worked all their lives to achieve - a bit of equity from their home.

So, Mr. Speaker, not only did they hit the senior citizens but they hit the children in the schools. There has been all kinds of talk about P3 schools. I do not know, theoretically I suppose there are all kinds of discourses that it could or it might work but the difficulty that this government has to recognize and must face about that concept is that their record is abysmally clear. It is patently clear that in this context it is a failure. The budget document tendered yesterday, there are two of those schools that are built that we do not have leases for. The record is our Auditor General has said it will not work. It has failed. So you can talk all you want about the theory and about if we do this or we tinker with that, prudent men would judge and make the decision based on the experience.

You can talk about socialists on this side of the House and free enterprisers on this side of the House, but anybody knows, even good businessmen and women, if they look at that deal and what the results have been to date, they would say this is not a good investment. This

[Page 922]

is not a good idea. This does not work. The evidence is there to show it. If you said, well, I am going to check with my accountant to see what he thinks and the accountant says, yes, that is right, it does not work, then reasonably prudent businessmen would make the right business decision and get out of it because it does not work.

Mr. Speaker, what must be done in the time that is left in my opinion to assist and to really make a difference in the industrial area of Cape Breton, now, there has been all kinds of talk about the need to have the private market move in to shoulder the weight. There has been all kinds of advice that what is really needed is entrepreneurs and small businessmen to put their shoulder to the wheel, to get government out of the way so that business can get on with the business of rebuilding the economy of Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, you know, and I am sure all the honourable members of this House recognize, even the business sector, even the good business side of the House, those who profess to be such great businessmen know that you do not invest in an area of high risk. You do not put your money in an area that has a very dim or very real prospect of not having a future. You do not make the kind of commitments in capital and risk that kind of money in that kind of return. You cannot take that risk and you know, and I know, that there is a pile of economic uncertainty that hangs over the industrial area of Cape Breton that makes it patently clear that it makes no sense for a private sector company to make any kind of investment of the kind that would be necessary to begin or to initiate the kind of turnaround that is necessary in the economy of industrial Cape Breton to make a difference. A good businessman will not do it because it does not make economic sense, because the potential is not there.

If government is withdrawing in leaps and bounds, if they are shutting down airports, if they are shutting down hospitals, if they are shutting down schools, why would any sane businessman in his right mind say that this is an area that I want to take my capital and invest in? The bottom line, and what is clear and what is not happening in Cape Breton, is that government in areas such as Cape Breton or, indeed, in Yarmouth, or in any area of the province, government in those areas has the responsibility to take the lead. If you want business to invest, you must create in industrial Cape Breton the environment of confidence that makes private capital believe that's an area that we want to put money in because we can expect to get a reasonable return on our investment. If government is withdrawing, if it's the signal from government, as it has been over the past six years, that we're getting out, why, in God's name, would private capital want to go in?

[11:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that our government has to take the lead in industrial Cape Breton, federally and provincially. There is a tremendous responsibility on this government to impress on their federal cousins in Ottawa that they do have a role to play in industrial Cape Breton, that things have to be done, that government has to recommit to that

[Page 923]

area to create the kind of confidence, to send the signal out to the private sector necessary to allow them in due course to come in and do what this side of House says they do so well, reconstruct the economy in that particular area.

The Prime Minister of this country said to the people of Cape Breton Island, to their sons and daughters, move away. The Finance Minister of this country was quoted in Halifax, after talking about the great economic recovery that was to occur in the country, that it would bypass Cape Breton, so much so that the then member for Cape Breton-The Sydneys was quoted in the Cape Breton Post as saying, if that be the case, I wonder why I would be even considering retaking the nomination in the upcoming federal election. As history has shown, he didn't.

Mr. Speaker, what's also abundantly clear, and what bothers me most about what this federal government has done, is the failure of the provincial government to respond to what was going on. The failure of the provincial government to recognize, notwithstanding the fact that they were Liberal cousins, that what they were doing in terms of its effect in this province, and especially industrial Cape Breton, cut to the very core of what a government is elected to defend in this province, and they didn't. They didn't defend it, they went along. I couldn't believe it. Even now, even as recently as yesterday, in the much-touted offshore, a regulatory move alone cost Nova Scotians hundreds of jobs in the very offshore that has been touted as being our economic salvation.

Now, before I finish, let's talk about Sable gas. If you want another classic example of why the people in Glace Bay voted the way they did in March, here we are, a year after the deal is signed, two years after the public hearings, and there hasn't been yet an economic impact study done on how it would affect industrial Cape Breton. The government tells us now that we can expect one by the end of the year, two and one-half years after the deal has been signed, months after those looking to seek the economic opportunities that the particular development might create are out and on the hustings, explaining the opportunities. The government never bothered to assess for a moment, or take into consideration that one of the most economic and most disadvantaged areas of the province should be assessed in light of this new economic initiative that was being taken and coming into effect in the province. No study.

I sat and watched as the Energy Board conducted its hearings, with 10 members sitting on the government side of the House, and was embarrassed in the closing days of the debate before that Energy Board to see the Cape Breton Regional Municipal Government finally recognized that somebody better go up there and say something on behalf of Cape Breton Island. It was too late. Not one member of the government, not one of those ministers stood before that board and said, wait a minute, what about Cape Breton, what is this going to mean for us? What is it going to mean for the coal industry? How can we get in on this? Is there something for us? Is this the economic panacea that we have been waiting for for the last 50 years? Even now, nobody can say because nobody has bothered to study the effect of

[Page 924]

that gas or the development of that project on the economy of Cape Breton Island. It is a tragic commentary on what has happened to our Island and to the industrial area and it is a tragic commentary on how this government perceives, really, what the relevant issues are and what is important and what really counts in industrial Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by just briefly addressing those circumstances that you are, I am sure, all aware of in relation to my personal affairs. I want to assure this House that in due course, I will do the honourable thing but I also want to assure this House that the in honour - and its very definition - covers a broad range of responsibilities. You can do one thing and be dishonourable and do something else and be honourable. I know and I feel in my heart that I was elected by the people of Glace Bay to bring a message to this House on their behalf and there are significant questions in the next few weeks that this House will have to address that very much embody the type of message that they asked me to send. So I intend to stay here long enough to ensure that the voice of my constituents, at least, on those issues is heard and I intend to stay, as hobbled as I am by my personal situation, to vote in the interests of and on behalf of the people who sent me here to deliver that message.

Mr. Speaker, I will in due course do the honourable thing and until that time I intend to lend my voice to the people who elected me to stay and speak on their behalf and to make sure that they are heard on those issues they sent me here to speak on. It may not be a long time, it may be a short time, but they have the right, they deserve to be heard and it is my intention to stay and vote on their behalf on those issues as they are presented over the next couple of weeks in this House.

I will be voting against the motion in support of the Speech from the Throne. I will be voting in support of the amendment to the Speech from the Throne because in my mind it embodies the message that the people of Glace Bay wanted me to deliver to this government and to this House of Assembly and I will stay long enough to ensure that that voice is heard. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour. I just wanted to comment and congratulate Mr. Giles but I see the Sergeant-at-Arms has just exited the Chamber and I did want to, as many of us have, congratulate him for his appointment.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to respond to the Speech from the Throne presented by our government and I want to join my colleagues in congratulating our Premier, the Honourable Russell MacLellan, upon the commitments that he made to the people of Nova Scotia through the Throne Speech. It clearly reinforces the Liberal Government's continued focus on the enhancement of the quality of life for all Nova Scotians.

[Page 925]

Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate you in your new position as return-again Speaker. I know you are going to deal with the House with great fairness with a very large amount of experience gained over the years that you previously held the position. It is nice to see you back in the Chair with that hat on. I know that we can look forward to fairness and even-handedness from your regime in that seat, in the position of Speaker. I also want to congratulate the position of Deputy Speaker. I think it is going to be an interesting House and I am glad we have made progress to the point of electing, through a ballot, the position of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

A few years ago, as Deputy Speaker of the House myself, I had the opportunity to do some research around elections of Speakers and elections of Deputy Speakers. I hope we evolve in this process now that we are on it, perhaps to having three Deputy Speakers, one from each Party represented in the House. It is a very good training ground for the position when you get into the Chair as Speaker. There is a huge volume of information to learn and I hope in the future we will give consideration to that as well, that each Party has representation.

When I gave consideration to running again, a lot of people asked me, why do you want to do this? It is difficult to be in politics, as all of us can appreciate and many friends, many supporters, many constituents asked me why do I want to try this again? I guess I came back to the belief that each of us comes to this House with a desire to make change and to bring to the House a particular skill-set in representing the concerns of our constituents and perhaps making use of our life experience to do this job.

Many of you in this House will not know that I was raised in a family with an alcoholic father and one of the things, as my father eventually sought help and got cured of this disease, was that we always had the Serenity Prayer in every room in the House. For those of you who need refreshing of your memory the serenity prayer goes like this, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. From about the age of 10, I was basically raised on that Serenity Prayer and that has really been an integral part of my own personal philosophy of trying to make the changes I can make, trying to have the wisdom to know the difference and the ability to try to get things done. As I came to grips with the decision around running, that Serenity Prayer was certainly part of my make-up and being, in terms of coming to a decision to re-offer.

I want to thank the hundreds of workers who helped me get re-elected and in particular, my campaign Chairman, Gerry St-Amand. A number of my workers took their summer holidays in the middle of late winter, took the time off to be at my campaign headquarters full-time, to walk the walk with me and to work with me through this campaign. Boy, when people give you a couple of weeks of their hard-earned holiday time to do that. It is a tremendous commitment on their part and it was that kind of energy that really kept me going, slogging through the snowbanks, the occasional warm day and the not-so-hot weather

[Page 926]

that we all dealt with during the election. I just wanted to read that into the record because I think none of us would be here if it weren't for our workers. No matter what degree of personal commitment we gave to the campaign, it certainly was a team effort that saw us all, 52 of us, succeed here.

As well, I want to congratulate the five female new members in this House. It is a pleasure to see other women here and goodness knows we have still got a way to go to get equality in our numbers . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Parity.

MRS. COSMAN: Parity, equality, whatever we want to call it, it is nice to see five more women in this House of Assembly. I certainly wish them well as they proceed through their political endeavours. I know there are times when we are going to want to share some thinking together as women around issues and I look forward to working with all my colleagues in this House, in particular with the female members who just got elected.

We have some tremendous challenges ahead as three Parties sitting in this House. There is the government on this side, the numbers that we have, and the Opposition and the third Party representatives. Nova Scotians are really looking to all of us to make this work. This goes beyond our political ideologies. They do not want us to go back to the polls right away. They expect us to deal with our issues with maturity and effort and they are really hoping that we will make this House work. That means getting along together, trying to find common ground, trying to understand our differences and trying to resolve some of those differences. I have heard that message a lot of times from my constituency. So I think I am certainly prepared to commit to that work, effort, and friendship in trying to make it work as a government and as a House of Assembly; we have all got to be prepared to do that.

[11:45 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I could just interrupt the honourable minister for a moment. The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism wishes to make an introduction.

The honourable Minister of Econimic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the Speaker's Gallery today we have a distinguished citizen from Sydney. He is a member of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, a councillor, and a long-time associate of mine in Sydney City Council. He is presently doing some yeoman work for the municipality down there and is a well respected citizen. I would ask the members of the House to greet Arnie Mombourquette, who is in the gallery today. (Applause)

[Page 927]

MRS. COSMAN: Obviously, elections give us all the opportunity to go door to door and to meet as many people as we can. I am no different than any other member in this House. I did the same thing. Having been in municipal politics and county council politics in the past, I have done a few campaigns and I have walked a few miles in terms of going door to door. This election was no different. My riding is urban and rural. It encompasses most of the former Town of Bedford and a number of other communities, such as Waverley, Fall River, Fletchers Lake, Windsor Junction, Lakeview, Wellington, Grand Lake, Oakfield, and a little tiny slice of Enfield, according to the sign on the road. So it has an urban and a rural mix.

For those of you who have visited my constituency, it is well known for its beauty. It has a lot of natural beauty - lakes, the Shubenacadie Canal, historic sites of interest - and a lot of tourists now are finding Bedford-Fall River because it is just a gorgeous spot to come and visit and, of course, we have the ocean on the Basin for people to get in and boat, if they are so inclined. It is an area of quite a bit of peace and tranquillity and quite a diverse riding. So I welcome anybody in this House, whoever wants to come out and have a visit, please, do so. I think you would be quite taken with the area and find it as beautiful as I always have.

I was again reminded, Mr. Speaker, several times as I campaigned door to door, there was a lot of reaction to the advertising campaigns during the election. A fair amount of concern was expressed to me about the advertisements. I had a couple of people call me up to tell me their stories about their access to the health care system. I just want to mention that one particular man was in for tests on a Tuesday and by the Friday he was in at the specialist's office. By the following Tuesday he was having surgery in the hospital and he was a high-risk patient, but I just was astounded at the fact that within seven or eight days he had gone from diagnostic testing to diagnosis to surgery. I am really pleased to say his outcome has been very positive because he made a total recuperation. He got into the hospital quickly and was well served in the hospital, and has come home to do so much better.

The other constituent went into the Infirmary, was seen by the triage team in about four minutes, was taken into the emergency room right away, had a hospital bed within intensive care within a very short time and was in the hospital for eight days for a heart condition. Again, the speed, the response, the care and the compassion, they were two remarkable examples that both those constituents told me about. The reason they did that, simply, was they were watching the advertisements on TV that were so negative about the health care system and they called me up and said, look, this is my experience and I want you to know about it. So I thought I would mention that today because I was pleased to get that message from them.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if I could again indulge and interrupt the honourable minister for another introduction.

MRS. COSMAN: Yes, you may. I will keep on trying to wind up and be full stream.

[Page 928]

MR. SPEAKER: I will add five minutes to your time if you should require it.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to make an introduction to the members of the House. I would also apologize to the honourable member for Bedford-Fall River. I know two interruptions in your early start, but I would like to introduce the Grade 6 class from Milford District Elementary School. There are 25 students and seven chaperones. The chaperones include Patty Brown, the Principal; Sheila Robinson, teacher; Marla Taylor; Pat Probert; John Porter; Theresa Gallant and Len VanTol. I would ask the members of the House to give them the warm welcome that they deserve. (Applause)

MR SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Rather than interrupt my honourable colleague again, Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce in the gallery a distinguished Nova Scotian from the Annapolis Valley. This has been a very good week for the graduating class of Dalhousie Law School of 1965. We had former Speaker, Arthur Donahoe, and now we have Mr. Dan McGrath from Windsor. I would like to ask him to stand and be recognized. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. McGrath ran against me in an election not too long ago. (Laughter) Welcome, Dan.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

MRS. COSMAN: That adds to his distinguishment, I am sure, Mr. Speaker. I, too, want to welcome the visitors in our gallery. I noticed in the introduction the mention of chaperones with the group which means they are volunteering their time. Certainly one of the things that I am very proud about in my constituency, as many of us are, is the whole role of volunteers because they do a tremendous job in every part of this province, working with various groups of people, trying to address various needs. So I think all of us owe our volunteers a huge debt of thanks, including our volunteer fire departments. My riding is no different. It has a lot of volunteer fire departments as well as some full-time firefighters and they just do a tremendous job every year. Every one of us has an association with volunteer firefighters in each of our ridings and they just epitomize, again, the whole picture of the volunteer effort that people make in Nova Scotia to help other people in need. So I am really glad to see the students in the gallery with their teachers and with the volunteer chaperones who have accompanied them today.

Bedford-Fall River has a wonderful history, including gold mining. I know gold mining has sort of fallen out of favour in the last few years but we definitely have a wonderful history around gold mining. It certainly played a huge role in the development of the community of Waverley. Parts of the historic Shubenacadie Canal run through my riding and certainly when

[Page 929]

some of the members opposite were talking about flooding the other day in the Truro area, we experienced some floods in my riding this winter with the heavy rains and it is really very scary when you start to see the impact on homes and on people's lives. So I would encourage anybody who wants to take a nice picnic lunch and a visit to the riding to come out and walk along the Shubenacadie Canal and just see it first-hand. It is a wonderful slice of history.

We also have the historic Fort Sackville Manor House. That is located in the community of Bedford. That house goes back to the late 1700's. Allan Duffus was very much, as an architect, a person who wanted to see the house be developed in a certain way and its use for the public. We have, in the summer, an opportunity, once a week, to have a tea at the Fort Sackville Manor House and again, I would encourage people, if they have the opportunity to come for a visit there and take tea with us.

I suspect, any moment now, someone is going to stand and want to make another introduction, so I will yield the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has been most indulgent; this is the third or fourth time that she has been kind enough to yield the floor for an introduction.

It gives me great pleasure today, Mr. Speaker, to introduce to you and to all members of the House, a group sitting in the east gallery, the Liverpool Regional High School Green Warriors with three of their teachers: Principal Yves Rossignol; Dr. Homer Noble, who is a former teaching colleague of mine; and also Angela Purdue, who is the Librarian. All three of them work very closely with the Liverpool Regional High School Green Warriors. Their purpose of being in Halifax today is to be part of the Breakfast Television program, as well as to tour the city. They are the first high school in all of Canada to have achieved 1,000 environmental projects completed and they have been awarded by the SEEDS Foundation of Canada for this very good environmental work that they have undertaken.

The Minister of the Environment was kind enough to come meet with them this afternoon and to present them with a certificate. Also, they had the opportunity to meet an illustrious graduate of Liverpool Regional High School, the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. Mr. Speaker, I would ask them to rise and I would ask all members to give them a warm welcome to Province House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further introductions before we return to the Minister of Community Services? (Laughter) You have the floor.

MRS. COSMAN: I don't know if this is a plot or not, but it is great because it gives me an opportunity to have a little sip of water when I start to need it desperately. So, if there are any more, let me know and I will be glad to yield the floor.

[Page 930]

Now, where was I? I think I was trying to describe the wonderful things that happen in my constituency. Many of you probably don't know that we have a very sacred site to the Mi'kmaq people and it is a petroglyph site in Bedford where there are some very early petroglyph carvings on the rock faces, carved about 400 years ago, and those are very significant to the Mi'kmaq people. We have been working to protect that acreage of land over there the last three or four years and it certainly gives you a sense of the history of the place. The beautiful line of sight that goes down to the Bedford Basin from this location, the petroglyph site, again, that's very significant for our area and it is just one more thing that makes my community very special. So, it is a diverse riding; it is a mixture of urban and rural, and I am going to try to do my very best, in my time in government, to do what I can to represent the interests and the concerns of those people.

During the campaign there were many issues brought to my attention while going door to door, and I think the one that I heard the most about was the situation with overcrowding in our schools. During the campaign, I had the opportunity to go to about three or four public meetings, probably talked to about 1,700 people on education issues, and to hear first-hand the concerns around education and in a sense I get it two ways because I have a daughter who is a music teacher, as well, so I hear education issues from within my own family.

This is an extremely important issue to the families in my constituency and to their children. The same schools are serving the children now that served my children when they were youngsters 27 years ago, and certainly I heard the concerns loudly and very articulately from the families that I spoke with. I want to say right now that I want to express my appreciation for the hard work and the dedication that the teachers show in this province, because sometimes they are doing their job under trying circumstances and trying conditions. Certainly throughout the election, when I was going door to door and talking about the need to build $0.25 billion worth of schools, it was good to get this dialogue going and we had many opportunities to talk about the ways that these schools could be built and, in particular, the P3 method that our government was supporting.

[12:00 p.m.]

We know the value of a well-educated population to the future of this province and I think the Speech from the Throne and the budget in particular that was presented yesterday responds very clearly to that need that has been expressed so often. Through the public-private partnership method of building schools, our government has found the solution for the construction needs that are out there, and there is a huge need; we have all recognized that.

I am committed to working with two community organizations. One is called BEST and the other is called GRASP. They come together in the communities primarily to focus on educational needs and concerns. I am in contact with those organizations and we are working together to get the solutions that will eliminate the severe overcrowding at most of our schools.

[Page 931]

Many of the participants that rallied here on the opening day of the House were representatives of both BEST and GRASP. You wade into the rallies, and I have to confess to a little degree of nervousness about that role, but it was appropriate that as members of this House we talk with our constituents, whether or not they have a placard in their hand, it doesn't matter. I had the pleasure that day of going out and speaking with many people who were there because of their heartfelt concern for their children and the education that they are getting, and around the issues of new school buildings. I encourage them to keep up their good work because that is what they doing, they are bringing the issues to me and, I, in turn am able to bring those issues to my government and together we are working on getting them answers and, obviously, solutions.

In the Education Minister's May 19th letter to the school boards, our government confirmed their commitment to the most urgent school projects. A couple of the schools that my riding needs actually have been talked about for 18 years. A number of people during the election called me up, and I am thinking of the Ash-Lee Jefferson expansion that is going to be started this June, I had many, many calls about that. People told me they have been waiting a long, long time and they are absolutely thrilled to have seen the school plans presented in the community and to know that finally one of these solutions is at hand for them.

I am pleased with the commitment that the much-needed Fall River high school is going to be built. This construction will have a major trickle-out impact on the overcrowding in the junior high school; that impact also has an effect on a number of feeder schools.

I am always pleased to stand here in this House and talk about some of the achievements of people in my riding, as individuals and collectively, and I am particularly pleased to mention Holland Road School just celebrated its 10th Anniversary. It had a wonderful evening event with a ton of fun and activities with the children, parents and volunteers. It is sort of nice to go to those events because you come away feeling so good, so happy and so stuffed on fudge and sugar candy and all of that nice stuff that exists at those party times. So I just want to congratulate the Holland Road School for its efforts around its 10th Anniversary.

Certainly, again this year, I am going to mention the musicians from Charles P. Allen High School. Under the very competent direction of Gary Adams, they, once more, recently competed in an international competition, this time in New York City. Last year they scooped every gold award in the U.S. competition that they attended. This year they went to the International Ovation Music Festival and the concert band did what we have all grown to expect them to do, they got a gold medal. They also got a first-place silver medal for the jazz band and second-place silver for the jazz choir. Two individuals, Sylvia Abi Khattar and Keith Madison, received first-place soloist awards. I moved a resolution on those individuals and their achievements earlier.

[Page 932]

These young people, their families and their music teacher all deserve praise for their fine performances. Really, it goes beyond the fine performance because, when they leave Canada and they go to another country, they are our young ambassadors. They just do a phenomenal job. People come up to them and they hug them, shake their hand and exchange Nova Scotia pins and flags for something else. They are out there representing the province and that is a very important role that sometimes gets overlooked with young people and every one of those youngsters, I feel a huge amount of pride. When I speak about the music programs there, I call it a goose-bump experience, because to hear these kids play these instruments so superbly well, and to realize how young they are when they're doing it, it gives me goose bumps. So, I always say this is a goose-bump experience. They're phenomenal and their achievements do us all proud and they make wonderful ambassadors for Nova Scotia when they are abroad.

As well, we're heading into, we hope, some wonderful summer days, and every one of us will be going to lots of community activities. In my riding, I invite you to come to as many as you can, and I just want to mention a few, but again those activities wouldn't happen without volunteer effort, and those volunteers are providing the hard work, the nuts and bolts of all the events that we're going to have fun at this summer. Bedford Days will soon be taking place in the riding, and that runs from June 24th to June 28th, and also has some celebrations around July 1st, of course, and that's usually held down on the waterfront. So, if you want to come out and have a wonderful time and be close to the water, it's a great event to come to. It's just a beautiful spot there.

As well, I mentioned earlier, the Fort Sackville Manor House has its summer teas, and that's fun as long as you're not watching your waistline. You can come out there and be served by volunteers and have a cup of tea with a slice of lemon, it's done the old-fashioned English way. I just would encourage you to come out to that. And every time someone stands up in here, I think, oh, here we go, but I guess that's not for an introduction at any rate.

The community of Fall River will be having their summer fun again in their Keloose, it's called, and in early fall, Waverley puts on its Gold Rush Days. So, we've got a lot of entertainment coming up, and I plan to be at each and every one of those. It's just going to be a wonderful summer and if you can get out, come and join me, and we'll have some fun together and that's good.

I just was asked by the member opposite if I'm going in the Dunk Tank with a wet t-shirt possibly, but (Laughter) and I know everybody would like to see that (Interruptions) but I don't think I'm really up to the Dunk Tank days anymore, but I would if I were 20 years younger, I have to tell you, because I used to when I was Mayor of Bedford go in the Dunk Tank, and they always managed to lob-ball the board and dunk me down, the community of Bedford. (Interruptions)

[Page 933]

I know my colleagues are having a great pile of fun at my expense here, but I'll keep on trying to carry on. I'm really honoured - while I'm standing on my feet - to have been asked to be the Minister of Community Services, because it really fits very nicely with a lifetime commitment that I've had as a former nurse, to many issues that are part of the mission statement of the Department of Community Services.

I want to just read into the record, a statement by Hubert Humphrey actually, who said "The moral test of government, is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life - - the sick, the needy, the handicapped.". That is an incredibly broad philosophical statement that Hubert Humphrey wrote, and we actually have it on the walls now in the Department of Community Services, because it is a daily reminder of what our mission is, to be concerned and to be looking after those needs that come to us on a daily basis. It happens to be a responsibility that I love.

The Department of Community Services has an enormous amount of people-work to do, and I take a great sense of pride in the people who work in my department, and there are over 1,000 of them. They do enormously challenging jobs, difficult jobs, and boy, they are one team. You can sense it when you are in the building. The workers are there, they get on the elevators, they're smiling, they're doing a wonderful job with difficult challenges and I consider it probably my greatest privilege in life to be there as the Minister of Community Services and really having some input into things that are very important to me as a human being. So, I just wanted to read that into the record, and I also wanted to express my thanks for being given this chance to be the Minister of Community Services because it is a good fit with the skill-sets that have evolved over my lifetime.

Community Services has a lot of initiatives going on. This is a challenging time of change as we really prepare for the year 2000 in the delivery of social programs across Nova Scotia. I do want to talk briefly around some of the challenges that the department has. I have mentioned the hard work that our staff does and I just wanted to go on public record thanking them for everything they do.

I want to reflect for a moment on the fiscal climate in Nova Scotia. We all recognize that the last decade has been a particularly challenging time and, in particular, the last several years for government. We have climbed out of a mountain of debt. That was a painful process. It was not easy and we can all respect that, but I think one thing that I am very happy about, when I look at other Departments of Community Services across the country, through our toughest times here over the past five years of trying to deal with debt and deficit, my department did not cut social assistance rates to the poorest of the poor. I think that deserves mention because I looked at other provinces and many times rates were eviscerated across Canada and fell on the backs of the most disempowered population. I take some sense of accomplishment that our government managed to protect those people who really do not have

[Page 934]

the ability to fight their own case and we did not cut rates. So I think we have a record to stand proud on in that regard.

That has not been easy to do and everybody recognizes that while the federal government dealt with its debt problems and deficit problems and made significant cuts across the provinces and their budgets and in their cash flows from the feds, that we were struggling to hold onto the programs that we had in place and we were able to hold our own in terms of rates and support.

I mentioned earlier that there are over 1,000 employees in the department. For every staff person we have working there, there are nine that work in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector. That comes back to my point earlier about a huge number of people doing volunteer work and working with people who really need a lot of help and assistance. I think that is an enviable track record. I, again, want to mention that because Community Services is not just about paid employees working in the department, they are all out there contributing to the very fabric of their communities. That is very significant and it is very enduring. Without those efforts I think Nova Scotians would be less well-served and probably less able to cope with their challenges.

The demand for service continues to grow. There is a huge need out there and I think because the demand continues to grow, it is a very dynamic time right now in the field of community services. There are a number of initiatives underway, not the least of which is the National Child Benefits, the National Childrens' Agenda and the Social Policy Renewal Process. It has been my privilege to be the ministerial representative for the province on the Ministerial Council over the past number of months.

I am personally very gratified, Mr. Speaker, by the high level of cooperation that I see and we come to those council meetings from all the Provinces of Canada. We come from a diverse political background again, because of all the differing philosophies of government across Canada, but we come to the table and we work together. I think that is very significant. We put aside our Party affiliations. We get at that table and we work to achieve common goals together and those are common goals that are for the good of Canadians and, in particular, for children and for the disadvantaged and for the groups of people that we represent collectively.

I think the relationships that we have across the country are very good and it gives us an opportunity to share knowledge around common concerns. One thing that I feel a great degree of pleasure about is the fact that other provinces are looking to our Acts in the Department of Community Services as very well constructed models for legislation that they are encompassing when they are looking at changing their legislation. (Applause) Thank you. That is quite significant. A lot of thought has gone into the legislative framework that guides the department's activities. I know I hear from my colleagues across Canada, how are we

[Page 935]

doing things here differently than what they are doing. So that is very positive feedback for our department.

[12:15 p.m.]

We have two large program divisions in Community Services - Income and Employment Support Division and the Family and Children's Services Division. I want to just briefly give an overview of some of the initiatives that we are conducting in the department. They are around, of course, the entire social policy issues that are current in the country. These issues and their proper resolution are very important for the people of Nova Scotia and obviously for the many communities that we are serving across this province. You know there are a lot of complex issues and there are no easy solutions for those complexities.

Certainly I like to share with my colleagues in the House and with my colleagues in Cabinet and caucus and with my colleagues across the country, the common concerns that we all face in these ministries. We glean from one another. We share good ideas, we share experiences and we learn from what is happening in other sectors.

Within the Income and Employment Support Division, we have a number of complex initiatives underway. Certainly the social assistance restructuring is key. I remember in 1987 I chaired the task force on the concerns of women and in that report that I authored at the time, I called for a single-tier social assistance system. That was in 1987 and here we are in 1998 and it is coming to fruition and by golly, it hasn't been an easy process which many people would understand when they look at the complexities of bringing in the administration of social assistance and 52 different municipal units, disentangling all the technology and the issues and bringing over the workers and a whole host of related things around moving in 52 units' administration of social assistance into one tier. We have done it and, by golly, it was a great challenge and it was well met. Certainly, as of April 1st, we ended up now with the provincial Department of Community Services administering social assistance across those 52 units.

I think it would be fair to say that the system that we took over was administratively complex and we have been challenged to bring those complexities down to a management level where we could get some equity across the system and merge the technologies that deliver the information base, a whole host of activities that we had to conduct to do that. We now, for the first time, have a common policy and rates of assistance across those 52 units and in moving to that common policy, Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia is investing an additional $10 million in this fiscal year. I use the word investing quite purposefully here. We are investing in those people who need assistance in Nova Scotia because we want to help them and their families break out of the "welfare trap" - that is a word I hear from many people - to break out of that sort of cycle of being in the area of not enough money, not enough hope, not enough opportunity and to try to provide people with

[Page 936]

an enhanced benefit while they are on the system and to try and make it easier for our families with children. I think that is really about trying to get people to feel some sense of hope.

There are many people over the years who lose that sense of hope and sense of direction and never feel that they can get off of assistance and into the working world. A lot of that is simply because if you go off assistance and you find a job that isn't particularly well-paying at times and you have to pay child care or you have to take on the expense of Pharmacare for your children and so on. Those are major deterrents to getting out in the workplace.

I think when we took over the administration on April 1st, it was interesting the number of phone calls that we received from social assistance recipients saying that their cheques showed more money in it, can they keep it or is there a mistake? They were pleased to be able to find out that, no, it wasn't a mistake and, yes, their cheque did show some more dollars in it and, yes, it was that we had taken over it and made a single-tier system out of those 52 units. It was nice to get that kind of a call because I think it shows progress in trying to lift the most financially challenged people in Nova Scotia to a level that allows them to move forward and to try to get a glimmer of hope.

I want the members of this House to have some sense of appreciation around the challenge that moving to a single-tier system and restructuring represents. Many of you will know that we negotiated with 52 municipal unites and we developed and installed a new technology system. We resolved a number of complex human resource issues and we took the former municipal staff into the provincial Civil Service. All of this had to be done in an environment where we had to show absolute accountability to our clients and where our clients had to be assured that things were going to progress as normal, and that they weren't going to be suddenly stuck waiting for technology to kick in and have a delay in getting their cheque that month or whatever. So there was a whole area around our accountability process for our clients.

The next stages of social assistance restructuring are arguably the most difficult ones that we will face, because we are going to be developing that integrated social assistance delivery system. That has to be underpinned, of course, by new legislation and policies. To accomplish this, clearly in the Speech from the Throne we have given the commitment to go to the Phase II of a consultation. We earlier had a Phase I of a process with focus groups, which gave us a document that outlined a number of the problems that stakeholders experience in our system. Phase II will see us putting out that document, putting out a discussion paper, going to the consultation process that I have committed to, and giving our stakeholders adequate time to respond to that and to be part of the process.

I personally want a system, and I know my colleagues want a system, that provides a fair level of income support and that helps to break those entrenched barriers that many people find themselves facing. They can't get out of social assistance and get into paid

[Page 937]

employment because there aren't the supports and the mechanisms there to help them. So what I want to see coming out of this is a system that puts in place the mechanics of the support systems that people need to move off of social assistance, to find a job and get into paid employment. That means we have to put in place incentives for work, we want to be able to help people with retraining and, certainly, the whole area around the need for child care for women who find a job and cannot afford child care because it is expensive. We want a system put in place that helps people achieve their best.

The National Child Benefit, as you know, has been talked about in the budget and it has been talked about briefly in the last few days. That is another national, federal-provincial initiative targeted to help address the growing concern around poverty in children, in families, in Canada. We have all been reacting to the report and the statistics based on 1996 poverty rates and those rates have to scare any thinking person. They certainly scare me, and it is very, very clearly known to every one of us that growing up in poverty has some life-long effects. There are those of us in this House who grew up in poverty; we don't all come from affluent backgrounds. We bring a diverse variety of experiences to our roles here as legislators.

Certainly the changing labour market means that many families will need support and help in new and imaginative ways to get out into the paid workforce. The National Child Benefit is designed to address child poverty and really targeted to help support families, parents with children, in their endeavours to stay in the labour force. It is really designed to help us remove the disincentives that stop people from getting into paid work.

The NCB is probably one of the better examples of federal-provincial-territorial cooperation. We bring together a host of dynamic groups from across the country with different philosophies and we have hammered out ground rules. We certainly, when we look at federal relations and provincial relations, we have to have certain principles apply to new programs, new program spending between the federal governments and provincial governments of this country, but we managed I think, as a group of legislators from across Canada, to work on these very pressing social problems. Each jurisdiction you will find over the next few weeks, as the programs roll out province by province, each jurisdiction is trying to address the delivery of the National Child Benefit in the way that it sees fit, unique to each province's own needs.

You heard some announcements yesterday around the National Child Benefit and the fact that we are developing a Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program. That is going to be targeted to low-income families whose income is less than $16,000 a year. That includes the families on social assistance, of course. The benefit will provide an annual maximum of $250 for the first child per year, $164 for the second child, I believe it is, without looking at notes, and $134 for the third child. I have a tenancy to flip my numbers so I hesitate to quote dollar figures in case I reverse a few figures here, but I certainly hope not.

[Page 938]

The Child Benefit is going to mean a significant improvement around poverty issues for these families. We are also announcing a number of investments in the program for healthy children, development initiatives and, of course, around subsidized child care spaces and special needs child care spaces.

Another area that we have been talking about in this province for some time now is the small options review. That has been discussed in Question Period in this House. Certainly that review is very strategic as we review the results of our Small Options Program review. We have given a commitment to our stakeholders to go back to them with that and to work with them as this system evolves. All the members will recall that a few years ago we took over probably 500 small options, give or take a few, from the municipal units and, of course, that meant a variety of delivery models at that time, a variety of policies. So it has been very challenging to manage that process. The review has been significant in helping us identify the areas that we need to build on and to improve on.

In the area of children's services, there is a great deal of work going on in children's services now in Nova Scotia. I mentioned earlier that this is a sector that in other provinces has been experiencing some significant problems. I am in regular contact with my colleagues across the country but I have to say that we are not complacent about this here in this province. We cannot afford to be complacent about it. Our Acts are serving us well but in saying that I always caution myself that no province is ever exempt from major difficulties in this field. It is a field that is fraught with challenge and absolutely demands excellent management and certainly the workers that we have in this province are doing a phenomenal job. Again, I would like to mention that because that is how I sincerely feel.

We are working with other jurisdictions to improve our information systems for child welfare. That is part of a national initiative to achieve more consistent reporting of results and it is aimed at improving outcomes in child welfare interventions.

Now another target area for improvements in the child welfare section is the area of placements for children with higher needs, and we're certainly presently implementing the recommendations of the Placement Review Committee which developed the report, Too Good To Lose. That's going to result in a range of placement options for children in each region. Our objective, of course, when we adopted that report, Too Good to Lose, is to try to have the services for young people as close to that youngster's home as possible, because the support of family is very much needed and it's very much part of our goal arising out of that report to have that support system across Nova Scotia, placing those children as close to home as possible.

[Page 939]

[12:30 p.m.]

I want to talk about foster parents for a few moments. Right now, we have over 600 foster parents and some of my friends are foster parents. I have to say, it's a tremendous job that foster parents do. They bring to their task tremendous skill-sets, energy, commitment, love and they work with children who have tremendous needs. So, I think the fact that we have 600 foster parents who have opened their homes to children in this province is very significant. We want to improve the way we work with foster parents in Nova Scotia. We have been consulting with that sector and developing a blueprint for a redesigned and revitalized foster care program. I personally met with the Federation of Foster Families to review progress to date, to get their ideas, because this is a department that simply must and does hear from all the groups that we work with, and to listen to their ideas. We have seconded a staff person from the Children's Aid Society to help us finalize our plans in this area.

I think another area that is of great concern to me is how do we support families at home with disabled children? Some of these families have enormously tough challenges, and they live with those challenges 24 hours a day. My department, in part of its responsibilities, is to try and provide the best level of support that we can to those families, that we reasonably can do for them. We've recently conducted a survey of families who are receiving funding for respite services under our in-home support program, and the results of that survey are now being tabulated, and they will inform us as we go through the next stages of developing our regional respite service.

But, I think we have to realize that the needs of these families are very complex, and from a public policy perspective, they really do require that we work across departments of government; we can't work in silos, we can't work isolated from one another. Certainly, I engage in regular meetings and dialogue with the Department of Health, Department of Education and Culture and work together with them cooperatively. That's very positive, because when we bring groups to the table, instead of going to three different departments for three different meetings, groups can come to the table with three ministries together and that usually ends up in being quite productive.

I also want to mention, in my role as minister, I am also responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and for the Senior Citizens Secretariat and for the Disabled Persons Commission. I want to just mention that last week that around senior citizens issues, I met just a short time ago with the Senior Citizens Secretariat and the Group of Nine. Now, that's an interesting experience because the Group of Nine represents a number of seniors organizations and they came to meet with me and my colleagues from the other departments. They presented a series of briefs around their particular concerns, and we've given a commitment to work with them and to get back to them with responses. Each of those seniors' groups spoke of their particular area of concern and their issues. What, again, that does for us, as ministers, it lets us deal with a group giving us input all at one time instead of

[Page 940]

having to go from department to department giving the same message. So, I like to think that that is an effective way to do our work with our interest groups and to give that commitment back to them that we will be working with them on their issues.

I never cease to be amazed at the work of the Disabled Persons Commission and I know Charlie MacDonald, as Executive Director, very well, and Nita Irving as the Chairman of the Board. They are tremendous voices for articulating the concerns of the disabled community. I know that Nita, as Chairman, has been a tireless advocate around issues of disability and they are a tremendous team over there to work with and they do a very good job for the people of this province who have disabilities. I just want, again, to read into the record my sense of pride in what they do and for their sense of humanity about the responsibilities that they take very seriously.

So I hope this has managed to convey some sense of a very dynamic and evolving role in the Department of Community Services as we move, really, into the year 2000. There are a wide variety of initiatives that are ongoing. It is an exciting time to be in this environment and I do consider it a very great privilege and a humbling experience to have this challenge that we are going through as we really move our systems forward into the next few years. I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your patience and I want to thank my colleagues for their attention through this Address in Reply to Throne Speech and, of course, I also want to say that I will be more than pleased to be supporting the Throne Speech on the day of the vote. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. (Applause)

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: It is a Friday afternoon. I thank the members for understanding the fact that I think we are going to get Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 with the amount of time . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Can I just interrupt the honourable member for a moment? Do other people notice a ring?

MR. ESTABROOKS: A ring. Yes, I noticed that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if somebody could go up to Legislative Television and mention the fact that we are getting (Interruption)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Feedback.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we are getting feedback.

MR. ESTABROOKS: It must be my delivery.

[Page 941]

MR. SPEAKER: No, it is has been going on for the last 10 or 15 minutes.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it is with a great sense of pride that I stand this day in this historic Chamber to make these remarks in reply to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of the people of Timberlea-Prospect who, on March 24th, charged me with the responsibility of representing them.

At the outset, allow me, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate you on your election to your important position and to my colleague, the member for Dartmouth South, my congratulations on his election as Deputy Speaker. I am confident that both of you will uphold the honour and dignity of your respective positions.

As a newcomer in this Assembly, I am excited with the possibility of the minority government situation so let's get on with it and let's make it work. (Laughter) (Applause) As a member of an effective Opposition, I would like to assure the members opposite that we are ready to make it work. I am also, Mr. Speaker, excited about the talent that I see in this House, the talent in this caucus and the talent that I know will be reflected in the wise decisions ahead.

As some of you might be aware, I am far from new to the political candidacy debate since having run in 1988, 1993 and again this year, I am political proof that if you want something bad enough you should try and try again. I would like to point out to members opposite that it is certainly not third time lucky. The voters of this province are sick and tired of the old ways from the old boys. They are angry with the lack of direction, the broken promises, the political baffle-gab and they made their views very clearly known in Timberlea-Prospect on March 24th. It has been called by the media moguls, a breakthrough. I call it instead, the dawning of a new day.

Therefore, as the duly elected MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, I am proud to announce that I will be supporting the amendment to the Speech from the Throne as proposed by my Leader because of the fact that 65 per cent of Nova Scotians voted against this government. Also as a teacher who has, in the past, served as an advisor on numerous Model Parliaments in various high schools in metro, I have seen high school Speeches from the Throne with more depth and more vision, and finally, because there is a clear lack of leadership from this government on the formulation of various policies that I will mention during these comments.

It is my hope that all members take time to recall why and how we arrived in this House. I think there are some veteran members here who at times quite forget that. I, however, would like to bring to the attention of members that it is important at this time that we consider leadership.

[Page 942]

W.H. Cowley has written - and excuse the lack of generic correctness please - "A leader is anyone who has two characteristics, first, he is going someplace and second, he is able to persuade other people to go with him." That is leadership. I am so pleased that the members opposite on a Friday afternoon are getting ready for the weekend by paying some attention to these comments.

Leadership of this type is portrayed by Joseph Howe, which brings me to the sadly neglected fact, as an ex-history teacher, the 150th Anniversary of responsible government in this province, 1848 in this very Legislature, in this province, received no recognition except Harry Bruce had to bring it to the government's attention in a recent article; 150 years and it happened here and it has under no consequence been recognized by this government. February 2, 1848 is a moment we should enjoy and relish in. It is a moment that Joseph Howe, I am sure, takes pride in as he stands with that statue outside of his building. Joseph Howe was a risk taker. He had his say and thank God for that. He was no bean counter immersed in the bureaucratic backlog of the back rooms.

Personally for me, earlier influences in my life make this moment of real importance. I would like to take the House back to Sackville, New Brunswick, to teachers of mine like Murray Burns and Bob Hall, who incidentally was the first NDP MLA for the provincial riding of Tantramar in the Province of New Brunswick. Mr. Burns and Mr. Hall instilled in me as a young student to become involved in the political process before I came off those Tantramar Marshes to journey up the hill to the best undergraduate university five years in a row, as chosen by Maclean's Magazine, Mount Allison so fair, she stands above the marshes there.

At Mount Allison, I had the opportunity to meet, play for, and listen to Angus (Gus) MacFarlane. Gus, that Liberal strategist for Pierre Elliott Trudeau and I had many long nights together. Not that we always agreed, but as Gus used to say to his football captain, Billy - and that means somebody was allowed to call me that then - if we are always in agreement, one of us is not contributing to this difference of opinion. I miss Gus and when I had an opportunity to speak at his funeral, hopefully I gave him the send-off that he deserved.

[12:45 p.m.]

In Timberlea-Prospect, however, I have been fortunate with continuing Mount Allison influences, where our official agent in the last two elections was Chef Rene van Nieuwenhuizen; I thank you for your commitments to me personally and to the NDP in Timberlea-Prospect. Those early influences, along with the humbling experience of having three women in my life, my wife, Carolyn, my daughters, Trisha, who is a Mount Allison student, and her younger sister, Jana. Those three young women have kept me humble no matter which particular vocation I have been involved with.

[Page 943]

My only regret, however, Mr. Speaker, is that my parents, Dorothy and Bill Estabrooks, did not live to see this day, but as that mother of mine from Westville, Pictou County, used to say, Bill - you see I am getting older, they did not call me Billy then - Bill, live each day to the fullest like your grandfather did when he came out of the pit in Westville, and let them laugh if they wish, but when you go up the hill to Mount A, you will come off with a great degree, a great education, and a great future. I miss my mother. I miss my father, but I will assure you that this is a day that they will be very much remembered.

There are expectations of us after this last election. One, to ask the tough questions and then, secondly, to make the even tougher decisions. Before I deal with the particular needs of Timberlea-Prospect and some personal issues on which I have some strong opinions, I want to take you on a tour of my unique riding. Timberlea-Prospect stretches from the fast-developing subdivisions of Hammonds Plains, through Beechville, Lakeside, Timberlea, to the growing area along the Prospect Road, to the various legendary community fishing villages from Terence Bay to West Dover.

AN HON. MEMBER: Downtown Terence Bay.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Downtown Terence Bay, just down the hill from Porcupine Hill, that the Minister of Transportation should get to know.

First, as you enter this riding, you will notice the desperately overcrowded school at Hammonds Plains Elementary. The welcome sign, Mr. Speaker, to Timberlea-Prospect should read, welcome to Timberlea-Prospect, the successor to Sackville as the constituency with the most portable classrooms in the province, yet a constituency where through the countless efforts, and the ceaseless efforts, of various volunteers have made facilities such as the St. Margaret's Arena, which is just down the road from the Hammonds Plains Elementary School, an integral part of our community. I should point out that one of the neighbours of this great arena facility is none other than the Member of Parliament for Halifax West, Gordon Earle, who has helped us in so many ways in our community in one short year.

We travel over Highway No. 103 which, incidentally is scheduled to be twinned to this very exit and we travel down past two more overcrowded schools, two more schools where there are portables, past Tantallon Elementary and Tantallon Junior High. There are lots of them throughout the constituency. At this time, I would like to pause for a moment and congratulate a young man from Tantallon Junior High, Kyle Bodnarchuk, who was given the HRM Citizenship Award for that particular school, Mr. Speaker. Then, as we finish the Hammonds Plains Road, we turn back toward "the city", that wonderful pre-amalgamation term, "the city". We go past the closed Natural Resources depot at Lewis Lake which should have been allowed to remain open because of the services that it provides to western Halifax County, and that we don't have to travel all the way to Waverley now. We go around one of the worst turns in this province, which is adjacent to Joshua Slocum Drive. Joshua Slocum, that great Nova Scotian traveller, who went through some great rough seas to travel around

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this globe, he would have had some rough sailing in those days also, if he went down Joshua Slocum Drive today, unpaved and in terrible condition.

The next community on my tour is Five Island Lake. Five Island Lake, the community that made the headlines in the 1993 election with that embarrassing dump that had to finally be cleaned up after years and years of pressure. I would remind this government that the Wooden's River Environmental Group has not gone away, it remains active. The job is not yet complete and we ask for the Department of the Environment's consideration of this project.

Adjoining the Five Island Lake, is of course, Sir John A. Macdonald High School with its very well-connected Principal, Martha Norris. Sir John A. Macdonald High School is a high school with great traditions academically and athletically, that has produced some well-known citizens during its 30 years of service but, a school that soon will be overflowing because of the elementary schools, because of the junior high schools in this community that are packed to the gunnels now.

Past Sir John A., over Highway No. 103, which is the current turning route for those various trucks that are on the garbage route, or as we call it in Timberlea-Prospect, the garbage expressway to the metro dump, we come upon the communities of Beechville, Lakeside, and Timberlea, the home of young families which are completely frustrated by government inaction that has a school of 1,200 students crammed into portables and two buildings that could handle approximately 970. Outstanding school leadership again, from Dr. Terry Sullivan and his staff has made this impossible situation work day to day. I also, at this time, would like to offer recognition to BLT Grade 9 student, Diana Toulany for winning the HRM Citizenship Award for that school.

Before coming upon the busy industrial parks of Lakeside and Bayers Lake, there is the legendary community of Beechville. Beechville, with its sense of involvement and commitment; Beechville, with its various families, the Wrights, the Hamiltons, the Hills, the Loppies, the Jarvises, and the DeLeons, the various young people who are moving back to that community to bring it back to life, to make it work.

Meanwhile, just over the hill, looming on the horizon is the Regional Landfill Site, at this entry point it should say to Timberlea-Prospect, Welcome to Timberlea-Prospect, one of the fastest-growing areas in Nova Scotia, and the home of the Metro Landfill Site, which resulted because of a flawed site selection process and which proves that amalgamation does not work. It treats the county cousins a heck of a lot different than it treats those city fellows, I'll assure you.

It remains one of my foremost goals as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect to closely monitor this landfill site. After all, if we are stuck with this thing, we are going to make it the best, the most effective, and the cleanest landfill site possible. Therefore, I cannot emphasize

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enough that firstly, there is a need for local citizens to be hired first at this landfill site, since our area residents have truly a vested interest in its safe operation. Secondly, the ongoing importance of the community monitoring committee. Thirdly, and finally, on the topic of the landfill, on behalf of the community, my heartfelt thanks to PROBE, the Prospect Road Organization for a Better Environment, for their rational and measured approach to this highly emotional topic.

Now we turn down the badly-neglected road to Prospect. I know the members opposite will hear about Prospect further and I am sure the Minister of Transportation and Public Works will be fully aware of its importance in our community.

The Prospect Road is one of the most advertised routes to Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. It is a busy traffic route for many commuters each morning and afternoon as these residents travel to and from their homes. It is time to move on a major improvement to this stretch of road which is used by locals, tourists and more and more golfers, who journey to the two courses and the two driving ranges down this road. Perhaps I could invite the Minister of Transportation to a game of golf and I would ask him to bring his driver and I don't mean the one behind the wheel, I mean his golf club, as we take a tour of the Prospect Road and see that the only rough on this road that we really want attention for is not on the fairways but it is on the side of the Prospect Road.

Then we come to Brookside Junior High. I see my time is quickly approaching. I would like at this time to acknowledge the contribution of Brookside Junior High School, to my development as a school teacher, to my development as an athletic coach. May 1st was a tough day for this school teacher. I was asked by one teacher, what are you going to miss most about leaving this school? I replied very quickly and candidly, Mr. Stewart, I am going to miss the kids. Mr. Stewart replied and said, Bill, there is no problem. There are 51 others of them in there who will act just like your Grade 8 Social Studies class. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Yes, it is true. That is what James Stewart said. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, I am sure he probably said 50 and Mr. Holm from Sackville-Cobequid.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I believe it would be appropriate if I asked to adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the hours will be 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Monday evening. We will call Resolution No. 347. Following the debate on that resolution, at the completion of that, we will continue with the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

For the information of the members, Tuesday's hours will change to six hour days, 12 noon until 6:00 p.m. That is just giving you some advance notice on that.

I move that we now adjourn until 7:00 p.m. Monday evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 12:58 p.m.]