The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House will resume on
April 25, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., June 11, 1998

First Session

THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Access Nova Scotia: Debit Cards - Pilot Program,
Hon. K. Colwell 1208
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 610, Health - Dr. A. Lamplugh (Dart.): Services - Commend,
Mr. D. Chard 1209
Vote - Affirmative 1210
Res. 611, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation Fair - Lobby, Dr. J. Hamm 1210
Res. 612, Davis Day: Miners - Remember, Hon. R. MacKinnon 1211
Vote - Affirmative 1211
Res. 613, Greek Festival: St. George's Greek Orthodox Church -
Congrats., Mr. P. Delefes 1212
Vote - Affirmative 1212
Res. 614, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx. Internat. Airport:
Improvements - Premier Action, Mr. B. Taylor 1212
Res. 615, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx. Internat. Airport:
Fairness Campaign - Premier Join, Mr. R. Chisholm 1213
Res. 616, Health - Care: Acute Hospitals - Access Ensure, Mr. G. Moody 1214
Res. 617, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx. Internat. Airport:
All-Party Unity - Premier Participate, Mr. D. Dexter 1214
Res. 618, Environ. - Tire Recycling Prog.: Corrections - Make,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1215
Res. 619, Commun. Serv. - Council for Family (N.S.) Awards:
Winners - Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 1216
Vote - Affirmative 1216
Res. 620, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Joshua Slocum Rd. (Lewis Lake) -
Pave, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1217
Res. 621, Health - Regional Bds.: Disaster - Acknowledge, Dr. J. Hamm 1217
Res. 622, Educ. - Zonta Club (Hfx.) Public Affairs Award
(Young Women): Recipients - Congrats., Ms. R. Godin 1218
Vote - Affirmative 1218
Res. 623, Environ. - Tire Recycling: Tax - Eliminate, Mr. G. Archibald 1218
Res. 624, Health - Pharmacare Prog.: Improvements - Make,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1219
Res. 625, NDP (N.S.) - Budget: Opposition - Scandalous,
Mr. P. MacEwan 1220
Res. 626, Educ. - P3: Recklessness - Condemn, Ms. E. O'Connell 1220
Res. 627, Health - HRM Fire Station (Univ. Ave.): Response Speedy -
Congratulate, Mr. M. Balser 1221
Res. 628, Educ. - Chris Campbell Commun. Vol. Award:
James Stewart (Brookside) - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1221
Vote - Affirmative 1222
Res. 629, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Escape Outdoors (Don Weeks) -
Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 1222
Vote - Affirmative 1223
Res. 630, Housing & Mun. Affs./CMHC - Housing:
Econ. Policies Regressive - Regret, Ms. R. Godin 1223
Res. 631, Health - QE II: Life Support Firefighters Assist. -
Good News (Premier), Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1223
Res. 632, Health - Community Bds.: Recommendations -
Attention Ensure, Mr. G. Moody 1224
Res. 633, NDP (N.S.) - Budget: Opposition - Reasons Media Ask,
Mr. P. MacEwan 1225
Res. 634, Health - Nurses: Wage Disparity - End,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1225
Res. 635, Educ. - Student Entrepreneur (Atl. Can.): Jonathan Moules
(Jordan Ferry) - Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 1226
Vote - Affirmative 1226
Res. 636, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx. Internat. Airport:
All-Party Comm. - Assemble, Mr. B. Taylor 1226
Res. 637, Fish. - Northern Shrimp: Quota - Equal Considerations
Ensure, Mr. N. LeBlanc 1227
Res. 638, Commun. Serv. - Working Poor: Info. -
All-Party Comm. Form, Mr. G. Balser 1228
Res. 639, Agric. - Federation (N.S.): Advice - Heed, Mr. G. Archibald 1228
Res. 640, Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Comm'n. -
Truro Raceway: Revitalization - Best Wishes Extend, Mr. J. Muir 1229
Vote - Affirmative 1230
Res. 641, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Seagull Pewter: Anniv. 25th -
Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 1230
Vote - Affirmative 1230
Res. 642, Educ. - Ross Farm: Trails New - Congrats.,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1231
Vote - Affirmative 1231
Res. 643, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Lun. Co. Winery: Exports -
Success Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 1231
Vote - Affirmative 1232
Res. 644, C.B. Nova MLA - Arsenic Poisoning: Comments - Stop,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1232
Res. 645, Health - Wee Care Dev. Centre: Anniv. 25th - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Muir 1233
Vote - Affirmative 1234
Res. 646, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Mossman Rd. (Lun. Co.) -
Repair, Mr. M. Baker 1234
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 128, Educ. - Lantz Elem. Sch.: Construction Commencement -
Min. Attend, Mr. R. Chisholm 1235
No. 129, Health - QE II: Life Support - Firefighters Assist.,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1236
No. 130, Human Rts. Comm'n.: Exec. Dir. - Contract Renewal,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 1237
No. 131, Fish. - Northern Shrimp: Quota - Status, Mr. N. LeBlanc 1238
No. 132, Environ. - TRACC: Recycling Contract - Terms Fulfil,
Mr. D. Chard 1240
No. 133, Commun. Serv.: Secure Treatment Centre (Truro-Bible Hill) -
Completion Date, Mr. J. Muir 1242
No. 134, Educ. - Career Acad. of Aviation: Status - Min. Reiterate,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1243
No. 135, Educ.: Private Trade Schools - Policy, Ms. E. O'Connell 1244
No. 136, Environ.: TRACC - Former President (Doug Vicars),
Mr. B. Taylor 1246
No. 137, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Bishop's Landing - Public Consultation,
Mr. P. Delefes 1247
No. 138, Nat. Res. - Offshore: Seismic Vessels - Workers, Dr. J. Hamm 1249
No. 139, Fish. - Delegations: Premier - Meet, Mr. R. Chisholm 1251
No. 140, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Generic Royalty/SOEP Agreement -
Difference, Mr. G. Archibald 1252
No. 141, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Jobs: Decentralization
(Gov't. [N.S.]) - Status, Mr. R. Matheson 1253
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. Y. Atwell 1256
Mr. G. Archibald 1259
Mr. J. Pye 1264
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:32 P.M. 1267
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 1267
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Rural Roads: Improvement Prog. - Table:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1268
Hon. C. Huskilson 1270
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1273
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., June 12th at 9:30 a.m. 1275

[Page 1207]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to bring to the attention of members that the notice appearing on the notice board outside the Chamber indicates that the hours tomorrow are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., that is an error. The hours tomorrow are from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Before we commence with the daily routine, I would advise the House that the Adjournment motion for the late debate was won by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. The motion is as follows:

Therefore be it resolved that the government should immediately table a program to improve rural roads.

We will commence with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

1207

[Page 1208]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday I stood in this House and apprised members of the Customer Comment Lines in Access Nova Scotia centres in Halifax, Dartmouth and Kentville. These lines are intended as a direct link between the Department of Business and Consumer Services and our customers. Through these lines we wish to hear what it is we are doing right, what we are doing wrong and how we can improve service to Nova Scotians. It is all part of our department's Quality Program.

Today I am pleased to update members on the latest initiative arising from this Quality Program. Since May 15th, the Access Nova Scotia centre in Dartmouth has been testing a pilot project whereby customers may use their debit or bank cards to pay for motor vehicles registration or drivers' licensing services. If successful, this payment option would be expanded to include the Access Nova Scotia centres in Halifax and Kentville.

I am pleased to inform members that our experience to date with this pilot has been very successful. Just under 13 per cent of customers in Dartmouth have been using their debit cards to pay for their transactions. This compares very favourably with industry standards that are about 10 per cent for newly introduced debit card payment options. When we expand the program and increase public awareness, we expect even greater take-up of this payment option.

Mr. Speaker, we are doing this for one reason and one reason only, to improve service to our customers. Our customers have told us that they want to use debit cards when they do business with us, just like they do at a grocery store, pharmacy or gas station. We have heard our customers, we have responded and we will continue to listen. Once assessment of this pilot is completed, I will look forward to announcing its full implementation at all our Access Nova Scotia centres. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services and congratulate that department for finally moving the service into the 21st Century. I think that debit cards have been asked for for a very long time and it is really encouraging to see that the department is finally moving to give the customer that option. I also would be interested in finding out the results of the assessment from the pilot project. I suspect that they will be positive.

[Page 1209]

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I do welcome the announcement again today by the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. The Customer Comment Line, I think, is an important feature and certainly a supportable initiative. However, I would be more comfortable if the minister had stood in his place and said that he was talking to his departmental employees. We have learned, through Question Period, in fact, that within his own department, some of his employees had been conducting a review toward eliminating the need to conduct motor vehicle inspections. Perhaps some employees could take advantage of this Customer Comment Line and phone the minister because yesterday we also learned that at the inbound scale in Amherst, which is operated by the Department of Business and Consumer Services, that his department is, in fact, considering fining overweight vehicles that come into Amherst, the first point of entry in the Province of Nova Scotia, and for years and years, as far as most of us can remember, members of the trucking industry were allowed to legalize and, if they were overweight, you could buy a permit and go about your business.

Now, I am advising the minister, if he is not already aware, that his employees, and if perhaps the minister has an occasion a moment later on, I can communicate directly with the minister the name of the Business and Consumer Services employees, who are going to issue a directive to the weigh station inspectors to start fining truckers that are overweight when they just come in barely a few lengths of the rig into the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now, that is some way to greet members of the trucking industry when they come into Nova Scotia, fine them, and then sell them permits, whereas in the past, as I say, perhaps one of the truckers or one of the employees would pick up the phone, get a hold of the minister and tell him what is going on within his own department, because it is starting to be disgraceful.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 610

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

Whereas Dr. Anthony Lamplugh has recently retired after 42 years as a general practitioner and doctor of family medicine in Dartmouth; and

[Page 1210]

Whereas Dr. Lamplugh has provided outstanding care, wisdom and understanding to families, seniors, and caregivers in the Dartmouth area; and

Whereas Dr. Lamplugh has also served on the board of the Nova Scotia Hospital, and as Warden of St. Luke's Anglican Church and Christ Church in Dartmouth;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Dr. Lamplugh for his service to his community and extend its best wishes to him on his retirement.

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 611

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

Whereas Prime Minister Chretien exhibits a complete lack of understanding of the issue of hepatitis C compensation; and

Whereas Judge Krever recommended all who are infected by hepatitis C virus through tainted blood or blood products be compensated; and

Whereas the Minister of Health still fails to accept responsibility for all victims;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health join the growing lobby to negotiate with Ottawa a fair and just compensation package including all victims.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 1211]

RESOLUTION NO. 612

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

Whereas today, Thursday, June 11th, people in Nova Scotia mining communities will be observing Davis Day, in memory of miner Bill Davis who died while fighting for the rights of miners in New Waterford in 1925; and

Whereas over the years this day has come to be known as Miners' Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for all workers killed in mines in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government has improved Nova Scotia's workplace health and safety rules and is, through partnerships, forming a culture to prevent for all workers in all workplaces;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House, the members of this House take time today to remember miners who have died while on the job and to renew their commitment to creating a safer, healthier Nova Scotia.

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

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 Cumberland North on an introduction.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to introduce to the House the Grade 6 class from St. Charles Elementary School in Amherst. Along with the Grade 6 class, we have: teachers, Margaret Myles, and Linda Harrison; principal, Marlene Barnett; as well as parents, Dan Jolly, Mike Allan, Don Cormier, Rick Creamer, Larry Hunter, Joann McCoag, Fred McIsaac; as well as bus driver, Bob Carter. It would be my pleasure to ask them to rise to receive the acclamation of the House. (Applause)

[Page 1212]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 613

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

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas those of Hellenic or Greek heritage in Halifax and throughout the province are part of a vibrant community; and

Whereas an important part of the culture is the idea of Philoxenia or hospitality; and

Whereas this Friday is the beginning of the annual festival, the Greekfest, celebrating this tradition;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate St. George's Greek Orthodox Church and its congregation for their contribution to the multicultural fabric of Nova Scotia society.

I request waiver, sir.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 614

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

[Page 1213]

Whereas the Halifax International Airport Authority has been negotiating with Transport Canada for two years trying to get an agreement that will result in capital improvements to the airport, which the authority says are essential to its long-term viability; and

Whereas three business organizations recently announced that they will be erecting billboards in downtown areas of Halifax and Ottawa stating "We want a fair deal"; and

Whereas Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce General Manager, Valerie Pay, said the three organizations felt it was time to speak out because we continue to see reticence on the part of the federal representatives to treat Halifax in a way comparable to other communities across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier do more than simply plan to meet with Prime Minister Jean Chretien sometime because such meetings have a history of being unproductive, i.e. the BST relief, federal highway agreements, northern shrimp allocation, et cetera.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 615

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

Whereas the federal government continues to discriminate against Nova Scotia by refusing to fund needed renovations at Halifax International Airport; and

Whereas the Premier has refused to participate in joint attempts to mount an all-Party lobby with the business community in support of these renovations and says he will take care of it himself when he meets the Prime Minister this summer; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have already seen the Premier return empty handed from lobbying trips to Ottawa on a range of issues from the BST to Sable royalties;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier to join others in the campaign for fairness for the Halifax International Airport because his track record shows he will get nowhere on his own.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1214]

RESOLUTION NO. 616

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

WHEREAS the Liberal Government cut over 30 per cent of acute care beds and put a moratorium on new nursing home beds at the same time as the demand was increasing due to our aging population; and

Whereas this ill-conceived and irresponsible action has created a bottleneck in the health care system with as much as 20 per cent of acute care beds being occupied by long-term care patients, resulting in Nova Scotians who need hospital care being turned away at the hospital door; and

Whereas the Premier has broken his election promise to add an additional 170 long-term care beds this year, promising instead to simply plan for them this year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, who has a habit of promising but never delivering, acknowledge there is an urgent need to free acute care beds occupied by long-term care patients so that access to hospital care is available to Nova Scotians when they need it and that he immediately lift this government's four year moratorium on new nursing home care beds.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 617

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 Metro Chamber of Commerce, TIANS, and the Hotel Association have launched a billboard campaign in Halifax and Ottawa to continue its two year battle for a fair deal from the federal government on upgrading the Halifax International Airport; and

Whereas the Premier has turned down invitations to be part of an all-Party and business community delegation to lobby the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport to get for Halifax International Airport the same federal support that has already been given to airports in Ottawa and Winnipeg; and

Whereas the Premier says not to worry, he will straighten it out in a meeting with the Prime Minister after the current session of the House ends;

[Page 1215]

Therefore be it resolved that this House believes it is not good enough for the Premier to promise a mid-summer tête-à-tête with the Prime Minister and calls on him to participate immediately with all Parties in this House in a united effort to obtain fairness for the Halifax International Airport.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 618

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

Whereas in a news release issued by the Liberal Government on November 12, 1996, a used tire recycling program was announced that would allegedly take, on an annual basis, 900,000 used tires in Nova Scotia and turn them into recyclable, marketable products; and

Whereas the Liberal Government stuck Nova Scotians with a $3.00 tire tax for every vehicle tire they had replaced and led them to believe it would be used in the recycling of tires; and

Whereas disturbing stockpiles of tires continue to resurface in Nova Scotia as Nova Scotia's fire marshal's office has been called in to investigate at least four sites in Colchester, Pictou and Annapolis Counties because of the residents' concerns over fire and potential lingering health hazards if the piles of tires were ever to catch fire;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment immediately call a team of senior environmental officials together to see what is wrong with the tire recycling program so corrections can be made before problems get any worse.

Mr. Speaker, I request wavier of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness on an introduction.

[Page 1216]

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce Mr. Burton MacIntyre of Whycocomagh. Burton is retired now from teaching school in Whycocomagh and has become a full-time community activist. Some of his year is spent with the Whycocomagh Summer Festival and this year he has brochures going out in English, French, German and Gaelic which will show the numbers of people who are attending the festival. I would like to introduce Burton MacIntyre if he would stand and take the applause of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 619

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Council for the Family honours individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the well-being of children and families within Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this award recognizes the leadership abilities of an individual; and

Whereas the winner of this year's awards were given to Karen Chisholm of the Children's Aid Society of Inverness-Richmond; Debbie Hockley of the Federation of Foster Families Association; Pat Lord of the Children's Aid Society of Pictou County; and Veronica Marsman of the Cole Harbour Office of Community Services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 1998 winners of the Nova Scotia Council for the Families annual awards.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 1217]

RESOLUTION NO. 620

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

Whereas Joshua Slocum was a world-recognized sailor, acknowledged for his single-handed voyage around the world; and

Whereas as a sailor, Captain Slocum, on his ship, The Spray, was familiar with the rough seas during his 1898 feat of sailing around the world; and

Whereas it would seem appropriate to recognize the 100th Anniversary of this great Nova Scotian's accomplishment;

Therefore be it resolved that this government and its Minister of Transportation and Public Works, celebrate this anniversary by ordering the immediate paving of Joshua Slocum Road in Lewis Lake, to enable smoother sailing for residents of this rough stretch of Nova Scotia road.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 621

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

Whereas Dr. Roy Harding, Chief of Staff, Digby General Hospital recently resigned stating, "the concept of regionalization has failed miserably"; and

Whereas in his letter of resignation, Dr. Harding said that as a result of regionalization the bureaucracy has burgeoned, services deteriorated, decision-making stalled, and communities and health care workers disenfranchised; and

Whereas Dr. Harding further stated that the desire to proceed with regionalization may well have been motivated by the desire to shift the responsibility for this poor planning away from the Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Health acknowledge that regional health boards have been a disaster, and that they commit today to restore access and confidence in the health care system by working with health care consumers and providers in identifying a process for unravelling the mess they created through regional health boards.

[Page 1218]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 622

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

Whereas young women in Nova Scotia should be encouraged and supported to take an active part in their community; and

Whereas the Zonta Club of Halifax is dedicated to encouraging women in professional and volunteer endeavours;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Meera Gupta, a student at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, and Aimee Gillis, of Musquodoboit Rural High School, on being first and second place recipients, respectively, of the Young Women in Public Affairs Award sponsored by the Zonta Club of Halifax.

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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 623

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

Whereas fire and health hazards exist in areas across Nova Scotia because of the Liberal Government's inept handling of the recycling of used tires; and

[Page 1219]

Whereas the Liberal Government saddled Nova Scotia with a $3.00 tire tax in 1997, leading them to believe that change was necessary for effective recycling of 900,000 tires; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's fire marshal's office has now been called in to investigate at least three sites because of fire hazards relating to the mass stockpiling of used tires;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment and this Liberal Government begin offering Nova Scotians value for their tax dollar by eliminating the $3.00 charge for tires until Nova Scotians are at least getting what they are being taxed for, which is an effective and workable tire recycling operation.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 624

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

Whereas despite the imposition by the Liberal Government of the $215 Pharmacare premium on Nova Scotian seniors, the Pharmacare Program fails to provide coverage for many needed prescriptions, like Aricept; and

Whereas the standard Liberal response to criticism of Pharmacare is to talk about the program in Saskatchewan; and

Whereas the Saskatchewan program is in fact superior to the Nova Scotia program in several respects, including comprehensiveness and cost to low-income seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government abandon its fixation with the Province of Saskatchewan, and instead focus on making the necessary improvements to Pharmacare in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 1220]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 625

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

Whereas when the United States Government shut down in December 1995, because Congress would not pass the budget submitted by the Secretary for the Treasury, 260,000 federal employees were sent home with no pay by day three of the shutdown; and

Whereas agencies which ran out of funding and had to be shut down included the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, and Justice Departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency; and

Whereas this is the kind of chaos the NDP wants to visit upon Nova Scotia by similarly refusing to grant Supply and pass the budget, the same as the right-wing Republican Party did in the U.S.;

Therefore be it resolved that the House considers as scandalous, the announced intentions of the socialistic New Democratic Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 626

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 Liberal snake oil salesmen, led by the Premier and the Minister of Education have told Nova Scotians that, through the magic of P3, they can build $270 million worth of new schools without adding to the deficit; and

Whereas the comments of the Auditor General at Public Accounts yesterday make it clear that the Liberal snake oil salesmen are no closer to proving that claim today than they were when they first made it last fall; and

[Page 1221]

[12:30 p.m.]

Whereas the only thing that P3 has accomplished so far has been to give the Minister of Education unrestricted use of the government credit card to build an over-priced school in his own riding while stalling the construction of needed schools elsewhere;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Premier and the Minister of Education for the reckless and irresponsible way they have approached the construction of needed schools in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 627

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

Whereas the Premier has indicated he wants the public to be made aware of good news health stories; and

Whereas at 8:59 a.m. on June 10th, the cleaning staff at the Victoria General Hospital rushed to find hospital medical staff who could come to the assistance of a woman who had collapsed on the front steps of the hospital; and

Whereas the cleaning staff tried to get help and were informed that the best the hospital staff could do was to assist them in calling an ambulance;

Therefore be it resolved that this Minister of Health send a congratulatory letter to the University Avenue Fire Station for their speedy and successful response to this emergency situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 628

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

[Page 1222]

Whereas Chris Campbell was, during his short life, a great example of volunteerism for the residents of the communities along the Prospect Road from Goodwood to West Dover; and

Whereas volunteers serve as an integral part of all Nova Scotian communities; and

Whereas teachers in particular give of themselves above and beyond the call of duty as coaches, advisers and community resource people;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Brookside resident and Brookside Junior High teacher James Stewart, a teacher, coach and involved community member, for his selection as this year's winner of the Chris Campbell Community Volunteer Award.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 629

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

Whereas Don Weeks opened his own business on May 13th called Escape Outdoors; and

Whereas Mr. Weeks' store carries a full line of fishing, hunting and camping supplies for outdoor enthusiasts; and

Whereas Escape Outdoors is one of the many fine stores that the Town of Amherst has to offer;

[Page 1223]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend congratulations to Don Weeks and wish him and Escape Outdoors every success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 630

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

Whereas according to Statistics Canada the cost of housing for both renters and homeowners declined between 1990 and 1996; and

Whereas according to Statistics Canada this decline was not as great as the 12.4 per cent decline in real income for renters and the 5 per cent drop for homeowners; and

Whereas the drop in income means that housing, especially rental housing, is less affordable for Canadians and Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets that the regressive economic policies being pursued by both federal and provincial Liberal Governments are eroding incomes and affecting the affordability of basic needs like housing.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 631

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

[Page 1224]

Whereas the Victoria General Hospital once symbolized the pinnacle of health care in Nova Scotia before three hapless Liberal Ministers of Health demolished its fame and function; and

Whereas a woman collapsed outside the Victoria General site of the QE II and was transported to the new Infirmary site of the QE II by fire crews; and

Whereas a QE II spokesperson claimed this bizarre incident was quite in order since the area outside the Victoria General main entrance was a public area and not part of the hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that this is yet another good news health care story; placing the QE II spin doctors at the cutting edge in their field, which should make our Premier very proud indeed.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 632

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

Whereas regional health boards have simply not proven their worth in this province, no matter what the Minister of Health or this Liberal Government want you to believe; and

Whereas the community health plan unveiled in Dartmouth last evening, and presented to the Central Regional Health Board, showed inexcusable gaps in home care, overworked social workers and a shortage of mental health services; and

Whereas this is the third plan presented by a community health board in the central region in the past two weeks;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health move to ensure recommendations from these community health boards are given immediate attention instead of being allowed to collect large quantities of dust on the desk of the Central Regional Health Board office in downtown Halifax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 1225]

RESOLUTION NO. 633

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

Whereas when the United States Government shut down in December 1995, because of the Republican majority in Congress not passing the administration-sponsored budget, millions of veterans failed to receive their normal cheques; and

Whereas at the same time, families on welfare faced New Year's Day without a cheque because the budget had not been passed and there was no money to pay them; and

Whereas this is the kind of situation which would take place here in Nova Scotia if the NDP plan to deny Supply were to succeed;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House, the public and the media should ask the socialistic NDP for what reason they seek to impose such punishment on the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 634

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

Whereas registered nurses and licensed practical nurses from the North Queens Nursing Home have joined staff at nursing homes across this province in calling for pay parity between employees of nursing homes and those in the acute care sector; and

Whereas the current wage disparity is not only unfair, but also negatively affects the quality of patient care in nursing homes; and

Whereas during the recent election campaign, the Premier stated that he wants all nurses in the province to be treated the same;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Premier of his commitment, and urge the government to ensure that the disparity between nurses and acute care and long-term care facilities is eliminated.

[Page 1226]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 635

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

Whereas 17 year old Jonathan Moules of Jordan Ferry was named Canada's Student Entrepreneur of the Year at the annual Young Entrepreneurs Going Places Conference in Halifax; and

Whereas the award was given to Jonathan for his lawn care business, which serves 40 customers as well as his being a landlord of a house with ocean-front property; and

Whereas Jonathan's future plans are to attend the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, where he will take the Landscape Technician Program;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Jonathan Moules on his award and wish him the best in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 636

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

[Page 1227]

Whereas the Halifax International Airport is one of the key economic drivers for our future prosperity, generating 9,500 direct and indirect jobs besides supporting the province's $1 billion annual tourism industry, which continues to grow; and

Whereas the Halifax International Airport Authority and Transport Canada have reached an impasse relative to bringing the airport under local control; and

Whereas the Halifax International Airport Authority is growing increasingly frustrated with federal bureaucrats, who seem more intent on justifying the historical under-investment of the airport than finding a solution which permits the airport to be treated fairly;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately put together an all-Party committee to work in concert and cooperation with the Halifax International Airport, instead of sitting idly by when so much is at stake.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 637

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 federal government has totally ignored requests for northern shrimp allocations from four Nova Scotian applicants, giving the total 28,100 metric ton quota to the Province of Newfoundland; and

Whereas since the announcement, Nova Scotian fishing interests have been bombarded with requests from Newfoundland interests to see whether they could provide vessels to help catch this new allocation; and

Whereas this slap in the face confirms the lack of fairness and research shown by the federal government in allocating this important resource;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Fisheries demand that Ottawa immediately review this decision and treat Nova Scotian companies with equal considerations as those in Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 1228]

RESOLUTION NO. 638

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

Whereas nearly one-quarter of the workforce of this province receive remuneration for their efforts which place them below the national standard measurement value for the poverty line; and

Whereas these people face the day to day reality that no one cares, that they are too well-off to receive assistance from funded program, and too poor to provide for their families; and

Whereas the highly touted social service support systems in this province largely ignore the problems of the working poor because they are not visible, vocal or newsworthy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier act immediately to form an all-Party committee with the mandate to gather information from the working poor of this province so that policies can be developed which will address this serious issue.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 639

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

Whereas agriculture is the lifeblood of rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture believes the building up of the infrastructure by maintaining roads and hospitals are very important to rural Nova Scotia; and

[Page 1229]

Whereas this Liberal Government has failed the litmus test when it comes to maintaining the proper infrastructure in rural Nova Scotia, which people can depend upon, with the most example being a reduction of $30 million in the Department of Transportation's road maintenance budget;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government begin paying attention to the wise advice being offered by such respected organizations as the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and being doing something that assists rural Nova Scotia instead of continually blindsiding communities with massive health care and road maintenance cuts.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honorable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 640

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

Whereas horse racing has been an integral part of the cultural and economic fabrics of the constituency of Truro-Bible Hill for 123 years; and

Whereas the harness racing industry throughout the Maritimes, including that at the Truro Raceway, has had a difficult time financially in recent years; and

Whereas the assumption of the management of the Truro Raceway and other Nova Scotia race tracks, by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, brings a three year promise of financial stability to the tracks and thus provides an opportunity for the management and horsemen to restore health to this important industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend best wishes to the management, staff and horsemen as they hold a very special race day, Sunday, June 14th, which will include both the John Conway Memorial Race and family activities and entertainment to officially celebrate the revitalization of harness racing at the Truro Raceway.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1230]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 641

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

Whereas Pugwash-based Seagull Pewter and Silversmiths Limited has unveiled its 20th Anniversary giftware lines; and

Whereas Seagull Pewter employs approximately 400 people in three Pugwash facilities with annual sales of over $25 million; and

Whereas Seagull Pewter has established the Seagull Foundation, a non-profit organization, which uses 10 per cent of the company's profits for projects which focus on education and the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend their congratulations and best wishes to John Caraberis and Bonnie Bond and their employees of Seagull Pewter and Silversmiths.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[12:45 p.m.]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

[Page 1231]

RESOLUTION NO. 642

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

Whereas Ross Farm has recently opened new nature trails featuring wildlife and plant life found in the local area; and

Whereas the trail is broken into three parts: County Road, Lake Shore Walk and Meadow Trail, each offering a different environment from dense forest to the shore of Lake Lawson; and

Whereas the trails each contain many rest stops and information panels describing the local plant and wildlife;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Director of Ross Farm, Allan Hiltz, as well as all the other workers on the opening of the new trails and encourage everyone to come and take a walk amongst the natural beauty of New Ross.

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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 643

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

Whereas a family in Newburne operate the Lunenburg County Winery, which has been exporting blueberry wine to Japan as well as winning medals in Canada; and

[Page 1232]

Whereas the winery located on Hackmatack Farm is operated by Les and Janet Southwell, their daughter Heather, her husband Dan Sanft, and their children, Hans and Thyra; and

Whereas Lunenburg County Winery makes wine from pears, apples, rhubarb, cranberry and a host of other fruits offering the people of Japan, as well as the Province of Nova Scotia, a taste of our products;

Therefore be it resolved that all the members of the House of Assembly extend congratulations to the people of Lunenburg County Winery for its success overseas and wish them continued success in their winemaking business.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 644

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova has delved into the world of poisons and offered constituents his version of how dangerous arsenic can be by saying arsenic is only dangerous if swallowed; and

Whereas information obtained via the Internet clearly shows that arsenic compounds can be corrosive to the skin and prolonged contact can lead to vesicular eruption; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer and a nurse at the Poison Control Centre at the IWK both have begged to differ with the member for Cape Breton Nova, with nurse Elizabeth Brown saying that arsenic can be absorbed through the skin, by inhalation and through the eyes;

[Page 1233]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton Nova stop embarrassing himself by providing Nova Scotians with his useless mutterings on arsenic poisoning and encourage his Minister of the Environment to do what is best for the families of Whitney Pier.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I protest the content of that resolution, it is totally false and vicious. I would say that I am no more outraged by its content than the honourable member would be if I had stood up and made some unfounded and inaccurate false accusation against him.

I do not purport to be a chemist or a toxicologist, I have no knowledge or expertise in the areas that he accuses me of making a diagnosis of and I am not guilty of the charges that he makes against me. I think that resolution is a provocative one and designed to degrade the tenor of the House.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. I rise on the member's point of order. What really struck me is that it wasn't a point of order but in fact what it was, was an attempt on the member's behalf to debate the resolution that was put before the House. What I think would be a more appropriate response from this member would be to encourage his government to call during Government Business that resolution for debate. I would recommend that the intervention was not, in fact, a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 645

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

Whereas the Wee Care Developmental Centre in Halifax celebrates its 25th Anniversary and grand re-opening today in a new building, after rebounding from a devastating fire in 1991; and

Whereas Wee Care was founded by the Cerebral Palsy Association in 1973, to serve children with a wide range of challenges such as Down's Syndrome, autism, and spina bifida; and

Whereas physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech/language pathology are all available at Wee Care to maximize and enhance a child's ability and potential;

[Page 1234]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Wee Care Developmental Centre on its anniversary and grand re-opening and also extend thanks to the workers and volunteers who help improve the lives of children with challenges.

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

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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 646

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

Whereas the Savage Liberal Government has failed to adequately maintain the secondary road network in this province; and

Whereas the MacLellan Liberal Government has continued that proud tradition of ignoring the people of rural Nova Scotia by further reducing the capital allocation of the Department of Transportation and Public Works for highway construction in their present budget; and

Whereas the Mossman Road in West Northfield, Lunenburg County is a secondary road that is in a horrendous state of repair, and the neglect continues;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works use some of his meagre resources to repair and reconstruct the Mossman Road in West Northfield, Lunenburg County.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The time is now 12:52 p.m., so we will terminate Question Period at 13:52 p.m.

[Page 1235]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC. - LANTZ ELEM. SCH.:

CONSTRUCTION COMMENCEMENT - MIN. ATTEND

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I put my question, through you, to the Minister of Education. The minister knows that his government set June 15th for the date construction would begin for the much-needed school in Lantz. The community, the parents and interested folks have invited the three Party Leaders to attend, as well as the minister and other politicians. I know I'm planning to go, and I would like to ask the minister if he himself is planning to attend the ceremony?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the question, I think, has more to do with whether or not we're going to meet the June 15th deadline for the badly needed school in East Hants, in Lantz. As I have indicated in many communications, we are doing everything we can to meet that deadline of June 15th.

MR. CHISHOLM: If the minister is not going to go, then hopefully he will send the Premier along, because I know the parents would certainly appreciate that. My first supplementary to the minister, can he in fact confirm that on Monday, construction activity will commence and that it will continue, without delay, to have this school constructed?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, that has been our goal, it continues to be our goal, and we are committed to trying to achieve that date of June 15th, not just the beginning of construction, but through to the completion of the construction of a new school in East Hants.

MR. CHISHOLM: I am trying to decide whether that was a yes or a no. I shouldn't be surprised, but I had prepared for the Premier, so therefore, I was expecting a yes or no. I would like, then, to ask the minister in my final supplementary - let's assume that what he said was yes, that they are going to go ahead on June 15th - would the minister indicate to me whether in fact this is a confirmation that the government, of which he is a part, is commencing with the construction of this badly needed school, without a report from the Auditor General, meaning that the question on how to finance the schools will be decided down the road?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the role of the Auditor General, I'm sure the member opposite knows, is to make sure that there is an arm's length, objective view of the handling of the finances. He knows full well that we've given the letter to the Auditor General, asking

[Page 1236]

that he review the Ashford lease for Amherst, as well as the O'Connell lease, to ensure that our external auditors, meaning those with whom we've been working - two international/ national firms, who guide us along the way to make sure we're within CICA guidelines - that their conclusions are in fact found out to be his conclusions. The more important issue here is whether we'll be ready on June 15th. We want to be ready on June 15th, we're doing everything we can to be ready on June 15th. I hope we are ready on June 15th. We have made a commitment as a target date for that and if we are on June 15th, we will continue the construction through to the completion of a school.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

HEALTH - QE II: LIFE SUPPORT - FIREFIGHTERS ASSIST.

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the honourable Minister of Health. My question to you is, Mr. Minister, four years into the amalgamation of four very well functioning tertiary care or primary care health units in Halifax, we now have the QE II. In the last two years, twice have firefighters been called to various sub-units of that mega-unit. Yesterday firefighters were called to the main entrance of the QE II, the VG side as you know, to assist a patient. Would you please comment?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, maybe the honourable member has information that I do not that that person they were called for was, in fact, a patient. He is saying that the person was a patient. I am not quite sure of that. I am seeking information on that. However, I want to table, I have here today the dispatch and the timing of that, 4 minutes 13 seconds, we had a team in place there of advance life support. They had defibrillators, they had appropriate medications and that person was well taken care of. That is the report that I have from the hospital at this time. I would like to table that for the member.

So I think it really shows that the system is up and working. This person was there in some capacity. I think that is a very appropriate response and was very efficient. I am pleased to see again that the 911 system is up and working.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, I am amazed that the Minister of Health wants to tell Nova Scotians what a patient is. In my view, when I went to medical school, a patient was somebody who appeared to be ill. Whether or not the receptionist then decided that the patient is not a patient, is an in or outpatient, is not the matter here. This is not the time to crow about the efficiency of the 911 service. We are dispirited at the QE II. We are employed there. My question to the Minister of Health is does he have a plan to revamp the flagging spirits at the QE II and at the VG and what are those plans?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, last night I met with several cardiovascular surgeons from the QE II. I could take the time here today of the House, I am sure that you would call me to order.

[Page 1237]

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly will.

DR. SMITH: But I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, that the people in Nova Scotia are getting a first-class service in many areas of health care. (Applause) The results from there, it is the only place in Canada that is doing laser surgery on cardiacs. People are trying to come from other provinces and these are highly trained, skilled physicians, one who came from the United States, the top resident of the Massachusetts General, one of the top residents. He is now currently working in here along with his wife, an anaesthetist. I am telling you we have a first-class service and it is time that we got our act together in this province and we start to talk about the good news stories and not putting down the health care system. (Applause)

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: My last supplementary, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Minister of Health, I would like to ask the honourable Minister of Health to do the honourable thing and stop playing shallow games and charading around and not taking direct responsibility. Our hospital is in a crisis. Our nurses are dispirited. My question to the minister is when will he take direct responsibility, himself or through a capable deputy minister, of our once-upon-a-time very good hospital?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have a very capable deputy minister and I am not quite sure what he meant by, when would we have a responsible deputy minister. We have a very responsible deputy minister. We have a very responsible board. We have an excellent chair of the QE II. We have good physicians there, and other physicians and other groups can learn from some of those systems that are working, like the cardiovascular surgery in this area, if we follow those models, and that is what I would encourage. I accept responsibility as Minister of Health for the standards and the quality of care, but we do it through the boards and we do it properly and we do it in the right way and that is the quality of care that we assure Nova Scotians.

[1:00 p.m.]

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

HUMAN RTS. COMM'N.: EXEC. DIR. - CONTRACT RENEWAL

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act. Wayne MacKay is currently the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission and I believe he has been in that position for a few years, and I would hope that everyone in this House would agree he has done a commendable job; indeed, this government across the way has actually renewed his contract at least once. Mr. MacKay, specifically, has shown some leadership even recently with the same-sex benefits decision and settlement.

[Page 1238]

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that Mr. Wayne MacKay's contract as Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission will not be renewed this year. My question to the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act is, why he has decided not to renew Mr. MacKay's contract?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the contract runs until September and at such time when it is appropriate, whether there is a renewal or not shall be made public. I think it is a little premature at this juncture to comment one way or the other on this appointment.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, it is also my understanding that every one of the Human Rights Commissioners, except one, has written a letter to the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act asking that Mr. MacKay's contract be renewed. Again, I ask the question, has the minister decided not to renew Mr. MacKay's contract and if so, why is he ignoring the advice of his commissioners?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Human Rights Commission has functioned in a very strong manner, and there is no question that there have been letters of support for various people in various roles. I take that very seriously. Again, I repeat, the announcement will be made at the appropriate time.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, as the minister, I am sure, is aware, the Human Rights Commission deals with a lot of contentious and controversial issues with regard to human rights in this province, as they have in the past. Mr. MacKay has brought a very strong, non-partisan approach to the office he holds. Can the minister tell us today that if Mr. MacKay is not renewed, which is our understanding, will there be an all-Party process developed to ensure that it is dealt with properly?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is a hypothetical question, and I don't feel that I have to respond as Minister of the Crown to those types of questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. - NORTHERN SHRIMP: QUOTA - STATUS

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Fisheries. Over the past three or four weeks we have had a crisis in the sense that northern shrimp has been allocated all to Newfoundland, with Nova Scotia having none of its demands met in any manner whatsoever. I would like to ask the minister, can he tell this House as to what the status is in this regard and whether his deliberations with the federal government have shed any light as to whether or not we will be getting any allocations?

[Page 1239]

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for this question. It is a very important question for many of our communities in Nova Scotia. We have been working with the communities in an exerted effort to try to get shrimp quota for Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, they use an adjacency rule in this case, and I think it is a convenience rule that they have used to have the shrimp quota go to Newfoundland. We are presently looking at ways to get quota for our local communities and we will continue to work on that until we are successful.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I listened to the honourable minister give his answer, and he talked about adjacency and I look at the areas on the Eastern Shore which are, in my estimation, somewhat adjacent to the stock. I find it very hard to believe that we haven't been able to put forward a more forward and forceful position to the federal government.

I was listening to the minister on the CBC Radio yesterday, Mr. Speaker, and I noticed that he was confident he could work out an arrangement of negotiations with Newfoundland to share some of this quota. I would like to ask the minister if he could share some of his optimism with the House? I think all members would like to hear that.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. It has come to our attention that it is very possible that Newfoundland is not going to be able to harvest the shrimp quota that they have nor are they going to be able to process it this year. In the event that they can't harvest it in particular, more so than the processing, they will then revert that stock to foreign fleets for fishing. Therefore, we have been lobbying and working with the local communities to gain intelligence of exactly how much they can harvest and what they can't harvest to make sure that it can be harvested here so Nova Scotia companies or other companies in Canada have access to this resource in the event that Newfoundland can't harvest it.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable minister brings up a fact that has become very much apparent in the last few days, that Newfoundland was given the quota without the capacity to catch the fish. Now, this is the federal government giving a resource of the Country of Canada to the Province of Newfoundland without them even being able to catch it. Now what rationale is that and why hasn't Nova Scotia had its share of this resource? We deserve it. I ask the minister again . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. LEBLANC: I ask the minister again, what position will be put forward, and I appreciate that he is sending letters, but that hasn't worked . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. LEBLANC: . . . and we have to put forward a more forceful position.

[Page 1240]

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. LEBLANC: Will he and the Premier put that forward today?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the concern that the honourable member has and we share that concern. We have met with the federal minister, I met with the federal minister. The Premier has spoken with the federal minister and we continue to lobby for this stock. It is critical to Nova Scotia, but more importantly, we are doing something that has never been done before. We are working with the communities, the communities are united and all the communities, right from the union to the fish processors to the town councils in these areas, are working with us very closely to ensure that we get a strong representation in Ottawa and ensure we get a quota for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - TRACC: RECYCLING CONTRACT - TERMS FULFIL

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of the Environment. On November 12, 1996, this government released an announcement about a tire recycling program with a great deal of fanfare as a solution to the mountains of tires going into our landfills, creating fire hazards and environmental problems. I would ask the minister, why, when it is well documented that the company which received this contract, TRACC, which was supposed to solve these problems by recycling tires, instead is simply stockpiling and shredding hundreds of thousands of tires at great risk to our environment?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the contract is out there. Six hundred thousand tires will be used to provide cow mattresses, a contract that will be very beneficial to the fact that we produce about 600,000 tires a year and the consumption side for that contract alone will basically eliminate all tires consumed for this purpose on a yearly basis. I compliment TRACC. It was a good contract for them and it is a good contract for us from an environmental point of view.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I am amazed that in light of the photographic evidence that we have of the mountains of shredded tires stored in the fire lanes at this establishment, why Nova Scotians are still being charged $3.00 per tire when there is virtually no genuine recycling taking place at this operation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table them.

MR. CHARD: I would table these photographs and I would ask why, in light of the fact that the fire marshal's office is investigating TRACC for possible violations, why, in light of that fact, and in light of the fact that both residents and former TRACC employees have expressed grave concerns . . .

[Page 1241]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHARD: . . . about the potential fire hazard, why has the department allowed this potential disaster to develop? It has not developed overnight. This situation has been going on . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we, too, have been watching the situation and in turn we have contacted the fire marshal under the Department of Labour. Just before I turn that question over to the Department of Labour, I want to point out that to be able to enforce the property owners' Act, it is under the Department of Labour, and the fire marshal, in fact, deals with this. We, too, are concerned about the issue of the tires that are being piled up and we, in turn, have communicated that issue with the Department of Labour. I am sure the minister responsible will be happy to report.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly have an update from last week's report that the fire marshal was preparing, a full investigation that was being conducted last week by our fire marshal's division. If the honourable member would agree to take that on notice, I will try and have that for him. I believe the fire marshal is out of the office presently on another assignment but will be back, hopefully, before the day's end.

MR. CHARD: I appreciate the comments from the two ministers. There is going to be an incredible number of pillows for cows produced from this plant to make a dent in the pile of shredded tires there. My final question, will the Minister of Labour take immediate action to deal with the problems of this site, both the fire hazards and the non-compliance of the contract?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question, but the fact of the matter is action was taken long before this question was even raised in the House. I indicated in my previous answer that I give an undertaking to give a full report from the previous work that has been done over the last number of weeks to address the very concern that the honourable member has raised. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: The fire marshal apprised me . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The conversation across the floor is not permitted.

MR. MACKINNON: My apologies, Mr. Speaker, but, again, I will give the undertaking that that full report will be made available.

[Page 1242]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

COMMUN. SERV.: SECURE TREATMENT CENTRE

(TRURO-BIBLE HILL) - COMPLETION DATE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. As most members of this House are aware, the Nova Scotia Residential Centre was closed as part of a five year Liberal purge of government institutions in the constituency of Truro-Bible Hill. Prior to its closing in February 1997 the then Minister of Community Services announced that a secure treatment centre would be built on the site of the former Nova Scotia Residential Centre. It was to have been opened early in 1998 and tenders were to have been called in 1997. Will the minister confirm to this House and to the residents of Truro-Bible Hill that planning for this secure treatment centre is ongoing, and provide a date of completion?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, yes, I will confirm that planning for a secure treatment facility is ongoing.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Community Services, planning has been ongoing according to the government for close to one and one-half years. There is nothing going on at that centre today that indicates that there is any planning going on. Indeed, there is one employee there who is a caretaker and they have been trying to get that person to take a job in another place. Will the minister kindly tell the House and the people of Truro-Bible Hill when that new centre is going to open?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, certainly this is a project that is going to be worthy of a large amount of analysis and thought. There are four subcommittees working on this and when we have all the elements in place, I will certainly be glad to give you a date, but I cannot give you a date until I have all the elements in place.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Community Services. The minister has just confirmed to the House that the government really does not know what they are doing in this particular project. Therefore, Madam Minister, let me ask you this question, please. The YMCA in Truro requested to rent the gymnasium at the Nova Scotia Residential Centre for a gymnastics program. It had done this sometime ago. This request has been turned down, according to the letter that I received from the deputy minister, because planning was ongoing for that new secure treatment centre, and it would not be possible to do that, which would imply to me, that something immediate was going to transpire, and it hasn't. Will you reconsider that request, Madam Minister, from the YMCA?

[Page 1243]

[1:15 p.m.]

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member opposite is quite aware that in the response to the YMCA, we gave them a response based on concerns that we had around some structural problems, this analysis process we're engaged in, have identified in the structure. This is a safety issue. The member opposite is fully aware of that, he's had the correspondence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - CAREER ACAD. OF AVIATION: STATUS - MIN. REITERATE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, there are seven students today, in the gallery from the Career Academy of Aviation, and all of these students are contemplating lawsuits against the school. My first question to the Minister of Education is this, yesterday in the House, the minister said he is pleased with the way the school is run, but the minister knows there have been lots of problems, so I ask the minister today, to repeat yesterday's statement in this House for the students, for the House, and for the record, to repeat his statement that he is satisfied with this school?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in response to the honourable member's questions yesterday about this school, we indicated that for quite some time, literally from the first point of contact of a student, we've worked with the Department of Transportation, which has the regulatory responsibility, for the safety and instructional standards of an aviation school. We've worked with students, and we worked with the school itself, to try and deal with difficulties that were real, and difficulties, many of them, that have been overcome. I referred in particular to a CBC article quoting a student named, Mr. Peters I believe, who felt personally that he had been satisfied that positive steps have been taken, and that he would complete his course at the school.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, yesterday when I asked another question of the minister, the answer was not given at all, and that questions was, why, if the minister is completely satisfied - and I don't hear that he is - is student aid funding still frozen? So, I'm asking the minister again, if he's satisfied, reasonably satisfied, and if he feels that everything is going just fine at that school, why is the funding still frozen, and if he is satisfied, why hasn't it been lifted?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I can speak for myself, I think, in terms of what was said yesterday and also what's being said today. There were some problems at the school and the student aid requirement was suspended, but it will be reinstated when fall intake takes place. Many of those problems have been overcome. We've worked with the students, the school, with the federal agency responsible for safety and curriculum, and we intend to see

[Page 1244]

this through, so that most importantly, the students themselves complete their course with respect to the contract that they signed with the school in the first place.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister alluded to the fact that the government department involved knew about these problems for a very long time, at least eight months. My question then is, when they learned of the problems, why didn't they act more quickly? Are they more interested in preserving the business for the owners than in the quality of the education for the students?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, our first and foremost concern was for the education of the students from day one. It was in fact the students who contacted us. We intend to build a regulatory framework that leads to a vibrant and productive private education sector in Nova Scotia. We intend to regulate that industry, through consultation, by building regulations and Statutes that not only govern the affairs of high-quality private trade schools, but also ensure that the consumer is afforded protection through those regulations. It is a challenge to find a blend between government intervention and private sector affairs and the protection of consumers, but we're confident we can find that blend by meeting with those very schools themselves.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC.: PRIVATE TRADE SCHOOLS - POLICY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, clearly the minister's department has not found that blend. I have a document here, and I don't know whether I have to table it or not, it's from the Labour Market Development Secretariat, which is part of the Department of Education. It's dated June 5th, last week. (Interruptions) I'll be happy to table it. It's dated last week, and it says, right on Page 6 of this document under Private Trade Schools, that at present the onus is on students to determine the legitimacy and quality of private trade schools. So my question to the minister is can the minister confirm that this document from last week is policy and that the onus is on students to determine the quality of a private trade school?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Auditor General some time ago pointed out the inadequacy of the present Act. That is precisely why we are meeting with the industry to consult with them on the building of new regulations and new Acts to find that blend and that balance between private sector rights and freedoms to do their business and public sector or government intervention to ensure that consumers are protected. There is an element of self-policing, there is an element of ensuring that they are not over-regulated. It is finding that balance point and we are doing so with the industry and with the students involved.

[Page 1245]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the government is in an extremely contradictory position in this case, I would think. I would like to ask the minister, based exactly on what he just said, how can he possibly justify a licensing which gives the appearance of regulation yet places the onus on the student? If they are not going to do that, what is going to be different this time around that gives the students protection? Who is going to ensure the quality of the programs in those schools?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we are venturing into a philosophical argument about how much regulatory and intervention there should be on the part of government in the affairs of private industry. But the clear question is, enough to make sure that there is a thriving industry and that there is protection for students. There is no question about the inadequacy of the Act, that's why we are revamping it. That's why we have made a commitment to bring in by September a new Statute and regulations that do this. The challenge is to find that balance point so that we have a healthy industry and that we also make sure that consumers have information, protection and, more importantly, access to student loans and student opportunities that are made for and determined here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, let's assume he is not going to keep consulting until the previously mentioned cows come home. Let's consider the notion that he has had a change of heart and he is now going to protect the students of this province. My final supplementary has to do with the current situation not the future.

Some of the students who are here today have lost $5,000 in loan remission because the school failed to meet its commitments to them. What will the minister and his department do to assist students who have been victims of his own department's negligence and irresponsibility, Mr. Speaker?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, negligence is a strong word to use for enforcing an Act that is inadequate and at the same time admitting that we are going to build a new Act. So we have an Act and a regulatory power that doesn't go far enough and we are working with the industry to make sure that it goes further.

As far as the students are concerned, we continue to work with students, in fact, we lead the country in loan remission generosity and we are instrumental in ensuring that the last February federal budget was named the Education Budget; by working with the student leaders of this province, we ensured their voices were carried to Ottawa to make sure that our generous program, the most generous program in the country was matched by federal programs to assist students.

[Page 1246]

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

ENVIRON.: TRACC - FORMER PRESIDENT (DOUG VICARS)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of the Environment a question. Against the advice of the interdepartmental committee, against the advice of the Resource Recovery Fund Board's then President, Elwood Dillman - in fact Mr. Dillman resigned over this matter - and against the advice of the Progressive Conservatives, your government entered into an arrangement with Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation and signed a deal with the President, Doug Vicars. I want to ask the Minister of the Environment why the President, Doug Vicars, was fired?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is really my business to delve into the company's hiring and firing practices. The good news is that the company has got a management team in place where they signed a contract to consume some 600,000 tires in Nova Scotia, a good environmental program creating jobs in a part of Nova Scotia that needs jobs and I am very happy for the work that they are doing.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, several solid Nova Scotia companies were never given an opportunity to take their management team to that government and negotiate a sound tire recycling deal. Now what we have is a situation in Kings County, in Colchester County, in the Halifax Regional Municipality, in Annapolis County and in Pictou County, just to name a few, where mounds and mounds, hundreds of thousands of tires are piled up, and guess what? Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation will not take those tires. My question is very simple. What are these groups supposed to do with these tires that are causing a fire hazard in the communities across Nova Scotia?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I guess one of the questions is, why would they have kept so many tires on side prior to the contract? Some of those companies had purchased a number of tires before the contract was even let, I guess the question is in regard to that.

The main issue here, from an environmental point of view, as Minister of the Environment in consultation with the Minister of Labour, who has the ability to enforce the Fire Prevention Act provisions, to make sure that safety is the key issue - I believe that is what the member opposite is referring to - and as the Minister of the Environment it is my responsibility to concur with that, that we need to make sure that those supplies of tires are not a hazard to the environment and to the people of this province.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, several terms and conditions in that contract that that government has with Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation are being violated. Penalties of $10,000 a week are being forgiven; they are turning a blind eye. This province generates 900,000 tires at least a year, and it is not 600,000.

[Page 1247]

Again, I go to the Minister of the Environment and I ask him, what are Nova Scotians supposed to do with the used tires that are stored in violation of the guidelines established by the Ministers of the Environment across this country?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the contract for 600,000 tires a year, roughly speaking, to build and manufacture cow mattresses is good news. Notwithstanding (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order please.

MR. DOWNE: Can you not keep this House under control, Mr. Speaker? I am trying to give an answer to the member opposite here. The other reality (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Has the honourable minister completed?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the other issue . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable minister please come to a . . .

MR. DOWNE: . . . the 600,000 tires consumed that will be for the new manufacturing, they are also doing other work there. It is not a matter that that is the only job they have to do. They are doing all sorts of work in that facility and I am happy to see that.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: You have had your last supplementary?

MR. TAYLOR: Yes. Are you giving me a new question, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No, I am not.

MR. TAYLOR: Okay, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: BISHOP'S LANDING -

PUBLIC CONSULTATION

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism through you, sir, and my question pertains to the proposed development entitled, Bishop's Landing, by a private company, Southwest Properties and the Waterfront Development Corporation, a Nova Scotia Crown Corporation. This development

[Page 1248]

is to be located just a few hundred metres south-east of this location, on a site on Upper Water Street opposite the Keith's Brewery building.

A development agreement is being sought by Southwest Properties and the Waterfront Development Corporation, to develop the 4.75 acre site with two buildings containing a total of 248 apartments. Now the Waterfront Development Corporation claims that its mandate is to develop, promote and plan for the Halifax waterfront. Now despite its planning mandate . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DELEFES: . . . the Waterfront Development Corporation has never invited the public to participate in its plans for developing the waterfront.

My question is simple and straightforward. Because the Waterfront Development Corporation is a Crown Corporation and because the waterfront property it has acquired is of great value and importance to the citizens of the Halifax Regional Municipality, does the minister believe that the Waterfront Development Corporation should consult the public when planning Halifax Harbour waterfront developments?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That question was getting much too long.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to thank the honourable member opposite for the question. I am not familiar with this particular development. The Waterfront Development Corporation operates at arm's length from government and I am sure that they are having discussions with the Halifax Regional Municipality regarding this issue. It has not been brought to my attention nor do I intend to get involved with it.

MR. DELEFES: The Waterfront Development Corporation, as we all know, is a Crown Corporation and it does, of course, spend considerable provincial money. Of course it has acquired this property which is of great value and importance. I would ask again, does the minister believe that the Waterfront Development Corporation should consult the public when planning such developments as Halifax Harbour projects that it has undertaken over the last number of years? A process of public consultation is my question, sir.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I again, Mr. Speaker, thank the honourable gentleman for the question, but I think there is a process in place for public hearings in these particular matters with the Halifax Regional Municipality. Any corporation that wishes to develop in an area of downtown Halifax or, for that matter, anywhere else in this Province of Nova Scotia, there is a planning strategy in place, the planning strategy is set out. People

[Page 1249]

can ask for public hearings in these matters. I am sure if Halifax Regional Municipality is concerned enough about it, they will do that.

MR. DELEFES: Many citizens, not only people living in the neighbourhood but people throughout the area are concerned about the Bishop's Landing project and are actually calling for a halt to this project. These citizens have said this proposed development is on too large a scale. There is insufficient public space. One of the buildings is seven storeys high and the view from the harbour is very severely restricted. I am in agreement with many people who claim that the present plan is inadequate. It is too general, too much of a motherhood statement. What they want is a detailed area plan of the entire waterfront.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DELEFES: My question to the minister, is the minister prepared to request the Waterfront Development Corporation to urge the Halifax Regional Municipality to undertake a detailed area plan of the Halifax waterfront and to put all plans for development, including the proposed Bishop's Landing . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there is a building code in effect in the City of Halifax and if the Halifax Regional Municipality has a concern about Bishop's Landing, or any other project, they know what they can do. They can demand that that particular corporation, or any corporation, come before the Halifax Regional Municipality, explain their program and ultimately the decision will be up to the Halifax Regional Municipality.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

NAT. RES. - OFFSHORE: SEISMIC VESSELS - WORKERS

DR. JOHN HAMM: I have a question for the Premier. On June 4th the Premier awakened to find out, as did all Nova Scotians, that the federal government changed a regulation that would mean that Nova Scotians would not have to be employed beyond the 12-mile limit in doing seismic exploration here on our offshore. A check of Hansard on that day indicated the Premier said this was a callous action but, he did say, "I don't think there is any cause for anyone to worry, . . .".

The Premier informed us that later that day he would be talking to the federal minister. Would the Premier tell us here today and would he inform unemployed Nova Scotians if he received any satisfaction from the federal minister as a result of this conversation?

[Page 1250]

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q. C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, as the honourable Leader of the Conservative Party has said, the minister was caught by surprise on this matter herself. She was conferring with the federal Department of Natural Resources and the Department of External Affairs and that she would be reviewing it to see what she could do. I told her as well that we had to have a benefits plan submitted to the Offshore Development Board and that that benefits plan had to be approved and that we would, in fact, be requiring Nova Scotian representation on the seismic work done offshore, just as if this matter had not occurred.

DR. HAMM: I will continue with the Premier. Will the Premier confirm here today that he has been in touch with the Offshore Development Board and that he has given them instructions that they require a benefit plan before any work is done in seismic activity on the offshore, that Nova Scotians will be included on those ships and that many, if not all, of those 200 jobs on the permits that were recently issued, that those ships will be manned by Nova Scotians? Is that process in place today?

THE PREMIER: I have not made a formal contact with the Offshore Development Board because there has not been an application submitted, but I was waiting to hear from the honourable minister to see what her determination would be. Rather than just deal with an interim matter and provoke the situation, I would rather the minister get back to me, as she said she would this week, before I made contact officially with the Offshore Development Board.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Premier has not provoked the situation; the situation was provoked by Ottawa.

Will the Premier commit here today that if he does not hear from the federal minister by the end of business here today, that he will again contact the federal minister to ensure that on seismic work on our offshore that Nova Scotians will be involved on those seismic vessels, and that he will take a very strong stand on this and not let Ottawa do as it has consistently done since 1993, have its way with Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation in giving the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party the undertaking that if I do not hear by the end of business today, that I will take the initiative and call the minister to get a final resolution. I will also give him the additional undertaking that if I do not hear from her by noon tomorrow, that I will make official contact with the Offshore Development Board and tell them, in no uncertain terms, that Nova Scotia expects them to turn down any applications for seismic work unless those vessels are manned by Nova Scotians. (Applause)

[Page 1251]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FISH. - DELEGATIONS: PREMIER - MEET

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question to the Premier. The Premier will know that there are fishermen from southwestern Nova Scotia visiting the Legislature. It appears that they plan to spend a few days. There is also a delegation in town from Guysborough County, from Canso. These fishermen are frustrated by the way decisions are being made in this industry. They have seen their livelihoods disappear and their friends and communities in despair. I want to ask the Premier, will he agree to meet with these fishermen, today, and listen to their concerns?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of the concerns and I appreciate the Leader of the Opposition bringing that matter up. I have met with them on previous occasions. I know their concerns and I am presently discussing the matter with Ottawa. We hopefully will be able to resolve the financial problems of the Town of Guysborough, so that that will not be a concern to the people in that community. Also, too, we have received word from the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans that Fisheries and Oceans has agreed to make the 1,900 ton allocation for turbot off Labrador a permanent catch for Seafreez and that was something that Canso will now be assured that they will have in the future.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the information that the Premier just provided. I would like to also suggest to him that it is decisions like the allocation of the northern shrimp quota that are being made in Ottawa that discriminate against Nova Scotian fishers, companies, and communities in this province.

I want to ask the minister, once again, will he agree to meet with the fishermen that are camped out, out front, and explain to them what it is that his government is going to do to ensure that the interests of Nova Scotian fishers, Nova Scotian companies, and Nova Scotian communities are, in fact, protected in the future?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, certainly the concerns of the fishermen of Canso are in great hands with the Minister of Fisheries and the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. I also want to say that the concern that they have is justified. We were not given an allocation of shrimp off the coast of Newfoundland-Labrador. I felt that that is unwarranted, particularly when the new allocations for shrimp off Nova Scotia, where 25 per cent is now caught by fishermen from outside of Nova Scotia, that the new allocation, also 25 per cent, was given to fishermen from outside of Nova Scotia. I think that frankly there is a double standard. I am going to be following that up and going to be pursuing it wherever I can in Ottawa because it is an injustice to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[Page 1252]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. We understand the program to replace TAGS is about to be announced. We have heard that once again, the Premier of Newfoundland has had influence on the final product. I want to ask the Premier if he would advise members of this House and particularly the fishermen out front, what he and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture here in the Province of Nova Scotia have done to ensure that the program that is about to be announced will, in fact, meet the needs of those people and of all Nova Scotians in Nova Scotia communities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Province of Nova Scotia through the Minister of Community Services and the Minister of Fisheries has sent a very comprehensive plan to Ottawa. As well, I have spoken to the Department of Human Resources in Ottawa and to Premier Tobin earlier this week in Fredericton at the Conference of East Coast Premiers and New England Governors. If he has had an input into the solution that he has heard about then he is going to be very upset because that certainly is not what he recommended.

There was a group from Ottawa here meeting with the provinces more or less giving a heads-up to what could be and what the thinking was and that thinking was unanimously denounced by Atlantic Premiers. So, Premier Tobin has not expressed any satisfaction with what he has heard. I am not expressing any satisfaction with what I have heard and we both hope that Ottawa will go back to the drawing board and come up with something better. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS:

GENERIC ROYALTY/SOEP AGREEMENT - DIFFERENCE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. We have been reading lately that the Premier is interested in a generic royalty deal for the oil and gas future developments. About a year or so ago the Premier indicated he was not satisfied with the deal that was negotiated by his Minister of Finance. I was wondering if the Premier could tell us how this new generic agreement that he is proposing is going to differ from the SOEP Agreement that his Minister of Finance negotiated?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is an entirely different thing. I am always very pleased with what the Minister of Finance has done, in fact, all of Nova Scotia is very pleased with what the Minister of Finance has done with respect to the recent budget. What we are developing is for future exploration. It is almost completed and it is ready to be announced in a very short period of time.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, how things change after a few months. This time last year, Mr. Premier, you were indicating that the deal wasn't good enough, you were going to make it better. Mr. Premier, could you indicate when you are going to tell Nova Scotians

[Page 1253]

what is in the generic agreement and what is going to be different about it so that Nova Scotians will feel that it is a better deal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the matter to which the honourable member refers was the deal we had with respect to the other partners of SOEP and getting a better deal for Nova Scotia, making sure we had the proper amount of natural gas at a better price than anybody else and we were able to achieve that. The generic royalty regime for the future is quite another matter. I hope, if we can and I have asked them the very same thing, if we can come out with that generic royalty regime earlier than the first part of July then we will certainly do it. We want to make sure it is done properly and that it is something that we are going to be able to live with well into the future.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier. Over the term of the deal that we have, the first three years Nova Scotia taxpayers are going to get about $6 million. At the time, Mobil is going to be getting $1.2 billion per year. Now, if the Premier thinks that's a good deal, and his Minister of Finance negotiated so well to get us those kinds of terms in comparison to what the oil companies are getting, the Premier should have some assistance from Nova Scotians in negotiating, and drawing up the terms and conditions of this generic arrangement. Would the Premier indicate when he will give us a copy of the generic agreement. We've been trying to get information from his government and his department, and they are not sharing with anybody. So could the Premier please . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[1:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that he'll be one of the first ones to see the generic royalty regime when it's ready.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton East. (Applause)

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - JOBS:

DECENTRALIZATION (GOV'T. [N.S.]) - STATUS

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I note that in the Budget Speech given by the Minister of Finance last week that he unveiled an economic strategy that, among other things, asks Nova Scotians to consider such questions as: What role should government departments play in creating a better economic climate? What can we do to help more businesses succeed outside Metro Halifax? And, finally that we know strategies for development are not the same for Halifax as in the rest of the province. In 1993, the previous Liberal Administration committed to the people of industrial Cape Breton . . .

[Page 1254]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. May I have a question, please.

MR. MATHESON: . . . that they would move with a policy that would result in the decentralization of jobs generated . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Ask your question please.

MR. MATHESON: . . . by the provincial public sector. Could the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism outline to the House what progress has been made to date with respect to reallocation of those provincially generated jobs to the industrial area of Cape Breton?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there's no doubt in anybody's mind that there are two economies in Nova Scotia. There are some particular problems facing Cape Breton, it's an economy in transition, it's a very difficult economy to do something with. We're trying to create as many employment opportunities, and we'll be rolling out some initiatives in the next few weeks to accomplish that.

Directly to his question regarding decentralization of jobs in the Cape Breton area, we've already started that process. We've doubled the workforce in the Department of Labour in Cape Breton, a workers' advisors' program has been put in place in Cape Breton, with additional employees. Also, we've worked on improving the numbers in the Workers' Compensation Board in Cape Breton. We've moved some additional people in Economic Development, we've doubled the staff at the Economic Development Department in Sydney. All of those things are starting to happen. There is a problem with relocating government departments, line departments, Civil Service positions, Nova Scotia Government employees positions. As a matter of fact, the Leader of the Opposition has stated on a number occasions . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . that that's not the answer to the problem. To move civil servants from one end of the province to the other.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The answer is getting rather lengthy. (Applause)

MR. MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, the Province of Nova Scotia is a considerable economic engine, in fact it employs, directly, somewhere in the vicinity of approximately 10,000 Nova Scotians, and I know of no other industry that has that type of impact on our economy. In any event, what I want to know is, given the fact that any meaningful plan for decentralization will result in a lot of dislocation in terms of provincial public employees, I want to know what, if any, steps have been taken with respect to entering into meaningful

[Page 1255]

negotiations with the public sector unions with a view to coming up with a long-term strategy that would facilitate a meaningful transfer of jobs to the industrial area of Cape Breton Island.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member behind me is making an interesting statement. He is making a statement about decentralization to Cape Breton. I'd rather concentrate on creating jobs in Cape Breton, new jobs in Cape Breton, (Applause) than moving the problem from one area in the province to another area. We've heard from the Nova Scotia Government employees that they're not interested in their people moving around this province. However, there may be an opportunity to move some Civil Service jobs, where it makes sense, we'll approach that. What I'm saying to you and to the honourable members here, is that we have to create new jobs in Cape Breton, and we have to do it as quickly as we possibly can. I might add that the unemployment rate has gone down from 27 per cent to 18 per cent in Cape Breton. I, for one, will not be satisfied until every single person on Cape Breton Island who wants a job gets a job.

MR. MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, I, as well, want to see new jobs created in Cape Breton but it seems to me that a government in an economically deprived area like Cape Breton has to lead. By leading and moving those Civil Service jobs to Cape Breton it will, in effect, promote the confidence necessary for the private sector to invest in Cape Breton.

What I want to know, and I will direct this question to the Premier, will he commit to the people of Cape Breton Island, will he commit to the people of Sydney Mines, that he will commit this government in any economic strategy to a policy that will result in a fair share of the provincial government jobs that are created by this government being sent to the industrial area of Cape Breton Island?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: It was going to be referred to you anyway.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That's how much respect I have for you, Mr. Speaker. The member for the fourth Party, I guess, is talking about jobs in Sydney Mines and jobs in Cape Breton. TIM Systems has just opened up in Sydney Mines, 55 well-paying jobs in that community that desperately needs jobs. We are working to promote new jobs in the area all over Cape Breton Island and other parts of Nova Scotia that deserve our attention. Rural Nova Scotia has a serious unemployment problem that we have to come to grips with.

MR. SPEAKER: You have about 15 seconds.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you that our mandate is to create jobs in Nova Scotia where they are needed and we will continue to do that in the best way possible and in a way that makes sense.

[Page 1256]

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

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.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted today to talk about my constituency, to talk about my community a little bit. There are many things to be said and I just wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about some of the things that are happening there and about some of the issues around my critic area.

I would just like to start off by saying that I don't know how many of you have had an opportunity to drive through the areas of East Preston, North Preston, Cherry Brook, Little Salmon River, Lake Echo, Porters Lake North and to really see how the community is laid out and some of the really good and important things throughout that whole constituency.

One of the things that we have in the area, in the constituency of Preston, is schools. We have the Porters Lake O'Connell Drive school, which, given the fact that there is a lot of controversy around the building of those schools, I am impressed with the spirit of the community and of the young people who attend the schools in the Preston area. The parents take great pride in coming together at the O'Connell Drive school as well as at the Bell Park school to help the community raise funds for various initiatives within that community that they feel that otherwise wouldn't happen at their schools. So that community is very active and very strong.

Very much like the school in North Preston, the Nelson Whynder Afrocentric school, where the community comes together to support those students and to support initiatives around the school. There is a great volunteer team that does a great amount of work in those schools.

[Page 1257]

Some of the other things in the area are our recreational facilities. It is disheartening to see that in a community like North Preston there is no recreation facility and in the community of Cherry Brook there is no recreation facility, that the young people must go outside the community to play basketball, baseball and to participate in other sports and to do crafts and that sort of thing. I am hoping to work with individuals in that community to ensure that there is some sort of recreation for the youth in that community.

While we have a new recreation centre in Lake Echo and one in East Preston, those communities are quite spread out and, therefore, it is very difficult for young people to be able to take time to go there.

Some of the other initiatives in our communities that I am very proud of is our day care centres. We have three really wonderful day care centres. The Busy Bee Day Care, which is very active, and now they have three day care centres, and have many young children that are on a waiting list. The parents in that community also work within the day care on a volunteer basis, as well as raising funds for special initiatives. Very recently the community raised funds to build a boat for the young children in that community because they felt that children should be exposed to all kinds of initiatives.

The day care in East Preston, as well, is a wonderful day care. It has been there for several years. There are 95 young children that participate in that day care. We have a parents' support program that works out of the day care, as well as a seniors' program. North Preston also has a day care that is very similar to the one in East Preston.

When I look at the day care centres and I realize there is never enough space in day care, that there are so many young, single mothers who are still looking for proper day care and not receiving it, it seems like a shame that those day cares will be taxed by the municipality. Day cares that do this kind of work in the community, that help raise our children should not be taxed in my opinion.

Also, the community itself is quite beautiful; there are many homes along the lakes. If you drive through Cherry Brook and then through the area of North Preston and East Preston out to Porters Lake and Lake Echo, you can see the disparity driving through, starting within the Black communities and driving through to the well-established areas of Lake Echo and Porters Lake. So there is much work that needs to be done, and it is my role and my position to work with all members of the community so that we will come together to ensure that our communities have community development, and that we work as a team regardless of the makeup of the community, whether we are poor or well-established. That is my hope and that is what I hope to do.

[Page 1258]

Some of the other programs, like the Lions Clubs of East Preston and Lake Echo have also worked very hard through their volunteer programs. They have food banks. There is help through the church for poor families. So it is a growing community. It is growing stronger, but we do need a lot of help. We do need a lot of support within those communities.

One of the other areas that I am very concerned about is the women in our community. As we all know, women make up the majority of people in our society and women continue to be short-changed, so to speak, in terms of their issues and how their issues are dealt with. I guess one of the areas that I am very concerned about is the women's centres. Women's centres' work is quite unique. They work in a unique fashion by which women's centres are the only agency where women can come without an appointment and have the opportunity to develop a process with other women where they can find help immediately. These centres are holistic. These centres assist women dealing with various problems around employment, around abuse, and they deal with the whole person. I know that is difficult for many people to understand that women sometimes work in different ways and that they need different supports.

Also at many of these women's centres, women's problems are not dissected. They are problems that when you talk to women, you understand that maybe the problem that is readily available, the one that you can see on the surface, may not be the real problem. It takes other women, people with expertise to be able to sit with women and be able to talk them through a process that will help change their lives. Many of these centres need peer counselling. They have some of that through a volunteer mechanism but oftentimes volunteers who are overstressed cannot work in an official capacity, even though they do the best they can.

[2:00 p.m.]

This is why I think that the resources for women centres are crucial to the development and the stability of families and to the raising of their children. If women do not have a place where they can go to be able to deal with their issues that are very different and oftentimes very complex. Usually there is not just one issue. They centre around oftentimes housing. They centre around abuse. They centre around their children and how they are cared for. This is not just one problem that is isolated.

While we know these women's centres have done a great deal of work, their concern, like mine, is that they will not be able to continue with the kind of work that they are doing. This is really important. I think it is important because this government must understand the role of women in our society, the role of women who have been oppressed, women who have been disenfranchised. We need to understand how all of that encompasses the family when we talk about a healthy society.

[Page 1259]

In my community as well we have a program called the Black Women's Health Program which I touched on when I gave my response to the Throne Speech. There are no statistics on women's health, Black women's health in this province. There are no statistics within Canada on Black women's health, particularly around things like breast cancer, colon cancer, sickle cell anaemia and those types of diseases. There are no statistics so we have to look to the United States for that. Hopefully we will be able to work with the Centre of Excellence for Women's Health. To date, these problems have not come to the forefront with that centre. I sometimes ask myself why.

Oftentimes some of the issues that I bring to this House will be controversial. Some of the issues that I bring to this House will probably sound as if it is a complaint or something that I do not understand. I believe that in a society that is as diverse as ours, that in a community that is as diverse as the community of Preston, the constituency of Preston, that there are issues and concerns that will come here that will be of a racial nature, that will be of a nature where people are oppressed or people are poor. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, the people in this House will have an understanding of why those issues may come to the table and that we will not continue to deny these issues, but we will be able to somehow find a forum in which the conversation and the dialogue and the debate will be open and honest.

I would like to say that I have one more issue that I would just like to touch on before I turn this over to someone else. Today I was going to talk about the roads in the Preston constituency, particularly the Myra Road. The Myra Road had been promised to be fixed from the last election, actually over the last five years. There are roads in my constituency that have been promised repairs for the last 10 to 15 years. On some of the roads there have been petitions. As a matter of fact, on one road there were four petitions and that road has still not been paved and is full of potholes. I am hoping that within this year that particularly the Myra Road will be paved and repaired and the other roads in my constituency - Williams Street and some of the other streets - will be paved after so many years of promises. I will continue to bring these issues to the House until those issues are resolved and I can go back to the people in my riding and say to them that we are working for the betterment of them and for their concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a few minutes about the offshore and Nova Scotia. I do not think any of us can emphasize the importance of Nova Scotia's offshore. This is the opportunity of our lifetime and of future generations of Nova Scotia to come. Nova Scotia has not had an opportunity like this since Confederation. We used to be the province in Canada; we were the have province in all of Canada. Now all of the sudden we are not.

[Page 1260]

We are on the brink of greatness in financial terms in Nova Scotia. It is of the utmost importance that the decisions that are made by the government in charge at the present time be decisions that will stand us in good stead for the coming centuries. We have to be thinking of our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. So far I do not think we have been measuring up as well as perhaps we should.

Last year the royalty agreement was signed and released by the oil companies and the Government of Nova Scotia. I don't think most Nova Scotians are satisfied with that royalty agreement as it was released. It indicates that over the first three years Nova Scotians will be getting about $6 million out of royalties. Over the first three years the oil companies will be getting about $1.2 billion per year. We are way down there and the oil companies are way up here.

Many people are saying, that is okay because what is going to happen is the spin-off benefits to Nova Scotians and already we can see the benefits of having an oil industry. We can see increased activity in our harbour, we can see increased job opportunities, we have seen contracts that have been awarded to Nova Scotians. But what would we be seeing if truly we were getting our fair share? We want more than 23 per cent of the jobs that are in the offshore and in fact, we deserve more than the 23 per cent. We have to make sure that people know Nova Scotians are in charge and it is our gas and if you don't play by our rules, then you don't play in our field. That is not the case.

Last week the federal government indicated, quite surprisingly, that seismic ship crews would be coming from countries other than Canada, places other than Nova Scotia. That is not fair and is not right. We must depend on our government to do better so that Nova Scotians do have the first opportunity at those jobs. We have to raise the level from 23 per cent much higher so that Nova Scotians are doing the work. We have to be looking and working with our community colleges, our universities and our high schools so that people who are interested in the offshore have the opportunity for training.

Nova Scotia has not been faring very well either in the minds of the public when you look at the laterals that are being constructed, when you look at the construction project. My goodness, the head office for the company building the pipeline is in Fredericton, New Brunswick. That is hard to believe, our pipeline, their office. They are going to have branch offices in several locations throughout Nova Scotia and that is great, it is going to help employment. But the main of point of construction is not going to be taking place in Nova Scotia.

If you look at the laterals, the lateral going into Saint John by the wishes of Maritimes & Northeast, will be larger than the one coming into Halifax. I have got to tell you, the proposed lateral by Maritimes & Northeast coming into Halifax is not large enough. It is barely large enough to satisfy the wants and the needs of Nova Scotia Power but it does

[Page 1261]

nothing to say of all the other industrial development that could be taking place in the immediate vicinity of Tufts Cove and indeed throughout mainland Halifax.

You can't get enough gas through a 12 inch pipeline, which is the proposal coming into Dartmouth at the present time. It doesn't matter how much you try to compress it, you cannot fill the needs of this region of Nova Scotia. You cannot look after the needs of rural Nova Scotia. We need a loop that goes down the South Shore up through the Annapolis Valley. Why should we be denying the areas of the province that want gas? Yarmouth Council the other day said, if we don't get gas then the province better compensate us. That is how determined they are in Yarmouth.

The Shelburne Municipal Council wants natural gas and Queens County wants natural gas. In Bridgewater they have a Michelin Plant and I am sure Michelin would like to have the gas. They ain't gonna get it, Mr. Speaker, because the pipe is not big enough. These pipes are strange, a 12-inch pipe costs about the same amount to put in the ground as a 16-inch pipe. An 18-inch pipe will carry twice as much natural gas as a 12-inch pipe. The expense is not in buying the pipe. The biggest expense is in the laying of the pipe, putting it in the ground and getting the rights-of-way. Let us put in a decent size pipe so that future generations of Nova Scotians throughout our province will, indeed, have the opportunity to use natural gas if they so desire.

Mr. Speaker, our rural communities in Nova Scotia have been holding meetings. I attended two of them myself. They are bringing people from western Canada who have had some experience with natural gas, they have been bringing them in to talk to us so that we will have some sort of an understanding of what is going on with natural gas in western Canada. Communities must take the lead, the Cape Breton Post told us. Natural gas has wide implications for the Annapolis Valley, the group was told. We want natural gas but, you see, we have had meetings throughout the province but they have not been organized by the provincial government. They have been organized by the communities and the Community Economic Development organizations around the province. They are the ones that are showing the leadership and, communities must take the lead, is the headline in the Cape Breton Post.

They have given up on hoping that the Province of Nova Scotia will take the lead, but what a difference it makes, Mr. Speaker, when communities do get involved and you do have a government that says we are going to have natural gas distribution throughout the province. There are 108 companies delivering natural gas in Alberta with 95 per cent coverage. Well, we all understand that in Alberta you almost just have to go out and put a pipe down in your backyard and you can have natural gas. They have a great advantage over what Nova Scotians have because our gas will have one entry point and it is at Goldboro and from there we have to distribute it around the province which makes it more difficult certainly than Alberta, but Alberta has 95 per cent coverage from 108 companies.

[Page 1262]

You know, Mr. Speaker, there are 70 co-ops operating in Alberta at the present time to make sure that everybody is getting gas. Now, some of these co-ops have as small as two people apparently participating and some are very small towns and communities. RURB has indicated they want $50,000 just to come in and sit down and have a chat and say I want to be in the gas business; $250,000 if you want to do the whole province. I am not sure that this is the best way to ensure good coverage around Nova Scotia because good coverage throughout Nova Scotia will save taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.

The difference in heating your home, Mr. Speaker, and if you are looking at natural gas compared to gasoline at a projected price in Nova Scotia, you will probably be saving anywhere from $500 to $800 a year and it will cost you about $2,500 to make the conversion. These are numbers the communities are giving me. They are not numbers we are getting from the provincial government because the provincial government does not have any information to give you. Every single time we have asked for any information from the provincial government, it does not matter how simple, they haven't got it, will not get it, try under freedom of information. This is not cooperation and it is not the leadership that we need from the provincial government on the greatest economic engine that has ever befallen us.

We have an opportunity to lead, not just Canada, to lead North America. We are on the brink of greatness in Nova Scotia, with post-Panamax ships coming. With natural gas, we can be in the driver's seat where we belong but it is going to take a determination from the provincial government to show the leadership to get us there. We have that opportunity. In Alberta they have the Alberta gasification policy, the same old ideas we used to have as the rural electrification. Remember, Mr. Speaker, the taxpayers used to help make sure that electricity travelled throughout Nova Scotia. Well, in Alberta they had the policy - and it's been going on at least since 1980 - and there is a portion that is paid for by the taxpayers to make sure that natural gas gets good and wide and equal distribution. I don't even know whether Nova Scotians are going to have any government involvement in gasification for the rest of the province. It's just something I don't know.

[2:15 p.m.]

We don't know enough, and the government is very secretive. Maybe it's my fault. As a critic, maybe I'm not asking the right questions, but, gee, when you do ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers anyway. So, it's tough. We deal with people who are involved in the gas business, and we talk to them, and we listen to them. We talk to anybody in the natural gas business and the oil business who's coming into metro, and we seek those people out for advice, and the nice thing about it is how free and easy the conversation is. They want to share with us their experiences in Alberta, so that they help us, help the government make good and faithful decisions.

[Page 1263]

But, you know, you have to look at Manitoba, 30 per cent coverage in Manitoba, one distributor, and they've got a straight pipe right through the province. Last year a co-op started, and they've got one shoot off this natural gas pipeline that's whistling through Manitoba. This isn't what we want in Nova Scotia; we just don't want that pipe whisking out of Nova Scotia; we want to make sure that we have the coverage that we deserve.

At the present time, the map that was furnished to us by the SOEP group doesn't indicate very much coverage in Nova Scotia. There is a lateral going to Halifax, and there's a dotted line heading towards Cape Breton. That's not what it looks like when you look at the map of New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Government said, boys, you're coming through here, you are going to do some distribution. They have a lateral going up the coast of New Brunswick; they have another lateral going up the U.S. side of New Brunswick, almost to the Province of Quebec; and then they have another lateral going into Saint John, and the lateral going into Saint John is twice the size of the lateral coming into Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, what's happening? I got to tell you, I'm not just worried, I'm concerned. We are not looking after our communities; we're not looking after the royalties. It seems that New Brunswick is getting a better deal than we are. It's not right. One of the building blocks of a petrochemical industry that could employ many of the displaced Cape Breton coal miners, and they will be displaced - natural gas will replace coal generating electricity. I don't think that's a secret. It wasn't a secret in Calgary, it wasn't a secret in Houston - the people in Cape Breton, there's almost 2,000 people in the coal industry, and those people need jobs, and the replacement jobs have got to come out of this petrochemical industry.

We're allowing ethane to be exported with the natural gas. Now, who wouldn't want it? You leave ethane in natural gas and it burns a lot hotter and you get a better flame, and it's worth more money. In Alberta they said you're not doing it anymore; you're not sending ethane out of Alberta. So they don't. They built a petrochemical industry there.

We have about 16,000 barrels a day of ethane, and 20,000 barrels of butane, methane and other liquids in our gas. That, in Alberta, would constitute a petrochemical industry. We're told it's not big enough for a petrochemical industry, but remember that's just the start of our natural gas. There is more natural gas in our offshore that will be coming ashore than we realize at the present time. It's always that way, exploration and new technology yield more natural gas. Our industry . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I hate to interrupt the member in full flight, but you have about one minute remaining.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, thank you very much, you're very kind.

[Page 1264]

Mr. Speaker, the ethane should be refined in Nova Scotia. That is the building block of the petrochemical industry but we are allowing it to be exported and by agreement when we decide it is time to keep it in Nova Scotia we have been told by the companies that the taxpayers are going to have to pay the price of the ethane. We are going to have to replace the ethane that comes out, with money. That is not fair.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry. My time is up. Perhaps I can talk to you about this again someday. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: I want to speak on an issue that I witnessed during my election campaign, a very serious issue, as a matter of fact. It has far-reaching implications with respect to social services. I want to talk about the plight of single persons on social assistance.

As you know, many of these individuals who are on social assistance are there through no fault of their own. They are there as a result of the downturn in the economy that, in fact, there is a right size or a downsize or whatever term or phrase you want to use with respect to reducing employees within the employment field and in the market place. Many of these individuals find their EI benefits exhausted and most often their EI benefits because of the changes in the EI Act have in fact reduced the amount of funding that they would actually receive as individuals from that.

I want to tell you that there is a very serious problem here. I would hope that when deliberations with respect to the budget on Community Services come forward that this will be a recognized issue and a very serious issue.

Let us look at the single person for example. That single person receives a total of $369 a month - that is a total - which allows that single person to have to pay a minimum of $75 a week in order to provide shelter over their head; shelter in fact that is absolutely deplorable. If you are going to pay that kind of funding a week for shelter allowances, then you are not going to get the adequate shelter that one rightfully needs. Let us assume that the basic minimum is, in fact, $75 a week. That takes a total of $300 a month out of that individual's total allotment. That individual is then left with approximately $69; with $69 that individual is expected to live in this Province of Nova Scotia today. Can you imagine what kind of a meal that individual has? That individual has a meal of approximately $1.09. That meal does not even cover the cost of a meal that one would purchase in a place like McDonalds' or Harvey's or anywhere else as a matter of fact. Those are not necessarily considered nutritional meals.

Allow me to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that creates another problem where the individual does not eat properly, where the nutritional value of that individual has diminished considerably, where that individual ends up probably having medical complications as a result

[Page 1265]

of that. If we are going to be proactive in that move so we reduce the cost of health care in this province, then we have to be proactive in our thinking with respect to how we prevent that happening in our health care system.

I also want you to know that that very individual receives $18 a month for transportation. Think about it. As a professor used to say, a very good colleague of mine, he used to say, think about it and he is absolutely correct, let's think about it - $18 a month for transportation. The very minimum basic that you can have in public transportation is $52 a month with respect to a public transportation pass. The individual is expected to have $18 a month with respect to going out and doing the transportation needs that are necessary. Let's look at the very serious transportation need that is necessary. That is the very serious transportation need that they must have 20 job searches a week in order to comply, again, for that very social assistance program. Let us assume that they need 20 job searches. That is less than the $18 would allow them to go out and do the searching in a particular area. However, what really becomes a serious problem is the fact that these individuals are restricted with respect to the circumference of the area in which they can search for jobs.

So, therefore, they continue to be on income assistance, Mr. Speaker, for a longer period of time because they are restricted because of their transportation costs of being able to expand that area of search for employment. They become very disillusioned. They come out of this particular climate with 20 job searches just to satisfy the need of going down to the Social Services Department, simply because there is no incentive for these individuals to carry on the practice of going out and genuinely searching for legitimate jobs.

So what happens is eventually, and I know the Social Services Department must be very much aware of this, as I have become very much aware as well, each and every week the same names of the same employment agencies, the same companies, continue to appear on those job listings. What happens is that you already have seen and witnessed a very serious pattern. That serious pattern is that these individuals know full well that just last week they have gone to this same company and they have recognized that this company has no employment opportunities for them. Yet they are compelled to go back again because they are restricted with the number of dollars that they have to go out to that larger area to do the research, to do their true pathfinding for jobs that is absolutely necessary, and that in order for them, because they certainly do not want to be on the welfare roll - I want to tell you that there are people out there who tend to, because they are on it longer than usual, say, well, these are shiftless, lazy, good-for-nothing individuals. They have got themselves settled into the welfare roll and they do not want to get off it. Well, in my experiences and my practices during my election campaign, it is a fact that is far from the truth. It is so remote, and often I find individuals who precipitate this are those very same individuals who are legislators who, in fact, can prevent that kind of talk going on in the community. I think it is a very important issue, a single most important issue that we truly have to address.

[Page 1266]

Mr. Speaker, I would also go on to say that when we look at the plight of the single person on social assistance, there are actually some single persons who are on social assistance who are disabled and are restricted. However, when I think of what we can do, it is truly amazing that if we as intellectual individuals within this Legislative Assembly were to devote the amount of time to the community services of this province and we were prepared to devote the single amount of time to addressing the very serious issues, that we could diminish the office of Community Services. As a matter of fact, I have often believed that if there was ever a single department in all of government that should be working itself out of business, it should be the Department of Community Services.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it is very important that we look at that. I will be bringing up during the budget deliberations with respect to Community Services this very issue, simply because I think it is a total waste of the human resources that we do have out there. I think it is very important to recognize that every human resource is a very effective human resource and because it is found in abundance ought not to be exploited. We can certainly do that by the very nature of making sure that we have the programs that are available to do that. I want you to know as well, I know that England is on a new travel with respect to a new contract for welfare. This is actually a new contract that was brought out by Prime Minister Tony Blair. I do know the Minister of Community Services is aware of that new contract. It is going into the year 2030 as a matter of fact. What they are requesting is, in fact, acknowledging the importance of work. Although I may not necessarily agree with everything in Chapter 3 on the importance of work, I do think that there is a trend, or a direction and there is an action here that can be taken. I do think that there is a positive move here that we can address and look forward to.

I also note, Mr. Speaker, one of the single most important issues within this report that has been brought to my attention, and I just want to make a quote from it. I know the Minister of Community Services is here and I know that this will be important. We want it to be debated up and down the country, be reworked, refined, before we publish our proposals on details of individual components of reform. This is a reform on welfare, and it has some very salient points with respect to addressing this very important issue.

[2:30 p.m.]

It has very salient points with respect to addressing individuals whom we call ABUs, able bodied unemployed individuals. I just simply have some concern around this very issue and it gives me the picture of the old 1976-78 - I think it was, to make sure that it's correct - LIP, Local Initiative Program, which allowed employers to employ individuals for a short period of time. Then, once that program walked out by the federal Government of Canada, out the door walked the individual as well. So, it truly wasn't a kind of program that should be brought forward.

[Page 1267]

Mr. Speaker, I also want to know that the program that was brought forward at that time - and I'm looking and I'm hoping that there are some changes with respect to reform and social services within our country, within our province, particularly - that we do address this single most important issue of all.

I want to close by saying - and I know that I do have some more time, but I think that I've addressed this adequately and in such significant nature that there is an impact and a message here - I want to close by making Community Services aware that the proactive initiative towards addressing this issue is the single most important issue that can be brought before this Legislative Assembly. I thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:32 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will meet between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Following the business of the day, we will then go back into Supply. I move that we now adjourn until 9:30 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the hour of 6:00 p.m. The Adjournment debate this evening will be on the resolution:

[Page 1268]

"Therefore be it resolved that the government should immediately table a program to improve rural roads.".

That was moved by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. -
RURAL ROADS:

IMPROVEMENT PROG. - TABLE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, having spoken to a number of the other members prior to our luck with the late debate again, we are beginning to realize that this topic makes late debate because of so many great resolutions that we introduce day after day. Then the other issue, of course, is that we know that it is of some real importance to develop our debating skills and it is on a topic that is so near and dear to us that we take it with great pride that we do have an opportunity again tonight to discuss this issue. I look forward to hearing from a member of the Third Party. I assume the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's will be telling us about the suspension in his wonderful truck.

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: I intend to.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, it will be an absolute honour, and I look forward to hearing the comments from the minister on this topic.

For a time, of course, I think I looked with some sense of pride at resolutions that I could introduce, so I saved this Joshua Slocum resolution, Mr. Speaker, until today. Joshua Slocum was a world recognized sailer, and Joshua Slocum is a road in my riding of Timberlea-Prospect.

The number of resolutions and the number of petitions that we deal with day after day in the House here, it obviously is a concern to members on both sides about the importance of this issue. I know that when these petitions are drawn up, that people are going door-to-door, and they are, with some real input, as citizens in our community, believing that this is a process that is important to them as people who live in these communities. I hear this term "rural communities," I hear that term and I say to myself and as I explain to a member in my own caucus, he asked me what is a "rural constituent", and I said it is anybody who is not on city water and city plumbing. I would like to know the number of our constituents throughout the province who consider themselves rural because, after all, that is what we consider ourselves; I do not consider myself a part of the great amalgamation of HRM.

[Page 1269]

I honestly believe, and having talked to members on all three Parties about this - and my political science background aside - that many parts of this country look at Nova Scotia and our sort of pothole politics and they laugh at us. They will say - and I know I am getting political, honourable minister - that they can tell what particular ridings have the current government in them according to the government contracts that have been tendered for that busy season which is ahead of us. That is unfair to a degree and I must admit it is good to see that a really necessary twinning of an important highway in my riding is taking place. I am also aware of the fact that the safety factor and the other needs are needed to improve highways, but I think it is important that we make public and that we talk openly about these priorities, what roads, what particular highways are the priorized roads which we are going to deal with.

I do not think that it suddenly should be the prerogative of the minister and his staff to decide for whatever reasons this particular stretch of road or that stretch of road is suddenly going to receive attention. Now, I am aware of the fact, from my limited experience, that there are factors and I am sure the minister, hopefully, will respond about such factors as volume, road conditions, and the "ride of the road.". I know the suspension of the truck will be a factor here - the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, in a moment - the ride of the truck . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member will address the Chair.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I am sorry about that, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for correcting me on that.

The concern I have, Mr. Speaker, however, is that there is another very important factor in determining the volume on these roads. I think it is a term - and maybe the minister can correct me on this in his comments - the tonnage of some of these vehicles that are travelling on these roads. I am aware of the fact that traffic counts do take place. However, if we are looking at tractor trailers, pulp and paper trucks, and we are looking at trucks hauling fish to various parts of the Atlantic Provinces, we are looking at a lot different types of mileage crossing those roads as opposed to somebody who is out for a drive on a Sunday afternoon.

In fact, I have been told that some of these larger vehicles, in one trip can cause as much damage - if that is the correct term, Mr. Speaker - a pulp truck making its run over secondary roads is as good as 500 or 600 trips by a sedan with much better suspension. Our roads are of consequence in all parts of our province because of the fact that they are used in a number of important industries. Natural resources, I have mentioned a couple of examples. My particular riding is of real concern. The roads have a natural tie-in with tourism. I am sure that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's in his comments will make reference to the improvements on Route 333 to Peggy's Cove, which is after all one of the most important tourist locations in our province.

[Page 1270]

However, it seems that this road has been on the waiting list for a long time, Mr. Speaker, and that is the concern that people have. The concern is if you are open and tell people - like the honourable member for Preston who has a concern about the Myra Road, like the honourable member for Yarmouth who has concerns about the Canaan Road, and I am sure I could mention other examples of other members who are here - if the minister and his staff would be open and public and say that the remainder of Route 333 from Indian Point to Peggy's Cove will be completed by the year 2001, or wherever - 2001, that seems like it is in the future 10 years from now - I think that the public would receive improvements to roads in a much better fashion, but it is this harum-scarum, hit-and-miss, let's address this problem today and that problem tomorrow, that has caused the concerns about the lack of planning, the lack of openness, the lack of fairness when it comes to the announcing of where particular roads are going to be upgraded and improved.

I think it is also of real importance that we look at the idea we are not just paving roads; we are upgrading roads. There are certain roads in this province that are, without doubt, Mr. Minister - and I think you will agree with me - an embarrassment. There are certain roads that need attention based upon an open priority, based upon openness and the fact of public input and staff expertise because I know the minister will agree with me, there are some good people in the Department of Transportation, particularly the people in the field, particularly the people who are out there taking care of the problems right there in the areas throughout our province; have the openness to consult these people, and not have it decided by the bureaucrats and the bean-counters on Purdys Wharf.

I believe that based upon those types of openness and plans that are - and I could get sarcastic about a comment that I made to Mr. Speaker before about planning and priorizing the plan and making the plan public, and have the P3 of education - what we need is confidence in the Department of Transportation, confidence in the decisions of the minister, and I think if these plans are open, public, and people understand the priorities, he certainly will have our support, will have mine personally, but we want to know why, and when. I thank you for your time. (Applause)

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, just last week on Wednesday, June 3, 1998, I tabled in the House, the system used by the Department of Transportation and Public Works to priorize the repaving of roads in Nova Scotia. This detailed, non-partisan, long-range highway repair and construction program has not changed in the last week, but for the benefit of those who have not had the time or inclination to familiarize themselves with the system I outlined last Wednesday night, I would like to take this opportunity to go through it once again.

[Page 1271]

I am proud of the system developed at the direction of our government and implemented in the Department of Transportation and Public Works since 1993. The provincial repaving priorization process was developed by the engineering expertise within the Department of Transportation and Public Works. It is based on fairness and need for all Nova Scotians, including those in the rural areas. If I might just mention, the honourable member mentioned about the pulp trucks, the big trucks, and how they equate to 600 or 700 passenger vehicles. I think the true or accurate comparison there would be 1,200 passenger vehicles, just one is equivalent to 1,200 passenger vehicles. So that point, okay.

The process was first used by the department in establishing the repaving projects in the province for the 1994 construction season, in fact the details of this process and the resulting project list has been tabled in this House over the past number of years. The majority of projects on the list are upgrades and repaving jobs in rural communities. Of course, how much we are able to do from year to year depends on our budget. Still, I believe using this system, we are able to offer fair service to all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to review the method for evaluating and priorizing repaving projects. This system is intended to rank repaving needs. We have 26,000 kilometres of roads and highways in Nova Scotia, 13,000 of which are paved. Realistically we can't get to every section every year but by establishing a list based on need we can provide service to most areas in bad repair.

Each year the four district directors across the province are asked to submit to our Infrastructure Management Division a ranked list of top repaving priorities within their districts. This list is divided into two categories, 100-Series Highways and non-100-Series Highways. Again, to be consistent with efforts being used by other transportation agencies for similar types of analysis, the data for the analysis includes traffic volumes, pavement condition ratings and ride and comfort index.

As I explained here last week, the traffic volumes used are the average annual daily traffic. The pavement condition rating is a measure of surface distress based on the severity and the density of cracking, wheel-track rutting and other surface defects. The riding comfort index is a measure of the roughness of the riding surface. The data is obtained by either the Technical Services Branch or private consulting firms.

You remember, Mr. Speaker, I tabled the engineering formula used to calculate the ratings for each section. Those ratings ranged from 0 to 10, 10 being the worst. The procedure is the same for rural roads as for 100-Series Highways. However, before ranking, projects in rural areas are divided into three subgroups, based on traffic volume: 0 to 300; 301 to 1,000 and more than 1,000 vehicles per day.

[Page 1272]

[6:15 p.m.]

The provincial repaving priority lists are based on the ratings for each project. These are prepared for 100-Series Highways and for each of the three subgroups for non-100-Series Highways, in other words, rural roads. The section of repaving projects to be included in the capital program are based on the priority lists which are developed within the funding available to that category.

So, Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure management team will examine the lists of priorities from the rural areas and ratings given to these sections, based on the formula tabled here last week. When this list it put against the funding available, the worst sections on each is given the priority. This seems to be the most fair and equitable method used yet by any administration for deciding roadwork in Nova Scotia.

This process is our guide. As we speak, our technicians and engineers are gathering data that will priorize work for the next construction season. The priorities on this year's list that don't get done this year will be at the top of the list for next year. This is also a spring review to allow for roads that suffer extreme deterioration over the winter. Sometimes we must take a second look when roads have experienced extraordinary deterioration after the original analysis.

Mr. Speaker, I know there are many roads out there in rural areas that need work. I want to point out to you that this is not a problem unique to Nova Scotia. In fact, provincial Transportation Ministers from across the country have been lobbying the federal government for assistance. Last June my predecessor led the charge for the federal government to establish a National Highways Program. If we receive assistance for our major arterial systems, we can place more of our own resources with our secondary and rural areas.

Transportation and Public Works is always working to advance our pavement management system. I have mentioned here in the House the ARAN, a part of our pavement management system in Nova Scotia, an automated road analyzer is designed for advanced management of highway maintenance. It is equipped with computers for continuous data collection at highway speeds. This gives us a better understanding of the overall condition of our roads. This year, the ARAN is patrolling secondary highways and rural routes, extensively. This will further assist us in setting and establishing priorities for repaving, upgrading roads in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, Transportation and Public Works last year launched a Better Roads for Nova Scotia campaign, which focused on rural roads; $59.9 million was spent in upgrades and repaving surfaces from Cape Breton to Yarmouth. This year, we introduced the early tendering process and already some $35 million in tenders have either been awarded or advertised for work in rural Nova Scotia. All together, we expect to spend a total of approximately $53 million on the rural roads of Nova Scotia. I am satisfied that the decisions

[Page 1273]

made within the Department of Transportation and Public Works about road development and maintenance are good decisions, based on fairness and need.

I want to repeat to you what I said last week. I am proud of the hardworking, dedicated men and women working in our district whose job it is to rate the roads and highways in the areas where they work, live and drive every single day. These people are true professionals. Their recommendations are sound ones. We know we have a lot of work to do out there, but I trust the decisions made in the field by the men and women working to manage the priorities in their respective areas.

Mr. Speaker, we could always spend more, but to let rural Nova Scotia believe we do not make good decisions for all of Nova Scotia would be wrong. The safe movement of people, goods and services through the province in a safe and efficient manner is our priority. A fair and equitable system is our priority. Serving rural Nova Scotia, as well as those living in our larger centres, is our priority. We have implemented a fair system for road work in this province since 1993. We will continue to use this system, which is fair to all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Minister of Transportation for the fine grasp he obviously has about the pressing problems we have in rural Nova Scotia regarding roads that often do not deserve the name road. I further congratulate my colleague to the right, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, who shares the sorrow with me about the poor state of Route 333 that connects well-maintained Peggy's Cove lighthouse, with the rest of Nova Scotia. Now, the first five kilometres are currently paved, but knowing that the Minister of Transportation sadly enough has little sway over his Cabinet colleagues, I wonder how many decades it will take to pave the remaining 19 kilometres. The whole route is 24 kilometres from Peggy's Cove to what we call the Crossroads. The Crossroads is where Nova Scotia starts for metropolitan Halifax. The Crossroads is not the starting point for people who want to go to Peggy's Cove. It is the starting point of a miserable ride.

That is not the point. Nova Scotians have been hardened over decades of bipartisan promises but only very partisan paving. The tourists who go to Nova Scotia are the ones who will judge us as to whether we are good or not good enough. As I pointed out the other day, the wonderful idea to have that ferry linking Yarmouth with the United States has materialized. All those tourists will come to Nova Scotia, zoom up Highway No. 103, go through the Crossroads onto the road to Peggy's Cove and after five glorious kilometres they will have to fall back on their survival instincts. That is not good enough.

[Page 1274]

The honourable Minister of Transportation has presented, through his Minister of Finance a budget that was slashed by about $37 million. Those are $37 million that will be sorely missed in rural Nova Scotia. They will not be missed in Bedford or Fall River or the south end of Halifax. It will be in New Ross, which I would like to impress on the honourable Minister of Transportation; it will be Trunk 12 that links the Valley with the South Shore, that has ruts too deep for school buses to travel safely. The Chester-St. Margaret's main high school west of Hubbards is the Forest Heights school that is located four kilometres into Trunk 12 towards New Ross. I have children going to that high school and I see them climb on the bus every morning. I share the same sense of danger that most parents sense who send their children on those school buses. That school bus ride, I would like to impress on the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, is a nightmare. Those ruts direct a school bus into directions that the driver does not want to take.

A case in point I would like to make is that as a member of the Chester Basin Volunteer Fire Department, I was on a medical call in early January and it was a lumber truck that carried lumber from the woods of New Ross toward the hardboard plant in East River. It was not a slippery road at all. It was your usual early January road. The driver lost the grip on his steering wheel for a short moment and the rut dictated that he would go straight. Alas, he was in a curve. The whole load tilted and dragged the truck. It flipped a few times. Fortunately enough, the truck driver just had a few bruises. The ambulance came after a half hour and things were fine.

This is not a solitary happening in rural Nova Scotia, this is the rule. I commiserate the honourable member for Shelburne to his task to work with so much less money at a time when the roads have gotten so much worse because the Liberal Government, as we, sitting in non-Liberal ridings very well know, has been a very partisan paver and we are now paying for the sins of which the honourable member for Shelburne is not guilty. There are roads in my riding that are beyond paving. The highway engineer recently went road by road with me over every road on the map. We went by car and we analyzed the state of those roads. Apart from Route 333, that currently gets at least 5 kilometres paved, there is the tertiary road, Route 329 that goes around the Aspotogan Peninsula that has been maintained on one side but not on the other. My constituents there, rightly so, feel picked upon. They don't understand the justice in a system that has obviously been presented to them as being bipartisan. That road is impassable on a stormy winter night.

The next road, of course, that has made the headlines throughout Nova Scotia because it is not possible at all any longer, unless you go on horseback or on a backhoe, is the road to Canaan. There are about 300 people living in Canaan, tucked away in the woods of Nova Scotia, being happy there by choice, having only one road to go to the Windsor Road, Trunk 14. That road is so bad that if the Minister of Transportation ever wants to go there, he had better get a guide because he may get lost. The potholes are no longer potholes. The highway engineer has assured me that it needs to be reconstructed, it needs to be rebuilt. So whatever

[Page 1275]

slush funds the honourable Minister of Transportation has to pave, they will not do that. That road needs to be reconstructed. On and on it goes.

There is the old East River Point Road; the residents told me that the last time it was repaired was 26 years ago. They rightly feel, why is it us? Why couldn't we just, every quarter of a century, get some of those road machines that they only read about in the paper?

Now, Mr. Speaker, the sad part of this is that we in Nova Scotia pay taxes. My researcher has come up with some startling funds that, of course, are well-known to the Minister of Health. We are buying $1.1 billion litres of gasoline, on average, in Nova Scotia every year. We pay 13.5 cents provincially on every litre; another 10 cents goes to Ottawa as federal excise tax; we pay another 8 per cent in BST, or as the Liberal Government would like to call it, the HST, and I comply. That is a total of $370 million paid by us because we buy gasoline and our budget for roads is down to $250 million, down $37 million. So there are $120 million missing, that we pay. Not everybody in Nova Scotia is a Liberal Cabinet Minister, there are people for whom the payments for gasoline are a necessity of life. What do they get in return? They get the most miserable roads outside the Indian subcontinent. Although it may be a bit exaggerated because I have not been to India and I do not want to get hate mail from India but it sounds good.

The point I want to make is that we need forthright and fair treatment all across Nova Scotia and rural Nova Scotia is part of what I call all of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the late debate has expired.

The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]