The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., June 23, 1998

First Session

TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Lbr.: Occupational Health & Safety Div./WCB - Alliance,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 1640
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 21, Health Research Foundation Act, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1642
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 850, Devco - Mgt. Plan (5 Year): Non-Confidence -
Workers Support, Mr. F. Corbett 1642
Res. 851, Health: Commitments (Mar. 1998) - Deliver, Dr. J. Hamm 1643
Res. 852, DFO - Decentralization: Fish. Comm. (HoC) - Advice Take,
Mr. John Deveau 1643
Res. 853, Health - Organ Transplant (Res. 846): Vote Against -
Anti-Life, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1644
Res. 854, Auburn Drive HS: Media Tech. (Excellence Award) -
Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 1645
Vote - Affirmative 1646
Res. 855, Educ. - Chester Haines (Little Dover): Computer Grad.
(Physically Challenged Role Model) - Congrats., Mr. R. White 1646
Vote - Affirmative 1647
Res. 856, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Emergency House Repairs:
Backlogs - Clear, Mr. B. Taylor 1647
Res. 857, Fin. (Can.) - Economic Policies (1990 on): Income Erosion -
Regret, Mr. H. Epstein 1648
Res. 858, Educ. - Kingston & District Elem. School: Award
(Can. Assoc. of Principals) - Congrats., Mr. G. Moody 1648
Vote - Affirmative 1649
Res. 859, Environ. - Five Island Lake: Clean-up - Completion Guarantee,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1649
Res. 860, Educ. - SW Reg Bd.: Literacy Project - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Balser 1649
Vote - Affirmative 1650
Res. 861, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Kings Transit: Muns. Effort -
Recognize, Mr. G. Archibald 1651
Res. 862, Educ. - Sackville HS: Graduates (1998) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Holm 1651
Vote - Affirmative 1652
Res. 863, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Mahone Bay:
South Main St. - Repairs Consider, Mr. M. Baker 1652
Res. 864, Gov'ts. - Downsizing Policies: Impact - Recognize,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1653
Res. 865, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Springhill Industrial Park:
Econ. Dev. Comm. (Springhill) - Commend, Mr. M. Scott 1653
Vote - Affirmative 1654
Res. 866, Can. Taxpayers' Federation - Trenton Wks.: Attack -
Unappreciated, Mr. C. Parker 1654
Res. 867, Lbr. - Fire Prevention Legislation: Introduction - Date,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1655
Res. 868, Health - Denturists Act: Amdts. - Urge, Mr. J. Pye 1656
Res. 869, Fin./Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Asian Economy:
Crash Impact - Effect (N.S.) Detail, Mr. N. LeBlanc 1657
Res. 870, Educ. - Ray MacLeod (Auburn DHS):
SchoolNet [Can.] Bd. Appointment - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 1658
Vote - Affirmative 1658
Res. 871, Educ. - Argyle Cons. Elem. School:
Songwriting Contest (1st) - Congrats., Mr. N. LeBlanc 1658
Vote - Affirmative 1659
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Justice: Civil Procedure Rules - Amendments, Hon. J. Smith 1659
HOUSE RECESSED AT 12:44 P.M. 1660
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 12:47 P.M. 1660
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 196, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (Employees): PAC - Cooperate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1660
No. 197, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: PAC - Witness List (Premier) Table,
Dr. J. Hamm 1661
No. 198, Devco: Lay-Offs - Consultations (Gov't. [N.S.]),
Mr. F. Corbett 1663
No. 199, Nat. Res. - URB: Muns. - Presentations, Dr. J. Hamm 1664
No. 200, Fin. - Gaming Corp. (Employees): PAC - Cooperate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1665
No. 201, Health: MSI - Coverage, Mr. J. Muir 1667
No. 202, Health - Resource Plan: Funding - Prov.-Wide,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1668
No. 203, Fish. - TAGS 2: Funding Community Management -
Ensure, Mr. John Deveau 1670
No. 204, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Bluenose II: Promotional Tour -
Purpose, Mr. G. Balser 1671
No. 205, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Residential Tenancies Act: Review -
Tenants' Interests, Ms. R. Godin 1672
No. 206, NSLC - Glass Collection: Contract - Untendered,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1673
No. 207, Commun. Serv. - Secure Treatment Centre: Commitment -
Confirm, Mr. J. Pye 1674
No. 208, Educ. - Eastern Passage JH School: Split Shifts -
Parents Hear, Mr. E. Fage 1675
No. 209, Nat. Res. - Coastal Property: Non-Resident Ownership -
Address, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1676
No. 210, Educ. - Chignecto Reg. Bd.: Facilities Report - Min. Support,
Mr. M. Scott 1677
No. 211, Health - IWK-Grace/QE II Hospitals: Workers -
Wage Parity, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1678
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board,
The Premier 1680
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 22, Health Research Foundation Act, Hon. J. Smith 1681
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 20, Town of Kentville and Kentville Electric Commission Sale
of Assets Act 1681
Mr. G. Archibald 1681
Mr. J. Holm 1681
Vote - Affirmative 1682
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1685
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1688
Mr. J. Holm 1690
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:38 P.M. 1694
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 P.M. 1694
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Fish. - TAGS 2: Impact Study - Conduct:
Mr. N. LeBlanc 1695
Mr. John Deveau 1698
Hon. F. Cosman 1699
Hon. K. Colwell 1703
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 24th at 2:00 p.m. 1704
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 24th at 2:00 p.m.

[Page 1639]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, I would like to bring to the attention of members that the debate for 6:00 p.m. was submitted by the honourable member for Queens. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government immediately do an impact study on the effect of TAGS 2 and immediately indicate the province's plan to deal with the deficiencies in TAGS 2.

That debate will take place at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

1639

[Page 1640]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the strategic alliance between the Occupational Health and Safety Division of my department and the Workers' Compensation Board as they work toward a common goal of reducing the number of workplace illnesses and accidents and the associated economic and social costs. In fact, I would go so far as to say that their common goal is to completely wipe out workplace disease and injuries and their costs. Even prior to Consultant Ian Plummer's report which was released at the end of March, the two had been openly discussing areas of mutual interest. The Plummer report reinforced the need for those discussions to continue. One of the recommendations focused specifically on the need for such a strategic alliance.

With representatives from the Workers' Compensation Board, we have set up a joint committee to discuss ways in which we can team up to address educational services, information technology, policy development, promotion and communication and - last but not least - statistical information and analysis. In each of these areas we are identifying ways in which we can share the responsibility to achieve our common goal.

We have developed a system in which the Workers' Compensation Board reports to the OH&S Division, on a monthly basis, serious workplace accidents. For the past two years, we have also been receiving a monthly report listing firms with the highest accident frequency. This information is useful to our staff in targetting some workplaces but we also recognize the need for more information.

Mr. Speaker, in our discussions we are looking at expanding the types and quality of the information made available to us by the board. Ultimately, we want to improve the ability of our officers to target high-risk workplaces and be aware of workplace accidents as they occur.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to report that the Workers' Compensation Board is a strategic partner in our What's Holding You Up? campaign which outlines the responsibilities of the worker, the employer and the property owner when work is being done at height. This is just one example of how we are working together to make workplaces safer and healthier for all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this time to thank the minister for bringing this statement to the House. We are basically in support of it and agree with the minister's finding that certainly we have to be very diligent in the workplace to prevent workplace accidents.

[Page 1641]

One of the few comments I would like to say about it is, and I appreciate the spirit of cooperation of the two departments in getting together on a monthly basis, but I also think that the minister should probably look at the fact that in regions like Ontario, where a serious workplace accident has occurred, that they meet as soon as that accident is reported and both parties could then start functioning and getting it onstream right there. I think it may have been just an oversight as opposed to any great omission, and I put that as a way of a suggestion to the honourable minister.

Probably if you look at any heavy industrial site, obviously, that is where the greatest share of your accidents are going to occur. I think, in some ways, what we should do is, and I do not think the minister is suggesting this, to over-penalize them or overburden them with costs, but I think that we should look and really use those areas. To my mind comes the coal mining process, steelmaking and construction areas where I would think you would get most of your heavy industrial accidents, and I would suspect that the minister would agree with me that it is a combination of WCB and OHS getting in there and helping those people on the ground floor to make their workplace safer, not just from the top down but getting at the floor level with those groups and helping them prevent accidents. I think that is the thrust of what the minister is doing here today.

I started off my statement by thanking him. I do that sincerely and I hope that any input from this side of the floor, if he is looking for it, we would gladly give it to him and any support and we, again, thank the minister for bringing this to the floor. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending the Minister of Labour. I think that it is very laudable that the Occupational Health and Safety branch and the Workers' Compensation Board are coordinating their approach with respect to this problem.

I think Nova Scotians have told members of this House that occupational health and safety is of paramount concern to them. They expect that government will be proactive in ensuring that workplace safety is improved and coordination of efforts is a way in which that will be better established. I should also say that I think it is a better and more effective use of public funds, which is the second area in which the public have a great deal of concern, because by coordinating their efforts there will be less duplication and there will be more effective use of public funds in ensuring that workplace safety is promoted.

I should also indicate that I find it very encouraging to see that there is a plan afoot in the department to promote the What's Holding You Up? program. There is a great deal of confusion, Mr. Speaker, about occupational health and safety responsibilities between homeowners, workers, employers and I think anything that can be done to clarify that situation is entirely to the public benefit because, frankly, now the confusion has people very

[Page 1642]

apprehensive. I think there is a duty on government and particularly on the Department of Labour to ensure that people understand their responsibilities because that is the first step in making sure that they carry them out. As it is now, people are simply apprehensive, do not know what is going on, and this is certainly going to be a very positive step forward.

On the whole, I would simply commend again the Minister of Labour for his efforts. I would encourage the department to again take steps that would further promote occupational health and safety. As it has been indicated earlier, one death in Nova Scotia due to workplace accident or one tragic injury is too many. Anything we can do to make the system better and safer for Nova Scotians will be a great credit to everyone. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 21 - Entitled An Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 850

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

Whereas recent geological studies have shown that Phalen Colliery has sufficient coal reserves to add six years to the life of the mine; and

Whereas despite this positive development, management of the Cape Breton Development Corporation is continuing its ill-advised job-cutting five year plan which calls for another 300 lay-offs over the next two years; and

Whereas this approach displays a complete lack of competence, vision and accountability by Devco management;

[Page 1643]

Therefore be it resolved that this House join workers at Phalen Colliery who yesterday unanimously passed a motion of non-confidence against Devco management's destructive five year plan.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 851

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

Whereas in a March 4th election speech the Premier promised 170 new long-term beds this year that are now on hold; and

Whereas in a March 17th election speech the Premier promised $5 million for a new health research foundation which is now on hold; and

Whereas in the Speech from the Throne and the documents released with the budget, the government promised to expand the telemedicine project province-wide before the end of the year but this too is now on hold;

Therefore be it resolved that rather than putting a hold on commitments previously made the Premier not make any more commitments until he is sure he can deliver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 852

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

[Page 1644]

Whereas to quote MP Peter Stoffer, "There's no fish in the Rideau Canal."; and

Whereas the House of Commons Fisheries Committee has been guided by this insight to recommend that Department of Fisheries personnel be moved out of Ottawa to the East and West Coasts: and

Whereas such an overdue move would put Department of Fisheries bureaucrats closer to the fish and the fishing industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the federal government take the sound advice of Peter Stoffer and the other members of the House of Commons Fisheries Committee and begin immediately the decentralization of the federal Department of Fisheries.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed? (Interruptions)

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 853

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 Canada is the only country in the western hemisphere not to have a nation-wide transplant registry; and

Whereas Liberal naysayers yesterday played politics by defeating a resolution supporting such a registry of patients waiting for organ transplants; and

Whereas this really comes as no surprise to the majority of Nova Scotia, who voted against the government;

Therefore be it resolved that the noble concept of transplantation is larger than the hapless Liberal Government of Nova Scotia, enjoying yet another near-death experience by voting against life.

[Page 1645]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would like to submit two points for your honour's consideration with reference to the resolution just read. The first point is that reflections on the votes of the House are out of order, according to Beauchesne and other authorities. The second point is that I am not aware that any such vote as was described or claimed in the resolution ever actually took place. The question that is put before the House is not shall the motion be voted on but rather shall notice of motion be waived and the resolution put for a vote without debate. Many honourable members could feel that a point ought to be debated and the motion should not be passed without debate and for that reason might refuse assent, without any intention of voting against the measure at all, if put to a vote. I submit those two points for Your Honour's consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not too sure what the point of order is in reality because we have a large number, as the honourable member is well aware, of notices of motion that come forth and the customary ending to that motion, if the person wants to have it passed without debate, is simply to have it passed without debate.

MR. MACEWAN: Without debate, well, that is the issue, not voting . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 854

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

Whereas a group of students from Auburn Drive High School recently won a national journalism award; and

Whereas members of the student media service won the award for their one-half hour radio show, Canadian TeenLine; and

Whereas the show was used on SchoolNet News as a pilot project for the website's future audio service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Auburn Drive High School and these media students on winning the award of excellence from the Association for Media and Technology Education in Canada.

[Page 1646]

Mr. Speaker, I will be seeking waiver of the motion.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 855

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

Whereas Chester Haines of Little Dover, who has cerebral palsy, will be graduating from the Truro Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College with a diploma in Computer Information Systems - Networking with a speciality in webmastering; and

Whereas for his work term this year Chester designed and produced a web page for the Truro Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College; and

Whereas Chester has actually paved the way for other physically handicapped students since he is one of the first students who had requirements for accessibility to be enrolled at the Truro Campus;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Chester and wish him every success as he pursues a career in the computer field acting as a role model for all physically challenged persons in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1647]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 856

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

Whereas the backlog of applications for emergency housing repairs in this province is simply unacceptable; and

Whereas my office hears weekly from a broad range of Nova Scotians who are either faced with roof conditions which are leaking so profusely that they cannot tuck their children into bed at night or from senior citizens whose home has been declared a fire hazard by the local building inspector because repairs and renovations have not been carried out; and

Whereas many of these people have never requested government assistance in their lives but are now forced to do so because they do not have the necessary funding to carry out these repairs;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately move to see that these backlogs are cleared up so that Nova Scotians are not faced with a constant delay in determining whether they are eligible for the necessary funds to make emergency repairs to their homes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to welcome some visitors in the west gallery. We had a meeting with them this morning, the member for Cape Breton Centre and I. These are representatives from CUPE Local 2046, members of the executive of that local who work for Devco. If I may, I would like to introduce the following: Angus McEachern, the President; Robert MacFarlane, Vice-President; Brian Kanne, Treasurer; Gary Micholsky, Secretary; Fraser Morrison, President of CUPE Nova Scotia; and Jackie Branwell is the national representative.

Mr. Speaker, I say to all members that these people were in this morning to meet with us to talk about the crisis facing Devco and the coal industry in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia and we are working with them in order to bring some greater public awareness to that issue. I would like to ask all members if these people would rise, and all members afford them the usual welcome. (Applause)

[Page 1648]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 857

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

Whereas the latest figures from Statistics Canada show that Canadians' after-tax income remained stagnant in 1996, the latest year for which data are available; and

Whereas the failure of family income to grow during 1996 follows several years of actual decline in after-tax family income; and

Whereas the overall result is that average after-tax family income in 1996 was 5 per cent below 1989, the peak year for income in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House regret that Canadian economic policies followed by governments in the 1990's have eroded family incomes in this country, and commit themselves to achieving improved family incomes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 858

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

Whereas Kingston and District Elementary School has been honoured with a national award from the Canadian Association of Principals; and

Whereas the award came as a result of a student-led project, based on the very serious issue of the media and its impact on our youth; and

Whereas the 1997-98 primary-elementary recognition award of $250 was put together by Grade 2 students under the leadership of Donna Deschenes, Charlotte Bower, Marlene Jefferson and Karen Brewster;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the initiative and creative abilities of the students, the leadership of their teachers, and the support of their school for being one of only eight schools across the country to receive this award this year for work well done.

[Page 1649]

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 859

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

Whereas the clean-up job of the environmental disaster in the North Bay of Five Island Lake is not yet complete; and

Whereas the Community Liaison Committee continues to press for the completion of this job; and

Whereas this government has assured this conscientious group that they "remain committed to the clean-up of Five Island Lake";

Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate steps to guarantee the Community Liaison Committee, that the complete clean-up of the North Bay of Five Island Lake is at the top of its priority list.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 860

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

[Page 1650]

Whereas the Southwest Regional School Board has introduced a pilot project entitled the Gift of Literacy, which will provide elementary students with books and information about the value of reading; and

Whereas elementary schools from across the five counties, which comprise the Southwest Regional School Board, will be chosen to receive the literacy packages; and

Whereas this project was made possible through the generous corporate donations of books and money from Nelson Canada; Pepsi; McInnnes, Cooper & Robertson; Delmar Construction; TR3LC Nova; Scholastic Canada; Nimbus Publishing; Michelin; Innovative Systems; H H Marshall News Group; Langille's Print; Woozles Children's Book Store; AJ's Toys and Educational Supply Centre; Ellis Print; and Chapters;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their congratulations to the Southwest Regional School Board and the corporate sponsors who have worked together to give the elementary students in their area the Gift of Literacy.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There has been 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

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

Whereas the council of Halifax Regional Municipality has asked this House to proceed with Bill No. 1, and thus give Halifax Regional Municipality the power to regulate rooming houses; and

Whereas such regulation by the municipality is needed to deal with the deplorable conditions which exist in some rooming houses; and

Whereas the needed changes to the Halifax Regional Municipality Act have already been delayed for more than a year;

[Page 1651]

Therefore be it resolved that in the interests of better protection for those who live in boarding house accommodation, this House urge the government to bring forward Bill No. 1 for debate and passage.

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. That resoluiton, if I may submit, is out of order, because we have a bill that has been brought forward for first reading, and it is very clear in Beauchesne that a notice of motion cannot be brought forward on that same bill. That notice of motion is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take under advisement the remarks of the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, I am going to take a look at that notice of motion before it is tabled. I think though that it didn't actually refer to the bill itself but, however (Interruption) There is an argument going on here, I will settle the argument when I take a look at the resolution.

[12:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 861

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

Whereas Kings Transit Authority Chairman and Kentville Mayor Gary Pearl recently presented the transit's fiscal year report for 1997-98 showing a surplus of over $25,000; and

Whereas Kings Transit's fare-cost ratio is very good; and

Whereas the transit system provides regular daily service from Lower Wolfville right through to the Kingston-Greenwood area;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature recognize the dedicated efforts of municipal councils throughout Kings County in making Kings Transit a viable alternative mode of transportation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 862

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

[Page 1652]

Whereas Sackville High School's Class of 1998 will be holding their graduation ceremony on June 29th; and

Whereas the Sackville High School Kingsfishers succeeded in achieving this educational goal in part because of the support they received from caring families and the dedicated staff at Sackville High; and

Whereas the graduates will face many new exciting challenges as they pursue their future educational and career goals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sackville High School's 1998 graduates on a job well done and wish them good health and success in whatever their future holds in store for them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 863

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 Town of Mahone Bay has requested additional funding from the Province of Nova Scotia to allow the completion of a portion of public Highway No. 3, South Main Street, located within the boundaries of the said town; and

Whereas South Main Street is a portion of the Lighthouse Route, a major tourist thoroughfare in the province; and

Whereas the Lighthouse Route leads through the beautiful County of Shelburne, the constituency of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, as well as scenic Lunenburg County;

[Page 1653]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to consider the request of the Town of Mahone Bay for additional funding for repairs of public Highway No. 3, South Main Street.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 864

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

Whereas public sector employment in Canada continued to decline during the first three months of 1998; and

Whereas the decline in employment by federal, provincial and municipal governments was 1.5 per cent; and

Whereas this 1.5 per cent drop in public sector employment amounts to a loss of 42,000 jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge governments at all levels to recognize the impact of their downsizing policies on the state of employment in this country and this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 865

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

[Page 1654]

Whereas promotion of a local area is essential when attempting to lure business and jobs to a community; and

Whereas the Springhill Industrial Park offers tremendous potential for businesses wanting to locate to the area because of the readily available energy sources in the park as well as the 387 acres of land ready for development; and

Whereas the Springhill and Area Economic Development Committee has embarked on a promotional venture for the park that will hopefully see such issues as signage and alternate routes for trucks addressed;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature commend the Springhill and Area Economic Development Committee and worker Pam Jacobsen as the committee embarks on increasing the profile of the Springhill Industrial Park that will hopefully lead to increased job creation in the local area.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 866

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

Whereas the western-based Canadian Taxpayers' Federation has targetted Trenton Works as a corporate welfare case because it received public assistance in the amount of $128 million over 16 years; and

Whereas this assistance is obviously a success story because Trenton Works continues to operate providing hundreds of jobs and has received no public assistance in recent years; and

[Page 1655]

Whereas the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation is selective in its choice of targets since it overlooks other examples of massive federal subsidies, including hundreds of millions of dollars that the federal government has lavished upon the oil and gas industry of Alberta;

Therefore be it resolved that this House hereby inform the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation that its biased and outdated attack on Trenton Works is not appreciated by Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 867

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 volunteer firefighters across Nova Scotia continue to be thrust into various emergency situations not dealing directly with firefighting; and

Whereas legislation such as Nova Scotia's present Fire Prevention Act is incredibly outdated and has not had any major revisions made to is since 1936; and

Whereas because of outdated legislation such as the Fire Prevention Act and the Village Services Act, volunteer fire departments are being compromised in their ability to deal with non-related fire emergencies;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour provide details to members by week's end as to when Nova Scotia's 8,000 volunteer firefighters can expect to see new fire prevention legislation tabled and debated in this House of Assembly so volunteer firefighters will have a definite understanding of the job they are expected to do.

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

[Page 1656]

MR. SPEAKER: Just before I ask for agreement to waive, that notice of motion is a little long.

There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 868

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

Whereas the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia has prepared amendments to their Act to allow duly qualified denturists to provide partial dentures directly to the public; and

Whereas such legislation would allow for competition in the provision of partial dentures, thereby providing consumer choice and the possibility of lower prices; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is one of the few Canadian provinces that does not allow denturists to provide partial dentures;

Therefore be it resolved that this house urge the Health Minister to bring amendments to the Denturists Act to allow properly qualified denturists to provide partial dentures to Nova Scotians who choose their services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

[Page 1657]

RESOLUTION NO. 869

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 Asian economic crisis continues to worsen and has resulted in the Prime Minister having to already start pedalling backwards in his government's projections of economic growth; and

Whereas Canadian exports to Japan have slid a dramatic 42 per cent from one year ago, while monthly trade surpluses have decreased by nearly $3 billion in the past two years; and

Whereas the federal Finance Minister, Paul Martin, has already had very, very serious concerns expressed to him by top executives of the Business Council on National Issues as to the impact the Asian crisis will have on the Canadian economy;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia's Ministers of Finance, and Economic Development and Tourism immediately put forth information made available to them so far from their financial and senior trade and investment experts, as to what impact the crashing Asian economy will have on Nova Scotia's economic growth.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before I recognize the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, I had a look at the notice of motion that was moved by the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank with respect to Bill No. 1. There is a very fine line and if a person really wanted to be picky, probably every notice of motion that came forward in this House, in some way, can be aligned with a piece of legislation or another notice of motion that we have on the books.

In this particular case, however, the honourable member is quite right, perhaps, in bringing forth what she considers to be a delay in bringing a certain piece of legislation forward for second reading. That is entirely acceptable. However, the notice of motion, indeed, does speak of the principle of Bill No. 1 and speak to the principle of Bill No. 1. So, for that particular reason, I am ruling it out of order. However, there is only one instance in this particular resolution that deals with this. I am sure the honourable member could . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Will you take the clause out?

MR. SPEAKER: No, I will not take the clause out but if the member wishes to do so, that is entirely permissible.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

[Page 1658]

RESOLUTION NO. 870

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

Whereas Ray MacLeod, a journalism and English teacher at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour, was appointed to SchoolNet News Network's national board; and

Whereas SchoolNet News Network, a national website launched in 1996 for Canadian SchoolNet, is an on-line journalism forum for students in Grades Primary to 12 across the country; and

Whereas Mr. MacLeod recently became the first Canadian to earn the distinction of certified journalism educator from the Journalism Education Association of America;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. MacLeod on his appointment and recognize his work with teens and media.

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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 871

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

Whereas Argyle Consolidated Elementary School tied for first place recently in a song writing contest called Hot Schools, organized by Fran Whitelaw, a fine arts consultant; and

Whereas Argyle's entry was organized by music teacher Nancy Taylor and was composed by Alicia MacEachern of Lower West Pubnico and Jessie Owen of Argyle; and

[Page 1659]

Whereas the song was sung by this Grade 5 class and was forwarded on tape to the contest organizers;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Argyle Consolidated Elementary School and all the participants for their initiative, and encourage them to pursue their interest in the field of music.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and that the question be put 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 Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Attorney General and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on May 29, 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: The amendments are tabled.

[Page 1660]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The Premier, I believe, is outside the Chamber and I wonder if we could wait for a couple of moments until the Premier has the opportunity to come in for Question Period. I know my first question is directed to him and so is the question for the Leader of the Official Opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. CHISHOLM: Sorry, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Could you make that a motion?

MR. SPEAKER: Very well. I understand the point. The point is well taken. We will recess for two minutes.

[12:44 p.m. The House recessed.]

[12:47 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: We will commence with Question Period, the time being 12:48 p.m. with termination at 1:58 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (EMPLOYEES): PAC - COOPERATE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will be directing my question through you to the Premier. Yesterday in this House the Minister of Finance introduced a resolution urging the Public Accounts Committee to examine all sides of the story around the Gaming Corporation and the government. That resolution was supported unanimously by members of this House, in the spirit of trying to get all of the information out around this issue. I want to ask the Premier in the spirit of that resolution has the government taken steps to ensure that all employees of the Gaming Corporation will cooperate fully with the Public Accounts Committee by providing any and all information, including documents, to said committee?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, certainly we want to cooperate. We do not feel that there is anything to hide so we are quite confident in being able to cooperate and, in fact, helping the process.

[Page 1661]

In relation to the honourable Leader of the Opposition's request yesterday, I have talked to people in my office about going through the files to determine what information was there that we could make available to the House.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let us make sure that everybody knows that the question about whether employees of the Gaming Corporation have been instructed to cooperate was not answered. The first supplementary, I want to ask the Premier has he given instructions through the Minister of Finance to the Gaming Corporation in the spirit of ensuring that all information is made available to the Public Accounts Committee in the spirit of the resolution passed yesterday, that the Gaming Corporation waive solicitor-client privilege for Gaming Corporation Lawyer, John Merrick?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the Leader of the Opposition, I understand his question but it probably would be better to ask the Minister of Finance. He is on his way and will be here shortly.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, here is one that maybe the Premier can answer. Will the Premier waive solicitor-client privilege for Robbie MacKeigan, who was employed by the Premier's Office to negotiate directly with ITT Sheraton, and will the Premier ensure that all Cabinet documents relating to the casino are made available to the Public Accounts Committee?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just received the honourable Leader of the Opposition's request yesterday for information. We have already contacted Mr. MacKeigan and will be meeting with him on this whole matter. So I would be prepared to raise all of what he has mentioned and I would hope that we could get the people that were mentioned yesterday before the Public Accounts Committee as soon as possible to clarify what I think is a gross misunderstanding.

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

FIN. - GAMING CORP.: PAC - WITNESS LIST (PREMIER) TABLE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a question for the Premier. Yesterday, the Premier's Minister of Finance and minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation provided to the public a list of those persons that he felt should be called before the Public Accounts Committee to allow the people of Nova Scotia to understand why the deal that is in place with ITT Sheraton is, in fact, not the deal that was originally signed by the province. Would the Premier give to us his list of people that he feels should be asked to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to provide the necessary understanding of how this deal came to be?

[Page 1662]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do not have that list with me, but I think Dara Gordon would be a good start. I think we have to decide how long we want the Public Accounts Committee to be able to sit, I think that is an important question, and I am certainly prepared to entertain any recommendations that honourable members may have.

DR. HAMM: I would think that this issue is of sufficient importance that the Premier would have in his own mind identified his position if, in fact, it is the government's intention to make all of this information available, and is the Premier prepared to discuss with his Minister of Finance a plan that will allow the interests of the public to be satisfied on this particular question, to determine why it is some millions of dollars of contractual obligations of ITT Sheraton have simply been allowed to evaporate?

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

DR. HAMM: The question to the Premier is simply this, is he prepared today to make a public statement that will clearly identify his commitment to make all of this arrangement with ITT Sheraton as transparent as the light of day?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to say to the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that I take this very seriously. I am not really very pleased about this. This is not something that encourages people to think kindly of government, or government activities. When you are dealing with gambling, it always adds another aspect. I want to say to the honourable member, and to all of the House, that anybody the Public Accounts Committee wants to call will not be objected to by this government. They can call whomsoever they think would be fair. I do think though that it is important to call Dara Gordon and others that were mentioned by the Minister of Finance yesterday. I think that would be a good start in clarifying but I can assure the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that what we find - and I do not know what is there, but we are going to be doing a search and what we find - we will give to the honourable member because it is in the interests of everybody to have this matter cleared up as soon as possible. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I accept the Premier's declaration that he wants to get to the bottom of this. One of the unanswered questions is why the arbitration process was not allowed to go forward and why the Premier's Office directed their counsel to go and interrupt the proceedings? Will the Premier, here, make a commitment, that if the representative of the Premier's Office, Mr. Robert MacKeigan, is called before the Public Accounts Committee, that he will be freed of any client-lawyer privilege, and will be able to testify openly and to give his account of why he went to those proceedings and interrupted the arbitration proceedings?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that Mr. MacKeigan will be allowed to do that. He will have that instruction from me and my government. I think that we have to, of course, be careful, when we talk about documents and testimony by Mr. MacKeigan -

[Page 1663]

and he will be able to judge that and identify those things before the committee - is that nothing be stated which would be of a confidential nature with respect to the participants and their ability to compete. I think that has to be stated, because I think that is only fair to consider that.

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

DEVCO: LAY-OFFS - CONSULTATIONS (GOV'T. [N.S.])

MR. FRANK CORBETT: My question is also to the Premier. Mr. Premier, as you may be aware, we have learned over the last few days that there is good news and bad news about Devco. The good news is geological studies show that the Phalen Mine has an extended six year lifespan. The bad news, of course, is the lay-offs are continuing. Can the Premier tell this House, whether his government has been consulted on the planned permanent lay-offs at Devco?

THE PREMIER: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. CORBETT: Well, we do have members from this province on the board, Mr. Premier, and I think they should be informing you. Our information shows, there will be 106 jobs lost in this fiscal year and another 77 in fiscal 1999-2000. The workers at Prince have passed a non-confidence vote on the Devco five year plan. My question to the Premier, does he support the motion of non-confidence passed yesterday by Devco miners against the management and its five year plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the votes of non-confidence by the miners, as much as I understand them, are not going to solve the problem. What we have to do is get to the bottom of the problem and decide what the problem really is. What are we faced with here? I would want some clarification and further information. This is a federal jurisdiction, the federal government takes the lead on this. We are involved because we are interested in the people in those communities and in the economic future of those areas. But we want to be able to be sure of what is happening before we make any particular comment.

MR. CORBETT: I can assure the Premier that the problem here is simple. The federal government wants to get out of coal mining and they don't give two hoots about the people and the miners in Cape Breton. That is the problem. Now I am going to say to you, here is what the president of District No. 26 says that this plan is nothing more than business pornography. Now, will the Premier join the executive of the United Mine Workers in a united front against the continuation of Devco's destructive five year plan?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the federal government can be criticized for a lot of things, but I would certainly not say that they wanted to get out of the coal mining and to leave the people of Cape Breton flat, as the honourable member suggests. The federal

[Page 1664]

government has just entered into, a few years ago, a $79 million development plan over a five year period. That is a lot of money, it is a sincere effort to try to do something in the coal mining industry. Now, they are not going to, as they say, open another mine, but they have stated again and again that their commitment is to the success of Devco, and they are working towards that and those are their instructions to the corporation.

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

NAT. RES. - URB: MUNS. - PRESENTATIONS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. On May 26th, the Premier said in this House that municipalities will be able to make their presentation before the Utility and Review Board. On the following day, May 27th, the Premier said in this place, "I agree with the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that we should do everything we can to make sure that municipalities can make their presentation to the Utilities and Review Board.". I ask the Premier, what did he mean on May 26th and May 27th when he made those statements?

[1:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I understand what I meant. I don't know why the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party would not understand it. It is just that we want the municipalities to know the importance of natural gas distribution in their communities and to be able to go into a hearing on distribution, before the Utility and Review Board, knowing the procedures, the facts and being able to judge what is best for their communities at such a time.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier. I understand that the regulations pertaining to the Utility and Review Board and how it will handle the applications, those regulations are now before Cabinet. My question to the Premier is quite specific, has the Premier made a recommendation to his Cabinet colleagues to lower the fee for municipalities and RDAs who are looking for a limited distribution permit? Has he recommended to his Cabinet colleagues lowering the non-refundable application fee that would have to be paid before that application can go before the URB?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on that because that is something that was discussed in Cabinet but I can say, and reiterate once again, that we want the municipalities to be able to appear before the Utility and Review Board regardless of economic means. That is my commitment that that will be able to take place and I stand by that commitment.

[Page 1665]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would strongly suggest to the Premier that the statements he made on May 26th and May 27th certainly will not hold water if, in fact, the current application fee is held. So I would encourage the Premier to look after that matter. My final question to the Premier has to do with what he had said in answer to my question that they are providing assistance to municipalities and others in making their application and getting ready to appear before the URB. Would the Premier outline in detail what it is and what help he has provided to the municipalities to allow them to very quickly get together a presentation to appear before the URB, what support services has he provided?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we had a meeting with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities who expressed a concern about the availability of natural gas in the communities of this province. We assured them that we would be prepared to work with them in what they felt was absolutely needed. But we are giving the commitment that the fee will not be a barrier. We are also saying that we can wait a little while until they can familiarize themselves with the procedure either through our offices here in provincial government or through consultants throughout the country. We will be working with them to the best extent that we possibly can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - GAMING CORP. (EMPLOYEES): PAC - COOPERATE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation. I indicated earlier in a question that the minister had introduced a resolution yesterday that received unanimous consent of all members of this House urging the Public Accounts Committee to do everything it can to get to the bottom of the allegations that have been made about the role of the Gaming Corporation and the government, with respect to negotiations with ITT Sheraton. In light of that resolution and in the spirit of same I want to ask the minister, has he taken steps to ensure that all employees of the Gaming Corporation cooperate fully with the Public Accounts Committee by providing any and all information, including documents, to that committee?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that all members that would be brought forward to the Public Accounts Committee process would be here giving their honest view of exactly what happened. I believe that is important for us to do and I am glad that we have all-Party committee approval on that process and it is time to hear both sides of the issue.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the minister's resolution yesterday, he was quite prepared to give direction to the Public Accounts Committee about what they should do in order to ensure that the full story gets out on this issue. When it comes to answering

[Page 1666]

questions about what he can do, what his government can do to also add to the fullest information coming out, the minister is less anxious to be helpful.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister my first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, whether or not he will ensure that the Gaming Corporation will waive solicitor-client privilege for Gaming Corporation lawyer John Merrick as the Premier indicated he would ensure the Premier's lawyer, Robbie MacKeigan, would be waived from solicitor-client privilege?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday and again today, I expect all people who come forward here would be here to tell the truth. We have nothing to hide. In fact, if they have something they feel is a wrongdoing, bring it here. We don't believe there is anything to hide in this exercise and we expect all people to come forward to do the right thing, the honourable thing, and that is to tell the truth.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that part of the reason why Nova Scotians are less confident with the government is that they are not prepared to do anything in order to help clear this up to bring any information forward. They just simply defend and accuse the other Parties.

Let me say in my final supplementary to the minister, Mr. Speaker, that when the Gaming Control Act was brought in to control industry and protect the public interest, the then minister said that the corporation will conduct and manage casinos and provincial lotteries. It will handle the business end. I want to ask the Minister responsible for the administration of Part I of the Gaming Control Act what it was that changed from the introduction of that legislation, what was it that changed between then and the time when the government decided to directly involve itself in negotiations between the government and ITT Sheraton?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it is quite simple. There was a gridlock, a roadblock, the inability to be able to negotiate an agreement and it was our responsibility to go forward. We have a $100 million casino being constructed, creating jobs, economic opportunity and tax revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia. It is now going to be out of the facility of the hotel. It is a stand-alone construction. That is exactly what everybody has asked us to do. That is exactly what the mandate of the process was and that is what we have accomplished here today.

[Page 1667]

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

HEALTH: MSI - COVERAGE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this question is for the Minister of Health. A letter I received from a constituent indicated that they were denied some coverage under MSI. The question that I have is, why would deterioration of the bone in any other part of the body except the jaw be covered under MSI and the deterioration of the bone in the jaw not be covered if it is not due to a dental problem?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the listing of procedures covered and deemed to be medically necessary under MSI is determined between the Department of Health and the Medical Society. That list would be available and would be known to the practising physicians or dentists. So without knowing more specifics on the issue, I can only say if the honourable member would like to bring this information forward, I certainly would get an answer for him but you have to have a little more specifics.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister. I guess I knew what your answer was going to be which leads me to my second question. The constituent in question then wrote and indeed asked the very question which you answered. The letter that he received, he had asked about the regulations that governed this thing and he was told that he would have to apply through the Freedom of Information Act to see those regulations and to submit a $5.00 fee. Why would these regulations which govern medical procedures that are paid for or not paid for only be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I cannot respond to a hypothetical question. If I had (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: If the honourable member would like to table the letter that I can have a look at it, then that could be reviewed. I think these are important issues for explanation with persons. He is quoting from a letter that I have not seen. I am not prepared to make a statement in the House until I know specifically what the letter said.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my third question and second supplementary also for the Minister of Health and it had to do with the same set of correspondence. One of the quotes in it, which I will give just as a preliminary, was that what I receive or will receive upon reaching the age of 65 is an additional $830 a year in medical premium. This, of course, reflects the inconsistency in the regulations between some of the private plans and the government Pharmacare plan. As the minister well knows, some of these private plans, they will not offer coverage if the same coverage is available under the government plan and, therefore, indeed, the optional Pharmacare is . . .

[Page 1668]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MUIR: We are sort of in a catch-22 situation. What action is the minister taking, or having his officials take, to try to resolve this contradiction which must affect many Nova Scotians?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to answer as well as I can. I am not clear. We were talking about what seemed to be a disability amount of $600-some and then there was something about Pharmacare. So I am really not quite clear. There are some issues on Canada Pension relative to the insurer of last resort. I would have to say that in a response to this, I know within Pharmacare we have debated here in this House, looking at the support for the private plans, the federal particularly, the federal employees wanting to have programs of their own and using the Seniors Pharmacare as a program of last resort.

It is a very complex issue. I know I will try to be short, but I think unless there are more specific details, I find it difficult to respond, but just that we are looking within the Pharmacare Program's alternatives to that and even including a no-premium fee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - RESOURCE PLAN: FUNDING - PROV.-WIDE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. Paediatricians working outside of Halifax have raised concern for a number of years now about the need for alternative funding arrangements to relieve the pressure of calls and practice volumes and to stabilize speciality services in rural areas. In the heat of the election the Premier, in a letter which I will table, made a promise to finally deal with this issue by early summer. Given that the government has now signed an $8 million agreement with 40 physicians at the IWK-Grace for alternative funding proposals and since, indeed, it is early summer, will you now live up to the Premier's election promise to these people to have a province-wide resource plan together with appropriate funding in place by early summer on this very important matter?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for this question. This is very relevant. Yesterday we did sign a landmark agreement with physicians, where 40 full-time equivalent physicians signed an agreement with us at the IWK-Grace. We are now already in the process of meeting with regional bodies representing physicians, such as paediatricians and others, and that process is up an running. In fact, the person that came with me to the press conference yesterday had just returned from Truro where he had been looking at this initiative. It is up and running. We will have to go through a process, but we are fast-tracking it as quickly as we can.

[Page 1669]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is also for the minister. You will be aware that the people in the New Glasgow area are in danger of losing two fine physicians because the province-wide resource plan is not in place. Will the minister guarantee to the people of New Glasgow that the province-wide plan, which we have yet to see, will be in place and will allow the recruitment of another paediatrician in time to stop physicians from leaving after having endured years of demanding call schedules and casework burdens?

[1:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is the province that is leading the way right across this country in alternate funding for physicians. What happened yesterday was very unique. We are moving quickly throughout the province as well and this will be in place in short order. We also have other programs to complement this particular issue, a recruitment of specialists such as paediatricians and we are actively working. We have a recruitment team and we are actively working. Alternate funding will really help to retain and also, more importantly, to recruit physicians such as paediatricians into regional communities.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have noted that the people of New Glasgow are still without a commitment from the minister that this will be dealt with in a timely fashion. We understand that no students from Dalhousie Medical School have been accepted into the IWK Paediatric Specialty Training Program for the last two to three years. Will the minister agree to mandate that local students should occupy some of these slots so that we are not simply training students from away who have no connection or desire to return to communities in Nova Scotia, thereby alleviating the shortage of paediatric specialists outside of Halifax?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there have been great gains in many areas. We were just speaking with people who are visiting our province and we were speaking about the initiatives within psychiatry where for years we never had residents from our program. It is important. The things that we did yesterday, for instance, that message will go right across the country and be very positive.

Will I mandate that to happen? No, Mr. Speaker, that's not the way to do business. We are working with the people, we are consulting, we are supporting them, we are bringing in new initiatives. We are on the cutting edge of bringing in alternate funding and those types of programs and that is what will recruit and retain new physicians.

[Page 1670]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

FISH. - TAGS 2:

FUNDING COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT - ENSURE

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Premier. The TAGS 2 program includes money for support of community economic development. The idea is that this money is to be funnelled through ACOA to the communities. That's a recipe for disaster. My question is, will the Premier make sure that this money is managed by the communities that it is meant for?

THE PREMIER: I can't give that undertaking, Mr. Speaker, because it is certainly not the province's position to be able to enforce that. What we will do is to see that the money that comes through for economic development, be it through ACOA or anywhere else, does go to the communities that are affected by the lay-offs in the fishery and that it doesn't go to areas for which no implication from the TAGS program exists.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Premier. There also has to be provincial representation, aligned with fishers for the community-based quotas to ensure that existing enterprises in coastal communities have adequate access to fish stocks. My question then, will the Premier assure this House that he will do everything in his power to keep existing quotas in the coastal communities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is our hope that in Nova Scotia, through the work of the honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that we cannot only maintain the quotas we have now but increase the quotas. As to how they are allocated, that is the final decision of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. Much more should have been done by this province during the lead-up to TAGS 2 to represent the fishers of this province. My question to the Premier then, is the Premier prepared to join the fishers of Nova Scotia to lead a united front to address Ottawa on inadequacies of the TAGS 2 program?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think that, quite frankly, and I understand the concern of the honourable member, we would have liked to have seen more money for income supplements over a longer period of time, but the frank point of view is that Ottawa is not going to give any more money.

The fact of the matter is, however, that we have to look at these fishermen and their families to make sure that their life goes on and they have an income. What we have to do is do what we can to get these people in a career, in an occupation where they can continue to support their families, and that is why we wanted the diversification aspect of the successor program to TAGS. We got that, we have economic development funding from Ottawa, and

[Page 1671]

we are going to supplement that as well. We are going to do what we can to make sure that these people have a new career and that they are able to contribute for themselves, their families and their communities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - BLUENOSE II:

PROMOTIONAL TOUR - PURPOSE

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is directed to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I am curious as to what is going on with the Bluenose II. I was down on the waterfront the other day and there were tourists standing there. One said, I am here to see the Bluenose. I said, me too. But my understanding is that the Bluenose II is currently involved in a promotional tour that will last some five months. Perhaps the minister could tell me and the House, exactly what the purpose of that tour is and what it involves?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. I believe he raised the same point the other day in the discussions of estimates, and I had given him the answer at that time. Now for the benefit of the House, I will give it again. He is quite correct, he didn't see the Bluenose II when he was down on Halifax Harbour, nor did any other community in this province see the Bluenose II in the last few weeks. The Bluenose is out on the West Coast, or heading to the West Coast, to show the Nova Scotia flag, to try to encourage some business out there. It is an ambassador for Nova Scotia which is known worldwide, and the Heritage Foundation decided that this year they would show the Bluenose off and send it around to try to encourage business to come to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. This is the second year that the Bluenose has been out promoting Nova Scotia tourism, and one wonders, when you look at the percentage of tourist visitors, where they come from in fact is the New England Seaboard, from the Atlantic Provinces themselves and some from Quebec. That is where the bulk of the tourists come from. So the question then would be, what would be the intent of sending her away, for a second year, and who determines the itinerary? I guess that is more the question, who determines the itinerary of the Bluenose II, given that this is the second year that that ship has been away from her home port and her home waters?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Heritage Trust determines the itinerary of the Bluenose, but I might add that the tourism industry in Nova Scotia is not simply the Bluenose, tourism in Nova Scotia is a burgeoning business that is going ahead in leaps and bounds. Last year, it achieved $1 billion. That is a $1 billion industry for Nova Scotia. (Applause) I don't think the fact that the Bluenose is out of the province is going to

[Page 1672]

have an effect on that. I was also asked a question the other day about our marketing brochures, that they haven't seen them in Nova Scotia recently. I said, that is because they are all in other provinces, why would you have your own marketing brochures in this province? The Bluenose is an ambassador, it is out throughout Canadian waters, and American waters, promoting Nova Scotia.

MR. BALSER: Again to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. The budget allocation for the Bluenose Heritage Trust Fund is something in the neighbourhood of $500,000. I think it is kind of interesting that we have a mechanism in place in the Province of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Tourism Council, which is a partnership of TIANS, businesses and government. It seems to me that they should be the ones to determine the itinerary for that ship, to determine where it should be and when it should be there. There is no doubt that small, rural economic communities depend on tourism, and there is a direct correlation to the visits of the Bluenose to the those communities and an increase in tourist revenues. So my question is, why doesn't the Nova Scotia Tourism Council determine the itinerary, why leave it with the Heritage Trust?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Heritage Trust does determine where the Bluenose goes and the itinerary for the Bluenose through the entire year, including the fact where the Bluenose is repaired, where its home port is - Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. There are a great number of tradesmen in this province who make a great deal of money from repairs to the Bluenose from time to time. It is an economic generator within the province, but it is also an ambassador outside the province. I would tell the honourable member opposite that the tourist industry has been consulted. We have been consulting with the Heritage Trust regarding where the Bluenose goes on any given period of time, promoting Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT:

REVIEW - TENANTS' INTERESTS

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. I would like to ask the minister to address an issue which is of tremendous concern to many Nova Scotians and that is the issue of landlord-tenant relations. I understand that the Residential Tenancies Act is currently under review by the Department of Consumer Services. I would like to ask what steps have been taken to ensure that the interests of tenants are fairly represented during this review?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: It is an important question. There have been some difficulties identified with the present regulations under the Residential Tenancies Act. We began the process of consulting with people in the communities and the shareholders in the

[Page 1673]

process towards establishing a better program. We will continue to do that until we are satisfied that we have heard from all people who are concerned.

MS. GODIN: I have seen the membership list of the people who are on the review committee and I was disturbed by the apparent concentration of power in the hands of mobile-home park owners. Seven of the 30 members on that review committee are mobile-home park owners while at most five are tenants. That number appears to change quite often. Would the minister please tell this House when we can expect the results of this review process, what the time-frame is?

MR. COLWELL: We are trying to get it resolved as quickly as possible, but at the same time we want to make sure that everybody has a chance to give a proper input and that when the decision is made to move forward with the new program we have all the information and all the shareholders have an equal opportunity to provide information and all that information is properly taken into consideration before we do any changes.

MS. GODIN: In the minister's first answer he spoke about consultation. I am just wondering if the minister can explain what sort of consultative process tenants and landlords will be able to participate in once that committee's report has been released and if there is any consultative process planned at all.

MR. COLWELL: We are presently looking at several different ways to go through the consultation process. As we establish them we will make them available.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NSLC - GLASS COLLECTION: CONTRACT - UNTENDERED

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: My question is to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. Will the minister provide for me here today the details of why the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission presently has an untendered contract with the Ryan Investment Limited of New Brunswick, valued at over $1 million, for the collection of glass from the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission outlets.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: I am sorry that at this point in time I cannot give the honourable member much information on the contract outside the province, but I do know it has been a longstanding dispute between the breweries and the bottle dealers with respect to the collection of beverage containers, beer bottles, what have you, for the Liquor Commission. They had an arrangement in place before the Resource Recovery Fund was in place. I will get further information for the honourable member and present it to him.

[Page 1674]

MR. DEWOLFE: It is certainly my understanding there is a company here in the province that is prepared to go with this matter. As my first supplementary, can the minister provide me with details as to why the contract was recently extended for another six months at a cost of $500,000 without going to tender?

[1:30 p.m.]

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, this is something that I am not up-to-date on, but I will get the information for the honourable member and provide it. If it was tendered without a contract, I would assume that is a call made by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. It is a Crown Corporation so to speak. The government is not involved with their negotiations or with their contracts.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, will the minister then provide me with the assurances today that the contract with Rayan Investments Ltd. of New Brunswick will not extend another month past September 1st without going to public tender?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will do what I can to bring it to the attention of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, but certainly they are at arm's length from government and they have (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACASKILL: They have a board of directors. The Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is doing fine. They are earning money for the government. They run their show and I believe they are doing a good job at it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SECURE TREATMENT CENTRE:

COMMITMENT - CONFIRM

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. This government has repeatedly failed to fulfil promises of a secure treatment centre for troubled Nova Scotian youth. We have heard this government's excuse for breaking their promises, like their own failure to provide adequate support resources for secure treatment centres. Now that the new placement options have been announced, will this government commit to a firm date for building a secure treatment centre?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, that question was asked the other day. The answer remains the same.

[Page 1675]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am unaware that the question was asked the other day and I am unaware of what the response was. However, my first supplementary to the minister is, this government is placing very troubled children in facilities which lack necessary resources to care for them. This irresponsible practice puts caretakers, fellow residents, and children themselves at risk. Why is this government courting disaster by placing troubled kids in inadequate care? This province cannot accept another Eddy Sheppard, Junior.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite is really contributing a lot of fear-mongering around the child care that goes on in this province. I think he should be fairly careful when he stands up and attempts to do that. Our government is responding to the report Too Good to Lose, which calls for a number of placement options for troubled children, and this year we are embarking on those four regional placement options in response to that report.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I do think it is very important to bring these issues forward. How else are we going to protect our citizens, especially the youth of our province? Because of cuts to our system, Nova Scotia children are being placed out-of-province and away from their communities and families.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. PYE: Some are even being placed in hotels and at outrageous costs with respect to treatment. My question is, Mr. Speaker, if this government cannot afford to build a secure treatment centre, why can it afford to put children up in hotels and send them off to New Brunswick?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I can only recommend that the honourable member opposite read the report Too Good to Lose and then he will understand why we are making the response we are making.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - EASTERN PASSAGE JH SCHOOL:

SPLIT SHIFTS - PARENTS HEAR

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education. As the minister is aware, the last several weeks parents' groups have been meeting, PTA and other concerned citizens about education, in the Eastern Passage area. Those parents have also met with our caucus and myself and they raised a very good point about the equality of education and opportunity. They raise a democratic principle. Mr. Minister, would you be prepared to instruct the school board of the Halifax Regional Municipality that the submission of the parents should be heard by this regional school board with regard to alternatives to split shifts?

[Page 1676]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that on two occasions the school board in question listened to parent submissions and have made decisions in the best interests of the children, that is the purpose of regional school boards. They have taken action which they believe is in the best interests of those children until such time as a new school space is available.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, that answer is very fine but the particular parent groups and citizens that have been approaching us, they have not been granted that hearing at the regional school board. They indicated to us that they have met the requirements of the seven days and even the Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Walter Fitzgerald has written a letter on their behalf in support of allowing them to make a submission and bring their views forward to that regional authority of the school board there. Will the minister ensure that those parents' voices are heard? Those parents have a right to be heard at the school board.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have fully elected school boards in this province. We have advisory councils, almost 300 now, that are advocates for children's education and spokespersons for parent voices. There have been at least two public meetings where the board has heard the concerns of parents in that area and they have taken a position that they believe is in the best interests of the children of that community.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as usual the minister has avoided answering the question. The important thing here, Mr. Minister, is that you are the Minister of Education, the school board is answerable to you. These parents' concerns have not been addressed, they have not asked the school board to reverse the decision. What they have asked is for a fair, honest, just, hearing, they just want a meeting, their legitimate, democratic right. Will you make sure that happens?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, part of the restructuring of education in this province was to find a balance between the right amount of governance and dollars for children in classrooms. The board in the Halifax Regional Municipality has met with many parent groups, including the parents of this community, twice on two occasions have met to hear the concerns of those parents and have made decisions that they believe are in the best interests of those very children. (Applause)

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

NAT. RES. - COASTAL PROPERTY:

NON-RESIDENT OWNERSHIP - ADDRESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources. As probably the minister is aware, I have introduced a number of resolutions and continue to bring up concerns regarding the non-resident ownership of coastline in our province. I would like to point out to the minister that I am talking about non-

[Page 1677]

resident ownership of coastline. At this stage I believe that the only legislation that is even in place is that we have a voluntary disclosure law on this matter. I would like to know what the minister is prepared to do, or instruct his department to do, to address this matter of non-resident ownership of our coastal properties in this province?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. We do not feel at this point in time that outside ownership of land is out of control. We believe it is well within two or three per cent, something like that, of the total land sales in the province. It is very difficult for the government to dictate to any person to whom they can sell their land.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am not into disputing percentages but it is my knowledge through another experience, and I tabled legislation from our neighbouring Province of Prince Edward Island that, of course, has absolute, strict control over its shorefront properties through legislation introduced in 1988 and amended in 1991. I wonder if the minister would consider instructing his staff to review this legislation with the idea of considering the example followed by the Garden of the Gulf, Prince Edward Island?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, that is something I will discuss with staff. We are always discussing important issues with our staff and that is something I promise him I will do and bring him back a report.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I know we cannot get into quoting figures and percentages because it is a frustrating experience. But I am aware of the fact, and according to the notes I have received, that in the last decade over 17,000 acres of Nova Scotia land was transferred or leased to non-residents. I believe it is a problem. In fact, the people that I have spoken to are aware that it is a problem. So I am interested in whether the minister is prepared to meet with interest groups in my particular riding to look at the issue of non-resident ownership between Terence Bay and East and West Dover?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. Yes, I would be prepared to meet with the honourable member and any person who he feels has a concern with regard to offshore land ownership.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

EDUC. - CHIGNECTO REG. BD.:

FACILITIES REPORT - MIN. SUPPORT

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Education. I wonder if the Minister of Education is aware of the facilities reorganization report that was initiated by the Chignecto Regional School Board and if he is, I wonder if he supports the findings and recommendations of that report?

[Page 1678]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, yes, I am aware of the report. From the point of view of what I support, I support boards looking at their facilities and trying to make decisions, not just about operating budget elements but about capital, construction and renovation elements to benefit the children. That is their fundamental responsibility. Yes, I support boards that do that.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister. When he supports the findings, can he also justify supporting in the River Hebert area the bringing together of Primary to Grade 12 students, children five to 18 years old being crammed into one building for the mere saving of $52,000? I am told that there was maintenance done in that building within the last week that cost $40,000. How does he justify children five to 18 years old being crammed together in one building?

MR. HARRISON: I thought I made it clear in my answer to the first question that I support the board's right and responsibility, in fact, to look at facilities and to make improvements in the best interests of children. I will not be drawn into a discussion that is taking place in those communities about the merits of each aspect of the report. Suffice it to say that that is the board's job. They planned to do it with their communities and I would challenge the member opposite to engage himself in the debate in those communities.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, we don't have $30 million schools in Cumberland South nor do we have schools that have a computer at each desk but we are proud of what we have. I would like to know if the minister today will commit to the people of River Hebert that that community will always offer Primary to Grade 12 education in that community?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would hope that if the member for Cumberland South needs a $22 million high school for the children of that area that he would support the finest schools in the country for the children of Cumberland South, because that is what we support as a government. If the board is out there in a consultative mode with its communities trying to design the best future for their children, he should be praising that initiative.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - IWK-GRACE/QE II HOSPITALS:

WORKERS - WAGE PARITY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, the minister in announcing the alternate funding arrangement with 40 physicians at the IWK-Grace hospital assured the public that there was additional money in the budget to cover this, but seven days earlier talks had broken off between health care workers at that hospital. So I would like the minister to assure the House that there is also money in the health care budget for real wage parity between health professionals at the IWK-Grace with other personnel at the QE II?

[Page 1679]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure of the quotes or what was being said. What I did indicate that essentially the agreement that was signed yesterday at the IWK-Grace was essentially dollar neutral, budget neutral. There may be a slight increase and a three year agreement provides for an increase, so essentially from a high of about $8.8 million into $9.3 million over the three years. So there is money within the budget for that. That's the commitment that we made there. Some physicians will receive less and some may receive a little more. That's within that package.

As far as moving into the other programs that I was pleased to respond positively to today, as we move into the regions, that will be done within the context of our budget, the largest Health budget that has ever been passed in this House of Assembly in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[1:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My supplementary is also for the Minister of Health. I would like to say with all due respect, the question wasn't about alternative funding and how wonderful it was, it was about wage parity for other health care professionals who are not medical doctors. There are many groups of health care workers in that facility who are working side by side with workers at the QE II who are making substantially higher wages and have different benefits. How can we retain and recruit high-quality employees, when people doing this work literally next door to each other are being paid very different wage rates and benefits?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, when you bring in an alternate funding mechanism, the emphasis is on delivery of service. That is what we are talking about here. The issue, many rural physicians make more than urban physicians, so let's not get into comparing salaries here. We are talking about programs for people, and health services in communities. Sometimes, you have to go to a place like Antigonish, and you have to arrange with them where you will fund two paediatricians, and you are funding positions that will provide a program of on-call coverage. So, it is not a question of who is getting more out of the pot, it is fairness, but it really is about programs for people.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Health care workers are people too. I think that the question the minister needs to answer is, does this government believe that health care workers in adult facilities are more important than health care workers in equivalent paediatric facilities?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite clear on the question. Maybe there is other information that the honourable member wants to lay before the House today on this matter. We value all of our providers, the team-approach, social workers, nurses and physicians. As we move into the communities, the farther we move from the urban setting and the university

[Page 1680]

setting, then we get into a primary care model, and this certainly will be dealt with in a fair and an upright and a transparent manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation. The Myra Road in Porters Lake is in a serious state of disrepair. When this government was campaigning, they promised several of the constituencies in the riding that this road would be repaired.

MR. SPEAKER: We are unfortunately out of time.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that we return to Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a bill (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: We wish to now return to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

[Page 1681]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Establish the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. (Hon. James Smith)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Town of Kentville and Kentville Electric Commission Sale of Assets Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move that bill for second reading.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise briefly to speak in support of the bill that was moved by my colleague, the member for Kings North. I have read the legislation, and I was speaking, certainly about the principle that this bill represents, and about the principle of, in fact, helping to support our municipalities. I don't know if all of the citizens in the Kentville area are or are not in support of the legislation but I believe that it is very important, it is extremely important that we recognize and that we are as supportive as we possibly can be for the municipal governments of this province which are trying to advance what they believe to be the best interests of their citizens. Unless we are prepared to cooperate with those municipalities, unless we are prepared to introduce and call for debate the legislation of the municipal units, our partners in government in the Province of Nova Scotia, unless we are prepared to do that there is no opportunity for the citizens to be heard on those matters. This legislation would have received a resolution passed by the council of Kentville asking that the Province of Nova Scotia respect them by bringing this legislation forward.

[Page 1682]

I have no hesitation in supporting this, Mr. Speaker. I do not know exactly what those who may wish to appear before the Private and Local Bills Committee may have to say on this. I honestly at this stage of the game do not know if there are any difficulties with the legislation. I think it is crucially important that we show the respect to our municipal colleagues by honouring them, by being respectful to them, and to move their legislation forward through this House so that there can be a full opportunity for that legislation to be discussed in the Private and Local Bills Committee and then can move forward. I hope that this Liberal Government will be as respectful to the largest municipality in the Province of Nova Scotia, the Halifax Regional Municipality, and do likewise to call the bill that was passed by resolution by the Halifax Regional Municipality and have that bill also called this afternoon so it too can go on to the Private and Local Bills Committee so that the residents in this community with approximately one-third of the population can also have their respect.

I want to say that I support and I congratulate the member for Kings North for bringing this legislation forward. He did the responsible thing. He did the thing to be respectful of the citizens of his community and his municipal council. I hope that the Liberal Government is not just trying to punish the citizens in the Halifax Regional Municipality for not electing enough Liberals to the Legislature this time around. I hope therefore that this afternoon they too will call the other bills from the other municipalities to show that they have some respect, not contempt, for the municipal politicians in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 20.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

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, after that stirring performance, I will ask 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.

[Page 1683]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I call for a recorded vote on that motion.

MR. SPEAKER: As far as I was concerned, the bill was passed by . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: I was referring to the minister's motion that you leave the Chair. The minister is making a new motion that you leave the Chair and dissolve into the Committee of the Whole. My point is that there are other pieces of legislation on the agenda that have not been addressed. We are now in the mode of dealing with bills and I think that it would be respectful to do those. So my request, by my intervention, is for a recorded vote and that we not proceed into Supply at this time.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It is my recollection and knowledge of this matter that when the honourable Government House Leader moves 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, that is not the subject of any vote at all, that the Speaker may leave the Chair immediately but has generally, because of the custom and usage here of permitting up to 45 minutes for members to address the House on matters that concern them, remained in the Chair to allow that debate to proceed, but that no vote follows, sir, the Speaker simply leaves the Chair.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, the previous speaker is correct in that after that motion has been placed, that there is the opportunity for three speakers to get up and to speak. That part is correct.

However, Mr. Speaker, that is once it has been agreed to. The Government House Leader made a motion and anything that is done by way of a motion in this House, whether it has been traditional or usually has received the unanimous consent of this House or not, it is still a motion that has to be agreed to. I have seen even motions for this House to adjourn and you, Mr. Speaker, were in this House on an occasion when that motion was put and, in fact, that motion had to go to a recorded vote and some members had to come back from quite some distance in order to be able to hear the vote.

My point is that just simply because we do not normally have a recorded vote does not prohibit or does not in any way detract from the right of members to require or call for a recorded vote on that particular occasion and, Mr. Speaker, I am saying, now that we are in bills, my request is that we turn down the motion to go into Supply and that we deal with the other bills that are on the paper.

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: On the point of order, I have consulted our Rules and Forms of Procedure, Mr. Speaker, on this very issue. On Page 35, Rule 41, Termination or suspension of Committee, "In a Committee of the Whole House a motion that the Chairman

[Page 1684]

leave the Chair shall always be in order and take precedence over every other motion; and the question shall be decided without amendment or debate provided that, in the case of disorder or an apparent breach of privilege ensuing the Committee, the Chairman may suspend the proceedings of the Committee and report . . .".

It is very clear, Mr. Speaker, that the Government House Leader, when he rose to his feet and made that motion, is completely in order and there is no recorded vote that can be permitted on such a matter. It is very clear, Rule 41, ". . . a motion that the Chairman leave the Chair shall always be in order and take precedence over every other motion; and the question shall be decided without amendment or debate . . .". There it is, Mr. Speaker. It is very clear.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, this will be the final intervention.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in response to the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, I would disagree with his interpretation of Rule 41. It does say, quite clearly, that there shall be no amendment or debate, but the question shall still be put, and it is my submission that that means a recorded vote is possible and shall be done in this case. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I am going to rule on this. My ruling will simply be this. Precedence in this House has always been, as far back as I can remember and some people might say that is too far back but, nevertheless, the question that the Speaker, ". . . do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.", has always been accepted and the question is not put; it is simply carried by the Speaker himself by vacating the Chair. (Applause)

Now, I dislike very much really to have applause on making a ruling because it looks as though there are some losers and some winners. I am simply saying that this is the way I interpret the rule at the present time. If, indeed, the will of the House is that we change that rule, we have a mechanism to do so, but this is not the venue to do so. I am ruling at the present time that I am going to put the motion that the Speaker, ". . . do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.", and permit members to speak, if they so wish, for the next 45 minutes at which time I will vacate this Chair and simply say, carried. The question is not put to the members of the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 1685]

[2:00 p.m.]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today I would like to take this time to talk a little bit about my constituency and about some of the concerns there. I will begin with a little bit of a description of the constituency from which I come.

Years ago a Cape Bretoner, Dan Alex MacDonald, composed a Gaelic song in honour of his beloved Island. "Cape Breton the land of my love is a land of trees and lofty mountains. Cape Breton the land of my love, the fairest land on earth.". Dan Alex expressed his love for Cape Breton but also the private love of many Cape Bretoners. The simplicity of life, the haunting beauty, the smell of coal burning and the wonderful sounds of pipes and fiddles are some of the many loves of Cape Bretoners. And also the longings of Capers wherever they are found around the world. It is what makes them want to return home.

A tough, determined, proud people, Cape Bretoners reflect their Island's terrain, the bold coastlines, the steep valleys and the majestic scenery. They possess an identity as strong as their mountains, as powerful as their ocean and as peaceful as their forests, an identity rooted in their land. They are a proud and talented people, a people who have stood the test of time, the winds of change and the uncertainty that life has brought to them on that Island.

Cape Breton The Lakes, the constituency that encompasses the rural and urban areas, takes its name from the famous Bras d'Or Lakes, an international cruising destination, an inland sea and, in fact, the largest saltwater inland sea. Cape Breton The Lakes is a constituency of many diverse communities and I would like to talk a little bit about a few of those this afternoon.

Eskasoni is Atlantic Canada's largest aboriginal community and has a growing population. It is situated on the shores of the Bras d'Or Lakes and this community is indeed proud of its strong Mi'kmaq culture, evident by their language, their music, their storytelling and, of course, by their customs. Many are fluent in both mother tongue and in English and recently the Mi'kmaq Language Centre opened in that community. In this centre, Mi'kmaq language, mainly an oral language, will be preserved through research and language development.

As well, in this community a day care centre opened for the first time. This day care is unique in that it is a project of the Eskasoni School Board. It is particularly geared toward teen parents so that they can continue to attend school while preparing their own children for the future. With the opening of the new high school in Eskasoni in September, an excellent facility, technologically equipped to meet the needs of the students and built by the community, Eskasoni will be able to provide an educational program from day care to Grade 12, as well as a one year bridge program for students awaiting to attend the University College of Cape Breton.

[Page 1686]

This summer, Eskasoni will host the Mi'kmaq Summer Games, a multi-sport and culturally integrated event that will attract elders and youth alike. Plans are under way to set up an authentic Mi'kmaq village with wigwams representing the 13 bands in Nova Scotia.

Cape Breton The Lakes also has a very vibrant Scottish Gaelic culture, which is interesting when one reviews our history. Stories of the arrival of the Gaels from Scotland tell about the kind of assistance that they received from the Mi'kmaq communities in order to survive their first winter. Communities like Grand Narrows, Christmas Island, Boisdale and Barrachois are rich in this Scottish tradition. Songs, storytelling, piping and fiddling are all alive and well and are very popular at the ceilidhs. Throughout our communities, Gaelic learning events called feis are encouraging the revival of the Gaelic language, a language that is rarely heard anymore except for the songs at the ceilidhs and the milling frolics.

Boularderie Island is another fascinating part of the constituency. It is surrounded by the lakes and it represents the second largest strawberry and vegetable acreage in Nova Scotia. Many of these farmers came to our community from their homeland, Holland, and with their love of the land and their hard-work ethic, dedicated serene lives, they have built an agricultural community.

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to represent this unique part of Cape Breton, and the very special people there. But on March 24th, the people of this community entrusted to me their hope for the future. They placed with me their needs and concerns, and they gave me the responsibility to represent them, an honour and a challenge that I have tried diligently, persistently and honestly to do on their behalf.

As I visited their homes, the people clearly told me that what is happening in Nova Scotia is not acceptable, it is not good enough. It is not necessary to be a demographer to understand that our communities are changing, that Cape Breton's population is shrinking. That our young people continue to find it necessary to leave home to find work. The eastern exodus continues. This troubles their parents and their families. Why is it, they ask, that they never seem to reap the benefits of their tax dollars that are supposedly spent on job creation?

When Michelin, MT&T, and Dynatek received large sums of money, they asked, what about Cape Breton? Sable Island gas, another example, the golden deal, they called it. It seems like every time someone comments on the economy, we hear about this offshore saviour, the Sable gas deal. The big ticket in the economic lottery.

Well, New Democrats asked this government last year to do a socio-economic impact study on this project as it relates to Cape Breton. Now we are some six months, seven months later finding out that this study has just been announced, after we had a coalition of labour, government, municipal government, and the community demanding it.

[Page 1687]

Cape Bretoners are still asking the same question, what about Cape Breton? I am afraid that this government hasn't focused its offshore economic development picture to include Cape Breton. They continue to use a narrow-angle lens. Perhaps, if this government and especially the honourable members from Cape Breton, took off their red-tinted glasses, they would see that Cape Bretoners are tired of all this fanfare. Call it being pessimistic if you like, but Cape Bretoners don't want optimism in the air, they want jobs in Cape Breton. They don't want unemployment rates soaring. What they see here is a lack of leadership. A government that allows its federal counterparts to accumulate a $20 billion surplus in unemployment insurance, and yet an island where unemployment is soaring. They ask the obvious question. But I guess, they are seeing too that this government is too busy trying to create an image, and too far removed from the reality of what is really happening, and what people really want.

What the people of Cape Breton want is a long-term economic development plan, and a commitment that will make it real. They are sick and tired of this grant to employment insurance mentality. This government has robbed constituents in my area of their dignity, robbed them of their right to earn a decent living, and they want their dignity back, and they want their families back.

Mr. Speaker, the constituents in my area are concerned about health care, and I feel that even after the Supply debate, that I must mention this, with all due respect to the minister and his view of health care in Nova Scotia, Cape Bretoners have lots of concerns. They talk about the fact that if you have a family doctor, you are lucky. What a way to think about something as basic as their everyday health care needs. They talk about waiting lists, whether it is for a procedure at out-patients, or a necessary in-hospital treatment. Many of them still have to come to Halifax.

They talk about early discharge, and the lack of home care. Why has this government not lived up to what they said about home care, is what many of them have asked. I guess we could continue to cite many examples, some of which we used in the debate during Supply, but what we see is that the people in Cape Breton have lost faith in health care. They have lost faith in this government and they are asking how and when they are going to start getting treated as the rest, particularly as the City of Halifax does in respect to health care.

Is this government so preoccupied with balancing its budget that diminishing health care becomes just a way of life? People in the province and people in Cape Breton remind me of this all the time, went through a public consultation. They accepted the Blueprint for Health System Reform. The focus of the plan was decentralization of decision-making and financial controls so that responses to health care needs would be made in our communities. Community health care boards could offer a valued and much-needed service where consumers and health care providers participate in decisions, where prevention and health promotion are promoted, and where confidence in their health care could be restored. They are still waiting to see this happen.

[Page 1688]

As well, Mr. Speaker, many of the constituents in Cape Breton The Lakes are seniors and particularly many of the constituents in the area of Bras d'Or, Alder Point, Mill Creek, and they have a big concern about that community being one of the few communities where we do not have any kind of senior citizens' apartments, or senior citizens' residence. So they have lots of concerns and as we continue to meet with them and talk to them, they are still concerned about what they see happening here in this government.

I think the recent presentation around the whole business - and I would like to have had the time to talk about the whole business - around the environment and the whole business around gambling as it impacts on Cape Bretoners because those are two issues that we have raised a number of times here that are of large concern to the people in my constituency. Many of them come and last weekend after hearing and watching the debate about the casino deal, and what they saw was instead of a government standing up and giving some credibility to the process that was in place, they felt that the people asking the questions were ridiculed by this government, a government that wants Nova Scotians to believe they are responsible. This was a comment made to me.

One of my constituents mentioned on the weekend that what they saw and heard happen reminded them of a class of disorderly children who continually seek to blame their mistakes on someone else. Well, will this government learn that accountability goes a lot further than ridicule. Standing up and making pronouncements about how good they are, or how good they are for Nova Scotia, is no longer acceptable; 65 per cent of Nova Scotians said that.

So, Mr. Speaker, award-winning theatrics is no longer credible in Nova Scotian politics. People have seen that there are politicians out there who care and who work on their behalf, who are responsible and that is what I think the people of Nova Scotia want. They want a responsible government and as New Democrats we will continue to work to bring that to them. Thank you. (Applause)

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

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, today I rise proudly to speak for a few minutes on behalf of our seniors. The honourable members in this Chamber, including the honourable Speaker, are all aware that the demographics in Nova Scotia imply that we will have more seniors in 10 years time than we have presently. We will have more seniors in 20 years time than we will have in 10 years time. The reason for that is twofold. One is that the human species seems to thrive on longevity and Nova Scotians are not excepted. Nova Scotians will live longer. All levels of government will have to take that into account. Another reason that Nova Scotians will live longer is that medical science and lifestyle changes will add to longevity.

[Page 1689]

[2:15 p.m.]

The biggest disappointment that has befallen me when I have studied the Speech from the Throne and then the budget and then the deliberations that sprang from those deliberations is that there does not seem to be a place for seniors in Nova Scotia. There is no long-term plan that the government has convincingly put forward that takes the seniors as an entity, not as a burden but as an entity and a viable part of our society.

Our seniors are soft-spoken Nova Scotians. They are not outside the House demonstrating. Our seniors are not mobilizing the media. Our seniors sit and wait for some tangible help that the government offers them, but not help in terms of little, quilted programs that are patched together. There has to be a recognizable plan that takes into account that they will live longer, that they will live longer in dignity, that they will live longer close to their families, and when they eventually fall sick, and that is the fate that we all head for, when we eventually fall sick to die that there is a way to do it and to be afforded to die with dignity.

In rural Nova Scotia there is no place for seniors any longer to die with dignity. I have been receiving catcalls from across the aisle telling me I am a fear-mongerer. I wear that as a badge of honour. I cannot tell you how upset I am that a member in this venerable House that brings the plight of seniors in the rural part of Nova Scotia to the attention of this government would be called a fear-mongerer. I think it is a civic duty that we speak for the people that have built this province. They built this province with their backs. They saw everybody in this House some time ago, some decades ago, even a half century ago, through wars, through depressions, through famines. They built the roads that have gone into decay. They built the schools, the hospitals that have been closed under their noses. They built the nursing homes that are no longer nursing the seniors that built them.

What we have, all of us, we get a bunch of messages while this House is sitting from seniors not knowing where to go. They go and turn to their MLA hoping that there is some tangible help, but these are patchwork solutions that we as MLAs can offer. We need a long-term structured plan to afford our seniors a place in our society. They need to have nursing and chronic care close to their villages and the small towns in rural Nova Scotia. They need small hospitals that allow families to visit them when they are on their deathbed and they need financial help, not in terms of handouts but they are overtaxed. Our seniors, before they get sick they get poor.

In my riding, that is divided into the Halifax Regional Municipality east of Hubbards and Lunenburg County west of Hubbards, our seniors east of Hubbards have gotten the double whammy of taxation. They have suddenly gotten rising property rates because the HRM did not live within the budget that was promised. They are on fixed incomes and Pharmacare eats some of that income. The BST is not peanuts for seniors, it truly hurts seniors because when you are on a fixed income and you buy clothes, you do not buy clothes that are more than $100, you buy clothes that are affordable in second-hand clothing shops often. Those people

[Page 1690]

who built this province are at this moment marginalized, they have lost a home in this province and I am sick and tired of standing in this House and seeing opposite, just a glare of non-understanding.

How come only Tories and NDP MLAs should have been voted into this House by seniors? I would think our seniors are so tri-partisan that even our honourable members opposite have had the same share of voters. Why not speak up in a truly cooperative way and help our seniors like our government has promised it would govern and that is not pushing a Party agenda but making sure that we not forget our seniors.

I want to finish with one story that truly shook me a few weeks ago before the election. On my campaign trail I came to the doorstep of a retired nurse. She asked me and she was very solemn and dignified in her complaint, she said Hinrich, I am half-Mi'kmaq and I still believe in the ways that my people believed in. When my people grew old, she told me, they would fold their tent and go into the woods and die. Then she looked me in the eye and she said and Hinrich, I do not have the courage to go into the woods and die. I would like to die in a hospital. It shook me up, I felt ashamed for our society that allows an old retired nurse to think that there is a war on against seniors.

I would plead with this government to forget about all rhetoric and come with a long-term plan that includes health care, nursing, nursing homes, hospitals close to where people live and a financial comfort zone which those wonderful people of Nova Scotia are entitled to. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to speak for a few minutes. As I do it I want to personally commend the two previous speakers, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's and the member for Cape Breton the Lakes. They both brought to the floor of this House very legitimate concerns. They brought to the floor of this House the kinds of issues that all members of this Chamber should be bringing forward on behalf of their constituents and on behalf of those who we are elected to represent. Certainly, they are the kinds of issues that I am sure even members on the government benches have heard on more than one occasion from their own constituents and from others as they travel around the province.

Now what I want to talk about briefly this afternoon is responsible government. When I say that I want to talk about responsible government I want to underscore the fact that the provincial government is not the only level of government that purports to be responsible government or a democratic government. In fact, in Nova Scotia we have many more politicians, I often call them volunteers in terms of the remuneration that they receive, they are giving so generously of their time for the small amounts of rewards that they do receive that they almost classify as volunteers. I am referring here to municipal politicians.

[Page 1691]

Of course, there are several members on the government benches who would know and appreciate the importance of municipal government better than I because there are many members on the government benches and in the Chamber today - we have two members who were, in fact, mayors of their respective municipalities. One of those municipalities, of course, courtesy of this Liberal Government, no longer exists. It got HRM-ed away. It got amalgamated, but certainly would have had the experience of having been a mayor in that former municipality and another member who was a mayor of his town as well.

Members should understand on the government benches that municipalities have very responsible and very important jobs to do, but they also know that municipalities are the creatures of the provincial government. Their charters are, Mr. Speaker, Acts of the Nova Scotia Legislature. Now, those municipal politicians have many important responsibilities. They do not only go out and try to collect taxes and set tax rates, although that is extremely important because you have to set the tax rates in order to be able to provide the programs and services that at the municipal level the citizens need and deserve.

They also have responsibilities, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the citizens receive, for example those who are living in the municipality, proper housing. They have to ensure that, in fact, the municipality has the powers, it has the ability to ensure that rooming houses, for example, are being properly regulated so that those who are living in them are, in fact, going to be safe. We have had a lot of publicity this spring about the terrible conditions, for example, in this municipality where our Legislature is occupying space within the Halifax Regional Municipality.

I have been a member of this House for 14 years and we have traditionally shown respect to our municipal colleagues. We value them. We have traditionally valued them; that is, traditionally we have. We are not so much necessarily today, but we have traditionally valued them and the work that they do and we have tried to treat them as partners but, you know, this Liberal Government, when they were in Opposition, this Liberal Government even talked about a Bill of Rights. Does anybody in here remember that, a Bill of Rights? (Interruption)

Well, the member for Richmond says he is too young. Well, maybe he is too young but I even think that that member, certainly with his law degree, has the ability to go and do some research and he can scratch out the election commitments made by the Liberal Party in 1993 that promised how they were going to introduce a Bill of Rights. Now, that promise lasted so long as the Liberals were in Opposition. Once they, of course, formed government, then those commitments very quickly disappeared and we are back to the old situation.

However, Mr. Speaker, not only are they not prepared to bring in that Bill of Rights, but they are also making it extremely difficult for municipalities to do their job. Now, it is not my place to judge every item that a municipality does. The Minister of Municipal Affairs will know that when a municipality wants legislation introduced in this House, that that legislation

[Page 1692]

goes through his department, that they review that legislation and they comment if there are particular concerns with that legislation.

Mr. Speaker, for a number of years I sat on the Private and Local Bills Committee where bills that were introduced at the request of a municipality, by a resolution passed by the duly-elected citizens, or in that municipality the elected council passed a resolution to send a bill on to this House. I have sat on that Private and Local Bills Committee where staff from the Department of Municipal Affairs have raised concerns with some of the legislation that has been brought forward and they argued that there should be, and suggested that there should be, some amendments, some changes to correct what they perceive to be some problems. In that process, I have also seen citizens from those municipalities come forward and seek amendments or changes to that legislation. I have also seen them come forward to speak in support.

[2:30 p.m.]

Through that process, we have shown respect. We are honouring, we are respecting the municipalities by saying that if you have something that you want done, so that you can better serve your citizens, we will afford you the opportunity to have that legislation introduced, and go on to the Private and Local Bills Committee. We don't guarantee that everything that is in that legislation will be passed, certainly we have to be responsible from our end as well. We can't guarantee that 100 per cent of it will go through unamended. If there are problems, those problems are corrected, in part with the expert help from the staff, and the legal staff as well, at the Department of Municipal Affairs.

But, if the government isn't prepared to allow that process to even begin, and Mr. Speaker, you know that it is the government that controls. Opposition members can call a bill for debate on Opposition Day but there is absolutely no way that bill can be voted on and passed, unless the government supports it, because you can talk it out for a period of one hour, and you are not allowed to have a vote on Opposition Day, unless you have unanimous consent. That is a given.

The Government House Leader had a long career as Mayor of the former City of Sydney, and I am sure that as His Worship, in the City of Sydney, had his municipality wanted and properly passed a resolution in council calling for legislation to amend their city charter, and the government of the day had said, we are not even going to call it, we are not going to show any respect to the City of Sydney and to yourself, that member would have been one of the first ones who would have been screaming about how that government was being disrespectful to the municipal level of government.

I am very concerned, and I am rising in my place this afternoon, because I have grave concerns about what I see as a growing arrogance, which is hard to believe it could grow much larger, but a total disrespect for the municipal level of government in this province. If

[Page 1693]

a municipality, through its elected officials, wants legislation brought forward, and if it has gone through the Municipal Affairs Department and ensured that it is not in violation of any other Acts or is not trespassing upon the powers, rights, and responsibilities of other levels of government, then the government should afford those municipalities the right to be able to govern, and to do those things that are going to assist them to serve their citizens.

Today, we saw another example of where this government is saying - for whatever reasons, they won't even stand up and tell us why - that this legislation that has been introduced by two separate members, by a former member of the government, and now by a member of our caucus, legislation that was introduced at the request of the Halifax Regional Municipality, the largest municipality in this province, which is seeking a whole host of things, many of them simple housekeeping matters, matters that would give them, certainly, the authority and added powers to regulate rooming houses and to address a very serious problem that all members of this House say that they recognize needs to be addressed, which would give them power to be able to address problems for those who are living on private roads, so that the municipality would be able to take over those private roads. The Liberal Government is saying, the heck with all of those people who have those concerns, because we are not calling that legislation.

Nobody is suggesting that 100 per cent of that bill or any bill is perfect. There are those, even those on this side of the House in our caucus who would like to see some amendments made to make it what they feel would be a little bit better and can be done to address the concerns, for example, of those who live in the rural part of the municipality. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be done unless the Liberal Government, for whatever its reasons are, gets off its high horse and says that we are not going to listen to the elected representatives in the Halifax Regional Municipality because that is who they are thumbing their noses at. It is not members of the NDP caucus. It is not members of the Opposition. It is not our bill or our bills. When legislation of this nature is introduced, it is legislation from the municipality and we are simply the people who bring it forward and set it on the Table at their request.

If the government members think that they are punishing members of our caucus or punishing the citizens of the Halifax Regional Municipality, maybe, for not having elected Liberal MLAs and they did not elect many, and if they continue to treat the Halifax Regional Municipality and the citizens of this municipality with this contempt and this disrespect, I would suggest that in future they will have even fewer members being elected.

This government promised that it would be open and accountable. Well, if it is going to be open, tell the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality why you will not call their legislation for debate on the floor of this House. That would make you accountable, too, because then people could judge what your rationale is and what your reasons are. This government said that it was going to be respectful of the citizens of this city. All I can say is, it is about time you started to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. If the Liberal Government, and I say this with respect, the greatest amount I can muster, to members of the

[Page 1694]

Liberal benches, if they do not understand the importance of municipal government, talk to your colleagues who were in municipal government. Find out some of the kinds of things and some of the kinds of issues that they had to deal with and had to address, often with virtually no resources whatsoever. Talk to them. Find out how important the municipal level of government is.

I see that you are indicating that my time is just about up.

Talk to them, and when you talk to them maybe you will find out something and you can speak then to the Premier. Maybe the Premier then can persuade his Government House Leader to do the responsible thing and that is, whether he likes it or not, to call for debate on the floor of this House legislation that municipalities ask through resolution be introduced so they can better meet the needs and serve the people who live in their municipalities.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:38 p.m. The House resolved into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[5:59 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: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will meet from the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, it is Opposition business tomorrow and the Opposition will announce what they are going to call tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Official Opposition will be calling Bill Nos. 17, 19 and Resolution No. 803.

[Page 1695]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

The late debate for this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Queens who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government immediately do an impact study on the effect of TAGS 2 and immediately indicate the province's plan to deal with the deficiencies in TAGS 2.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. - TAGS 2: IMPACT STUDY - CONDUCT

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this issue here this evening. The gist of my resolution was that, " . . . be it resolved that the provincial government immediately do an impact study on the effect of TAGS 2 and immediately indicate the province's plan to deal with the deficiencies in TAGS 2.".

I guess the actual terminology for TAGS 2 is the Atlantic Fisheries Restructuring and Adjustment Program. When you want to speak about this new program that has been put up by the federal government, you really have to take into consideration the first program.

The first program came out on May 15, 1994 and was scheduled to be a five year program worth $1.9 million. It was estimated that approximately 26,000 or so people would participate but in actuality, 40,000 took part in this program. At any one time, 25,000 people were receiving benefits. Unfortunately, because of the additional demands on the program,

[Page 1696]

it finished approximately one year early and we now find ourselves in a situation where we have a new program being brought into place much earlier than anticipated.

Right now the information that we have is that we have 24,600 participants on this program of which 10,000 or so are fishermen. I think that it is very important that we mention that there are 10,000 who are fishermen because that means that the balance are fish plant workers. I have said in earlier comments that oftentimes people look at TAGS or this new program to address fishermen. Fishermen are indeed a major component of it but they are only part of the component.

There are many people who were making their livelihood in fish plants and in reality, oftentimes are in a much more dire financial situation than some of the fishermen who would have other licences and can make their livelihoods by other means. Most of these fish plant workers only have one place to find employment, especially in some of the isolated communities that you would find like Isle Madame or Canso or Lockeport or many other communities, the list goes on and on.

I look at the program that was announced on Friday and I will start my comments, first of all, by saying on Thursday past I was very pleased to see the Premier stand up in this House and make the announcement of what the provincial position was on TAGS. I mentioned at that time that I was complimenting him on taking the initiative as Premier of this province, himself, and not the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture or the Minister of Community Services making that announcement. I have always said that the Premier would have to be involved in making this program work because of the fact that I believe it takes a very strong, concerted effort by the province and whether you want to call that political arm wrestling or pressure, then so be it. But it would take a very strong influence by the province to make certain that the federal government address the deficiencies or the concerns that we, as a province, wanted to overcome in the plan that was going to be announced.

I congratulated the Premier for making that announcement in the House and I was very pleased in the sense that he was making the announcement. I was very disillusioned the next day to find out that the Premier knew that the announcement was coming out the next morning. Well, the accolades that the Premier (Interruption) The honourable Minister of Community Services will have a chance to speak on the debate, Mr. Speaker. I only have 10 minutes and I want to continue.

The Premier of the province would have known at that time that the announcement was coming out the next morning. In that respect his not saying so, when he announced the fact that that was the provincial position, I think was wrong. I tried to have an open mind. The New Democratic Party at that point in time criticized the Premier for not consulting and everything else and I congratulated the Premier for making the initiative in the House whereby we could get that position and people could get input. Lo and behold the next day, the

[Page 1697]

announcement came out and I am sure that the Premier of this province was aware that was going to happen. So I feel very much betrayed or disappointed that that was the case.

Anyway, the program has come out and since last Friday we have been trying to get details. I talked to some of the Members of Parliament who have communicated some of their concerns and they have had, perhaps, better briefings than we, as provincial politicians have had, because they were there that day when the briefings were being done in Ottawa. The problem that we get, Mr. Speaker, is that the program is very general. What I mean by very general, it is lacking in details, really, for most of the people who are on TAGS to plan the balance of their lives, and they have to do so, because according to this program, it is going to come to an end in a very short period of time.

The other problem that we have, is that some of the programs are going to be cost-shared, and some of those are in regard to the training and the early retirement. I look at some of the economic development components of this plan, whereby the federal government has indicated that they will be giving out $20 million for economic development, and I will get back to that after a while. But the problem comes in when you have to plan this, and a lot of it is going to be decided by the negotiation that the province will have with the federal government, and that means that people will not have the final details of these plans in order to make a decision as a family, or as an individual, to where you want to go with the balance of your lives.

There will be some people who will be taking part in an older workers' program, whereby they can receive a pension, though what amount that will be, obviously, will be determined, but at least it will bring some stability to the household. But even in that regard, it was 55 to 65 years of age only, which means that many people who were expecting the program to cover from the ages of 50 to 65 were left out. There are only 250 people who will qualify out of 4,600 people who are still left on TAGS, supposedly, until the end of August.

So out of 4,600 people, there are only 250 who will have the chance to participate in an older workers' retirement program. I think that is a grave error in regard to the federal government, and even that program will have to have negotiations with the province. It is my understanding that it is asking for a 30 per cent contribution from the province, and obviously that is going to have to be worked out in negotiations with the Minister of Fisheries and also with the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. So that will take time again.

People are going to have to make these decisions, and I find that, for a lot of people, I have asked them for their opinion on the TAGS program, and they don't have an opinion other than they are concerned. They don't have the answers. How can you give an answer when you don't know what it all means? Obviously, they are waiting for details, and I think that the federal government really has made the announcement, perhaps, a little too quickly. I am hoping that maybe they are making an announcement with no details, because they are trying to be flexible. I am trying to be positive in my outlook, and maybe that is what they are

[Page 1698]

trying to do. Maybe they are trying to be flexible, so that they can answer some of these concerns, and also take it into consideration.

One point that comes out in this, is that people who are on the program as of August 29th will qualify for a cash buyout of $7,000 to $14,000. I have made prior comments that for a lot of people that may cause some problems. I am just looking at cash management for a family; if you accept that, does that disqualify you for benefits for some periods of time subsequent to it? So, these people have to make a very conscious decision: what is that going to mean for themselves in regard to tax consequences and in regard to trying to budget and making sure that they can provide for their family into the future?

I have said that, but if people are trying to make a clean break and move from the area to find other employment, if they would like to have lump-sum payments, those are options that should be discussed with Nova Scotians. Obviously, through the multitude of departments that will be affected by this, I hope that they will be asking for input from people who are affected, and trying to see where they can address a lot of these concerns.

It is almost impossible to deal with all the aspects of this in only 10 minutes. I only have one minute left, as Mr. Speaker indicates, but I will say that the licence buyout component of it, the $50 million that is provided is a positive step. I still haven't heard the details as to whether or not people have to sell all their licences to participate; I have been told that is the case, but I have yet to see the details of it. I have said, on many occasions, that this plan should take into consideration removing licences in fisheries in which there is an overcapacity. If people want to sell their licences like in the groundfish fishery, and still remain in the lobster fishery, if it is a viable one, I think they should have the option to do so.

I go back to my closing comment, because my time has expired, that some flexibility should come into this. But I still believe that the province should do a feasibility study, as to an impact study on how this will affect communities, and it should also have an impact study as to communities and we should also have an impact study as to the communities and the individuals and also how we would deal with it into the future. I intend to work with the government in regards to trying to come up with a solution. Thank you.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, during late debate of June 18th I made it very clear that the federally proposed TAGS 2 was not going to do the job. I made that very clear. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture took, so he says, exception to my comments. He maintained that I did not know what was in the new program because he did not know, that Ottawa did not call him or fax him, or whatever, to make him aware of the details.

[Page 1699]

Mr. Speaker, he should have known. He should have known what was in the proposed program. He and the Premier should have, in my opinion, been in the forefront of making sure that the interests of Nova Scotia fishers were being looked after and that TAGS did not become just a Newfoundland-Ottawa issue. This government had the opportunity to be proactive, to grab the bull by the horns and fight tooth and nail for the rights of Nova Scotia fishers.

Now, unfortunately, we are in the position of being reactive. Mr. Speaker, I could go on about this, about what the government did wrong about the TAGS issue, but let us move on. In order for TAGS 2 to work, it had to be at least funded to the tune of $1.2 billion. Instead the federal government in their wisdom allocated $730 million of which $153 million is allocated for Nova Scotia, far short of what is needed. Having so few coffers will only have a negative impact on the plant workers and fishers of this province.

Mr. Speaker, one needs to question what is going to happen to the fishers who are already off TAGS? Why was the age for retirement set at 55, contrary to what was recommended of that being 50? What impact is TAGS 2 going to have on our coastal communities, on our fishing communities? I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, no fish, no assistance, no coastal community.

Another important question that one needs to ponder is what happens after TAGS 2 because, as I said earlier, it is not enough. What about the fishers and plant workers who fall through the cracks? Mr. Speaker, this government is expected to pay a share of the early retirement and economic development. Where is this money going to come from?

Mr. Speaker, I say to you, contrary to my colleague for Argyle, that there is not a need to have an impact study. We know in this House, we know in our coastal communities the negative effects of TAGS 2. This government, again I say, will have another dilemma. The impact of TAGS 2 on our social programs, on our social services, for those who do not qualify, for those 50 years old who cannot retire with dignity, they still need to feed their families, pay their mortgages. Where is the money going to come from? This government needs to come up with a plan to deal with this crisis instead of being sales people for TAGS 2. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think tonight we know that Nova Scotia faces a tough new reality. We have had years of harvesting plentiful crops of northern cod stocks for generations, but the reality is now that these groundfish stocks are not recovered since the moratorium was put in place.

[Page 1700]

Good news around the fishing industry in Nova Scotia is that the industry across the board generally is healthy. There is still a strong supply of other species and we know that our fishery exports are worth something in the area of $1.1 billion. The lobster industry alone is worth something like $200 million and although more than 13,000 people are employed in the fishing industry in Nova Scotia, there is a very tough reality that many of the jobs in the groundfish sector are now gone and they are gone probably for the next several years.

I guess when we look at the TAGS 2 program, if I may call it that, we know that many of the workers in this sector, from fishermen to deckhands to fish plant workers, are now going to have to find other ways to make a living.

[6:15 p.m.]

I think I said, the other night, in the debate, that if you could imagine what it feels like to be one of those workers and to look out to sea and to realize that you cannot go fishing for those cod stocks, it has to be heartbreaking for these people. It is a tragedy for these workers. It is a tragedy for these communities.

With respect to the comments of the honourable member opposite that criticize the government not being in a proactive position, but in a reactive position, the honourable member is quite misinformed around the role that the government has played over the last several months on the TAGS issue. We have had dozens of points of contact with our federal counterparts across the variety of players in the fisheries scene. We certainly have, and abundantly have, made our viewpoints well known to the federal government on this issue on behalf of the Nova Scotians affected by it.

Overall, the TAGS program is not everything we wanted. With or without the program in Nova Scotia, we believe we have to approach this problem with a long-term focus. The federal program only has a three year window. So we know that is not enough time to complete such a major transition, but the program, as it has been announced, is a substantial program if we make every dollar of that money work. It will be tremendously helpful to Nova Scotia fishermen affected by the demise of the stocks. To make every dollar count, we have to have wise government decisions. We have to have wise decisions by individuals. The province and the people affected must take full advantage of the opportunity and the supports that are now available.

We have been working on a replacement program for the TAGS program for almost one year now. We have been working with our federal counterparts, and the Premier himself, on numerous occasions, has spoken to federal ministers and the Prime Minister about Nova Scotia's position. We proposed five key elements and they were mentioned earlier by the honourable member opposite: an early retirement package for older workers, licence retirement, buy-back program, economic development aid for communities, and an income support program and employment assistance.

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Nova Scotia worked hard to get the final deal and I think that it was well known that the initial offer on the table last week proposed only about $70 million in aid to Nova Scotia. This package now represents $153 million aid. The change, which represents more than a doubling of the initial offer, is a direct result of our Premier's direct intervention on this issue and his direct intervention to the Prime Minister of this country. It resulted in a doubling of the magnitude of dollars put on the table.

Nova Scotia went about these negotiations in a way that has, clearly, been effective. We made our case known. The federal government listened and our concerns were reflected in the final product. We stressed the importance of providing an income support bridge while people adjust to the end of the TAGS program and turn their attention to new pursuits. The program will provide income support in a lump sum, equivalent to the amount that recipients would receive if payments were extended weekly until next May.

The cash payment in this is a single payment which will be made to some 4,600 eligible Nova Scotian workers. They will receive between $7,000 and $14,000. Those who receive this lump sum payment will also be eligible for adjustment programming. Now, it is not our preference to have a lump sum payment, Mr. Speaker, we would prefer that this support be made available over a longer term so that people can budget appropriately, while adjusting to life outside of the fishing industry. At the very least, we would like recipients to at least have the choice to take the money either in the lump sum method, or in a series of payments and we have told the federal government this.

More than $50 million will be available for buying back licences. This volunteer licence retirement program will help reduce the size of the fleet and it will build on lessons learned from the previous efforts. We stressed to the federal government officials that this program must be tailored to the needs of Nova Scotians, to Nova Scotia fishery workers and their communities. Industry groups have a lot of creative ideas and they must be consulted to make this program a success.

An early retirement plan for fishermen. We asked for consideration of those aged 50 years and up. The program has been announced for those aged 55 years to 65 years and the federal government will spend approximately $12 million with 30 per cent cost-sharing proposed from Nova Scotia. Consultations with the province must be completed before further details on that can be announced or released.

A $29 million adjustment program to help workers train for new opportunities. This will include related income support to assist individuals to become self-employed and to provide practical work experience and training to develop new skills; mobility assistance to help people who are willing to move to find new employment opportunities and changes to the EI regulations which will make it easier to TAGS recipients to quality. The federal government will contribute $20 million for economic development initiatives in the communities that are hit hardest by the groundfishery collapse.

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The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and CANAD Economic Development will develop collaborative community and regional economic development initiatives with provinces and other partners.

Mr. Speaker, we have asked that these economic initiatives be as flexible as possible and that they be integrated with our federal-provincial labour market development agreement. Many communities already have put in place economic development proposals. What they need is targetted funding. As soon as the announcement was made on Friday we made our concerns known to the federal officials. We want the program modified to meet Nova Scotia's needs.

The honourable member opposite has spoken about his sense of disbelief that Nova Scotia didn't know the announcement was coming on a Friday. Well, we don't run government by crystal-ball gazing. That announcement was imminent; all of Canada knew the announcement was imminent but we had no knowledge it was coming on a Friday when the Premier made his announcement in the House on Thursday.

The federal government has built consultation into several components and we are hoping they are open to the wisdom of tailoring aspects of the program to local needs because it is in the local areas that people know what they need most, not across a bureaucratic desk making decisions.

Provinces have been asked to cost-share in early retirement and economic development measures by contributing 30 per cent of the funding. Premier MacLellan has said the province will participate, if at all possible. We will be asking for flexibility on how to contribute to these costs as they were not identified in time for this year's budget for the Province of Nova Scotia. The total adjustment package for eastern Canada is $730 million and of this, approximately 20 per cent will come to Nova Scotia. That is a fair approximation of the 20 per cent of the TAGS recipients who are in Nova Scotia.

We remind people that the original TAGS program did succeed in helping people leave the fishery but there are a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is the elimination of components to help people adjust out of the fishery. We remind critics that fishing has been a way of life in Nova Scotia for a long time. There are currently over 5,200 people who depend on TAGS and on the TAGS program in this province. This new program means that many Nova Scotians will continue to get some financial support as they move out of the fishing industry.

People will have some options to consider. They will be able to assess what works for them. Those who are 55 years old to 64 years old can consider early retirement, others can consider licence buy-outs.

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Mr. Speaker, we are committed to pressing Nova Scotia's case as vigorously now as we have done before. I thank you for this 10 minute opportunity to speak on the TAGS program.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I stand this evening and speak on the TAGS program. I am glad to hear my colleagues in the Legislature share my concerns that have been so long-standing in my community and in communities all over Nova Scotia. One thing I want to say is that TAGS isn't a solution. Everybody is talking about TAGS as a solution. TAGS is a bridge mechanism whereby we can help our communities get back - probably the best way to say it is back - in a positive economic situation.

Now TAGS and the downturn in the fishery are about people, communities and the fishing industry, all those things combined. Over the past few years we have seen a decline in communities. We have seen families devastated because they could no longer do the traditional things they were doing. That has been very difficult. Typically some of these communities have probably been fishing for 200-plus years on the same grounds that their forefathers did, fishing basically the same way until about 50 years ago when the dragger fleet was introduced in Nova Scotia and the high technology with fish finders and other equipment that was put in place; the development of monofilament fish nets that ghost fish forever and other things that have helped lead to the downturn in the fishery.

Just the other day in my office I had a gentleman in and he was discussing high-grading at sea that is presently going on right now with a dragger that dumped approximately 15,000 pounds of steak cods. If you are in the cod industry, they are about that big, the big ones. They were dumped overboard. Now that just happened this week. Evidently some of the people in the fishing industry still have not gotten the message. I think this is something that is going to have to be actively addressed.

We talk about TAGS programs and the program, I think, is good as long as the money is spent properly by the federal government. I think everybody in this House agrees with that. I am a little bit concerned that the federal government will do that properly. I am pleased to say, and this is the first time this has ever happened that I know about, my staff tells me the DFO actually called the provincial Department of Fisheries and asked us what the licensed buy-out should be like. Now whether they will listen to us or not is another issue. At least they called us so we made a major step forward. I hope that is an indication of what is coming.

We really have to look at the people. The people themselves, the people who are hit hardest by this downturn. We have to look at the programs. Early retirement is going to take a few people out, as the honourable member indicated earlier, but not enough. It will take a

[Page 1704]

few people out. It is going to help some people's short-term income support. That is going to be devastating when that income support ends. Whatever form we can negotiate with the federal government, hopefully we can spread it over some more time instead of a lump-sum payment.

It has done some other things in the fishery, but we are still not addressing, I do not feel, and when I say us I mean the federal government and I am not a member of the federal government, of course. We can just give them input. We really have to address what is going on in the industry. We have to stop the high-grading. We have to make sure we remove the nets that are ghost fishing and all the things that are stopping our industry from growing. We have to address the problem the seals are causing on the stocks and the problem they are having with the cod worm with the seals. Looking at problems that that causes in quality of product, looking also at markets we cannot get and get a higher value for our product. I am pleased to see that the fishing industry has done a tremendous job over the past few years in developing new products and new markets and doing the things that they should be doing to diversify in situations such as this.

Unfortunately the employment has not come with the growth in sales. We are approximately $1.1 billion a year in direct export sales in the fishing industry which is a lot higher than we were in the early 1990s when the cod crisis struck. It would be beautiful to have that section of the industry and the cod industry as well because it would mean an economic boom to the rural communities of Nova Scotia like we have never seen. It is unfortunate that things have transpired to help deteriorate the cod stocks and the groundfish the way they have. I really believe we have to look at the long term here. TAGS is a way to help some people for a short time. We have to work through that and help the people in those communities.

One last thing I would like to say is that I am a bit concerned about the Community Economic Development Initiative, if it is not directed directly at the people who need it the most. I am sick and tired of seeing people going into an office, get an office for themselves, hiring a secretary and when the government money runs out they are out of a job because they did not do anything to help the community either. That really gets me upset. I have seen it in my own community, I have seen it in other communities and it continues to go on. I guarantee you, as long as I am Minister of Fisheries I am going to try to ensure that does not happen again under this program. Thank you.

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

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]