The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., June 25, 1998

First Session

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - College of Geographic Sciences: Name/Acronym/Crest -
Retain, Ms. E. O'Connell 1796
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. P. MacEwan 1796
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Smith 1797
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Smith 1797
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Educ. - Vasternorrland (Sweden)/N.S. - Memorandum of Understanding -
Signed, Hon. R. Harrison 1797
Health - Hants Community Hospital: Acute Care Services -
Review Results, Hon. J. Smith 1800
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 910, Culture - Music: Denise Djokic (Cellist [Hfx.]) -
Accomplishments Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 1802
Vote - Affirmative 1802
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 911, Gov't. (Can.) - Interests (Friends): Action - Expeditious,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1803
Res. 912, Nat. Res. - Tussock Moth Spray Prog.:
Lansdowne (Pictou Co.) - Include, Mr. J. DeWolfe 1803
Res. 913, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hfx. Port: Promise Broken -
Regret, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 1804
Res. 914, Sports - Hockey: Llewellyn Robicheau (Middleton)
Hfx. Mooseheads - Success Extend, Mr. L. Montgomery 1804
Vote - Affirmative 1805
Res. 915, Women, Status of: Women's Centres - Support, Ms. Y. Atwell 1805
Vote - Affirmative 1806
Res. 916, Health - Deceased Persons: Remains Transportation -
Anguish Avoid, Mr. M. Scott 1806
Res. 917, Educ. - Univ.: Tuition Freeze - Commitment Fulfil,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1806
Res. 918, Lbr. - Firefighters School (Waverley): Internat. Approval -
Support, Mr. B. Taylor 1807
Vote - Affirmative 1808
Res. 919, Educ. - Volunteer Youth Award: Jolene Maria van den Heuvel
(Mabou Consol. School) - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 1808
Vote - Affirmative 1808
Res. 920, Environ. - Five Island Lake: Clean-Up - Proceed,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1809
Res. 921, Educ. - Cumb. Co. Commun. Col.: Graduates (1998) -
Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 1809
Vote - Affirmative 1810
Res. 922, Environ. (Can.) - Coke Ovens Site (Sydney) Testing:
Professional Results - Await, Mr. P. MacEwan 1810
Res. 923, Council of Maritime Premiers - Sup'n. Fund: Non-Rebate -
Explain, Mr. H. Epstein 1811
Res. 924, Health - Pharmacare: Premiums Alternative - Comm. Strike,
Dr. J. Hamm 1811
Vote - Affirmative 1812
Res. 925, Fgn. Affs. & Internat. Trade (Can.) - MAI:
Signing Oppose (Pictou Co.) - Join, Mr. D. Dexter 1812
Res. 926, Educ. - Newport Station Elem. School: Wayne Langille -
Vol. Computer Expertise Applaud, Mr. G. Moody 1813
Vote - Affirmative 1813
Res. 927, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 By-Pass
(Alma-Salt Springs): Signage Adequate - Support, Mr. C. Parker 1814
Res. 928, Educ. - Graduates (G12): Future - Success Wish,
Mr. E. Fage 1814
Vote - Affirmative 1815
Res. 929, Sports - Tae Kwan Do: Adam Baxter (Middleton)
Champion (Can.) - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 1815
Vote - Affirmative 1816
Res. 930, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads: Expenditure Increase -
Promise Unfulfilled, Mr. John MacDonell 1816
Res. 931, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Housing (Sub-Standard) - Action,
Ms. R. Godin 1817
Res. 932, Culture - AGNS: Expansion - Congrats., Mr. P. Delefes 1818
Vote - Affirmative 1822
Res. 933, Enterprise (C.B.) - Sydport: Privatization - Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 1819
Res. 934, Boys & Girls Clubs: Programs - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 1819
Vote - Affirmative 1820
Res. 935, Nat. Res. - Forests: Protection - Promises Fulfil, Mr. C. Parker 1820
Res. 936, Lakeside Fire Dept.: Anniv. 50th - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1821
Vote - Affirmative 1821
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 235, Nat. Res. - Donkin Resources Ltd.: Mine Rights -
Transfer Prevent, Mr. R. Chisholm 1822
No. 236, Fin. - Tenders: Businesses (N.S.) - Precluded, Dr. J. Hamm 1824
No. 237, Nat. Res. - Coal Industry (C.B.): Instability -
Solution (Premier), Mr. R. Chisholm 1825
No. 238, Nat. Res. - Tussock Moth Spraying Prog.: Areas - Selection,
Mr. B. Taylor 1827
No. 239, NSLC: Stores - Sunday Opening, Mr. C. Parker 1828
No. 240, Nat. Res.: Reserves (East Coast) - Estimate Increased,
Dr. J. Hamm 1829
No. 241, WCB - Appeals Tribunal: Commissioners - Pay Increase,
Mr. F. Corbett 1830
No. 242, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Working Group - Reps.,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 1832
No. 243, Human Rts. Comm'n. - Employees (Transport. & Pub. Wks.)
Dismissal (1994): Hearings - Completion Ensure, Mr. E. Fage 1833
No. 244, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Cooperative Housing Fed'n.:
Self-Management - Commit, Ms. R. Godin 1834
No. 245, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Mediator - Appoint,
Mr. M. Scott 1835
No. 246, Educ. - School-Bus Mechanics: Exams - Jobs Jeopardy,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1836
No. 247, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Family Benefits: Overpayment -
Collection, Mr. G. Archibald 1837
No. 248, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Housing (Sub-Standard) - Action,
Mr. D. Chard 1839
No. 249, Lbr. - Fire Prevention Act: Review - Status,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 1840
No. 250, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Econ. Advisory Council:
Vol. Planning - Role, Mr. D. Dexter 1841
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. John MacDonell 1842
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1846
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:19 P.M. 1849
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:20 P.M. 1849
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 13, Financial Measures (1998) Act 1849
Hon. D. Downe 1849
Mr. H. Epstein 1851
Mr. N. LeBlanc 1859
Adjourned debate 1859
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Devco - Survival: Measures (Gov't. [N.S.]) - Take:
Mr. F. Corbett 1860
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1861
Mr. P. MacEwan 1862
Mr. R. Matheson 1863
Mr. J. Leefe 1886
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., June 26th at 9:00 a.m. 1868

[Page 1795]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 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 commencing with the daily routine, I would advise the honourable members that the late debate this evening will be on the following resolution submitted by the Leader of the Official Opposition:

Therefore be it resolved that this government should take all measures in its power to ensure the long-term survival and success of Devco as a reliable coal supplier.

That debate will take place this evening, probably at 7:00 p.m. or somewhere in that area.

We will commence with the daily routine.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I may introduce some guests in the gallery before I read a petition.

MR. SPEAKER: By all means.

1795

[Page 1796]

AN HON. MEMBER: They are not wearing T-shirts, are they?

MS. O'CONNELL: No, they are not wearing T-shirts.

Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today we have a group of people who are either alumni or professional associates of the College of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown. From the Department of Natural Resources, we have Bob Bowlby, Tony Campbell, Steve Frost, Brian Fisher, Michelle Warr and Andrew Cameron. We have from the Halifax Regional Municipality, Hilary Campbell. We have, representing ESRI Canada, Greg MacKay. The Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors is represented by Fred Hutchinson and Joe Alcorn. The Canada Council of Land Surveyors is represented by Philip Milo. They are here to hear the presenting of a petition and I hope the House will give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of alumni members and persons professionally related to the College of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. The petition reads as follows, "We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the name, acronym and crest of the College of Geographic Sciences be retained. It is an integral part of the school's identity.". The petition contains 124 signatures and I have affixed my signature to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

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

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[Page 1797]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 6 - Health Council Appointments (1998) Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 8 - Provincial Finance Act.

Bill No. 9 - Auditor General Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to welcome guests in our gallery today from Vasternorrland. Vasternorrland is on the East Coast of Sweden. One might ask why one would name the East Coast of Sweden Vasternorrland but in fact, in the history of Sweden, Finland was once attached - geographically and perhaps in other ways, politically - and so this wonderful country of Vasternorrland has sent, today, guests to the Province of Nova Scotia. I am also pleased to announce that our province and the Province of Vasternorrland have signed in this library, today, a Memorandum of Understanding. This

[Page 1798]

Memorandum of Understanding gives our province the opportunity to develop many more partnerships, particularly in areas of Economic Development and Tourism but also in areas of research, in areas of training and education.

I am going to ask our guests in the gallery to rise and perhaps afterwards we will accord them our welcome. I would ask members to pay particular attention, not only to my pronunciation of their names, but to some of the wonderful things they have done and do.

Our first distinguished guest is His Excellency Mr. Borje Hornlund, the Governor of the Province of Vasternorrland who served in his distinguished political career prior to this governorship as Minister of Labour and Regional Economic Development for the federal Government of Sweden. Also, Mrs. Birgitta Marklund, the wife of the Head of Mid-Sweden University; Mr. Janne Lundblad, who is with Knowledge Navigator Europa AB, and Comvision AB companies; Mr. P.G. Hanell, Head of the Governor's staff; and Mrs. Gunhild Hanell, who is the wife of Mr. P.G. Hanell.

Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I would ask that our guests from Sweden be accorded the welcome and approbation of this House through our applause and welcome today. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, those who travel from Nova Scotia to Mid-Sweden will discover a land that looks very similar to Nova Scotia. It is hard to drive anywhere in the country of Sweden, in this particular area of Sweden, and not feel right at home, at least geographically. It is also an area with major resource sector development, primarily forestry. So, Nova Scotia and Vasternorrland have a great deal in common as we make a transition from what was a resource-based industry sector to an information age economy. You should also know that this country's beauty matches our own and it will be nominated by the Government of Sweden as the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique geographical and archeological features.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia International provides doctors in remote areas, professional upgrading through hands on computer programs. Mid-Sweden University in Vasternorrland specializes in distance education, enhancing the educational opportunities for people in remote areas. This area of mutual interest is distance education and it is one of the bases for today's signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

Partnerships are already in the development stages between Nova Scotia universities and Mid-Sweden University in Vasternorrland. Strategic linkages, technology transfers and student and professor exchanges are in development between Mid-Sweden University and Mount Saint Vincent University. Mid-Sweden University and Dalhousie University are also forging partnerships in the area of information technologies.

[Page 1799]

Mr. Speaker, fostering strong economic opportunities for Nova Scotians is a concern for all areas of government. Sweden is one of Nova Scotia's strongest trading partners. Stora in Port Hawksbury; Volvo, the most productive automotive plant in Volvo's empire and the second most productive automotive plant in the world is but 20 miles to the west of here; and, Ikea, a newly established furniture manufacturer, some two hours distant in the Valley, are all examples of partnerships that Nova Scotia has already developed with Swedish companies.

Knowledge Navigators International, a Halifax-based company involved in the technology sector, is already benefiting from the partnership with Vasternorrland. The company has set up their European headquarters in the Governor's province.

This economic development here in Nova Scotia will only benefit from our partnership with Vasternorrland, adding value to our economy and to our society to meet the challenges of the future, and this mutually beneficial partnership, we hope, will not only bring us together more often but ensure that commercial links, educational links, artistic and cultural links flourish. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once again, our guests, welcome to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: On behalf of the Official Opposition, I would certainly like to extend our warm welcome to the visitors from Sweden, who have come here on this worthwhile mission that we applaud.

Mr. Speaker, we, in this Party, know that learning and knowledge know no national boundaries, but for all time cross them and the learning and knowledge in university communities are international communities, where knowledge and information are shared. Modern technology makes this exchange of learning and knowledge even more possible than it had been in the past. On behalf of the Official Opposition, we would like to welcome the visitors from Sweden and thank the minister for his announcement. (Applause)

[12:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to rise and welcome the esteemed visitors from Sweden to this House from the Progressive Conservative Party. I also welcome them to the Province of Nova Scotia. As the minister has noted, the similarities in the landscape, the vistas certainly, and the climates are very close, but the transfer of technology, the transfer of knowledge bases are universal and this provides a great opportunity for Nova Scotia, if the opportunity is seized here in the province to provide learning, opportunity for economic growth into the future then this is an extremely positive thing to be happening in this province. It is long overdue and we are glad to see them. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 1800]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this morning the Central Regional Health Board announced the results of a review of acute care services at the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor.

Recommendations of the review point to the need for the equivalent of 12 additional beds for the hospital. As a result, the Central Regional Health Board has increased resources for the Hants Community Hospital to meet the recommendations. The board will add eight new acute care beds and reclassify four intermediate care beds to handle acute care patients as necessary. It also intends to continue to examine the community's use and need for other health services such as home care, long-term care, and respite care.

The purpose of the utilization review was to examine how beds are used in the hospital and make recommendations about the number and type of beds needed to meet community needs. The review represented a unique and valuable collaboration between a community hospital, community health board and regional health board.

Members of the review committee included representatives of the nursing staff, medical staff, health records and administration at the Hants Community Hospital as well as the West Hants Community Health Board and the Central Regional Health Board. The Central Board has also completed a review of cardiac services in the region and recently launched a review of emergency services.

The emergency services review is the first step in a process that will see major upgrades and expansions to emergency departments at the Dartmouth General Hospital and Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. As well, utilization reviews similar to that of the Hants Community Hospital will be conducted at these sites.

I applaud the Central Regional Health Board for the way in which they have approached the needs at the Hants Community Hospital and across the region. They have taken a careful look at utilization and resources and made the appropriate decisions that will enhance patient care. I look forward to the results of the utilization reviews at the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre and at the Dartmouth General Hospital. I know the board will take the appropriate steps, keeping in mind their number one priority, the patients in the communities that they serve. I thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people and the health care professionals in Windsor and the surrounding communities in Hants County. I think what we all understand is when the well-documented and little-understood madness of a former Finance Minister was allowed to hijack health care

[Page 1801]

reform, areas like this really suffered. People in those communities and health care professionals, they mobilized and they agitated often in the face of considerable ridicule by government members who would not listen.

This announcement, today, is a tribute to their perseverance, the return of beds to their community to make sure that there is an adequate health care system to meet the needs of people who live there. I and my Party certainly congratulate people who live in that area.

With respect to emergency services and upgrades and expansion to emergency services at the Dartmouth General Hospital and Cobequid Multi-Service Centre, we certainly welcome this expansion; we have known and we have called, or the honourable member for Sackville has, for this very kind of expansion for some time now. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I know you will be one who will find this to be good news for the community of Hants West. There has been a group of individuals, volunteers, health professional people at the Hants West Community Hospital in Windsor who over the last number of years have worked very hard to achieve this goal. We ended up with two reviews. We have had commitments by politicians, by the Premier during the election, we had a review. I too want to commend those people who were involved in the review. I say to the minister, I know that he indicated during the estimates that there would be funding to deal with this problem, that was very important, and I thank the minister for making that funding available.

I hope that the review of the emergency services at the Dartmouth General and Cobequid Multi-Service Centre, when that review is done, if funding is needed that there will be funding available again, to make sure that the review process is followed. In other words, the recommendations are done. I want to applaud everyone involved in this decision. It has been a long process, as you know, Mr. Speaker, for the people in the Windsor area. I think today is a step in the right direction. I think that that still has to be monitored to make sure that those are the number of beds that will take care of the needs in the area.

It is a step in the right direction, and I applaud the minister and the Central Regional Health Board for that announcement today. I look forward to the emergency services being reviewed, and that being followed up, especially for Cobequid Multi-Service Centre and the Dartmouth General Hospital.

[Page 1802]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture

RESOLUTION NO. 910

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

Whereas cellist Denise Djokic of Halifax was recently awarded the $10,000 first prize at the Klein International Cello Competition in San Francisco; and

Whereas this 17 year old is one of the youngest, and also the first Canadian, ever to win this award, open to anyone under the age of 25; and

Whereas Ms. Djokic has received a Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarship every year since 1993, and will begin a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music this fall;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate one of Nova Scotia's brightest young musicians on her many accomplishments to date, and wish her continued success in the future.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 1803]

RESOLUTION NO. 911

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

Whereas Nova Scotians need immediate decisions made by the Liberal Government in Ottawa on crucial issues surrounding such things as increased health care and education funding; and

Whereas the Liberal Government in Ottawa has dragged its feet on so many other issues when Nova Scotians need immediate decisions, such as funding for the Halifax Airport; and

Whereas when David Dingwall and his band of closely connected Cape Breton Liberals asked the federal government for fast action on the hand-over of the Sydport Industrial Park, they get a response without delay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the federal government for only acting expediently when the interests of their friends are at stake.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 912

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

Whereas Natural Resources officials have informed Lansdowne Park officials in Pictou County that no spraying for the tussock moth will be undertaken; and

Whereas seniors and disabled individuals who use Lansdowne Park are being impacted by the high concentration level of tussock moth larvae in the park area; and

Whereas the necessary applications have been filled out by Mr. Dave Leese so spraying could take place to eliminate this devastating insect from the forested area of Lansdowne Park, which in the process of preserving this treasured area for seniors and disabled people of northern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources immediately undertake to speak to the senior officials in his department involved with the spray program to ensure that the Lansdowne area of Pictou County is not ignored in the tussock moth spray program.

[Page 1804]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 913

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

Whereas in the Speech from the Throne on May 21st the MacLellan Liberals promised measures to support the Port of Halifax; and

Whereas since May 21st the MacLellan Liberals have done nothing as the federal Liberals pushed through Bill C-9, which allows Ottawa to slough off responsibility for port development; and

Whereas the Mayor of Halifax says by refusing to assist in port development the Ottawa Liberals are treating Halifax like dirt;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House regret that the MacLellan Liberals have broken their promise to fight for the Port of Halifax and instead have allowed their federal friends to treat the Port of Halifax like dirt.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 914

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

Whereas Llewellyn Robicheau, son of Carol and Cecil Robicheau of Middleton, was recently chosen as recipient of the Most Valuable Player Award for the Nova Scotia AAA Midget Hockey League; and

Whereas Llewellyn also received awards for being a first team all-star forward and league scoring champion; and

Whereas Llewellyn was selected by the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the 1997 QMJHL draft;

[Page 1805]

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Llewellyn on his outstanding accomplishment and wish him every success as he pursues his career with the Halifax Mooseheads.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 915

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

Whereas women's centre usage has doubled and in some areas tripled during the last three years; and

Whereas in addition to direct service provided to individuals, women's centres provide other services such as programming for groups, public education presentations and community development; and

Whereas women's centres are involved as community partners on a range of boards and committees with other organizations in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support and acknowledge the tremendous contribution that women's centres give to the communities across this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1806]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 916

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

Whereas delays in the removal of bodies from homes and accident sites have caused stress for other families in Nova Scotia, including reported incidents in East Hants and Victoria County; and

Whereas the Minister of Health's response to my question yesterday about having at least one company in each county to deal with body removal was entirely unacceptable; and

Whereas there is obviously a considerable sense of confusion when it comes to dealing with the Department of Health's new policy on the removal of bodies from death scenes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately implement a series of briefing sessions between the Medical Examiner's office and police and ambulance officials across Nova Scotia, to ensure families will not be put through the anguish of waiting hours for the remains of a loved one to be removed from the scene of a death, while also increasing the number of body removal services available to emergency agencies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 917

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

[Page 1807]

Whereas representatives of the Canadian Federation of Students were present in the gallery on June 24th to witness a debate on an NDP resolution to implement a tuition freeze; and

Whereas during the 1998 election campaign the Liberals promised to freeze tuition fee increases, but have already allowed them to rise by 5 per cent at St. Francis Xavier and 10 per cent at Dalhousie; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Chair of the Federation of Students, Penny Howard, has said, "Students and their families in Nova Scotia desperately need a tuition freeze";

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to live up to its election commitment to a tuition freeze for Nova Scotia students.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 918

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 Nova Scotia Firefighters School in Waverley provides training on an annual basis to 2,700 paid and volunteer firefighters across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas training at the Nova Scotia Firefighters School is also provided on an annual basis to approximately 350 officials associated with industries across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Firefighters School is seeking accreditation by the International Fire Service Training Congress to provide Accredited Training that is as good as anywhere in North America;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour offer whatever support is necessary to ensure the Nova Scotia Firefighters School gains the necessary international stamp of approval to provide this level of training in Waverley.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 1808]

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 919

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

Whereas Jolene Maria van den Heuvel, a Grade 12 student at Mabou Consolidated School, is this year's recipient of the Volunteer Youth Award; and

Whereas Jolene has given much of her time as a volunteer, including working on school advisory councils and as a peer helper, she has canvassed for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, served on the executive of the local 4-H club and has been involved extensively in the activities of her church; and

Whereas Jolene has been described as a hard-working, positive person who is a friend to all and who unselfishly gives of her time to her school and community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jolene Maria van den Heuvel for receiving the prestigious Volunteer Youth Award for her dedication to her community.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1809]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 920

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 Five Island Lake Community Liaison Committee is extremely distressed with the present budget which will make it impossible for the government to live up to its commitment to clean up the PCB contamination in the North Bay of Five Island Lake; and

Whereas the community organized itself and participated in good faith with representatives from the provincial Department of the Environment and the Department of Transportation and Public Works for four long years to prepare a strategy for the clean-up of the PCBs in that lake; and

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

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to invest the needed funds to keep its promise and to proceed immediately with the final clean-up of the North Bay of Five Island Lake.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 921

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

Whereas a 1997 follow-up survey of Nova Scotia Community College graduates showed an increasing connection between the community college system and the Nova Scotia business community; and

Whereas the Cumberland Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College system held their 1998 convocation last evening; and

Whereas the Cumberland County convocation saw students graduating from a wide variety of programs involving everything from Business Information and Technology to carpentry, home health, legal assistance and motor vehicle repair, to name just a few;

[Page 1810]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly extend heartfelt congratulations to the many deserving students who graduated from the Cumberland County Campus last evening, and please note that many of these are mature students.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 922

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

Whereas a check with Environment Canada in Sydney this morning showed that the very extensive sampling and testing program around the perimeter of the coke ovens site is still under way and has not yielded any findings yet; and

Whereas Environment Canada assures that when the results of this multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental sampling program are determined, they will be released as one package to the community and not privately, in advance, to the NDP; and

Whereas it only hurts the people of Frederick Street and other streets adjoining the coke ovens site who are under enough strain as it is, to see this matter made a political football;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House the collecting and analyzing of this data ought to be left to the professional staff now undertaking detailed scientific studies and that the best interests of all would be served by keeping politics out of these matters.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 1811]

RESOLUTION NO. 923

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

Whereas during the last provincial election campaign, the Premier announced the withdrawal and rebate of a surplus from the Nova Scotia Superannuation Fund; and

Whereas in January 1998, after a year of negotiations, the Minister of Finance received an $11 million cheque which represented Nova Scotia's share of a $21 million surplus withdrawal from the Council of Maritime Premiers Pension Plan; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance did not announce this windfall publicly nor apparently did he inform the Premier nor did he share the surplus with the employees of the Council of Maritime Premiers Pension Plan who are now wondering if the budget was balanced with their contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to explain to the members of the Council of Maritime Premiers Pension Plan why they did not receive surplus rebates and whether the budget was balanced with their contributions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 924

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

Whereas many seniors are now paying private insurance premiums as well as the annual $215 premium for the Seniors' Pharmacare Program; and

Whereas contrary to the recommendations of the Pharmacare Working Reform Group, the introduction of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program premium put seniors and taxpayers first in line to pay the cost of drugs as opposed to the federal pension plan and private insurance plans; and

Whereas there is a need to re-examine the Seniors' Pharmacare Program to identify changes that will help contain costs to both seniors and taxpayers and to ensure greater fairness;

[Page 1812]

Therefore be it resolved that the government immediately strike a committee that includes representatives from seniors' organizations to propose alternatives to the Seniors' Pharamacare Program premium and to identify additional reforms that will help ensure the long-term viability of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 925

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

Whereas the Municipality of the County of Pictou has adopted a resolution regarding the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and forwarded that resolution to the Prime Minister; and

Whereas the Municipality of the County of Pictou's resolution expressed concern upon the impact of the proposed MAI on Canada's benefits, rights, social and environmental programs; and

Whereas the resolution adopted by the Municipality of the County of Pictou says the MAI must contain all necessary protection for social programs, environmental programs and rights of Canadians as citizens and workers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join the Municipality of the County of Pictou in urging the federal government not to sign a Multilateral Agreement on Investment like the one currently being negotiated which will jeopardize Nova Scotians rights, benefits, social and environmental programs.

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

[Page 1813]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 926

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

Whereas Newport Station District Elementary Principal, Diana MacLean, recently highlighted the extended contribution of their school's area bus driver, Wayne Langille; and

Whereas after his school bus route in Hants County is complete, Mr. Langille returns to Newport Station Elementary School and serves as a computer technology program volunteer coordinator for the small school; and

Whereas the school says, thanks to Mr. Langille's computer expertise and dedication to the school, they have been able to assemble a lab in use daily and now in the evening for parents to learn as well;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the efforts of this Hants County bus driver and volunteer computer expert for his special contribution, ensuring that the computer knowledge and tools needed to learn more through the technology is available for the children, teachers and parents of Newport Station District Elementary.

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.

[Page 1814]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 927

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 Highway No. 104 by-pass between Alma and Salt Springs, Pictou County, is now well underway; and

Whereas many local businesses along the stretch of highway will see fewer customers as a result of this by-pass; and

Whereas the Municipality of Pictou County, the Pictou Regional Development Commission, the Pictou County Tourist Association and other local agencies have supported the concept of good generic signage for their businesses before and at intersections on this new Trans Canada Highway;

Therefore be it resolved that this government support the Alma-Salt Springs business group in their quest for adequate signage.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 928

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

Whereas students across this province will be, over the next week, celebrating as they complete their Grade 12 year and anticipate the transition into post-secondary education or the job world; and

[Page 1815]

Whereas this is a very exciting time for our youth as they leave their secondary school years successfully behind them and try to decide what they would like to do in their future; and

Whereas this excitement is highlighted by graduation services and celebrations, celebrations which fortunately are more often now focusing on safe graduation, so that this time for celebrating does not become a tragedy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House wish our new graduates a very successful future in whichever direction they choose to go and hope that each and every one of those graduates does their part to ensure their own safe graduation, one that they will always have to remember.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 929

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

Whereas Adam Baxter, a student at Middleton Regional High School, won a gold medal at the Tae Kwan Do national championships in Quebec; and

Whereas as a result of his win in Quebec, Adam has earned a spot on the Canadian team which will be competing internationally in Istanbul, Turkey, this September; and

Whereas Adam is hoping that as a result of his performance in Turkey, he will be able to qualify for the Canadian Olympic Team which will compete in the summer Olympics, which will be held in Sydney, Australia, in the year 2000;

[Page 1816]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Adam on his gold medal performance and wish him every success as he works toward his goal of being a member of Canada's Olympic Team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 930

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

Whereas in their first Speech from the Throne in November 1997, the MacLellan Liberals promised new funds for secondary roads in this fiscal year and increased dollars again in the next; and

Whereas the budget introduced in the House in June 1998 shows that instead of going up, funds for secondary roads have been cut; and

Whereas Nova Scotians cannot tolerate further disregard for the sorry state of secondary roads;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn the Liberals for promising to increase spending on roads before the election then cutting spending after the election.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 1817]

RESOLUTION NO. 931

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

Whereas in the Speech from the Throne, the government promised to work with community groups and the Halifax Regional Municipality to address abysmal conditions in local rooming houses; and

Whereas the government refuses to call legislation that would enable the Halifax Regional Municipality to deal with abysmal conditions in local rooming houses; and

[12:45 p.m.]

Whereas the Minister of Housing stated incorrectly yesterday that it is the responsibility of the Opposition to call this legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing accept his responsibility for dealing with sub-standard housing and keep Liberal Throne Speech promises about addressing the abysmal conditions in rooming houses.

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

Order, please.

MR. GERALD FOGARTY: On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, this has been the umpteenth time that the Official Opposition has tried to bring forth a resolution, a notice of motion, on a bill, in this case a bill they brought forward themselves earlier in this session. It is clearly out of order that a resolution be brought forward when the bill is already before the House and has been brought forward for first reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin makes a point but, however, the point is that the actual resolution itself does not speak to the principle of the bill. To simply ask for a bill to be brought forward or expedited, et cetera, is in order.

MR. FOGARTY: If I might speak again to the same point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is the subject matter, the wording in Beauchesne is, subject matter, and I would submit the subject matter is the same in the bill brought forward for first reading and in this resolution. The subject matter is the same.

[Page 1818]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. What I am hearing from the former Speaker is a challenge to the ruling that was made previously by the Speaker. I would suggest that the former Speaker should know that it is inappropriate to challenge the ruling of the Speaker unless he is going to do that in a formal motion.

MR. SPEAKER: We are getting into a series of points of order that have nothing whatsoever to do with this resolution.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 932

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

Whereas tomorrow, Friday, June 26, 1998, will be the official opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newly expanded Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Phase II expansion of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia provides the gallery with additional exhibition space, collection storage, office space, an expanded gallery shop and an art sales and rental gallery; and

Whereas the expanded facility will house the Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery commemorating and preserving the folk art legacy of Nova Scotia artist, Maud Lewis;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Board of Governors, the staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to achieve the Phase II expansion of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, a major Canadian art institution important to both the cultural and economic life of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 1819]

RESOLUTION NO. 933

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

Whereas the federal government has reportedly spent $11.8 million over the past 17 years on capital improvements to the Sydport Industrial Park; and

Whereas Enterprise Cape Breton is now preparing to give away Sydport and millions in public investment to well-connected Liberal interests; and

Whereas this giveaway is being engineered with the assistance of the former minister responsible for Enterprise Cape Breton over the objections of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the decision of Enterprise Cape Breton to giveaway one of Cape Breton's most valuable community economic development tools to close friends of the Liberal Party without broad public consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 934

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

Whereas this week is provincial Boys and Girls Club week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Boys and Girls Clubs provide recreational and educational opportunities for young people; and

Whereas the activities provided by the Boys and Girls Clubs include teen sports, leadership and educational programs as well as school age day care, summer day camps, pre-school and breakfast programs, just to name a few;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the volunteers, staff and all the young people involved in programs of Boys and Girls Clubs across this province during this week of special activities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 1820]

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. 935

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are becoming increasingly concerned that over-harvesting of trees and inadequate silviculture programs could lead to an ecological and economic disaster in our forests; and

Whereas in their first Speech from the Throne, last November, the MacLellan Liberals promised new legislation to prevent over-harvesting and ensure reforestation, environmental protection and wildlife habitat; and

Whereas while this legislation has been drawn up and introduced, it continues to linger on the order paper;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Liberal Government to keep its promises and proceed immediately with necessary measures to protect the province's forests and forest industries.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 1821]

RESOLUTION NO. 936

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 work of volunteer firefighters must continue to be recognized; and

Whereas these volunteer fire departments provide a vitally important service throughout our province; and

Whereas the Lakeside Fire Department will be celebrating 50 years of service to the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea this week with a parade, reception and dance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the Lakeside Fire Department for its example of service and dedication to our community for the past 50 years.

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.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I am not sure of the procedure on this, but it was moved by the MLA for Halifax Citadel that a certain notice of motion congratulating the Art Gallery in its expansion be waived without debate. I know that the Speaker ruled that he heard some Noes, but perhaps Mr. Speaker, if there was a way to reintroduce this motion on behalf of that member, we could ask for agreement again.

MR. SPEAKER: Everybody is aware of what the notice of motion was with regard to the opening of the extension to the Art Gallery.

[Page 1822]

[RESOLUTION NO. 932

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Board of Governors, the staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to achieve the Phase II expansion of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, a major Canadian art institution important to both the cultural and economic life of Nova Scotia.]

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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this time to introduce a visitor from California in the gallery today. He not only had the privilege of being the best man at my wedding, but I also stood at his, and he had the good common sense to marry a girl from Antigonish County, which the honourable member for Antigonish certainly appreciates. So I would like Ed Whalen to stand and receive the reception of the House please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The time is now 12:54 p.m. We will terminate at 13:54 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - DONKIN RESOURCES LTD.:

MINE RIGHTS - TRANSFER PREVENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The Premier will know that the Prince local, the Phalen local, in fact the entire District No. 26 UMWA membership has passed motions of non-confidence in Devco's latest plan, and in the board of directors, and they have also quite clearly expressed their concern about the future of the corporation, and the coal industry. In fact, the president of the mineworkers has written to the Premier asking him to use his power that the Cabinet has, to prevent the transfer of the mine rights to the privatized Donkin Resources Limited.

[Page 1823]

I want to ask the Premier, will his government commit to the people of Cape Breton, who depend on the coal industry, that as long as Devco's long-term future as a reliable coal supplier remains uncertain, the Nova Scotia Government will not transfer the Donkin coal leases to a private coal company?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for that question, because I just want to say that no transfer of the Donkin coal leases would ever take place without full consultation of the union, well in advance of any consideration to do so.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I also want to ask the Premier, he said yesterday in response to a question from the member for Cape Breton Centre, that he didn't know very much about the plan, he didn't know very much about what was going on with the board of directors and their management plan. As was pointed out then, and has been pointed out since, the province has two appointees on that board of directors. The president of the mine workers . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . in fact, the international executive has also called on the Premier to commit to the termination of the two present government positions on the Devco board and the appointment of two representatives . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . who will ensure that that kind of information is presented. I want to ask the Premier if he will respond favourably to the recommendation by the international executive of District 26?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope to be able to speak to the United Mine Workers of America executive. Certainly if not Mr. Drake, then one of the officials who is available to speak on this question, to get their side of this story and what they see as happening. I have not had that opportunity as yet but I will be doing so.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say, and I am going to table this letter, by the way, but it does say here that, "The District Executive Board has discussed with you . . .", meaning the Premier, ". . . the dismal record of Devco's Board . . .", and that whole question of the termination.

In my final supplementary, I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear that he is going to ensure that full consultation with the mine workers' union - and other unions, hopefully - before any decision is made relative to the transfer of those leases. I want to ask the Premier, given the significant uncertainty in the coal industry, especially how it

[Page 1824]

affects the 6,000 families in Cape Breton directly associated with the coal industry, will he not agree that it is time to engage in a public discussion with those families, with the workers, with the unions and with the communities, about the future of the coal industry in the Province of Nova Scotia, and that it needs to be done now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think, in fairness, that I should speak with the executive of the UMW first and I am certainly going to be prepared to do so. There have been problems about the future of the Lingan-Phalen in the past. Evidently, some new proposal has been put forward and I want to be able to obtain the specifics of that proposal before I do anything further.

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

FIN. - TENDERS:

BUSINESSES (N.S.) - PRECLUDED

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Over here we are hearing more and more stories about Nova Scotia companies that are losing opportunities to compete for provincial government business. There are a number of reasons for this, including single tenders being let that include too wide a variety of goods or because tenders are now called for areas that are so big that transportation problems preclude local companies from making a competitive bid. The result is lost opportunity for Nova Scotia companies and lost opportunities for jobs. My question to the Premier is, does he recognize that government tendering policies are hurting smaller Nova Scotia companies?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I realize that. I will take it one step further, as far as the concern that I have is concerned. It is not only outside companies in Nova Scotia but also companies here in the Halifax Regional Municipality getting a tender that applies to the whole province so that people in the regions do not get a chance to tender when, in fact, the cost saving is minimal, if at all. I think that we have to be able to allow some of our suppliers outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality to be able to tender and supply government offices in their own areas.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the Premier for that answer. I will continue with the Premier. We have a lot of lost opportunities here because government has a way in which Nova Scotia suppliers - and I am talking now about basic suppliers, particularly perhaps our agricultural industry - can, in fact, supply Nova Scotians. The Nova Scotia Government and the taxpayers pay for, each mealtime, about 11,000 meals here in Nova Scotia. For example, the beef industry . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 1825]

DR. HAMM: . . . cannot supply beef in any great amount to government purchasing and also had not penetrated the Nova Scotia market. My question to the Premier is, would the Premier agree that the government here has an opportunity to show, by example, by amending current tendering policies that give Nova Scotian industries a fair chance at competing on government contracts to supply goods?

[1:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we will certainly look at what the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party recommends.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would hope then that the Premier is prepared to follow up and examine present tendering practices and policies. As a follow-up, is the Premier prepared, by way of a select committee, to examine opportunities the government can in a very direct way help to create local jobs and to grow our economy, by examining the tendering and the purchasing policies of this province?

MR. SPEAKER: You wish to transfer this question to the Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brought some valid points forward. One of the issues in going forward with the economic committee to take a look at how government can do business better in Nova Scotia, creating a better environment to create jobs and opportunities, this could be one area for which that committee could be looking at recommendations that could be brought forward by the Progressive Conservative Party and we would be willing to undertake to investigate that to see whether we can comply with some of the concerns they have.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - COAL INDUSTRY (C.B.):

INSTABILITY - SOLUTION (PREMIER)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go back again to the Premier on the whole issue of the future of the coal industry in this province. I raised today the issues that have been brought up by District 26 and by the other unions representing people that work in the coal industry in the Province of Nova Scotia, with the Premier. The Premier indicates that he is going to talk with the union executive about the degree of the problems and so on. I am just absolutely astounded that this Premier, who has sat here for the last eight months and heard about the problems here and has represented a constituency for 20 years in Cape Breton where he has heard about the problems, why it is and what is it going to take to get the Premier to act on this issue? I want to ask the Premier why he does not know enough yet and what is it he needs to find out yet that prevents him from going to the people, the 6,000 families affected by the coal industry and the communities in Cape Breton and showing some

[Page 1826]

leadership on finding a solution to the instability in the coal industry in Cape Breton? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the rhetoric and the crocodile tears of the honourable Leader of the Opposition are not going to correct the problems of Cape Breton. Over the last 19 years, he is right, I have had a lot of opportunity to discover and find out the problems of the coal mining industry. I also know that the situation may have been changed recently by meetings between the union and the management, as to a new management plan for the coal industry. Now that is a recent phenomenon, it is a recent occurrence. I have to speak with the executive as to what they have been told in those meetings. Those are the new aspects that I have to find out and once I have had the chance to discuss them, then I will be able to act accordingly. I will not be doing anybody a favour by going off on a tangent, as the honourable member suggests. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it has been 20 years but let us just talk about the past 10 months since this person has been the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia. He has made commitments to families in Cape Breton that he is going to do something to stabilize the Cape Breton coal industry and he has not done anything.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Let us be sure that people understand that this Premier could not find his way to the Phalen Mine site.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member please put his question.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier is this, he had the president of the mine workers in his fold in the last campaign. Why didn't he talk to him about what needs to be done in the coal industry and actually take some action?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as far as listening to the people of Cape Breton is concerned, at least we listen to the recommendations of our own executives in Cape Breton Island. (Applause) We are working with the people in the mining industry. We are going to speak with them. The action has to come from the federal government. We are not going to be taking over the coal operations in Cape Breton. We will work with them to achieve whatever we possibly can on their behalf.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's be clear that the coal industry in Nova Scotia is teetering on the brink as a result of the actions and inactions of this government. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality and its alliance partners are suing this government because of their lack of action on this issue. I want to ask the Premier, when is he going to do something on behalf of those 6,000 families to try to bring some security and some stability on their behalf to the coal industry in this province?

[Page 1827]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are 1,700 employees. I don't know where the honourable member gets the 6,000 families. The fact is, the federal government has saved the coal industry in Cape Breton. They may not be doing everything that we want them to do but had it not been for the federal government taking over the coal industry in 1968, had it not been for the federal government injecting another $79 million in a management plan a few years ago, there wouldn't be a coal industry. (Applause)

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

NAT. RES. - TUSSOCK MOTH SPRAYING PROG.: AREAS - SELECTION

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Natural Resources a question. At present, the white-marked tussock moth has, to some degree or another, infested approximately 3.4 million acres or one-third of the province's land mass. Earlier this spring, the minister encouraged landowners to make application so that their woodlots could be treated with the BTK solution. However, the minister didn't indicate to the applicants that he would only be purchasing enough solution to treat approximately 5 per cent of the infested woodlands. Now, many woodlot owners are complaining that the minister is hand-picking what lands will be sprayed. Could the minister tell the House and all concerned woodlot owners details regarding the fair and transparent process he is employing regarding the land spray selection program?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As the honourable member well knows, and I am sure he does, this infestation of the tussock moth is huge, it is very serious. The government cannot afford, at this point in time, because of the lateness of some of the applications coming in from landowners, 640 applications from private landowners to date, we have received for application of the spray. We cannot service every one of those applications. It is impossible.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the landowners are concerned that the minister is hand-picking the lands that will be sprayed. Again, I appeal to the minister to tell those concerned landowners about his fair and transparent process relative to the land spraying program.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for the question but as the old saying goes, first come, first served, within our limits.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that is a bunch of bunk and the minister knows that. Perhaps the minister would confirm, a company out of New Brunswick, it has been brought to my attention, received the contract to spray for the white-marked tussock moth and I understand that contract didn't go to tender. Will the minister confirm that he also, besides picking the lands to be sprayed, the minister hand-picked the company out of New Brunswick to provide the spraying program without it even going to tender?

[Page 1828]

MR. MACASKILL: Again, Mr. Speaker, the member is somewhat close to being correct. There are two companies in eastern Canada that can apply spraying to forests in Nova Scotia. We don't have a company in Nova Scotia that can do aerial spraying.

MR. TAYLOR: How do you know, you never put it out to tender?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACASKILL: Do I have the floor, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You have the floor.

MR. MACASKILL: When we first called a firm in Fredericton, New Brunswick, called Forest Protection Limited they suggested because of the massive spraying that had to be done, they wouldn't give us a contract on it. They wanted to consult with a firm in Quebec, called Sopfid, and they wanted to do a joint contract with the Province of Nova Scotia. Neither of those companies would take this project on on their own, they wanted to do it jointly because of the massive amount to be done and the equipment needed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

NSLC: STORES - SUNDAY OPENING

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the administration of the Liquor Control Act. Mr. Minister, as you may know, recently the province agreed to a clause in their contract with liquor store employees which outlines rules for Sunday openings. Can the minister tell this House whether his government intends to open liquor stores in the Province of Nova Scotia on Sundays?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member asked that question because we have no intention of agreeing to any proposal that would commit the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to have stores open on Sundays.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I will table here a letter of agreement that has been signed between the Liquor Commission and its employees, the NSGEU, that agrees to open stores on Sundays. Some people are in favour of Sunday openings and some are not, my question is simply this, since there is a potential for this to be a contentious issue, will he assure this House and Nova Scotians that they will be consulted on this matter before any final decision is made?

[Page 1829]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I again thank the member for that question. Yes, we will certainly consult with Nova Scotians if by any small chance we were even to consider opening on Sunday. They certainly won't have the approval from this government to proceed without further consultation.

MR. PARKER: I am going to table this document, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask, finally, in local areas, in local communities, towns and municipalities, will they have an opportunity to have a discussion on this, and local input from their communities; in other words, will each community be allowed to decide the issue on a local basis?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I again thank the honourable member. Yes, we will certainly go back to communities but as far as the government is concerned we have no intentions, not even the remotest, smallest possibility of looking at opening on Sundays.

MR. SPEAKER: You may table that.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

NAT. RES.: RESERVES (EAST COAST) - ESTIMATE INCREASED

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. I wonder if the Premier had an opportunity to look at reports this morning in the local press where it was indicated that the eastern coast reserves of gas and oil are even greater than the last estimate, the last estimate being some 30 billion barrels and now that estimate has been increased to some 43 billion barrels of oil and gas. Is the Premier aware of this new and more optimistic estimate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have stated on many occasions, not with respect to oil but with respect to natural gas, that the potential and the reserves are much larger than people generally realize.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier. So the Premier then is aware of what is in the press, then the Premier must also be aware that the Newfoundland minister has been in Ottawa lobbying the federal minister to lay claim to part of the Laurentian sub-basin that is clearly ours as delineated by the 1986 agreement signed by the Premier of Nova Scotia and the Prime Minister of Canada. There is no question here to be answered.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 1830]

DR. HAMM: I wonder if the Premier would indicate to us, has he been in personal, direct contact with the federal minister or the Prime Minister of Canada indicating that the claim of Newfoundland to the Laurentian sub-basin has no basis whatsoever? There is no question to be answered. What is below that line is clearly ours. Has the Premier done this?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to, first of all, distance myself from the signing of that agreement. It was not me who did it with the Prime Minister of Canada, but I also want to go on to the question that the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party brings up. We have told Mr. Goodale that we do not want arbitration, that we have not even seen Newfoundland's proposal for a line. We have not had a chance to talk to Newfoundland. You cannot consider arbitration before those two preceding requirements are even met.

DR. HAMM: I will finish with a supplementary to the Premier. In view of the fact that he now is prepared to say that this, in fact, and all of the area of the sub-basin below the line delineated by the 1986 agreement is Nova Scotia's and we lay claim to the five areas delineated in that particular contract, is the Premier then prepared to indicate to oil companies who are interested that we are willing to give permits for the five areas in the Laurentian sub-basin for seismic exploration, that we have identified these as clearly being ours, and we will, therefore, grant permits?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if we can get some good bids, then we will certainly consider giving permits. The last time we put out three bids on the frontier between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the three areas, we did not get one bid in either of the three. Now, that may be because of the dispute between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but we are not going to give exploration licences unless we get a good return from the companies.

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

WCB - APPEALS TRIBUNAL: COMMISSIONERS - PAY INCREASE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour through you. What I have here is a list of Orders in Council from this week. I could barely believe my eyes that the government wants to increase wages for the commissioners at WCAT. Now, we all know we have a backlog at WCAT in excess of 2,500 to 2,800 cases. I do not know who the minister talks to, but when I talk to injured workers, they tell me a big part of the problem is WCAT itself. So I ask the minister, why is he rewarding these commissioners for not doing their jobs?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, first of all, no one in this government rewards anybody for not doing their job. The Order in Council that he has before him is the normal schedule of pay schedules for the various job descriptions that are referred to in that

[Page 1831]

particular Order in Council and it is in-line with the recommended pay increases that are reviewed on an annual basis.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure there are other people who work for this province who would like to get increases in the possible range of 20 per cent to 30 per cent. That is what these wages can go up to. The fact is, there is a grave problem with workers' compensation. There is a huge problem here and workers are suffering beyond necessity because of WCAT. Why is this government pumping money into rewards for already reasonably paid administrators while injured workers continue to suffer?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, you know, this is a sad commentary on what that Opposition Party really stands for because the public record will show that on two separate occasions briefing sessions were set up for that caucus. The first session only one out of 18 showed up; the second session, four showed up and two left prematurely. They were not even interested in discussing the concerns of the injured workers of Nova Scotia. So they should reconsider where they stand.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, fairytales can come true when he speaks, it is unbelievable. I represented that caucus. I represent the caucus when it comes to these matters and he does not tell his caucus who goes there. I ask him, once more, rather than spending money like that, will the minister put these raises on hold until the Auditor General looks at those raises?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, isn't it something? He is now speaking for the entire caucus. Three weeks ago, he indicated that the caucus couldn't come to a decision. Two weeks ago, he indicated his caucus could not make a decision. One week ago, they said they would agree to some of our amendments, which we gave them almost a month ago. And now, he is saying, we will agree to some but not all, but on this particular (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, at least we got their attention. The so-called pro-labour group, after several months of dealing with this issue, has finally decided in the dying days of discussion (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is out of order. (Interruptions)

MR. MACKINNON: We have a new Leader, if that is what you are saying. (Interruptions) Those pay schedules are certainly in-line with what was recommended by the appropriate professionals within the Civil Service, and certainly I think some of the colleagues within that caucus would align with that position.

[Page 1832]

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

JUSTICE - CROWN PROSECUTORS: WORKING GROUP - REPS.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice. As the minister is aware, the Crown Attorneys Association of Nova Scotia is considering more job action with regard to the dealings with the Public Prosecution Service as of June 28th, if they don't have some answers from the Minister of Justice. And we are also aware that the Minister of Justice has created a working group to look at and study the options for addressing the Crowns' concerns.

My question to the Minister of Justice is quite straightforward, are the Crowns represented on the working group that is looking at this issue, and if not, are they at least allowed representation to this working group?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Yes, the Crowns were represented by the Acting Director of the Public Prosecution Service on the earlier working group. I have expressed my interest in expanding that particular group, and we have discussed that we would invite at least two or three of the Crown Attorneys to be members of that working group, and also, maybe by other processes of meetings that would involve larger groups, and perhaps a large number of Crown Attorneys.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice again. If the Minister of Justice is committed to fair bargaining, as he said, and the Crown Attorneys are to play an active role in the working group, will the Minister of Justice, here today, commit - not suggest to the Public Prosecution Service, but commit - that he will ensure the Crown Attorneys will have representation, and that representation will be through people they choose to be on this working group?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the working group was under the Human Resources Department and another minister. I don't want to speak for that other minister. I can say that there is a general feeling that we should broaden that group to represent Crown Attorneys, of their own choice, the number is yet to be determined. I think the honourable member has made a good recommendation. I don't think we can proceed without that type of arrangement, so I have no trouble, really, agreeing with the honourable member.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you I will ask my question to the Minister of Human Resources. Now I understand that Minister of Justice has said that he is committed to ensuring Crown Attorneys do have some representation, is the Minister of Human Resources also willing to make that commitment and to make it happen immediately?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes. (Applause)

[Page 1833]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HUMAN RTS. COMM'N. - EMPLOYEES (TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.)

DISMISSAL (1994): HEARINGS - COMPLETION ENSURE

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question today through you will be to the Minister responsible for the administration of the Human Rights Act. During the last several weeks, a matter of great concern has come to my attention, that being a matter of justice to employees who felt that they were wrongly dismissed. As this House will remember on March 12, 1994, 160 road foremen and supervisors were dismissed by the Liberal Government at that point. A number of them filed with the Human Rights Commission on September 30, 1994. Those workers who are still in the appeal process have still not received their hearing. Will the minister make a request today to ensure that those workers end up with a fair hearing at the Human Rights Commission?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have no direct information on the status of the appeal but I know there has been a real move toward mediation and those types of mechanisms within that process of the Human Rights Commission. I will make the undertaking today that I would get a briefing on the status of what I have the right to know as Minister responsible for the administration of the Human Rights Act, realizing there might be some sensitivities within that process that I do not have access to.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the minister. That is a beginning but this whole issue cries out for some justice. Here we have had people waiting four years without a hearing, without their appeals, without anything substantial being offered to these people. I think it is incumbent upon the minister in charge of administering this Act that this is investigated and find out why it has taken four years to see this happen?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I know that we have a very competent Board of Commissioners within the Human Rights Act. We have an executive director that I think has done a good job there. I am sure that the undertaking between those aspects of the administration would be addressed. If there are some areas that are of a difficult nature, I am sure that the executive director and other members of staff are doing what is appropriate. I will ask for a status report that I may learn as to what I have the right as the minister responsible to learn.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again. We all realize and have had discussion that Mr. MacKay is extremely competent and hopefully will be reappointed so this matter can be pursued. The crux of the problem still remains and that is a commitment by the minister to ensure that this investigation, this process is moved forward and that closure happens for these employees in their right to appeal in a very short time-frame. Will the minister ensure that the request is made and that these people's cases are cleared up within the next month?

[Page 1834]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised but I am concerned that the honourable member is asking me to do things to intervene in a process that is clearly spelled out that while I have responsibility, an intervention, particularly with a time-frame, I can make no such commitment. The commitment I am making to the House today is that I will ask for a status update of information that is my right to receive as Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act and that is my commitment today.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS.- COOPERATIVE HOUSING FED'N.:

SELF-MANAGEMENT - COMMIT

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Housing. I know that the minister met with the Cooperative Housing Federation on Tuesday. Will the minister finally recognize the cooperative housing spirit of self-management and commit his department to taking its lead from the true experts on cooperative housing, the people who live in co-ops on any decisions around co-op housing administration in this province?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I did have a meeting with representatives of the Cooperative Housing Federation on Tuesday morning. We had a very good, informative session. However, I did indicate to the group at that time that I think there are a number of pieces missing here. First of all I did indicate to them that I would be speaking with the federal minister with regard to this proposal. Also, that I would be speaking with my provincial colleagues in the upcoming meeting in late July or early August, but also I did indicate that I have already received a number of invitations from co-op housing groups across the province. I think it is absolutely critical before I bring a position forward for government to approve that we make sure that all the stakeholders have had a chance to present their points before any final decision is made pertaining to this point that she raises.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. GODIN: Again to the Minister of Housing. Once again what I am hearing is sort of a symbolic sort of support for co-op housing in this province. Yet we heard the Premier telling us less than a month ago about his deep respect for co-op housing members. When will the minister commit to placing administrative power into an independent co-op agency drawing on the administrative expertise of co-op housing members themselves?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will not undertake today to make that decision until I am satisfied that all partners or all stakeholders in this process have had input into the final decision that government will make at a later date.

[Page 1835]

MS. GODIN: Again to the Minister of Housing. The stakeholders that I think we are concerned about are the residents of co-op housing who have managed very well their own housing needs in the past. If the minister is talking about anything else other than resident-managed, mixed-income housing, he is not talking about co-operative housing in its fullest sense. Will the minister commit not only to recognizing the expertise of co-op housing members to manage their own affairs, but further to a program in the very near future for expanding co-op housing so that spaces are available for even more Nova Scotians?

MR. GAUDET: I think the honourable member did not really understand what I said earlier. I think it is critical that all stakeholders are involved within the process. I have indicated that so far, personally, I have received a number of invitations from different co-op housing groups from different parts of the province. I certainly have full intention to meet with these groups to make sure that they have an input into whatever final decision will be taken by this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - CROWN PROSECUTORS: MEDIATOR - APPOINT

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. On Wednesday of this week I hand delivered a letter to the minister in this House. In that letter is a proposal, one that I and the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party feel would be a first step to resolving the impasse between the province and the Crown Attorneys. I would like to table that letter.

In this letter we are suggesting the names of two mediators who could intervene in this impasse we presently see the province in with the Crown Attorneys. One of those people is a Q.C., the other one is a professor who has done much research in the area of prosecution work in this country. My question to the minister is, I would like to know if he has taken the opportunity to review the suggestion to work through an outside mediator who could find common ground by which both sides could abide.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have received the honourable member's letter. I have read it. I referred it to senior staff and we will be discussing the matter. He will receive a response in a timely fashion.

MR. SCOTT: As we are all aware, the June 28th deadline is fast approaching. I know neither this government nor the minister wants a repeat of what we saw happen on June 1st and 2nd. Those replacements who were put in place in those courts did not have the preparation time to do the job as it would have been done by experienced Crowns. Before Sunday hits us, will this minister assure that he seeks a solution agreeable to both sides so the justice system does not claim any more victims due to the possibility of more strike action?

[Page 1836]

DR. SMITH: Yes, our Cabinet has approved a package of issues, including financial compensation along with the recommendation that we work on a process that would not rule out collective bargaining. I have communicated that to the Crown Attorneys who have formed an association. I would await a response and I would expect a timely response from them on that issue.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Justice. My final question is, is the minister prepared to take a more cooperative approach? He says he has not closed the door. Crown Prosecutors deserve to know, today, before Sunday, what the intention of this government is. Will he consider our Party's suggestion of him seeking the advice of an external mediator which I believe will be agreeable to the Crown Attorneys and will end this impasse? Will the minister commit today to the Crown Attorneys that he will at least consider the suggestion?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do not object to the initiative that has come forward from the honourable member representing his caucus, I certainly will take that under advisement. That would be one thing, but I do not think there is one solution. These irritations and issues and concerns that have arisen from the Crown Attorneys have been long-standing. They need trust and cooperation which I have tried to build as a new minister with them and, hopefully, they will respond in a positive manner. Strikes are very disruptive. They are professional people under a contract and obligations to provide a service. I would ask them to, as well, and I hope that the honourable member has been communicating with them as well, that we would get together as was already mentioned within the program and the process that we have outlined. I am looking forward to their response on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - SCHOOL-BUS MECHANICS: EXAMS - JOBS JEOPARDY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. There are some very distressed school-bus mechanics in Nova Scotia these days. These school-bus mechanics, some of whom left school 30 years ago themselves, have been required, quite fairly, to take a refresher course to update their skills, but they are being asked to take a written exam afterward. Now, this has them extremely concerned. I want to ask the minister, what is the government trying to accomplish by putting in jeopardy the jobs of these long-serving and competent school-bus mechanics in Nova Scotia?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, under no circumstances would this government put anyone's job in jeopardy. The intent to make sure that certified tradespeople are up to speed is purely for the safety of the children of this province and under no circumstances would this government consider putting anyone's job in jeopardy.

[Page 1837]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a letter dated June 17th, which I would be happy to table if you want me to, to the minister from Mr. Elmer MacDonald, who is the Superintendent of Schools for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board. In the letter he outlines the problems with a written test in this situation and he asks the minister why it is that they are asking mechanics to memorize and regurgitate information rather than show their skills as mechanics. So I want to ask the minister, will he accept the good advice in this letter from a person who knows what he is talking about and dispense with this written test in favour of an on-the-job assessment by a qualified supervisor?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I do not need that letter tabled. I have it here and, in fact, I have responded already, but the issue is good advice from Elmer MacDonald. In fact, in the letter there are statements made here that are as difficult for the public listening to these debates to understand as the member opposite has introduced to this debate. There is no attempt by this government to put anyone's job in jeopardy. In fact, the primary intent of upgrading the skills of our tradespeople is to ensure the safety of our children.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit confused because I know that in recent years the Department of Education has spent a huge amount of time, professional expertise, and money creating and evolving multiple forms of assessment and suggesting assessment appropriate to the learning that is being done. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, is he telling us today that he has suddenly reversed this policy of appropriate assessment for learning, or is the minister merely being inconsistent today?

MR. HARRISON: A or B or all of the above. It is a wonderful multiple choice question here, isn't it. The answer to the member opposite is that, had she, when she received the letter, made a call to the department, she would have found that there are four paths by which those mechanics can maintain their certification and improve them. Each one is successful to preserving jobs, and accomplishing the other major objective, which is to ensure the safety of the children of this province. Under no circumstances, and the irony is that the gentleman who wrote the letter knew the multiple paths to protect job security and at the same time enhance safety, before he wrote the letter.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - FAMILY BENEFITS:

OVERPAYMENT - COLLECTION

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. My question is relating to a letter that was received by a constituent of mine, and it is an overpayment of family benefits of $182. This letter, of $182, goes back to 1988 when my constituent was on family benefits for six months. She is now married with other children, and she is raising her small family. I am wondering, if it is the

[Page 1838]

policy of the government to go back over 10 years and try to reclaim money that was an overpayment by this government?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for that question. I would like to point out to him, however, that our department simply collects the money as directed to us from other departments, and it would probably be better directed to the Minister of Community Services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services, do you wish to take that question?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would repeat the question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services, and my question is really revolving around a letter received by my constituent demanding an overpayment of family benefits of $182. My constituent was on family benefits in 1988. Could the minister tell me, if it is the policy of this government to to back over 10 years to collect such bills from people?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, in our system, we are trying to build some fairness, and there are some people in the past, who have received more than they actually should have been receiving. And yes, we do have a process in place that tries to retrieve that money, because there are many people in great need right now who need money to support themselves, and to live on and to feed their children. We have an obligation to go back to people who received more than their fair share, and to try to retrieve those dollars.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I couldn't believe my ears. Perhaps you heard as well, the minister says she has a policy of fairness. A person with a young family, $182 may not be very much to a Cabinet Minister in Nova Scotia, but this government forgave people at the QE II for $345,000 in overpayments that they made, that the government made. They didn't collect that from anybody; $20 million to Sheraton; $10,000 a week to TRACC; school board people who received superannuation and then were hired back.

Mr. Speaker, how can this minister talk about fairness when the government has written off millions of dollars to corporate citizens and to well-paid individuals, and people in the lower levels of our economic strata, they are hounding them for $182. How does that minister equate that with fairness?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think that the honourable member opposite should not confuse what goes on in one department with another department. The simple fact is, the Auditor General has called attention to outstanding indebtedness, the department put in place policies to try to retrieve overpayments, and that is exactly what we are doing.

[Page 1839]

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the shoe is on the wrong foot. It appears that every branch and department of government will forgive debt except her department which is going after the people that can least afford it. Another constituent of mine called and stated when he went on Canada Pension he received a lump sum payment and he repaid the province $18,000 - that was nine years ago.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Last month this constituent got a letter, the same sort of letter as I have here, demanding $4,000 more.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: He only has $700 a month, will the minister forgive him?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that when this mechanism to try to get back overpayments from clients is put in place there is also an appeal mechanism. Any client has the right to appeal and their case will be fully heard and that is only fair.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS.: HOUSING (SUB-STANDARD) - ACTION

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Last year two individuals in my riding lost their lives because of the kinds of problems fostered by sub-standard housing. One of the victims has left a widow and children who are struggling to make ends meet. My question for the minister is, when can we expect to see action to deal with sub-standard housing wherever it exists in Halifax Regional Municipality?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The issue that the honourable member raises this afternoon has long been an issue of great concern to our department. Let me begin by saying this, our government is committed to the belief that safe, affordable and adequate housing is not a luxury for some but a necessity for all Nova Scotians. This is an issue that we take very seriously and as I have indicated earlier to the House, this is something that is of great concern to the department. We have to make sure that everyone is provided with safe housing in this province.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would care to explain to all those who suffer as a result of this government's failure to act on sub-standard housing, why the government has failed to act? Pious words are not enough.

[Page 1840]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I think regarding the honourable member's point that we failed to act, I think I have certainly indicated this has been of great concern to our department, it remains of great concern to our department. We will certainly pursue this concern, especially to the point that maybe some day we can actually be able to arrive to a position that everyone in this province is being provided with safe housing.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I would ask if the minister would be prepared to meet with organizations in Dartmouth which have been dealing with problems of sub-standard housing to explain the government's position to them?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the member's question is yes, I will meet with any group that wishes to meet. I would indicate to the honourable member to provide me with that information and I undertake to certainly find some time and meet with the group that the honourable member mentions.

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

LBR. - FIRE PREVENTION ACT: REVIEW - STATUS

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Labour. The new Fire Prevention Act was reviewed last fall under your predecessor by a committee of local councillors, local fire chiefs, building inspectors and insurance industry executives. Legislation was to be introduced during this spring sitting. Where are we now, Mr. Minister?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. The preliminary draft of the legislation has been prepared and then it was sent back to the various stakeholders. Some of those stakeholders had some concerns and wanted to look at that and make sure the regulations that would be drafted in concert with that would be acceptable to present here in the House. Unfortunately, it does not look like it is going to be ready until for some time, in another month or so. That is one of the reasons I wanted the First Ministers Conference on Fire and Fire Safety before the House reconvenes in the fall so that all members would have a chance and, indeed, all stakeholders would have a chance to participate.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable minister knows, this legislation was reviewed in detail some 20 years ago and major revisions at that time were made to some things that were first put into law in 1936. Now, we are living in 1998, and Fire Chief Tom Bremner from Chester recently told me he can't take possession of a boat because there is no underpinning legislation in place to allow him to do that. Mr. Minister, my question to you is, why do you have to go outside Nova Scotia to get directions when our firefighters, 8,000 of them, need your leadership?

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MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, that is simply not the case, we are not going outside of Nova Scotia just to deal with the new Fire Marshal's Act. As I have indicated, the draft legislation came forward, there were some concerns raised by some of the stakeholders, it had to go back; it wasn't a political decision, it wasn't a government decision, it was the stakeholders including fire chiefs across this province that raised some concerns about certain aspects of the bill. I agree, it is an important bill, it has to come forward but, unfortunately, it won't be in this spring session, it will be in the fall.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Although some of your answers, Mr. Minister, are understandable but what I don't understand is, myself being a volunteer firefighter, how your government could take the volunteer firefighters, about 8,000 of them, and make them part of the first responder system, which they do gallantly, without having underpinning legislation which would give them more money, more legal security. I give you an example, Mr. Minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: No. Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: My question to you is, what shall the first responders in New Ross, who do an excellent job on their first responders, do if they don't have legal security when they come to the scene of an accident? They are not interested in Moose Jaw legislation.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am a bit confused as to the correlation he is drawing. I think if the honourable member would refer back to some legislation that was introduced by his own Party several years ago on the issue of due diligence and volunteer participation and the issue of liability, I think he probably would have answered part of his own question. We have responded very positively to the resolution that was introduced and given unanimous support by the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and that is one of the factors we are giving full consideration to in terms of providing that financial support.

MR. SPEAKER: You have 24 seconds.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM -ECON. ADVISORY COUNCIL:

VOL. PLANNING - ROLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The minister has indicated in Subcommittee on Supply that the proposed economic advisory council will have an ambitious mandate to consider an economic strategy for Nova Scotia. Can he indicate now what role Voluntary Planning will play?

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has about 10 seconds.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I only . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired. (Laughter)

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to inform you and other members of this House, there has been another wreck on Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and St. Croix. Mr. Speaker, would you please inform the Minister of Transportation so that he can get about repairing the damage on that road and begin twinning it?

MR. SPEAKER: I am unable to do that as the honourable member knows. However, he can put the question or put a resolution forward or write to the minister.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: You wish to speak but I haven't quite finished yet.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I didn't mean to jump too fast but thank you very much. To the House today I would like to speak on a topic that is fairly dear to my heart, 15 years of experience in the teaching profession. There are not many occasions when teachers get to state much of how they see the education system going and the direction for the future. I come from working with a school board that is twice the size of Prince Edward Island. I hear the minister speak about things like consultation, community involvement, allowing for debate, but in my experience I have seen very little of that. I contacted a friend of mine who was a teacher in Prince Edward Island and I asked how many school boards they

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had there and was told three. To me that means that the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board should really be made up of six boards . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would people please vacate the Chamber quietly. Thank you.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: . . . or that the Province of Prince Edward Island should really have half a school board. Are we eventually going to wind up with the province as a single board? If that in some way would mean that we would have greater consultation, it will be easier for people in the system to access those at higher levels, I do not see that.

Certainly, in my board that has been the case. We previously belonged to the Colchester-East Hants School Board. I know on occasions when people at the teacher level had members of the board or employees of the board come to our school, request information, maybe request books from the library for example, and take them to wherever, when the librarian would call this individual and say, could you please bring these books back, we are nearing the end of the year, we would like to have them, they would be chastised and taken to the principal's office and told that they did not follow the hierarchy of command. They should have brought their request to the principal and then he would pass it on. To us, as teachers in the profession with university education, it would seem that if this person's job was a librarian and control of that material was their responsibility, that in this open system that we are told that we have, that they should be allowed to contact that individual at the board level and request that information back without any reprisals. That never seemed to be the case.

On any given day or at any given moment of that day in the school where I work, there are roughly 1,000 students. Those 1,000 students are under the control of 60 teachers, yet those 60 teachers have minimal input as to what was going to go on in that school. They were told that they did, but never on any occasion of anything significant that they felt was important were they able to have input. In other words, they could say something. Somebody in a leadership position would say, I hear you, but nothing would ever be done. Now, to me, real input means that if enough people are concerned that will bring about a change but those changes would not occur.

The system for the most part does not really want to hear from teachers. It is top-down in its origin and instruction comes from a higher level to a lower level and they do not want any input from the teaching level. The whole concern here really should be for the students and whether or not the system works best to fulfil their needs. The system that I see is one where teachers are overworked and in order to have the best attitude for those students every day, then they should have some feeling of input. They cannot be tired. People do not realize that when a teacher starts their day at 9:00 o'clock in the morning or 8:00 o'clock in the morning, depending on what system they are in, that as soon as those children walk in that classroom, they have to be sharp. In the school where I work which is a junior-senior high school, we would have, ordinarily, 40 minute periods to 50 minute periods with the students.

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That meant that at 2:00 p.m. you had to be as sharp as you were at 9:00 a.m., that means for that period that started at 2:00 p.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m.

[2:00 p.m.]

In no other profession, except maybe in the case of a surgeon, would anybody have to be that sharp at the end of the day. People think that because the school day ends at 3:00 p.m., that teachers are getting out early and their day is done and what a great job, and summers off, but they do not realize that for those number of hours for that day, they have had to have been continually at the peak of their job in dealing with their students. That is amazingly draining.

We would assume that in any other profession, public service, in any other venue, that at the end of the day, at least by 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, their day will be starting to wind down and their output would not be as great as it was early in the morning, but for teachers that is not the case and by the time 3:00 p.m. comes, they are drained, and albeit their day does not end there. They take work home with them which nobody ever sees.

For my fellow teachers, I want them to know that somebody has mentioned that concern for them, that somebody has stood up to state their case because most of the time it is not stated, never backed up, and nobody comes to us for any information.

To get back to the way boards work, and the Minister of Education, this is not meant to chastise him, I hear these good initiatives about small class size. I hear these initiatives about consultation but I wonder where they go. When it comes to small class size, that is not something you can say up here and expect that automatically it will occur down there. That is something that you have to put in writing as a policy and send that to the boards to ensure that that becomes incorporated in what they do.

The board that I work under, I have had classes of 44 students. In the year 1996-97 I had 207 students. To have 207 students to be responsible for as far as all their marking, their attendance, and the individual things that are occurring with them in their lives, is a large piece of work for any single individual. You cannot get to know everybody when you are dealing with 207 people. You are lucky if you get to know them at all. In large schools it becomes far more impersonal.

I never realized it so much as I do on the days if I ask the student to take the attendance in the class and I realize they cannot. They do not know who is in the class and you think, this is a rural school, everybody knows everybody, but they do not know everybody. So when they do attendance and they are looking around and saying, who is this person, then you realize that the numbers are far too great.

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From my area of Enfield to Shubenacadie, and for a number of years to Stewiacke, students went to one school from Grade 7 to Grade 12. If we were to tell other people here in the city that they would have to travel 20 miles to go to school, they would not do it. There would be an uproar here, but it was a reality that we faced all the time, and not only that, we faced it for some years on a split shift system where students went early in the morning, like 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, and then from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I remember that while I went, but all through my teaching career, which was at the same school that I attended as a student, we still had a split shift system. In other words, junior high students came at 8:00 a.m. and left at 2:00 p.m. Senior high came at 9:00 a.m. and left at 3:00 p.m.

I do not know of any other schools in any other system that do that and there may be some, but what I realized later is that, that part of our board, we subsidized busing. In order to get the students on the buses and to the schools without buying more buses, then we carried the load of that subsidy and, to me, that was unfair. We assume that because people are in the profession, that you know an awful lot about it. Well, we think we do. But I think the most knowledge I gained about the teaching profession or how students learn, I learned watching my own children.

We live on a small farm. We have a large recreational area. We have a farm on the northern tip of Grand Lake. There are a number of different environments there to raise children. And when I started to realize the awe that my children have for the things in nature that they find, that is when I started to realize that learning is a spontaneous act. Curiosity - you cannot control.

If you are going to talk about technology in schools, that cannot be the end-all or the be-all of your system. We have a lot of emphasis on technology and one of the big bases for P3 is that this will be an easy way to afford the technology we need for the school. But what I say is, a Grade 2 student does not need a graphics calculator. You only need to have what the student requires to get them to the next level. That is the role of the educational system. They want those students when they leave school to be prepared and competent to go on to other areas. Those other areas, we should be assured are competent to take them, that they have what they need to train them or teach them to be what they are going to be.

People are not designed to walk out of high school with an occupation. That is not what high school is for. It is to give them a well-rounded general knowledge that they can go on to another institution with the requirements that the other institution would like to see.

I don't think we are making the grade in this area. As far as the technology goes, yes, let us have what students need to take them on to the next level and keep that technology upgraded with what is out there in the real world. But we know that if we walk into any office here in Halifax, they probably will not have the last computer, the newest one that just came off the line. They will be some time catching up with their own budget, et cetera. So why do

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we assume that schools must have it first. If the workplace doesn't have it, schools only need what they should have to bring the student to that level.

We hear no talk about an arboretum. The fact that here in Nova Scotia, we have a mainly rural environment still. But yet, you can ask any student, because I have done this, and I have taught this, and I have made it part of a project for the students, that they be able to identify 27 native species of trees in Nova Scotia. What difficulty they would have doing that, they have no idea what the trees in Nova Scotia are. If it wasn't for the fact that some of them would go with their grandparents, because a lot of the people in my area still make a living working in the woods, that they would be able to take them and teach them a little bit about these trees.

They had to give me a leaf, a twig, the common name and the scientific name for those plants. Now taxonomy, identifying plants or identifying any organism is a basic fundamental for biology. So I didn't think that project was out of the way. But it was an extremely difficult project because people had no greater background knowledge.

I am going to run short on time here, but the last point I want to make, as far as consultation goes, I know in my own area, we are talking about building a school. The impression that I got from my Village of Enfield was that it would be Primary to Grade 5. I went to a site selection committee meeting, and the chair of that meeting from the school board said it would be Grades 3-5. Now we have students with a busting elementary school Primary to Grade 2. What that would mean is, if that school was built for Grades 3-5, that these students would go Primary to Grade 2 in one school, Grades 3-5 in another school, Grades 6-8 in another school, and Grades 9-12 in another school. They would move through four schools. I asked the deputy minister for confirmation of what that was, and it is Primary to Grade 5. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to rise in this historic Province House today. It is an honour because I am not the first DeWolfe to occupy this Chamber. My great-uncle, Colonel A.B. DeWolfe, proudly represented Pictou County and later Pictou Centre and Nova Scotia as a Cabinet Minister when I was just a young lad. I would like to take a few moments to talk about my constituency, Pictou East, considered to be one of the most beautiful areas of Nova Scotia.

We are bounded on the north by the Northumberland Strait with miles of sandy beaches, inlets and quaint fishing villages such as Pictou Landing, where I live, Merigomish and Lismore and the south by rolling hills, scenic rivers and forests. The Trans Canada Highway runs centrally through the constituency from west to east and this area is as economically diverse as it is geographically dispersed.

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Our major urban centre is the Town of Westville with its proud history of coal mining, together with a loose collection of villages that dot the landscape, each with their own identity and historic charm. It is indeed a lovely area to live and raise a family but not without some sacrifices.

Incomes for those fortunate enough to have a job in rural, northern Nova Scotia are only 60 per cent of the national average. We have an aging population in Pictou East and we are not experiencing growth. Yet, we have a divided highway to move our products to Upper Canada and the United States, we have an excellent seaport that is operational for up to 10 months a year and an excellent regional airport that is only minutes away.

One problem, as I see it, is that our young people continue to leave the province to obtain work. Their choices are very limited. We must take this situation seriously, we want our children to be able to live, work and raise their families in Pictou County.

The Premier, in his address on May 21st said the following, "The economic heart of Nova Scotia lies in her cities.", and I say shame to that. That statement clearly indicates the thinking of this government, which is to ignore the importance of rural Nova Scotia which is truly the economic heart of Nova Scotia.

As an MLA it is my job to make sure that the best interests of the residents are served. The natural gas pipeline is going through my constituency in Pictou County, which represents the third largest industrial base in Nova Scotia. We in Pictou County require natural gas and must have natural gas to remain competitive. Our industries need it and the future economic growth of Pictou County is very much dependent upon it.

We are well-poised to face the future in Pictou County. Our workforce is versatile, hard-working and willing to take on the challenges the future has to offer. Pictou County is connected to the world market, linked by sea, rail, road and air.

Mining was once a major industry in Pictou County and is now almost extinct. It is now almost non-existent although the area continues to attract numerous exploration companies in any given year in their search for minerals, methane and aggregates. This exploration work and the spin-off effects is a great boost to our local economy. A small strip mine operation for coal continues to arouse local controversy among the residents of Thorburn. S.W. Weeks Limited is our major aggregate producer for the area and even with its greatly reduced stature, mining still provides some $6 million in production in Pictou County.

I hope that this government does not downplay the importance of the mineral industry to our province. The value of Nova Scotia's mineral production is greater than $600 million per year and employs more than 4,000 people. The jobs associated with the mining industry are not minimum wage positions, they are highly paid, highly skilled, engineering, geology,

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heavy-equipment operating positions. As you can see the mineral industry is highly significant and important to Nova Scotia's economy.

Agriculture is a strong component of Pictou East with major strengths in dairy, beef and fruit crops. In fact, Pictou County is one of Nova Scotia's major dairy production centres in Nova Scotia so it not surprising that we also have a major processing company in the area.

Diversification is evident throughout the district. Such areas as emu husbandry and even a llama farm which is located near my home. All in all, agriculture employs hundreds of hardworking people and contributes greatly to our economy.

The fishery is another important industry in Pictou East, although largely seasonal. Many families from Pictou Landing, Merigomish and Lismore rely on this industry for their livelihoods. The lobster and herring fisheries are predominant on the Northumberland Shore. We have a fish processing plant at Lismore owned and operated by Brenda MacDonald and her son Tom. At peak, this employs more than 100 men and women. As I mentioned in this House before, their hopes of diversifying to shrimp were dashed when an extra allocation of northern shrimp, 28,100 metric tonnes, was given to Newfoundland in its entirety by the Liberal Government and Nova Scotia received absolutely nothing. By receiving only 700 tonnes of quota this fish plant could have employed an additional 45 people for up to eight months a year.

Aquaculture continues to survive in my constituency with two fairly large hatcheries in my area, the Liscot Fish Hatchery at Baileys Brook and Strickland Salmon Hatchery at Little Harbour. Both are very impressive family-owned and operated businesses and I would encourage the Minister of Fisheries to come down and visit those operations with me some day. Help is lacking from the banks for this important industry. It is imperative that this government take a proactive stand on aquaculture in Nova Scotia to ensure its survival.

The forestry is an area that I cannot overlook. It is the largest contributor to our local economy, hundreds of people employed. Stora of Port Hawkesbury and Kimberley-Clark of Abercrombie are major players in the area. In addition, several mill operations are located in Pictou East. Three in particular are C. F. Dixon Forest Products Limited who are currently undergoing a major expansion with a new mill; Williams Brothers Limited operation; and Hugh E. Park and Sons are among the largest.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, since we are drawing near the end of our session I would like to make the following statement to my colleagues of the House and to the constituents of Pictou East. The residents of Nova Scotia have dealt us an interesting hand on March 24th. It is now up to us, our Leader John Hamm, my colleagues and myself to play our cards in a responsible way and in the best interests of the residents of Nova Scotia. We will rise to this challenge and we will provide the decisive leadership that the majority of Nova Scotians clearly look for and indeed expect of our Leader and of our Party. Thank you very much.

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MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:19 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[6:20 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, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Financial Measures (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the Financial Measures (1998) Act overall implements key sections of the budget. Some of the particular aspects of this bill are dealing with the pension improvements, contribution holiday, farm tax exemption, but it also has a series of technical and housekeeping measures. I will take just a few minutes to review the major sections, then I will table more information for the members after my presentation.

Farmland tax exemption in this bill simply reinstates the provisions in the previous tax exemption that was provided to farmers.

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The Nova Scotia Home Ownership Savings Plan, the bill extends the plan for an additional one year. We want to assess the effectiveness of this long-standing program that is relatively underutilized at this point, Mr. Speaker.

The third one is the film tax credit increases. The value of the existing labour tax credit from 30 per cent to 32.5 per cent. This moves us to a level that allows us to be a little more competitive with our competition within this region.

Child tax credit, Mr. Speaker. The bill allows the province to implement the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program.

The residual capital grants. The bill continues previous legislation which reduces municipal share, residual capital grants, by 5 per cent a year. The issue is on the table with UNSM for discussion.

Spousal pension benefits changes. The bills implements these improvements. Right now, a spouse of a pensioner receives 60 per cent of the pension once the pensioner dies. This bill increases the pension benefits to 66.66 per cent.

A note on other changes with regards to pension. Just a quick note on another change in the bill. We are improving the lot of pensioners and their surviving spouses who retired prior to 1984 that had previously no indexing. This group is now fully protected from inflation and will improve benefits for them, but we are also doing it through the regulations. While I am talking about spousal benefits, I want to briefly note a recent change in the law. As honourable members are aware, the federal government has decided not to appeal the Ontario Supreme Court decision of the Rosenberg case. The Ontario Court rewrote the Income Tax Act to specifically allow same-sex benefits. Nova Scotia pension law says the federal Income Tax Act will prevail in case of conflict. Now that the federal Act has been rewritten by the courts, so has Nova Scotia law. This definition applies to public and to private plans. The impact is to treat all common-law relationships the same, regardless of sex.

Five year guarantee. The bill includes significant benefits for retirees. It guarantees that each person who retires with a Public Service pension plan gets at least five years of pension at full rate. If the person passes away before the five years are up, he or the spouse or the estate gets the balance of the remaining pension at full rate.

Pension contribution holiday. The bills implements this provision for the fiscal years 1997-98 and 1998-99. The benefits are for the employees and the employers. After all the provisions, including other increased benefits to the pensioners, the plan is still over-funded by 108 per cent as of March 31, 1998. We will keep a watch on the issue. Right now, the plan is certainly in surplus.

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Tobacco taxes. Last February, Mr. Speaker, the federal government and five provinces agreed to raise taxes on cigarettes. The tax increase was part of a joint strategy to gradually make tobacco products more expensive. This clause gives formal approval to the agreed increases that went into effect last February, not anything to do with our budget as we speak.

The rest of the bill is basically housekeeping and technical issues. My department supplied the honourable members with notes on these sections before the bill was tabled, Mr. Speaker. I will table more details right now for members, a little more detail on all aspects of the bill. I would be glad to make sure that we have officials available at the Law Amendments Committee to deal with any technical questions that may arise.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto for second reading on Bill No. 13.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of comments I want to make with respect to the proposed Financial Measures (1998) Act. I have to say that, starting with the last item that the minister referred to, the increase on tobacco tax is certainly an appropriate measure and one that I am sure that he feels personally committed to. The result of increasing the cost of cigarettes is, certainly, a beneficial result, we hope, for all who are afflicted by this terrible addiction.

Mr. Speaker, with that exception, I have to say that I find that there are some problems with the legislation that is before us. I want to indicate what I think some of the difficulties are. I would like to start with one of the provisions that was referred to in the budget and referred to by the minister in his remarks to us on second reading a few minutes ago. That has to do with the farm property assessment provision. I noticed that, in passing, he said that what it does is simply reinstates a former provision of the Assessment Act. It seems to me that this is, perhaps, not entirely an accurate statement with respect to Clause 2 of the Financial Measures (1998) Act.

In the first place, of course, everyone will recall that interrupting the relief to owners of active farm property was an act of this very government that now seeks to reinstate the exemption for the property. I have to say that although I am entirely in agreement with the idea of reinstating what has been the long-standing property tax relief measure for those who farm land in our province, there is introduced now, into the Assessment Act, through Clause 2 of this bill, a provision that I believe was not found in the previous provisions of the Assessment Act. So it seems to me not entirely accurate to say that it simply reinstates a previous provision.

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The addition seems to be in giving to the Governor in Council, that is to say the Cabinet, a program that is to be exercised by regulation to change the amount of the grant per acre. The effect of that, it seems to me, is that any one in the affected farm community has to look at this provision and realize that there is not 100 per cent security being afforded to them by this provision as drafted going into effect. There is no firm commitment included in the legislation that either the exemption will continue indefinitely or that the particular amount will be maintained, indeed, of course, it could be easily reduced. So it seems important that anyone who owns farm property take note of the fact that there is this weakness built in to the particular proposal.

Although this particular irritant to farmers has been much publicized by the farming community, and I know they pursued with quite a number of municipalities across the province, the possibility of obtaining offsetting compensation from the municipal level when the provincial government abandoned its grant program a couple of years ago, they were not particularly successful in obtaining such relief at the municipal level, which is not a great surprise. It is not at all clear that starting with this particular provision, which will be a benefit for the farming community, is actually the right place to start in terms of legislative measures to assist the farming community. I would observe in passing that the farming community, which is extremely important in our province, is long overdue for a close look in terms of what our overall policy ought to be.

[6:30 p.m.]

To tinker with one of the measures, albeit a central measure and one that was an irritant, a self-created irritant in the tenure of this government, although it is appropriate to deal with that, it would have been good if we had seen some initiative that had come along in the general policies announced either in the full budget or the Speech from the Throne, to review what overall are the policies, including the financial policies that the government would wish to pursue with respect to the farming community. That said, in general I support and would wish to see advanced this particular clause of the Financial Measures (1998) Act, with the reservation that I have observed about the discretion for Cabinet that is created to change the amount of the grant.

The second point I wish to raise is one the minister himself referred to when he discussed the provisions that have to do with the Public Service Superannuation Act, and their implications with respect to the word "spouse" and how it is defined in that piece of legislation. The particular problem, and the minister referred to it exactly, is a problem with how the term "spouse" is written in the existing legislation. Section 2(k) of the existing Act gives a very traditional and strict definition of spouse. The words actually used are, "'spouse'" means either of a man and woman who . . .", and it goes on to give the circumstances that would define a state of marriage between a man and a woman.

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But of course as the minister correctly said, the courts have now said to us something different in light of the necessary interpretation of the Statutes in light of the Charter. And it is not just that the courts have said this, it has been obvious for a number of years that this has been coming. It has been obvious through a number of worked-out agreements that have been emerging around the country between employers and employees to change the definition of spouse to take account of same-sex circumstances that are similarly placed; where a stable relationship exists that would meet the same kind of relationship, but man and woman are not involved, but two individuals of the same sex.

This kind of progressive measure has begun to emerge in negotiated settlements between employers and employees around the country, including I should say, in our own province, there has been a negotiated settlement in the case of Wilson Hodder and his spouse. This is evident, and what I am saying, and I said this the other day in Subcommittee on Supply to the honourable minister, is that this would have been an occasion to recognize specifically by way of amendment of the legislation that this policy has been accepted now by his government.

In dealing with the Public Service Superannuation Act in the way that this bill, the Financial Measures (1998) Act proposes to do, they are addressing very specifically making improvements to the benefits that are to be paid to spouses of Civil Service workers. This is entirely appropriate, it is entirely appropriate to make those improvements for the benefit of those spouses, and indeed these particular improvements in the benefits were negotiated through a process with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. This is all quite proper. The only point I wish to note is that this would have been an appropriate occasion to turn immediately, when dealing with a benefit that is aimed at a spouse, to that definition, which on the face of it is still not in accord with the Charter of Rights as interpreted by the courts, and as accepted by the policy of this government, a policy that our Party certainly supports.

So it is a matter for regret that this was not turned to specifically in the legislation. It was simply a missed opportunity and one which, as we know from all of any kind of authoritative and comprehensive sociological literature, impacts on significant numbers of people. It is not that there is only one person in the whole province who is affected by this and a settlement has been negotiated with that one person now. We know that there are significant numbers of people in any society who are placed in that position and who have a right to have that recognized.

I think it is appropriate that the government brings forward legislation, not simply rely on the courts to interpret it. Once the courts have interpreted this matter, it is not sufficient to say the courts have told us what the legislation means so we know when we read man and woman it means man and man or woman and woman. That is not a sufficient response.

[Page 1854]

It is clear that what should happen when the courts, in light of the Charter of Rights which is a constitutional document, give instructions to a government as to the proper way to interpret a piece of legislation that the correct procedure is to go back through your legislation and make all the amendments that are appropriate in order to bring your legislation into line. As many of us will recall, when we began to get the first interpretations of the Charter of Rights from our courts, such comprehensive legislation was introduced both at the federal and provincial levels to deal with certain interpretations in other contexts at the time.

These kinds of comprehensive bills, especially given now that our Statutes are computerized - I believe all of the members of this House were recently given a compact disc that had the full text of all of our Statutes in Nova Scotia - this is not a difficult task. Searching through volume after volume is not necessary. The scholarly and library work that might otherwise be necessary is not required and there is little chance of making a mistake. It is easy to do. So even if this was not an occasion for a comprehensive piece of legislation that would address each and every occasion in which the word spouse is inappropriately defined in Nova Scotia's legislation, it would have been very easy to include at least in this bill the appropriate definition. I rather hope that when we proceed through this matter at the Law Amendments Committee that there might be some inclination on the part of members to accept making this very explicit, very simple and entirely appropriate change. I say appropriate because if I understood the minister's introductory statement correctly, I took him to endorse the recognition of such a change. I hope that is the case.

Let me turn now if I may to another aspect of the legislation and here the problem, I think, is of a slightly different sort. I wish to draw the minister's attention, all members' attention, to Clause 7 of the bill which is in front of us. Clause 7 is part of the recommendations for amendments to the Income Tax Act and touches on corporate capital tax. The changes that are made, if one compares Clause 7 with the corresponding sections of the Income Tax Act, that is to say Sections 32C(1)(a)(b) are offered to us really without, I think, an adequate explanation as to what exactly is intended by the amendment that is incorporated in this bill. It is obvious when one reads the text that there are slight wording changes that do emerge. The existing Income Tax Act has provisions that speak about taxing the aggregate of the corporation's taxable capital employed in Canada, whereas the new legislation directs our attention to the capital employed in the province and it adds the words, for the year.

The problem is that there may be a compelling logic to the change. If it is the case that there is some compelling logic, it doesn't emerge from the notes in the bill nor from anything I have seen in the budget statement. It may be in the explanatory notes that the minister referred to. If so, I look forward to it.

[Page 1855]

I can point out what seems to me to be a bit puzzling, on the face of the particular provision. It may be that for technical reasons the pre-existing section of the Income Tax Act may have been beyond the jurisdiction of the province, I am not sure, income tax is not my particular area of specialty but when I looked at it, I wondered whether it was within the complete powers of the province to tax the capital of corporations in that way, that is to say capital employed throughout Canada.

The existing provision, it is fairly clear, is broadly aimed, that is to say it is aimed at taxing all of the capital used by the corporations completely, whereas the substitute provision that is proposed would tax only the capital used in the province and in a particular year. Now, it seems to me that what this does is it narrows the base of the tax. Essentially what it does is it is an example of a forgone revenue to the coffers of the province.

I look at this and I wonder, if I have interpreted this correctly, what is the logic of this? I have heard no explanation as to why it is that we ought to agree to make such changes. It is not clear. If there are forgone revenues, they don't seem to have been quantified, which should be easy enough for the Department of Finance to do.

In passing, I should also note that the inherent structure of the corporate capital tax - and this is not a new feature of the bill but it seems to have been in the previous legislation - is not, in fact, in line with traditional notions of progressivity of tax measures. It is, in fact, a regressive measure because the lower rate of tax is payable under the provision by corporations that have the higher amount of corporate capital. So if a corporation's capital exceeds $10 million, the rate at which it is paid is 0.25 per cent; that is to say a lower rate than if the corporation has less capital than $10 million, in which case the rate that is paid is 0.5 per cent.

As we all know, our basic income tax system is based on a form of progressivity in which the higher your assets or the higher your revenue, the higher the proportion you pay in tax, based on that. This is a particular instance not of progressivity but of regressivity. As I say, it is not introduced by this bill but was a feature of the pre-existing legislation. But it is not changed by this bill either, to the extent that any changes are made in this particular clause; they don't attack what seems to me to be another underlying problem with this particular item.

Now I would like to turn to what is probably the best known of the provisions of this bill. It was certainly highly featured in the budget and certainly in a lot of public statements and this has to do with the arrangements for the changes in the Public Service superannuation system. As members will know, there is a form of a surplus in the fund that is made up that is known as the Public Service Superannuation Fund. It is through the device of essentially taking a pension holiday; that is to say not paying the premiums that ought to be payable on behalf of the employer for the benefit of the employees, and by taking a holiday on the part

[Page 1856]

of the employees themselves, that revenues will be generated for the province in the fiscal year 1998-99 in order to balance the budget, of course.

[6:45 p.m.]

Now, there is a serious problem with what is being proposed to us as a means of dealing with the Superannuation Fund. I recognize that the first set of provisions have been negotiated with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, which is quite appropriate. The provisions that are the starting point for Clause 17 of this bill are that both the employer and all of the employees affected are not required to make in 1998-99 the payments to the fund and are deemed not to have made them in the past year, 1997-98, and, indeed, there will be a refund of payments both to the employer, the provincial government; and the employees, the civil servants.

First, let us look at these particular words, and ". . . are deemed not to have been made.". The purport of this clause is not at all obvious. Deemed not to have been made is quite a bit different than essentially saying you get your money back. Deemed not to have been made has an interesting effect on the interpretation of the books of the province as well. If they are deemed not to have been made, there is an implication, a financial accounting implication for the previous year, 1997-98.

What that could mean is that there could be, regardless of what would normally be the appropriate good accounting principles that you only count revenues in the years they are received and expenditures in the years that they are made. Despite that normal accounting principle, in the face of a specific statutory provision that says the payments are deemed not to have been made, that could compel the Auditor General and any accounting firm that looks at the books of the province to look at the books for 1997-98 and say that $28 million which, you, the provincial government paid, was never paid because we are told by the Statute that they, ". . . are deemed not to have been made.", which would add to the surplus that was alleged to be in place last year.

I have to say that if that is the intent of this particular clause, and I can think of no other intent of this particular clause, if that is the intent, then it runs exactly contrary to the guidelines that are put in place by the CICA, that is to say, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, in their book of guidelines that tells all governments in this country how they are to keep their books and how they are to account in any given year for revenues and expenditures. As I said, the basic principle of the CICA guidelines is to say in the year you make an expenditure, you account for it. In the year that there are revenues, that is the year in which you account for it.

MR. JOHN HOLM: That is the way you would handle your own bank book.

[Page 1857]

MR. EPSTEIN: I do not handle mine that way. Oh, that way, yes, that way, not the way it is proposed in the legislation, yes, indeed, absolutely.

I think that we are in need of an explanation as to exactly what those words in the Clause 17, Section 9A mean, where they say ". . . are not required and are deemed not to have been made.". That is the first problem with this Clause 17.

The next problem is with the proposed Clause 17, Section 9B. In Clause 17, Section 9B, we find an elaboration of what has been a clearly negotiated scheme between the government and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union which addresses a particular two year period, 1997-98 and 1998-99. That negotiation was to the effect that both the employer and the employees would get their contributions back. Clause 9B goes further. It goes further than I understand the negotiated agreement actually provides. What it does is it sets up a mechanism that allows the Governor in Council to decide when there is a surplus in the fund and then to take it out and split it between themselves and the employees on an ongoing basis.

The main question that anyone would want to immediately ask is, what are the safeguards that are involved and built into this kind of scheme? Now one has to look at Clause 17, Section 9B to say, where are the safeguards? Now what safeguards would one normally expect to find? First, there might be a safeguard that says, this can't happen just by the say so of the Cabinet, this has to be negotiated with the union that represents the affected employees. Such a provision is not present in this clause.

The second kind of safeguard that one would look for is perhaps the involvement of the Superintendent of Pensions. Now the Superintendent of Pensions, we know, does not have direct jurisdiction over the Public Service Superannuation Fund. However, given that what we would be dealing with is an extraordinary set of circumstances in which what is being examined is a purported surplus and given that the Superintendent of Pensions has experience and is mandated to deal with exactly this kind of circumstance when it is a private sector pension plan, it seems to me that we should think very seriously about incorporating into this clause, some kind of role for the Superintendent of Pensions and this is for the protection, not just of honest bookkeeping, but for the protection of those very many retired employees and current employees of the Government of Nova Scotia whose money is actually in the fund and for whose benefit that fund exists.

The third kind of safeguard and protection that one would look for would be involvement by some kind of arm's-length actuary who would look at the arrangement and decide, according to set principles, exactly what it is that the extent of the surplus is and when it is appropriate to take that money out. Now, I do point out that there is a provision in Clause 17, Section 9B(1) in which there is reference to some kind of role for an actuary, apparently, but the words are not entirely clear. I will read them, "In this Section, 'surplus' means the excess of the actuarial value of the assets of the Superannuation Fund over the

[Page 1858]

actuarial value of the liabilities under this Act as determined by the Minister in accordance with generally accepted actuarial principles.". Now I have faith in the minister and I have faith in his ability to act as an actuary, but only limited faith. It seems to me that the appropriate thing is that there be a specific statutory provision that requires that a formal actuarial assessment be done by a real actuary and that that report be made available to all the affected parties.

So it seems to me that although this measure which transfers into the hands of the Cabinet significant power with respect to a large amount of money, because the Superannuation Fund has a lot of money in it, has to be looked at very carefully. I cannot pronounce myself as satisfied with the kinds of safeguards that are built into this particular clause.

Finally, I wish to note that although this provision is for splitting of the money between the employer and the employees and it is 50/50 and although that is exactly the arrangement that the NSGEU negotiated with the employer for a two year period, this clause would institutionalize that kind of splitting arrangement on a permanent basis.

I have to say that the traditional view has been that the surplus in any pension fund belongs 100 per cent to the employees and that the employer does not have any ownership interest in the surplus of the fund because the obligation of the employer is to pay premiums and the fund exists for the benefit of the employees and for the already retired employees, not for the benefit of the employer.

I have to say that I have grave reservations about the government attempting, based on the consent of the union for a two year period to attempt to put such a system in place on a permanent basis with such wide discretion retained by the Cabinet.

Finally, there is another point. (Interruption) I do apologize, I did say finally; I say finally now, finally plus one. There is the role of the employees who are already retired. It is obvious that benefits were conferred upon those employees who are already retired through the negotiated arrangement that was made with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and this is entirely to the credit of both the government and the NSGEU that those retired employees were not overlooked in that set of negotiations. At the same time they were not part of those negotiations, nor is there any specified role for them in this scheme which essentially gives unto the Cabinet, all of the plenary power to deal on an ongoing basis with the Superannuation Fund. This seems to me to be entirely incorrect, just as it is wrong to exclude from that kind of decision-making system the NSGEU, it is wrong to exclude from that kind of decision-making system any representation from those employees who are already retired.

[Page 1859]

I would like to point out that when I was a member of the council both in the City of Halifax and then in Halifax Regional Municipality, I chaired the committee which administered the pension fund for all of the employees. We had, as part of the committee, representation from the employees who were already retired. They took a very active interest in what happened to the money that they had paid in over many years of employment in their workplace. They sent, as their representative to sit around the table, a fellow who was retired from the Department of Finance of the city, who is exactly the right kind of person to send to sit around that sort of table. I would suggest that some kind of formalized system akin to that that is in place in order to perform a watchdog role over the money of the City of Halifax and the HRM employees is exactly the model that ought to be considered here.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their constant and kind attention. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, due to the lateness of the hour I would like to have some comments with regard to Bill No. 13, however, there is virtually no time to do it so I would like to move adjournment and carry my comments over to tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 13.

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, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Following the daily routine we will go into Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty. Following that we will go into Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

I move we now adjourn until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

[Page 1860]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The time being 7:00 p.m. we will now commence the late debate. The debate for this evening was submitted by the honourable Leader of the Opposition:

[7:00 p.m.]

"Therefore be it resolved that this government should take all measures in its power to ensure the long-term survival and success of Devco as a reliable coal supplier.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

DEVCO - SURVIVAL: MEASURES (GOV'T. [N.S.]) - TAKE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House tonight and initiate this debate, but the subject matter which we are debating does not give me any great pleasure. We are talking about an industry which provided me with clothes on my back and a roof over my head when I was growing up. It is an industry in decline and it is in decline for many reasons, not the least of which has been some inactions.

The last time I got up here to debate the relevance, if you will, of Devco, there were members on the other side of the House who talked about the fact that I was so negative. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is hard not to be negative. When you see the pal's act, if you will, perpetrated on us in Cape Breton day after day, it is hard to be upbeat about it. Some of the members, when we talked about this company once before, talked about former ministers and how we tried to vilify them, well, I take no great pleasure in trying to vilify any former members of any former House. The one member we talk about some times, I have known him longer than most of his compatriots on the other side of the House. We had many good times together. On a personal note, he and I are friends. So it is not an essence of trying to vilify somebody. What we are trying to do is go and state a case in this House and state a case for why the economy and, in particular, Devco, is in the mess it is in.

[Page 1861]

We have got a municipal government that is fighting this provincial government over the future of that coal industry because it has largely been ignored by this province. The province, when it made a Sable gas deal, and without a whimper, Mr. Speaker, to the politicians on the municipal side, yet, they come in this House and they defend all their past practices and this just astounds me. At some point, no doubt, the other side is going to get up and tell us, all these great people went before them. Well, I think they should look inward and say, why are those people no longer with us in the political sense? The political sense was that they stopped looking after the people who mattered, that is the people of Cape Breton, who they were supposed to represent. They failed to do that. They failed them in many ways.

It is all right to say that, in another time and place, that there was another government that stepped in and saved - is their term - the coal industry. Mr. Speaker, those types of politicians no longer exist in that Party. That Party, in its utter greed to stay in power, has moved from the left to the centre and now to the extreme right. They perched themselves there and they are the vultures of the corporate sector. Anything the corporate sector says, that is right. To that end, they have ignored the appeals of Devco for the betterment of their friends, the big banks and so on.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to sit down here in a moment and give way to the member for Cape Breton The Lakes. I want to tell you that we are not here to vilify anybody. We are here in debate tonight to tell the people of this province that the Cape Breton Development Corporation, as an entity, as a major employer in the coalfields of Cape Breton, needs to be there. We need to take charge of it. This province has to take control of the mineral rights, and say we are not going to hand it over. This province has to say to its two members that sit quietly on their board of directors, to thump their desks, say no to this imperialization of that industry, and then get on with managing and getting jobs and a future for the people of Cape Breton Development Corporation. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, who is going to use the four minutes remaining.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the resolution of course is certainly addressing a critical issue as far as Cape Breton is concerned. When we talk about the coal industry in Cape Breton, it is always an issue that raises the interest of many people, and it has always been a big concern. If you remember last session, we had many discussions around the coal industry in Cape Breton. It is Cape Breton to many people and without the coal industry many people's lives certainly would be changed. We know already of the number of people who have had to leave Cape Breton because of the lay-offs that took place in the last couple of years, and again we are looking at that kind of a scenario.

More critically right now, we are looking at a scenario where workers are losing confidence once again in the people who are managing the Crown Corporation, and that is really disappointing. The management of the Crown Corporation, the people who are in

[Page 1862]

charge of those 1,700 plus people who work for Devco, they obviously have not negotiated, talked to, cooperated with the miners in order to come up, in any way, with their five-year plan. It seems that the recent vote of non-confidence expresses that. To me, it would make sense if we want to know about mining and the mining industry, some of the best people and the first people we should talk to are the people who are underground and they are the miners.

Now the issue presently focuses around the five year plan. It focuses around the development of one wall, I think it is the 8 East wall that they are talking about. The fear the miners have of putting all their eggs in one basket, because if they have difficulty on that wall, as they have had on 7 and other walls that have tied up and had people laid off for quite an extensive period of time, if they have, or run into any of the same geological difficulties as they did in the past, then we are in big trouble with that mine.

Coming from a family where I still have a number of nephews who are working in the coal industry I see how it impacts so greatly on their family. What the miners would like to have, and we have asked this government many times to intervene on their behalf, is that resource in Donkin that was tunnelled in the late 1980's developed as part of the a three mine Devco operation. Recently, we know that DRL Resources have looked at that whole possibility, and they are saying that there is at least 70 million tons of coal there. What the sulphur count of the coal is may not be as much of a problem as people anticipated in the first place.

With the two collieries that we have, Donkin would be the mine that would bring some stability to that coal industry, and why are we not intervening on behalf of the miners, and asking our federal counterparts to look at that, and instead of again selling off something that is of value to Cape Breton? We should be developing the Donkin Mine and bringing forth a feasible coal industry. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the resolution before the House for discussion reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government should take all measures in its power to ensure the long-term survival and success of Devco as a reliable coal supplier.".

Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty with that proposition at all. I fully support that. I always have and I certainly do now. I would encourage the government to do anything that it can that it has not perhaps done yet. If the criticism is that more should be done, I would agree. Yet if the criticism was that nothing has been done, I would not agree, but if the criticism was or the admonition was that more ought to be done, I could not agree more. It is an extremely critical time that the Cape Breton Development Corporation now faces.

[Page 1863]

Because of the limitations of time, this being a large subject, I do not really have adequate opportunity right now to go into it fully, but I wanted to say, sir, as I have stated on previous occasions, that certainly my record and the record of this Party toward the coal industry in Cape Breton has been one of support. It has not been one of closure or shutdown or of strangulation.

In 1966 when the Donald Report came down, it was the Liberal Government of Prime Minister Pearson that established the Cape Breton Development Corporation in the first place. I certainly have supported since that time such developments as the Nova Scotia Power Corporation using coal to generate electrical power with the construction of the Lingan power plant and the Point Aconi power plant. Certainly we have supported in any way that we could the purchase of Nova Scotia coal by Nova Scotia Power and the development thereby of stable long-term markets for our coal industry and a guarantee that there will be a continued demand for Cape Breton coal.

I am aware, yes, that the industry at the moment faces a time of crisis. I would support any and all efforts from all quarters. In my view, this type of matter ought to be above politics. It ought not to be a matter of condemnation back and forth across the House but rather of trying to find a course of action which through all-Party co-operation we can work together to try to improve the situation. I would support any effort to that end. I do believe, as the Premier has pointed out on a number of occasions, that primarily the Cape Breton Development Corporation is a federal government program. I am aware that we have two provincial nominees on their board of directors and I would support efforts to try to encourage those two nominees to be more active and vocal and also to report to this House so we might have a better idea of what they are doing.

This being an important subject and I believe that all points of view should be aired on it, I would like to yield the balance of my time to the honourable member for Cape Breton East who also represents a coal mining community and has some views to express on this subject.

MR. SPEAKER; The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, thanks to the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. This is, as I am sure you are aware, a vital issue to the people in the Town of Glace Bay, my constituency. There can be no doubt however, that I take exception with some of the remarks made on behalf of the government by the member for Cape Breton Nova because it seems to me and it is patently clear and the record can be easily demonstrated that the federal government is in the process of preparing Devco, to be privatized, to be sold off to the private sector.

[Page 1864]

It can be equally apparent to anyone who really wants to listen, especially members on this side of the House, especially members from Cape Breton Island, especially the Premier, that they can look and they do not have to look far to know and I would have to say that either they are being wilfully blind or they are complicit in the plan that the federal government has put in place with respect to the long-term prospects for the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

In 1996, the Cape Breton Development Corporation was put under study by John T. Boyd for reporting to the federal Cabinet of the day as to the long-term prospects for Devco. At that time there were identified essentially three impediments to the privatization of that industry. Those impediments were, one, there was no readily available private sector buyer because, one, the unfunded liability of the corporation was so large as to be an impediment that neither the government of the day wanted to assume nor any reasonable private buyer would want to assume. Secondly, the workforce was considered, in terms of the production at the collieries in the Cape Breton coal fields, to be large. It was in the area of 22,000 to 25,000 and the Boyd study at that time saw a viable industry operating in the vicinity of somewhere of 1,000 to 1,200 men.

What happened since 1996? We know what has happened. In 1996 Devco came back with its five year plan. Its five year plan was essentially, in my opinion, the government's direction to get this corporation in shape to be privatized. How do we know that? We know that because among some of the steps and initiatives that were taken was that the workforce has been cut by 800 men since that time. In addition, the federal government has funded a private corporation, Donkin Resources Limited, to the tune of $300,000 for the purposes of doing a viability study on Donkin, that every reasonable person in Cape Breton Island, or anywhere, who has taken any note of this particular issue says - and even this Premier has said - is vital to the long-term viability of Devco.

[7:15 p.m.]

We know now that the unfunded liability of the pension fund is paid up as of this year, so the three impediments to the privatization of that corporation: the pension liability is resolved; the workforce has been reduced now to approximately 1,600 men, with more cuts to come; and finally, we know that there is, in effect, a buyer who has been given the exclusive opportunity to go out to examine the resource and decide what he wants to pick out over it. I would submit that next year he will be in a position to take over the operations. There will be an announcement on Donkin and it will be as a result of Donkin Resources developing it.

Next year, in 1999, the leases for the Cape Breton Development Corporation that were granted to Dosco expire. They will return directly to the Province of Nova Scotia to be factored or dealt with as the province sees fit. Secondly, Nova Scotia Power contracts are up for renewal and everyone knows that those contracts specifically provide that if there is

[Page 1865]

disagreement in two of the three areas that are up for renewal next year, that Nova Scotia Power can opt out. We already know that Nova Scotia Power can and has access to a ready supply of coal outside of what was available from Devco in the last year.

The United Mine Workers of America contracts are up for renewal. Donkin Resources will have by then, I would presume, reported on its findings on Donkin. The reports with respect to the long-term viability of the Phalen Mine will have been tendered and debated and discussed and the community would have been sensitized to the short-term prospects for that particular colliery.

In addition to that, we find continually now it is not a question of the survival of Devco so much as it is a package for those workers who are primarily employed at the Phalen Colliery, in terms of retirement, which will go a long way in bringing down the workforce of this particular industry to the 800 or 900 that was suggested by John T. Boyd as being viable.

What will happen? Donkin Resources will have developed Donkin. They will, in effect, get the leases that Devco has already indicated were surrendered to them; the Prince Mine will supply coal to a ready market at Point Aconi because that particular power generating station was built to burn the coal from Prince Mine. What we lose in terms of the metallurgical coal necessary from Phalen to blend with Prince coal will be provided by the private sector company, Donkin Resources.

What can we expect for Devco? I know this government has to know, this government is not that divorced from its federal cousins in Ottawa that it doesn't. What we can expect is some sort of private partner initiative that will allow Donkin Resources Limited in the next year or two to essentially assume responsibility for the underground resource and, in addition, enter into an arrangement which will allow Devco and allow that private corporation over the course of a period of perhaps, I would suggest, five years, to assume the total operation of the coal mining industry in Cape Breton.

I would submit that that is the plan and that is the reason why this government, outside of its general protestation and its general commitment to Devco as a Crown Corporation and without leases, has said nothing else because it is not a question of the plan not being there. The plan is there for anyone who wants to see it. What is wrong is that the community I represent and the people and the miners have never been consulted, have been screaming for the last five years, they want to be consulted.

What is tragic is that again in Cape Breton we are going to lose control of another industry, a vital industry, without ever really having had a say in what is going on because behind closed doors, Liberal friends and Liberal-connected people are already putting in place the plan. I would submit we are in the tenth hour and there is very little time left. When the President of the United Mine Workers of America says we are staring over the cliff, I would

[Page 1866]

submit, Mr. Speaker, that there are 500 or 600 miners who have already gone over the side. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I, coming from western Nova Scotia, may not know much about coal mining, but I do know something about being Nova Scotian. One of the things about being Nova Scotian is that no matter where people live in this province, their fellow provincial citizens care deeply for them. When they feel joy, we share in that joy. When they feel anguish, we share in that anguish. That is why those who live in western Nova Scotia, the part of the province from which I come and the part which I represent, look at the economic difficulties which have been particularly felt in Cape Breton, we have a real empathy for the people of that part of our province.

While we may not have the coal dust coursing in our veins we nonetheless share a sense of understanding with the families in Cape Breton who traditionally have relied upon coal as the resource to build their own family resource base, to feed, shelter and clothe their families, to educate them, and to create better lives for those families and thereby create a better Nova Scotia for all of us.

Devco has played an important role in Nova Scotia with respect to ensuring that we continue to have that coal resource available to us. It is the largest producer of coal in Nova Scotia by any measure. There are, of course, some private companies producing coal but they by and large are very small with respect to their production in comparison to that production which comes from Devco.

We know that the direct jobs associated with the Devco mines are absolutely essential to the well-being of industrial Cape Breton and, therefore, to the rest of the province as well because we all enjoy the benefits of the economic spin-off. It is not an economic spin-off which accrues solely to industrial Cape Breton or, indeed, solely to the Island of Cape Breton itself, but they are spin-offs which accrue to all of Nova Scotia.

I have had the opportunity to spend many years here, not quite as many as my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, but more I think this evening than any other members in the House have spent here. Through those many years I feel that I have been well educated by persons coming from Cape Breton of all political stripes with respect to the importance of coal as a natural resource, as a vital part of our economy, and particularly with respect to the importance of Devco as a major producer of coal and, therefore, a major employer of Nova Scotians.

I do not think anybody in this Chamber, or anybody who has served in this Chamber for the past two and one-half to three decades would say, for example, that there was ever any greater fan, any greater supporter of Cape Breton coal than former Premier John

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Buchanan. I think that although we may differ from time to time, that one would readily agree that the present Premier, who for many years represented a Cape Breton constituency in Parliament, was always there with his people in support of Devco. I think certainly the same is true of those members of the New Democratic Party with whom I have served in this Chamber over these past 20 years.

All too often even we in this place who purport to understand the importance of Devco and of coal to all of Cape Breton, to all of eastern Nova Scotia and, indeed, to all of Nova Scotia, what we often forget is that it is common to all of us. It does not wear an orange, a blue or a red sign around each lump. It belongs to all Nova Scotians and what happens to it will affect all Nova Scotians. We must work very hard as does happen from time to time in this place and out of this place throughout this province, not to work against each other in favour of ensuring a future for Devco, but rather to work together to ensure a future for Devco.

If we are seen to be divided, then those who do not understand our province as well as we do, will look at us and be mystified and think that that apparent division is a consequence of confusion on our own part with respect to support for Devco and for coal mining in Nova Scotia. If we allow that to happen, Mr. Speaker, it becomes our fault, not Ottawa's fault, not some bureaucrat's fault, not the fault of a major corporation, it is nobody's fault but our own. Pity help us if we allow that to happen. Coal, like all of our natural resources here in this province, whether it is our forests, our fishery, our natural gas, which we soon will be taking advantage of, all of these resources belong to us, all are important, vital elements of our economy upon which we can build. They help us to ensure that we have a diversified economy so that, as one member said this evening, all of our eggs are not in one basket.

It is only by working together, by putting our shoulders commonly to the wheel, by striving to understand and to speak with each other instead of shouting at each other, that we will be successful in convincing those who live beyond the bounds of this wonderful province of ours that we know what we want and, therefore, can express, together with one voice, what is in our best interests and make those upon whom we depend, to a very significant degree, in other parts of this land of ours, that we not only need help, that we deserve help and that we deserve help, not that we are helpless, but rather so that we can continue to develop this industry and put it back onto its feet to ensure that Devco and coal in Cape Breton will provide a bright future for our Cape Bretoners, for Nova Scotians and for the men and the women and the children who will continue to depend on this vital economic resource. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

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The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 7:28 p.m.]