The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., May 26, 1998

First Session

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Foreign Affairs & Internat. Trade (Can.) - MAI: Negotiations - Abandon,
Mr. F. Corbett 174
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Colchester Co.: Shore Road - Pave,
Mr. B. Taylor 174
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 174
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Commun. Serv. - Canada-Nova Scotia Employability Assistance for
People with Disabilities Incentive, Hon. F. Cosman 174
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 107, Health - Yarmouth Reg. Hosp.: Women's Auxiliary -
Contribution Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 176
Vote - Affirmative 177
Res. 108, DFO - Mulgrave: ACS Trading Plant - Support, Hon. K. Colwell 177
Vote - Affirmative 178
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 4, Mi'kmaq Education Act, Hon. R. Harrison 178
No. 5, Forests Act, Hon. K. MacAskill 178
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 109, Fin. - Pensions: Same-Sex Partners - Treatment Fair Applaud,
Mr. R. Chisholm 178
Res. 110, Health - Nurses (RNANS): Shortage - Consult, Dr. J. Hamm 179
Res. 111, Devco - Future: Nat. Res. Comm. (HoC) Hearings -
Commence, Mr. F. Corbett 180
Res. 112, Gov't. (N.S.) - Socialist: Mandate (24/03/98) - Absent,
Mr. P. MacEwan 180
Res. 113, Harry Jerome Award: Carol Aylward - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 181
Vote - Affirmative 182
Res. 114, Culture - Deadmans Island: Graves - Preserve, Mr. P. Delefes 182
Vote - Affirmative 182
Res. 115, Health - Environmental Health Clinic: Practices - Review,
Mr. G. Moody 182
Vote - Affirmative 183
Res. 116, Human Res. - Public Sector: Roll-back - Restore Immediately,
Ms. R. Godin 183
Res. 117, Health - Fishermen's Memorial Hosp. (Lun.):
Centre of Excellence - Support, Mr. M. Baker 184
Vote - Affirmative 184
Res. 118, Aboriginal Affs. - Issues: Debate - Prominence Give,
Mr. J. MacDonell 185
Vote - Affirmative 185
Res. 119, Environ. (Can.) - Michelin Tire (Granton) & Tibbets Paints
(Trenton): Environ. Friendly Cos. - Status Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 185
Vote - Affirmative 186
Res. 120, Health - Sutherland Harris Mem. Hosp. (Pictou):
Emergency Care - Reinstate, Mr. C. Parker 186
Res. 121, Educ. - Digby RHS Envirothon Team: Reps. (N.S.) Internat.
Competition - Congrats., Mr. G. Balser 187
Vote - Affirmative 187
Res. 122, Elections Act - Disabled: Full Participation - Legislature,
Mr. J. Pye 187
Vote - Affirmative 188
Res. 123, NDP (N.S.) - Mun. Elections: Involvement - Refrain,
Mr. B. Taylor 188
Res. 124, NDP (N.S.) - Gov't.: Aims - Check, Mr. P. MacEwan 189
Res. 125, Health - Hospitals/Special Care Facilities: Review - Begin,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 190
Res. 126, Rural (N.S.) - Throne Speech (1998): Abandonment - Condemn,
Mr. J. Leefe 191
Res. 127, Nat. Res. - Land Protection (Coastline): Legislation - Introduce,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 191
Res. 128, Educ. - Cole Hbr. DHS: Cava-Chronicle - Publication Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 192
Vote - Affirmative 192
Res. 129, Educ. - School Construction: Eastern Passage - Schedule,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 192
Res. 130, Black N.S. MLA (First-Wayne Adams [1993-98]):
Photograph - Display, Mr. G. Archibald 193
Vote - Affirmative 193
Res. 131, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Business Hall of Fame Scholarship
(Can.) 1998: Jennifer Leblanc (Northside Mem. HS) - Congrats.,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 194
Vote - Affirmative 194
Res. 132, Justice - Firearms: Lawful Ownership - Support, Mr. M. Scott 194
Vote - Affirmative 195
Res. 133, Educ. - School Bds.: Grants - Reveal, Ms. E. O'Connell 195
Res. 134, Gaming: VLTs - Moratorium, Mr. G. Moody 196
Res. 135, Nat. Res. - Oil/Gas: Plans - Reveal, Mr. J. Holm 196
Res. 136, Justice - Public Prosecution Service: Ghiz Report - Implement,
Mr. M. Scott 197
Res. 137, Devco - Donkin Mine: Operation (3-Mine) - UMW Endorse,
Mr. F. Corbett 198
Res. 138, DFO - Lower East Pubnico: Wharf - Enlarge, Mr. N. LeBlanc 198
Res. 139, Commun. Serv. - Poverty: Inaction - Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm 199
Res. 140, Commun. Serv. - Child Benefit Program: Consultation - Start,
Mr. J. Pye 199
Vote - Affirmative 200
Res. 141, Educ. - Liverpool HS Green Warriors: Earth Status-SEEDS
Foundation Award - Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 200
Vote - Affirmative 201
Res. 142, Justice - Human Rights Act: Same-Sex Couples -
Provide Protection, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 201
Res. 143, NSLC - Stores: Wines (N.S.) - Promote, Mr. M. Baker 201
Vote - Affirmative 202
Res. 144, Educ. - Timberlea-Prospect Schools: Nat. Sc. Fair (Timmins) -
Participants Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 202
Vote - Affirmative 203
Res. 145, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads: Signage Report - Release,
Mr. G. Balser 203
Res. 146, SCS - Property Tax Rebate: Seniors (GIS/Spouses) - Ensure,
Mr. B. Taylor 204
Res. 147, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Alder Point (Stubberts Turn):
Commitment - Fulfil, Ms. Helen MacDonald 204
Res. 148, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Hector Landing (Pictou) Festival:
Warmest Wishes - Extend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 205
Vote - Affirmative 205
Res. 149, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Rural Distribution - URB Fees Adjust,
Mr. J. Holm 206
Res. 150, Youth - New Glasgow Youth Works Initiatives:
Ms. Pat McNiven - Applaud, Mr. N. LeBlanc 206
Vote - Affirmative 207
Res. 151, Anna. Valley - Apple Blossom Festival: Organization - Congrats.,
Mr G. Archibald 207
Vote - Affirmative 208
Res. 152, Culture: Dartmouth Book of Writing Awards Ceremony -
Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 208
Vote - Affirmative 208
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Health - Care: Long-Term - Promise Unfulfilled, Mr. R. Chisholm 209
No. 2, Health: Regionalization - Change, Dr. J. Hamm 212
No. 3, Health - Reform: Consultation - Promise Unfulfilled,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 213
No. 4, Lbr. - Metro Transit: Negotiations - Min. Role, Dr. J. Hamm 215
No. 5, Fin. - HST: Relief - Promise Unfulfilled, Mr. H. Epstein 217
No. 6, Educ. - P3: Leases - Aud. Gen. Review, Mr. E. Fage 218
No. 7, Nat. Res.: Nat. Gas - Rural Distribution, Mr. J. Holm 220
No. 8, Educ. - Lantz Elem. School: Construction - Promise Unfulfilled,
Ms. E. O'Connell 221
No. 9, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Rural Distribution - URB Fees,
Mr. G. Archibald 223
No. 10, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Generic Royalty Regime - Consult,
Mr. R. Chisholm 225
No. 11, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: B&B Assessments - Status Change,
Mr. G. Balser 227
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. E. O'Connell 228
Mr. H. Fraser 238
Mr. J. Muir 244
Ms. Y. Atwell 253
Adjourned debate 257
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health: Crisis - Resource:
Mr. G. Moody 257
Hon. J. Smith 260
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 263
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 27th at 2:00 p.m. 265

[Page 173]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 26, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, the Clerk conducted a draw for the late debate and the winner today was the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's and the resolution is:

Therefore be it resolved that since this government failed to deliver any real direction for reversal of the health care crisis facing this province either during the election or in its Throne Speech, it immediately put a plan in place which will recognize and resolve the critical health needs of the people of Nova Scotia.

That resolution will be debated tonight at the moment of interruption at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

173

[Page 174]

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The petition is from William Pembroke of River Ryan. The operative clause states, "I, the undersigned, petition the Government of Nova Scotia through my elected representative, to request the Prime Minister to abandon negotiations on the MAI and proceed with an international investment agreement that will protect investors, and also my rights and those of Canada under the United Nations declaration of Human Rights and the several United Nations Covenants.". I have affixed my signature to this.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Clifton, Colchester County, Nova Scotia. They, ". . . submit this petition requesting that the road known as Shore Road be paved. The approximately four kilometres of road from the pavement to Henderson Road is in poor condition. There is no gravel; it is usually full of potholes; in the spring it is a mucky mess.".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal for the year ended December 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to announce the signing of a five year agreement between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada that will help people with disabilities prepare for, find, and keep employment. It is also significant that we are making this announcement during National Access Awareness Week. The Canada-Nova Scotia Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Initiative, or EAPD, will see the two governments equally share the $14.9 million of annual funding for this five year agreement.

[Page 175]

Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest challenges facing Nova Scotians with disabilities today is unemployment. Getting and keeping a job is key to participating in and contributing to society as a citizen with equal rights. While many people with disabilities are prepared and ready to work, they often face barriers to employment that other Nova Scotians do not encounter.

The EAPD agreement is more progressive and innovative than the previous Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Program. EAPD has a strong focus on helping people with disabilities to prepare for, to find, and to maintain employment. It will concentrate on practical help with an emphasis on individual needs. There is also flexibility to further develop and refine our programs and our services in consultation with the disabled community in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, consultation on this new agreement will begin this week - during National Access Awareness Week. I will be joined by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education and Culture at the annual legislative breakfast where the EAPD will be discussed with the disabled community. An interim reference group will also be set up consisting of members of the Disabled Persons Commission and representatives from the health sector.

EAPD will involve a broad range of programs and services including employment assessment and counselling, training and education supports. The agreement ensures that funds are spent directly on employment assistance and it limits the amount of money that will be spent on administration.

Mr. Speaker, last year the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for Social Services began a process to improve the current programs dealing with people with disabilities. The EAPD agreement is the result of that process and the beginning of improvements that will be tailor-made to suit the needs of people with disabilities in Nova Scotia. It is with great pleasure that I now table the EAPD agreement.

At the same time while I have the floor, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize in the gallery, Nita Irving who is the Chairperson of the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission; Charlie MacDonald, the Executive Director; and Ted Morrison who is a Commission member from Glace Bay. Would the members extend to them their normal round of greeting. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to acknowledge the comments by the Minister of Community Services. I did not receive a copy of that report that came through by the federal Government of Canada to the Minister of Community Services. I do want to say that I believe that the $74.5 million is no new money. I do believe that it is as a result of a change in name from the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Program. In fact,

[Page 176]

this is a new name and not new money. I also want to say to the minister, that in fact if there are particular advantages or changes that the minister would like to see and act upon immediately it would be to activate a policy whereby the provincial Government of Nova Scotia immediately do a hiring practice for persons with disabilities. Thank you.

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the announcement by the honourable Minister of Community Services that new programming is going to be available for persons with disabilities. I was particularly interested and welcomed the statement that she will be consulting with affected groups; this is something that this particular government has not done very well and consultation is indeed something strange. However, I am confident that the programming that will go ahead will be significant and of benefit to many Nova Scotians.

I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that back in 1993 this government launched, with great fanfare, an Affirmative Action Program for persons with disabilities. At that time, about 8.5 per cent of the persons employed in the Civil Service were persons with disabilities. In 1996, three years later, the percentage of persons with disabilities employed in the Civil Service had decreased by close to 15 per cent, down to 7.11 per cent. So I hope that this is not just another empty promise by the Liberal Government and I want to assure the honourable Minister of Community Services that I will support this particular program, but also wish to advise her that I will be monitoring what happens to ensure that the program is implemented and is not simply another empty promise.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto for an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of this House to the presence in the gallery here today of 23 Grade 9 students visiting from the Oxford Street School located in the riding of Halifax Chebucto, along with their supervisors for today, Louise Arsenault and Nora Topping, and I would ask them to join me in welcoming the students. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

[Page 177]

Whereas the Yarmouth Regional Hospital is the anchor for health care in southwestern Nova Scotia, providing quality care and dedicated services to the people of Yarmouth and the surrounding communities; and

Whereas in 1992, the Women's Auxiliary of the Yarmouth hospital accepted a challenge to raise $1 million to support the Yarmouth Regional Hospital Redevelopment Project, a project which will enhance the services provided by the facility; and

Whereas after five years of hard work and dedication, the Women's Auxiliary have reached their goal and will present a cheque for $1 million to the Yarmouth Hospital Charitable Foundation this evening;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate the Women's Auxiliary of the Yarmouth hospital for their outstanding efforts and for their contribution to the Yarmouth Hospital Charitable Foundation.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 108

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

Whereas last week, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejected applications from a number of Nova Scotia communities for modest shares of the additional northern shrimp quota, including the community of Mulgrave; and

Whereas for the past several weeks, the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been working closely with these communities, including Mulgrave, in their lobbying efforts; and

[Page 178]

Whereas this morning, officials from the Town of Mulgrave and members of their town steering committee met with me and representatives from my department to discuss ways of securing the raw materials required to ensure the viability of the ACS Trading Plant in their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the people of Mulgrave as they work towards ensuring the survival of their plant and extend to them support and assistance on an ongoing basis.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 4 - Entitled an Act Respecting Education on Mi'kmaq Reserves in Nova Scotia. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

Bill No. 5 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Forests Act. (Hon. Kenneth MacAskill)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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

[Page 179]

Whereas the Department of Finance and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union yesterday agreed that the Civil Service pension plan and the teacher's pension plan will pay benefits to surviving gay and lesbian partners as of July 1, 1998; and

Whereas it was also agreed that the government will pay medical premiums for surviving partners of teachers; and

Whereas until the moment of truth, this government resisted all requests inside and outside the House to provide benefits for same-sex partners;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the government for taking a step forward towards ensuring fair and equal treatment for all Nova Scotians and urge the government to complete the process by ensuring that this policy applies across the public and private sectors.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas there are approximately 1,200 fewer nurses practising in Nova Scotia today as compared to 1993; and

Whereas the drastic reduction in the number of nurses, combined with fewer nursing graduates, is already forcing hospital bed closures; and

Whereas the number of nurses not renewing their license from one year to the next has increased by almost 300 a year since 1993;

Therefore be it resolved that the government immediately sit down with representatives from the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia to specifically identify a process and time-frame for preventing the nursing shortage from reaching crisis proportions.

[Page 180]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 111

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 majority of MPs on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources have just voted to cancel their hearings into the future of Devco, claining they do not want to duplicate recent Senate hearings; and

Whereas thousands of Cape Breton jobs are at stake if Devco operations continue to be wound down; and

Whereas the elected Members of Parliament from all parts of Canada share responsibility for Devco and the future job opportunities on Cape Breton Island;

Therefore be it resolved that this House respectfully urge the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources to continue with its original decision to hold hearings into the future of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, and further urge the Committee to ensure the widest possible participation by individual Cape Bretoners in those hearings.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 112

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

Whereas the votes cast by Party in the March 24th provincial election - statistics that curiously have not appeared in our provincial news media - have been provided by the Chief Electoral Officer of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas these show that 449,726 people voted on March 24th, and of these 158,819 voted for the Liberal Party, 155,680 for the New Democratic Party, and 133,903 for the Progressive Conservative Party; and

[Page 181]

Whereas these numbers demonstrate that 292,722 voters, that is, 65 per cent, voted for responsible government as it has been known in this province until now, and that only 155,680, or 35 per cent, voted for socialism, even if they were not told that by voting NDP they were voting for socialism;

Therefore be it resolved that there is no mandate in the March 24th election result for the establishment of a socialist government in Nova Scotia, as the overwhelming majority voted against socialist government and that those who were elected for Parties that have always stood until now for responsible government have a responsibility to see that it is maintained in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 113

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

Whereas Carol Aylward won the Harry Jerome National Award for professional excellence in the Black community; and

Whereas the award is named after the Canadian gold medallist and a recipient of the Order of Canada and is given to 12 Black Canadians a year; and

Whereas Mrs. Aylward's accomplishments include being a lawyer, an author, an educator, the Director of the Indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq Program at Dalhousie Law School and a loving parent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend congratulations to Mrs. Aylward for her outstanding achievements and for winning the Harry Jerome Award.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 182]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 114

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

Whereas the proposed development of Deadmans Island in the Northwest Arm has aroused opposition from those who keep alive the memory of Americans who served and died in the War of 1812; and

Whereas historians and others have noted that the graves of American, French and Spanish prisoners of war on Deadmans Island could be a point of interest to visitors, particularly if there is a suitable memorial to the prisoners; and

Whereas legislation protecting all cemeteries would have avoided any possibility of graves on Deadmans Island being disturbed;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to honour Nova Scotia's rich history and the memory of those who came before us by protecting the graves on Deadmans Island and all other cemeteries from development or other desecration.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 115

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

[Page 183]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Environmental Health Clinic was established as a state-of-the- art treatment centre for Nova Scotians suffering from environmental illness; and

Whereas in recent months the clinic has shifted its focus away from long-used and effective treatments which have been practised by thousands of trained physicians around the world toward mind-body therapies to the exclusion of foundation effective treatments; and

Whereas the shift away from treatment is frustrating clinic patients, raising serious questions about the clinic's direction and credibility and squandering the opportunity to make Nova Scotia a world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of environmental illness;

Therefore be it resolved that the government immediately arrange for leading experts in the field of environmental medicine to conduct an external review to determine if the clinic's current practices are in keeping with international guidelines for treating environmental illness.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 116

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

Whereas the Liberal Government undertook to solve its deficit problems on the backs of public servants with a 3 per cent wage roll-back on the entire Nova Scotia public sector, effective November 1, 1994; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled last month that the 3 year wage roll-back ended on November 1, 1997, and the Minister of Human Resources said he expected that all public employers in the province would abide by the decision; and

[Page 184]

Whereas because the Minister of Human Resources failed to act to ensure his expectations were met, many public servants are still waiting to get the roll-back restored;

Therefore be it resolved that this government which wasted no time in 1994 intervening to ensure all public sector employees were rolled back should waste no time now ensuring that all public sector employees have their wages restored.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 117

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

Whereas the people of the Town of Lunenburg and much of Lunenburg County founded and built the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital; and

Whereas the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital has provided quality health care to thousands of Nova Scotians in their own community; and

Whereas a plan has been generated by the local community to make the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital a centre of excellence for important areas of health such as bone densitometry, women's health care and geriatrics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Western Regional Health Board to immediately take steps to implement those programs generated by the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital community so that that hospital remains a centre of health excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 185]

RESOLUTION NO. 118

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

Whereas the Mi'kmaq community of Indian Brook was shaken last week by the suicide death of a 34 year old woman and her 14 year old son; and

Whereas the deaths are a solemn reminder of the desperate social and economic conditions on reserves that too often contribute to personal tragedy; and

Whereas those conditions have for too long been given inadequate attention by governments at all levels in this country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members be mindful of the need to ensure that Aboriginal issues are given prominence in the deliberations of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 119

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

Whereas two firms in Pictou County have passed certification to be given an EcoLogo from Environment Canada's Environmental Choice Program; and

Whereas these two firms are Michelin Tire (Canada) Limited in Granton and Tibbets Paints in Trenton; and

[Page 186]

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia recently signed a partnership agreement with Terra-Choice Environmental Services to help market and implement the Canada-wide environmental seal of approval in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and congratulate Michelin Tire (Canada) Limited in Granton and Tibbets Paints in Trenton for reaching the official status as environmentally-friendly companies so vital to the well-being and safe health of all residents in these and surrounding areas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 120

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

Whereas Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital in Pictou has been downsized and cut back in recent years; and

Whereas this hospital provides an important core service to Pictou and Pictou West; and

Whereas alternate hospital services are many miles away in New Glasgow;

Therefore be it resolved that this government start to rebuild confidence in the health care system in Pictou West by reinstating emergency health care service at the Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 187]

RESOLUTION NO. 121

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

Whereas five students from Digby Regional High School have recently won the annual Envirothon competition by defeating teams from across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this victory allows the Digby Regional High School team to become one of only four Canadian teams as well as the only team to represent Nova Scotia at the International Envirothon competition in Lansing, Michigan; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Digby Envirothon Team is comprised of Jennifer Durkee, Bradley Hazelton, Craig Lutz, Jim Kung, and Christa Spechts as the students participants and Mr. Greg Turner as the faculty advisor for the team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly offer their congratulations and best wishes to the Digby Regional High School Envirothon Team as they prepare to represent Nova Scotia at this international envirothon.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 122

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

Whereas the week of May 24th to May 30th has been declared Nova Scotia Access Awareness Week; and

[Page 188]

Whereas one goal of Access Awareness Week is to draw the attention of the members of this House to the barriers disabled Nova Scotians face in exercising their democratic franchise by voting; and

Whereas wheelchair access to polling stations, braille ballots and closed-captioning of television campaign ads are all means of ensuring disabled Nova Scotians can participate fully in elections;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support appropriate changes to the Elections Act to ensure that all Nova Scotians may exercise their right to vote.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 123

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

Whereas municipal government in Nova Scotia has traditionally operated outside of political Party lines, and those elected keep any political leanings outside of dealing with the business of those by whom they were elected; and

Whereas the federal New Democratic Party Leader and provincial NDP member for Halifax Chebucto have both strayed from this tradition to put their support behind one of seven candidates for the Halifax municipal council seat, the seat vacated by the current Halifax Chebucto MLA; and

Whereas the support by both the federal and provincial member for the area is not only a matter of breaking tradition, but could also place a potential handicap on those candidates not as well-known in the community, or possibly the chosen NDP sponsored candidate herself, in the June 13th by-election;

[Page 189]

Therefore be it resolved that the New Democratic Party refrain in future from poking its nose into a traditionally apolitical forum which allows those elected to our municipal governments to operate without political bias of either federal or provincial politics. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. (Interruptions)

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: No, Mr. Speaker, but I wrote this one.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 124

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

Whereas members of the New Democratic Party, when they were seeking votes prior to the March 24th election, did not tell the voters that they were international socialists, or that their Party is a member in good standing of the Socialist International; and

Whereas the World Encyclopedia of Political Parties and Systems, Volume 1 at Page 171 states that the NDP is a member of the Socialist International and a visit to the website of the Socialist International confirms that the NDP is a Full Member Party of the Socialist International's roster of member Parties; and

Whereas the Socialist International's website confirms that among other political organizations also participating in their work in one way or another, among those who observe at the table is the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua (Laughter) of Daniel Ortega;

Therefore be it resolved that before the proposition of an NDP Government in Nova Scotia (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, order.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . some are calling for waiver of notice already but they haven't heard the resolved part yet. (Laughter)

[Page 190]

Therefore be it resolved that before the proposition of an NDP Government in Nova Scotia is considered, there should first be a full check made of the aims, objectives, and affiliations of the NDP, so that an informed decision can be made as to the suitability of that Party to govern this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is a little long, but it is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East on a introduction.

MR. JOHN MCDONELL: Mr. Speaker, in the Speaker's Gallery, I would like to acknowledge the presence of a friend and helpful organizer during my campaign, as well as the federal candidate in the 1993 federal election for Kings Hants, Mr. Phillip Brown.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 125

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have endured spending cuts undertaken by the Liberal Government which were deeper than in any other province in Canada, with the exception of Ralph Klein's Alberta; and

Whereas 1,500 hospital beds have been closed and 2,000 health care workers have lost their jobs; and

Whereas on March 24th, the majority of Nova Scotians made it clear that they expect concrete action to be taken by their elected representatives to restore their faith in the health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that a comprehensive review of hospitals and special care facilities begin immediately in order to identify where health care cuts have been most detrimental for Nova Scotians, so that the process of stabilizing and rebuilding our health care system can begin.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 191]

RESOLUTION NO. 126

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

Whereas the Liberal Government's Throne Speech states that the economic heartbeat of Nova Scotia is its cities; and

Whereas this is an overt admission by this Liberal Government that they have abandoned rural and small-town Nova Scotia; and

Whereas 60 per cent of Nova Scotians live in small-town and rural Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government be condemned for its callous rejection of small-town and rural Nova Scotia as good places to work, to live and to bring up families.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 127

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

Whereas our coastline remains a valuable resource in this province; and

Whereas access to this precious part of Nova Scotian heritage is gradually being restricted due to the private sale of this land to non-residents; and

Whereas an example of strict land control for non-residents exists in our neighbouring Province of Prince Edward Island, whose government maintains strict control of its shoreline;

Therefore be it resolved that this government show some immediate leadership on the issue of control of our shore-front properties by reviewing the legislation entitled the Prince Edward Island Land Protection Act and bring forth legislation to this House before Nova Scotians lose complete control of our coastline.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 192]

RESOLUTION NO. 128

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

Whereas students, parents and staff of Cole Harbour District High School have created a newspaper entitled Cava-Chronicle to bring the surrounding communities closer together; and

Whereas the paper deals with a variety of issues allowing members of every community to share their culture and their customs, as well as providing information on entertainment and student-related activities; and

Whereas Cole Harbour District High School has proven to the rest of the country what one school can do better for itself and the communities it represents;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the students, parents and faculty of Cole Harbour District High School on a job well done with continued success in the publication of Cava-Chronicle.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

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

Whereas parents and students in Eastern Passage face the prospect of split classes, so students attend junior high in shifts, one starting at 7:30 a.m. and the other at 1:00 p.m.; and

[Page 193]

Whereas among reasons cited for the proposed split shifts are insufficient funds to buy portable classrooms, and there has been no date for school construction; and

Whereas many parents are particularly concerned because there is no certainty of new school construction to relieve the severe overcrowding of Eastern Passage schools;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to set and keep a schedule for construction of all needed schools, including the construction needed to end the overcrowding and split shifts in Eastern Passage.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 130

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

Whereas the first elected woman to this House, Gladys Porter of Kings North, was celebrated by placing her portrait in our House; and

Whereas the former member for Preston was the first Black Nova Scotian to be elected to the Legislature and member of the Cabinet; and

Whereas Wayne Adams served this House from 1993 to 1998 as Minister of the Environment and Supply and Services;

Therefore be it resolved that to honour the first Black Nova Scotian elected to our Legislature, Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you strike a committee of members to select a photograph and a suitable location.

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 194]

I will select a photograph and bring it to the House and let the House decide. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

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

Whereas Jennifer Leblanc is President of the Northside Junior Achievement Company, which has designed labels and business cards for East Coast Ropes; and

Whereas Jennifer represented Junior Achievement Atlantic Canada at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Dinner held in Toronto recently; and

Whereas this Bras d'Or teenager, Jennifer Leblanc, Grade 11 student at Memorial High School has been awarded the 1998 Canadian Business Hall of Fame scholarship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Jennifer on receiving such a distinguished award.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 132

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

Whereas shooting teams from across Nova Scotia participate in competitions at the provincial, national and even the international level using firearms; and

[Page 195]

Whereas firearms play a significant role in the daily lives of many farmers, hunters, trappers and Aboriginal individuals across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the hunting industry is an annual $32 million investment in Nova Scotia's economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature immediately undertake to recognize the significant importance of firearms and urge the present Liberal Government to support in principle the lawful, safe and responsible use and ownership of firearms in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 133

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

Whereas it is a long established practice for the provincial government to announce its grants for education as early as possible; and

Whereas it is also a long established practice to release the information so that school boards can plan carefully and so property tax rates can be finalized before bills are sent out; and

Whereas this government is keeping parents, teachers and students in the dark until the school year is over, despite the Liberal election promise to provide school board funding details by March 1st every year;

[Page 196]

Therefore be it resolved that this House demands that the Education Minister table immediately full details of grants to school boards so that Nova Scotians know the true financial picture facing education in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 134

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

Whereas a recent study for Nova Scotia estimated there may be as many as 26,000 problem gamblers in the province; and

Whereas a social economic study has never been done to determine the effects of gambling on video lottery terminals; and

Whereas the number of VLTs in Nova Scotia has nearly tripled since March 31, 1993;

Therefore be it resolved that there be an immediate moratorium on the number of new VLTs until a socio-economic impact study is conducted on the impact of gaming.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 135

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

Whereas the May 26th Globe and Mail reports from Calgary that "Nova Scotia Premier Russell MacLennan" will soon outline generic royalty rules for oil and gas production, plus a "package designed to lure companies to the province"; and

Whereas the Premier has made no such announcement in Nova Scotia nor did the Liberal Party seek re-election on the basis of new benefits for oil and gas companies; and

Whereas most Nova Scotians want benefits for this province, not for Texas and Alberta;

[Page 197]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should come clean with this House and with Nova Scotians about his plans for oil and gas and let those plans be assessed in the light of day with full public discussion, before any decisions are made.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 136

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

Whereas provincial prosecutors are prepared to take strike action on Monday and Tuesday of next week if the Justice Minister and his government refuse their request for the right to bargain, a right held by approximately 70 per cent of this country's prosecutors; and

Whereas, as it currently stands, our public prosecutors do not even have the ability to transfer within a region and they continue to struggle with excessive workloads, low pay and, hence, low morale; and

Whereas if strike action is forced due to government silence on these issues, the cases before the courts, which on any given day include 15 or more murder cases, dozens of child abuse cases, several hundred sexual offense cases, a few thousand domestic assault cases and a total of 50,000 or more criminal cases, will be thrown into chaos;

Therefore be it resolved that the Justice Minister take seriously the implications the strike action will have on those cases before the courts and move immediately on the very fundamental rights requested by our public prosecutors and recommended in the Liberals' own Ghiz-Archibald Report of 1994.

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.

[Page 198]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 137

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

Whereas representatives of the United Mine Workers are in Ottawa today seeking support from the federal government for the opening of the Donkin Mine and the assurance of a three-mine operation; and

Whereas both the Conservative and NDP platforms in the latest election included specific support for a three-mine operation in the Devco coal fields; and

Whereas the mine workers, their families and the Cape Breton economy deserve the fullest possible support;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the efforts of the United Mine Workers to secure federal government agreement to open the Donkin Mine and establish a three-mine operation in Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 138

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

Whereas the government wharf in Lower East Pubnico is inadequate to serve the needs of the fishermen of the area; and

Whereas Phase 1 of this much-needed project, completed in the early 1990's, only partially alleviated the overcrowding problem; and

Whereas the harbour authority has contributed many long hours to the planning process to help upgrade this facility and achieve a reliable and safe harbour for its member fishermen;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly lend its support to the fishermen of Lower East Pubnico and demand that the federal government approve adequate resources to construct the additional infrastructure required.

[Page 199]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 139

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

Whereas the recent report of the National Council on Welfare shows that, at 18.1 per cent, Nova Scotia has the dubious distinction of having the third highest rate of poverty in Canada; and

Whereas this distressing statistic is made worse by the fact that Nova Scotia's poverty rate has risen every year since the Liberal Government took office in 1993, going from 16.5 per cent to 18.1 per cent; and

Whereas this growth in poverty in Nova Scotia can be blamed on government policies which erode the social safety net while killing high-wage secure jobs and creating low-wage casual jobs with outfits like OSP Consultants and Phonettix;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Liberal Government for social and economic policies which are adding to misery, insecurity and poverty in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 140

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

Whereas the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia will receive $15 million from the federal government on July 1st; and

Whereas this money will be used to implement a National Child Benefit Program; and

Whereas this government, unlike some provincial governments, has not put forward a plan on how this money will be spent; and

Whereas there has been no consultation with interested child care advocacy groups;

[Page 200]

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government start immediate consultation with child care advocacy groups with the intent of delivering the best Child Benefit Program in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 141

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

Whereas Liverpool Regional High School Green Warriors have provided leadership within their school and community respecting commitment to the environment; and

Whereas the Green Warriors have completed over 1,000 environmental projects since they were founded in September 1991; and

Whereas in recognition of their commitment and industry, the Green Warriors have recently been awarded "Earth Status" by the SEEDS Foundation, the first high school in Canada to receive such recognition;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly extends congratulations to members of the Liverpool Regional High School Green Warriors, past and present, on the occasion of the national recognition of "Earth Status" bestowed upon them by the SEEDS Foundation of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 201]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 142

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

Whereas history was made yesterday with respect to the human rights of gay and lesbian men and women, following the settlement between the Province of Nova Scotia and two very courageous and persevering individuals, Wilson Hodder and Paul Boulais; and

Whereas this settlement establishes that the same-sex partners of Nova Scotia Government employees are eligible for spousal benefits; and

Whereas this significant decision could not have been achieved without the critical and essential role played by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and their staff, in spite of certain limitations and weaknesses in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act;

Therefore be it resolved that the Human Rights Act be amended immediately so that same-sex couples would be explicitly protected, decisions of a board of inquiry would be enforceable as court orders and the Human Rights Act be paramount to all other provincial legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 143

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

Whereas there are a number of flourishing wineries located in the Province of Nova Scotia which have provided employment to our fellow citizens and valuable economic spin-offs to the whole Province of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 202]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is owned by the people of Nova Scotia and has a duty to foster the economic well-being of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission has received several requests from Nova Scotian wineries to promote the sale of this Nova Scotian product by giving to these products sufficient highly visible shelf space in its stores to enable consumers to see their products when considering the purchase of wine;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission give to all Nova Scotian wineries sufficient highly visible shelf space so as to enable these companies to promote the sale of their products to the advantage of all Nova Scotians.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 144

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

Whereas science fair competitions must remain an integral part of the public school system of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas regional science fair winners were recently selected from the schools represented by the Halifax Regional School Board; and

Whereas four students from two schools in the Timberlea-Prospect constituency represented the Halifax Regional School Board and this province in the National Science Fair Competition in Timmins, Ontario;

[Page 203]

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Jennifer Boutilier and Lisa Rompkey of Sir John A. Macdonald High School and Yves and Eric Sharpe of Brookside Junior High for their accomplishments and recognition they brought to their schools and themselves in Timmins.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 145

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

Whereas a tourism market research report prepared by Corporate Research Associates for the Government of Nova Scotia identified the overall road system and signage as two area requiring improvements; and

Whereas the government requested and received an independent signage report including the details of a signage pilot project; and

Whereas the information and recommendations contained in this report have been kept secret by the government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works whose department requested the signage report initially act today to release the information contained in those documents.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 204]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 146

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

Whereas this present Liberal Government in their grandfathering and reforming of the seniors property tax rebate in 1995 created inequities for those turning 65 in future years; and

Whereas the property tax rebate is still being paid to seniors who were fortunate enough to turn 65 prior to 1996 and are in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement and spouses allowance; and

Whereas seniors turning 65 in 1996 and in future years are now unable to collect this rebate;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Senior Citizens Secretariat remove this obvious unfairness and ensure all seniors that are in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement or spouses allowance are eligible for assistance to help with the payment of their property taxes.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 147

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

Whereas the community of Alder Point has expressed serious concerns regarding their safety as it relates to the erosion of the Stubberts Turn; and

[Page 205]

Whereas this community has requested that this dangerous stretch of road be reconstructed with the removal of the turn; and

Whereas the local councillor gave the residents his word that the Premier promised the work would take place this spring;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Premier to carry out the commitment made to the residents of Alder Point and proceed with the necessary work.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 148

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

Whereas the ship Hector brought the first group of Scottish settlers to The Birthplace of New Scotland, Pictou, Nova Scotia, in 1773; and

Whereas 1998 marks the 225th Anniversary of the Brown's Point landing of the ship Hector; and

Whereas the event will be celebrated throughout the summer with ceilidhs, carnivals, and the theme, The Spirit is Highland, along with a special weekend festival from Friday, September 11 to Tuesday, September 15, 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly extend warmest wishes to the organizers of the Hector landing festivities and to the people of Pictou County as they celebrate this historic occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 206]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 149

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

Whereas access to natural gas is vital to the economic development of communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas many smaller communities in Nova Scotia are considering a variety of organizational structures including cooperatives as means to distribute natural gas locally; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has placed a barrier in front of small enterprises, cooperatives and municipalities by adopting a policy of cost recovery for regulatory proceedings related to gas distribution;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Utility and Review Board to make allowances in its cost recovery policies to ensure that small local enterprises are not prevented by regulatory expenses from applying for gas distribution licenses.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 150

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

Whereas Pat McNiven of New Glasgow, with sponsor Ken Langille, formed New Glasgow Youth Works which provides paid, on-the-job training for young adults without work; and

Whereas Pat McNiven has turned her dream into the reality of helping young adults out of the unemployment rut; and

Whereas people like Charles Jordan who have graduated from both high school and college and are unable to find jobs are now working through the New Glasgow Youth Works initiatives;

[Page 207]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly applaud Ms. McNiven for her outstanding efforts and wish her, and the people that she helps, all the best in striving for successful and rewarding careers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 151

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

Whereas the 66th annual Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival is scheduled to start on Wednesday and run through Monday, June 1st; and

Whereas the festival theme this year is, A Valley Salute to the RCMP, who are celebrating their 125th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Apple Blossom Festival will feature everything from a concert by Blue Rodeo to a fireworks display to the coronation of Queen Annapolisa LXVI on Friday evening at University Hall in Wolfville, tours of apple orchards sponsored by the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association and a giant street parade on Saturday in Kentville;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the tireless efforts put forth by the festival's volunteer board of directors, while also encouraging their constituents to come to the Annapolis Valley this weekend, to be part of the 100,000 visitors who will be taking part in a series of events to reflect the proud history of the RCMP in Canada and celebrating agriculture in the Annapolis Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 208]

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 152

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

Whereas on Wednesday, May 27, 1998, the Dartmouth Book and Writing Awards will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas these awards are a unique tradition to both Dartmouth and Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas these awards are also unique in that no other Canadian city has established an awards ceremony that recognizes both professional fiction and non-fiction writers along with outstanding student writers in our school system;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Paul Robinson, chairperson for this event and his committee, and wish them and the nominees all the best at the awards ceremony tomorrow evening in Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 209]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is coming up to 3:05 p.m., we will finish Question Period at 4:05 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - CARE: LONG-TERM - PROMISE UNFULFILLED

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to direct a question through you to the Premier. In the health care system in this province, clearly the long-term care sector is the area that is under the greatest pressure. As that system struggles with a changing health care system, as the acute care hospitals and so on, as beds are shut down and more people are coming into the long-term care sector more ill and the demands on the people who work within that sector are ever-increasing.

In the Throne Speech last fall, the government ensured that the long-term care sector would in fact receive the attention it deserves. During the most recent campaign they said that there is clear need for long-term care beds and facilities. Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier, on behalf of many people who work within that sector, will he explain when the long-term care sector is going to get the attention it deserves and why it is that he has failed to make good his commitment?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for his question. There certainly is concern about long-term care in Nova Scotia. Funding is a matter of deep consideration, but I would also say to him that while we do have concerns in long-term care, we also have concerns in acute care, that certainly we have not done in this province all we want to do in acute care. So we have both areas where we want to direct a lot of attention, to be able to give the people of this province the confidence in their health care system that they rightfully deserve.

I would like to pass the question on to the Minister of Health for the specifics that the Leader of the Opposition has requested.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the department and the government has committed to long-term care. There have been increases every year. There has been great job creation within that sector. The recent negotiations within the acute care hospitals has been very demanding. It has been very successful; there has been good cooperation. Recently, I have met with the Nurses' Union and will meet with other stakeholders representing those in long-term care. There is no question that is an area that those workers, particularly the nurses, the personal care workers and all the others, feel that the acute care system is more

[Page 210]

demanding, and sometimes it is in the emergency surgeries and all those types of initiatives, but this is a priority of this government. We have made statements. We are working with the stakeholders and we will be addressing that issue as we look at the regional needs throughout the province in long-term care.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this government made commitments back in 1993 that they were going to address the problems in long-term care. We have a sector that is covered by a piece of legislation dating back to 1961. People are beginning to get a bit tired of the fact that this government continues to make commitments without following through on those.

Another example, Mr. Speaker, is the commitments that this government made during the last campaign about wage parity. In fact, I recall a story about the Premier calling the media to take credit for gaining wage parity for nurses in hospitals and across the province but yet he has been unable to deal with the problem of wage parity in the long-term care sector. It is clearly a problem as the demands on health care workers continue to build as a result of the chaos that this government is creating in the health care sector.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the Leader of the Opposition have a question?

MR. CHISHOLM: My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, will he keep his promise and the promise of the Liberal Party dating back to 1993 and make the resources available for wage parity in the long-term care sector?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the last question of the Leader of the Opposition, with concern to wage parity. Yes, I said there would be wage parity and we were negotiating at that time with acute care nurses. There should be wage parity throughout the province and there is wage parity now with all acute care nurses throughout the province. (Applause) That commitment was kept and it was kept within the framework of the negotiations, which were the parameters needed. We didn't tell them how to negotiate, but that was arrived at by the negotiating parties.

With respect to long-term care, the long-term care has to be decided upon by the regional hospital boards. We don't have the power to tell them how many beds they are going to have in a particular regional health area. Also, with respect to the long-term care nurses, it is a different situation, as the Leader of the Opposition knows. With long-term care you have a great many employers, each nursing home, each long-term care home is owned by somebody other than the government and the negotiations are carried on by them. So it is a very complicated area and something that is totally different than the acute care situation but I would like the honourable Minister of Health to explain further.

MR. SPEAKER: Both the questions and the answers are getting a little long here. However, the Minister of Health may make a quick response if he so desires.

[Page 211]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. My response will be brief. I would like to compliment the Premier. I think he has answered very well and very comprehensively. (Applause) So hopefully now both of my jobs will be secure. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, we are putting, at this time, $110 million per year; there has been, the last couple of years, a 14.5 per cent increase in monies going on to long-term care. I think that speaks very well for the commitment of this government. There are things to be done and we are now working. The Premier has mentioned the numbers of facilities, we are trying to group those as much as we can with the cooperation from the sector that is more involved and we are seeing progress in that area. We are also developing a single entry along with Community Services that will help facilitate that as well.

MR. SPEAKER: I think we have had that answer.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again I say that the long-term care sector is an increasingly important sector in the health care system in this province that is under extreme pressure as a result of the changes and it needs attention.

MR. SPEAKER: Would you please put your question. Put your question.

MR. CHISHOLM: The government committed themselves to attention, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask a question, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Good.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . if I may, Mr. Speaker. The parents of the gentleman opposite may find themselves needing the services in the long-term care sector. That is why it is important . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable Leader of the Opposition please put his question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that I ask the question of the Premier, will he, in fact, finally make good the commitments that have been made by the Liberal Party since at least 1993, to direct resources into the long-term care sector so that they can begin to address the problems created by the pressure of the changes in the health care system and parity is just one that needs to be addressed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 212]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I really do believe that that question has been answered. The commitment of the government has been strong and during very difficult times we are looking at a single entry with Community Services to help facilitate some of the blockages that are taking place. We are indicating to the sector involved our intentions to work with them cooperatively. It is a priority of this government and we shall address that.

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

HEALTH: REGIONALIZATION - CHANGE

DR. JOHN HAMM: I have a question for the Premier. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, I ask the question, did the Premier or did the Premier not make a statement during the election campaign that regionalization of health care was an issue and that you, Premier, were prepared to make changes after the election?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for his question. I did make reference to regional health care. Also, we talked about community health boards and I know that the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has spoken on those issues as well. In the area of communication and consensus and working together, what I would propose is that we try to consolidate in this House, the points of view of the three Parties with respect to the regional health boards and the community health boards to come up with a plan that would be suitable to all Parties and I invite the other two Parties to work with us, to come forward with a proposal that would be in the interest of this province.

DR. HAMM: The Premier is quite correct. During a campaign stop in Shelburne, he said that regionalization is wrong to the extent that community health boards are not given the profile they should be and he did say that it would be addressed after the election. Now the Premier seems to be coming around, but my question to the Premier is, having made those commitments about regionalization, having emphasized how important health care is, why was there no reference in the Speech from the Throne to regionalization and moving off regionalization into community health boards?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Conservative Party has expressed the same sentiments. He expressed, during the election campaign, his wish to get away from the regional hospital boards and into community hospital boards. I am saying, where there has been a lot of discussion about working together in this House that this is an overture that I am making to the Opposition Parties, that this is a concern of theirs. I know it is definitely a concern of the Conservative Party and rather than me take a definitive position in the interest of working together, I would say let us work together to develop a common position on this,

[Page 213]

rather than the government going forward with its own. Let's cooperate, let's work together to develop a consensus in this area.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier, is the Premier prepared then - in the interest of the cooperation he just described that he is prepared to participate in - to allow the Minister of Health, the Critic on Health from the New Democratic Party and the Critic on Health from our caucus to meet and start that process of getting rid of regionalization and going back to delivering health care and health care decisions at the community level?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to have the three members that he mentioned get together to discuss this question. I don't think it is proper at this stage to arrive at a position before the discussions begin, but I think it is very important to go in the direction that the Leader of the Conservative Party has mentioned so that we act in the interests of the people of Nova Scotia, all Parties working together in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH REFORM: CONSULTATION - PROMISE UNFULFILLED

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question is for the honourable Minister of Health through you, Mr. Speaker. In November 1979 in the Throne Speech, this government claimed to have learned its lesson regarding the anxiety it had caused to Nova Scotians by its slash-and-burn approach to health care and promised Nova Scotians a panel of health care professionals and community leaders to report on the process of health reform this spring. However, perhaps not surprisingly, they have not kept this promise. My question is, Mr. Minister, did your government really learn your lesson on consulting with Nova Scotians on the process of health care reform or was this just another broken promise on the road to re-election?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have a little trouble discerning the question. I was put off by the year of the Throne Speech, I believe it was said 1979 and I had not yet arrived to this place, so I sort of lost the question. I wonder if it could be rephrased a bit, and I was trying to get my hearing aid out, but I didn't quite make it in time. But, I think the whole issue is something to do with health care reform and in consultation and . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If the honourable member could perhaps rephrase her question, very briefly please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that the member has difficulty listening. Let me say that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 214]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Let me say that in November 1997 in the Throne Speech, the government claimed that it had learned its lesson and that they could listen to Nova Scotians. The question is, Mr. Minister, did your government really learn your lesson? Where is the consultation you promised in the Speech from the Throne in November 1997 so that we could have a process where health reform is monitored and Nova Scotians have input in the process? Was this another broken promise?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not about to answer hypothetical questions about broken promises. If the member wants to ask reasonable questions, phrased in a reasonable way, I will try to do as well as I can. I can speak for myself in consultation. We've had Royal Commissions, goodness knows they cost over $3 million, we've had the Blueprint, we've had a lot of consultation on health. We have moved to the regions, albeit it has not been perfect and I share the views of the Premier and the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. There has to be things done.

There is a remoteness and there is a disconnect that we hear frequently throughout the province on the regionalization, there is no question. But the regional boards, we have more volunteers in this province now in the health care system than ever before, the community boards and the regional boards, and there is a consultation process. But more and more I think there is a limit to that and we have heard from the people. Now is the time to act and I think we should do it within this House here.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree there has been a disconnect. Mr. Minister, if you are really committed to the process of consultation, would you please explain why the Provincial Health Council has not been re-established and are you prepared to re-establish it? It has an excellent record on consultation and involving people in Nova Scotia in the process of health reform.

DR. SMITH: I think, Mr. Speaker, that consultation can take many forms and I believe that there is a need for an evaluation body. I think the roots of it may have been sown here today with the three Party cooperation and looking to see where we go from there.

I am concerned about the costs of a council, $0.5 million, Mr. Speaker, every year is a lot of money and it has to come out of areas that could go into direct patient care. I am also concerned that areas like the council have been used for political motives, pretty obviously, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. So, yes, I think we need a mechanism. I think we should revisit the issue. We are not opposed, not necessarily reinventing the Provincial Health Council, but to move forward on some cooperative effort and having a body that can evaluate and measure healthy outcomes for Nova Scotians and we will be committed to that, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 215]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly good to hear that the minister is interested in consultation and cooperation on this one. However, I must say that I still remain somewhat sceptical because there was no reference in the Speech from the Throne about consultation on health reform.

So, my question, I guess is why should Nova Scotians believe at this time that the consultation process which has been promised in the past Speech from the Throne is going to materialize now?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne is a vehicle that the government uses to outline some policy and direction. This may not be all-inclusive and often it is not but before this session is finished, with our budget to support the programs coming forward, that honourable member will see that we are committed to improving the health status of Nova Scotians and we are moving in that direction. We are committed and between the two vehicles of the Speech from the Throne and the budget we will show that.

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

LBR. - METRO TRANSIT: NEGOTIATIONS - MIN. ROLE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Fifty thousand people travel on Metro Transit every day; some 6,000 to 8,000 people use the Dartmouth-Halifax Ferry and some 400 people use the Access-A-Bus service in metro each and every day.

The Minister of Labour, I wonder if he would describe for us the leadership role that he has taken in introducing himself into the contract negotiations going on between HRM and the amalgamated transit union?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, for his question. As he well knows, on Tuesday, May 12th, the conciliator officer who was asked to become involved in the process filed his report and that started the 14 day countdown period which, as he well knows, will elapse at midnight tonight. We have been, as a facilitator in this process, keeping in close contact with both parties and doing everything within our jurisdiction to ensure that both parties are communicating and making every effort to negotiate a resolve to this most important issue.

DR. HAMM: Thank you and I thank the minister for his answer. By way of the answer it would seem and I would now ask the question of the minister, has the minister backed down from his premature announcement of back to work legislation, talking about that while negotiations were still going on?

[Page 216]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for his question.

First and foremost, there has been no backing down. If he will read the statements that I made publicly, quite clearly the position was outlined in terms of all the options that would be available, given x number of circumstances that were put forth through a series of questions in the media. Most important was the fact that it was indicated by myself that any proposed back-to-work legislation would be an absolute last resort. That statement in particular was made quite clearly as the honourable Leader knows. I have always indicated that we are facilitators, not the negotiators, and there is no intent by myself as Minister of Labour or anyone within the department or indeed within the government to interfere with the collective bargaining process.

DR. HAMM: I am certainly pleased to hear that the minister has backed down from his premature announcement, because it certainly would have interfered with the process which is still going on. I would hope that sometime between now and 1:00 a.m. a resolution can be addressed.

My final question to the minister. Has the minister had any conversations with the chairman or other officials of the Halifax Bridge Commission to try to reach some kind of accommodation between 7:00 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., if in fact a strike does occur, until that strike has come to a legitimate end?

MR. MACKINNON: I thank the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for his question.

First and foremost, I would like to clarify his preamble to his question. There has been no backing down. The position has been quite clear. We believe in negotiation, not heavy-handed approaches, which was obviously a consideration by some people in the past. That is not the process that we are applying. When somebody asks you a question in a certain context, we will answer it with a qualified answer. I think if anyone wants to examine the content of the question and the content of the answer in relation to that question, they will find that everything was not as the preamble would suggest.

However, I have met with staff over the past few days, and in particular a briefing session again early this morning, to ensure that all parties that would be affected, both parties involved in the negotiation, that aspect was discussed, also the aspect of public safety, the economic and the social impact, the issue with regard to the bridge, actually both bridges.

Well, we are trying to bridge the gap here, Mr. Speaker. I am trying to answer his question.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is this your Address in Reply?

[Page 217]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: No, it is a bridge over troubled water, John.

Mr. Speaker, I have instructed my staff to ensure that all parties have been contacted and we are monitoring the situation very closely and I can assure the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that all factors are being considered.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - HST: RELIEF - PROMISE UNFULFILLED

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a question for the honourable Premier. One year ago, as a candidate for the leadership of his Party, the Premier made very explicit promises with respect to relief on the BST for those least able to bear that tax. It is a promise that he has continued to make month after month following his election. I wonder if the Premier could explain to the people of Nova Scotia why he has not kept that promise?

[3:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member correctly said, it is a promise that I have made continuously, it is a promise I will keep; it is a promise that was made and will be kept.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the answer essentially is, jam tomorrow, perhaps at some future time the promise will be kept. The question really is, why has the promise not been kept in this past fiscal year? In this past fiscal year, we see that this government was able to write off, very easily, a debt to Michelin Tire in the amount of $25 million. Can he explain what sense of priorities leads him to write off that debt rather than giving relief to those not able to bear the BST?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member had researched it just a little further, he would have seen that that $25 million was part of a $48 million loan that was made to Michelin to be repaid beginning in the year 2004. So, there is nothing that we could have taken from that that would have been able to compensate the people of Nova Scotia for the BST.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it is obviously a question of priorities. We saw in the last issued financial statements from the Minister of Finance in December that they were projecting a surplus of $3.2 million. We haven't seen any updated statements since, but why could this government not have taken at least that amount of money and given some BST relief?

[Page 218]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think what the honourable member says is correct as far as it goes, that we have made quarterly statements for the first, second and third quarters. The statement for the fourth quarter comes in our budget which we will be bringing down shortly, so I am hoping he will join us in cheering on the Minister of Finance when he makes the budget statement in this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - P3: LEASES - AUD. GEN. REVIEW

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier through you. Many parents, teachers, educators and students have contacted myself and our caucus members throughout the last number of months - throughout the last number of years, actually - and they have a great deal of concern over the issue of new schools and how they are financed. We have gone through a process dubbed P3 and that process has taken us through a journey of four new schools with one lease signed.

Mr. Premier, my question to you today is, did you or did you not commit your government that you would sign no more leases for P3 schools until the Auditor General did a determination whether the process was proper and in the best interests of the taxpayer on the Porter's Lake school?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General will not be coming forward with a report on the Porter's Lake school. The honourable member said a lot of people have contacted him. Well, I can assure you that a lot of people have contacted me, and I am sure the Leader of his Party and the Leader of the Official Opposition, because people in Nova Scotia are very concerned about schools and they want schools for their children.

Both Opposition Parties, Mr. Speaker, have expressed a concern with the P3 process. We are going ahead with the process of building new schools. We have to have new schools, there cannot be any doubt about that, and those schools cannot go on the bottom line of the financial statement of the Province of Nova Scotia. Other than that, we are prepared to speak to both Opposition Parties very soon to come to a consensus with those two criteria, new schools but not on the balance sheet of the Province of Nova Scotia.

We are prepared to work with the other two Parties, to go in a means that is acceptable to all three Parties. But we need those schools, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FAGE: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. The Premier did not answer the question. The question that was asked was, will any more leases be signed if the Auditor General does not okay the process? We have numerous newspaper articles where the Premier, even at his own annual meeting, said that he would not sign one more lease until the Auditor General made that process legitimate to the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 219]

The question is, given that, will the Premier commit that the Auditor General conducts that study before another lease is signed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it all comes down to how quickly the Auditor General can give us his interpretation because we are going to continue with the process. We have to continue with the process, the province needs these schools. There can be no greater reality than that. It is so obvious.

One thing I will tell the honourable member is that we are not prepared to build schools until we have the leases first. Now, if there is a need to have the Auditor General come down with his position on the Porter's Lake school and it is the wish of all three Parties that the Auditor General be approached to come down with a decision quickly so that the process cannot be delayed, then we are prepared to consider it in the interest of working together. But I want to say, Mr. Speaker, again, we need these schools and we need them as soon as possible.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for his answer. Yes, we do need those schools. Yes, the legitimization of the process and the three Parties agreeing to ask the Auditor General for a determination is absolutely imperative, because the taxpayers of this province want to know if they are going to get good value for their schools. The students in those communities do not want to be held hostage over the P3 process.

My question to the Premier in this regard, is the Premier prepared to break yet another promise and sign one more lease such as the Porter's Lake lease without the Auditor General's authorization and the consent of the three Parties to move this forward?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the schools are going to be built as quickly as possible in consultation with the other two Parties to get their ideas as to how this process can be approved, once again taking into consideration the need for the schools and the fact that they cannot be on the bottom line on the financial statement of the Province of Nova Scotia.

The honourable member for Cumberland North knows the importance of the Amherst high school in his riding. I am sure that the honourable member is not in any way insinuating that there should be any delay in the construction of that school because he knows the importance of that school to the people of his riding and we are in complete agreement with him and the people of his riding to give that school as quickly as we possibly can.

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

[Page 220]

NAT. RES.: NAT. GAS - RURAL DISTRIBUTION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The Premier and his government have said over and over again that they are going to get a great deal for Nova Scotians from the offshore and that the benefits from the offshore are going to flow to all Nova Scotians. Well, many Nova Scotians, especially those who are living in rural communities are asking why it is the government is failing to honour that commitment.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this, why is it that the Premier and his government have failed to develop policies that will ensure that natural gas flows to the businesses and the individuals who live in the rural communities throughout this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't disagree with the honourable member. The benefits of natural gas should flow to all parts of this province and in fact this government supports that and we will do everything we possibly can to make sure all Nova Scotians have benefit from natural gas. But I would ask his indulgence in the realization that it was only in February that the agreement was signed with the SOEP partners to bring the natural gas ashore. The natural gas is not scheduled to come ashore until November 1999. Just give us some time to work it through so that we can do what he wants to do and what we want to do and that is to make sure that Nova Scotians get the maximum benefit from their own natural gas.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, this government had plenty of time to negotiate the royalty deals and we saw what we got for that too when you had plenty of time.

Mr. Speaker, the government is always talking the talk about rural economic development. But when it comes to walking the walk, they are sitting on the sidelines. It takes time and you have to develop the policies. The Premier should know that. There isn't, today, one individual within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism that is even working on this matter, and here is one of the crucial things that can promote rural economic development.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this. Why is it that this government is choosing to further disadvantage the businesses and individuals who live in rural communities by its failure to develop policies that will ensure that there is distribution of the gas throughout all parts of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, since last April, in the last year, 20,000 new jobs have been created in Nova Scotia. (Applause) These jobs had to have been created by somebody and it certainly is the prospect of offshore natural gas that is leading to the enthusiasm that is in this province at the present time.

[Page 221]

We haven't come forward with our regulations on distribution yet. The hearings at the Utility and Review Board have not started yet. I will do what I can to work with the communities to make sure that they are part of the distribution process, but that process has not yet begun. We are not, as the honourable member says, trying to discourage. We are encouraging every way we possibly can the distribution of natural gas for all parts of this province. We know, as he knows, the importance of natural gas in the economic future of this province, every part of this province, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier's answer just warms my heart. He said he will do everything he can and he said that he will encourage gas distribution. Well, if the Premier does everything that he can, he will guarantee that gas is distributed throughout Nova Scotia and that it isn't just going to be cherry picking to have it distributed to the most profitable areas. The Premier knows that the structure, the game that has been going on so far, is to the advantage of those populated areas where they are going to be more prosperous than to the disadvantaged.

My question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, through you, who has said he will do everything that he can, is the Premier saying that he will guarantee, that he will ensure that the policies and the regulations are, in fact, in place that will guarantee that the gas is distributed before the distribution licenses are given out and we kiss off the opportunities, as was done with the royalties.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that natural gas will not be coming ashore until November 1999. Nobody has natural gas yet. We are going to put into place a program where Nova Scotians, no matter where they are in this province, will have access to natural gas. That is absolutely essential.

Of course, the honourable member knows the natural gas line has to go through certain communities before it gets to others. That is the reality of it. In the final analysis, as soon as we possibly can, natural gas will be available to all communities in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - LANTZ ELEM. SCHOOL:

CONSTRUCTION - PROMISE UNFULFILLED

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I heard the Premier saying, just a few minutes ago, that he wanted schools built fast. In 1993, this government promised the community of Lantz a desperately needed elementary school. That was five years ago and I don't call that fast. Would the Premier please tell this House why he has broken his promise to the people of Lantz?

[Page 222]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the promise has not been broken. The honourable member will know by looking at the six groupings that were advertised in the paper that the school to which she refers is one of those schools to be started as soon as possible. I understand the concern of the parents. Certainly, I share that with the honourable member, that these parents are concerned about the education of their children. The children deserve the best schools that they can possibly get in this province. I couldn't agree more. The way to do it is what we want to focus on, in cooperation with the other two Parties and we will work with them. As the honourable member says, the sooner the better.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I hear a new willingness on the part of the Premier today to consult with the Opposition on the P3 schools, although he says after he consults with us, he is going to go right on doing what he is doing. I think the people of Lantz would want to know today, should this consultation take place, is this going to further delay construction of the Lantz school?

[3:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that not only has the Throne Speech been dubbed the Education Throne Speech by an unprecedented investment in publicly funded education in our province at all levels, but on the issue of equity in capital construction, as the member opposite says, commitments were made in 1993 to build badly needed schools throughout this province. As a result of the severe stresses and strains on the operating side, on the human side of the boards' budgets, both maintenance and capital construction was deferred so we could live within a balanced budget regime, in fact, in a recovery period.

What we are talking about now, though, is non-partisan consultation on the issue of how to build needed schools, make sure that they do not injure the financial health of the Province of Nova Scotia, but that we play catch up with decades of neglect in terms of the distance between the rhetoric that we value our children and the amount of money and investment and time we put into publicly funded education. It is time to catch up. We intend to catch up. We have been offering information to both Parties opposite and we hope to continue with a process that satisfies two objectives, balances the budgets and gets the finest schools in this country to the children of this province.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to cut right to the chase here. We would be very happy to consult with the Liberal Government on the method of financing this school. Will the government, will the Premier, will the Minister of Education, regardless of how it is financed, any other problems or questions about P3, will the Premier make a commitment in this House today to immediately construct a new school for the community of Lantz?

[Page 223]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

MR. HARRISON: Here we are at the final stages of consultation with the board on the very school that the member opposite is anxious to have, as are the parents who have been waiting long enough for that school. We intend to consult, as I heard the Premier, in an even more pronounced way than we have been. The member opposite has the full details of the Porter's Lake lease. In fact, the Leader during the campaign described it as a loss-leader. Those were the words that he used.

What we have is the need for schools. We have parents demanding that this House provide them schools. We have the offer to sit down and provide the best information for the members opposite, as we do regularly with the Auditor General. It is our plan to proceed with the information being provided to the members opposite in the hope that this House will approve that process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: RURAL DISTRIBUTION - URB FEES

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, I would like to ask him a question regarding natural gas distribution throughout Nova Scotia.

I just heard the interchange between the Premier and what he was saying to the critic from the NDP. It was interesting and informative, I am sure.

The municipalities in Nova Scotia, the regional development authorities, are all very interested, to the extent that they have hired people from outside of Nova Scotia to come in and help educate them so they can realize the benefits that have been achieved, particularly in Alberta, with natural gas. In Alberta there are over 108 companies that are delivering, co-ops that are delivering natural gas to 90 per cent of the province.

To the Premier, I am wondering how the Premier could allow the URB to set a fee of $250,000 or $50,000 if you are a community economic development or if you are a small community? Can you imagine the people in the Town of Kentville if the mayor and his council said we are going to drop into the URB and make application and we are going to spend the $50,000. They could come up empty handed and the $50,000 is gone. This is going to be a real hardship on a place like the Town of Kentville. The community economic development committees are going to have an equally difficult time.

Could the minister in charge please indicate why he is allowing the URB to charge such an exorbitant fee to the communities that the Premier indicates he is trying to support?

[Page 224]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just first on what the honourable member said, that the communities are bringing in expertise from outside the province to inform them how they could get ready for distributing natural gas in their own areas. That is one of the reasons we are not rushing the process, to allow the communities to develop this expertise for themselves. It is very important that they take this initiative. They want to take this initiative. They need time to bring themselves up to scratch on this very important subject.

With respect to the fee that may be charged by the Utility and Review Board, I sympathize with the municipalities. This whole process is still in its infancy. I am sure the Utility and Review Board, certainly this government does not want to preclude the municipalities from being able to make their case before the Utility and Review Board and I am sure a lot of discussion will take place on the process before the hearings actually start.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Again to the Premier in charge of offshore and natural gases, et cetera. The Premier indicates he is not going to do anything about the exorbitant fees being charged, and the Premier had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to make the time a longer period so that the municipalities could get together and try to get the knowledge that was required. The government was not helping. For gracious sakes, the government knows, I am sure, less than the municipal units know about natural gas distribution at the present time.

The Premier will not intervene; he will not help the rural communities of Nova Scotia. Is the Premier content to leave it to his political appointees on the URB to decide who is going to and who is not going to receive natural gas in the Province of Nova Scotia? It looks like he has abdicated his responsibility and turned it over to the political appointees of the URB.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all I ask of the honourable member is that he trades in his time machine and gets back to the present. Do not go to the day before the hearings start, get back in the present. Get rid of the time machine; sell it for what it is worth. This is today, well before the hearings are to start. The municipalities have taken the initiative to bring themselves up to scratch, to get information on the distribution of natural gas. We are encouraging that. We are going to work with them on that area.

We are also going to work with them to make sure that they have the wherewithal to be able to make their presentation before the Utility and Review Board. There is still some time, Mr. Speaker, to talk this whole process among all interested parties, so that the municipalities can have a meaningful role and make meaningful application and this is just the beginning of the dialogue on this process. A lot has to be done, but I can assure the honourable member and the municipalities in Nova Scotia that they will be able to make their presentation before the Utility and Review Board. (Applause)

[Page 225]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Premier and the minister in charge of natural gas. The Premier has been very conciliatory today towards our Party and the Opposition and I am wondering, in that spirit of cooperation, I would have a great deal more faith if the Premier would allow a select committee and, in fact, appoint a select committee of this Legislature to look into the gas distribution around Nova Scotia and not leave it to the URB.

The Premier indicates he wants to help. He wants all of the members of the Legislature to help. Would the Premier set that committee up - because there is a very vast difference from province to province in the distribution of natural gas. It is 90 per cent in Alberta. What is the percentage in Manitoba? There is a great difference - and I am wondering if the Premier, in the interests of helping the municipalities and the people of Nova Scotia, would the Premier today agree to set up a select committee that could report back to Province House so that it will be the elected people of Nova Scotia and the people of Nova Scotia that are going to have some say in distribution of natural gas?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I understand the concern of the honourable member and I understand where he is going and where he wants to go. The problem, of course, is that this is a very specialized area. There needs to be not only a consensus, but there has to be continuity in all of the applications and the Utility and Review Board in this province is the tribunal, is the body best able to hear these applications. I can think of no better group to do that and I would be very hesitant about precluding the Utility and Review Board from hearing these applications.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: GENERIC ROYALTY REGIME - CONSULT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The Premier, when he was running for the Liberal leadership last summer, and subsequently in the fall, promised Nova Scotians that he would get a better deal on Sable gas. He in fact ran in the election this spring on the idea that they got a big agreement and that he had negotiated a better deal, but I think you would have to agree, voters obviously didn't see eye to eye with the Premier on that, in fact they voted overwhelmingly against that; 65 per cent voted for Parties who felt that we needed to negotiate a better deal. I would like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, that in light of the lack of support that he received, why is he going ahead without consulting Nova Scotians or this House to lock in a generic royalty scheme?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the Leader of the Opposition, he doesn't know why people voted a certain way. It could have been that the natural gas question was not a factor in the minds of the Nova Scotian people at all. The fact of the matter is that we have to proceed with the generic royalty regime. I just point to his friends

[Page 226]

in British Columbia, the NDP Government of British Columbia, who had to reduce their royalties 20 per cent to 40 per cent so that they could get the oil and gas industry to do exploratory work off the coast of British Columbia. That's what happens when you don't think out your generic royalty regime well enough in advance, that you try to make it so tough that no one will want to do any exploration in your area, then you wind up having to reduce the royalties to get people to come into your area.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, many people within and without this province have been very critical of the royalty deal that this government struck with his partners which ensures that they're the ones that benefit upfront from the development, from the production of natural gas instead of Nova Scotians. I want to ask the Premier why it is that he's heading down this road? Why it is that he will not consult with Nova Scotians and with this House before he locks us in to a deal that has been so widely discredited?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Sable Offshore Energy Incorporated is going to be spending, along with Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline $3 billion to bring this natural gas ashore and to transport it to the end users. They have to be able to understand what the royalty regime is. I feel and most people feel the royalty regime that we put in place for the SOEP project is a good one. Now we're talking another royalty regime, a generic royalty regime for future exploration off Nova Scotia and in fact on land Nova Scotia. There is a tremendous amount of interest. A lot of jobs are at stake, a lot of expertise will be developed by Nova Scotians that they can use all over the world. A lot of industry can be attracted to Nova Scotia to provide even more jobs, petrochemical possibilities with more natural gas coming ashore. So, we want them to actually accept our invitation to come to Nova Scotia to do this exploration work. We want to get the best value for Nova Scotians that we can get. Nova Scotians are first and foremost, but their interests are not going to be served if no one is going to do exploration.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think we are seeing the kind of consultation that the Premier and the members opposite want to participate in. They want to pick and choose which way they want to go down this road. On the one hand with respect to rural distribution of gas, the Premier says we got all kinds of time and we'll sit down with the Opposition Parties and we'll work out a good deal that they like and that we like and everything's going to be fine. When it comes to the royalty agreement which is going to determine the kind of benefits that this province will get for 10 years or more, the Premier is not prepared to consult with Nova Scotians or with members of this House.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier one final time, in the spirit of this new-found cooperation and desire to consult, will he not tell the oil and natural gas companies in Calgary and Texas that he is not going to proceed with the royalty agreement template that he has

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talked about in those two jurisdictions until he talks with Nova Scotians, until a committee of this House has an opportunity to review and analyze this deal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Opposition I realize, quite rightly, is interested in offshore exploration, in fact in exploration onshore in Nova Scotia. I have not said that I am not prepared to talk to the other two Parties on this question. All I ask from each of the Parties is that they give me some specifics on what they see should be in the royalty agreement. To say it is not good, to say that people don't like it, to say it is not going to go over well, to say it is a give-away to the oil companies doesn't help me or anybody else on this side of the House to be able to construct what it is that is needed for the benefit of Nova Scotia. That is what we are trying to do. If they can come forward with something specific that is helpful, I would be more than glad to listen.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: B & B ASSESSMENTS - STATUS CHANGE

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism in regard to the taxation on bed and breakfasts. Mr. Minister, on May 25th I introduced a resolution to address the unfair taxation which is being applied to bed and breakfasts. That resolution was denied.

My question to the minister is, what do you intend to do to address the issue of commercial taxation on residential bed and breakfast facilities?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the question. It is a serious problem in Nova Scotia, it has been a problem for the last couple of years now. There are various government departments working on this particular problem. We hope to be able to come to some sort of a resolve. We are caught up in difficulties with the Assessment Act in this province and whether, indeed, some of these particular properties are deemed to be residential or, in fact, commercial operations. There is a problem there with the Department of Municipal Affairs and there is also certainly a problem with the Tourism Department in trying to keep these particular facilities, I guess is the best word to use, viable in this province. We certainly feel there is a very important role for bed and breakfasts in this province and we are continuing to work on the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, you have about 50 seconds.

MR. BALSER: My understanding is that a working committee has been struck and that you are reviewing options. One of those options which is not even being put forward is that there be no commercial taxation on these facilities. Legal counsel has interpreted that they are

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residential dwellings and that for much of the time they are not being used for commercial operation.

My question to you again is, what do you intend to do about this unfair taxation?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should know that the Department of Economic Development and Tourism does not get involved in taxation.

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

Before we proceed to Government Business, I would just like to bring to the attention of both the Opposition and the government that today we got in almost 11 questions, not quite, which is not bad. However, I think that some of the questions were much too long; I think that some of the answers were much too long. I am not going to judge whether or not a question is a good question but I do think that in the spirit of using Question Period to its best advantage that questions should be more direct and to the point and that answers also should be direct and to the point. So thank you.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable 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 the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

I believe it is the honourable member for Halifax Fairview who still has the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. You have approximately 42 minutes, I believe, remaining.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, when we rose last night I had just begun to characterize . . .

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is a buzz in the Chamber. Those who want to buzz, would they please buzz off from the Chamber.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had begun to characterize what I thought were the seven or eight or nine key components of the massive and chaotic change that was taking place in the education system over the last five years and I had begun by pointing out the new directions of the Education Act.

Probably the most significant factor in this massive change was the huge underfunding, Mr. Speaker. Underfunding of education over the last five years has made the rest of it all possible. We know, we have heard numbers. Millions and millions of dollars have been removed from school board budgets and have forced schools and boards into creative ways of fundraising, cutting and slashing of programs and services and have created much of the havoc that has ensued in education.

The third thing, Mr. Speaker, that I think has had an effect, and I guess it is the insult to injury effect, and that is that at the same time that this government was drastically cutting funds to education, it was piling on new obligations onto boards and schools. In high school alone - I just made a list of a few of the ones that had been loaded onto schools in the last few years - new programs at high school physically active lifestyle and communications, PAL/CLM, as they are known, the fine arts requirement which, in good times, at all times we support, but requires funding and the provincial Department of Education required that students begin to take a higher number of credits in order to graduate from high school. So a flurry of initiatives piled on to massive underfunding has created even more of the havoc.

Another situation that arose, Mr. Speaker, came from the elimination of the APSEA funding for learning disabled students. Money was given instead to underfunded boards and boards were asked to take these few dollars and to somehow, by magic, do all the work that needed to be done to teach learning disabled children in the intensive way that some of them need some of the time. This whole initiative has been dogged with difficulty and there are parents and families all over this province who have been the victims of this policy and their frustrations are very obvious to anyone who would listen.

Mr. Speaker, we can't forget school board amalgamation. School board amalgamation was purported to save money. What it did was it created huge units, at least one of which is probably almost ungovernable based on its size, and, more to the point, it didn't save money. I think what has not been noticed enough is that it has divorced school boards from what used to be their natural partners and allies, and that is the municipalities. So amalgamation has not been the panacea. In fact, it has added to the grief of all those involved in education.

The next thing the government didn't do, Mr. Speaker, was build the schools they should have built. Now today we have a crisis. We have desperate measures being taken by parents. Only last week some of them came here to this House to make their voices heard.

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This government, while it was playing around with this public-private partnering, it didn't do what it should have done, which was to continue to build. It built a few schools, but nowhere near enough schools. It created a pent-up demand, which is, in fact, a crisis.

Something else, Mr. Speaker, that is not often mentioned but I think is very significant, and it is certainly significant to teachers and parents and children, and that is some of the initiatives that have been taken in curriculum change. One frequently cited one is the creation of the Councils of Ministers of Education and the initiatives they have taken. That is a totally undemocratic body. These ministers are accountable to no one.

A good example of the kind of difficulties that can arise in this situation, when the Council of Ministers of Education set about trying to create a national science curriculum project and a science achievement indicators project, they reflected one of the other new obsessions in education which is the obsession with testing. This government has come to the conclusion - and nobody could say it better, I don't think, than Heather Jane Robertson in her book, No More Teachers, No More Books. She quotes the former Minister of Education in Ontario, who actually claimed, "'The more often we assess the system and the individual students, the better our results are going to be.'". She points out that, "In other words, weighing a pig more often makes it fatter.".

This constant preoccupation of assessment at the expense of learning and with particular kind of assessment, with the kind of constantly quantified assessment that is more suitable to the size of a bolt which is attached to a widget than it is to measuring the careful assessment of the development and progress of children in a school. This has done a great deal of damage in terms of challenging teachers and students and making more work for what have been, as yet, unverifiable gains of any sort.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we have, of course, the P3 schools, and I am going to say more about that in a minute. But I want to say, before I get into that, that five years after the first election of this government to power, every single student in this province can lay claim to the fact that they have had five years of schooling during an absolutely ill-advised and chaotic period in public policy in this province. The effects for them have been enormous.

In spite of the government's regular commitment in Throne Speeches to smaller class sizes, it isn't happening. Class sizes have grown - talk to any teacher - over the years. There have been fewer and fewer resources to teach children, fewer support staff. We have sick buildings, we have overcrowded buildings. We have lack of support for special needs students, and that was documented in this House last spring when the Funding Formula Review Group, itself, wrote a letter to the minister saying that over $30 million was needed to provide the kind of commitment to special needs students that the government rhetorically was making but was not following through on. Again, Mr. Speaker, learning disabled students have been suffering in this climate as well, and many of them are not getting what they need.

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They are not the only walking wounded, Mr. Speaker; there are others. Teachers and other staff in schools are stressed, they are committeed to death, they spend their time fund-raising when they could be teaching. The parents are attempting to work with the schools and work with government policy, such as it is and when they can figure it out. Parents themselves are trying to compensate for the lack of resources in the schools and they are trying to mediate and understand and work with conflicting messages from this government.

There is a great deal - and I have said it in this House before and I won't belabour it - a great deal of political rhetoric which purports that we have the finest school system in the known universe even though we are, I think, the second lowest - ahead of P.E.I. - in all of Canada and the United States in our per pupil funding. The rhetoric has made people frustrated and confused, and it reminds me of the push me, pull you in Doctor Dolittle. Parents don't know which end of the animal to talk to and which end of the animal to follow around because there is no clear direction. The messages conflict.

[4:15 p.m.]

The question arises whether this has been done deliberately or whether this has just been bad government. Now, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I must say that it has been characterized in other jurisdictions and it appears to have happened here.

In Ontario, the former minister admitted in public - and it was in the press - that he was deliberately creating a crisis in education. It looks very much as if the steps in creating this crisis so that it can be solved, this manipulative process has taken place in Nova Scotia. The steps in putting forward this agenda that has not had public consultation, that has not given people time to breathe, let alone consider their options at each phase of it, the steps of that seem to exist here very clearly.

First of all, you create a crisis with underfunding; then you argue that it is necessary to change everything. That is part of the rhetoric that we have heard, the right-wing rhetoric that we have heard for years now. If our roof is leaking, we have to tear down the house and go live in the woods. It just is not so, but it has been a message that has been put about in this province and it has been frustrating and confusing.

You put everything on the table. Everything is out there. Everything is up for grabs. You turn everything upside down. The really sad thing about this kind of policy making and governing is that the result is this. Citizens have no opportunity to understand and make judgements. It is going too fast; there is too much at once. It is contradictory and all those things. There is no role for the citizen to play in the careful consideration of the policies as they are laid out fast and furious.

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Nowhere is that more clear than with the whole concept of the P3 schools. The creation of the crisis in school construction was a piece of work, I want to tell you. In four years of P3 construction this government got one lease deal - one - a financial backer, the CN pension fund that says we are not real crazy about this; we will probably not do this again. And one school that they could never get a lease on; they never could do it.

The response when we asked, and asked, for information in our Party - initially we thought they were keeping things from us, but it was not that, they were not keeping anything from us, they did not know what they were doing - they did not know what to tell us. Here we are in the midst of this crisis and we have found ourselves with the alarming and ludicrous notion put to us that P3 schools are faster. Well, P3 schools are not faster, and they certainly are not cheaper.

Are they equitable? Take a look at the Annapolis Valley. Take a look at the minister's own riding. They are not equitable; not on your life. We have a school down there which we have given many tongue-in-cheek names to, the Taj Mahal or Harrison High or whatever you want to call it, the fact is that the students that go to that school will have benefits beyond the reach of students who are in other schools, struggling with fund-raising to get needed supplies. Mr. Speaker, equity has gone out the window with this government and the P3 schools. I was amused also to read in Heather Jane Robertson's book her definition of partnerships. I will table these documents today, I didn't table any of them last night.

She points out that, "In interpersonal relationships, when one person needs the other in order to survive, we call the relationship dysfunctional. In nature, when one biological organism feeds off another, we call it a parasite. In education, we call this relationship a partnership.". So not everybody is enamoured with this whole notion, this misnamed notion of public-private partnerships for the construction and maintenance and running of schools and for the profits of these corporations.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting thing, we have been asking questions about P3 schools from the moment we began to hear about them. We have talked with people and we have, more importantly, listened to a lot of people who place their hopes, quite reasonably, in a process that they think will get them a faster, cheaper school because they are in dire and desperate need.

But the jig is up, people know that this is not so. We now have the Nova Scotia Teachers Union at its council last week, bringing in and passing a motion to explore and examine the ramifications of P3 school maintenance and construction. Only yesterday, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union called on all political Parties to get together and examine not just the P3 schools but corporate involvement in public education in all its aspects and manifestations.

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The CUPE workers who work in schools have made their views on P3 known in strong language. Parents have said to us and teachers, we are not so sure about this, we are not so sure that we haven't been sold a bill of goods. Well, Mr. Speaker, I was delighted today to hear the Premier, and I hope he means it, I think I heard him say that he would consult with the Opposition on the financing of schools and maybe, just maybe, through this we will come to some kind of process whereby people can find out exactly what it means and why we shouldn't have it as a way of mortgaging our schools to corporations into the future. So thank goodness, I hope that something will come of that.

Corporate involvement is part of the P3 method, Mr. Speaker, and there are some interesting and I would say alarming developments in that. We knew there was going to be a retail outlet in the new Horton High School. A tender went out this week. Now we also know, unless it has happened since the House rose last time, it is pretty clear to me that we do not have clear guidelines for any kind of corporate involvement in schools. I think this is a grave oversight on the part of the government, or perhaps it is not an oversight, but it is certainly a serious problem with schools and boards operating without any clear guidelines.

Mr. Speaker, we need them at a provincial level and we don't need the ones created by the Conference Board of Canada. We need better guidelines, such as those created by the Canadian Teachers Federation and which I have a copy of and will be happy to show to the minister at any time, or he can get them from their Internet site.

People say, what is wrong with corporate involvement in education? Well, there is not necessarily anything wrong with it, Mr. Speaker, if it is carefully regulated and if conditions are followed and if the prime purpose of corporate involvement is to benefit education. There is not one of us in this House, probably, who didn't go to school with the chocolate bar maps up in our classroom and the sports teams getting a hand from some local business. So, Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about the business community lending a hand to schools in the interests of community spirit. We are talking about corporate creation of curriculum, for example.

Mr. Speaker, if you think this is not a real threat, I want to tell you about a particular curriculum initiative in North America which, to my way of thinking, is utterly horrifying. This may be the ultimate end point. This may be the extreme of what can happen, but there is not a person in this House, I don't think, who would not be horrified by this.

Everybody here and everybody in this province and country knows of the terrible suffering of the people in Indonesia over many years, but most recently in the press in the last few weeks. Many of us know the history of oppression of East Timor by the Indonesian Government and the loss of one-third of the population of East Timor to the oppressive regime of President Suharto.

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Things have happened in the last week or two. There are changes going on. But before that happened, Mr. Speaker, last year, in 1997, Scholastic, publishers and distributors of educational materials, mailed out to 77,000 teachers, a unit called, Introducing Indonesia. This teaching unit was backed by the following corporations and governments: The Lippo Bank, the Indonesian Government, Mobil, Texaco and other Suharto-friendly corporations. The guide explains - and this is this teaching guide, this is some of the content - that sneakers are manufactured in Indonesia, not because the labour is cheap, but because rubber is a natural resource. East Timor is portrayed as just another Indonesian province, joining the others in a united territory governed by "a just and civilized humanity". The guide profusely thanks its many political and corporate partners for the opportunity to increase understanding of a country that offers a great number of opportunities for American business.

Mr. Speaker, if there were ever a clearer example of when the needs of the market do not collide perfectly and are not unified, to understate the case drastically, with the goals of education, I don't know what it would be. Because if what we want to teach our children is to respect other human beings and to value democratic government and so many other things, we cannot count on the market place with its own goals and challenges to do that for us. I wanted to cite that on the record because I think it is absolutely crucial for us to wake up and understand.

Another interesting situation, Mr. Speaker, and one of the things that we hear over and over again about corporate involvement in education. IBM, a big international company that everybody knows, has been among the loudest voices for corporate involvement in schools. We see IBM as sometimes part of the consortia that want to build schools. Research has shown . . .

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: On a question, Mr. Speaker. It is customary to read in this House when the members opposite read from a document that they would table that document. I am trying to also provide some time, perhaps, for her to find the second document she is looking for, but that they would agree to table those documents in the House in the interest of the debate.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and I believe I did hear her say that she would table documentation she was using.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I did say that I would table them and I gave them to Hansard last night and had to fetch some of them back, but I will table them. But this document I don't have, so I will just outline from memory the issue here, and the issue here is that a very large company, one of the most vocal proponents of the high-tech, high-skilled workforce - and technology is very much a part of this vision, this kind of skewed vision that we're struggling with here in Nova Scotia - technology is often

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the rationalization for some of what we do in this province or some of what the government does. IBM and other major corporations have laid off in 1993 alone, I believe the number was, and I will be happy to check, 83,000 workers in the United States and Canada, laid off highly skilled, highly technically trained workers just on the heels of having laid off over 150,000. We have to ask ourselves whether all this rhetoric is about training workers for a new society or whether in fact it's a low wage strategy to oversupply the job market and keep workers obedient and well behaved. That's a question that I think should be out there and should be asked.

Horton House, the software publishing company that is going to exist in the Horton High School, Mr. Speaker, is going to cost the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board $250,000, that's $0.25 million of school board money, going into Horton House, and it's going into a company that makes software based on one kind of learning method and that is the learning method of ILS, an American firm in Chicago, based at the University of Chicago, but it's only one kind of learning material.

Yes, I just found the numbers on the lay-offs. In 1993, the Fortune 500 companies laid off 583,000 high-tech, highly skilled employees. IBM dumped 90,000 in 1993, just the year before having laid off 183,000. So, Mr. Speaker, those numbers, I will locate the sheet if you want me to table that document.

This raises the question of what we're basing all this yellow brick road theory on. I have read several times, and I know other members of my Party have too, several times in recent months, there is not one single, reputable study which tells us clearly and without any prevarication or equivocation that high-tech learning is any better, Mr. Speaker, than low-tech learning. It's nice, indeed it is, but whether or not it's essential has yet to be proven.

I want to talk about one more, Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have about 14 minutes.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you very much. I do have time then. I want to talk for a minute or two about a real irony that came to my attention over the weekend and other members may have seen this. Two articles, on Saturday in The Globe and Mail and on Sunday in The Daily News, Mr. Speaker. On the front page of The Globe and Mail on Saturday, the headline, Alberta shuts flagship charter school. Now the Alberta Government was the first government in this country to push so hard for the proponent - the buzzword is choice - what people don't need is adequately funded public schools, they need choice in education. This is the language of the market. Well, on Saturday and I'm just going to read one paragraph from this, on Friday, yesterday, it says here, ". . . Alberta Education Minister Gary Mar said that the Global Learning Academy in Calgary will close permanently at the end of the term, leaving 460 students to find other schools. A report of a forensic audit of the academy,

[Page 236]

ordered in January, is expected in a few weeks. 'After that', Mr. Mar said, 'there may be legal action.'".

Well, the problem seems to be, if you read to the end of the article, accountability, Mr. Speaker, and who is more accountable than public schools to the people who elected them? The very next day, in the Sunday edition of The Daily News, we find the senior policy analyst for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies right on the heels of this, using the very same language, the same stick to beat public education with that has been going on and on for years and in this article, he actually suggests that the MacLellan Government probably should not put money into education because it is unlikely to improve it and he does say somewhere else that children learn better in larger classes. So here we have it, the rhetoric of the marketing choice still going on in the face of continued grief and frustration as the market tries to turn education into the education industry.

Mr. Speaker, there are two other topics that I want to mention briefly before I conclude. One of them is private trade schools. I went back and I looked at the record from before I was here, in 1996. The Auditor General made a long list of recommendations based upon an audit of some of the problems with the private trade school legislation, regulations and administration of the government. Last year in budget estimates here the member for Sackville-Cobequid, who had been following this issue for a number of years and trying to keep his eye on it, asked the Minister of Education in this House about a whole range of problems in the private trade school administration and legislation.

The minister made a whole range of commitments, Mr. Speaker. One of the most frequent calls that I have gotten this winter has been from unhappy, downright miserable, frustrated and sometimes angry students at private trade schools, who have been through the wars with their own particular school and who are afraid to leave because they have student loan money tied up in their school. The one that is probably the most troubled is one called the Career Academy of Aviation, which is located at the Halifax International Airport. Ninety-five per cent of the students at the Career Academy of Aviation have student loans and we are not talking about tuitions of $3,000 or $4,000. We are talking about tuitions of $42,000 over two years in order to learn to be a pilot. The entire student body, except for those who had been farmed out to other institutions because their education had been so deficient, the entire rest of the student body formed a student council and have been struggling with the owners of this school and with the Department of Education ever since.

Mr. Speaker, I sat in a meeting with senior officials from that department and the students and the advice that was given from the Department of Education to those students was, buyer beware. Well, I do not know why we would have a Private Trade Schools Act and regulations if the bottom line for students who have invested $42,000 in a two year program, I do not know why they paid $42,000 to learn buyer beware.

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Mr. Speaker, the government has millions of dollars probably tied up in this school. We have not seen the draft regulations that were promised a year ago. We do not see monitoring. We do not see inspections unless complaint-driven, which was the Auditor General's complaint in 1996. We know that the department is understaffed and I think that it is a top priority for this government because one of the ways that this ties in with the whole issue of where we are going in education is that there has been a proliferation of private trade schools as this government sees them as perhaps a more legitimate than they used to be way to fill the void in education for particular trades and professions. Since 1987 the number of private trade schools in this province has gone up from 30 to 101. So, there are 101 poorly regulated private trade schools in this province. There is a great deal of work to be done on it and I would urge the government to get on this immediately and prevent the misery that is going on with numbers of students in this province.

The last thing I want to talk about for a few minutes - and last does not mean least - Mr. Speaker, is the universities in Nova Scotia. I just want to say a word or two. We know that the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education has worked hard over the last number of years since its creation. As one university president put it to me, they looked under every rock. What has come from it is a great deal of knowledge and useful information about all the different universities and their unique qualities and values and characteristics.

The Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education came up against the very same thing that happened in the P to 12 in the public system. Eventually they said that we can create funding formulas until the cows come home, but it doesn't matter what the funding formula is, if you are starving the universities for funds then no formula will work. So, Mr. Speaker, we await with great interest and some trepidation, I would think, the government's budget, to see whether universities are finally going to be able to recoup at least some of what they have lost over the last number of years, which has certainly been part of the reason for the skyrocketing tuitions and the pain and suffering that students have gone through over these trying times.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot support the Speech from the Throne. The government puts education on the first or second page, so it must be important. The government does admit that money has to be sent there, and that, as I said, is the biggest admission of all, of failure. What we need to do in this province and what we would do is change the direction this government has been going. We would go back to the four cornerstones, the four pillars of public education and make sure, as sure as we could, instead of this chaotic public policy arena and the cheese-paring and the chintzing, we would go back to those four pillars of public education.

Public education needs to be adequate, and for it to be adequate we don't depend on some corporation. It needs to be adequately funded so that students can get the class size and the services and the teachers they need and deserve.

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Mr. Speaker, it needs to be accessible, and that does not just mean elevators in schools for physically challenged students. It needs to be accessible for students who have needs that are different from others. It needs to be accessible in the sense that students with different learning styles and students with different talents have a chance to explore those talents in a school. That takes money, too. It also takes a commitment, though, to public education and what that means.

I was horrified to learn, too, that the government now charges students over 21 years of age - they always had the right, but they didn't used to do it - I believe it is $500 a course for people over 21 years of age to go back to a regular public high school. Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise this question, if you had not succeeded in getting your Grade 10, where are you going to get $10,500 to take the 21 credits that are now required for high school graduation? Are we not saying those who have it, get it, and those who don't have it won't get it? That is another example of accessibility.

Equity, Mr. Speaker, within schools, within boards and across the province, you can put down on paper all the core curriculums in the world, you can write down all the rhetorical flourishes in the world, but if you don't work towards equity and use adequate funding to do it, then you get Horton and Kings County Academy. You get the reasonably new Saint Andrews in Antigonish, and you get a school board closing down other schools in the municipality. So we have come a long way.

The last pillar is that it ought to be universal. This province had made some effort and some progress towards universal education in this province but there are students in this province who are still excluded and whose needs are excluded.

[4:45 p.m.]

If I have to sum it all up in a sentence or two, I would have to say that I speak strongly against the speech and in favour of the amendment because we have to take the last five years and consider them practice, misdirection, a folly that has not succeeded and we need to go back to the ground and start again with an education system that is fair, that is accessible, equitable, universal, adequate and is for all the children of this province all of the time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish.

MR. HYLAND FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before you today in this historic House of Assembly to give for the first time my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

[Page 239]

I am both proud and humble to rise today as the representative of the people of Antigonish: proud because so many citizens of Antigonish County have placed their trust in me to represent them in this historic venue; humble because I am following in the footsteps of a man who dedicated the past 28 years of his life to service, not only to the people of Antigonish but to the people of all of Nova Scotia. Of course, I refer to none other than Dr. Bill Gillis, the former MLA for Antigonish. (Applause)

Bill, during his years as MLA, set a standard of honesty, integrity and hard work that is the envy of all who aspire to public office. I want to assure the people of Antigonish that I will do my best to live up to the standard set by my predecessor. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Bill and his wife, Joan, many rewarding and pleasant years of retirement.

I bring greetings from the people of Antigonish to Their Honours Lieutenant Governor James Kinley and his charming wife, Grace. I want to congratulate the Lieutenant Governor on his excellent rendition of the Speech from the Throne. As Nova Scotians we are indeed fortunate to have such a distinguished Nova Scotian as our Lieutenant Governor.

I extend to you, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations on your recent election to this most distinguished office. I know that in the past you have served with distinction as the Speaker of the House of Assembly. Because of your past experience in the Chair, I know that you will serve this House with fairness and impartiality.

I would also like to extend congratulations to the member for Dartmouth South on his election as Deputy Speaker. I am sure that his many years of involvement in community affairs will serve him well as he assumes his duties as Deputy Speaker.

To all new members of this House, my congratulations on your recent success at the polls. I look forward to working with each of you to effectively and responsibly represent the concerns of our citizens.

I also congratulate returning members and look forward to tapping their experience as I gain my own experience as a member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, one could not rise in this House as the representative for Antigonish without mentioning St. Francis Xavier University. St. F.X., known throughout the world as an institute of excellence, is 145 years old. Throughout its distinguished history, St. F.X. has graduated men and women who have become leaders in every walk of life. In fact, St. F.X. continues to be the beacon to the academic world as a leader in social change and development. The Coady International Institute, named after Dr. Moses M. Coady, one of the world's most famous protagonists for social change, continues to attract students from all over the world to learn from the foundation established by Dr. Coady.

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Mr. Speaker, recently, with the help of both federal and provincial governments, St. Francis Xavier University inaugurated the aquatic resources program. The program came into existence as the result of the following factors: concern for the Atlantic fishery and the need to assist coastal communities; the 65 year involvement by the extension department in the well-being of the people of Antigonish and the surrounding areas; the university's desire to provide undergraduate programs which will meet political and employment needs.

This year, St. F.X. graduated 733 students, who will continue the long and proud tradition of government and business leadership established by X graduates who preceded them. Throughout the world, when you see someone wearing the X ring, you will, no doubt, see someone in a position of leadership.

Mr. Speaker, Antigonish is also the home of St. Martha's Regional Hospital, which provides medical services to the people of Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness and Richmond Counties. The people of eastern Nova Scotia are proud of their hospital and the services it provides. In fact, on Saturday, May 9, 1998, St. Martha's Regional Hospital Auxiliary raised over $26,000 during its annual Mayfest Celebrations. I had the pleasure of accompanying our Minister of Health, the Honourable James Smith, to this event. Event organizers were very pleased when they noticed the minister spending some of his hard-earned cash at a number of the booths.

This is but one example of the support that the people of the local communities give to their hospital; another concrete illustration of the community support for their hospital was their contribution of $8 million to the cost of constructing the St. Martha's Regional Hospital. Where else can you find a community the size of the one served by St. Martha's making such a significant contribution to the construction of their health care facility.

Speaking of St. Martha's, I would be remiss if I did not express my thanks and appreciation to the Premier, the Honourable Russell MacLellan, and to the Minister of Health, the Honourable James Smith, who during a recent cabinet meeting in Antigonish, met with representatives of the hospital's medical advisory committee, members of the Eastern Regional Health Board, members of the hospital administrative staff and community leaders, to discuss the hospital's needs. I thank them for their commitment to have helped department officials meet with the hospital committee to study and review problems related to capital equipment and medical services. I am confident that both the Premier and the minister are well aware of the importance of St. Martha's maintaining its status as a regional hospital and the responsibilities associated with that status.

Mr. Speaker, Antigonish is also the home of the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home and Guest House, a long-term care facility owned by the Town and the County of Antigonish, which has 106 beds. Recently, with the approval of the provincial government, the nursing home completed a $1.8 million expenditure with the addition of a second floor and other enhancements to the building. Attached to the nursing home is the Antigonish Manor, a

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senior's apartment complex containing 25 units. This complex provides enriched housing accommodations for seniors who want to maintain their independence, but at the same time have the security of knowing that assistance is close at hand.

I was very pleased that during the recent election campaign, while in Antigonish the Premier was able to find time to tour both the nursing home and the manor to view first-hand these excellent facilities and the services provided to our seniors. The Premier took the opportunity to congratulate the administrative staff, the working staff and the board for their direction and forward-thinking.

Mr. Speaker, Antigonish is a community that is highly dependent on the revenues derived from its resource industries, such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry. The 1996 statistics show that in northern Nova Scotia, close to 60,000 people were employed in these industries; 7,200 of those people were in Antigonish County. Gross receipts for agriculture alone totalled nearly $19 million.

A vibrant and healthy fishery is also important to the economy. Last year in Antigonish, the total landed value for the fishery was $8.5 million, but it could be much greater. That is why I was most disappointed to learn that the federal Minister of Fisheries ignored the requests of local fishermen for a small share of the northern shrimp quota. DFO increased the northern shrimp fishery by 28,000 metric tonnes this year, and all of it went to existing Newfoundland-based interests. Traditional fishing rights for Nova Scotia fishermen were totally ignored. I was pleased, then, on Friday that members of this House passed a resolution condemning the federal government for its actions in this manner.

It is imperative that the provincial government continue to support primary industries through the provision of services that will help them remain sustainable and an important source of revenue for those employed in these enterprises.

I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if in my discussion of primary industries I neglected to mention one of the biggest employers in northern Nova Scotia. The employer I refer to is Stora Forest Industries. As you know, Stora has been with us for many years and this year, through an investment of $750 million, it has built the largest super calendar-paper machine in the world. It will be able to produce 350,000 tons of catalogue-quality paper annually. Many citizens of Antigonish County rely on Stora for employment and I am appreciative of the confidence shown in northern Nova Scotia and its workforce, by this international leader in the forest industry. (Applause)

Another industry, although not in production as yet, is beginning to have a significant impact on the economy of Antigonish. Mr. Speaker, I refer to the Sable gas project. Already local contractors are benefiting from contracts that have been awarded by the Sable Offshore Energy Project. Local residents are being hired during the present construction phase. Employment opportunities will continue to grow as the project proceeds to the day when the

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first liquids begin flowing through the pipeline, providing to the local employment seam. Local distribution to rural areas will also be key to attracting new businesses and keeping us competitive with the metro areas.

Mr. Speaker, Antigonish is well-known all over the world as one of the premier destinations for tourists. Its beautiful scenery and relaxed way of life are the chief attractions which keep tourists coming in greater and greater numbers every year. Along with the scenery and pace of life, Antigonish has other attractions that help to keep tourists in our area. One of the main attractions is the Antigonish Highland Games, the oldest such event in North America, which takes place very July. It is an event that you shouldn't miss. I encourage every member of the House to take the short journey to Antigonish to witness one of the premier sporting events on this continent.

If the Highland Games are not your cup of tea, then you can always come and visit us and see a live performance put on by the Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre. Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre is world-renowned for its excellent theatrical productions. This year's productions include: The Business of Murder, Drinking Alone, Marvin's Room, the Red-Headed King and Two More Solitudes. There is also a children's series associated with the festival.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism for once again making available the Nova Scotia Summer Employment Program for students. We all know the difficulties that students encounter when seeking summer employment, and every effort to provide them with employment is welcome. I know that the minister is somewhat limited by the amount of funding available for this program. However, I am asking him to review the summer jobs file with a view to finding different and innovative ways to provide funding for more jobs than are presently approved. Many non-profit organizations in my constituency rely heavily on this program and any additional assistance that can be provided will be more than welcome. Our youth are our future and we must continue to find ways to help them find employment while completing their education.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, 63 per cent of the roads in Antigonish are unpaved. After many years of neglect, I wish to thank the present Minister of Finance, the past Minister of Transportation, who recognized this inequity by allocating additional funding towards our roads the past several years. Recently when the Cabinet met in Antigonish, I took the opportunity to have the new Minister of Transportation and Public Works tour some of these roads so he could have a look first-hand at their condition. I know that he will give the need to have these roads paved serious consideration and establish paving priorities. I trust that he will also remember kindly the warm hospitality that he received while in Antigonish and return to examine more closely again the wildlife that he observed during his tour.

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Mr. Speaker, I commend the government for its unprecedented commitment to public education as mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. I have said it before and I will say it again, our future is in our youth. If we do not provide a sound education for our young people, we are doomed to failure as a society. The commitment to build new schools, including the East Antigonish Education Centre and the West Antigonish Education Centre in my constituency, to reduce classes, initiate new literacy programs, increase university funding and expand community college programs are all initiatives that will make Nova Scotia a leader in education in North America as we enter the 21st Century. The new century belongs to Nova Scotia and this government is making it happen.

The Civil Service Career Start Program will provide an opportunity for those students seeking careers in the Public Service an opportunity to gain experience, so that when they apply for jobs, they can include on their resume pertinent work experience. Once again, this government is showing leadership by providing expanded opportunities for our youth.

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne outlined this government's commitment to providing more and better support to children and families. These initiatives range from the provision of services to children, increasing funding for women's centres and studying the services and housing needs of seniors. Recently, I had an opportunity to meet with the staff and board of directors of the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre which is providing assistance to women and youth of Antigonish and area. The announcement in the Speech from the Throne that the government would increase funding for women's centres was certainly welcome news to them. Again, this is just another example of this government's social conscience and its commitment to providing a better life for all Nova Scotians.

In making job creation a top priority, this government recognizes that the only way the economy can grow is through the provision of jobs for its citizens. Further cooperation between the government and private businesses will result in more jobs and a brighter future for all Nova Scotians. One of the ways that this government is helping small business and the citizens of Antigonish is through the opening of an Access Nova Scotia Centre in Antigonish. Such a centre is scheduled to open later this year.

I was pleased to note in the Speech from the Throne a commitment to providing new equipment to detect and treat illness. I am sure this will be good news for the people at St. Martha's Hospital as they continue their role as a regional hospital serving the needs of northeastern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, in concluding my remarks I want to thank my colleagues for their attentiveness to my remarks. I thank my wife, my family and my campaign team who worked so hard during the recent election to ensure a successful conclusion. I want to assure the residents of Antigonish that I will do my utmost to follow the example set by my predecessor and serve them with dignity, honesty and integrity. Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favour of the Speech from the Throne. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to assure the honourable member who was just speaking that I was paying attention to his St. FX references, I would like to take the attention of the House for a moment please to introduce two prominent students of Mount Allison University. That university, the member for Antigonish should be aware, has been chosen the last five years in a row by Maclean's Magazine as being the top undergraduate university in the country.

At this time, I would ask the House to please acknowledge the presence of Denis Durepos, and a special friend of mine, Trisha Cameron Estabrooks. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to the Speech from the Throne. The constituency of Truro-Bible Hill is comprised of the communities of Bible Hill, Millbrook, Salmon River and Truro. I am honoured and proud to have been elected as their MLA. I thank the voters for their confidence in me and I intend to keep my campaign pledge to be a strong voice for our community.

I am honoured and proud, too, Mr. Speaker, to sit in this Chamber, indeed the most-storied and historic Legislative Chamber in Canada. I hope that my term will be remembered as a positive one and one that contributes to the well-being of all Nova Scotians.

I bring greetings from my constituents to all members of the House and I extend my congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, for not only assuming the Speaker's position for the third time, but for being the first person ever to be elected to that position by a vote of all members of the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured on opening day to sit in this Chamber at a time when Mr. Justice Lorne Clarke was among the members of the Supreme Court in attendance. Chief Justice Clarke came to the bench from Truro. Although the Malagash area is his native community, we in Truro claim some ownership of him, too. He has served the people of this province with dignity, integrity and common sense and he will be missed. I extend my congratulations to him on his outstanding career and wish him and Mrs. Clarke all good things in their retirement.

As all members know, to successfully compete for a seat in this Legislature you must have an energetic and dedicated group of workers. I was blessed, Mr. Speaker, to have a first-class campaign team which I would like to acknowledge now.

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First, my wife Mary Jean. She not only provided encouragement, but showed remarkable patience and understanding when I was doing political things and neglecting the home front during the 25-month period of my candidacy. Second, I am grateful to my children, Sarah, Meghan, James and John for their interest and best wishes. Third, Bess Stanfield, my campaign manager and the other woman in my life for six weeks, whose campaign experience and ability to get things done, excellent people skills and commitment to my candidacy, made it easy for me to do the things I needed to do to be successful. For example, six hours after the writ was dropped, my campaign was operating at close to 100 per cent.

Next are June and Charles Cox, who led me through the nomination process and also provided invaluable help during the campaign. Special mention, too, must be made of the day-to-day work of our office manager, Roseanne MacIsaac, and of my communications chair, Duff Montgomerie, and of my driver, Roy Henderson.

I could continue to list all the names, but you would have to allow me the remainder of today and tomorrow to do that. Perhaps it is sufficient to say that nearly 300 people were active in my campaign and either actively went out and campaigned for me or contributed financially. It was truly a great team and my success is a reflection of their efforts. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank them all most sincerely.

At this point I would like to congratulate Rod MacLennan of Truro. He is a life-long friend who helped me from the time I sought the nomination to the election. Last Tuesday, at the Dalhousie University convocation, Rod received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws. I know of no person who deserves that recognition more.

The year 1997-98 has seen significant changes in the political faces of my constituency. Not only was there a new MLA elected but the Town of Truro elected a new Mayor, Bill Mills. The Bible Hill Village Commission has a new chairperson, Wayne McCormick. This is Mr. McCormick's fourth term as chairperson and if he completes it, he will be the person who has served longest in that post. Mike Smith is the new Warden of Colchester County. Indeed, the only municipal head returning to office is Lawrence Paul who was re-elected Chief of the Millbrook First Nations community. I look forward to working with these municipal leaders and their councils for the betterment of all people in our constituency.

My constituency is comprised of wonderful, energetic people and their sense of community is as great as any in the province.

I am pleased to report that the first International Tulip Festival held in the Truro area from May 22nd to May 24th was a great success. Although the honourable members of this Assembly have already commended the organizing committee, volunteers, sponsors and the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce for their outstanding effort in making the festival a reality, I would again like to acknowledge their efforts for putting together such an event.

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It is an example for us all of exemplary volunteerism in action. Planning is already underway for the second festival and the dates selected will once again make it the first major festival in the province in 1999.

The progressive thinking of the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce will be in evidence again later this year when the Truro area will be a Winter Wonderland of Lights in the six weeks leading up to Christmas. On behalf of all my constituents I invite all members and their constituents to visit our community and participate in what I am sure will be a spectacular celebration.

Another special event will occur this summer and it will bring people back to the community from many parts of Canada and elsewhere. The period July 31st to August 8th is being organized as a homecoming for former residents of Truro's Black community, their families and friends, as part of the 25th Anniversary of the Apex Invitational Golf Tournament. This tournament had its origin 27 years ago when one of Nova Scotia's outstanding young athletes, Darrell Maxwell, organized an informal tournament for about a dozen black golfers. Two years later, in 1976, Apex Cleaning Services, which is owned by Chook Maxwell and Artie Jordan, two local entrepreneurs who happen to be Black, became the main sponsors of the tournament. It continues with their support today.

The event was first named the Apex Invitational Black Golf Tournament, but two years later Black was dropped from the name because sponsors felt it discouraged non-Blacks from participating. This is one of the province's most successful athletic and social events. In the 25 year history of the tournament the economic benefit to the Truro area has been very significant. I congratulate this year's organizing committee and wish them every success for what I know will be a fun-filled week with families and friends. I certainly intend to participate in a number of the events. I extend a vote of appreciation to Chook Maxwell and Artie Jordan for the 25 years they have committed their time, talent and resources to an event which brings people back to Truro year after year.

It is with pride that I speak to you and all members of the House about the achievements of the 1997-98 Truro-TSN Bearcats Hockey Club. This team, which the House congratulated by resolution last Friday, was the winner of the historic Allan Cup on April 11th in Truro. The Allan Cup is emblematic of the Canadian Senior AAA Hockey Championship. Truro hosted the 1998 Tournament, which included teams from Powell River, B.C.; London, Ontario; and Îles-des-Chênes, Manitoba. It was an extremely successful event and the residents of my constituency were examples of true Nova Scotia hospitality.

[5:15 p.m.]

Though many people contributed to the accomplishments of the Bearcats and helped put the tournament together, I would like to acknowledge in particular the contributions of three people. First, I speak with admiration of the efforts and dedication of Larry Anthony

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and Jim Foley. They not only co-chaired the Allan Cup Committee and were the driving forces in bringing it to Truro, but also put together and operated a winning team which was comprised of players from all across Nova Scotia. The Truro-TSN Bearcat team consisted of a group of 25 people who were playing only for the thrill of the game and the desire to win the Allan Cup.

The third person whom I would like to salute is the team's owner, Stu Rath, whose love of sport and his tangible commitment to senior hockey in Truro for 10 years made the team possible. Thank you Larry, Jim and Stu for putting Bearcat pride back into our community. Additional congratulations are extended to Stu Rath as well. He was recognized as Businessperson of the Year by the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce, an award which was so well deserved.

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Convocation at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. This vibrant university college located in my constituency has matured into one of the continent's outstanding agricultural research institutions, a fact evidenced by the ever-increasing number of students who complete graduate studies there, including at the Ph.D. level. Some members of faculty are world leaders in their field of expertise.

The expansion of the animal science building, primarily to house its emerging aquaculture program is nearly complete. Nova Scotia lags far behind provinces like New Brunswick and British Columbia in aquaculture, but it is a very desirable complement to our land-based farming and thus, this industry must be encouraged and supported by the government. Mr. Speaker, this means tangible recognition and support.

Now all members of this House know that agriculture is a very major component of the Nova Scotian economy, but we must all recognize too that the Nova Scotia Agriculture College is a very integral part of its continued success. Unfortunately, the importance of this institution to the province's well-being seems not to be well appreciated by the Liberal Government. The NSAC needs special support, Mr. Speaker, so it can provide the research and leadership needed to assist our agricultural economy. For example, more research chairs and more funded professorships need to be established so that we can compete with other institutions when it comes to retaining internationally known researchers and attracting new, promising faculty. If we are to be the best, we must compete against the best.

Now that it has matured into a major research institution, the NSAC feels that it would now be in its best interest and also that of the province to break out of the protective shell provided by the provincial Department of Agriculture for so many years. Standing on its own would mean two main things: first, a name change, perhaps to Nova Scotia Agricultural College/Atlantic University College of Agriculture; and secondly, a new governing structure which would have the renamed institution responsible to its own board of governors rather than to the Minister of Agriculture.

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The name change would be made to tell people what the college is really about these days and a change in governance would enable the college to respond more quickly to changing needs in agriculture, promote academic freedom and would also demand more accountability. Degrees, however, would still be awarded jointly with Dalhousie University. I encourage the government to consider the proposal of the college and consider the proposals carefully and to make a timely response.

As a footnote to my comments on the NSAC, Mr. Speaker, Principal, Dr. Garth Coffin, would be delighted to have members of this Legislature visit the campus and see first-hand the activities and facilities of the college, meet with staff and students and, thus, gain a greater appreciation of the role it can have in the province's future. I would be pleased to have my office in Truro make such arrangements for any of the members who would like to accept that invitation.

There is another segment of the Truro-Bible Hill economy which is intertwined with agriculture. For many years, Mr. Speaker, my constituency was the home of a vibrant harness racing program. The track, which is the fastest in the Maritimes, is owned by the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission and is located in the beautiful village of Bible Hill. In recent years, however, our track, like all others in the Maritimes, has struggled. Falling attendance, the inability to attract many younger spectators and severe competition from other types of gaming have all contributed to its difficult time. Unfortunately, many people fail to recognize how significant the harness racing industry is to the economy of my community and, indeed, to the province. It is not only the track operators that benefit, but we have drivers, trainers, food and beverage servers, ticket sellers. Tracks also affect the businesses of feed production, shoeing horses, breeding, tack shops, car and truck dealers and printers. I could name more. Harness racing has a wide impact on the economy of my constituency, including about 100 direct jobs and also in the province.

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, it is too important a part of our economy to be allowed to go the way of the Nova Scotia Teachers College. Therefore, I was pleased to learn that an agreement had been concluded which will see the management of the harness racing facilities in the Maritime Provinces turned over to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation for a three year period.

AN HON. MEMBER: And not the sheriff.

MR. MUIR: And not the sheriff. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation will invest $12 million in seven Maritime tracks over a three year period. I would like to recognize the efforts of the Minister of Agriculture and the MLA for Colchester North, Ed Lorraine, for helping that come to be. It is an important part of our constituency. (Applause)

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The Atlantic Lottery Corporation has demonstrated management and promotional abilities, so I am optimistic that the industry has a good chance to survive and, perhaps, expand. I do, however, encourage the Department of Agriculture to monitor the harness racing industry particularly carefully, and encourage and assist the expansion of the breeding and training of standard bred horses for Maritime tracks and those in other provinces and the United States.

Things, however, Mr. Speaker, are not all well in Truro-Bible Hill. No constituency in this province's history was pillaged more by a government during a single term of office than my constituency of Truro-Bible Hill. For example, the Nova Scotia Teachers College was closed for political reasons, not educational reasons, by a shoddy process. It was an affront to all Nova Scotians, but especially to the residents of Truro-Bible Hill, the students and faculty, the staff and the alumni of the Nova Scotia Teachers College and, perhaps, worst of all, that process was devoid, for the most part, of the principles of fairness and integrity to which governments are obligated to adhere and that Nova Scotians have the right to expect. While many of the perpetrators of this debacle, both political and bureaucratic, are gone now, there are some still left in decision-making positions. Mr. Speaker, I trust that this Premier and his Cabinet will take steps to see that such a shemozzle will never again occur in the history of his government.

Second, the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre was closed. Many people feel that the substitute programming, for example, community-based option homes, do not provide the same quality of life that the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre did. I am told, Mr. Speaker, that new legislation concerning small option homes has been written but not passed by this House. I would encourage the Minister of Community Services to inform the members of this House, the status of the proposed legislation and their timetable for bringing to the House.

Third, Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Residential Centre was closed among great promises that a new, secure treatment facility would arise in its place and would have begun, even by this date, its operations. Indeed, the Premier, in a visit to Truro on March 1st, indicated that planning for the new centre was well advanced. The Liberal candidate, in her March election campaign, advertised that she had been successful in bringing the new, secure treatment centre to Truro. There is, at this point, no visible sign that the needed renovations are taking place. Also, the Minister of Community Services has yet to reply to my letter asking for a specific timetable for the establishment of the secure treatment facility. I don't think she has one. Since the Throne Speech did not mention it either, I expect that the institution falls into the category of another broken Liberal promise.

The government also closed Cobetec, which was the renamed old Colchester-East Hants Vocational School. It moved most of its programs to a community college facility called Truro Campus, which it was developing in the former Nova Scotia Teachers College facility. Probably no other educational institution in this province was ever described in more glowing terms than those used when the government announced it. Indeed, I have a file of

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clippings of ministerial statements that this new institution would have the world beating down its doors clamouring for admission. The economic benefit of this new community college would far exceed anything possible if the NSTC remained. Well, Mr. Speaker, this simply has not occurred. The reasons were simply another example of Liberal ineptitude and lack of respect for the people of Truro-Bible Hill. The Truro campus has not fulfilled, in any way, promises made by this government when it was announced.

Mr. Speaker, there are many good people working at the Truro Campus and I salute their accomplishments in light of the very limited leadership provided by the Department of Education and Culture as it began, and the shaky guidance it now receives from the Nova Scotia Community College Board of Governors and its senior officials.

Mr. Speaker, I want the Truro Campus to be a vibrant centre of learning and an economic strength of my community. I am prepared to assist in any way I can. I would like to hear what action the government is prepared to take to help.

Prior to the election, I wrote to the Minister of Education and Culture to voice my concerns about the discrepancy between the promises and the reality of the Truro Campus. He effectively replied, write the Community College Board of Governors, it is not my problem. Mr. Minister, I disagree. Your department created the problem, you are the minister responsible for education in Nova Scotia and you are responsible to see that the Nova Scotia Community College Board of Governors and its senior administrative staff act with vision and respond to the needs of the Nova Scotia community.

Mr. Speaker, one of the major problems with the Nova Scotia Community College, one that needs to be rectified, is that the government has taken the community out of the community college system. The community must be restored to these institutions if they are to succeed and to fulfil their most useful role in the future of this province.

In the Throne Speech the government made great promises about school construction and I hope that the promises can be delivered. Like many other Nova Scotians, though, Mr. Speaker, I have yet to be convinced of the merits of the P3 program. At least one lease remains unsigned of the original schools built and I guess it is really three of the four original leases are yet unsigned. The cost of the new high school in the riding of the Minister of Education and Culture appears to be completely beyond reason and the construction of the new Horton building may be done at the expense of establishing a reasonable quality of education across the province.

[5:30 p.m.]

However, maybe I am wrong. Maybe the province can afford 90 $40 million schools. While I am not fundamentally opposed to P3 construction, its cost-effectiveness, compared to other methods for putting up school buildings, must be evaluated before proceeding

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further. Is it any wonder that the education promises in the Speech from the Throne are open to question? I, for one, can no longer accept Liberal promises about education. For me, believing will come after seeing.

The government's intention for improvements in our health care system appeared late in the Throne Speech and seems to lack both an understanding of the problems and the conviction to solve them. I hope that this does not indicate that health care is low on the government's list of priorities. It is the highest priority for the people in my constituency. For example, the Colchester Regional Hospital too frequently must turn away critically ill patients because there are no beds. It is the only regional hospital in the province for which no plans for modernization have been announced.

The Truro area has lost several family practitioners and many people cannot get a doctor. Now I was surprised to hear this so I went out and I checked with a number of the family practitioners and they did assure me that this is the case. There will be a shortage of nurses very soon too. Too often workers in the long-term care facilities are not treated with the respect given other health care professionals. Clearly, as well, for improvements in health care to take place, a good portion of it must be returned to the communities.

Let me address just very briefly a remark made in the House last week by the Minister of Health to the effect that the province had gained 100 new family practitioners in 1997. He implied that the province had the doctor supply under control. Well, here are some facts about doctor shortage provided me over the weekend, and unsolicited by the way. This was from upset people. They called the minister's statement into question.

First of all, of the 100 new people that he reported as going on the rolls, 55 of them were practising in the province the year before, only for licencing reasons they were not counted in the rolls. It is simply a paper figure. They are not new bodies. So now we are down to 45 which is about 45 per cent promised. That is pretty good, I guess, Liberal, 45 per cent. Better than normal.

HON. JAMES SMITH: On a point of information, Mr. Speaker. I would like to have any information tabled that he is reading from that would say that because he has made a very serious allegation against me as misrepresenting the facts. I would like to have some documentation.

MR. SPEAKER: We will have it tabled.

MR. MUIR: There is a shortage of family doctors all across Nova Scotia, not just in rural areas. Some places still have no doctors. Truro needs two doctors now. Recently there was a report in the paper about a group looking for six to eight doctors in southwestern Cape Breton. Amherst needs three family doctors. New Glasgow is losing three and was already short of doctors. Dartmouth has lost 17 and gained five. Two more doctors are retiring soon.

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Sackville needs three. Bedford appears to be okay. Yarmouth needs seven. The situation seems to be particularly bad here. Springhill has recently lost three. The other areas have not been assessed but it is likely that more deficiencies exist. In 1996 (Interruption)

No, I didn't hear that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member for Truro-Bible Hill has the floor.

MR. MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In 1996, 25 people graduated from the Family Practice Program at Dalhousie University; four of them were in the province in 1997. I'll say no more about the doctor shortage but I would also say that in terms of health care there is no recognition in the Speech from the Throne of the need to remove Pharmacare premiums for seniors which was a very important thing in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, the second most frequently cited concern I encountered on the doorsteps during my election campaign was the hardship caused by the extra tax on essentials with the adoption of the HST. Of particular concern were the additional costs to home heating fuel and electricity, and the increase in the price of children's clothing and school supplies were often cited. Seniors and other persons on fixed incomes are greatly impacted and there are elements of that tax which most people in this province view as being unfair, including the people on the other side of the House.

The Premier, during his leadership campaign said he understood the extra burden created by the tax on home heating fuel and electricity and that he would address it quickly. He failed to do this in his first term as Premier and the Throne Speech indicates he will do nothing about it in his second term. It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that this government does not understand that close to 100 per cent of Nova Scotians, including those who voted Liberal, because they believed his promise, want adjustments to the HST; most people I have spoken to and especially businesspeople support the single tax. Businesspeople also like the increase in input tax credit but the great majority of Nova Scotians don't like that extra tax on home heating fuel and power, items which don't go on sale, and expect the government to take action and I ask, right now Mr. Speaker, what the government is going to do about this. Concrete actions, words, broken promises.

Mr. Speaker, as every member of this constituency, this Assembly should know, my constituency suffered from severe flooding this spring. While some flooding occurs annually, this year's high water caused serious and expensive damage to many properties. It also rigorously enforced the message, that a plan to improve the situation must be developed immediately and action taken.

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People in the affected areas, which include the constituency of the Minister of Agriculture, that is Colchester North, tell me the flooding problem has been studied to death. There is sufficient information available from existing studies and from the common-sense opinions of many area residents to develop a strategic plan to deal with the problem. I accept this and I call on the Minister of the Environment to convene a meeting of representatives of the Town of Truro, the Village of Bible Hill, the Municipality of Colchester County and officials from the Department of the Environment to draw up an action plan. I am prepared to assist in any way I can but this meeting must take place very soon. The flooding season is only 10 months away and some remediation, perhaps for example, the installation of gates in the dykes must be effected before winter sets in.

Mr. Speaker, I was elected by the residents of Truro-Bible Hill to be a strong voice for our community and to promote good government for the province. In March, 66 per cent of Nova Scotians said they were dissatisfied with the former Liberal Government. There is nothing in the Throne Speech presented by the present Liberal Government that I can see that is going to increase its popularity. Indeed, this is a status quo government.

Mr. Speaker, as I reflect on the Throne Speech, I ask myself what would my constituents say about it and what would they have me do? I am convinced that the great majority of my constituents would say that the Throne Speech is woefully inadequate. It shows no evidence that the government has listened to our concerns. It should not be supported. They would say you and your colleagues in the Progressive Conservative Party have offered to cooperate with the government but the government has ignored your desire to make a minority government work.

I am of that opinion too, Mr. Speaker. Unless the government in very short order shows a tangible commitment to sincere cooperation with our Party and a commitment to put people first, I will not support the Throne Speech. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome to the Assembly today Gilbert Daye. Gilbert lives in the north end of Halifax and he is the son of the former Sergeant-at-Arms, Buddy Daye. I would like the members to welcome him. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause) When I stand in this place at this time I am struck by the profound significance of me being in this House. Yes, it is true that I am the first African-Nova Scotian woman to be elected to sit in this House but that is not the thing that is most important. The thing that is most important is the opportunity it provides for a voice that has been silent in this democratic exercise to be heard, not only the

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voice of the African-Canadian community but I hope to give voice to others in our society as well, whose voices fall on deaf ears in this House, the voice of working people in this province, people who had to sit in at the Premier's Office in order to be heard, people whose voice is greeted with indifference and bureaucracy, people who have difficulty paying their bills while government sits around trying to figure out what to do and then appointing yet another task force, the voice of women in this province, and in particular, Mr. Speaker, the voice of African-Canadian Nova Scotians.

Since being lured to this province with false promises, Mr. Speaker, things have not fared well at all in the democratic project. I hope to bring to the attention of this House, among other things, an African-Nova Scotian's perspective. I think it is indicative of Nova Scotian society that it has taken so long for the voice of African-Nova Scotians to be heard in a direct way in this House. A province that prides itself on being one of the first democratic institutions in the country did not find a way until the 1990's to include the Black community in a meaningful way in the democratic process. I will have more to say on this later.

[5:45 p.m.]

When I talk about the need for a dedicated seat for African-Nova Scotians in this House, suffice it to say, Mr. Speaker, the African-Nova Scotian community, since coming to this province, has been treated, in my opinion, as second-class citizens and sometimes less. African-Nova Scotian communities are being treated - there again, in my opinion - in a discriminatory fashion, vis-à-vis other segments of the Nova Scotia community. I will talk a little bit more about that later.

As an illustration, Mr. Speaker, I point to the issue of school boards. Recently, changes to the Education Act of Nova Scotia were introduced in the House, allowing for the creation of the Acadian School Board; a commendable initiative. In addition, the Micmac community was given representation on the school boards. When we look at the situation of the African-Nova Scotian community, they are not represented on the school board. While the situation of the other two communities are legislatively allowed for, this situation needs to be addressed for African-Nova Scotians. Given the fact that the school board size has increased, the chances of African-Nova Scotians being elected to the school board has been greatly diminished.

Prior to the establishment of the large school board, the Black community had worked very hard and struggled to succeed in having several people elected to the school boards. After the restructuring of the school board, when they became very large, to the best of my knowledge, across the entire province, we have now only two African-Nova Scotians on the school board. Mr. Speaker, this situation needs to be addressed and ways must be found in order to allow Black people to participate in decision making around the African-Nova Scotian learner. I believe the Education Act of Nova Scotia, as it stands, is clearly discriminatory with respect to representation on the school board and the African-Nova

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Scotian community. I also believe that it is not only discriminatory, but it may be a violation of the Charter of Rights for African-Nova Scotians to be treated equally and to benefit equally under the law.

Mr. Speaker, time may not permit me to go into tremendous detail in terms of all of the issues that need to be brought to the attention of this House in respect to the African-Canadian community. Although I indicated that I want to bring an African-Nova Scotian perspective to the House, I want to clearly point out that I fully recognize and accept the fact that my community is very diverse. Unlike previous politicians, I intend to represent the interests of all my constituents. There will be no group within the Preston riding who shall remain without a champion or who will remain voiceless. Unlike previous politicians in the Prestons, who have turned a deaf ear to my community, I intend to represent all of the people in my riding.

I mentioned in my remarks earlier in this speech, a need for a dedicated seat for Blacks in Nova Scotia. I alluded to the fact that Black people have not done very well in the democratic exercise in this province, which is evident by the fact that I stand alone in this House as the sole African-Nova Scotian. I want to immediately bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, and to the attention of this House and the larger community that I represent the constituency of Preston, and to the extent that I am able I will attempt to bring their issues to this House but I believe that I have seen a very dangerous and sometimes a very racist and inappropriate behaviour exhibited in this House in the past in a sense that the sole African-Nova Scotian MLA was looked to as the unofficial minister of African-Nova Scotian affairs.

I, Mr. Speaker, was not elected by the Black people in Glace Bay. I was not elected by the Black people in Annapolis Royal. I was not elected by the Black people in southwestern Nova Scotia and as such I will not attempt to speak or represent their interests in a direct way. Because I am African-Nova Scotian and because it is necessary to give voice to those people who have been prevented from having a voice, I will attempt to the best of my ability to try to bring forth issues. This is not to say that the MLAs who represent those areas do not represent those people, however, in this society Black people look towards others with issues that they feel cannot be addressed in any other manner.

But my concerns, Mr. Speaker, are not the concerns of Preston's. I believe it is unacceptable in this day and age to expect one African-Nova Scotian person to represent the needs and ambitions of the entire African-Nova Scotia community spread across 27 communities across Nova Scotia. A way must be found to allow these people to participate in the selection of individuals who will give voice to their issues and concerns. We lost an opportunity in this province several years ago when the last redistribution was done. The need to have representation for African-Nova Scotians was taken into consideration and my riding was established. I say, good but not good enough. Even in the riding of Preston, there is no guarantee that Blacks in that riding will be represented by an African-Nova Scotia person, not acceptable. Once again, an illustration of institutionalized discrimination in this province.

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The Acadians have long been acknowledged, that the Acadians have representation in this House, and as I look around, I see the honourable members. They are here to bring voice to the Acadian community. I say, good, well done, needed and necessary. The Micmac Community was given an opportunity to select a name, a Micmac representative to this House. They have not acted on that but they have been given the opportunity. I ask you, Mr. Speaker and the members of this House, why was this opportunity not afforded to the African-Nova Scotian community. This needs to be readdressed and I hope in the near future that a way will be found to allow the African-Nova Scotian community across this province to have a say in selecting a member that will sit in this House to represent their interests in the same way as I try to represent the African-Nova Scotians in my community.

Mr. Speaker, this is not an issue of, oh, wouldn't it be nice to have an African-Nova Scotian-at-large. My view is that once again the African-Nova Scotian community has been treated in a discriminatory fashion. Once again, and I quote under Section 51 of the Charter of Rights, to be treated equally under the law has not been observed with respect to the issue of representation in this House.

It may be, and I certainly would support this, that the African-Nova Scotian community raised these issues at another level. It may be that the African-Nova Scotian community may have to look to the courts of the land to win rights that have been given to other groups but have been denied to the African-Canadian community. I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that this House would show the foresight and the leadership that is necessary to take action in respect to an issue that is as important as this and to allow structurally for African-Nova Scotians' interests to be adequately represented in this House.

Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker, I do stand for the voice of the people, that is my feeling. We spend too much time kowtowing to corporations, giving away the taxpayers' money to offshore corporations only to see them move from the province in the middle of the night. Mr. Speaker, it is time for a new approach to economic development in this province. Take some of the money that has been given away to the large corporations and give it to community groups so that we can have economic development at the grass roots level.

Let there be no mistake, I stand in this House as a champion for the underdog. I stand for the working person, I stand for the disenfranchised, I stand for the voiceless. I ran my campaign on those issues and that is why I am here today.

I would like to pause to thank and acknowledge some people, Mr. Speaker, but we are getting close to the time. I would like to pause and now thank and acknowledge all the people who assisted in my election to this House and to say a few words about my constituency of Preston. I would first like to acknowledge . . .

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MR. SPEAKER: I would like to suggest to the honourable member, if you wish, if this is one particular part of your speech that you wish to keep together then perhaps you can move adjournment of the debate at this time.

MS. ATWELL: Yes, thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be sitting from the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. It is Opposition Day tomorrow so I call on the honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The Official Opposition House Leader, business for tomorrow?

MR. JOHN HOLM: We will be debating three resolutions, Resolution No. 6, Resolution No. 29 and Resolution No. 67. I have given copies of the resolutions to the Government House Leader and to the House Leader for the Conservative Party.

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption. Those who are moving from the House, I would ask them to do so quietly. Tonight's resolution was introduced by the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's. I understand the honourable member for Kings West will be opening the debate.

[Be it resolved that since this government failed to deliver any real direction for a reversal of the health care crisis facing this province either during the election or in its Throne Speech, it immediately put a plan in place which will recognize and resolve the critical health needs of the people of Nova Scotia.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH: CRISIS - RESOURCE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, this is my first opportunity to debate in the House since we are back in session. I want to talk a bit about health care. You know, I was so disappointed when I read the Throne Speech with the lack of information, the lack of government's response to what is happening in health care. As a matter of fact, there was very little, if anything, in the Throne Speech that would encourage Nova Scotians that, all of a sudden, health care was going to change.

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[6:00 p.m.]

It was amazing, Mr. Speaker, during the election the Liberals decided that they would have no platform, but part-way through the campaign they discovered that something was happening across this province. What was happening was that they found out - as many of us found out - that Nova Scotians were unhappy with what was happening in health care. So, all of a sudden, during the campaign, the Liberals decided they would have something to put in front of Nova Scotians. What they are putting in front of Nova Scotians is $80 million, new dollars, for health care. They didn't have a plan, but they did acknowledge that there were problems in health care across this province.

Mr. Speaker, whether you live in Windsor, where there is a problem with the number of beds in the hospital - which the Premier tried to address during the campaign, but yet has to be addressed - the government recognized that there was a problem and said that we will have a study, but nothing has happened in Windsor to assure those people that something has actually changed to meet their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, it was also acknowledged during the election that, obviously, we have too few acute care beds. It doesn't matter what part of the province you are in, you hear horror stories time and time again about people who are turned away from outpatients, elderly people who either live by themselves or live with an elderly companion and they can't get into the hospital because there are no beds. Why are there no beds? Because this government has set up this bureaucracy of regional health boards and it was this government's decision to hire more bureaucrats, they never touch a patient, but they sure are making decisions that have to deal with how health care is delivered in this province.

Mr. Speaker, every weekend I get calls. I got three calls on the weekend. I got more than three calls, but three calls directly to do with health care, directly to do with access to health care. One individual who needed to come to Halifax for cancer treatment, who couldn't travel by normal vehicle, who couldn't get out of bed and is terminally ill, who is on a fixed income, was told that if they came to Halifax by ambulance, it is $300 each way. What we have in this province is a two-tiered system. If you have the money, you can get the care. If you don't have the money, who seems to care about you? We have to have a government in this province who is concerned about people, who understands the plight of people, who understands that our system isn't meeting the needs of people with regard to health care.

We don't have enough doctors in this province. This government talked about how they were going to recruit. Well it was this government's policies that drove the doctors away. Doctors didn't want to leave this province, but we had a number of physicians leave this province, from 1993 to 1998, basically because of the policies of this government. Whether you live in Springhill, Yarmouth or parts of Cape Breton, do you know what it is like, Mr. Speaker, not to have a family doctor? Do you know what it is like to have to go to outpatients if you are a diabetic or if you are a person who needs medication? Do you know

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what it is like to wait there for hours as an elderly individual just to see a doctor so you can get a prescription? Not one of us would like to have that happen to us. This is happening across this province time and time again, because people do not have the family doctors which this government has driven away.

Mr. Speaker, we are also short of specialists, and we are becoming shorter and shorter of specialists. This government can stand up and say, yes, we brought in 100 doctors or we brought in so many, but the bottom line is that we don't have enough physicians in this province. This government had a Blueprint Committee and they told that Blueprint Committee that you have to have regional health boards; it doesn't matter what else you have to do, but you are going to have regional health boards. That was part of the mandate of the Blueprint Committee. If you talk to the people on the Blueprint Committee, this government didn't even listen to the Blueprint Committee in totality or we would have a system that is working today.

We have community health boards. When the Minister of Health was talking in Question Period today about all the volunteers, I remember a lot of other volunteers we had in this province too. Whether it is on hospital boards or whatever, we have had all kinds. He talks about the volunteers in community health boards.

Those community health boards are operating out there without any legislation. The Blueprint Committee clearly said, we have to have legislation so that they have terms of reference. They have no terms of reference. They have no money. This government has left them out there on their own and many of them have done a lot of good work. They have been promised time after time by Ministers of Health of this government that there would be legislation. They are still waiting, Mr. Speaker. They are still waiting for this government to act.

We have regional health boards by the former Premier of this province who said they had to be Liberals. They had to be Liberals to understand this government's policies. Regional health boards who meet and the public cannot have access. Communities have no way of accessing regional health boards or letting those regional health boards know what their communities need, not what they want, but what they need.

I was so disappointed when I read the Throne Speech. There was not a mention in there about hospitals like the IWK and the children's and women's issues on health care; not a word, not even a mention that it was important and the changes that are occurring at the IWK - not even a mention.

Long-term care, not even a mention about how to address the problems in long-term care. Not even a mention about the nurses and the struggle they are having. They tell me they are looking after sicker people in long-term care; sicker people with fewer staff and not even

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having wage parity with nurses in acute care. Not even an acknowledgement by this government of the work that they are doing.

Something has to change. Health care is in a crisis in the Province of Nova Scotia, a crisis brought on by this government because they had no plan. There was a plan called the blueprint but the government decided we will not put the total plan in place. We are going to pick little pieces out of the plan and we will do our own plan. That is what has happened.

We have so many good, qualified health care professionals in this province. We have so many good volunteers in this province, but we need a plan, a plan to address the issues that people are faced with in health care. The past president of the Medical Society said the problem with our health care system was getting worse. It is not just me saying this, it is those in the system whether I talk to physicians or talk to nurses or talk to technicians or talk to patients. They all tell me the health care system is getting worse. What we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is address the issues. Words will not address the issue. We have to make some changes that allow once again, community people, whether they be health professionals or others, to have some input into the changes that are going to shape our health care system tomorrow and from there on in. Until that happens, until this government starts to listen, our health care system is not meeting the needs of all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: I appreciate the opportunity in this first session of the Legislature, to participate in the late show debate. I think this is very important and I appreciate that so many people have remained this evening to share and listen in this debate.

There is no question that there have been changes, there have been many challenges across this country. This is not unique to the Province of Nova Scotia and I really don't have to point that out to my learned colleagues. It was mentioned today, earlier, that there is no question how the functioning of the regional health boards interact with the community health boards; these are issues that have to be revisited, Mr. Speaker and that's a commitment that we made today, to do that, and we look forward to the cooperation of the honourable member in that.

I did have a few comments that I want to share with the House this evening and just maybe put a little different perspective on some of the issues facing Nova Scotians in their health care. For instance, last September, a 22 year old Dartmouth man was involved in a car accident outside of Pictou. The young man suffered life-threatening injuries including a severed artery behind the stomach as well as broken arms and broken legs. He survived that crash because an air ambulance helicopter was able to bring him to Halifax for emergency surgery at the QE II. This person is alive today because of initiatives taken by this government.

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The myth of the deterioration of Nova Scotia's health care system is a myth. Let me tell you about some of the improvements that the government has made in health care in this province. Our Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network will link every hospital in the province by computer. This system will permit real-time transmission of x-rays and other crucial diagnostic medical information to specialists in regional centres. This means far less travel for patients. It also means improved care for family doctors around the province through regular contact with specialists and through continuing medical education opportunities over this network.

This system is already working. As you heard in the Throne Speech, just recently a young girl in Cape Breton injured herself in gym class, around Neil's Harbour I believe. The TeleHealth Network allowed a local physician to send an x-ray to a regional centre for diagnosis. As a result of this technology, the child didn't have to leave home, didn't have to travel to the larger hospital. She was treated and she went home the same day. While we are happy the Nova Scotia TeleHealth Network is a first in Canada, we are even happier about the way this technology is helping Nova Scotians, both young and old.

A new cancer clinic is under construction at the Cape Breton Health Care Complex; starting in September we'll be able to bring radiotherapy services to people on the Island of Cape Breton and save them the time, the trouble and the anxiety involved in travelling to Halifax for treatment. This is better health care, Mr. Speaker.

We're building a new regional hospital in Amherst and new health care facilities in Cheticamp and Neil's Harbour; so much for the deteriorating health care system. This government is enhancing health care in this province. As for public input, the Eastern Regional Health Board has involved community health boards in planning for those facilities in Cape Breton, actively involved. A major redevelopment project is under way in Yarmouth and is being coordinated by the Western Regional Health Board. In metro, upgrades are planned for the Dartmouth General Hospital and the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre.

This government has been criticized for not doing enough to attract and retain doctors. Let me answer the criticism by stating clearly how much this government has done in this area. First of all, we've reached a new four year agreement with doctors. This agreement will help ensure that all Nova Scotians have access to family physicians. Included in the agreement, are initiatives to keep emergency rooms open in community hospitals; we have a Rural Locum Service too, actively involved now; a re-entry program at Dalhousie Medical School; decisions made by other levels, other people across this country that impacted dramatically; doctors coming into and out of rural communities. We have 12 new spaces that will allow doctors to return. I think this happened in the medical school with hardly any knowledge of anybody else that doctors had to make their decision while in medical school, whether to go into residency training or family practice and could not re-enter once having gone into family practice. We have changed that in Nova Scotia. I think we are the only province in Canada that has done that.

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There are other measures also that have stopped the outflow of doctors. Doctors are in a global economy. They will make changes. This is a real issue and we may as well prepare and this is the message that I want to bring to the members tonight, the part that they can play in their communities in recruiting doctors.

We are one of the few provinces in Canada attracting new doctors in healthy numbers and it was mentioned earlier about 100 family physicians and specialists last year. Recruitment is ongoing. We have a problem with distribution of physicians; too many concentrated in the metro communities, that is an issue, but I think the communities, many of them like Springhill just recently recruited two new physicians and a good possibility of one in September. That is a good community doing its job. The government cannot do it all. Our efforts have been paying off, Mr. Speaker, and there are still areas that do need to be addressed.

[6:15 p.m.]

Sydney, for example, has had two new internal medicine specialists leaving this spring. Thanks to the particular efforts and initiatives of Dr. Naqvi, Medical Director of the Cape Breton regional complex, there are six new specialists coming to the area this summer, including a respirologist, a neurologist, an intensivist and a surgeon.

The communities of Arichat, Kennetcook and Advocate Harbour are the three remaining of the original 24 rural incentive areas which need our attention. All other 20 communities on the list, jointly produced with the Medical Society, now have a full complement of some 30 physicians after two and one-half years of the program. Larger towns that now need attention include Yarmouth, Windsor, New Glasgow and the Strait area.

This government recently announced a major new health research foundation. This initiative will not only be a boost for research in this province but will also help to retain doctors, as well as draw specialists to Nova Scotia who can do research and help train new physicians.

There are other initiatives. The Nova Scotia Environmental Centre, albeit there are some problems from time to time as was mentioned today earlier, but it is operating in Fall River. This centre is unique in Canada and is conducting research into areas that cause multiple chemical sensitivity, while helping people who suffer from this mysterious condition. Our initiatives in the area of home care have been very successful. We are helping 15,000 Nova Scotians a year stay in their homes. Nova Scotia was decades, and I underline decades, behind other provinces in developing a comprehensive province-wide Home Care Program but now the success of Home Care Nova Scotia is attracting national attention.

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I began my remarks by telling you a story about our dedicated air ambulance service. The Air Medical Transport Program has flown more than 600 missions since the implementation in 1996. The helicopter, for instance, landed in Sherbrooke this spring to rescue a man who was hit by a falling tree. He was plucked out of the wilderness and flown to Halifax where a team of specialists were waiting for him. The paramedics are responding to emergencies faster and more effectively than ever before in a new fleet of modern and well-equipped ambulances. Almost all of our new ambulances now have defibrillators on board. The days of poorly maintained and poorly equipped ambulances are over in this province, thanks to this government.

All of these new emergency health service programs are coordinated by a new dispatch centre that will soon be operating province-wide. We do not have to wait until an ambulance arrives to start delivering medical care or health care, the paramedics in the dispatch centre are providing life saving advice over the phone while the ambulance is on the way. The old system of dispatching ambulances could never serve the population as fast or as effectively as this new centre. This is just a short summary of some of the ways this government has improved health care in this province.

I have a couple of minutes left, or one minute, and I would like to just mention a few other comments I would like to make before closing. It is the responsibility of all in this House to assure Nova Scotians that they do have one of the finest health care systems in this country. I base this statement on facts and not just hearsay. Yes, there are challenges and obstacles to meet and to overcome but we do have a solid foundation to move forward on, to manage our growth and to meet the challenges in the times ahead.

The choices we have to make in government are not easy ones. People know that. We must always take into consideration how every decision we make affects Nova Scotians who are the patients and clients of our health care system. We must continue to work in their best interest. Every decision, Mr. Speaker, must be assessed as to how the impact on patient care takes place. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity afforded me to address issues of great importance to Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I speak in favour of the resolution and I have to say I am absolutely astounded at the comments we have just had with respect to the fact that it is a myth that the health care system in this province is in difficulty. If that is the case, Mr. Speaker, then I would have to say there are a heck of a lot of people in this province who are delusional, probably 65 per cent of the population I would estimate, who clearly during the recent election campaign articulated their concerns about the crisis in health care and the lack of a plan. Now in the past two months since the election I think we have seen very little evidence, no evidence whatsoever that there is a plan. So the government is lacking in a plan and there is a problem in public confidence. I think the very first place the

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government needs to begin to address this very serious situation is, first of all, by getting over their denial and accepting that there is a problem.

Mr. Speaker, what we have is a crisis. We are in a situation where we have the worst of both worlds, I think. For many years in Nova Scotia our health care system was institutionally-based, it was an illness model that invested heavily in acute care kinds of treatments and spent very little effort in terms of health, wellness, prevention, rehabilitation and the kinds of community-based models that we have all agreed we need to be moving toward. However, in the process of moving in that direction, the reform process was hijacked by a fiscal agenda that undermined the kind of acute care facilities that are required because people still do get ill and they still need medical treatment.

What we have now, Mr. Speaker, are long waiting lists. We have a lack of intensive care unit beds. We have emergency departments that don't function appropriately or adequately for the kinds of problems being presented to people. The Speech from the Throne made absolutely no mention whatsoever of home care. What has happened to home care in terms of the government's agenda? What has happened in terms of long-term care? What has happened in terms of the requirement not only to recruit but retention of nurses and doctors in this province? This is the problem. We have had a serious casualization of the nursing profession. This is why we are reaching a crisis situation with respect to nurses being in this province.

The Canada Health Act is being undermined in terms of the five principles: universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness and a not-for-profit administration. So it is very little wonder, Mr. Speaker, that public confidence has eroded so severely and people are demanding a plan.

Now there is a perfectly good place to start. We on this side of the House have been talking about a perfectly good place to start; reintroducing, putting back into effect the Provincial Health Care Council which acted as a very good watchdog, evaluator, facilitator, for public participation in health care reform which ensured that the public would be well informed of the process, they would have an advocate to come to take up their issues.

This government seems to be more interested in finding out what American consultants seem to think about where health care should be going, forbid that we look to our friends to the south to provide expertise in health care, given that we know what the health care system in that country is like. During the election campaign the Premier made commitments about no further job cuts to the QE II. More recently we have heard all kinds of comments from the Chairman of the Board of the QE II that the former CEO who got the $330,000 handshake there on top of the $200,000 a year salary was planning to do further job cuts in that institution. They have not exactly reassured the public that this is not going to occur, by talking instead that they are going to slow down the cuts, they are going to take the cuts at a more leisurely pace.

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So I think that people in Nova Scotia have good reason to be very concerned about where health care is going. We know where it has been; we don't like where it has been. There is no plan; there is no watchdog. All we have are reassurances from the honourable member that it is a myth that there is a problem. I would say that it is not a myth. We are very clear. The evidence suggests that there is a real problem and it is time to get over the denial and bring back to this House some concrete plans, or work with those who have some understanding of what the problems are, so that we can address what the public of Nova Scotia expects to have addressed in this session. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The House is adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:26 p.m.]