The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Nov. 17, 1998

First Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Private and Local Bills Committee, Mr. P. MacEwan 3841
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Nat. Res. - Crown Lands: Harvesting Unauthorized - Cease,
Hon. K. MacAskill 3842
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1880, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Consumer-Related Measures: Co-op
Enforcement Agreement (Gov'ts.) - Recognize, Hon. K. Colwell 3844
Vote - Affirmative 3845
Res. 1881, Agric. - Operation Clean Sweep: Importance - Recognize,
Hon. E. Lorraine 3845
Vote - Affirmative 3846
Res. 1882, Educ. - Rec. N.S. Professional Achievement Award:
Ms. Eva Marks-MacIsaac - Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 3846
Vote - Affirmative 3846
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 76, Grants and Loans Moratorium (1998) Act, Mr. D. Dexter 3847
No. 77, Sisters of Saint Martha Act, Mr. Hyland Fraser 3847
No. 78, Crop and Livestock Insurance Review (1998) Act,
Mr. John MacDonell 3847
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1883, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B.: Beautiful (World-wide)
Recognition - Acknowledge, Ms. Helen MacDonald 3847
Vote - Affirmative 3848
Res. 1884, Health - IWK-Grace Health Ctr.: Debt - Plan Define,
Mr. G. Moody 3848
Res. 1885, Sports - Chess: Glenn Charlton (Hfx.) & Lloyd Lombard
(Middleton) - Success (N.S.) Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 3848
Vote - Affirmative 3849
Res. 1886, Health - Care: Yarmouth - Concerns Address,
Mr. John Deveau 3849
Res. 1887, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103: Improvements -
Proceed, Mr. M. Baker 3850
Res. 1888, Nat. Res. - Sable Offshore: Spin-Offs Positive - Recognize,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3851
Res. 1889, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snow Plows: One Operator -
Policy Review, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3851
Res. 1890, Health - Y2K Problem: Solutions - Provide, Mr. G. Balser 3852
Res. 1891, Sports - Soccer (NSSAF Div. 2 Girls): Middleton Pit Bulls -
Champs. Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 3852
Vote - Affirmative 3853
Res. 1892, Hurricane Mitch - El Salvador: Dr. Ann Duggan (Hfx.) -
Dedication Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3853
Vote - Affirmative 3854
Res. 1893, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Camp Hill Hosp. Workers
(Environ. Illness) - Comp. Decision Action, Mr. J. Muir 3854
Res. 1894, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - TIANS (Pineapple Award):
Chester Rudolph (Liscombe Lodge) - Congrats., Mr. R. White 3855
Vote - Affirmative 3855
Res. 1895, C.B. Nova MLA - Upfront: Appearance Give -
Premier Remind, Mr. D. Dexter 3855
Res. 1896, Health - IWK-Grace Health Ctr.: Y2K Problem -
Details Provide, Mr. G. Balser 3856
Res. 1897, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Self Employment Benefit Prog.
Awards (Port Hawkesbury): Michael Samson (Petit-de-Grat) -
Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 3857
Vote - Affirmative 3857
Res. 1898, Hfx. YMCA Peace Medallion: Project Accompaniment-
Project Acompanamiento - Congrats., Mr. P. Delefes 3857
Vote - Affirmative 3858
Res. 1899, Health - Youth: Drug Prevention Prog. -
Comm. (Depts.) Strike, Mr. M. Scott 3858
Vote - Affirmative 3859
Res. 1900, Environ. - Waste Sites (C.B.): Remediation - Endorse,
Mr. P. MacEwan 3859
Vote - Affirmative 3860
Res. 1901, PC (N.S.) Leader (Mr. John Hamm) - Deficit Support:
Lib. Party (N.S.) - Reward, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 3860
Res. 1902, Educ. - Commun. Col. System: Cutbacks - Avoid, Mr. E. Fage 3861
Res. 1903, Leader of Opposition - Gov't. Support: Variability - Explain,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 3861
Res. 1904, Health - Americans: Improvement Sought - Swedish
Embassy Contact, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3862
Res. 1905, Sports - Canoe & Kayak (World Champs. 1998):
Karen Furneaux (Gold Medalist) - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 3862
Vote - Affirmative 3863
Res. 1906, Health - St. Martha's Reg. Hospital: Fdn. Celebrity Raffle -
Success Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 3864
Vote - Affirmative 3864
Res. 1907, Environ. - RRFB: Workshops - Charge Eliminate,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3864
Res. 1908, Eastern Shore: Seaside Christmas Festival of Trees -
Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 3865
Vote - Affirmative 3866
Res. 1909, Devco - Coal Industry (C.B.): Future - Efforts (Premier)
Applaud, Mr. P. MacEwan 3866
Res. 1910, Educ. - Timberlea-Prospect: School Site Selection -
Conflict Remove, Mr. E. Fage 3867
Res. 1911, NDP Fin. Critic: Math Ability - Applaud, Mr. M. Samson 3867
Res. 1912, CFB Greenwood (14 Wing Air Mtce. Sq.): Mtce. Trophy
Winners (Fincastle Comp. [Aust.]) - Congrats., Mr. G. Moody 3868
Vote - Affirmative 3868
Res. 1913, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Crossley Carpet Mills:
IIDEX NeoCon Can. Awards - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 3868
Vote - Affirmative 3869
Res. 1914, Environ. - Awareness Prog. (Back Country Watch):
Organizers - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 3869
Vote - Affirmative 3870
Res. 1915, Sports - Soccer (Girls HS [N.S.]): River Hebert Raiders -
Silver Medalists Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 3870
Vote - Affirmative 3871
Res. 1916, Environ./Fin. - RRFB: Tire Tax - Effectivity Actual Ensure,
Mr. B. Taylor 3871
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 487, Health - Nursing Home Strike: Cove Guest Home (C.B.) -
Resolve, Mr. R. Chisholm 3872
No. 488, Health - Cove Guest Home (C.B.): Care - Acceptability,
Dr. J. Hamm 3873
No. 489, Health - Nursing Home Strike (C.B.):
Newspaper Ads - Cost, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3874
No. 490, Health - IWK-Grace Health Ctr.: Funding - Assurances,
Mr. G. Moody No. 491, Health - IWK-Grace Health Ctr.: Deficit - Assist, 3875
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 3876
No. 492, Health: QE II Health Sc. Ctr. - Y2K Funding, Dr. J. Hamm 3878
No. 493, URB: Vacancies - Fill, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 3879
No. 494, Educ. - P3: Site Selection - Process, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3880
No. 495, Educ. - Student Drug Use: Combat - Prog. Design, Mr. E. Fage 3881
No. 496, Educ. - P3: School Sites - Communities Confidence,
Ms. E. O'Connell 3882
No. 497, Agric. - Middleton Grain Ctr.: Closure - Alternative Proposal,
Mr. G. Balser 3883
No. 498, Educ. - P3: Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Site Selection -
Community Input, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3884
No.499, Agric.: Drought - Assistance, Mr. G. Archibald 3885
No. 500, Nat. Res. - Land Sale (St. Margaret's Bay):
Municipal Armoyan - Negotiations, Mr. W. Estabrooks 3886
No. 501, Health: Ambulance Service - Cost, Mr. G. Moody 3887
No. 502, Educ. - P3 Schools: Construction - Update, Ms. E. O'Connell 3888
No. 503, Health - Smoking: Teenage - Combat, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 3889
No. 504, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Toll Road - Repairs,
Mr. B. Taylor 3890
No. 505, Health - Medical Call Centre (C.B.): Job Creation - Details,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 3891
No. 506, Justice - Correctional Forensic Facility: Site - Invitees,
Mr. M. Scott 3892
No. 507, Health - Care: Hotels - Inclusion, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3893
No. 508, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Bras D'Or North Club (C.B.):
Projects - Value, Mr. G. Balser 3894
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 4, Mi'kmaq Education Act 3895
No. 34, Teachers' Pension Act 3895
No. 35, Nova Scotia Teachers College Foundation Act 3895
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 3:58 P.M. 3896
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:20 P.M. 3896
CWH REPORTS 3896
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 68, Provincial Court Act 3897
Hon. J. Smith 3897
Mr. J. Holm 3897
Mr. N. LeBlanc 3898
Hon. J. Smith 3899
Vote - Affirmative 3899
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 10, Queens Regional Municipality Act 3899
No. 41, Centennial Arena Commission Act 3899
No. 45, Pictou Regional Development Act 3899
No. 51, Queens Regional Municipality Act 3899
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 24, Wilderness Areas Protection Act 3900
Mr. D. Chard 3900
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3904
Hon. K. MacAskill 3909
Mr. D. Dexter 3911
Mr. B. Taylor 3914
Adjourned debate 3918
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 74, Halifax Insurance Company Capacity and Powers Act 3919
No. 75, King's College Act 3919
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Nursing Home Staff: Equal Treatment - Provide:
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3920
Hon. J. Smith 3922
Mr. G. Moody 3924
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 18th at 2:00 p.m. ~ 3927 ^^

[Page 3841]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

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

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

Bill No. 63 - Halifax Regional Water Commission Act.

and that the committee reports this bill to the House without amendment and without recommendation.

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

3841

[Page 3842]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise members of the House and the people of Nova Scotia of the action our government has taken with respect to unauthorized harvesting on Crown lands. I have just come from a meeting with representatives of the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission. At that meeting, I informed them that effective immediately, all unauthorized harvesting on Crown land must come to a halt. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, native harvesters will be given a reasonable period of time to remove machinery and equipment from sites where they have been cutting. However, if individual operators fail to cooperate or comply, they risk being charged under the provincial Crown Lands Act or even the Criminal Code of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you the decision to halt these operations has not been made lightly. Efforts to negotiate an agreement or Memorandum of Understanding with respect to native harvesting on Crown land have been underway since last November. During that period, more than a dozen meetings and discussions have been conducted with Mi'kmaq representatives. In June, Cabinet authorized myself and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to negotiate without prejudice an agreement or Memorandum of Understanding with the Mi'kmaq on these issues.

We were given specific instructions that communities, not individuals, are to be the primary beneficiaries of any agreement. Mr. Speaker, this would not include a commercial harvest by individuals for personal gain. Regrettably, the unauthorized harvest has, for the most part, been just that and therefore it must cease.

In our ongoing discussions over the past year with the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission, some progress was achieved. For example, there were verbal agreements that non-native cutters will not be permitted to participate in Mi'kmaq harvesting on Crown lands. There is also a verbal agreement that only Mi'kmaq, and not other aboriginals, participate.

Mr. Speaker, I can also say that the framework for a proposed Memorandum of Understanding continues to be formulated. However, a major issue is the principle of community benefit. Therefore, this immediate halt to unauthorized Crown land timber harvesting has been ordered and will be enforced.

[Page 3843]

The Government of Nova Scotia is committed to sustainable forestry. Indiscriminate cutting cannot be tolerated. Recently, the unauthorized harvest has shifted toward previously managed Crown land stands where substantial silviculture investments have been made. This has become a conservation concern for both the Mi'kmaq community and our government.

Mr. Speaker, by working together, we can resolve concerns such as this. My department is prepared to continue to negotiate with the Mi'kmaq Chiefs or their representatives to secure an agreement for a sustainable harvest of Crown timer but only for use by the Mi'kmaq community.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my deputy, Dan Graham, and staff at the Department of Natural Resources for their support and assistance in dealing with this rather difficult issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the issue that the minister makes a statement on today is an extremely important issue as it affects not only the forestry management practices in the Province of Nova Scotia but the whole issue of aboriginal title and aboriginal access to Crown lands and other resources in the Province of Nova Scotia. I said in this House last week that we looked very favourably to the initiatives this government was taking to be working on a framework for negotiating the whole question of aboriginal title, that that was a step in the right direction and very positive one and some would suggest overdue but nonetheless, it is an important initiative and I indicated to the government last week that we certainly look favourably on that issue.

This question of cutting on Crown lands is an issue that has been before us for some time now. The traditional methods primarily through the tripartite forum, as a way to resolve the issue, had not worked.

We suggested back last spring, given what was happening in the confrontation that was occurring in New Brunswick, we actually requested from the Premier, in particular, but also the minister responsible that we look at a separate process to try to mediate, in advance, this issue which was going to come up. I also suggested, when asked last week on this issue, that the question of access to Crown lands and logging be dealt with in the framework to deal with aboriginal title, and I hope the government will do that.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the need to make sure that there is some control over this issue and some control over how logging happens in the Province of Nova Scotia. I hope that by not having pursued this matter in a more constructive way earlier that we have not come to a point where either side is being unnecessarily provoked, because this is an issue that we cannot resolve simply by trying to bring out the gendarmes. We need to sit down and resolve it.

[Page 3844]

These questions are being dealt with at the Supreme Court but, in the meantime, we need to negotiate. That is the key issue here and I urge the minister, and the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs to do that, to sit down, in the spirit of which this framework has been addressed, to deal with this whole question of logging and not allow it to increase and confrontation to be the result. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the opportunity to speak on the minister's long-awaited decision and decisive stand on this issue. It is important that the law applies equally to everyone and I hope that the minister is not just singling out our native people because the information that has been passed on to me is that a great many of the people who are involved in illegal harvesting of a forest are, indeed, not native people.

The PC Party, Nova Scotia, forced this issue. Forestry is the most important resource-based industry in Nova Scotia and I have to note that the NDP was prepared to let this issue continue. Well, Resolution No. 1639 was tabled a couple of weeks ago and, Mr. Speaker, I certainly commend the government for finally listening to the Tories who represent all Nova Scotians on this issue. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1880

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

Whereas federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for consumer affairs met in Charlottetown this past weekend, myself among them; and

Whereas at this meeting a Cooperative Enforcement Agreement on Consumer-Related Measures was signed, setting out procedures for information sharing from one jurisdiction to another on such issues as licensing and enforcement; and

Whereas Canshare, a state-of-the-art Internet-based network for law enforcement agencies, was officially launched, allowing faster tracking of deceptive telemarketing and other kinds of scams;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the ongoing cooperation between levels of government to improve consumer information and protection in a borderless marketplace.

[Page 3845]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 1881

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

Whereas the Department of Agriculture and Marketing and the Department of the Environment have joined with the Crop Protection Institute and retail pesticide dealers to offer Operation Clean Sweep, a one-time free collection program for farmers to dispose of unwanted and obsolete commercial pesticides; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas there are three collection sites across the province at Fundy Fertilizers in Kentville, Truro Agromart in Truro and Bragg Lumber in Collingwood, on November 17th, 18th and 19th; and

Whereas we are pleased to be able to offer such a program to our producers because they are respectful of the environment and recognize the importance of ensuring pesticides are properly disposed of;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of Operation Clean Sweep and of safely disposing of commercial pesticides.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3846]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1882

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

Whereas Eva Marks-MacIsaac is well-known as a leisure educator and as the creator of Typical Town, a popular and acclaimed leisure education model; and

Whereas Ms. Marks-MacIsaac pioneered Nova Scotia's efforts in benefits-based marketing of recreation services, chairing the volunteer committee that developed the Benefits Marketing Tool Kit; and

Whereas the Recreation Association of Nova Scotia bestowed its Professional Achievement Award to Eva Marks-MacIsaac at its 1998 Awards Ceremony on November 7th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the achievements of Ms. Eva Marks-MacIsaac, the 1998 RANS Professional Achievement Award winner.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 3847]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 76 - Entitled an Act to Impose a Moratorium on Grants and Loans to Large Corporations until the Auditor General Completes a Value-for-money Audit of Government Assistance to Business. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 77 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 141 of the Acts of 1918, An Act to Amend and Consolidate the Acts Respecting the Sisters of Saint Martha. (Mr. Hyland Fraser)

Bill No. 78 - Entitled an Act Respecting Drought Relief for Farmers. (Mr. John MacDonell)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1883

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

Whereas an influential American magazine has voted Cape Breton the most beautiful place in the world and its people among the top two worldwide, in terms of friendliness; and

Whereas the findings of this survey confirm what Cape Bretoners already know; and

Whereas it is hoped that these findings will attract even greater numbers of visitors to Cape Breton and to Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House formally acknowledge what Cape Bretoners, and now the world, know, that there is no place on earth like Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3848]

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. 1884

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

Whereas the IWK-Grace Health Centre is one of Canada's leading tertiary care centres providing family-centered care to children and women in Nova Scotia, the Maritimes and beyond; and

Whereas with a projected deficit of $7 million and millions more needed to address the Year 2000 bug, Atlantic Canada's largest hospital for children and women requires urgently needed funds from the Department of Health; and

Whereas without additional funding from the Department of Health, hospital officials are saying the magnitude of the debt will really get out of control and services will have to be cut;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately meet with the hospital and board officials and that he clearly define a strategic plan that sets out a reasonable debt-management plan that prevents the need for service cuts.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1885

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

[Page 3849]

Whereas this past weekend the Nova Scotia Open Chess Championship was held in Bridgewater; and

Whereas Glenn Charlton of Halifax and Lloyd Lombard of Middleton defeated competitors from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec to take the top prizes; and

Whereas they will now proceed to the National Chess Championship, the winner of which will continue to the World Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Glenn Charlton and Lloyd Lombard on their success at the provincial level and wish them luck as they represent Nova Scotia at the Canadian National Chess Championship.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1886

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

Whereas more than 60 people from the Yarmouth area attended a Community Health Forum last night in Yarmouth; and

Whereas this forum was organized by the NDP as a way of seeking input from people on how to address the crisis in front-line health care; and

Whereas participants expressed the considerable pain and hardship experienced, particularly with regard to a lack of mental health care services;

[Page 3850]

Therefore be it resolved that this government start listening to the people of Yarmouth and immediately act to address these concerns with the aim of improving front-line health care.

Mr. Speaker, I am requesting waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1887

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

Whereas Highway No. 103 forms the vital transportation link which allows the people of the South Shore to connect to the Trans Canada Highway system; and

Whereas Highway No. 103 requires significant upgrading to move it to 100-Series standards; and

Whereas significant portions of Highway No. 103 require twinning to make the highway safe;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly request the Minister of Transportation to immediately proceed to carry out the required improvements to Highway No. 103.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 3851]

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1888

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

Whereas the number of Nova Scotia workers on the Sable offshore project continues to climb; and

Whereas the large number of Nova Scotian crew members on the Galaxy II drilling rig helped push provincial job numbers on the offshore project to nearly 2,000 in October; and

Whereas growing employment figures are only part of a larger economic picture that includes new housing construction and increasing office space rentals;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the positive spin-offs of the Sable offshore are increasing daily and the benefits of this project will mean a brighter future for all Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1889

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

Whereas winter conditions will soon become a major concern for the motoring public on our highways; and

Whereas the Transportation Department maintains its current policy of plowing roads with only one operator in the cab and no wing man; and

[Page 3852]

Whereas this policy has proven to be not effective with numerous close calls, damage to property, and added stress on the plow operators;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation and Public Works immediately review its policy of one operator only during snowplow operation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1890

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 recent report out of Ottawa suggests the provinces are the weak links in any attempt to have computers ready for the new millennium; and

Whereas there is no better way to describe Nova Scotia's minister responsible for ensuring that Y2K problems are rectified, other than as a weak link, because the only information released to date from the minister has been a guesstimate of the cost to the Department of Health; and

Whereas simple answers to short and specific questions put to the minister have been ignored, presumably because the minister has absolutely no idea what the total budget cost will be for the Nova Scotia Government;

Therefore be it resolved that since the minister's deputy, in October of last year, referenced the Y2K problem as being a potentially disastrous one for this province, the minister explain whether he is a weak link, as the majority of Nova Scotians feel, or if he is a strong conductor who can provide the answers concerning Y2K problems here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice of motion was too long; however, it is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1891

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

[Page 3853]

Whereas Middleton Regional High School hosted the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Division 2 Girls Soccer Championships earlier this month; and

Whereas this tournament featured exciting games between the New Glasgow Panthers, Amherst Vikettes, Forest Heights Falcons and the Middleton Pit Bulls; and

Whereas the host team, the Middleton High School Pit Bulls, finally emerged as champions of this two day tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Coach Greg Bower and the young women of the Middleton Pit Bulls on their success as the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Division 2 Girls Soccer Champs for the 1998-99 season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1892

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

Whereas Dr. Ann Duggan has temporarily left her job at the North End Community Health Centre to work in flood-ravaged El Salvador; and

Whereas Dr. Duggan was selected for the mission as a team member of Doctors Without Borders; and

Whereas this is Dr. Duggan's 12th mission since volunteering for the emergency medical relief organization in 1993;

[Page 3854]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Dr. Duggan and her colleagues of Doctors Without Borders, for their selfless dedication to providing medical relief to the Central American countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1893

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

Whereas a large number of employees of the former Camp Hill Hospital became affected with environmental illness because of the physical climate of that facility; and

Whereas the hospital recognized it was responsible for the illnesses of these employees, and arranged a compensation package for them which is now being paid from the budget of the QE II Hospital; and

Whereas the QE II is now trying to reduce its obligations to these employees by clawing back from each employee an amount equal to any CPP benefit he or she receives;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take immediate action and ask the QE II to continue the financial package that the employees of the former Camp Hill Hospital with environmental illnesses have been receiving since a compensation plan was arranged for them.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3855]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1894

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

Whereas the pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality; and

Whereas last Tuesday, five Nova Scotians received Pineapple Awards at the conclusion of the 21st Annual Conference of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas one of the award recipients was Chester Rudolph, marina supervisor at Liscombe Lodge Resort, Guysborough County;

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and extend best wishes to Chester Rudolph and all other winners of the Pineapple Award and extend to them our appreciation of their outstanding contribution to Nova Scotia's tourism industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1895

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

[Page 3856]

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova, a former Speaker of this House, has been known to avoid confrontation with labour folks; and

Whereas in the past this member used a back entrance in order to avoid confronting labour demonstrators in this House; and

Whereas this past Saturday evening, the member for Cape Breton Nova failed to implement the back door strategy utilized by other Liberal members of this House and simply waded through the labour demonstrators, some would say, elbows up; and

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take the member for Cape Breton Nova aside and remind him of the Liberal pattern of appearing to be up front, all the while using back door, back room, end runs to try to get their own way.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

I would like to take a look at that before that notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1896

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

Whereas Atlantic Canada's largest hospital for women and children, the IWK-Grace Health Centre, is facing a mounting debt; and

Whereas one of the reasons listed for this mounting debt is the Year 2000 computer problem; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat said on November 4th that he would begin to issue progress reports on the Y2K problem in 10 days but Nova Scotians are still waiting to see the first progress report;

Therefore be it resolved since Health Department officials have confirmed that X-ray machines and ultrasounds are two pieces of hospital equipment that will not be ready for the Year 2000, the minister stop stalling and tell us, why he has consistently refused to provide information concerning the Y2K computer problem.

[Page 3857]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1897

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

Whereas new entrepreneurs were recognized at the Self-Employment Benefit Program awards dinner held recently in Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas the award for Business of the Year went to Michael Samson, owner and operator of Au Bord de la Mer Restaurant in Petit-de-Grat; and

Whereas Mr. Samson also won the award for Entrepreneur of the Year in the Hospitality category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Michael Samson on being recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year and offer thanks for contributing to Nova Scotia's reputation of unequalled hospitality.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 notice of motion submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour is acceptable.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1898

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

[Page 3858]

Whereas Project Accompaniment - Proyecto Acompanamiento was awarded the 1998 Halifax YMCA Peace Medallion yesterday; and

Whereas Project Accompaniment - Proyecto Acompanamiento provides Canada-Guatemala community support for the voluntary, organized return of Guatemalan refugees from Mexico to Guatemala; and

Whereas Nova Scotians from all parts of the province have been part of international observer teams in Guatemala and have participated in fund-raising and education events to support the work of this humanitarian organization;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate Project Accompaniment - Proyecto Acompanamiento and its coordinator, Beth Abbott, for this award and wish the project team success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1899

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Student Drug Use 1998 survey reveals that teenage drug use in Nova Scotia has increased dramatically over the past seven years; and

Whereas since 1991, alcohol consumption by Nova Scotians teenagers has increased by 12 per cent, smoking by 40 per cent, and the use of marijuana and hashish by 120 per cent; and

Whereas the survey shows that drug use results in increased risk taking, including driving under the influence and unprotected sex;

[Page 3859]

Therefore be it resolved that the government immediately strike a working committee of representatives from the Departments of Health, Education, Justice and Community Services that will work closely with agencies serving youth to critically evaluate existing drug prevention programs and to identify new and effective approaches for making sure Nova Scotia's youth make healthy and informed decisions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1900

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

Whereas environmental remediation is the best hope for improving the outlook for industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas the environmental remediation of abandoned coal mine sites, the mountain of slag that juts into Sydney Harbour, abandoned and derelict facilities at Sydney Steel and the tar ponds/coke ovens estuary involves tremendous projects lasting for many years; and

Whereas environmental remediation is an area that can generate employment, technological know-how and tremendous community benefits for all Cape Bretoners;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse environmental remediation with particular reference to the industrial waste sites of Cape Breton County and encourage all levels of government to put their full support behind such projects, programs and proposals.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Ask for waiver.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 3860]

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.

Does the honourable Minister of Health wish to make an introduction?

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, you didn't have my complete attention. The Premier called and I usually try to respond as promptly as I can.

I would like to call the attention to members, in the east gallery this afternoon, a constituent worker in Dartmouth East, Mrs. Carol MacEachern, visiting in the House today to see what it is all about. I would like to ask all members to extend a warm welcome to my constituent representative, Carol MacEachern. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1901

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

Whereas Tory Leader John Hamm promised to bring down the Liberal Government if the budget was not balanced, while it was not; and

Whereas Mr. Hamm last weekend declared the Liberal minority rule to be good for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas he promised to support his Liberal friends for another two years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Party reward Mr. Hamm in any way possible for his principled and noble stand on the fiscal mess of Nova Scotia initiated by Buchananites and continued by the MacLellan Liberals.

[Page 3861]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1902

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Community College system is facing the loss of up to five campuses and 1,500 seats in the 1999-2000 year unless the Liberal Government ensures adequate funding is in place once the federal government removes itself from the picture; and

Whereas if additional funding is not secured in time for the 1999-2000 school year, the Nova Scotia Community College system will be in a near crisis situation; and

Whereas the Minister of Education and Culture, in a news release on June 24th of this year said, "the community college system is listening to the needs of employers and training Nova Scotians for jobs in Nova Scotia";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and Culture not follow the motto, "do as I do, not as I say", and ensure the Nova Scotia Community College system is not faced with severe and devastating cutbacks at the beginning of the next school year.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1903

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

Whereas the NDP caucus voted unanimously for the Financial Measures (1998) Act, despite the fact that their Finance Critic, the member for Halifax Chebucto, said they would oppose the bill; and

Whereas the newly-minted socialist member for Chester-St. Margaret's voted against the government's monetary agenda as a Tory but saw the light as a socialist and voted for the government; and

[Page 3862]

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition, in a scene reminiscent of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, tried to let on that a vote for the Financial Measures (1998) Act was not a vote of confidence in the government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition explain to the people of Nova Scotia why his Party on the one hand supports the government, while on the other he says his Party has no confidence in the government.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice is tabled but it is too long.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1904

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

Whereas yesterday the federal Liberals were forced to admit to an additional surplus of $10 billion in general revenues year-to-date; and

Whereas the federal Finance Minister, Paul Martin, continues to reject pleas to put money back into the health care system; and

Whereas today is had been reported by the media that American citizens have gone to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., seeking asylum on the basis of health care;

Therefore be it resolved that this House contact those Americans seeking a better health care system to inform them that the Swedish Embassy is down the street.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1905

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

Whereas Karen Furneaux continued her remarkable achievements in winning the women's K-2 200-metre sprint championship at the World Canoe & Kayak Championship in Hungary in September; and

[Page 3863]

Whereas Karen Furneaux is a member of Canada's National Canoe and Kayak Team preparing for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia; and

Whereas the 22 year old Waverley resident began kayaking with the Cheema Aquatic Club in Waverley at the age of 12;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize Karen for her tremendous accomplishments to date and wish her every success as she prepares to take a run at a gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Australia.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs on an introduction.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you, I would like to introduce to all members of the House, sitting in our east gallery this afternoon we have a group of Grade 11 and Grade 12 students from École secondaire de Clare, from home, accompanied by their teacher, Gilles LeBlanc. I would ask our visitors to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to some guests in our west gallery here today, from the Health Committee of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. I would like to ask them to stand. Heather Henderson, Chairperson of the Committee and also the President of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union; Mr. Ian Johnson, Policy Analyst with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and member of the Canadian Health Coalition; Linda Sirota with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, Local 8, and Care Coordinator of Home Care Nova Scotia; and Cecil Snow, member of the Committee, President of the CAW Local 4603, Stationary Engineer, Northside General Hospital in Cape Breton. I would like to ask members to extend a warm welcome to this Committee. (Applause)

[Page 3864]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1906

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

Whereas the Fifth Annual St. Martha's Regional Hospital Foundation Celebrity Raffle was held recently on CJFX Radio in Antigonish; and

Whereas organizers say the event was a tremendous success, with over $22,000 in pledges being made to the cause; and

Whereas money raised will go toward the purchase of a fetal heart monitor for twins at St. Martha's Regional Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the many volunteers who worked to make this event a success, the Nova Scotia celebrities who donated items, and the people of Antigonish, Inverness, Guysborough and Richmond Counties for once again showing their support for St. Martha's Regional Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1907

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 Liberal Government has banned many recyclable and compostible materials from the landfills in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 3865]

Whereas many Nova Scotian individuals and businesses do not know how the prohibitions will impact them, because the agency promoting the bans has not properly informed Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board is charging businesses a fee of $10 to attend a workshop, scheduled for later this month, to learn what materials are being banned;

Therefore be it resolved that the RRFB and the Department of the Environment recognize and appreciate that Nova Scotians already pay too many taxes and provide these workshops without charging an admission.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[2:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1908

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

Whereas over the past number of years, various groups have been developing new and innovative ways to promote Eastern Shore businesses and establishments to local residents and tourists alike; and

Whereas on November 21st and November 22nd, 15 businesses and establishments from Grand Desert to Lake Charlotte will open their doors to visitors from Eastern Shore and beyond to celebrate the Seaside Christmas Festival of Trees; and

Whereas this event will allow these merchants to showcase their unique range of products and services and to show off their own brand of Eastern Shore hospitality;

[Page 3866]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish all the participants the best of luck in this event, and congratulate the organizers for their hard work in producing an event that will contribute to the economic well-being of the Eastern Shore.

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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1909

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

Whereas coal mining is of particular importance to the economy of Cape Breton County; and

Whereas only with a stabilized and secure coal industry can there be any hope of economic stability and long-term well-being for industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas Premier Russell MacLellan has worked particularly hard on this issue and his efforts deserve the support and encouragement of all well-meaning Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commends and applauds the efforts of Premier MacLellan to obtain a secure future for the Cape Breton coal industry, and urges him to press forward in seeking to obtain a stable long-term future for this vitally important economic generator.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 3867]

RESOLUTION NO. 1910

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

Whereas the president of the Halifax local of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union believes the Liberal Government's P3 school construction initiative is losing credibility because the almighty dollar is being put ahead of public education; and

Whereas Colin Campbell is quoted yesterday as saying, there is a strong, repugnant odour of conflict of interest in the school site selection process; and

Whereas the developer of the school sites should in no way, shape or form be looking to use a new privately partnered school to draw home buyers to its subdivision;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and Culture immediately review the remarks made by Colin Campbell and ensure the strong repugnant odour of conflict is removed immediately from the site selection process for a new school in the Timberlea-St. Margaret's-Beechville area.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1911

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

Whereas recently the NDP Finance Critic was asked by the media what the addition of the member for Chester-St. Margaret's would mean for the NDP caucus; and

Whereas the NDP Finance Critic replied the member for Chester-St. Margaret's would, ". . . add another vote"; and

Whereas it is good to know that the NDP Finance Critic can do simple arithmetic and add 1 to 18;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the NDP Finance Critic's ability to do simple math, but make him stay after school for his lack of math skill when he says the NDP will eliminate the HST with no suggestion of how they will replace the revenue.

[Page 3868]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1912

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 10 person Canadian ground crew team from 14 Wing Air Maintenance Squadron Greenwood has won the Maintenance Trophy in the Fincastle competition, held in Edinburgh, Australia; and

Whereas the Canadian crew defeated teams from three other Commonwealth nations at the competition which challenges the skills of submarine hunting crews and judges them on their ability to perform aircraft and maintenance support duties, as well as on their professionalism; and

Whereas the crew was part of the 405 Maritime Patrol Squadron team which won the Fellowship Trophy, awarded for excellence in the competition's non-military activities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the 14 Wing Air Maintenance Squadron Crew and the entire 405 MP Squadron Team on their awards and their display of excellence during this challenging international competition.

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.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1913

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

[Page 3869]

Whereas Crossley Carpet Mills Limited of Truro, the first carpet mill in Canada to become ISO certified, recently won a design award during a ceremony held in Toronto; and

Whereas Crossley's new woven commercial carpet design, I-Ching, took best-in-show honours in the broadloom category at IIDEX NeoCon Canada interior showcase; and

Whereas Crossley's booth at the show also received a Bronze Award, the only booth award given to a carpet mill;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Crossley Carpet Mills, its management and staff, on their awards and applaud their innovation and continuing commitment to excellence.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1914

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

Whereas every hunter who brought a licence in Annapolis County this fall was given an all-purpose camp bag and an information package encouraging them to bring litter out of the forest when they return; and

Whereas Back Country Watch, a program from the Municipality of Annapolis, is aimed at protecting wilderness areas from the damage that results from human travel; and

Whereas program architects Shauna O'Handley and Deborah Ryan in conjunction with corporate sponsors Bowater and Nova Scotia Power are reinforcing the simple message - the wilderness can last forever if we take care of it;

[Page 3870]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend our thanks to Shauna O'Handley, Deborah Ryan, Bowater, Nova Scotia Power and all who contribute to Back Country Watch for their efforts in preserving Nova Scotia's wilderness for future generations.

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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1915

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

Whereas the River Hebert Raiders girls high school soccer team recently won the Northumberland Regional Soccer League for their area; and

Whereas Rick Rhodes has dedicated many hours to lead the Raiders in yet another successful year; and

Whereas the Raiders participated in the provincial play-offs last weekend, winning the silver medal, once again making the community proud;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the River Hebert Raiders soccer team and wish them all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3871]

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. 1916

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 Liberal Government's Resource Recovery Fund Board did not notify travel trailer dealers until recently that they must collect the tire tax; and

Whereas unfairly and unacceptably the Resource Recovery Fund Board has imposed spot field audits on the dealers; and

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board is demanding the dealers pay the tire tax retroactively to January 1, 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Finance immediately intervene and advise the appropriate Resource Recovery Fund Board bureaucrats that the tire tax will only be effective from the time of actual notification.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 3872]

HEALTH - NURSING HOME STRIKE:

COVE GUEST HOME (C.B.) - RESOLVE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. This is week three of the strike at the Cove Guest Home in Cape Breton, a very serious situation that is continuing day after day, leaving residents, their families and the workers both inside and outside that home in a very untenable situation. I want to know from the Premier, when is his government going to intervene to see that this dispute is resolved once and for all in the best interests of the residents and the workers who work at the Cove Nursing Home?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify one thing at the outset and that is that the workers at the Cove Guest Home are not in an untenable situation, the residents are.

It is my understanding that a mediator will be appointed or has been appointed and that hopefully the workers will take advantage of that facility to work toward a settlement.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier again is trying to blame. He is picking sides. The issue here is that this government has created a crisis in the long-term care sector in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: We have a situation at the Cove Guest Home which requires calm and responsible management.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, will he stop trying to point fingers and allocate blame and have his government intervene to ensure that this dispute is resolved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the dispute will only be resolved when the workers want to have it resolved. We want it resolved. If they want it resolved, I am sure it can be resolved. The fact of the matter is that our first concern is the residents. I think the workers would get a lot more satisfaction in going to mediation than throwing snowballs at the windows of the residents all night to keep them awake.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign in the spring, the Premier found it convenient to intervene personally to resolve a dispute involving nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to ask the Premier to explain to the people who work in long-term care in the Province of Nova Scotia why they are not good enough, why they are

[Page 3873]

not valuable enough to this government to have this Premier ensure that this crisis is resolved and finalized once and for all?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I did not intervene for the nurses but I did give assurance that they would be treated fairly. (Applause) They were treated fairly. They have parity across the province. We are now seeking to have parity within the homes for special care within four years. This government has allocated $84 million over the next four years to see that that happens. (Applause)

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

HEALTH - COVE GUEST HOME (C.B.): CARE - ACCEPTABILITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Health. Has the Minister of Health seen the report written yesterday by Dr. Murray Nickson to the minister saying that the strike at the Cove Guest Home is having a serious negative effect on the care of its residents. Many are not receiving an acceptable standard of care. My question to the minister, will he confirm that the residents at the Cove Guest Home are, as Dr. Nickson said, not receiving an acceptable standard of care?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Nickson was sent there on my advice along with a nurse manager, plus other workers that are at the nurse manager level, and they have been there delivering under very difficult circumstances, against great odds and great personal abuse, getting across the picket line to get in there to attend the residents in the home of the residents. One would not stand here in the House today and in any way say that that is an acceptable situation to go on for any length of time. They are receiving minimum care. I am gravely concerned. We are monitoring. I am in constant contact with Dr. Nickson and others within the facility.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister, Dr. Nickson says that if this does not happen, this being better care, moving the residents out of the facility becomes the only option. At 1:30 p.m., today, I talked to somebody inside the institution who says things are no better.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: My question to the minister is simply this, if things are no better - and they are no better - do you have a plan to move the residents out as Dr. Nickson has recommended?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, for the last week or week and one-half, we have had a plan to move the residents out of their homes at the Cove Guest Home. We are monitoring that. That is a balanced decision and that honourable member knows quite well the frailty of those

[Page 3874]

people. Last night there were snowballs being thrown at the windows of the Alzheimer's unit. The unit was in disarray this morning because of that reason. That is the problem, not taking residents out of their homes.

DR. HAMM: The minister clearly is not prepared to accept his responsibility. The question is, is the minister going to move more staff into that institution from the QE II or wherever, or does he have a plan, a real plan, to ensure the personal well-being of the 80 residents in the Cove Guest Home?

[3:00 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: We have a plan that involves having people trying to get across that picket line, they have been punched in the face, they have been choked, they have had their hair pulled, physicians have been threatened they will be killed, that they know who their relatives are inside, the volunteers have been told, that is the issue, and we are balancing the negative impact of moving people out of that home or trying to get essential services into that home, personnel and food.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSING HOME STRIKE (C.B.):

NEWSPAPER ADS - COST

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. This weekend the Premier told striking nursing home workers in Cape Breton that his government wouldn't give them wage parity with the acute care sector, that the money wasn't there. Yet his government found money to place full page ads in Nova Scotia's newspapers over the past few days. These ads state that the government is spending 84 million . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . taxpayers' dollars to ensure fairness. My question to the Premier. How many taxpayers' dollars did the government spend on those full page ads?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the NDP wanted parity in the homes for special care, we are going to get parity. The only way it can be done is if we have the cooperation. Now, there are different owners for the homes for special care, there are different bargaining units. We have allocated $84 million, it now seems the NDP doesn't want parity anymore, they want something else, they want anarchy.

[Page 3875]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the question was pretty straightforward. What does it cost for those full page ads? Nursing home workers can't afford advertising to get their message out to the Premier. (Interruptions) My question is, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . how does the Premier excuse spending thousands of dollars on an ad to sing its own praises when health care workers are on strike because they live near the poverty line?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want the honourable member to know - and all members to know - that the government takes no delight in having to put ads in the paper in a situation as critical as this. This is a very critical situation, but Nova Scotians have the right to know as to what their government is doing in this emergency.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It's too bad this government wasn't as forthcoming with other matters in the health care system for the public. Mr. Speaker, the insulting tone of the Premier's full page ad isn't going to make this strike any easier. My question. Will the Premier prove that he is really committed to being fair, will he stop wasting money on advertisements and deal with the issue of parity?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we want a resolution of this and that is why we have appointed a mediator. This is not going to go away unless the workers at the Cove want it to go away. It is their decision. All we ask of them is to come forward and get back to the table.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - IWK-GRACE HEALTH CTR.: FUNDING - ASSURANCES

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last spring I raised the issue, as did the CEO and the board of the IWK-Grace, that there was not enough funds to provide the services at the present level unless something was done to address their budget. The minister last spring assured them and myself that something would be done. I am asking the minister, today, what has he done since last spring to assure Nova Scotians that the services to children and women in this province will not deteriorate because they do not have enough funding at the IWK-Grace?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, since the honourable member brought that forward earlier, our staff have been working diligently with the staff of the IWK-Grace. We are identifying areas of common interest so we can manage the growth in the health care, but we will not be passing on the difficulties that we have had as a provincial government securing funds from the federal government, we will not be cutting care in that institution or any other

[Page 3876]

care, we will maintain a level of care. We are working with that institution. We have a plan, and it is ongoing.

MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, if he has a plan, the IWK-Grace doesn't know about it. I would ask the minister today, can he assure this House and the IWK-Grace, the board, the women and children in the Maritimes, if he would, today, indicate that the funding will become available to them so they will not have to cut services? Will it be a yes or a no?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are not balancing our provincial budget on the health care cuts of women and children of this province.

MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, the IWK-Grace people automatically don't know that. The Premier wrote a letter to our Leader indicating that he supported that and he asked the minister to take care of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MOODY: I would ask the minister, will he assure us today that the IWK-Grace will receive the funding they need to carry on the present programs and expand in the future?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are working with them. We have a good relationship. We are treating them the same as any other tertiary care facility in this province. We will provide monies . . .

MR. MOODY: Yes or no.

DR. SMITH: . . . that will allow them to provide services to children, youth and women in this province . . .

MR. MOODY: Yes or no.

DR. SMITH: . . . of a satisfactory care level.

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

HEALTH - IWK-GRACE HEALTH CTR.: DEFICIT - ASSIST

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. The IWK-Grace may have to cut patient services because of an estimated $7 million deficit, $30 million in capital repairs and $30 million in year 2000 upgrades. Administration says government funding cutbacks are partly to blame for the deficit.

[Page 3877]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: At least this government is consistent.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: It has messed up health care.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: My question is, how does the government plan to help the IWK-Grace deal with its financial problems?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the IWK-Grace Health Centre is being dealt with. Our deputy has met as recently as yesterday or the day before, along with senior staff and just affording the same relationship with the Department of Health as any other facility in this province. There is no question, it has been difficult. Had we continued the road that other governments had established in years previous, we would have bankrupted this province. We are managing the growth, we are providing services to that institution.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, I did not ask what the Tories did before you came to power. Access to good health care in childhood is essential to good health in later life. My question to the Minister of Health is, if patient services at the hospital have to be cut back, how will the minister ensure that the maternal and children's health care will not suffer?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Premier of this province and others in this government have made the commitment to the women, children, youth of this province, that we will not manage our budget on the health care cuts. That is the commitment (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: These budgets come forward, Mr. Speaker, and the honourable member quoted from a newspaper article and I think we can do better than that, than quoting from the media.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, last spring I asked the Minister of Health the same question. Now I ask the part-time Minister of Health, what will he do to deal with the ongoing problem at the IWK-Grace?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that managing health care in this province and right across this country, around the world, if you will, is difficult. It has been particularly difficult on the hospitals, and that the amount of money that we have had cut back

[Page 3878]

from the federal government. We are working, we have made representations, there are indications that we are going to get more money from the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

DR. SMITH: The hospitals will be a priority, Mr. Speaker.

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

HEALTH: QE II HEALTH SC. CTR. - Y2K FUNDING

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document, Message from Bob Smith, President and CEO of the Queen Elizabeth II, dated November 16, 1998. My question is to the Minister of Health. The CEO of the hospital has indicated that they will be receiving $20 million from the provincial government to pay Y2K costs, reducing our projected deficit from $143 million to $123 million. My question to the minister is, has he promised money to the Queen Elizabeth II to allow them to make that claim and if so, where does it show in the provincial budget?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the monies for the year 2000 are being worked with between the Department of Health and the various health facilities. We, in turn, are working with the Department of Finance and also with the federal government on that particular issue. This is a commitment we have made not only to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre but to the other facilities in this province. It is not a wish list and there will not be wholesale funding of equipment following a wish list. We will work with those departments and meet their needs and we will work with the Department of Finance.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the Minister of Health. The minister by his own admission says, there is no funding going to the QE II so the debt is $143 million at the end of the current fiscal year. My question is, would the minister confirm that the document released yesterday, which I just tabled a few minutes ago, indicates that without Y2K funding, there will be a loss of another 150 beds at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, although the document has been tabled I have not had access to that so I don't want to comment. This is the honourable member who came in this House and declared a $15 million study. He spoke in terms of a $152 million deficit, this is not correct, this is false that he is bringing this type of information to the House of Assembly. How can you respond to that? No.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the last thing this minister can do is lecture me about figures because he hasn't been able to produce a single fact about what is going on in health care since I started asking questions three weeks ago. This minister should not lecture me. By way

[Page 3879]

of final supplementary, will the minister confirm that the health care system of Nova Scotia will be forced to absorb a cost of $70 million to look after the Y2K changeover in Nova Scotia? The bill to health care in this province will be $70 million and you are not providing any kind of relief.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, if that honourable member could ask better questions I could give better answers. The answer to the last one is no.

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

URB: VACANCIES - FILL

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister responsible for the Utility and Review Board. Today all three Parties received a book of nominees for provincial boards that was sent to the Human Resources Committee of this House. Once again, we see that there are no nominations for the Utility and Review Board of this province, even though the application deadline was October 2nd. My question to the Minister of Justice is quite straightforward, why is this important tribunal being kept short-staffed at such a vital time?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Utility and Review Board is functioning, the members are in place, their duties are being dispatched. It is a matter that we have before government and I will be making recommendations and the honourable member will be aware of that in due course.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, what I find so amazing is that there is no actual full-time chair of this board at the moment. What I think we have to know is that the NDP is ready and willing to be part of any consultation with regard to filling these positions quickly. My question to the minister is, will he agree to all-Party consultation so that we can finally get these gas distribution hearings rolling?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is a little bit of noise and I am not sure I heard the question correctly but I would not agree to any all-Party hearing at this juncture on any matter without consultation of government. That would not be a decision of the Minister of Justice.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has known for almost a year that the Utility and Review Board chair was leaving. What I have a concern with is that there still has been no action in almost that entire year to appoint a full-time chair of that board. Will the minister now promise this House that whether or not there is all-Party consultation, names will be put forward to the House before it rises?

[Page 3880]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, yes, I thank the honourable member and I don't mean to make light of this in any partisan way. I think this is a very important issue and names will be coming forward.

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

EDUC. - P3: SITE SELECTION - PROCESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education and Culture. Municipal Armoyan is at it again. We have learned that this private sector consortium is now using its position as the P3 partner to cause a third community, Hammonds Plains, to choose land that will benefit the Armoyan development ambitions. My question to the Minister of Education is, will the minister tell us if Municipal Armoyan is planning to do this with each of his nine schools?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, once again, we see the pattern of pitting private sector interests against public sector interests. We are building schools in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: The priva-phobic NDP, Mr. Speaker, does not have any confidence in their communities. We do. Those communities and those school boards will render good decisions on the sites for their schools.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, Municipal Armoyan is using this site to create a 450-lot development. My question to the minister is, is the minister in the business of building schools or building subdivisions?

MR. HARRISON: The members opposite were complaining a while back that when you build a new school like Porters Lake, you increase subdivisions because people want to move to those schools; precisely the problem we have in metro, is overcrowding of our schools. The solution, Mr. Speaker, is to work with communities, with school boards and the private sector to get the finest schools in the country right here in Halifax and throughout this province.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I have heard this minister stand in this House and defend a $30 million school in his own riding. He has defended the reputation of the Career Academy School of Aviation. Now he defends a private consortium.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

[Page 3881]

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, when will I hear you defend public education? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this government committed $80 million to the operating budgets of public schools precisely because they cleaned up the mess left by the Tories some time ago, invested that money in the children of this province. Not only do we believe in quality education, we have invested in the children of this province and we are proud to have done so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - STUDENT DRUG USE: COMBAT - PROG. DESIGN

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. It is concerning the recent report, yesterday, on student drug use in 1998 survey findings. I would like to ask the minister, yesterday he and the Minister of Health said recent efforts are beginning to show results and if drug use is up by 120 per cent on hashish and cannabis, if alcohol consumption is up 12 per cent and smoking is up 40 per cent, if these are good results, when is this minister going to design a program, willing to put money into funding to take care of this problem, or to deal with this problem?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the figures that the member opposite is quoting are from 1991 to 1998. He should look at the report from 1996 to 1998 and he will see that the efforts in his home community of Amherst, a community effort that links schools, hospitals, health professionals and teachers together with parents and students, is having a tremendously positive impact right in his own community.

MR. FAGE: The minister knows that you have to measure more than one year to find a trend and the trend is up. The minister also knows that you have to put money into it and I am glad he raised the question of the Amherst area, the area I represent. If he is so pro and so supportive, why was the funding cut this year for that very program you are touting? Put the funding back. When is the funding going back, Mr. Minister?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, that partnership with the regional health board is an example, not just to Nova Scotia but right across this country. There is a teen health centre within the school and there is a community person working to develop strategies. The member opposite talks about a study that is of concern to all Nova Scotians, to parents, to students, to teachers and health workers and it will take a Nova Scotian solution to that problem.

[Page 3882]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, this minister here claims that the program is working in a study. This is the very minister who cut the program. What has he got to say to the three workers in the high school who are working at other government institutions this very day because that funding was cut this fall? If you are in favour of doing something about the drug situation and alcohol and smoking in schools, let's put some programs in place. When is it going to happen?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the program that the member opposite refers to in Amherst is a program that is a model for other programs in this province. The issue is community solutions across this province; the Ministers of Health, Justice, Community Services and Education will continue to work with communities and agencies to share best practices and to lead the way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - P3: SCHOOL SITES - COMMUNITIES CONFIDENCE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a really simple question for the Minister of Education. Will the minister assure this House that he will give fair consideration to school sites preferred by communities as opposed to those preferred by P3 partners? In other words, does the minister, himself, have confidence in communities?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the process is designed so that communities are the first place where discussions take place about which sites are in the best interest of their children. The school board is the next level that receives those inputs and tries to make a decision that balances the best for the children against the community wishes. Sometimes those communities have a difference of opinion.

The question is whether the process is fair. Mr. Speaker, the process is fair. It designs, it asks the community to take an active part in those decisions.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document in the House today entitled P3 Liberal Donations for 1996-97. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, in the 1996-97 year, the P3 school partners donated over $69,575 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 3883]

MS. O'CONNELL: . . . to the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, is the Minister of Education aware that his P3 process has proven so lucrative for the Liberal Party?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this is a classic example again of the NDP attempting to take political contributions and turn them against the private sector. The question here is whether or not we designed a process that evaluates fairly such that the private sector . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no, no.

MR. HARRISON: Listen to the members opposite, no, no, no. Do you realize what they are doing, Mr. Speaker? The membership of the selection committee involves half school board members and half departmental people from three departments.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, that $69,575 is more than 10 per cent of the 1997 donation to the Liberal Party. So my question to the minister is, is P3 school construction anything more than a Liberal Party patronage scheme? (Applause)

MR. HARRISON: Self-congratulatory, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, when a community sits down to plan a school and when the partnership is established with the private sector, the school board nominates half the members of the evaluation team. The other half are public servants of three departments in the province. Are they suggesting that school boards in this province can't make fair decisions about the best company to build their schools?

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

AGRIC. - MIDDLETON GRAIN CTR.:

CLOSURE - ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. On Thursday of last week there was a meeting of the farmers of Annapolis County at the former Middleton grain centre. They were very concerned about the closure of that facility. My question to the minister is, did his department, or did he, ever receive a proposal from the farmers in Annapolis County that would have seen those farmers operate the Middleton grain centre?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: No, Mr. Speaker, I haven't.

[Page 3884]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, to follow up on that, it is my understanding that they did, in fact, or have put together a proposal but their concern is about the membership of the board of directors of the East Coast Commodities. Will the minister verify for me the fact that there are five people who are presently on the East Coast Commodities board of directors who have links to the department?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, we have one person represented by the Department of Agriculture on East Coast Commodities. The other nine members are all producers of grain in the Province of Nova Scotia. There is only one that I am aware of who is employed by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture. The trustee was a former employee of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.

MR. BALSER: It is somewhat difficult to make decisions when you have close ties like that. Would the minister commit today to be willing to transfer assets to a non-profit cooperative, if the farmers were to put together a proposal to operate that grain centre as a not-for-profit facility?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, we do not have the assets to transfer. Those assets belong to East Coast Commodities and, as I told the honourable member a couple of days ago, if he is interested, work with the producers and see if he cannot encourage East Coast Commodities and them to work together and bring a proposal to us that we could live with and support.

MR. SPEAKER: You have had your final supplementary.

MR. BALSER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

EDUC. - P3: BEECHVILLE-LAKESIDE-TIMBERLEA SITE SELECTION - COMMUNITY INPUT

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. As you are aware, Mr. Minister, the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea are continuing with the difficult task of selecting a site for their much-needed school. Have you heard from the members of this community?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the members of this community have a meeting tonight where unanswered questions from last week's meeting, not only about the site but about the process for designing their school, will take place. And yes, we have spoken

[Page 3885]

with members of that community and assured them that we will have staff at that meeting tonight to answer their questions.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, I have heard from people in that community and I would like to table 208 letters that have been given to me to have personally delivered to you. In this, the letter says, "We are asked to decide and we did and now we are ignored . . ."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. This is not tabling petitions. This is Question Period. Next question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you. "We need and ask for your help, sir.". My question for the minister is, will you help the members of this community?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to reading those letters because the communities are part of the process. This community has a decision to make in recommending to the school board exactly what site it wishes for its children. That school board meeting tonight is designed to do just that, to gather those opinions from those community members and to make the best decision they can and make sure that recommendation arrives at government.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the members of that community are discouraged, they are distrustful, they are angry. On their behalf, I would ask that you attend, personally, this meeting this evening. Will you be there?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, tonight's meeting has been called by the school board to work with its community. I have every confidence, not only in the community, but in the Halifax Regional School Board, at the task they have been assigned and that is to find the best site for their children and to get on with constructing the schools for that member's community and for the children of that member's community.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: DROUGHT - ASSISTANCE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture. As all Nova Scotians know, farmers have been suffering due to the weather conditions of the past year. I would like to ask the minister, what is he going to do about it?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, as the member is aware, we did appoint a committee. That committee did deliver a report to us a week ago today. There are some details to be worked out. There will be an announcement coming in the very near future.

[Page 3886]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, we are in the Legislature now. The other day the minister announced a very good program to assist the hog producers and he said that was not ready. It was ready about an hour after the House closed. Why won't the minister announce the program today in this Legislature, what his department and his government are prepared to do to assist agriculture?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, the announcement will be made in due course, and maybe before very long, but not within the hour after the House closes.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the farmers have been waiting, they have been meeting and working very patiently with this minister. How soon can they find out, will it be today or tomorrow or before the end of the week?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, very soon, before the end of the week.

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

NAT. RES. - LAND SALE (ST. MARGARET'S BAY):

MUNICIPAL ARMOYAN - NEGOTIATIONS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Last night at a meeting in my community, the official from the Department of Education told area residents that a parcel of DNR land is to be used for the new P3 school site. Last Thursday in this House, you told this House you knew nothing of this sale of property. Mr. Minister, could you now tell the residents of the communities of Tantallon and the Head of St. Margaret's Bay, is the Department of Natural Resources currently negotiating with Municipal Armoyan for the sale of this parcel of land?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would refer this question to the Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, to answer that question it first has to be posed correctly. There was no one at any meeting last night who suggested a site had been selected for the school in that area; in fact, the meeting was to hear from the community as to which site they preferred. I would suggest the honourable member get his facts straight before he asks a colleague of mine a question.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, at that same meeting, where I was - Minister of Natural Resources - when pressed by parents present at this meeting, the official from the Department of Education refused to name the Natural Resources official who had revealed

[Page 3887]

these details. Mr. Minister, can you tell us who, in your department, has such authority beyond your own?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, that question was asked last Thursday and the answer today is the same as it was Thursday.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, currently surveyors are on that land in question. Who is making the decisions in the minister's department, the Minister of Education or the private partner?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the honourable member, I approve the recommendations when they come to my desk.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH: AMBULANCE SERVICE - COST

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Would the minister confirm that the taxpayers in the last five years are paying three times as much for ambulance service and that we have 40 fewer ambulances serving the province at the present time?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there has been a total revamping of the emergency ambulance service in this province and now we have probably one of the best, if not the best in the country. I do not have an up-to-date figure of those numbers exactly. The number of ambulances sounds roughly in the ballpark, and the cost I am not quite sure of. I cannot confirm the exact number that he is quoting as to costs.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, it went from $13 million in the last five years to $39 million and we do have fewer. I could give the numbers but, anyway, I am surprised the minister doesn't know.

I would ask the minister, because of the reduction in the number of ambulances, nurses who come to Halifax - and sometimes the ambulances have to go out immediately because there are fewer ambulances - used to return by the ambulance, but now I have been told in many cases they are returning by the way of stretch limousines that have a bar, a T.V. and all the bells and whistles, is the minister aware of that?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, no, but I didn't know that we had any leftovers from the old Tory Government.

[Page 3888]

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the minister that the nurses did not travel by way of limousine. I have had several examples of where nurses have had to go home by limousine. I ask the minister, who is picking up the tab, and is he satisfied that is a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayers' money, to send them by limousine instead of ambulances?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member earlier mentioned $39 million. That is a figure he has brought up before and I have not really held him to task but I think he should be fair. That is not the cost, and he knows it, of operating the ambulances. That is a number that is an add-on with all the communication systems and all the other issues.

Mr. Speaker, the nurses are hard-working in this province. I do not know exactly every detail about how they are returning home but this is the relationship that we have with one of the best ambulance services in this country that is coordinated within this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - P3 SCHOOLS: CONSTRUCTION - UPDATE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. A press release from the Department of Education and Culture on September 2nd quoted the minister as saying that school construction is on track. My question is simply, can the minister tell the House if school construction is still on track?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a funny thing but the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board Superintendent, Jim Gunn, has stated that the September 1999 opening date for the Aylesford, Kingston and Greenwood middle school is unrealistic and he is looking at the fall of the year 2000. My question for the minister is, is the opening date for P3 schools a fixed or moving target?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should check to find out when that school was originally scheduled to be open and she would find that, in fact, it is still on target.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the accountability for all of the final decisions relating to school construction lies with the Department of Education. So my question to the minister is this, are all the faster, cheaper P3 schools going to be overbudget and a year late?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, again, the priva-phobic NDP want us to move quickly in one direction and then move quickly in the opposite direction. The member for Timberlea-Prospect suggested that the Natural Resources' land is already committed. It is fantasy. The

[Page 3889]

reality is we are building high-quality schools for the children of this province and we are involving the communities in the design and the selection.

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

HEALTH - SMOKING: TEENAGE - COMBAT

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health. Yesterday, this province received distressing news about drug and alcohol use amongst teenagers. Since 1991 there has been a 40 per cent increase in teen smoking and the number of teenage heavy smokers has nearly tripled. My question to you, Mr. Minister, is what steps is your government taking to combat this alarming increase in teenage smoking?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I think this is a very important issue and certainly the study that was released yesterday is I think the third time that a release has made at least two of those studies. If you look carefully at the statistics - and the honourable member would know, being a physician who would be used to reading those types of studies - that if you look from 1991 to 1996, there was a dramatic increase. I think from 1996 to 1998 there is at least some comfort, there is some levelling off, and that is very dramatic.

Mr. Speaker, the answer I will give the honourable member is that there are education programs targeting junior high schools and there is a tobacco control unit that we have that is probably one of the best in the country for control of the sale of cigarettes.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, in Quebec and then just a few days ago in Newfoundland, steps have been taken to withdraw tobacco products from pharmacies. Will the minister please inform us whether his government will follow suit?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I have to confess I did not plant this question. The honourable member is too strongly opinionated, I am sure, to take my advice on asking me this question but I really thank him for the question because we are actively pursuing this. I am doing a consultation process at this time and it is our intention to move in this direction. I would ask the support of the House if it has to go through legislation or regulation.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, the B.C. Government has launched an anti-tobacco lawsuit and is looking for support from other provinces. My question is, since today's teen smokers are tomorrow's patients, why is your government not supporting the B.C. lawsuit?

[Page 3890]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the details around the B.C. lawsuit and their consultation process they have carried out with the American states have been the subject of a Health Ministers' conference that I was a participant in. We have agreed to work with our departments and cooperate and support British Columbia in the lead of this. This is not a cure-all, but it is a step and I support it. The minister from British Columbia had requested a meeting with me last week. I had agreed to meet with her; she was unable to keep that, but I would be looking forward to consultation.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS:

TOLL ROAD - REPAIRS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The private partner up on the Cobequid Pass seems to be getting a free ride. In fact, the road (Interruption) is showing considerable signs of wear, there is subsidence, there is a lot of wheel rutting and - you should get your tongue straight first - will the Minister of Transportation tell this House why is the private (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, she should get her tongue straight.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TAYLOR: Will the minister tell this House why the private partner is getting a free ride and the necessary repairs were not done this fall as per the terms of the contract and the warranty?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that there is a three year warranty on the highway and there has been some problems before in the past and they have been fixed and it hasn't cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia five cents.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister should know that the eastbound lane, especially, is in deplorable condition. Will the minister tell the House, it is fast deteriorating, there is no question (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the road is deteriorating and I want to know when the necessary repairs are going to be made as per the terms of the contract that this province has with the Atlantic Highway Corporation, the private partner that is getting a free ride?

[Page 3891]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, there is, as I have stated, there is a three year warranty on this highway and this highway, if there is failure, it will be fixed and it won't cost the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia five cents.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is simply this. The minister is correct, there is a three year warranty. Why isn't the warranty's terms and conditions being upheld in the first year of that warranty?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to our knowledge this warranty is being upheld because we have had work done on the Cobequid Pass that was under warranty. As I have stated and will state again, it has not cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia any money.

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

HEALTH - MEDICAL CALL CENTRE (C.B.):

JOB CREATION - DETAILS

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. There has been considerable interest in the media about a possible medical call centre in Cape Breton. There has been talk of up to 200 jobs but there has been a lot of confusion and a bit of mystery around the whole issue and I am hoping the minister can clear up some of this.

My first question, Mr. Speaker. This call centre proposes as many jobs as 200. Does the minister agree that the number could be as high as 200?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the call centre that the honourable member refers to is an initiative with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. We are, though, what she may be referring to is a pilot project within the Department of Health that we have requested proposals of interests on that would service Nova Scotia. There is another larger initiative that has to do with jobs that is beyond the scope of the Department of Health.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Health then is, does the minister and his department have a preference for where a centre such as this would be located?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member refers to a project or whatever such as this; I again can only answer for the Department of Health and we have called for a proposal of interest in a smaller project that would be a pilot project. There has been some consideration given that that may well be in Cape Breton. We thought that the supply of nurses would be so important to this, that would give them a chance but that is not totally firm, as we go through requests for proposals and those types of other initiatives but I would favour Cape Breton at this juncture.

[Page 3892]

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there have been media reports that Medcan's participation in this project is tied to the province purchasing health management services from Medcan. My final question is, what conditions are there included with Medcan's proposal?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the pilot project that the Department of Health is proposing and has called for proposals of interest, has received 12 proposals. I have not seen them, I am not aware of them. I would assume that Medcan would be one of those but they will be judged on their own merits and that we will move forward. There will be a review team that is in place to review those to move forward with requests for proposals which Medcan may well be one of the companies.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL FORSENIC FACILITY: SITE - INVITEES

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the part-time Minister of Justice. Mr. Minister, the question is concerning the siting of the correctional forensic facility in the Bedford area. Will the minister please confirm that the call for proposals was by invitation and provide the names of the persons involved in the invitations for the new site in Bedford?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my hearing turned off when he addressed the part-time minister. I don't demand a lot of respect and I have conducted myself with as much dignity as I can in this House. I told him last night, if I look across that side, I think I can do twice the work in half the time as those people. On top of that I will point out to the people of Nova Scotia that I am probably saving about $75,000 a year.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if he heard the question. Will the minister please tell the people what siting criteria was requested for the proposals for the new site in Bedford.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I can make that available to the House. I don't have that type of information with me, those details would be handled by the department.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I have heard from several residents of the Bedford area and they are very concerned that your department hasn't been listening to them and they also feel you are ignoring the business plan in Bedford. The simple question is this, is the minister prepared to stop the process for one month and let the people of Bedford have some input in this very important issue?

[Page 3893]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is a process in place for this and part of that is to do with the consultation within the community and it will conform to by-laws of that community the same as anyone else. That is the commitment that I would make to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - CARE: HOTELS - INCLUSION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, news that the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre is considering shorter patient stays, discharging people home to hostels and even private hotels is an example of the mess this government has made with our health care system. My question is for the Minister of Health. How did the minister come to the conclusion that private hotels are part of Nova Scotia's public health care system?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think what she is referring to is some announcement that came from the QE II a few days ago on the use of hotels and hostels. There has been for a long period time, Point Pleasant Lodge and there is an expansion of that program. Perhaps I could sharpen my pencil and explain to the honourable member that a $1,200 a day hospital bed, there may be alternatives to that. I would just request that the honourable member keeps an open mind, that $1,200 is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham your first supplementary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, people who are very ill, who have had surgery, who live in rural areas, they want the comfort of knowing that trained medical staff and specialized equipment are readily available to them following surgery. Will the minister explain what type of health care a patient would receive if discharged early from the QE II and sent to a hotel to recover?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are receiving more services within hospital facilities than ever before. They are able to do that by accommodating. I think reasonable people do reasonable things. The decisions on discharge will be made by the professions within that hospital. That will not be dictated by the Department of Health, but I am sure the quality of care will be good. Times are changing. There have been changes, the growth in health care is being managed . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham, your final supplementary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: The minister has said that services will not be compromised for the sake of money, but service is being compromised. Health and peace of mind are being compromised by these cuts and downloading. My question is, will the minister

[Page 3894]

assure us that his government will stop the mismanagement and the cuts and stop downloading responsibility for health care onto citizens of Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, working with the hospitals in this province is a priority of this government, along with our community programs. That is a commitment. We will help them meet their budgets and we are also working with them to manage their long-term debt. That has not come over a few days. I believe that people are healthier. There are ways of doing business. No longer can you go into a hospital for a rest.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. A very quick question.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - BRAS D'OR NORTH CLUB (C.B.):

PROJECTS - VALUE

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Would the minister provide for me the dollar amounts that were made available by his department to the Bras d'Or North Club of Cape Breton in each of the past two years for projects that were carried out in that area?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question. I do not have those figures available, but I will get them for him.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, a quick question.

MR. BALSER: It is unfortunate that the minister could not provide that information, because if he could he could tell me that the cheques written by this organization, that were supplied with provincial funding, bounced when the workers went to cash them. Will he explain to me how that could happen when government funding is given to community efforts . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: As usual, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does not know what he is talking about.

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

MR. BALSER: That information is, in fact, verifiable. In conversations today with people there in that area they indicated that cheques did bounce.

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

[Page 3895]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, just briefly for a point of order and explanation on the question. I really did not hear the full question from the honourable member when he asked about Bedford and I just want to inform the House that there have been two community meetings that were advertised in the paper and were attended. He used the term Bedford, but the facility proposed is actually for outside of Bedford.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is no point of order.

MR. GORDON BALSER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, with regard to my question to the Minister of Agriculture, the third supplementary. I would remind him of Order in Council 97-554, if I could read Section 6. "Assign responsibility for the Surplus Crown Disposal Act to the minister . . ."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Thursday in Question Period the Minister of Natural Resources did offer to get information for me about the sale of DNR land. Today in Question Period he said that the answer was the same today as last Thursday. I was wondering whether the minister has this information that he can give to me.

MR. SPEAKER: There was no point of order there, either.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 4.

Bill No. 4 - Mi'kmaq Education Act.

Bill No. 34 - Teachers' Pension Act.

Bill No. 35 - Nova Scotia Teachers College Foundation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

[Page 3896]

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the Speaker leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[3:58 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[4:20 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 10 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 41 - Centennial Arena Commission Act.

Bill No. 45 - Pictou Regional Development Commission Act.

Bill No. 51 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 68 - Provincial Court Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that these be read for a third time today.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

[Page 3897]

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 68 for third reading.

Bill No. 68 - Provincial Court Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 68 has been prepared as a response to a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada requiring independent salary tribunals. With this legislation the Province of Nova Scotia will have in place an appropriate salary tribunal that can conduct independent review of the remuneration of Provincial Court judges and Family Court judges.

This will ensure the constitutionality of those courts and contribute to the continued rule of law in this province. I mentioned the various reasons for this during my comments on second reading and rather than revisiting those comments, I move Bill No. 68, An Act to Amend Chapter 238 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Provincial Court Act, for third reading. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate to the minister and to members of the Liberal Government our support for this bill at third reading and also to point out the cooperation that we have shown to the government so that we would not be, in fact, you might say, in violation of the Supreme Court ruling of September 1997.

Mr. Speaker, the government had over 14 months to bring this legislation forward so that the constitutionality of the court could not end up being challenged. The Supreme Court made a very clear ruling that there had to be an independent salary tribunal set up. I find that it is extremely unfortunate that this had to wait to the last minute before the legislation was introduced into the House. I am pleased that it finally has been done and that the risk that the government had placed the people of this province in has been averted because of the

[Page 3898]

cooperation I would say of both caucuses in that we gave the permissions that were required in order to speed this bill through to the third reading at this stage.

I am also pleased to see that the amendments that have been talked about by, and I will again say, both Opposition Parties, during the second reading debate with regard to the discretionary benefits, that that also has been addressed during the second reading debate, Mr. Speaker. With those brief comments, I want to express to the minister that our cooperation in these important matters has proven to be very fruitful in that the results are here in the legislation and we will now not find ourselves in contempt of that Supreme Court ruling as of tomorrow because it is by tomorrow's deadline that this legislation was required to have been passed by the Supreme Court of Canada 14 months ago and something that this government, because of their inefficiency, has allowed to drag out to the very last minute. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I rise to just say a few comments on this bill. I thank my honourable colleague from the Opposition for his comments before in a sense of saying that we tried to work together to ensure that this bill was passed in all speed. I look back at the fact of the matter that really in retrospect this should have been brought in before but being the fact that it was not, then we tried to work together as a non-partisan committee at the Law Amendments Committee to ensure that the provisions that we felt which were unnecessary were deleted and we are bringing it forth at the House and bringing it forth to third reading to ensure that we are going to be passing it in time.

I just wanted to bring to the minister's attention that this bill has to be proclaimed before it is enforced. As much as that seems to be nitpicking, I want to ensure that the honourable House Leader and the Premier to run this up the street and make sure that the Lieutenant Governor gives his approval to it because I, as a member of this House and all of us, would want to ensure that no court case goes challenged because of the fact that this bill did not pass.

I am not going to repeat the comments of the honourable speaker because I agree with his comments but I just wanted to bring up that little technicality that sometimes we get so worked up here about other things that we could actually forget to proclaim the bill. So on that small technical point, I indicate our support for this bill here in Third Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 3899]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the cooperation of the House. I may object mildly to some of the strong comments regarding contempt and that is not my advice. But however, we did introduce a consultation process with the judges, we thought it was important that they had some input. It did delay this until the fall session but it is part of the legislative package of the government. I thank the honourable members for their positive comments and their support on this bill. Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 68.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 68. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 41 - Centennial Arena Commission Act.

Bill No. 45 - Pictou Regional Development Act.

Bill No. 51 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that these bills be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3900]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 24.

Bill No. 24 - Wilderness Areas Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: There was an adjourned debate.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to continue with my comments on this bill. As I indicated last night, I certainly support the principles of this bill. I think it is a good measure overall. There may well be areas, as is the case with much legislation, that could be improved. I think I indicated last night a few areas where perhaps some improvement could be made. But overall, I think it is good legislation, I think it is timely and I am pleased to see it before this House and would hope to see its passage in this session.

I was tempted when I rose last night to take the honourable members on a tour of national parks of this country. I have had the privilege of being in national parks in Canada from Terra Nova in Newfoundland to Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It might be the parliamentary equivalent to a slide show of one's summer vacation and it might test the patience and endurance of members beyond reason, so I will forgo that.

[4:30 p.m.]

I would just like to make the point, having seen as many of our national parks as I have, that, really, when I look at the wilderness areas which we are proposing to protect in this province, I see many areas that are, indeed, as noteworthy as many of our national parks. I think they do deserve the measure of protection which the government is proposing with this legislation, and my point in quoting Joseph Howe last night was to draw the attention of honourable members to the considerable awareness that people in this province have had over the years of the significance of the natural areas of this province.

That being said, I would like to speak briefly to a few areas where, perhaps, there could be some improvement in the legislation. I noted last night that, in some respects, the legislation appears to depart from the very recommendations that were brought forward as the result, in 1995, of public consultation. I say this without suggesting any impropriety on

[Page 3901]

the part of the government in possibly deviating from those recommendations. I do recognize that the essence of political success is the ability to compromise and there are, indeed, cases, even with legislation such as this, where some compromise might be necessary.

I have seen representations on the wilderness bill which would suggest that there should be, for example, no motorized access allowed in wilderness areas for the purpose of hunting. I appreciate the sincerity of those individuals who make such suggestions, but, by the same token, I do recognize that there are also individuals in this province for whom the enjoyment of our wilderness areas might be denied if we were not prepared to acknowledge that there might be circumstances in which motorized access to parts, at least, of wilderness areas can be justified and can be allowed without compromising the essential values of those wilderness areas.

I think the task before us, as legislators, and the task before the government, is to ensure that we strike the appropriate balance here, that we allow that access which is essential and which enables people to develop a true appreciation for the values we are trying to achieve without compromising those values. I do have respect for the government's intentions in this area. I think, though, we do have to look at representations that we will undoubtedly receive in the Law Amendments Committee to ensure that we don't inadvertently stray from the intent of the legislation and from the intent of the recommendations that were made as a result of the public review process.

I recognize, also, that there were recommendations made, as a result of the public review process, suggesting that there should be no snowmobiles allowed in wilderness areas. I recognize that the government has seen fit to suggest, through the legislation, that even here there might be circumstances in which provisions could be made for some snowmobiling. I think that this is not necessarily inappropriate, indeed, Mr. Speaker, I have to acknowledge that when I was in my previous employment with Parks Canada, I was part of a planning exercise for a national historic site in Atlantic Canada in which we, in fact, recommended that a local community be allowed to operate snowmobiles in that particular national historic site.

We felt that the circumstances were compelling and it would have been a hardship on that community, had they not been allowed, following well-defined routes that did not go through the core area where the historic resources were found, that it would be improper and unreasonable for us to deny the residents the ability to operate snowmobiles through other parts of the national historic site, to cut timber from private land beyond the far boundaries.

I do acknowledge that for many people in parts of Nova Scotia, the enjoyment of our winter landscapes by snowmobiles is, while not necessarily traditional, snowmobiles being a relatively modern device, is not always inappropriate. I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that it is incumbent on the government to be very careful, when it carries out the management plans for each of these wilderness areas, to ensure that any provisions allowed in each of these areas for motorized access, whether we are talking about all-terrain vehicles or whether we are

[Page 3902]

talking about vehicles such as snowmobiles, that they do not threaten any of the essential values that are embodied in each of these areas.

Now there are a few other areas on which I would like to comment, Mr. Speaker. I would suggest that one reason why people are concerned about the use of vehicles such as snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles is sincere and is not misplaced. I think we do have to acknowledge the good intentions and the sincere submissions of organizations such as the Tobeatic Wilderness Committee which, in a submission in February of this year, have expressed some concern about the degree of protection that needs to be provided for our wilderness areas.

That particular organization, for example, in its submission drew attention to a definition of wilderness. I think it is important that we acknowledge that these definitions must play an important part in the provision of wilderness areas in this province. The committee suggested, for example, that wilderness is an area where human activity is deliberately minimized, where non-human forces and forms of life remain virtually undisturbed by such activity. I would note they say virtually undisturbed; they do not say absolutely undisturbed. I would take this as some acknowledgement by this organization that there might be circumstances where some compromise is necessary.

They go on, Mr. Speaker, to state that wilderness is a place where neither the permanent addition of artificial objects nor the removal of natural objects shall result from human use. Wilderness is an ecological unit of size sufficient to be essentially self-regulating. It should be large enough to ensure physical and psychological separation from the human dominated environment. As custodians of wilderness humans will exclude, under this definition, from such areas, roads, permanent structures, mechanized equipment and vehicles, trapping and hunting, natural resource extraction and any form of disturbance which is incompatible with wilderness and wilderness values.

I draw attention, Mr. Speaker, to statements such as these to illustrate the need to exercise good judgement in bringing forth legislation for protected areas because it is necessary for us to address the concerns of those organizations and individuals in this province who would like to see wilderness areas preserved without any disturbance, as well as the needs of some of our residents and visitors, for appropriate access.

The same rule, Mr. Speaker, I think has to apply to activities such as hunting, and I would submit that we might want to look at a slightly different approach to activities such as hunting. I recognize that the legislation speaks of traditional hunting and trapping, not all forms of hunting and trapping.

I would like to draw the members' attention to the fact that the bill seems to put forward the proposition that traditional hunting and trapping may be allowed everywhere except where exceptions are granted. If my reading of the legislation is inaccurate, I would

[Page 3903]

be very pleased to accept a correction by the minister, but my point, really, is that perhaps we should be looking at such activities the other way around, that they should only be permitted by exception in particular areas.

Now I do recognize, Mr. Speaker, that we have to judge the intent of the legislation and the government's ability to enshrine that intent in the particular management plans that will be produced for each area. I would say that we certainly look forward to progress on those management plans, they will be the proof of the ability of this legislation to stand up to its critics at both extremes of the spectrum.

Mr. Speaker, there are only a couple of other points that I would like to raise with respect to this legislation; in fact, there is, perhaps, just one other observation or point that I would like to make. There will be a provision brought forward in the legislation to commit the government not to hand over any lands that are designated wilderness to the Government of Canada, or any agency of the Government of Canada, for park purpose. I think that this is an appropriate provision to bring forward in the legislation because there has been concern expressed in one area of the province, in particular. I think it is misplaced concern, but it needs to be addressed and I applaud the government's efforts to address it.

The concern is there in one part of the province that the establishment of one particular wilderness area is merely a step in the direction of sliding that area into one of our national parks. I appreciate the government's intent in bringing forward this provision, to make very clear that it does not intend to establish this wilderness area as a means of facilitating the expansion of this national park and I think it is laudable that the government has made this clear.

I would, however, draw to the minister's attention that he might want to consider some modification of how he is proposing to put forward the government's position on this matter, because there are ways around the government's intent. The concern might be raised, Mr. Speaker, that if we don't deal with this issue, there still is a way in which land designated as wilderness could end up in a national park, and I know that is not the government's intent. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. If the honourable member has a question . . .

MR. CHARD: I can appreciate what the minister is saying, and what I am trying to do is help the government on this point.

I think it is important to draw attention to what happened on one occasion with Cape Breton Highlands National Park, because certain types of activity and development are not allowed in national parks in this country, such as hydroelectric development. Indeed, there is no commercial, hydroelectric development in Cape Breton Highlands National Park but,

[Page 3904]

at one point in our history, land was removed from Cape Breton Highlands National Park so that it could ultimately be used for that purpose.

I think what we need to do is to frame this legislation in such a way so that it is clear that not only can no wilderness designated land be transferred for park purposes to the federal government but that land which has been part of a wilderness area cannot be eventually transferred to the federal government for park purposes. I think this might help allay some of the concerns that have been expressed in the vicinity of one of the proposed wilderness areas.

[4:45 p.m.]

The final comment I would like to make relates to a proposal the government has made for a good neighbour provision. I understand the government's intent and I appreciate the fact that the government has discussed these propositions with ourselves and with the representatives of the Third Party and I appreciate where the government is coming from in this regard. I think most reasonable people would applaud the government's intent to be reasonable in this regard and to show some flexibility on the boundaries of wilderness areas where those boundaries may create genuine hardships.

There has been concern expressed by some members of the public that if we are not extremely careful with the criteria that are used, to determine when boundaries should be adjusted, that even if this government would never depart from its intentions, that some day in the future, God forbid, another government might succumb to pressures and make adjustments that people would not feel are appropriate. I would just submit that this is a concern that the government should look at and it might want to consider some adjustment to its criteria in this area to ensure that these concerns are addressed.

I would like to sum up, Mr. Speaker, by saying that I am very pleased to see this legislation finally before the House for second reading. I think there will be other speakers on the subject of the legislation and I am happy to relinquish the floor to them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to talk about Bill No. 24, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. This is a bill that I have received a great deal of correspondence on during my term as Environment Critic. As you can well imagine, much of the concerns that I have received came from northern Cape Breton. You will recall that back on, I believe, June 8th, I tabled a petition of 1,800 names representing probably close to half the residents of this sparsely populated area above the national park in Cape Breton. At that time I said that I would support the legislation providing the peoples' concerns were thoroughly addressed.

[Page 3905]

It seems that the entire process has been compromised for some time. People have not been treated equally, in my mind, from one end of this province to the other. There is certainly some doubt as to whether the government is capable of protecting or managing or enforcement of the proposed protected sites based on past events of this government.

The various groups have come out against the protected areas and we have to weigh this all out carefully because everyone has their own agenda. Certainly, on the surface, to protect our heritage, our forests and our creatures, it seems like a very commendable thing to do but we must be careful as we proceed with it.

The Federation of Agriculture is not a proponent of it and, indeed, the Inverness-Victoria Federation of Agriculture has recently addressed this issue. The boards, under the impression that the decision to make this area protected was in the interests of preservation of the land and wildlife, but they go on to say that it must also be kept in mind that there is the way of life of the people who live in this region. They must also be protected and their way of life.

The Inverness Municipal Council, which one of our honourable members was part of at one time, I believe, as a demonstration put a resolution forward that went on to say that as a demonstration of goodwill and cooperation, the memorandum on Polletts Cove-Aspy Fault area to be retained until an agreement is reached. That was a most recent remark. Of course, we are hearing from both sides of the issue. The Premier says that Nova Scotia's wildernesses are true legacies that we as present day legislators can ensure are passed on intact for the benefit of future generations. What is the long-term cost for future generations and can we impose the sterilization of land on our future generations? These are all things that we must consider.

As I said, we hear from both sides and we hear from extremists on both sides of this issue. From remarks such as the creation of this into a protected area, not to make it protected would be a sin against God and our humanity and the fate of our animals is in our hands; God grant we are equal to the task. Then we hear from the other side that it would be a sin to sterilize this land for future generations. It is, indeed, a complicated matter.

I think what I will focus on first is the area that I received the most concerns from, the Polletts Cove-Aspy Fault designated area. Representatives of this North of Smokey Action Committee Society have met with me on several occasions and they speak for the majority of the residents in the affected area. I pointed out to the Liberal Government that they acted in bad faith with the people who live next to and will be directly affected by any government's decision to control the future of the Polletts Cove-Aspy Fault area of northern Cape Breton within the Wilderness Protection bill. The bill gives an incredible amount of discretion to the Minister of the Environment in controlling and curtailing the activity in the area and, I have to stress, the Minister of the Environment of the day. As the minister changes from time to

[Page 3906]

time, the discretion will be exercised in accordance with the then minister and his interpretation of the bill.

To shove this legislation down the throats of the people who live in the proximity of Polletts Cove is wrong. The action committee representatives have been provided with excellent advocacy on behalf of the people they represent. They advocate a fair and open process of information sharing and educational opportunities whereby the people of Polletts Cove/Aspy Fault area will be able to study and understand the various options and models available for stewardship of the area.

This government has portrayed itself as wanting full and open hearings and discussions with the people who will be affected by the region's wilderness designation decisions. However, in the area of Polletts Cove-Aspy Fault there were initially no hearings anywhere near the region. There was a meeting in Baddeck, which is several hours of difficult driving from the area. This meeting was not well advertised. That was the open hearing process, in spite of the widespread distrust and dissatisfaction with the idea to designate the area on the part of the people who are living there. This is a difficult situation, to say the least.

As you will see, together with the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the Pollets Cove area has traditionally been the agricultural, commercial, recreational, hunting and woods area of the people who live in the northern national park area. Nowhere else in Nova Scotia is this situation developing because we are talking about designating virtually all the available land in the region, with the exception of a very small amount around some of the perimeters. The people there want a fair trial. How can there be a fair, open hearing process when the area under discussion is already within a bill that requires the designation regardless of the outcome of the decisions?

The memorandum of understanding, that is another euphemism, has never been agreed to by the North of Smokey Action Committee Society, nor the people who were affected by it. The people were very unfairly characterized as uncivilized. That was sad and, quite frankly, they didn't appreciate that kind of talk. I don't believe that the termination of the process of hearings up there had anything to do with fear or intimidation when they were called off.

Basically the conflict which presently exists has been precipitated by the government's enthusiasm for control over considerations of its effect on the people who should be the main focus of government. The people should be the main focus. The people of North Smokey have not been treated with reason or compassion by the federal or provincial government over the past 60 years. When they unfold their story in front of you, Mr. Speaker, you really have a feel for what they went through in those early years.

Now the Leader of the NDP indicated that he supports the principle of protected areas but he said he was determined to ensure that the affected communities are consulted. The people must be dealt with in an open and fair manner. Now has that taken place? We have to

[Page 3907]

weigh that out. As I said, the minister put in place the memorandum of understanding. My understanding of a memorandum of understanding is that a memorandum is a brief, written statement outlining the terms of an agreement or transaction. An understanding is a meeting of the minds, the stakeholders, respecting those who are affected by the agreement. What is claimed to be a memorandum of understanding is, in fact, the government's directive and has not embraced the people as something respecting which they intended to be bound. So the people have not signed it. It is just signed by one party, so how is that an agreement? I find that very difficult to understand.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn my thoughts now to, you know, we always seem to think of our resources as the forestry and I would like to turn attention to the mineral industry. In the months leading up to this, the Department of Natural Resources and the mineral industry have been essentially locked out of this agreement. The Canadian parks and mineral preliminary assessment was a process that they went through and one problem with IRM's attitude towards mineral potential in these areas is that they are trying to fit our industry into a forestry template. There is no accommodation for new exploration models or a realization that something might be found later changing the mineral potential of this area.

They went on to put in place a mineral classification scheme used by Parks Canada and the IRM group to assess the areas prior to this agreement coming into the state we have it here as Bill No. 24. I will just give you a little background in that. The classification schemes were based primarily on geomorphology with lesser degrees of biology and so on, added essentially just to spice it up. The IRM group will never admit to this. However, it was based on, in my mind, with very little scientific data.

Now, when one critiques the classification based on surficial geology or geomorphology, the group quickly turns to the other factors as being the major ones that the classification is based on. It is based on surficial geology and one of the best surficial geologists in the world happens to work for the Department of Natural Resources and was not consulted on this at all. The point is the scientific team of the Department of Natural Resources were not really part of it and the original model was adapted from something the Nova Scotia Museum had.

One classification when reviewing this data jumped out at me, Mr. Speaker, as an example, and it is the Walton River Clay Plain. The actual definition of a clay plain is the lustrene and nature clay settling out from suspension in water in a lake or ocean. This area identifies a clay plain as a group, is actually till. That is what, they identified it as clay. It is till which makes the identification of morphology 100 per cent totally incorrect.

Just for fun, I have included photocopies from the original parks proposal document which originally came out in newspaper print form. It was that green newspaper that was

[Page 3908]

distributed everywhere. The document was produced with virtually no scientific input. Yet it states it is based on the best science available to the department. Even the biologists went crazy over that when they saw it. The document identifies no authors and no references. What little opportunity the department had for input came at a meeting where the geologists were told they must identify all the province's main mineral potential sites for perpetuity in two hours.

One area identified Middle River as a site to leave alone due to its gold and platinum potential there. The identification was ignored, Mr. Speaker, and the reason cited for inclusion of this area as a park in the profile section of the document is that it is an excellent representation of Mira River drumlin landscape. Now, Citadel Hill is drumlin, as the glaciers recede when they are coming heading for the city, they are plowing up silt and tills and a glacier landed here and it melted. All that earth that it gathered up in its travel was left and it became Citadel Hill. So this area was identified as a Mira River drumlin. The fact is, the Mira River is 75 kilometres away. There is no drumlin field within 50 kilometres and, to add insult to injury, put the air photograph of the Middle River on a document upside down, north on the bottom. I have that to table for interest sake.

The exploration people really were quite concerned by all this parks and protected areas or candidate areas. The complete story is difficult to contemplate because it is a comedy of errors in their mind that led to this legislation in the present state we have it today. The Whitehorse mining initiative, which Nova Scotia has been part of and assigned, also called for clear, scientifically-based criteria for identification of protected areas. It specifies that all stakeholders be involved in the final selection of protected areas. No explanation was provided to explain the criteria used for choosing specific scientific sites or what evaluations were to take place in this area.

Legislated protected areas would be frozen forever from any resource development and its associated economic benefits. The integrity of our environment can still be protected with multi-use policies. That is something that, perhaps, should be considered, that we can use these areas. You can harvest some of the resources from these areas and still maintain their integrity. The public rely on the media, as you know, for their information and I am afraid that they were poorly served. The media reporters in Nova Scotia are guilty of bias in reporting the controversy between protected areas and resource development. Unfortunately, increasing emotional power has been exerted by some environmentalist groups with regard to this. Some are obsessed with greening the country into poverty.

There has been considerable negative impact in the mineral exploration during recent years, resulting from the uncertainty of land use in Nova Scotia. I guess I could refer to the Jim Campbells Barren as an example there, Mr. Speaker. The legislation is not without flaws and Clause 10, ". . . provides such public consultation as the Minister considers appropriate . . .". Does that mean if the minister considers no consultation need be done, then there will not be any? It is a good question. Clause 10(4) talks about the memorandum of

[Page 3909]

understanding, as I mentioned before. This is signed by the minister. Should it not also be signed by the community representatives involved in those communities?

Clause 11(5) says that the minister can, with 60 days notice, designate a wilderness area or alter the boundaries of the wilderness area. Clause 15, consultation also at the minister's discretion.

Government has mismanaged thus far, and it should not be assumed that this matter will be managed otherwise, Mr. Speaker. It is a big concern of mine. Just in summary, I will have to say that it may be wrong in restricting the use of this area to our most important resource, the people who live there in harmony with their area, as do generally the widely dispersed population of the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault wilderness area in the Counties of Inverness and Victoria. Mr. Speaker, I welcomed the opportunity to say a few words on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise today to take part in the debate of Bill No. 24, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. Bill No. 24 will ensure the natural landscape and the ecosystems which make up these 31 sites are maintained and protected in their natural state.

I plan to make only a few comments on this legislation. My colleague, the honourable Minister of the Environment, has already spoken on the importance of this legislation to all Nova Scotians; therefore, my words will be based on the feedback I have received from my constituents, related to the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault candidate protected area, one of the 31 protected sites identified under this proposed legislation, and an area which takes in a large part of my riding.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear to me that this legislation will have many long-reaching impacts on my riding, especially in the northern part of Cape Breton, but also across many areas of Nova Scotia. I personally support the legislation, as I believe most of my constituents also do. Over the past few years, but especially over the last eight months, I, along with my office staff, have received numerous calls on this proposed legislation, as well as the general issue of protection of land by governments. I have discussed this issue with many individuals who are opposed to this legislation and I have attended, along with the Minister of the Environment and our Premier, many meetings and met with many local representatives to gain a better understanding of their concerns.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue which I am not taking lightly and have given much thought to, as I know many others have as well. I have a lot of sympathy and support for the many residents of northern Inverness and Victoria Counties who have some concerns and lasting memories of their forefathers' land being expropriated more than half a century ago. There has been a history of controversy regarding the designation of lands for protection north of

[Page 3910]

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and many local residents possess very strong feelings on the actions taken by governments at that time.

It must be noted that most residents in the northern part of Cape Breton, who border the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault candidate protected area, have their own way of life, in many cases one which is very different than that of most Nova Scotians. In this area, due to its isolation, residents do not enjoy the opportunities which most of us take for granted on a daily basis. It should be noted that my riding of Victoria represents the largest geographical provincial constituency in Nova Scotia; it also has the highest unemployment rate in our province. In recent years, the downturn in the fishery has greatly hurt many of those communities. In many cases residents do not have a lot of material goods and so traditional use of their land is something that has always been and will continue to be a very passionate issue, very close to their hearts.

[5:15 p.m.]

What has been conveyed to me is that the perception of many residents of northern Cape Breton is that both the federal and provincial governments have always protected too much land. In this area that I am referring to there is the federally-owned Cape Breton Highlands National Park, along with provincial parks and park reserves. Now with the proposed designation of the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault area, many locals are wondering when this move of protection will end. Many feel that their way of life has been taken away from them.

It is for these reasons why I can understand many of the fears that have been raised through the consultation process. There are certainly some valid points which have been raised about the lack of local input in the early stages of this parks and protected area plan. Recently, additional public consultation sessions were set up and this move was a good one toward obtaining further input. It was sad to see the disruptive behaviour which resulted in the cancellation of these sessions by the planning committee. Many comments have been received to improve the legislation and I encourage further feedback of constructive input on Bill No. 24 at the Law Amendments Committee stage of this legislation.

I can say without hesitation that the people who argue they are good custodians of this land are and have been for decades. It is my belief that for the most part, the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault area has not been physically disturbed and its natural beauty has been maintained. The same can be said for the majority of lands on Cape Breton Island. A recent reader's poll, issued by the American magazine, Conde Nast, concluded that Cape Breton Island's scenery was the most beautiful in the world. I feel the people of North of Smokey are to be credited to some degree for maintaining the beauty of this island; it is a unique part of our province.

With that I would like to bring my brief remarks to a close but I do wish to repeat that I plan to support the legislation. Overall, it is good legislation and the direction it provides

[Page 3911]

shows the leadership of our government. However, I want to make it clear to all that in my riding, there are strong concerns with the protection of the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault area and again, I encourage further input to those concerns at the Law Amendments Committee stage of this legislation. Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank you for your indulgence for being able to speak on Bill No. 24. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the House for the opportunity to speak on this bill this evening. This is a bill which we should be looking forward to and I guess the question is why has it engendered so much debate and why has there been such disenchantment over what ought to be a legacy of years of work of ecologists, of environmentalists, of naturalists, of people who are concerned with maintaining the integrity of these places? It is a question certainly that I asked when I read through the provisions of this bill because I have to say I thought it was a good bill. I suppose, in part, some of this distrust comes from the fact that the members of this government have put forward bills before, which appear to be one thing but then are, in fact, something else. I know when it is brought forward by a minister who is good at making a budget speech but not much good at budget construction, you can understand why it is that you have a fair amount of disenchantment over what the potential of some of these provisions might be.

I have to say that I am not going to use this as an opportunity to talk about the Minister of Finance or the Minister of the Environment, because I do think there are many really good provisions in this.

The reality is that this is going to move on to the Law Amendments Committee. The reality is that democracy is, in its essence, government by discussion. That is what we are going to do. We are going to take it out of here. We are going to take it into the Law Amendments Committee and we are going to discuss what we like about this bill and we are going to try to effect some change. (Interruption)

Actually, it was Sir John Seeley, but nice guess. The reality is that we are going to have an opportunity to deal with this bill at length and this was pointed out, I think, wrongly, by my friend and previous speaker (Interruption). No, the earlier speaker, I guess I should say. (Interruption) No, not the member for Dartmouth South. He was from Pictou East. He said there are some people who are just interested in greening this country into poverty. That is not, and, clearly, I don't agree the minister would agree that this is something that would attempt to green the province into poverty. That is not the case at all. The reality is that for years many people have worked hard to protect these spaces, to put in place legislation which, in fact, will preserve parts of our province for generations to come. I support that and I think it is an important part of the work that we do here.

[Page 3912]

I do think there are some misnomers, as was pointed out by the member for Pictou East. I had a look at the memorandum of understanding, which sets out what was described as an agreement but, in effect, it is just a statement of intention by the minister with respect to the Polletts Cove-Aspy Fault area. Obviously, this has been one of the parts of contention around this bill. Certainly, in the information that has been passed to me and the calls that I have received, there has been real concern over the idea that the people who owned this property and who would be perfectly identifiable through the Nova Scotia Property Records database, were not directly contacted. They weren't consulted. In fact, when they made the attempt to try to get information on this, what was reported to me was, in fact, they didn't get the information. The information that they did get, they didn't feel any great level of comfort with. The reason for that is because every time they turned around, they saw descriptions of events or things that were going to take place with respect to pieces of property that they owned.

Even though the bill says that any involvement will be voluntary and that private lands are not going to be affected, that doesn't happen. In fact, their property is named as a destination point in government literature. They are saying this is not a matter of my voluntary participation in this. This is something that is being said is going to happen as a result of the department. In fact, the picture on the public participation newsletter that was dated August 1998, is a picture of private land held in Polletts Cove. Apparently, that photograph was taken by one of the departmental photographers and I understand it was then reproduced in the preliminary concept book.

They said, if no private land is going to be affected, why is it they keep showing pictures of my property, property, which I understand, was deeded to this family as far back as the time of Joseph Howe, that has been in this family for that many years and, yet, it is being dealt with in a way that is not commensurate with our understanding of what private property rights entail. In fact, when they go to the Chronicle-Herald, they find that their property is designated as a destination point by the government for hiking trails and for various other things.

They tell me, many times, when they have visited their property on Polletts Cove that they have never been there alone. In fact, they have always seen other people there and they have never objected to that, but what they object to is the idea that the government could, and apparently has, come to treat their property as if it is not private land but is part of some kind of a trail network and that they are just going to be submissive about this. That is why part of the distrust grows up around this bill. As I said, I think it is unfortunate and I think it is the kind of thing we have to make clear to the members opposite, so they understand that they are dealing with private property and people are very sensitive about what happens to their property. (Interruption)

I hear the minister, I hear what he says, that we are not taking private property away. There are many ways to take private property away, you don't just have to expropriate it.

[Page 3913]

What you do is you turn it to other uses, and that is an alienation of property in and of itself. It is not as simple as saying that we are taking it away, it is when you treat it in a manner that is inconsistent with private land rights, and that is what we are talking about.

The question is, was this property even surveyed? Was it mapped? How did they come to the conclusion that certain pieces of this property were going to be contained in their publications and demonstrated as areas that were going to be affected by the Wilderness Protection Act on one hand and then, in the same breath, they say don't worry about it because this does not affect any private lands. This creates confusion in the minds of the individuals who are affected.

Our job is to say we want to be very clear for these people, because the reality is that, through no fault of their own, many were excluded from public consultation. I agree that where people are put at risk in public meetings, that is not acceptable and should not be tolerated, but there was still to be a meeting in Halifax area, and many of the people who own property in Cape Breton live in this area, so there is no reason why that meeting could not have gone ahead. I think that meeting was scheduled for October 5th and then submissions had to be in by October 7th. That is pretty a quick turnaround and I would say that, if you are really going to give consultation a chance, you have to give a fair amount of time for people to be able to prepare and make these kinds of submissions.

I would agree that as this bill moves into Law Amendments that there will be an opportunity, if people are available to come and to talk about the concerns that they have with respect to the bill. In fact, I know that many of us will make the effort to get that information out to people, so that if they feel that they are going to be somehow aggrieved by the provisions of this bill that they will come and make those representations so that they can be clearly heard. That is our job; that is why we are here. That is what we want to allow the public to do, to enter into this discussion with us so that we can have, in essence, a better piece of legislation.

I want to point out just one more piece of information which I think is, again, unfortunate, because in part of the discussions I had with officials in the department, they said that they would not be undertaking any definition of these areas in terms of looking at whether it is surveys or mapping or whatever, until the bill was proclaimed. That is a difficult position to take because, of course, if somebody is going to be affected by the provisions then they may not know about it until after the provisions have been proclaimed. That to me makes it very difficult for individuals to come forward and to make appropriate representations.

The minister says that no private property is going to be affected. I think that we have no choice but to take him at this word in this regard but, I would, once again, add this caution to my remarks: that it is not enough that consultation be said to be done, it has to be seen to be done. We have to take it upon ourselves to ensure that these people who feel that they are going to be affected know that the intention of this bill is for the general benefit and welfare

[Page 3914]

of the people of this province. We know that ecotourism is a booming and potentially ever larger business for this province and it is something that we can look to in the future as not only a source of our ability to manage these areas but also as an income generator for this province as well.

[5:30 p.m.]

Why shouldn't we share the beauty of this great province with others? I think we should. So it is our responsibility when we look at this bill to make sure that it meets those needs, the needs that are going to come in the years after this bill is proclaimed. Those are my comments for this evening, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank you for your indulgence. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, seeing as how you mentioned beautiful Musquodoboit Harbour, there is the Musquodoboit River that distinguishes the electoral boundary between the constituency of Eastern Shore and the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. So you are not that far out, you know. I am pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on Bill No. 24.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation, in my view, and this may not be shared by all colleagues in the House, I find this legislation to be quite controversial. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act in brief does provide a framework. There is no question that it is intended to provide a statutory framework to ensure the establishment and the minister tells us, management protection and use of wilderness areas.

There are a number of points that I would like to make, Mr. Speaker, points that are very serious concerns. Number one, to my way of thinking and understanding, 40 per cent of this protected area is west of the Halifax-Windsor Highway so to speak. I point that out because the forestry sector, for example, is extremely concerned that the Liberal Government is taking away valuable wood fibre. I do not just say that irresponsibly. In speaking on behalf of the sawmillers and the pulp companies in this province, it should be noted that they are prepared to work with the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources to bring some, if not all, of this protected land under some type of forest management.

The minister tells us that he is going to establish a management protection scheme. In western Nova Scotia, I know the minister knows a number of sawmillers and harvesters because they have made representation and presentation to the minister asking him to permit them to harvest certain areas under the very strictest terms and conditions laid out by the government and, hopefully, supported by the other two Parties. They are not saying we want to come in and rape the woods. We do not want to come in and clear-cut but the minister has to look, if he will, at the geography and just see how designating protected areas is going to

[Page 3915]

impact industry in Nova Scotia. It is a very serious concern; 25,000 direct or indirect people in Nova Scotia are very reliant on the forestry sector in Nova Scotia.

Forest Products made a presentation to the group that was facilitating the meetings relative to the Wilderness Areas Protection Act and I do not see anywhere in the legislation or any of the briefs that have been provided by the Minister of the Environment any of the concerns that they raise, Mr. Speaker. You might recall that each member of this Legislature was provided with The Forest Industry in Nova Scotia, a Snapshot, a small little document, Mr. Speaker, that contains a lot of information.

One of the major problems, Mr. Speaker, of global warming is the fact that a lot of timberland, if you will, is decaying and old growth forest sucks up the oxygen and produces a lot of carbon dioxide. Please note, in 1997 - and I believe this is the third time in four years that this government has introduced this legislation - in 1997, the province protected 31 sites, covering 287,000 hectares. Much of it is timberland, productive timber area. These 31 sites are not reflected in the above figures.

They talk about the total area of Nova Scotia, the total timber productive area, per cent of area which is timber productive area, timber productive area less reserve lands and on stock lands. Mr. Speaker, this government has committed to hundreds of individuals and companies, through Crown licenses, through agreements, that they will provide them with fibre off Crown land. But, ironically and contradictorily, this government has not, over the last five years at least, employed a lot of silviculture. They have cut the budget year after year.

At present, we don't have an agreement with our counterparts in Ottawa, the Chretien Liberals. We don't have any resource-based agreements with Ottawa. I have to ask the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment, how are you going to fulfil your obligation to the stakeholders in the forest industry, those that have the licenses, those that have the agreements with you, Mr. Speaker. It is a serious concern. So what I am suggesting to the Minister of the Environment is that he consider bringing some, if not all, of the protected areas under sound forest management practices. What is wrong with that? You have a mature stand of timber. Are you just going to let it fall and decay and suck up the oxygen and contribute to global warming? Is that what this government is all about? (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment is laughing. Perhaps I could read a little bit more. This document here, and I will read into the record, relative to silviculture, the forest inventory, and global warming, to reduce the impact of our forests on global warming, the association believes, now this is the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia, an agency, an association that is funded by this Liberal Government. Here is what they are saying and they represent 1,000 members that, again, and consequently represent thousands of people. The forest inventory and global warming; to reduce the impact of our forests on global warming, the association believes that representative areas of completely untouchable

[Page 3916]

areas with old growth forest should be kept relatively small. That is what the association is saying.

Here is the reason, Mr. Speaker. If Nova Scotia has healthy forests, it has a healthy environment. Forests are oxygen factories. To grow one pound of wood, a tree uses 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide and gives off 1.1 pounds of oxygen. Young and middle aged trees not only produce large quantities of wood, they help to combat global warming. Young and middle aged trees help to combat global warming by using up a lot of the harmful carbon dioxide. As trees get older - and the minister should listen to this point, this is very important - they grow very little and begin to decay. The decay process uses oxygen and creates carbon dioxide. Old growth timber uses valuable oxygen.

Now one of the main causes of global warming is the decay process of old growth timber. The entire process is complex, but two things are clear. New growth is beneficial to the environment and when forests stop growing, many of the processes reverse. In other words, old growth forests contribute to global warming. Now that is just one reason, Mr. Speaker.

MR. JOHN HOLM: A question, Mr. Speaker, and the Minister of the Environment doesn't want me to prolong it. I am not trying to prolong it, I am just trying to get some clarification. We are, of course, debating the bill about the protection of the wilderness spaces. I am wondering, because I am trying to understand the member's position, I want to know if you are in support of the bill and the protection of those places. The other thing I am wondering, are you suggesting there should be logging in the old growth forest in those areas, or are you suggesting leaving them in their natural state?

I hear the article you are reading and about the oxygen and we understand that. I just don't know if you are advocating whether or not we should be logging in these areas that are to be protected under the bill, or if he only wants to log the old growth forests?

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, that is a fair question. I guess what I am saying is we can have both but we have to have a healthy forest to create jobs and sustain existing jobs. What I am saying is, certain areas of the protected sites, the proposed sites, can be brought under sound forest management practices.

The government, if you look at the legislation, does permit a certain amount of hunting and trapping and fishing and things of that nature but nowhere in the legislation is there a provision to employ sound forest management practices. What I am saying is simply this, for the honourable member who posed the question, we believe, I personally believe, that the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, which designates over 70 per cent of Digby County as wilderness areas that come under wilderness areas protection, that, quite frankly, the minister has gone too far. That is my belief and I believe it is backed up by a number of forestry stakeholders.

[Page 3917]

What I am appealing to the minister, and the minister has heard all kinds of presentations and he has received calls (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, somebody is not being honest. Perhaps I could read a letter, if I might, into the record, from a long-time Nova Scotian employer who practices sound forest management principles: In recent news articles there has been the statement that healthy forests mean jobs. This is very true, but there is only one way to have a healthy forest, that is by management. All forests need to be managed to their full potential. Much of our forest land has been harvested by our forefathers who took only the very best trees because that was the only wood they could market. This practice leaves a scrap forest with low quality trees.

The best way to harvest these areas is to do it under sound management, employ sound management principles. To many people, for example, a clear-cut is the end of a forest. Not so, it is the beginning of a new forest in some areas. Trees are no different from any other crop and must be harvested when they are mature. The life cycle of a fir tree is about 40 years before it starts to butt stain. Most people in the Legislature probably know that when the butt of a tree starts to stain or does stain, it is of absolutely no use to the pulp companies in Nova Scotia.

The problem is we have legislators who are making laws that don't give enough consideration . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment. (Interruptions)

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I sincerely understand where the member is coming from here with regards to the concerns about forestry sustainable development within our forest practices, that is why we encouraged the comments by the Minister of Natural Resources today about sustainability. The member opposite brings up a lot of very technical matters that are very important from (Interruptions). I was trying to bite my lip here so I took my mike out - so I understand where the member is coming from.

Just to clarify a very important point here, keeping in touch with what Bill No. 24 is all about, when the whole area of the Wilderness Areas Protection Act or the parks protected areas assistance plan was brought in in 1992 under the then Minister of the Environment who is sitting on the front benches opposite, they brought it forward with the understanding that we need to preserve certain areas from an environmental, ecological, biodiversity, all the reasons that are right. But during that time the then Minister of the Environment, who was previously Minister of Natural Resources - which I seem to be following his historical moves - was very much aware of the concern of licences on Crown land. I reviewed that file very closely, of who got them and how those things were all developed, which are important. What the minister of the day did, which I compliment him on, was to make sure that there were no licences within the area of protection when this was brought forward.

[Page 3918]

[5:45 p.m.]

The member opposite is concerned about accessing fibre. The fact that those lands were set aside did not infringe on existing licences and did not take away what was currently part of the annual allowable cut within the area of Crown land. As the member wants to go through that document that he has got in his hand, which is a very scientific and a good document, one that I have supported the principles of sustainable development of the forestry for a long time, I would ask the member opposite that we all know those are good important issues. But the issue we have at hand here today is not infringing on the issue here that the previous minister and this minister and other ministers have not given away land or put land under protection that was historically part of a Crown process, unless there was an arrangement made.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister raises a good point but the fact of the matter is when the Minister of Natural Resources in 1992 talked about protected areas and designating lands that would be protected, there was a federal-provincial forestry agreement in place that provided for silviculture. There was an agreement and it has expended under you, Mr. Minister, when you were the Minister of Natural Resources. In fact . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable members will not debate across the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I should be going through you, yes. I want to tell the minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would the member mind yielding the floor or adjourning the debate on this issue. I would like to call a couple of more bills for second reading before 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member move adjournment of the debate?

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would move adjournment of the debate and yield the floor to the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3919]

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 74.

Bill No. 74 - The Halifax Insurance Company Capacity and Powers Act.

Bill No. 75 - King's College Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of these bills. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the government's business for today. I am not sure whose Opposition Day it is tomorrow. In any case the hours of the House tomorrow are from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to find our order paper, we moved up the schedule. For tomorrow we will be calling two bills, Bill No. 48, the Highway Construction and Maintenance Act and Bill No. 56, Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act. I also had one other resolution that was in the process of getting it, talking about the Y2K problem for tomorrow. I don't have the number of the resolution but I will assure the House that I will get that later tonight or very early tomorrow morning. Mr. Speaker, I move we do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion to adjourn.

Is it agreed?

[Page 3920]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the hour of interruption and, as I indicated earlier there was a draw for a debate on the Adjournment motion. The draw was won by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government should provide fair and equal treatment to nursing home staff in all parts of the province.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: I understand the honourable member for Halifax Needham will be beginning the debate.

HEALTH - NURSING HOME STAFF: EQUAL TREATMENT - PROVIDE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a very important resolution and it is especially important I think given the circumstances that workers in nursing homes in all parts of Nova Scotia face today as well as residents in nursing homes and family members who are very concerned about their loved ones.

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a labour force of approximately 7,500 nursing home workers who for too long have worked in this very important sector of our health care system, worked hard and have worked for wages that are inadequate and in conditions that are often very difficult. What they are looking for is fairness and equal treatment.

Mr. Speaker, I have not been an MLA very long and I am certainly sure that many activities and practices that go on in this House are a great source of pride for members, but I have to say that the practices that I have observed around the whole issue of nursing home workers have made me feel anything but pride to be here in the House of Assembly as I watch the government bumble and fumble and mishandle this very important issue. The behaviour of our Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Labour and members of the government benches, as we deal with the long-term care sector, should be a source of grave concern for people in Nova Scotia. Instead of dealing with the very important issues that are presented to us by this sector and this group of workers, the government has chosen instead of dealing with these issues to attack others for their own shortcomings.

[Page 3921]

They have done this by levelling all kinds of bizarre accusations which they were not prepared to back up, not even once, mostly because there was not one shred of evidence for any of their bizarre accusations and when they could not sling enough mud at the Official Opposition, they turned on a former Minister of Health and blamed him for the situation that is occurring today in nursing homes around Nova Scotia. Today, Mr. Speaker, sadly what we have witnessed is an attack on the workers themselves under the guise of concern for the elderly, the sick and for the vulnerable. I say shame on that government for choosing those kinds of tactics.

If this was a government that was concerned about workers in nursing homes and if this was a government that was concerned about the elderly people in nursing homes, they would act and they would have acted long ago when we were raising these very important issues and we were talking about what the impact of a strike would be in this particular sector. Mr. Speaker, we can talk all we want about the conduct of strikers on picket lines and certainly violence is something that we would never condone but let's be realistic. Strikes engender in workers who are out for any period of time fear, fear for their jobs, fear for their livelihoods, fear for their families, we are rapidly approaching a Christmas season and these are low-waged working-poor workers.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that this sector has been chronically neglected over many years. We know that the Premier trotted around this province during an election raising expectations in this sector, talking about his commitment to fairness in the context of providing nurses working in long-term care with wage parity to nurses working in acute care and, by inference, raising expectations of other groups of workers who expect that they would not be treated as second-class workers in the health care system.

The Premier may stand in this House and say all he likes that he didn't interfere in the collective bargaining process with nurses, but, Mr. Speaker, this is not what the Nurses' Union says and this certainly is not what the record shows. I think that the government has a tremendous amount to account for with respect to the situation we are seeing in nursing homes, such as the Cove in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, last night I was in Yarmouth with the Leader of the Opposition and we heard from a number of people, including a woman whose name is Ann who works in a villa on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. I would like to read what she had to say to us because I think that it is the workers themselves who understand exactly what it is they have been up against. "January 1, 1991, was the last time I received an increase in my wages.", she said. "The government put two freezes on us, the first one was October, 1991, and the other was 1994. Although my hourly wage has stayed the same, ($9.03 per hour) my deductions have increased. Income Tax has increased . . .", this is on a pay period of two weeks, by ". . . $26.60 EI 46 cents, and CPP $5.93. In 1991 my take home pay for two weeks was $477.44 and now for the same amount of time I take home $425.30. Inflation has gone up 18% over the past 7 years.".

[Page 3922]

Mr. Speaker, what has occurred with this woman and with many other people working in this sector is that they have witnessed an absolute decline in their standard of living in the past seven years. This is what this labour dispute is about and this is what this government knew was coming. "A lot of my co-workers . . .", she says, ". . . are either single mothers or one person wage earners. Many cannot afford to stay at the Villa and take better paying jobs . . .", when they come along, ". . . thus making a big turnover in the workplace which is not only hard on the workers, but is also upsetting to the residents. They just get used to their care giver when they leave, thus having to get used, all over again, to someone else.

The Villa differs from a hospital only in the fact that our residents do not get better and go home. We are now their family and home, and they get sicker, and some can even get violent. Where we take care of these residents months and even year after year, they become like our extended families.

The workers at the Villa give not only the necessary care, but extras for our residents - like birthdays, holidays and sometimes just as a surprise. It is not the kind of job that you can go to, but it is a job that you have to love doing, and we at the Villa do not want anything more than . . .", that people get fair wages to do the same kind of work doing what we do.

So what we need to say to this government, very clearly, all members in this House concerned about the aged, the frail, the sick, the elderly in these nursing homes, take responsibility for what is happening and act to resolve this situation now. Stop dividing the workers and the residents. These workers really care for those residents and they deserve a lot better than the kind of accusations and full-page attack ads that we have seen in the newspapers. Shame on you. This government can do better, I hope. (Applause)

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to be involved in the Adjournment debate tonight on long-term care, fair and equitable treatment for the workers. I was thinking, as the honourable member was closing her comments on the workers across this province who work in long-term care facilities, how loving and caring they are. I guess that is the problem I am having when I look at the violence and the bizarre behaviour on the picket line in Sydney, particularly, in relationship to the Cove. It is hard to equate that with the loving and caring that I know takes place. I hope that is a few people, I hope there are not too many visitors from outside who are visiting that picket line and really disrupting the care.

Mr. Speaker, I want to just start by saying that for decades too many workers in Nova Scotia's nursing homes were underpaid. For many years there has not been the financial commitment needed to effectively respond to the needs of the long-term care sector which

[Page 3923]

provides such a vital service to senior Nova Scotians. I have said time and time again in this House that long-term care in Nova Scotia has been long-time neglected.

This government is here to turn the situation around; I want to say that. We are very much committed to addressing the issues and concerns of long-term care. This government has already significantly increased spending in this area. The budget for Nova Scotia's long-term care sector this year is $133.2 million. That is an increase of $21 million from last year and a 27 per cent increase in funding over the past two years. In the three fiscal years ending March 31, 1998, the equivalent of 400 new, full-time jobs were approved for the 70 long-term care homes in this province. We will build on this progress in this fiscal year. These numbers alone demonstrate, I believe, our commitment to long-term care here in Nova Scotia.

We are also bringing 170 new beds to long-term care. Tonight's topic of debate could not have come, in my opinion, at a better time. The honourable member opposite is asking this government to be fair to nursing home staff. We are doing just that. Workers in the long-term care sector have been offered a fair wage package. We have committed to allocate $84 million in funding over the next four years to bring parity within the long-term care sector.

The issue of wage parity, as I am sure all can appreciate, is a very complex issue. It is important to first have a standardized wage approach within a sector before we can even begin discussing parity with other sectors. Currently there is no parity within long-term care. Workers doing the same job in one nursing home are not always getting the same wage, often not getting the same wage, as their colleagues across the region. This government wants to and will rectify this wage disparity. We have the money allocated and we are ready to move forward with the $84 million in funding. Wage parity within the sector is a fair deal. It is a fair offer and it deserves a fair response.

I am very pleased to say that four nursing homes have reached a settlement so far: Mahone Bay, Miners' Memorial, Northwood, and Rosedale nursing home. In fact, the workers at Mahone Bay will receive an increase anywhere from 45 per cent and up to 83 per cent over the period of the agreement. As you are very well aware, there are other homes currently in negotiations, with other discussions pending. We do hope that the unions will be able to reach fair and equitable agreements as soon as possible through the collective bargaining process. We have made the money available to help facilitate the negotiation process.

In closing, I do briefly want to mention the current situation at the Cove nursing home in Sydney. We are being updated on the residents' status on an ongoing basis and we will continue to work together with the board of directors of the Cove to ensure residents are not at risk. We cannot and we will not allow them to suffer over issues that are between the union and the home. They are not and must not be used as pawns by anyone. I have said many times before, the priority of the Department of Health is the health and well-being of the remaining 80 residents. Tonight I urge the workers to get back to the negotiating table to resolve their

[Page 3924]

issues so that proper care can once again be provided to the residents in the Cove. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to debate this resolution, which is a very important resolution. It is one that talks about nursing home, continuing care, or long-term care workers. You know the component of health reform that this government introduced, the group that had been left out all along is the long-term care people.

The minister talks about, we are going to put some money here, we are going to put some money there. No, maybe we should be talking about what is the right thing to do. Maybe we should be talking to the workers, those people who earn $6.00 and $7.00 an hour, talk to those people who understand what the problems are in long-term care.

One thing this government has failed to do, and now in its second term, and that is why it went from 40 seats to almost losing power, was it failed to take the time to themselves talk with the workers and those involved in the particular problem to fully understand it. They are always too busy, they always have magical answers that other people put together for them.

One of the things that really people understand, and I met this afternoon, I know the NDP did - the minister has not got time because he is part time, he does not have time to meet - with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the health group. One of the components they talked about today was long-term care. We had people there who actually work in long-term care, people who understand what is happening. The government started this thing about wage parity. The Premier said during the elections that we could get re-elected, that a nurse is a nurse no matter where they are performing their work. Well, you know what? I understood what he said, the workers understood it, they believed him. Unfortunately, they believed him and they thought that no matter where they worked, wage parity would take effect.

Now the government is offering wage parity within the industry. Even that we are not sure of because I am hearing from people who already settled and say I will never make as much as the people in Northwood Manor, for instance. Well, there is something wrong if we don't have wage parity within the system. What the other people understand is that they want wage parity which they thought the Premier promised with the acute care workers. So that is another $60 million.

We know this is not going to happen overnight. Why doesn't the government come clean and be honest and say, look, in this realm we can only give wage parity in the sector, but we will sign on the dotted line that within so many years we will give wage parity with acute care, not make the promise that they know will not be fulfilled but sign on the dotted line. We understand the money problem, you can't do it overnight. What the workers want

[Page 3925]

is some hope. They want to understand that the people understand the problem and in the end we will all work to resolve that problem.

They know it can't be resolved overnight but they don't believe any more when this government says they are going to do something because I just gave you an example of where they didn't fulfil the commitment. But, if you sign on the dotted line that in year Y we will do this and in year X we will do this, the people would understand that.

We can stand up and we can say, you know we want fair and equal treatment, but we don't all have the same definition of what fair and equal treatment is. My definition is, if the Premier really was committed to what he said he believed in, a nurse is a nurse no matter where they work, if you are an RN you qualify to be an RN, then you make the same money. If the government is saying that the elderly people are not as important as the acute care people, then you don't pay them the same. I happen to believe that no matter where you are in an institution, whether you are elderly or you are in the acute care section, you are just as important.

Somehow, in order to break this logjam, the government is going to have to come clean and say, we have a long-term plan to not only deal with wage parity in the sector but we acknowledge that we misled the people and we will deal with the wage parity and the acute care sector with the long-term care people down the road and make the commitment. People then would negotiate with faith, they would negotiate knowing that the government can't solve the problem tonight but in the long term they will, and understand the problem.

So we will debate this, Mr. Speaker, and the minister will say, some people settled. Do you know why some people settled? You know why? They cannot afford to be on the picket line. They understand that there is a problem and they do not want to leave the people they love and they care for. We talk about fairness and we talk about equality and equal treatment, well, if the government believes that, there is a way out with them holding faith and not having to pay all the dollars out tomorrow.

Yes, I will give them credit. They have put more dollars into long-term care but that is not the total answer. We have got a long-term, Homes for Special Care Act that needs to be revamped; it is antiquated. There are other ways that we can make commitments to the aging and to the elderly and the workers, not by just standing up and saying, well, we must understand the problem because we are going to put $21 million into it.

There is more to it than that, Mr. Speaker, and we have got to get beyond that. So, if there is really a commitment by this government, and show and demonstrate that they understand the problem in the long term, then they will say to the workers, look, we cannot afford pay equity with the acute care in the long-term care sector immediately but we will address the pay equity in the long-term care in this contract but we will sign on the dotted line that in the next contract we will make you pay equity with acute care. Then everybody goes

[Page 3926]

home happy. Everybody understands the long-term problem. Everybody understands then that we as legislators do recognize that the people in long-term care, whether you are a nurse or a personal care worker, you are just as important if you are a nurse or a personal care worker in a hospital.

We would then acknowledge that. We would then address the problem in the long term understanding the short financial problems. If we could get by that, we would not have a strike in this province. We would have the elderly being cared for and we would not be debating this issue on the floor of the House. There is an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, for the government to show the kind of leadership and when they show that kind of leadership, they are doing what we call the right thing for the right reason. They are then looking after the elderly and they are also looking after the workers and they are not doing it because it is politically right, they are doing it because if you read them a statement that said, to provide fair and equal treatment to nursing home workers, the staff, they would say, yes, that is right. Then we could all say that is what is being done. We all agree that is our objective and there is a way to do it.

Now, are we going to do that or are we going to continue to have the chaos, the elderly suffer and the workers suffer in this province. There is no one else that can do this but government and government has to show that kind of leadership. You know, Mr. Speaker, as I talk to workers who are caring, who love their work, love the people they work for, but they understand the word fairness better than anyone in this Legislature, they understand that in Berwick, if you are earning $6.50 or $7.00 an hour, it is very difficult to provide for a family.

You know, Mr. Speaker, they are not looking for $20 an hour, they are looking for fairness. I acknowledge that the government sees step one. They see step one within the system, the pay equity within the system, but I have not quite figured out for sure how that is going to work with those who have already signed and they did not get to that step. Will the government step in and say, we will make it all happen by the end of the contract? If that is the case, then I accept that. The government then has to accept step two and step two is to acknowledge that after step one we will sign on the dotted line that we recognize your importance and we will say after the next contract that you will have wage parity with the acute care workers.

If that could be said and assured, we would not have the struggle that is going on in Cape Breton. We would not have the struggle on the picket lines. We would not have the struggle with those residents and the stress and the strain those residents are being put through. We would not have the struggle that family members are worried about their loved ones who are at the Cove Guest Home. We would not have unrest. We would have, Mr. Speaker, a solution to an answer that is long term but do you know what, it is better than that, it is the right thing to do. (Applause)

[Page 3927]

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further speakers?

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:15 p.m.]