The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 18, 1998

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fish.: Illegal Activities - Curb, Hon. K. Colwell 3930
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Winter Safety Day - Acknowledge,
Hon. C. Huskilson 3932
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1917, Commun. Serv. - Adoptive Families: Support - Thank,
Hon. F. Cosman 3936
Vote - Affirmative 3936
Res. 1918, Nat. Res. - Tussock Moth: Threat Combat - Congrats.,
Hon. K. MacAskill 3936
Vote - Affirmative 3937
Res. 1919, Justice - Restorative: Commitment - Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 3937
Vote - Affirmative 3938
Res. 1920, Halifax, Port of - Halterm: Investment - Confidence Congrats.,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 3938
Vote - Affirmative 3939
Res. 1921, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Fin. - Vital,
Hon. C. Huskilson 3939
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1922, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Biology: Intro. Course,
Enrol, Mr. J. Holm 3940
Res. 1923, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Tusket Mining Inc.: Importance -
Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 3940
Res. 1924, Educ. - Breton Educ. Ctr.: Students - Drug Awareness
Walk Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 3941
Vote - Affirmative 3942
Res. 1925, Nat. Res. - Sable Offshore: Econ. Growth (N.S.) -
Recognize, Mr. R. White 3942
Res. 1926, Health - Care: Hotels - Details Provide,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3943
Res. 1927, Devco - Coal Industry (C.B.): UMWA (Dist. 26) -
Initiative Endorse, Mr. P. MacEwan 3943
Vote - Affirmative 3944
Res. 1928, CBC Radio - As It Happens: Anniv. 30th - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Epstein 3944
Vote - Affirmative 3945
Res. 1929, Health - Care: Quality - Recognize, Mr. Charles MacDonald 3945
Res. 1930, Opposition Parties (N.S.) - Sable Gas: Max. Benefits -
Observe, Mr. H. Fraser 3945
Res. 1931, Educ. - P3: O'Connell Drive ES - Achievement Recognize,
Hon. R. Harrison 3946
Res. 1932, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B. (Indust.) BoT Exc. Award:
Frank Skinner (Seal Is. Restr.) - Congrats., Hon. K. MacAskill 3947
Vote - Affirmative 3947
Res. 1933, Hfx. (Duncan St.) - Fire (16/11/98): Humanitarian Effort -
Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 3948
Vote - Affirmative 3948
Res. 1934, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: Nat. Unity Forum -
Role (N.S.) Recognize, Mr. H. Fraser 3949
Vote - Affirmative 3949
Res. 1935, Culture - Bagpipes: Matthew Cote (Horton DHS) -
Talent Recognize, Hon. R. Harrison 3949
Vote - Affirmative 3950
Res. 1936, Sports - Football: C.P. Allen Cheetahs - Champs. (Tier Two)
Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 3950
Vote - Affirmative 3951
Res. 1937, Hfx., Port of - Hfx. Container Terminal: Halterm -
Investment Support, Hon. C. Huskilson 3951
Vote - Affirmative 3951
Res. 1938, Sports - Rich. Co. Arena: Volunteers - Recognize,
Mr. M. Samson 3952
Vote - Affirmative 3952
Res. 1939, Sports - Cross-Country (NSSAF-Lun. Co.): Johnathan Harris
(Middleton RHS) - Inter. Boys Champ., Mr. L. Montgomery 3953
Vote - Affirmative 3953
Res. 1940, Nat. Res. - Lawlor/McNabs Islands: Leadership
(Ms. C. McCarthy & Friends of McNabs) - Applaud, Hon. J. Smith 3953
Vote - Affirmative 3954
Res. 1941, Leader of Opposition - Jobs (N.S. Workers): Opposition -
Explain, Mr. P. MacEwan 3954
Res. 1942, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - PC (N.S.) Leader:
Team Player (Personal) - Apologize, Mr. M. Samson 3955
Res. 1943, Digby-Annapolis MLA - Econ. Dev. Policies (Lib.):
Recognition - Applaud, Mr. L. Montgomery 3955
Res. 1944, CMHC - Economy (N.S.): Positivity - Recognize,
Mr. G. Fogarty 3956
Res. 1945, Halifax Fairview MLA: Patronage (Lib./NDP Lbr. Union) -
Differentiate, Mr. R. White 3957
Res. 1946, HRM - Emergency Response Ctr. (Bedford): Centralization -
Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 3958
Vote - Affirmative 3959
Res. 1947, Sports - Bowling (Candlepin): Tony White (Yar.) -
World Champ. Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 3959
Vote - Affirmative 3959
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Agric. - Drought: Relief Package - Approved, Hon. E. Lorraine ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY 3960
MEMBERS:
No. 509, Aboriginal Affs.: Logging Rights - Approach, Mr. R. Chisholm 3963
No. 510, Health - Cove Guest Home (C.B.): Care - Volunteers,
Dr. J. Hamm 3965
No. 511, Nat. Res. - Crown Land: Native Harvest - Approach,
Mr. R. Chisholm 3966
No. 512, Health - Osteoporosis: Densitometer - Necessity, Dr. J. Hamm 3967
No. 513, Aboriginal Affs. - Sable Gas: Pipeline Dispute - Action,
Mr. R. Chisholm 3968
No. 514, Health - Nursing Homes (Colchester): Labour Talks -
Update, Mr. J. Muir 3970
No. 515, Educ. - P3: School Site Selection - Plans, Ms. E. O'Connell 3971
No. 516, Nat. Res. - Land Sale (St. Margaret's Bay):
Municipal Armoyan - OIC (10/11/98), Mr. W. Estabrooks 3972
No. 517, Health - VON: Adult Day Care Programs - Commitment,
Mr. G. Moody 3974
No. 518, Health: C.B. Regional Hospital - Debt,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3975
No. 519, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Bras d'Or North Club (C.B.):
Cheques - Invalid, Mr. G. Balser 3977
No. 520, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Camp Hill Hosp. Workers
(Environ. Illness) - Benefits, Ms. R. Godin 3978
No. 521, Educ. - Horton School: Site/Developer - Selection Process,
Mr. E. Fage 3979
No. 522, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mentor Networks: ITC Learning
Acquisition - Benefits, Mr. D. Dexter 3980
No. 523, Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Motor Vehicle Inspection Cars -
Replacement, Mr. B. Taylor 3981
No. 524, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shelburne Mun.: Industrial Pk. -
Transfer, Mr. D. Dexter 3982
No. 525, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Volvo Closure - Assistance,
Mr. D. Dexter 3983
No. 526, Health - Regional Board (Northern): Y2K Problem - Cost,
Mr. E. Fage 3983
No. 527, Nat. Res. - Ethane: SOEP Agreement - Status, Mr. J. Holm 3985
No. 528, Health - Oncologists: Recruitment - Status, Mr. J. DeWolfe 3986
No. 529, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Prices - Studies Table, Mr. J. Holm 3987
No. 530, Health - Nursing Home Workers: Wage Parity - Time-Frame,
Mr. G. Archibald 3988
No. 531, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Y2K Problem: Report - Status,
Mr. P. Delefes 3989
No. 532, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Assessors (Cumb. S) - Qualifications,
Mr. M. Scott 3990
No. 533, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Effective Date (01/04/99),
Mr. John MacDonell 3991
No. 534, Environ. - Ecological Reserves: Commitment - Fullfil,
Mr. D. Chard 3992
No. 535, Health - Southwest N.S.: Doctor Shortage - Address,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 3993
No. 536, Commun. Serv. - Hfx. (Duncan St.): Fire - Assistance,
Mr. H. Epstein 3994
No. 537, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Lun. Co.: Roads - Maintenance,
Mr. M. Baker 3995
No. 538, Justice - Jail/Forensic Hosp. Location: Elizabeth Fry Soc. -
Recommendation, Ms. R. Godin 3996
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 56, Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act 3998
Mr. M. Scott 3998
Hon. F. Cosman 4001
Mr. J. Pye 4004
Mr. N. LeBlanc 4006
Mr. P. MacEwan 4008
No. 48, Highway Construction and Maintenance Act 4009
Mr. B. Taylor 4009
Hon. C. Huskilson 4011
Mr. W. Estabrooks 4012
Hon. K. Colwell 4014
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1890, Health - Y2K Problem: Solutions - Provide,
Mr. G. Balser 4015
Mr. G. Balser 4015
Hon. R. Harrison 4017
Mr. P. Delefes 4019
H.O. 1, Carried 4021
H.O. 2, Carried 4022
H.O. 3, Returned 4022
H.O. 4, Stood 4023
H.O. 5, Carried 4023
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. Manning MacDonald 4024
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Devco - Coal Industry (C.B.): UMWA (Dist. 26) -
Proposals Support:
Mr. P. MacEwan 4025
Mr. G. Balser 4028
Mr. F. Corbett 4030
Mr. R. Matheson 4032
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 19th at 2:00 p.m. 4033

[Page 3929]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before starting the daily routine, I would advise members that the motion on the Adjournment debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the proposals of District 26, United Mine Workers of America, entitled Creating Opportunity: A Plan for Cape Breton, and urge all possible action to implement its contents.

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

3929

[Page 3930]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, many members of this House know how relentless I have been, along with my department, in protecting our fishing industry. (Applause) I have continually repeated (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, some of the Opposition members think this is a joke to the communities of Nova Scotia (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. COLWELL: . . . and rural communities. I would ask them to stand up and say so. I have continually repeated the illegal fishing and buying activities in Nova Scotia will not be tolerated. I have promised that this government will be vigilant in protecting one of our provinces most precious natural resources, our fish stocks. Illegal buying will not be condoned.

Let me review some of the department's recent actions in this file. I add, Mr. Speaker, that these measures are just the start of steps we intend to take along with other protective agencies in the coming weeks. Last week I announced 104 federal fisheries officers had been appointed as provincial inspectors to bolster efforts to curb illegal buying and processing. They are authorized to enforce the province's Fish Buyers Regulations. They will charge violators who disregard the strict rules set forth in our legislation. They will enforce the province's regulations. They will charge people who ignore the rules. As well, the following action has been taken. On October 21st, I sent a letter to all fish buyers stating that unscrupulous behaviour, as ascribed in our legislation, will not be tolerated.

Mr. Speaker, for those who jeopardize our lucrative fisheries and engage in illegal buying of fish, there will be penalties. The lives of Nova Scotians in our many coastal communities and fishing villages are being threatened. They are being put at risk. Last Friday, Surf 'n Turf Fish Market was convicted and fined $20,000 in Yarmouth court for buying fish illegally.

Mr. Speaker, in today's Chronicle-Herald, I have outlined the province's position in this matter and I will repeat it now. I said, I welcome the crackdown from DFO. I added that our legislation allows for severe penalties. I intend to take an active role in conserving and protecting the fishing resources of this province. My department supports me fully in this effort. This matter is currently under review by members of my enforcement staff and that of DFO. Under Section 42 of our Fish Buyers Regulations, a charge of illegal buying of fish can

[Page 3931]

be laid by the Crown if evidence warrants. If the party is found guilty on a first offence, a maximum fine of $10,000 may be levied and we intend to pursue that very vigorously.

It is not fair for those breaking the rules that are hurting those who follow them. This is an issue that goes beyond Party lines and I challenge the Opposition to support the department's effort by coming forward with information from their communities on illegal buying and processing. It will take an all-Party effort to eliminate this problem. I know everyone cares about curbing illegal activities because of the devastating effects it can have on our communities. This illegal activity doesn't just hurt the fishermen. It is money that those fishermen who follow the rules won't be spending in their local communities, in their local grocery stores, their local car dealer or their local hardware store, just to mention a few. It starts a chain reaction of economic events that will cripple our communities and in particular our rural communities.

Mr. Speaker, this action reinforces a strong message I have already delivered many times. Those who jeopardize our fishery will be punished. The livelihood of people in this province with its many coastal communities and fishing villages must be protected. Again, I say, we simply will not tolerate offenders. I repeat that these illegal actions will be stopped, we will make this happen, and the livelihood of people in the province with its many coastal communities and fishing villages must be protected. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his statement and support of the industry. Increasing the number of enforcement officers is not the fix-all, but giving a clearer mandate to the existing officers, untying the hands of the existing officers so that they can do their job and do it well should be the direction that his department should be going. (Applause)

Again, I rise in support of his statement and endorse his statement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for making comments in the House. There wasn't any copies of his statement given. I would have liked to have had them but I apologize for that. (Interruptions)

I will say, Mr. Speaker, I have heard the minister get up on two or three occasions on this issue. It is one that I think he and all members of this House know, I hold very dear to my heart. I come from a lobster community. All my friends and my family are very much involved in this industry.

[Page 3932]

He has pointed out that he has empowered the federal DFO officers as provincial officers. Mr. Speaker, these people do work for DFO and, in essence, what this is is a technicality that he has enforced them with the powers of the province. No matter what happens, the province has the responsibilities of showing leadership and by showing leadership, he has himself said today that someone has been found guilty of buying illegal lobsters in Yarmouth County. I do not recall the specific company. I guess the company is irrelevant. It is whether or not someone is placing the future of our rural communities at risk.

When he mentions the fact that the first offence can be as high as a $10,000 fine, Mr. Speaker, there are people this summer that made more than that in one day. One day, and when you say that the penalty is as high as $10,000, it does not take an accountant to figure out that if you want to make money that you can enter this fishery, and if you only get caught once, you are ahead of the game.

So, Mr. Speaker, it comes to sanctions, whereby the sanctions are heavy enough in the sense of penalties that go far beyond what he talking about here, because if we are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds, a $10,000 fine is not very much. Then, from there, is the subsequent suspensions of licences and maybe cancellations altogether.

So, the point of the matter is, you either lead by example and put the penalties in place so the fishery people of this province will know that you are serious, and that you will follow through with them. You can come here in this House and make these general comments all the time. What this Party wants is specifics. We want to know what the plan is and you put it on the table, and all the fishery will judge you not by wide-sweeping statements that say that we are against illegal harvesting and selling of lobsters. Every member in this House agrees with that, Mr. Speaker, but it stops at the point, what exactly are you going to do and what penalties and sanctions will ensue?

Now, I would like to thank the member for making the comment in the House because it reinforces the fact of the matter that he is not showing leadership on this issue, and that all Nova Scotians are asking for more than that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, today is Winter Safety Day and nobody knows more than the people who work at Transportation and Public Works how quickly winter can arrive.

We work hard at getting ready. While we do our best to prepare for cleaning and salting roads after storms, some of the most crucial work in winter lies with the drivers. That is why winter safety is important to us at Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 3933]

It is a day when we can focus on the fact that winter is around the corner and even Nova Scotia should prepare as well. This year, like last, as part of Winter Safety Day, employees at Transportation and Public Works will take their snowplows to schools in various parts of the province and talk to the kids about being safe around the snowplows. Did you know that one snowplow weighs as much as four elephants? That is fun for the kids to know, but it is important for drivers to keep in mind also.

[2:15 p.m.]

Do not pass a snowplow in operation. Stay well back. Drive slowly and carefully when near one. Be patient. Slow down if the weather is bad. Watch out for black ice, especially on crisp, clear mornings. If possible, simply stay off the roads when there is a bad storm. It is important to have a winter survival kit in your car, and keep your vehicle in sound, working order. For many Nova Scotians, these are common practices.

I will deliver good winter service, and you chip in with good driving habits. The salt domes are full, the plows are ready. All we need is a snow, and not too much, and lots of good old-fashioned common sense.

I invite members of the House to join me and the Department of Transportation and Public Works in making today, and every winter day safe, for Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, firstly, I wish to congratulate this minister, again, for supplying this statement not just to myself but to all members of the House, again, I would hope that the other ministers opposite would follow that example and I, again, compliment him for doing that. There is the positive side.

This, of course, is an important time of the year, as the minister said. I congratulate the minister and his staff in terms of the positive public relations for that great advertisement that is on television about this is not any feather duster; it is a real classic. It is important that we relate to the children the danger of those plows, however, I noticed in the minister's comments he said, I will deliver good winter service, and I challenge the minister, and I would like to be his wingman because there are none and that is truly unfortunate, although a good wingman is necessary on this issue because of the safety factors involved.

I think, when it comes to snowplows, we know that the number of near misses that have happened recently because of the current policy of having one-man plows is a real danger in these busy winter conditions that we have ahead. More importantly, I would hope that the minister would look at the fact that the roads are dangerous enough with the

[Page 3934]

numerous potholes that we have at various times, and sometimes that snow gives us better traction this time of the year because the potholes are actually filled.

However, it is not a time to score political points. I want the minister to know that I congratulate him for this positive PR step with relation to schools, but the two-man plow system is something that must be revisited because of the stress on the drivers, and the problems that are always occurring in those near misses that happen throughout our winter conditions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the minister for his statement. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would commend the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for providing us with his ministerial statement quite some time before we came into the House; that is welcome and we do appreciate that.

The minister tells us that today is Winter Safety Day and perhaps I could speak, if I might, as an individual who has some experience operating a road grader and a four-wheel-drive vehicle with the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I can say I operated under the Regan Liberal Government and under the Buchanan Tory Government and the snow did not change.

As the minister pointed out, it is a fact that nobody knows more than the people who work at the Department of Transportation and Public Works how important safety is relative to our motoring public. During the winter months, Transportation employees are out in all kinds of weather and, no question, like the Transportation Critic for the NDP mentioned, this government has made the job of the operators of those big snowplows much more difficult. Many of the truck plows that previously had two operators, and sometimes four operators running the machines, operating the equipment, have now been cut back to one person. I can tell you, when you are doing corners and going around stop signs and parked vehicles and other automobiles, motorists and commercial vehicles are trying to pass you, you really have to be careful when you are running the big truck plows. It is difficult to see, especially if you have your wing up past, if you will, obstructing the view from the passenger window.

As much as this government has tried to rationalize and cut back, in some respects it has put more responsibility on the Department of Transportation operator. I commend those operators because they do work in all kinds of weather and their vision, they have to be able to see in all directions when they are running one of those machines. They do get the chains ready, they get the ice blades ready, they get the cutting edges ready, they have to be conscious of tires, the hydraulics, the fluid levels, and they have, from time to time, to bring the machines in and work on them.

[Page 3935]

The important part of today's announcement is that we all, as the minister points out, have to be conscious of the Department of Transportation employees, especially in the wintertime when they are trying to plow the roads to make them safer for everybody in Nova Scotia. I welcome the announcement. The minister indicated that it is important to have a winter survival kit in your car - and I would agree with him - especially with the road conditions we have in Nova Scotia, sometimes it is a matter of survival out there. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I have a request for an introduction but, unfortunately, I cannot read the name.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: That's a teacher; he's a teacher.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, at one time I aspired to be a doctor but ended up with a teaching career.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House, in the gallery opposite, a past student of mine and current member of the site selection team for the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea school, a resident of Lakeside, Mr. Mike Dockrill. The greeting of the House, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I did not send you a note, because I have been a doctor and I did not want to be criticized.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to introduce to you and to all members of the House, in your gallery, Dr. Sylvie Stachenko, Director of the Department of Health Policy and Health Services in the European Region of the World Health Organization in Copenhagen. She is here as a director of the World Health Organization Countrywide Integrated Noncommunicable Disease Intervention Program, of which Nova Scotia is a demonstration area for the World Health Organization. She is with us this week to designate the School of Health Services Administration at Dalhousie University as the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Health Core Systems Research and Development.

Also, while here, she is representing the World Health Organization at the 12th Annual Canadian Heart Health Network. She is accompanied by Merv Ungurain of the Tobacco Control Unit in our Department of Health here in Nova Scotia. I would ask the House to extend their usual warm welcome to our visitors. (Applause)

[Page 3936]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1917

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

Whereas November is Adoption Awareness Month across North America, designed to honour existing adoptive families and to encourage new families to adopt; and

Whereas all children deserve the love and support of a caring family; and

Whereas although 193 adoptions took place in Nova Scotia in 1997 to 1998, an increase of 82 over the previous year, there are always more children waiting for permanent homes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly thank existing adoptive families for their support of children in need and encourage other families to consider adoption.

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 Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1918

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

Whereas preliminary data indicates that the tussock moth infestation in Nova Scotia woodlands has been brought in check by both scientific and natural forces; and

[Page 3937]

Whereas staff at the Department of Natural Resources and forest industry representatives have worked tirelessly to monitor, analyze and combat the tussock moth problem; and

Whereas preliminary information indicates that the tussock moth population has crashed to the extent that the spray program may not be necessary next summer;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate and commend the Department of Natural Resources' staff and the forest industry people whose good work dealt so effectively with this major threat to Nova Scotia woodlands.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 1919

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

Whereas November 15th to November 21st marks Restorative Justice Week throughout Canada, highlighting the move from an adversarial form of justice to a restorative healing approach; and

Whereas restorative justice requires offenders to take responsibility for their actions and involves the victim and the community in repairing the harm caused by the crime; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has been recognized as a leading force in restorative justice and continues to work on a restorative justice framework for Nova Scotia that will provide greater satisfaction for victims, increased involvement for communities, while creating an opportunity for the offender to make restitution;

[Page 3938]

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly recognize the government's continued commitment to the principles of restorative justice and recognize the importance of giving victims a voice in the justice system.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 1920

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

Whereas officials of the Port of Halifax and community leaders continue to work towards having Halifax as a port for post-Panamax vessels; and

Whereas establishment of the Port of Halifax as a post-Panamax port would be an economic bonanza for this region of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas yesterday officials of Halterm Limited announced their intention to invest between $15 million and $20 million for the purchase of two cranes to serve the post-Panamax vessels;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Halterm officials for their confidence in the Port of Halifax and underlining this confidence with a significant investment.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3939]

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 Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1921

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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia took the difficult decision to build a much needed highway through Wentworth Valley in partnership with the private sector; and

Whereas this week the financing of the Cobequid Pass project was commended by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships with the presentation of a national public-private partnership award; and

Whereas this is not the first time the financing for Cobequid Pass has received commendation both nationally and internationally for excellence and innovation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the financing of the Cobequid Pass project as vital to the creation of two safe routes through the Wentworth Valley during a time of fiscal constraint.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a multitude of Noes.

The notice is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

[Page 3940]

RESOLUTION NO. 1922

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

Whereas last night during a debate on the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley suggested that old growth forests should be clear-cut because decaying wood emits so-called dangerous levels of carbon monoxide thus contributing to global warming; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the member cited as his source the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia, an organization with an obvious interest in making this case; and

Whereas the member should remember that new growth forests require this carbon monoxide to make oxygen, which he will agree, everyone needs;

Therefore be it resolved that the member enrol in an introductory biology course in order to gain a basic understanding of the basic principles of good ecological forest management.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would just simply ask that the member that just read that resolution go back to Hansard, reread it and come back tomorrow with a resolution that accurately reflects reality. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1923

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

Whereas Tusket Mining Incorporated of Murchyville in the Musquodoboit Valley is shipping a 10,000 tonne sample of gypsum order to a customer in the United States; and

Whereas Tusket Mining Incorporated is drilling, blasting, crushing, stockpiling and trucking the product to Sheet Harbour; and

[Page 3941]

Whereas when in full production next summer, Tusket Mining Incorporated will create a significant number of job opportunities and economic benefits to the Province of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government continue to recognize the importance of this project and that all appropriate departments do what they can to facilitate this much-needed development.

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1924

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

Whereas a Health Department report released yesterday indicates that teen drug use is increasing in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the report cites that the proportion of students who use alcohol, tobacco and cannabis doubled from 12.4 per cent to 24.9 per cent since 1991; and

Whereas the students at Breton Education Centre in New Waterford are participating in a Drug Awareness Walk today to show their concerns about drug use;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students of Breton Education Centre for their mature and responsible attitude towards the growing problem of drug abuse in our society.

I seek waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3942]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1925

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

Whereas Guysborough County received more great news recently as a result of the booming Sable gas industry; and

Whereas the latest in a growing list of positive announcements is news that land at Goshen will be used for a base for pipeline workers, a marshalling yard and pipe stockpiling site; and

Whereas up to 150 workers will be employed at the Goshen site by next summer, while other yards in Stellarton and Amherst will each employ 400 people at peak construction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Sable offshore project is causing an unprecedented boost to the provincial economy and Premier MacLellan should be congratulated for ensuring rural Nova Scotia areas like Guysborough County get a major slice of the offshore pie.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 3943]

RESOLUTION NO. 1926

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 in the House, the Minister of Health asked members to keep an open mind when it comes to discharging patients from the QE II to hotels; and

Whereas the minister felt that the quality of care in hotels would be just fine; and

Whereas the minister would not provide any details of these arrangements which would reassure Nova Scotians that this will indeed be good for patient care;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health provide details, as well as assurances that patient care will not be compromised as a way to deal with this government's mismanagement of health care.

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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1927

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

Whereas District 26, United Mine Workers of America, have unveiled an imaginative plan to create opportunity for the Cape Breton coal industry; and

Whereas this plan lists six options for government and stakeholders, including drafting a comprehensive action plan, a post-1968 retirement program, training programs, site remediation, a three mine plan and an energy strategy for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas while these options are not entirely comprehensive, they represent an opportunity to revamp the Cape Breton coal industry with dignity and decency;

[Page 3944]

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse the initiative of District 26, UMW of A, and lend its support to this call for action.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1928

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

Whereas today marks the 30th Anniversary of CBC Radio's As It Happens, one of Canada's finest and most enduring journalistic efforts, enjoyed by listeners at home and around the world on short wave; and

Whereas in an era of increasingly complicated electronic means of delivering the news, As It Happens continues to prove that the simplest path to the truth comes via a phone and a straightforward question;

Therefore be it resolved that the staff of As It Happens be sent a message of congratulations on their 30th Anniversary by the government and people of Nova Scotia, a province thousands of kilometres and an ocean away from Redding.

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.

[Page 3945]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1929

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

Whereas a group of 200 American doctors are calling for Canadian-style health care in the United States; and

Whereas recent reports say many doctors who left Canada for the U.S. have returned because of their dislike for the American for-profit health care system; and

Whereas the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported this fall that Nova Scotia gained 20 new specialists last year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the exceptional quality of the Canadian health care system and encourage all doctors and medical students to explore the attractive incentive packages offered for those setting up shop in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1930

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 New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Energy Critic has praised Premier Russell MacLellan for his clear and definitive stance on the natural gas issues; and

[Page 3946]

Whereas that Tory critic complimented Premer MacLellan's vow to make sure natural gas is available to 60 per cent of Nova Scotia homes within seven years; and

Whereas the New Brunswick Conservative also said Premier MacLellan has demonstrated real leadership on his stand for equal rates province-wide;

Therefore be it resolved that the Opposition Parties in this House have a look and see what the rest of Atlantic Canada is seeing, that Premier MacLellan is making sure all Nova Scotians receive maximum benefits from Sable gas.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1931

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

Whereas O'Connell Drive Elementary School has just won a national award for excellence and innovation in the creation and delivery of public works and services; and

Whereas O'Connell Drive Elementary School was built through a partnership among the Government of Nova Scotia, the Halifax Regional School Board and Nova Learning Incorporated; and

Whereas the first national award for infrastructure was one of the highlights of a public-private partnership conference attended by Nova Scotia representatives such as the Auditor General, Roy Salmon; Deputy Minister of Education, Lloyd Gillis; and partnerships from across the country including the Provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario; and

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the achievements of the partnership which created O'Connell Drive Elementary, cited by the Canadian Council of Public-Private Partnerships for setting a new standard for school construction and technology integration at the elementary level, which has served as a model for over 30 similar projects in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

There has been a request for waiver.

[Page 3947]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

That notice of motion was too long, but I will table it.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1932

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

Whereas earlier this month at the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade's 10th Annual Excellence in Business Awards, Frank Skinner, owner and operator of the Seal Island Restaurant and Motel, was presented with the Excellence Award under the tourism business sector; and

Whereas this high honour given to Mr. Skinner represents the second straight year which he has received the same award for his tourism business located in my riding along the Bras d'Or Lakes; and

Whereas it is successful businesses like the Seal Island Restaurant and Motel which are responsible for Nova Scotia's ever-growing tourism industry that showed overall revenues in 1998 of $1.1 billion, up from last year and representing the highest ever;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Frank Skinner and encourage him and other Cape Breton businesses to keep up the great work.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

[Page 3948]

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of this House to the presence, in the west gallery, of a group of employees who work at the IWK-Grace and QE II Health Sciences Centre. These are students who are involved in something called, A Workplace Education Program, in which they are seeking to upgrade their skills. As part of that, they are here to observe us at our work. They are accompanied by Genevieve Mullally who is their instructor. I would ask them to rise as I give their names. We have Christina Ashe, Ruth Dauphinee, Christina Bell, Joan Curtis, Maroun Diab, Teenia Chandler, along with Genevieve Mullally. I would ask the members of the House to welcome them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1933

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

Whereas most of the 40 people left homeless by a recent fire on Duncan Street in Halifax were university students; and

Whereas in a true Nova Scotian display of charity in times of disaster, the local neighbourhood has rallied to gather food, clothing and shelter for the fire victims; and

Whereas volunteer organizations say the response to these efforts from all over the city has been remarkable;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the tremendous humanitarian effort underway in the Duncan Street area of Halifax, and thank all Nova Scotians who continue to help those in need.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

[Page 3949]

RESOLUTION NO. 1934

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

Whereas tomorrow St. F.X. University will host a national unity forum on the future of Canada; and

Whereas the keynote speaker for this event will be respected journalist and veteran broadcaster, Ann Medina; and

Whereas joining the discussion will be a panel of distinguished Canadians representing business, education, media and students;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the important role Nova Scotia can play in national unity, and congratulate the faculty, staff and students of St. F.X. for hosting this discussion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1935

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

Whereas Matthew Cote, a Grade 11 student at Horton District High School, has distinguished himself in numerous bagpipe competitions; and

Whereas Matthew won the 1995 North American Championship for Grade 3 Strathspey-Reel and the 1998 North American Championship for Grade 1 Strathspey-Reel at the Maxville Highland Games; and

[Page 3950]

Whereas Matthew has been chosen to represent Eastern Canada in the most prestigious amateur piping event in North America, the George Sheriff Memorial Invitational, at McMaster University on November 21st;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the tremendous piping talent displayed by Matthew and wish him success in this weekend's competition in Ontario.

[2:45 p.m.]

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1936

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

Whereas on November 15th, the Charles P. Allen Cheetahs football team, a newly formed team just this year, won the Tier Two Championship, 26 to 1; and

Whereas this team resulted from the hard work of many school and community volunteers, and with financial support from the private sector as well as the province; and

Whereas the 36 team members, 6 assistant coaches and head coach, Pierre Lefebure, as well as the student body and staff of C.P. Allen, put their heart and their soul into achieving such a success in their first year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the team members and the coaches for their outstanding achievement, and extend to the community and Charles P. Allen staff and students acknowledgement of the importance of their support to the team in its first year.

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

[Page 3951]

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 Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1937

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

Whereas the Halterm Container Terminal is investing between $15 million and $20 million to purchase two cranes to serve the post-Panamax vessels; and

Whereas the Port of Halifax is currently worth over $1 billion to the economy, the kind of investment Halterm announced today can only make that value higher; and

Whereas the Port of Halifax is naturally suited to the coming era of post-Panamax vessels because of its deep water and proximity to major shipping routes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the Halterm Container Terminal and all others who are working hard to make the Port of Halifax a major player in the important business of international shipping, thereby strengthening the economy of Atlantic Canada.

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 Richmond.

[Page 3952]

RESOLUTION NO. 1938

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

Whereas in many rural areas, the local arena is the focal point for community activities; and

Whereas a recent article in the Cape Breton Post highlighted the extraordinary volunteer efforts that help keep the Richmond County Arena in operation; and

Whereas the Richmond County Arena depends on community fund-raising efforts that include summertime bingos and raffles, including a raffle and dance held September 26, 1998, at the arena, which I had the pleasure of attending and which raised $10,000;

Therefore be it resolved that as the hockey and figure skating season gets under way, this House recognize the organizers and volunteers in Richmond County as well as needed funding from the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission and Infrastructure Works that keeps the local arena a viable part of the community.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on an introduction.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members of the House, I would like to introduce a couple of proud Nova Scotians from the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Mr. Clifford Hines and Mr. Gordon Ross. I wonder if they would stand and receive the usual applause from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 3953]

RESOLUTION NO. 1939

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation, Intermediate Boys Division, Provincial Cross-Country Championship was held on Tuesday, November 3rd, in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas 75 runners from across Nova Scotia competed for the top spot; and

Whereas Middleton Regional High School runner Johnathon Harris ran away with the championship title;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Johnathon Harris, the new Intermediate Boys Provincial Cross-Country Champion, for being a remarkable athlete and outstanding representative for Middleton Regional High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1940

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

Whereas the Friends of McNabs Island Society were instrumental in ensuring plans for the future of McNabs and Lawlor Islands are protected as a provincial park; and

Whereas Ms. Catherine McCarthy of Dartmouth East through her dedicated and tireless efforts created public awareness of the need to protect and preserve McNabs and Lawlor Islands; and

[Page 3954]

Whereas their efforts will guarantee people of all ages will enjoy the unique, natural and historic character that McNabs and Lawlor Islands provide;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the leadership taken by Ms. Catherine McCarthy and The Friends of McNabs Island Society in preserving these lands as a nature park and outdoor education facility.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage.

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. 1941

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

Whereas organized labour has publicly complained that non-Nova Scotian companies are importing labour and putting Nova Scotian workers out of jobs; and

Whereas at present non-Nova Scotian companies are granted a six-month exemption from paying workers' compensation premiums, thereby providing an incentive for them to come in here with imported workers and operate for six months; and

Whereas on May 14, 1998, the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Mr. Robert Chisholm, publicly opposed any change that would require non-Nova Scotian firms to operate on a level playing field with Nova Scotian firms;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition please explain why it is that he opposes jobs for Nova Scotian workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 3955]

RESOLUTION NO. 1942

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

Whereas the one-time Liberal, then Tory, turned NDP member for Chester-St. Margaret's recently read a resolution deriding his former Conservative boss; and

Whereas the Party-jumping member for Chester-St. Margaret's was quoted in the Bridgewater Bulletin as saying he has always been a "team player"; and

Whereas the vote on the Financial Measures (1998) Act showed the member is willing to vote for the Liberals again from the NDP team;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal/Tory/NDP member for Chester-St. Margaret's apologize to his former boss for being a team player only when it suited his own personal goals.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1943

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

Whereas the MLA for Digby-Annapolis has spent a good deal of time in this House attacking the Department of Economic Development; and

Whereas the member recently praised the progress of Cornwallis Park over the last five years of Liberal Government which has established 43 businesses employing over 500 people; and

[Page 3956]

Whereas these public comments are a clear vindication of Liberal community economic development policies which give communities control over their economic destiny;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the MLA for Digby-Annapolis for finally recognizing that Liberal economic development policies are working for the riding of Digby-Annapolis.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1944

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

Whereas Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation held a regional conference in Halifax yesterday; and

Whereas the CMHC conference was told that the Atlantic Region is experiencing strong job creation because of major projects, growth in the service sector, increased tourism and a growing shellfish industry; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is expected to be the leader in housing activity next year because of economic spin-offs of the Sable project, school construction, service sector growth and the possible port expansion in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the recent statements by CMHC reflect the positive predictions for Nova Scotia's economy made by other major financial analysts.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 3957]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

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

Whereas medical first response is very important to the residents of the Eastern Shore; and

Whereas volunteer fire departments from Lake Echo, Lawrencetown, Chezzetcook, Musquodoboit Harbour, Ostrea Lake and Oyster Pond participated in an Eastern Shore First Responder Pilot Project for the Nova Scotia Department of Health and continue to participate in this program to provide a safety net for residents of the Eastern Shore in a medical emergency; and

Whereas first responder fire departments were formally recognized by the Department of Health for their participation in this effort at a ceremony held on Monday, November 16th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these volunteer fire departments on receiving this recognition and commend them and the Department of Health for their ongoing participation in this very worthwhile project for rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice of motion is much too long. It is out of order.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1945

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

Whereas yesterday the member for Halifax Fairview tabled a document purportedly showing donations made to the Liberal Party by consortia chosen to build schools in Nova Scotia; and

[Page 3958]

Whereas the member went on to say, "Is P3 anything more than a Liberal patronage scheme?"; and

Whereas in 1997 major trade unions contributed $53,600 to the Nova Scotia NDP and I have attached the information;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Halifax Fairview explain to the people of Nova Scotia the difference between so-called Liberal patronage and the NDP labour union patronage achieved through donations from unions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1946

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

Whereas on November 12th the Halifax Regional Municipality opened its new emergency response centre in Bedford; and

Whereas this centre houses the city's 911 call centre, the west division of Halifax Regional Police, a fire department and a 42-person volunteer fire-fighting force; and

Whereas the housing of like services under one roof is an innovative and economically sound concept;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Halifax Regional Municipality on their approach to maximize services by centralizing and uniting these services under one roof.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 3959]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1947

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

Whereas Yarmouth resident, Tony White, has long been recognized as an outstanding bowler; and

Whereas Mr. White proved recently that he is not only the best bowler in Yarmouth but is, in fact, the best candlepin bowler in the world; and

Whereas Mr. White was the winner of the Candlepin World Championships held this week in Brewer, Maine;

Therefore be it resolved that this House spare no enthusiasm in congratulating Tony White of Yarmouth on bowling 158 in the final game to become the new World Candlepin Bowling Champion.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 3960]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the House wish that we revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers?

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, the dry weather situation and its impact on the Nova Scotia producers has been the topic of a number of discussions in this House. From the beginning the government stated its support for the agriculture industry.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to announce that stated support was genuine. The government has approved a $20 million relief package for Nova Scotia producers. This package will support farmers in the short term as they deal with the impact of the summer's dry weather. It will also help farmers deal with future challenges and long-term cash-flow problems.

Mr. Speaker, this government believes in growing the rural economy. Agriculture is an economic foundation for our rural communities. It needs to be supported in order to grow and continue to benefit Nova Scotians and this package does just that.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this program was developed through partnerships. It was designed by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and staff of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing. It was a collective effort on behalf of producers, Mr. Speaker.

[3:00 p.m.]

I want to mention the names of the people who worked so hard to bring us the proposal this program is based on. From the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture: Peter Hill, Anthony Van Oostrum, Jim Austin and Laurence Nason. From the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing: Deputy Minister Alan Steel, Brian Smith, Dave Sangster, Derrick Jamieson, Dave Robinson and Sean Firth.

[Page 3961]

I also want to mention the role of the Premier and my honourable colleagues, Donald Downe and Robert Harrison, and all Cabinet colleagues. They deserve a great deal of credit (Interruptions) And George Archibald. (Applause) They all deserve a great deal of credit for the announcement that I am making today.

In brief, Mr. Speaker, the program has three components:

One, reintroduction of last year's Weather-Related Loss Provision Program. This program will provide grants to assist farmers in paying the interest on weather-related loans. Last year's program provided $3.2 million in interest relief to producers who had been forced to take out loans to offset weather-related losses.

Two, development of a new grant program to assist farmers in making payments on loans taken out to offset weather-related losses. This new program is open to all applicants who were approved under the Weather-Related Loss Provision Program in 1997. Payments will be calculated at 50 per cent of 20 per cent of the principal amount of the loan.

Finally, the third component, funds to assist farmers in joining a national farm income disaster program that is being discussed by the provinces and the federal government. Such a program could be in place by the spring of 1999 and would be cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially.

If such a program does not materialize, we will work with the Federation of Agriculture to use the funds to develop an additional program to further assist farmers with weather-related losses. In the event that the demand under these components exceeds $20 million, payments will be prorated.

Mr. Speaker, this package will help farmers in the short term and offer support during a recovery period. Again, the government has always said it supports agriculture and today we are proud and pleased to be able to show it.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I appreciate the support that I have received from our member for Annapolis, who has worked very closely with me on this program, who has encouraged (Interruption)

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to thank you very much for the opportunity to make this very important announcement. (Applause)

[Page 3962]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable Minister of Agriculture for his announcement (Interruption) and the assistant minister, certainly. (Laughter) I certainly hope that the minister and his helper brought back cactus seeds from their journey for the arid Annapolis Valley.

This announcement is relatively good. I think that the third component in this announcement certainly is good to see, Mr. Minister. I would say that it definitely heads in a direction looking toward the future, which is something that the bill introduced yesterday would agree with. So I applaud you on that component of your announcement.

In components one and two, certainly, the fact that April 1, 1999, is the soonest that this help will be received by farmers who qualify is far too out of line for the immediate need that they have. If we consider that the drought relief debate that went on and the report that followed from the Federation of Agriculture was August 27th and the announcement that you made stating you would have some relief by November certainly means that that November date is being pushed back a few months yet. I think for people who were waiting since August hoping that in November there would be something, they have to be discouraged by this announcement.

Looking to the future is a wonderful thing but the farmers in Nova Scotia were looking for some help right now and that is not going to come. I certainly hope that you will revisit this so some of those farmers who are in desperate need are helped. The fact that the relief is for loans, what about those who cannot take loans? So certainly I hope the minister will re-evaluate that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to comment on this ministerial statement with some mixed emotions. The Federation of Agriculture worked on this with the Department of Agriculture and any time the Federation of Agriculture gets down to work and helps out with the department good things always happen. I think this might be something that is on the road to being good but this in no way answers the concerns that were expressed by the government members during the emergency debate on the drought situation.

The Cabinet Ministers who spoke talked about the need for research, for irrigation, for long-term solutions, labour shortages and one of them even said the Farm Loan Board is standing by. But where in this program is the long-term solution? Hopefully, this is the start of something more to come. When we look through here and see it is $20 million, is that $20 million this year as it would appear or is it spread over five years? It is a little bit unclear but it is actually over five years.

[Page 3963]

The first part of it is that farmers are indeed enabled to borrow some more money. Number two, the farmers can borrow more money this year than they borrowed last year and the government will pay 50 per cent of 20 per cent of the principal amount. Now I am not sure but that might be 10 per cent, I am not sure but that is the way they are calculating and that is fine. Finally, the third component of this is the component that has the most promise for the future and that is that they are sitting down with the federal government looking into some kind of a cost-shared program that would be a 60/40 spread between the federal and provincial government for the income disaster relief program.

Judging by the record from this government in the last four or five years, have they signed any agreements with Ottawa that have been meaningful for agriculture, for health, for transportation, for the Port of Halifax, for fisheries, for tourism? I have faith in the Federation of Agriculture and this government is darned lucky that they are willing to work with them and share with them the leadership that it takes to keep agriculture going. The Federation of Agriculture will keep agriculture strong in Nova Scotia. This department and this government have totally and completely ignored agriculture for the last four years and they continue to do so.

Last week it looked like there was a glimmer of hope when the hog producers were up against the wall and this government, the processor and the producers got together and the government did show leadership and I congratulate the government. The Hog Program was the kind of program I was expecting this week on drought relief. The words that we had in the emergency debate from this government are not followed through with this program. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The Oral Question Period today will terminate at 4:39 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

Mr. Speaker: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ABORIGINAL AFFS.: LOGGING RIGHTS - APPROACH

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question to the Premier. The government has been trying to deal with some important questions in the Province of Nova Scotia around the whole question of aboriginal title and aboriginal rights. Yesterday, the government switched to a confrontational approach. Today a major escalation in aboriginal relations with this government has occurred. Now all major resource industries face uncertainty all because the issue of aboriginal title and rights have been neglected for months by this government.

[Page 3964]

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier a question, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask him why it is, when everyone knew that a confrontational approach would lead to an escalation in relations, why has the government decided, clear decision, to accept a confrontational approach leading to this problem?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, what the honourable Leader of the Opposition is saying couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, we have been meeting with aboriginal leaders for months on the question of cutting in Nova Scotia. We have said that we wanted plans of their cutting. We said that there has to be one rule and one law for everybody. We were trying, over that period of time, to develop programs where the cutting would employ and benefit the people of the reserves. Those plans did not come forward. We are still hoping that that can go on and the meetings will continue.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the key issue here is negotiation. Back on May 15th, the chiefs asked this government by letter to sit down and negotiate. On June 9th, we raised the issue in the House and then I followed it up with a letter to the Premier and the Leader of the Third Party that we had to initiate a new process . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . to try to mediate and resolve this issue. The chiefs have been reasonable.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: They have been and are prepared to negotiate. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier why will he not do the reasonable thing and negotiate in a reasonable way with the chiefs of the province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have negotiated consistently since this question came up and it arose with the decision in New Brunswick on the right to cut in the New Brunswick forest. We have met with the leaders, all of the chiefs of Nova Scotia consistently to find a way of doing this in a proper fashion. We are continuing to do it. We feel there has to be some plan brought forward. There has to be a law which applies to all Nova Scotians.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, today, Chief Lawrence Paul from Membertou, on behalf of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs said that the . . .

[Page 3965]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . directive to throw loggers in jail came as a total shock to the chiefs.

MR. SPEAKER: Question?

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why was he, and his government, so disrespectful if he has been, in fact, meeting with these chiefs, which I don't believe, why has he decided to escalate this situation and take this confrontational approach?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, before the Minister of Natural Resources brought forward the permission to, in fact, lay charges of those who were not following the laws of the Province of Nova Scotia, he had all of the chiefs in Nova Scotia to a meeting and explained what he was going to be doing and why he was going to be doing it. There is no way that we could have been any fairer. The fact of the matter is there is a law we have to protect the forests of Nova Scotia, not only for non-aboriginals but for the aboriginals as well.

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

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is aware of the very serious situation at the Cove Guest Home in Sydney. Next night supper was cooked in the Cove Guest Home by a couple of relatives of residents. Otherwise, there would have been no supper. Will the minister confirm that he is aware that were it not for the volunteer efforts of residents and friends of residents, and in fact residents looking after residents, that personal care in the Cove Guest Home would be virtually non-existent?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the strike at the Cove nursing home has been very disruptive. I have expressed that concern many times both in speaking with the media and here in the House and the honourable member knows that. There is no question that the effort that we have seen from people right across this province who have gone there as volunteers has been remarkable. We were concerned yesterday, particularly about food and the honourable member is correct. Last night, I am pleased to say, that we have two cooks who have gone in and they are there supplementing others. There are now nurse managers and we have a complement of 10 to 12 of those.

DR. HAMM: I believe that somewhere in that answer the minister did confirm that the residents, themselves, and actually their relatives and friends are providing the personal care. Is the minister prepared, as Minister of Health, to write himself a note as Minister of Justice

[Page 3966]

to ensure safe access of all friends and relatives who are supporting personal care in the Cove safe conduct in and out of the Cove nursing home?

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: I think this is a really important point and I thank the member for bringing it to the floor today because it has been a concern of this government and certainly a concern of myself. I want to say that the relations between the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice in this province are very good. We do not communicate by e-mail or anything like that. It is a very close relationship. We have been in constant touch and we have provided people as contact persons for the police in that area. The cooperation has been extremely good, it has been great. There has been concern about that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, I would hope that the situation between the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health will shortly be changed by the Premier because certainly it should be. My final supplementary, are you prepared, as recommended to you on November 16th by Dr. Murray Nixon, your representative at the Cove, that if personal care cannot be carried out as he has indicated, that you are prepared to initiate your evacuation plan?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are options we have had from day one. We are in the third week of a very serious strike. I appointed Dr. Nixon to go there from our department. We have been in constant contact. I met with him yesterday morning. Things do change, but there is no question that this is a very serious matter. The option of the government is to bring in essential service legislation or that type of legislation or to evacuate. I really do not want to evacuate unless it is absolutely necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - CROWN LAND: NATIVE HARVEST - APPROACH

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go this time to the Minister of Natural Resources. It is with respect to the decision to throw aboriginal loggers in jail. I want to ask the minister, last week the minister said that the size of the Mi'kmaq harvest was insignificant. Then he changed his story and said that the harvesting was escalating. I want to ask the minister, will he explain why it is he decided to ratchet up his rhetoric, why it is he decided to adopt this confrontational approach? Was it as a result of the pressure from the Third Party?

[Page 3967]

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I want to thank him for the question. I think he was in the House when I made the ministerial statement yesterday. He responded to the ministerial statement. As the Premier said, we have been meeting with the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission which is representative of the 13 chiefs since our first meeting November 14, 1997, and the last meeting was yesterday.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the point is here that the strategy this government has been following is not working. Surely all Nova Scotians and this government recognize the problems when you fail to negotiate on these important issues. Remember Voisey's Bay. They made a roadblock because that government would not deal with these issues. My question to this minister, this issue will not go away. Will you agree to sit down and resolve this matter without threatening the aboriginal community?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to advise the honourable member that Voisey's Bay was not a forestry issue. We are dealing with forestry issues here and we will continue to meet with the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission, we promised them that yesterday. It is not the end of our meetings, we will continue to try to reach a solution.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister may want to try to isolate it into one corner but the question is, is the whole issue of aboriginal title and aboriginal rights - logging, fishing and other resources.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister, as a result of his decision yesterday, relations have escalated to the point of brinkmanship, will the minister recognize that this has been a problem? Will he pull back from the brink and make sure that a process is undertaken and negotiate a . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the honourable member that we will keep on negotiating but lawbreakers will be charged. That is the message that we relayed to the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission yesterday and they accepted that. Here we are today and we don't know what will happen but we will deal with tomorrow when it comes.

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

HEALTH - OSTEOPOROSIS: DENSITOMETER - NECESSITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health knows about the condition called osteoporosis or brittle bone disease that affects 40 per cent of women over the age of 50 and 15 per cent of men over the age of 50,

[Page 3968]

creating many fractures and the cost to health care in this province is $40 million. The essence of diagnosis is a densitometer. Will this minister confirm that without densitometers available to the physicians of this province it is impossible to treat osteoporosis or brittle bone disease within acceptable medical standards?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the question is fairly specific, the densitometer is a technical tool of measurement. Certainly, it is advisable before any amount of therapy or continued long-term drugs are given. The answer to the honourable doctor member would be a qualified yes.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his candour. Without a densitometer you cannot treat this condition properly. Will the minister confirm that for over nine months he has been sitting on a report from the Advisory Committee on Osteoporosis that indicates that we should have five more bone densitometers here in Nova Scotia? Will the minister indicate why he is sitting on this report?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the minister does not sit on that report, it is actively being pursued. It is part of our programs within the community. We are looking at decentralization so the densitometry services would be closer to the people in their communities. We have done this is the western region and it is part of our plan. There are priorities, that is one of them and we are working toward that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of final supplementary, we have fewer bone densitometers than any other province in Canada, the worst treatment program in the entire country. When will this minister find time to implement the recommendations of the advisory committee so we can properly treat that very serious condition here in Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are many areas in health care where we are leaders across this country. The cardiovascular surgery program is one and there are many others. The honourable seatmate might know that he has got a densitometer machine closer to his home now than he had last year and certainly when he was in the front seats of the previous government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ABORIGINAL AFFS. - SABLE GAS: PIPELINE DISPUTE - ACTION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs raised concerns with this government some time ago over Sable. Today, as a result of the fact that the government failed to begin to act until October, the chiefs announced that they will seek an injunction against the pipeline. My question to the Premier is, he has had several months to act, why has he not taken the appropriate steps to ensure that this dispute would not result in an injunction?

[Page 3969]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we cannot give any assurance that a dispute is not going to result in an injunction. All we can do is meet and sincerely negotiate the question with the Mi'kmaq which is what we have done and we have done it for a lot longer period of time than just since the month of October. We want to resolve this issue. We have met with them on a regular basis, are continuing to do so, and hopefully we will resolve the matter.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, clearly today's action to seek an injunction is a bombshell for the oil and gas industry. The Minister of Natural Resources' response, which is we will deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes, is not good enough.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, what specific action will he undertake to deal with the concerns of the Assembly of Chiefs and to establish a stable environment for offshore development?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure that the rights of the aboriginal people are being protected but, unlike the Leader of the New Democratic Party, we do not want to give the offshore oil and gas industry to just the aboriginal people. What we want to do is to make sure that Nova Scotians from any part of this province have full benefit of the oil and gas in this province.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, this government has blundered its way into a confrontation with natives over logging and has been ignoring the rights of First Nations as they relate to Sable.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why is it that his government is ignoring the rights of aboriginal people in this province on the one hand and provoking them with threats of lawsuits on the other? Will he explain that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no government has done more to serve the rights of the aboriginal people of Nova Scotia than this government but the NDP Party is not doing the aboriginals any favours by trying to incite the issue, by trying to promote it as non-aboriginals against aboriginal rights. (Applause)

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

[Page 3970]

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES (COLCHESTER):

LABOUR TALKS - UPDATE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, two of the larger nursing homes in my constituency are in intense labour negotiations. I am pleased that one of the two homes, Glenview Lodge, did reach a tentative agreement this morning but then Northwood had a tentative agreement at one time, too, and we know what happened there. Hillcrest Manor is the other one. Both of these institutions house Level 1, Level 2 or greater.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MUIR: I am concerned about the health and safety of the residents in there and I would like to know what the Minister of Health is doing to ensure that those negotiations are progressing satisfactorily?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we do not own those homes. Those are outside of our area of programming as such but we certainly do fund them and in that way we are interested but, particularly, we are interested in the safety of the residents. I thank the honourable member for bringing this to the floor. I think these are important issues. Last night, at 5:00 o'clock, I understand, negotiations took place and as the honourable member says, some tentative arrangement. That is the type of commitment that we have from people working on this . . .

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, both the Minister of Health and the Premier in the past week in discussing the situation in the Cove Guest Home and in Northwood have indicated that the care given to these patients and residents has deteriorated really to an unacceptable level. What I am concerned about should labour unrest . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MUIR: . . . continue there, can the Minister of Health commit that there is a contingency plan for those homes so that the residents will continue to receive quality care?

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question.

DR. SMITH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is a good question, I heard someone say. We have had for over the last week and one-half a contingency plan. We have identified spaces for those persons in the event that we had to evacuate or move the residents out, that we do have identified spaces within the province.

[Page 3971]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my final question is, again for the Minister of Health, he talked about his contingency plan in terms of moving the residents from the home. I know that there are no additional beds in the Colchester area. Where would those patients be removed to if it came down to that, Mr. Minister?

[3:30 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the government has options, part of which evacuation of residents would be one. It is also part of the plan not to disclose where that is, because we know that there are people who would incite pickets lines and other things that would further disturb the residents. The move would be traumatic enough, but it has been our policy not to identify that. I will assure members of the House, and I will stand on that, that there are spaces available within the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - P3: SCHOOL SITE SELECTION - PLANS

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The P3 site selection process has been sidetracked in three communities. The result is school construction is now happening in three Armoyan subdivisions. These developments are going to add a tremendous influx to the existing population. My question to the Minister of Education. Where are the children going to go to school when the new schools don't meet existing needs?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: It is hard to know at which moment the NDP is asking me to go quickly in one direction, and which moment they are asking me to slow down and stop in the other. The answer, Mr. Speaker, is that sites will be selected by boards and communities throughout this province. Construction of high quality, in fact schools of excellence at a national level will be constructed for those children and we will continue to invest in those classrooms when teachers need then for those students.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary to the minister is this. The Hammonds Plains school is going to be built in a location where Municipal Armoyan is going to build a massive subdivision, has the minister considered the possibility that the new Hammonds Plains subdivision will fill the whole school?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has information that has not yet arrived at my desk. The board, as I have indicated to her, will be responsible for making the site selection. If, in fact, the sites are selected by the boards, having built the community process, in other words, taken into account all community concerns, then it is up to the minister to decide the final determination as to whether or not the board's process was correct.

[Page 3972]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask the minister again, since he hasn't answered the question, will the minister commit today that he will build a second new school when this massive subdivision fills the first one? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: It is incredible. I know it is difficult to keep a straight face, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't want you to do it, then they want you to do it. They want you to build in their riding, on their schedule and their program, but not the community . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have committed in a difficult economic circumstance to build and to catch up high quality schools badly needed by the children of this province. In addition to that - and we are doing it with the private sector, that's exactly how we are doing it - we are investing $80 million in the children of Nova Scotia because they deserve it.

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

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

MUNICIPAL ARMOYAN - OIC (10/11/98)

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources. On Thursday, the Minister of Natural Resources told this House that he knew nothing about Crown land being made available to Municipal Armoyan and yesterday he said the answer to the question was the same as on Thursday. Now, I would like to table a copy of an Order in Council dated November 10, 1998, and my question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Why wouldn't he have known about this document dealing with Crown land dated November 5, 1998, which authorized the Minister of Education to "jointly acquire land with Municipal Armoyan and to sell the provincial interest after the schools have been constructed"?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will have a look at the document and I will answer it in due course.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I will move to the Minister of Education. After a public meeting on Monday, for the St. Margaret's Bay-Boutilier's Point community, the site selection committee met and agreed that they were putting forward their preferred site, not

[Page 3973]

the DNR site. My question to the Minister of Education. Will the minister ensure that the recommendation of the site selection committee and the community is respected?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, communities across this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: . . . are trying to determine which, of a number of sites, are the most appropriate for their schools. The province, the municipality and the board stand ready to receive those recommendations. The question is (Interruption) We already own the land, the land is Crown land. The question is, when the board makes a determination as to which site belongs to which community for its school, then it will come to the Department of Education for a final determination.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Do your homework, Mr. Minister. Mr. Speaker, George Armoyan told me this morning at a meeting in my office that this school . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: . . . would hopefully be sited . . .

MR. SPEAKER: You are on your final supplementary. Question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: . . . on Natural Resources land. My question to the minister. Why would Mr. Armoyan believe the school will be sited on Natural Resources land when the recommendation from the site selection committee is another site?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite sat in my office some time ago (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRISON: . . . with parents anxious to build schools.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who has the land?

MR. HARRISON: The issue is clear. When the board makes a recommendation to the minister as to which site is in the best interests of the children of the Province of Nova Scotia in that community, we will respond to that request. As to this date, there has been no recommendation to the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3974]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - VON: ADULT DAY CARE PROGRAMS - COMMITMENT

MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question through you, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is aware of the Adult Day Care Program sponsored by the VON across this province; there are a number of them. The minister, also I am sure, agrees with the VON that we owe it to these people and their caregivers to help keep their loved ones at home as long as possible. We know these programs had grants and we know they had the help of the Legion and others. I would ask the minister, what is his department doing to ensure that these programs do not close and will remain in operation?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, these are very important programs. I recently, within the last couple of weeks or few weeks, met with representatives from the Adult Day Care Program in several parts of the province. We designated people within our department to evaluate the programs, and look at and review programs, looking at areas where we may support this particularly important initiative. I thank the honourable member for that question. It is a priority and we are working on that.

MR. MOODY: Well, thank you very much. I just remind the minister he first met with those people on March 3rd. He told them to come back after the election. They finally got to see him on October 7th. I would ask the minister. Will he guarantee, today - he acknowledges the importance of the program, they don't need to be evaluated, he knows they are successful - will he, today, commit funding to ensure that none of these programs that are in operation close this year?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have committed increased funding this year within our health care budget. This will be, along with other competing programs, a priority. I will commit to do everything that I can to support these programs both financially and any other way that we can do that.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the VON and those people who need this program, and the caregivers, want this kind of an answer, no, they want to know . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. MOODY: . . . will this minister ensure that they receive funding so they don't have to close these programs or not? I don't want a wishy-washy maybe.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MOODY: They need to know are they are going to close.

[Page 3975]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of negotiating, with that honourable member on the floor of the House of Assembly, the budget for the Adult Day Care Programs.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: C.B. REGIONAL HOSPITAL - DEBT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. We have recently learned that the QE II has a huge operating deficit . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I can't hear the question.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question is for the Minister of Health. We have recently learned that the QE II has a huge operating deficit and they are carrying a debt load of about $120 million. Yesterday we heard that the IWK-Grace also has a huge debt deficit.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a question here?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it seems that no corner of the province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . is safe from health care mismanagement . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . because the Cape Breton hospital . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . has a debt of $60 million. My question . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I cannot hear the question.

[Page 3976]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the minister is, is the minister aware that the Cape Breton Regional Hospital has a debt of $60 million and an $8 million deficit for this year?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how that honourable member equates deficits and hospitals with, automatically, mismanagement. Maybe she should go and look sometime and see what is happening in those institutions. We are putting $30 million extra this year into the regional health boards and the non-designated facilities, as she is mentioning.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the government has offered to come to the aid of the QE II and the IWK-Grace.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the minister is, what will the government do to help the Cape Breton Regional Hospital manage this financial trouble?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are working with business plans, with the regional boards and the non-designated facilities. They are all a priority and we are working on that. We are also working to support services within that particular community. I have a list of new services in that area, as well as at the QE II. More Nova Scotians are receiving more services than ever before.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we can talk all we like about new services. We have a real problem maintaining the services we have.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the minister is that Nova Scotians need to know the full truth. What other bad news about the mismanagement of our health care system has the part-time Minister of Health been keeping from Nova Scotians?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my advice to that honourable member is, keep calling and she will dig up something else to scare the people of Nova Scotia. There is no crisis in the health care system. There is a plan, we are following it and we will work with all those institutions and the regional boards. She will uncover something else to scare Nova Scotians with and good luck.

[Page 3977]

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

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

CHEQUES - INVALID

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Yesterday, when I asked the question, he said my facts were erroneous. I would say that he needs to check his facts. Will he confirm that, in fact, cheques issued by the Bras d'Or North Community Development Association bounced, that funding that was contributed by his department for projects, the cheques were NSF?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to correct the member opposite. I didn't say that his remarks were erroneous. I said he didn't know what he was talking about. (Laughter)

MR. BALSER: I don't think the minister answered the question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BALSER: I am asking him once again, will he verify whether or not those cheques were NSF?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Bras d'Or Community Development Association is an important local initiative in the Bras d'Or area. I am pleased that the member for Digby-Annapolis is so interested in what happens in Bras d'Or, Cape Breton.

Anyway, in regard to his question, there were three cheques - I don't know why he is so exercised about this. There were three cheques written last winter by the Bras d'Or association to their employees that were written on the wrong account and were stopped by the bank. The error was corrected, new cheques were issued and that is the end of the story.

MR. BALSER: Maybe that explains some of the problems his department is having. (Laughter) I would ask him what type of screening process is in place so that these kinds of things don't happen. When you fund projects you should be sure that the funding will be there.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that just points out how little the member opposite knows. I suggest that he come into my office and I will give him a training session on how the Department of Economic Development and Tourism works.

[Page 3978]

The cheques, Mr. Speaker, were written by their own people to their own people a year ago. We have a total of $50,000 invested in a community development project there that is working very well. (Applause)

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

HEALTH - QE II HEALTH SC. CTR.:

CAMP HILL HOSP. WORKERS (ENVIRON. ILLNESS) - BENEFITS

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: My question is for the Minister of Health. Mr. Speaker, recently a number of victims of environmental illness at the QE II were informed that their benefits would be reduced, dollar for dollar, if they are receiving or eligible to receive Canada Pension Plan benefits. My question to the minister is very simple. Does the minister support this heartless decision?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there have been some changes and adjustments to conform to the policy that is in place across this country. At least one person was receiving more, over 100 per cent of their previous salary and so there were some adjustments and it was just conforming with policy. That is my understanding and with that, if what is fair and right is being done, then I agree with that.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly assure the minister that there is more than one person who is affected by this. Not even the Workers' Compensation Board, that pillar of compassion, deducts CPP dollar for dollar. My question to the minister is this, why now is this heartless reduction connected to the QE II deficit?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that what has happened there is that it is correcting an administrative accounting error that was in place and it has nothing absolutely to do with the debt. If the honourable member would like to make a donation I am sure it would be gladly received.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, people are losing up to $700 per month through this clawback. My final question for the minister is this, when did this government back off its commitment to handle the Camp Hill environmental illness disaster with compassion?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are leaders across this country in the treatment of environmental illnesses. We are the only province that has a facility and that type of program. Millions and millions of taxpayers' dollars have gone in for compensation to those affected by environmental illness at Camp Hill.

[Page 3979]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - HORTON SCHOOL:

SITE/DEVELOPER - SELECTION PROCESS

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Minister of Education and Culture. Earlier today we heard the Minister of Education do a resolution that cited O'Connell Drive School as the winner of the P3 and I am concerned that Horton did not win the P3. I want to know from the minister how the site was chosen at the Horton school and why the private developer was chosen at the Horton school site?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all the answer is because it was not submitted as a project, it was not completed in time. However, I am sure it will do quite well, as will all the schools in the national competition. The question was, how was the site selected? By a group of community people, much as sites are selected around this province. How was the developer selected? By a tender process exactly as all developers.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education and Culture, the minister glibly passed off the selection of an overpriced site for the Horton school. I wanted the minister to know that during the last month Timberlea and the Beechville area and Hammonds Plains - I would like to table 17 documents here, by the way, showing that clearly there is a problem with site selection. Are you going to allow the parents and members of the communities of Timberlea and Hammonds Plains to decide on their own sites?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, at least the member opposite presents his questions factually. The member for Timberlea-Prospect hands fictitious information out to the House as if it was fact. The question is, will the parents be involved in the site selection process? Unlike the previous government's experience of the member opposite, parents and community members are clearly involved at the grass-roots level in the decisions affecting the sites for their children's schools.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the 17 documents state otherwise but there are 31 new schools that have been bundled. Will the minister assure this House today and the people of Nova Scotia that if a new school is going in a community, the people of that community will make that decision and the minister will uphold that decision through the process?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, once again we have communities across this province and in some cases the sites are controversial when the communities are split. The issue is that the community will have their say, then the board, as will happen this Friday in the areas in metro, will sit down and receive that community input once again and make a final determination as to the best site. Do you know the criteria they use? What is best for the children of the Province of Nova Scotia, exactly what they were asked to do.

[Page 3980]

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MENTOR NETWORKS:

ITC LEARNING ACQUISITION - BENEFITS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. When his prize company, Mentor Networks, went into receivership, he sold it to ITC Learning. The troubled minister said at that time this is the best outcome for the company, its employees and Nova Scotia taxpayers. My question for the minister is, why would the minister say it is a good deal to pay ITC $2 million to take over all the province's claims to Mentor, especially as it has revealed ITC lost more than $7 million in the last two years?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. The truth of the matter is that ITC are running Mentor in the Halifax area at the present time. There are 43 people working there and the company seems to be doing very well.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on Friday ITC announced its third quarter results. They lost another $2 million during that time, bringing their losses for the first nine months of 1998 to $4 million. My question is, is the minister aware that yet another of his deals is turning sour for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we did a great deal of due diligence with Mentor when the Mentor problems came to light to try to keep this very important initiative alive in the Halifax metro area. We have with the company that is presently operating it, at no additional expense to my department or the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. They are operating it very successfully. I cannot comment on what their parent company has lost or gained in the past year. That is none of my business. What is my business is that these people are operating this company successfully.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, a graph of ITC's stock value looks much like a graph of the Liberal popularity in Nova Scotia. My question is, why does this minister repeatedly tie Nova Scotia taxpayers into risky deals with money-losing ventures?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, you know it is interesting how the NDP goes from on the one hand of the Party of no development, on the other hand to the Party of develop for anybody. We have had instances in this House in the last session where members opposite have asked me why I am not supporting industries in their particular ridings. This is a good deal for Nova Scotia and it is working well.

[Page 3981]

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV.:

MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION CARS - REPLACEMENT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services a question. Will the minister confirm that he is replacing the Motor Vehicle inspection cars because they are exceeding the manufacturer's gross vehicle weight when carrying three sets of portable scales that are necessary for the Motor Vehicle inspectors when they are carrying out their duties weighing commercial vehicles. Will the minister confirm that he is replacing those cars with new pick-up 4 x 4 trucks?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. We are indeed replacing the vehicles with new four-wheel drive vehicles.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister called tender number 60027839 - incidentally this tender was won by Huskilson Chrysler Plymouth Jeep - and I will table that. My question is, seeing as the vehicles are sitting out at the Miller Lake mechanical branch of the Department of Transportation - they have been sitting there for several weeks, will the minister tell us if the reason the vehicles are sitting out there, that they have not been put into service, is because of a procurement freeze and the minister and his department have not approved funds yet to purchase caps for the vehicles that are . . .

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I have two pages of work that had to be done on these trucks in order to get them suitable for use in the operation of the vehicles. I would like to table this for your information. Very sophisticated things have to be installed: radios, lights and (Interruptions) If they would allow me to answer the question, I would appreciate it. Many things had to be done to these vehicles to make them comply.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again I go to the minister with essentially the same question. When is the minister going to put those vehicles into service, the vehicles that are sitting out at Miller Lake and have been sitting there for several weeks, waiting to replace those cars? Brand new vehicles from Huskilson Motors in Shelburne.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the vehicles will be put in service as soon as the work is completed on them.

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

[Page 3982]

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SHELBURNE MUN.:

INDUSTRIAL PK. - TRANSFER

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. For two years the Municipality of Shelburne has asked for the transfer of the Shelburne Industrial Park, but the troubled minister has said he is too busy to bring it to Cabinet. When will the minister commit to bringing this issue of the Shelburne Industrial Park to Cabinet, so that community can get on with the job of economic development?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. We have been dealing with the Shelburne park agency from time to time and our people in our department are continuing to deal with them, and at any time they want a meeting with me, all they have to do is ask me.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the province indicated its desire to divest itself of the industrial park more than one year ago. My question to the minister. Why has he been holding up this process? Why is he stalling economic development in this community which has been hurt badly by the downturn in the fishery?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: In fact, Mr. Speaker, we are not stalling anything in that particular community. We have just announced, most recently, some very important initiatives down there that will keep people working for some time. We have just assisted the largest employer in that particular area. In regard to that park, there are some serious problems that we are working on with the people of that park and they are presently working with our department officials to try to come to some resolution.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if there ever was an admission of failure, that is it. There is no excuse. Unemployment has reached 34 per cent in Shelburne County. My question is, what can be more urgent for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism than allowing Shelburne to get on with the task of job creation?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, is that member opposite telling me that the most important initiative in Shelburne County is to purchase the industrial park? That is what I hear him saying.

Mr. Speaker, we are working on a number of critical issues that we are addressing in Shelburne County and we will continue to do so. Unlike the hit-and-miss tactics of the NDP, we do have a plan. (Applause)

[Page 3983]

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: VOLVO CLOSURE - ASSISTANCE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table with this House a letter from the President of the Canadian Auto Workers regarding layoffs at Volvo. Mr. Buzz Hargrove says he asked the Premier directly for help in trying to keep the plant opened, but the Premier did nothing. My question to the Premier. Why did you tell this House that Mr. Hargrove did not ask you to help keep the Volvo plant open when, in fact, he did?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I spoke with Mr. Hargrove concerning the Volvo plant. He mentioned to me that he had an idea of someone who could take over the plant, and would we cooperate with this party if, in fact, they were interested in continuing negotiations and I said yes.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let me remind the Premier, Mr. Hargrove asked you to help the Volvo workers, Nova Scotians, keep their jobs, but you did nothing. Why did you ignore the pleas from the Canadian Auto Workers? Why didn't you act when you had the chance to at least try and save some of the jobs at Volvo?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member knows differently, the fact that it was the province and, particularly, the Deputy Minister of Labour who acted as a mediator with Volvo and the workers to get the severance package that, in fact, was obtained. We were involved from the beginning on behalf of the workers and we still continue to be involved on this.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hargrove says he requested a senior delegate to accompany the CAW group to Sweden. You agreed that you would help with that initiative, but then you did not follow through. Why have you repeatedly failed to do anything but make empty promises to the Volvo workers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, he is getting his conversations mixed up. Larry Wark called me to say that they were sending a delegation to Sweden and asked would I be able to go. I said, no, I was not, and he said would you ask the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. He was not able to go, but we did send representatives on that trip. That is the best we could do with that kind of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH - REGIONAL BOARD (NORTHERN): Y2K PROBLEM - COST

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, Mr. Minister, my question to you this afternoon concerns the Y2K problem with the Northern

[Page 3984]

Regional Health Board. Gerald Fitzgerald, VP, Corporate Services, says that it will cost $7 million to take care of the Y2K problem with the Northern Regional Health Board. Are those resources in place and will they be put into use before the year 2000 arrives, Mr. Minister?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are working with the regional health boards and the non-designated facilities on this Y2K problem. The commitment that we have made to them is that the Department of Health would work with them. We would not necessarily fund the wish lists of their technology but we would work with what was necessary and come up with funding for that through the Department of Finance. That is the plan of the government at this juncture.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Minister, $7 million is a lot of money. The commitment has to be strong, not wishy-washy. The year 2000 is very close. Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document of the operating budget for the Northern Regional Health Board. That is 10 per cent of the operating budget of the Northern Regional Health Board.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. FAGE: Is this minister prepared to make a commitment today that that money will be committed and that the Y2K problem will be seen to by the year 2000?

DR. SMITH: The answer to his two or three part question, no, I am not committed to funding $7 million for that particular initiative within that Northern Regional Health Board but, yes, we are committed to work with them and to assist them in whatever way is necessary to achieve a proper program to address the issue.

We are not responding - I will not make the commitment on the floor of the House today to fund a specific . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North, your final supplementary.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Minister, we are talking about a situation where heart monitors, X-rays, ultrasounds will not be fixed, where people's lives could be endangered, the people of Nova Scotia . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your final supplementary, please.

MR. FAGE: Yesterday, you couldn't decide in an outburst whether you were half-time or part-time minister.

[Page 3985]

MR. SPEAKER: The question, please.

MR. FAGE: I think it is time that you put this. . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can I have the question?

MR. FAGE: . . .to a final issue and make sure this happens before the year 2000?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the honourable member is upset and, again, resorts to my personal activities of part-time and whatever. That is really not going to get him very far.

We make a commitment. We will make sure that things are in place, that lives will not be in jeopardy. That is the commitment we are making right across this province, not only to the northern region.

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

NAT. RES. - ETHANE: SOEP AGREEMENT - STATUS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, I would like to try to get some information. Certainly, we are all very pleased to hear that Sable Petrochemicals has indicated their desire to establish a petrochemical industry in Nova Scotia and it confirms, in fact, what I had said last spring on the floor of the House that there are the volumes of gas available to make this viable. I know about the Memorandum of Understanding so my question to the Premier is, has the government been able to get a formal agreement signed yet with the SOEP partners for the extraction of the ethane to make this very important industry to employing Nova Scotians possible?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are very close to having the formal agreement signed on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding that was initiated in December of last year.

MR. HOLM: Thank you. So the short answer is, not yet.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, a Calgary-based expert has pointed out that it is in the best interests of the SOEP partners to export the gas with that ethane in it because of the higher heat contents.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 3986]

MR. HOLM: My question to the Premier is, what guarantees can he give to Nova Scotians and to those who wish to establish industries in the province to create jobs for Nova Scotians, that the ethane will be extracted here so that Nova Scotians get the benefit, rather than SOEP by selling that for profit?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. I want to thank the honourable member for it.

The Memorandum of Understanding, I think as he has said, is quite clear-cut and I can assure the honourable member and the whole House that there will not be any final agreement unless the final agreement reflects the Memorandum of Understanding and we protect the ethane for Nova Scotia.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. The Premier will know that he is using the 8.5 per cent interest that we have as our guarantee that Nova Scotians will have access to gas and that is the same gas that this company wants to buy. My question to the Premier is, what guarantees does he have from the SOEP partners that gas will be available for Nova Scotians generally if Sable Petrochemicals or another industry purchases our 8.5 per cent interest for the industry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all Sable Petrochemicals has to offer a fair price for the natural gas that Nova Scotia Resources has. If it is not a fair price their application will not be considered. We said and rightly so and we still say, that the gas of Nova Scotia Resources is for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia. If the gas can be obtained from another company, then that leaves it free for petrochemical facilities but frankly, it is for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

HEALTH - ONCOLOGISTS: RECRUITMENT - STATUS

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In a letter dated, September 21st, the sometimes Minister of Health advised that two medical oncologists were being interviewed to replace Dr. Butt and Dr. Sawhney. Can the minister indicate if full-time representation for these two medical oncologists who left has been found?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Dr. Andrew Padmos has joined and is leading in the recruitment. He has had several interviews. We are covering. We are having someone come in the early part of December and some arrangements have been made plus some other specialities are being involved to make a team that will be fighting cancer through the QE II centre and their partners.

[Page 3987]

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, back to the Minister of Health. Obviously, he hasn't found anyone. The only thing that has happened since the minister wrote his letter is yet another full-time medical oncologist has resigned. My question to the minister is, can the cancer patients of Nova Scotia expect full-time representation soon?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that we do have a specialist in internal medicine who is in a post. There are three candidates for medical oncologists who have been interviewed and four candidates will visit November 23rd and 24th. No offers have been finalized. I think it is looking good where it is a very competitive field but not all cancer care totally depends on oncologists. What we have is a great leader in Dr. Andrew Padmos and I am sure, given a little time, some encouragement and support, that we will see this develop into a first rate . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East, your final supplementary.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary back to the minister. Cancer patients in Nova Scotia don't want talk, they want action. They are not satisfied with short-term, stopgap measures. What is the minister going to do for them? Does he not hear their cries for help?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we now have a formalized cancer care program, the first of its kind in this province. We have a second oncologist going into Cape Breton, things are really looking good. We have an advisory board from right across this province of 30 people, which is a large number on a board, but they are represented from across the province. So we have been consulting, we have been listening and we are going to have a top-notch program because this is a high-risk province, no question.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: PRICES - STUDIES TABLE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, another question, if I may through you to the Premier. When the Premier was announcing the new gas distribution regulations he set a minimum target of 62 per cent of the households, saying that they would have access to natural gas within a period of seven years. That was based on the assumption that natural gas was going to be 15 per cent less, compared to the price of oil. My question to the Premier is, upon what was that assumption based and will the Premier table his studies that show that the gas prices will, in fact, be 15 per cent lower than the oil?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member wants to go to the Petroleum Directorate, I am sure they will give him a full briefing on why we arrived at the 15 per cent figure.

[Page 3988]

MR. HOLM: I thought I was asking the head of the Petroleum Directorate, Mr. Speaker. My next question to the Premier, the consultants for the Canadian Oil and Heat Association say that that 15 per cent is unachievable without major government subsidy. So my question to the Premier is, will those companies that are seeking to distribute natural gas throughout Nova Scotia be required to meet that 62 per cent minimum target if your assumptions about 15 per cent lower costs do not, in fact, materialize?

THE PREMIER: Any applicant for the distribution of natural gas has to be prepared to meet the 62 per cent figure. There has to be 62 per cent of Nova Scotians having access to natural gas within seven years or the application will not be considered.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows that in order to have a take up, there has to be a savings to the consumers for the switch over. My question to the Premier is quite simply this, if he is asking companies to risk hundreds of millions of dollars, what guarantee is he able to put forward that, in fact, show that the price of natural gas will be lower than the price of oil, in other words so they will invest their money to do just that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are not asking any company to risk anything or invest anything. They are asking us for the privilege of distributing natural gas to Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

HEALTH - NURSING HOME WORKERS:

WAGE PARITY - TIME-FRAME

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is for the Minister of Health. Mr. Speaker, over the weekend you might have seen these advertisements in the paper, a fair deal for nursing home workers. As a result of that lovely ad that was in the paper, a constituent of mine called me and he had a question that I must ask the Minister of Health. He indicated that his contract that the union negotiated for him was settled at 5 per cent, 3 per cent and 3 per cent for last year and the next two years. He is currently earning $8.12 an hour and he is wondering when parity is going to come to him so his wages will be the same as they are for somebody, for instance, working at Northwood?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the program that developed from Northwood and is being offered throughout the province is one where parity will be achieved within the long-term care sector at the end of the agreement which would be somewhere in the range between 36 months and maybe 41 months, something of that range, I am not quite sure. I think some of them do vary but there is a program in place that there will be parity within the long-term care sector.

[Page 3989]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, what I am to understand then from the minister, the people who settled the contracts early and had honest, good faith negotiations are going to be penalized because they are going to have to wait longer than people who are holding out and going to settle immediately for parity? Is this what you told me?

DR. SMITH: It is my understanding that the recent ones, for instance, in Mahone Bay, there were increases between 45 per cent and 83 per cent in that particular home and the details of some of the negotiations, I am not totally familiar, I am not directly involved in those. If there are specific questions, I will take them under advisement and respond as accurately as I can but the information that I have is that the nursing homes in the long-term care sector will reach parity at the end of the contracts.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, this advertisement says a fair deal. Could the minister explain to me why my constituent settled for 5 per cent, 3 per cent and 3 per cent, and he just informed us that he knows of areas that have settled for upwards of 40 per cent? Now, how can this be fair and why should my constituent have to wait three or four years to get parity? Let's have some of this what they call fairness.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the collective bargaining process is working. We are having agreements even as we speak throughout the last few hours and I think it is a fair and just settlement to a long neglected sector. That member was on the Treasury Board when they had an opportunity, Mr. Speaker. We are doing something about it now.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

TECH. & SC. SEC'T. - Y2K PROBLEM: REPORT - STATUS

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. On November 4th the minister promised that within 10 days he would be issuing the first government-wide progress report on the Year 2000 problem. Well here we are on November 18th and there is no report yet; in fact, when my office phoned his office to find out when the report was coming, we were told that it wouldn't be ready for some time, perhaps not until the end of the month. My question, Mr. Speaker, is will the minister now explain why he made a promise without knowing if he could keep it?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, if I recall correctly, the member opposite asked whether the report would be ready before the end of the session of this House and I committed to that. In fact, Nova Scotians and members of this Cabinet and their departments will be issuing regular updates right the way through to the summer when full compliance is expected on essential services.

[Page 3990]

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, last week, the minister presented a resolution to this House critical of our freedom of information request on the government's Year 2000 preparations. Our request would not have been needed if there had been some openness and accountability in the first place.

My question to the minister, Mr. Speaker. When will the minister eliminate the need for freedom of information requests and present to this House his government's full and frank assessment of the risk and costs for the Year 2000 compliance?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is correct. There was criticism levied against the NDP's FOI request, simply because of the magnitude of it, of the time it would take people who were already working within departments on the very problem he claims to be interested in. We will provide regular updates to the people of this province and the continued assurance that, by next summer, full compliance on essential services will be met.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, the minister was vague and equivocal when I asked him in this House when he expected the Auditor General's Report. Could the minister provide a simple answer to this very simple question? When does the minister expect to receive the Auditor General's Report on the Year 2000 compliance?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General is responsible for reporting to the Legislature of this House. He works with a variety of departments on issues related to government performance and the execution of that performance. The member should ask the Auditor General when his report will be delivered to the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS.:

ASSESSORS ( CUMB. S) - QUALIFICATIONS

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. Over the last two months, we have had in my area, Springhill, Oxford and Parrsboro, individuals going around measuring properties for the new assessment process. I wonder, could you tell me what skills these people require to carry out this task?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for raising this in the House this afternoon. I can certainly provide the honourable member with the information he is looking for. I don't have that here with me this afternoon, but I certainly will undertake to provide the honourable member with the information.

[Page 3991]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again. I would suggest that these people had very little or no training. As you are aware, your department, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Transportation in my area have laid off seasonal workers who have been forced to go to Community Services in order to live.

I would like to know from you, Mr. Minister, would you ensure in the future that these people would be considered when jobs like this come up?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, any Nova Scotian can apply for any positions that are being posted. We certainly will continue to post these jobs, whether they are full time or part time, and if these individuals qualify for these positions, more than likely these people will be hired for these positions. If the honourable member has any individuals in his riding who, basically, have not met the criteria or were overlooked for whatever reasons they are, if he has any special cases where these processes were not followed, I certainly would encourage the member to bring those to me.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will be for the Premier. The Assessment Office people told me that these people did not have the skills or have special training to carry out these measurements. Mr. Premier, I would ask you if you will instruct your ministers that laid off workers in my area in the future will be considered for jobs they will be well qualified for, instead of being forced to go to Community Services for assistance.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Premier for passing the question over. As I pointed out to the honourable member, any decisions that this provincial government has, either it is a full-time employment or part-time employment, these job postings are made available to all Nova Scotians. If the honourable member has any specifics to people in his constituency, that these people were overlooked, for whatever reasons they are, I certainly would encourage the member to make those available to me as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - DROUGHT: RELIEF - EFFECTIVE DATE (01/04/99)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Agriculture, please. Earlier today the Minister of Finance stated that he has gotten the Minister of Agriculture to eat both chicken and turkey. Considering the significance of the April 1st date, it is my hope that the Minister of Agriculture will not be eating crow. My question to the minister is, why is it that the drought relief is not being delivered until April 1st?

[Page 3992]

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, as the member is well aware, he was at the press conference today, held at the Kentville Research Station. He heard what the president and vice-president of the Federation of Agriculture had to say. That is the program that they developed in conjunction with our department staff. That is the program they asked for and that is what we are going to do to support the agriculture industry in this province.

MR. MACDONELL: We will assume that if the money comes sooner, they will turn it away. Considering the drought report to the Premier, delivered 10 days ago, was basically the same as a report of the Department of Agriculture in August, I ask the Minister of Agriculture if the reason for the April 1, 1999, date of implementation is because this relief is linked to the proposed national farm income disaster program for components one and two?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, no, it is not. That could be part of and that is what I am hoping we will have as a disaster program for the future. This is not linked solely to that program. You know, Mr. Speaker, if I had a loan with the Farm Loan Board or any loan institution, which I don't because I am not farming now, but if somebody were to offer to write off 50 per cent of that loan for me, I think I would be pretty happy as a Federation of Agriculture.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Agriculture. Some farmers this year are in a position where they are trying not to borrow money. They are reducing herds in order to reduce their feed requirement and also to get income for that feed. My question to the minister is, what is his plan for farmers who are not borrowing or for those who are too strapped to borrow?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, this plan submitted by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and supported by the federation, as he heard this morning, this plan covers all aspects of the agriculture industry. This plan is to try to help people who are having problems. If they do not need to borrow money, thank God for that. I say this is a good plan and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture is supporting and requested this.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - ECOLOGICAL RESERVES: COMMITMENT - FULLFIL

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of the Environment. The former Minister of Natural Resources promised to designate five new ecological reserves by the end of 1997 as part of Nova Scotia's protected areas strategy. It has not happened. My question to the minister is, now that the responsibility for ecological reserves is with your department, do you still plan on fulfilling this commitment?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there is no reason why we wouldn't try to fulfil those commitments made by a previous minister.

[Page 3993]

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary will be for the Minister of Natural Resources. Under the Department of Natural Resources action plan, five protection oriented provincial parks were to be designated by December 1997. Apparently, the paperwork for these selected parks is completed and the announcement is supposed to be a mere formality, yet it hasn't happened. My question for the minister is, when can we expect this designation?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The paperwork, if it is not ready, it is very close to being ready and we will do the designation, in due course. I don't think the member will have to . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: In the fullness of time.

MR. MACASKILL: In the fullness of time, as the honourable member says. We can assure the honourable member he will not have to wait too long.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, this question will be for the Premier. Will the Premier, given the fact that last Friday there was an announcement concerning the future of McNabs and Lawlor Islands and a helicopter fly-over of the islands for media photographers, will the Premier tell the House why his government is bothering with unnecessary and expensive helicopter rides for the press, when it apparently cannot fulfil its existing commitments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I, unfortunately, do not have any helicopters of my own, but I will refer the question to the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question and thank the Premier. The Department of Natural Resources does have helicopters. Where services are required, we provide that service for whoever needs it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - SOUTHWEST N.S.: DOCTOR SHORTAGE - ADDRESS

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. I would like to bring to the minister's attention that in southwest Nova Scotia, and especially in Yarmouth County, we are experiencing a severe doctor shortage with many thousands of people who have no family physician.

Can the minister indicate to the House today what steps he is taking, personally, as minister, to ensure that this situation is rectified.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have visited the area and the community, and met with physicians, particularly in (Interruption) Actually, I did, in all fairness, visit a jail in Yarmouth, checking out the accommodations for the local members. I had met with the

[Page 3994]

physicians in Yarmouth and there is a concern. But I will tell you, one of the areas where the physicians are doing very well is in that community in the Barrington area, where the rural program is working well. There are areas, particularly in the rural communities, that are not well covered. We are working on it. Personally, I visited the area and spoke to the physicians.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I learned today, from speaking to a doctor in my local area, that we are losing another doctor in Yarmouth County, as one of the physicians will be moving, which means that approximately another 2,000 people in Yarmouth County will be without any family physician.

I ask again, and the minister has indicated that he visited the local jail, that wasn't what I asked. I asked as to what initiatives this government is putting forward to ensure that places such as Yarmouth County and other places of rural Nova Scotia will have adequate doctors to service the needs of the people?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, rather than take the time of the House on the supplementary question, I could forward to him the programs that we have. I did say that I did visit with the physicians, but we do have a re-entry program at Dalhousie University that is costing $5 million a year. We have locums come in as physicians and work. We have stemmed the tide. There are more physicians entering Nova Scotia than leaving. It is a problem. It is a global issue.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I sat in this House and hear this minister indicate, on numerous occasions, that doctors are going to other places in rural Nova Scotia. I am talking for Yarmouth County and I want to know what he is going to do. The doctor that happens to be leaving is doing so because he was misinformed by Frank Peters, who was his recruiter. We need someone here who is going to do the job and what will you do, as minister, to ensure that we get services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I could go down the list of those people that are interested in the Yarmouth area, but, without getting into specifics. I am sorry if Mr. Peters did misinform him and I doubt if he did that, and I in no way would apologize for that. If he has some information he would like to bring before the minister, I would respond. We have a program in place and it is working, Mr. Speaker.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

COMMUN. SERV. - HFX. (DUNCAN ST.): FIRE - ASSISTANCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the honourable Minister of Community Services. A little earlier today, this House unanimously extended its

[Page 3995]

congratulations to residents of my district who have been helping out some people - 33 of them - who lived on Duncan Street, in apartments that had been burned out this past week.

What has happened, however, is that a number of those residents have gone to the Department of Community Services seeking assistance so they can pay damage deposits on new apartments, and they have been told they need a permanent address before they get that assistance. Is it the policy of the minister's department that you have to have a new permanent address when you have been burned out?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member would give me the opportunity, I certainly would get an answer for him as soon as possible on that policy issue.

MR. EPSTEIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I certainly don't intend to lay out names of individuals on the floor of the House, but the minister might want to discuss this with officials.

Let me also point out to her that some of those people are students. The students have been told that because they are students, they are not eligible. Is it the policy of the minister's department that students who are burned out are not eligible for grants?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, again, I am going to have to give the same answer back to the honourable member. This is a very serious problem for both students and people who are permanent residents there. I give my commitment that I definitely will be looking into this.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is an urgent matter, of course, for people who have been burned out and an answer by tomorrow would be very much appreciated.

Let me tell the minister the third thing that they have been told by her department, which is that in order to get new ID, they need ID in the first place. Perhaps you could investigate that.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member is limited to three questions and he might have a list of maybe eight or nine, I would be happy to step out after Question Period, get all his questions and attempt to get some answers for him.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - LUN. CO.: ROADS - MAINTENANCE

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. People all over rural Nova Scotia, but particularly Lunenburg County, have been hurt by the cuts in his department's budget, the cuts of $6.3

[Page 3996]

million for maintenance, $3.4 million for snow and ice removal, and $18 million for new repairs.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, since his own department's officials in my riding tell the people that live there that there is an inadequate amount of money in their budget, what is he going to do to ensure that an adequate amount of money is attributed to that budget next year?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I thank him for the question. I would like to inform the honourable member that the budget for ice and snow removal this year is $33 million; it is an increase of $300,000 from last year. (Applause)

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting piece of information. The difficulty is that it will not do many of the people in my riding any good. The roads are impossible because the minister doesn't spend any money on maintaining the roads. My question to the minister. What is he going to do to assure the people of my riding that the roads remain passable this year, in spite of mud and lack of repair?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I want to assure the honourable member that there was substantial amount of work done in Lunenburg County and, if so, I will table exactly what work was done in Lunenburg County at a very early stage.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister. Will the minister demonstrate not only what money is spent in Lunenburg County, but what money was spent in my riding? The people of my riding are not in a lucky group that will (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Take your seat.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly have no problem with tabling that information, what work that was done in Lunenburg County; I will certainly table that.

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

JUSTICE - JAIL/FORENSIC HOSP. LOCATION:

ELIZABETH FRY SOC. - RECOMMENDATION

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice or Health, which in this instance, is very convenient, either can answer. I have a letter dated January 10, 1997, that was written to the Department of Justice from the Elizabeth Fry Society. That is a society that advocates on behalf of women in trouble with the law. This letter contains recommendations about the basic needs of incarcerated women, including access to public transportation so that women can get to counselling, jobs and other things for rehabilitative purposes.

[Page 3997]

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. GODIN: My question for the minister is what consideration was given to that society's recommendations in choosing the site for the new jail and forensic hospital which is being put in the middle of the woods?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the honourable member is upset because it is going in the middle of the woods. Would she like it in the middle of the city? Does she have a problem with that I wonder?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: But certainly, Mr. Speaker, there have been two public meetings, that both have been advertised and attended by our staff to answer questions. There is an advertisement going into the paper for an advisory committee of citizens that will have input to the area. I think the process has gone well and it is working.

MS. GODIN: This has all been done, Mr. Minister, after the site has been chosen and announced. I would like to ask the minister who was consulted before you chose the Jack Lake site?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do not know of any Jack Lake site but I think she is referring to that site that has been chosen near Marsh Lake. The consultation process was held before a complete finalization of the site. The site is all part of the consultation process.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, in 1992 this province released a report Blueprint for Change, a report on provincially incarcerated women, making the same recommendations that the Elizabeth Fry Society was asking for last year from you about this project.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. GODIN: My question to the minister is, if you are not consulting with department reports, if you are not listening to stakeholders, or if you are not listening to people affected in the community, what public consultation occurred before the site was chosen?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the honourable member availed herself, maybe she could inform the House, if she did attend those two public consultations that we had. That site was flexible. That could have been changed. We had mentioned a couple of other sites and due to some objections of being near a school we changed that site. We are listening. We are consulting and we are listening and we will further take advice by having the community advisory board there.

[Page 3998]

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

Before I recognize the House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party, I would just like to make a couple of comments on Question Period. Number one is the supplementary questions have to follow the main question. In other words, you cannot have a main question and then deke off onto some adjacent subject that you want to discuss. It does happen and it has been happening lately. I would like to avoid calling a member to order during Question Period.

The second thing is I have been keeping track of the time allotted to each member for questions and if anybody thinks that they are being cut off prematurely, the list is available for them and I have got them going back for sometime now. I can advise all members that the questions are invariably three minutes in length from the time you get up until you sit down. There were two questions today greater than three minutes and they happened to be four minutes. There was one question, maybe two, that were less than three minutes and they were two minutes. I think everybody is getting a fair shake at this and I would just like to tell you that if you want to have a look at the list, it is always there.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progessive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 56.

Bill No. 56 - Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand today and speak about an Act to Amend Chapter 419 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act.

There are approximately 122,000 private households in Nova Scotia where residents are 65 years or older. As we know, demographics have shown that the number of Nova Scotians over the age of 65 is increasing. It is imperative that our senior population be given every opportunity to maximize their years of independence, social involvement and personal

[Page 3999]

growth. Unfortunately, this Liberal Government seems to be doing everything possible to put roadblocks up for seniors who are trying to maintain their independence and expand their activities.

In 1995, this Liberal Government unfairly struck at our seniors who are trying to live and maintain their own residences. In 1995, this Liberal Government amended the Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act by making the property tax rebate under the Act unavailable to anyone who was not receiving it then. So if you were not 65 as of April 1, 1995, you would never qualify to receive the property tax rebate. Even if you turned 65 later in the month, if you did not receive the property tax rebate on April 1st, you would never receive it. This bad decision was made even worse by also providing that only those who received a property tax rebate in 1995 would be eligible to receive the rebate in 1996 and beyond that time. For example, if a senior for whatever reason did not qualify for the property tax rebate in 1995, they would never again receive it. Even if they received it in 1994 and previous years before that and in 1996 were again qualified, they would still not receive it because they did not qualify for it in 1995.

I know of one particular case where a senior was receiving a property tax rebate and in 1995 they had a slight increase in income. Therefore, in 1995 the senior did not qualify for the property tax rebate. In 1996, that senior once again qualified to receive the property tax rebate but because he did not get it the year before in 1995, again he was disqualified and could not receive the rebate. I know of a case in my area where a gentleman's house burned and he stated he had applied for the rebate but the paperwork was lost in the fire. Because he did not receive it previous to that he did not qualify, so he did not qualify to receive the rebate.

This Act basically makes it so that two seniors who are living side by side, in a house just driveways apart, one can receive the property tax rebate and one doesn't. My question to the House and to the members of this House today is, is this fair? What this is about is fairness to senior citizens of this province. They are demanding that the members of this House treat all seniors in this province fairly and that is not much for them to ask for. We are as concerned about costs as everyone else in this province is.

In 1997-98, this program cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia $4.1 million. In 1998-99, this amount dropped to $3.5 million, a reduction of $0.6 million to the taxpayers of this province. Who is paying for this but the seniors of this province.

I can speak of another case of a 76 year old widow, Florence Dean, who lives in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Her house is up for tax sale because she owes arrears of $578 over the last three years. She is unable to pay $578 and as a result of an act of this government, this lady is going to lose her home. What kind of a message is this government sending to the seniors of this province when they would cause a 76 year old widow, who

[Page 4000]

wants to stay in her own home, to lose it through a tax sale because of a decision made by this government.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, a lot of seniors in this province have their affairs looked after by family members or by people outside of their homes because they are not able themselves to do it. People who are not aware of this tax rebate that was available to them and were not aware of it on that date because they missed it and, because of the action of this government, don't qualify. So who is standing up and looking out for these people? Certainly not this government. The seniors in this province are beginning to realize that this Liberal Government has quickly forgotten about the seniors of this province.

Mr. Speaker, again, the financial situation for one year could change for a senior and it would jeopardize the fact that they would not qualify for this program. For example, losing their spouse puts them in a situation where now they, under the conditions of today, would qualify, but because they didn't qualify in 1995, they are discounted. They don't qualify for this program. Again, is this fairness?

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that by forcing people out of their homes into public housing is putting an added cost on the burden of taxpayers in this province. That is the message this Liberal Government is sending out to the people of this province - that they don't care about these seniors. They are willing to let them lose their homes and move from their homes, to suffer an unfair disadvantage because they were not 65 years old before April 1, 1995.

Mr. Speaker, this Liberal Government, when they brought in the HST, and they increased taxes on oil and power and clothing and, yes, when this government brought in the senior fishing license fee in 1995, they didn't put it on 10 per cent or 20 per cent or 30 per cent of the seniors in this province, they put it on every senior in this province, every one. When they had a chance to make a dollar off the backs of the seniors, they certainly took them all into account, but when they have the opportunity to help these seniors save a few dollars to stay in their own homes, they are not there for them. Again, I say, seniors in this province are well aware of what this government is doing to them.

Mr. Speaker, since this amendment was brought in in 1995 there are seniors who are passing on, who are selling their homes or they are leaving the province, or they are opting to sell their homes and move into senior citizen buildings. I would suggest that those figures and facts versus the numbers of new seniors who would qualify for this program if this bill was implemented that we are suggesting here today it would pretty well neutralize the cost to the taxpayers of this province.

[Page 4001]

Mr. Speaker, there is an opportunity here for all members of this House, and that is all members from all Parties, from all sides, to stand up for the people who paved the way for us over the years and made the good province that we have today. Here is an opportunity for everyone to stand up for those people and show them that we really care about them and pass this bill. I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this bill and I look forward to going to the Law Amendments Committee. I would ask that it be passed through second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I find myself in the strange situation here right now of almost agreeing with what the honourable member opposite is saying, but the operative word is almost. He does make some good points that I am sure any of us in government or Opposition agree with. I guess all of us have moms somewhere and I happen to speak from the position of having a very frail elderly 86 year old mother, who is impacted by the very things that the honourable member opposite just spoke about.

I was glad to hear, too, though, in this debate on this bill that he also tossed in some other examples, if I may use that word, and I think that what we risk in a one-sided debate is that we don't hear all the programs that are in place that are helping seniors in Nova Scotia. Obviously, there are many issues that impact on the bottom line of a senior's budget, not the least of which is what they have to pay in their taxes at the municipal level to stay in their own homes.

I want to say, from the outset, that this is an issue that when I became minister a little over one year ago, that I have to say that I am concerned about it and I am planning to work with our people who advise us on seniors' issues and senior citizens themselves to try to get a good resolution on this. I think it is important to note that there are in place in Nova Scotia an increasing number of senior citizens who are affected by taxation policies, obviously. We had in Canada in 1995 approximately 3.6 million seniors, who represented 12 per cent of the population base. We are looking at by the year 2041, an estimated 23 per cent of Canada's population will be over the age of 65. In July 1996, here in Nova Scotia the number of people over the age of 65 was estimated at 120,480 people. That is a sizeable part of our population base in this province.

The trend across the country and here as well has been that seniors want to stay in their homes and that is very understandable. In 1996 about 26 per cent of all people over the age of 65 lived in a private household. Canada's seniors are now living longer than they ever did before. There used to be an average life expectancy of 65 years of age in 1991. Now the life expectancy is increasing. It differs between men and women as we all know, but it is changing at quite a dramatic rate. Seniors are living in better health than they used to, with increased vitality and increased quality of life. In 1994 almost three of every four seniors living at home rated their health at that time as either good, very good or excellent. That is also a trend that we are taking note of.

[Page 4002]

The downside of all this, though, is that Canadian seniors have lower incomes than people in most other age groups. That, obviously, impacts on their access to health care plans. It impacts on their access to adequate nutrition. It impacts on their access to adequate housing and if they are renting apartments, and all those other related issues.

An estimated 23 per cent of Canadian seniors contribute their time as unpaid volunteers, so they have an enormous impact on the economies of the country in various capacities. We recognize there is an economic value to that unpaid and volunteer work done by our senior population. There is a lot of good news in all these trends, but they also pose considerable challenges for governments. In that, we are not unique in Nova Scotia alone. Every province across Canada is grappling with the issue of how to ensure a means of livelihood and income security for older people. The same economic issues that affect all of us are affecting seniors just as much. The situation of older women is of particular concern because they tend to live longer than men do and with many fewer resources and less pension income to do so. They are very complex issues. They cannot be solved with simplistic solutions and the stroke of a pen.

Nova Scotia is unique in Canada in that it has a Senior Citizens Secretariat and that is coordinated by a committee of members of government, representing ministries that are quite relevant to senior citizens and those are: Health, Housing and Municipal Affairs, Sport and Recreation, Education and Culture, and my department of Community Services. We work as a group collectively with seniors in Nova Scotia and their organizations on programs, services and activities which they identify are important to them. As chair of the secretariat, I play a linkage role to the other departments of government and their issues are brought forward in that manner.

Government programs and services work to recognize the different needs of seniors and, as well, the contributions that seniors make to our society. We are fortunate in this province to be a leader with that Senior Citizens Secretariat because we are able to focus on the concerns around health and the well-being of seniors as they bring them forward through the secretariat. We have established a working group of staff from these ministries and there is an effective working relationship there that is ongoing. At the same time, we need to improve the efficiency of the services that we provide and that includes around issues of communication. We are taking a look at that, along with our seniors' organizations.

The bill today talks about measures that have been put in place to assist seniors. It did not talk too much about the history of it, and people particularly are not interested in the history of it. The program goes back to 1980 and the tax rebate was available to all seniors at that time who were in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement or the Old Age Security. They had to live in their own home at the time of application and they had to pay property taxes in full.

[Page 4003]

There were criteria in place. They were in place prior to the province's deficit ballooning out of all recognition and to the level of debt that the province received over the past 15 years. When it fell to this government to look at reducing debt and deficit, we had to look at a way to deal with all the programs we had in place and how to contain the costs at the time.

In 1993, the program was capped at the maximum rebate of $400, regardless of the amount of taxes paid in the previous year. In 1995, under the Financial Measures Act, the amendment was passed at that time that said that only seniors who received a property tax rebate payment in 1995 would be eligible to apply for the program in the future, and no new applications have been accepted since 1995.

We have somewhere in the range of 14,400 seniors who are now eligible. The average payment so far this year is $261, and approximately 30 per cent of the clients are receiving the maximum payment of $400. The expenditure this year is somewhere in the range of $3.5 million. Mr. Speaker, we would be like to be able to expand this program. The reality is, in this fiscal year, if we repeal Section 18 of the Act, the government will face a significant financial impact. In the current financial climate we cannot answer the demand to change this program at this time. We cannot meet this additional pressure, given the constraints we are operating in financially.

However, I am very committed to this question and getting an appropriate response. I am certainly prepared to look at supporting our seniors who are most in need. With all programs, I want to be able to review the seniors' property tax rebate, and review it for our next budget session. I want to be able to expand it to more people, and, Mr. Speaker, I am able to give that commitment that I am prepared to do that.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, there is not a single person in this House who does not have a very strong sense of concern for the seniors of this province, and I happen to share that concern. I hear these issues on a regular basis from my own mother. I meet regularly with seniors in this province. I have a number of senior citizens living in my riding. I consult with seniors' groups through the secretariat, and this individual's. I hear their concerns and I don't think there is one of us who isn't moved by the plight of a senior in financial difficulties. We could not help but be moved by that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to say at this time that while I cannot support the bill of the members opposite in this sitting of this House, I am giving a very strong commitment to deal with this issue to review it in light of the budget context as we go forward to next year. (Applause)

I think you are signalling to me that my time is up? Thank you very much.

[Page 4004]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak on Bill No. 56, an Act to Amend Chapter 419 of the Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act. I will be speaking in support of this bill. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I was delighted when we first started out, to think that, in fact, the Minister of Community Services was going to have a change of heart. In fact, she gave us that message earlier that she fully understands the needs and the concerns of seniors, and that she was shifting in the direction of me, even possibly supporting this bill. I think she recognizes that the economic impacts and the financial constraints upon this provincial government are equally hard on the seniors who had to face those very financial constraints as well.

Mr. Speaker, when I speak on this bill, I speak on this bill that it will remove the restrictions to rental subsidies and property rebates for seniors that would normally qualify under the Act and they would meet the requirements that were set forth in this Act should they meet.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to speak with many senior citizens during the provincial election campaign, and many who have come into the constituency office later on. They are encountering significant difficulty with respect to their shelter costs. They tell me that they cannot afford decent rental accommodations. They cannot afford to continue to pay the property taxes on their homes. They cannot afford this because of the significant increases, because of the downloading onto the municipalities, the downloading that has increased property taxes, water rates, the increases of the local betterment charges that come along with that as well.

All these are borne by seniors and seniors whom, in fact, we have to recognize are on a fixed income. Not only do the seniors have to absorb the costs now that have been passed down, there is also the nutritional costs that they need. There is also the cost of their only source of entertainment and recreations which is, in fact, a television; they cannot even afford cable television in order to provide some sort of entertainment because they have to stay at home because of their allocated budgets.

When we look at seniors, Mr. Speaker, and pre-1967 - remember that was when CPP came in, Canada Pension - many of these seniors who are living today and owning their own homes did not qualify for CPP. If they did, they qualified for very little or none at all and as a matter of fact what happened is that these people, their incomes were only based and geared to, in fact, the Old Age Pension and maybe a small superannuation payment as well from their place of employment. Many of these seniors whom, in fact, are widowed, female, their

[Page 4005]

spouses have become deceased, have virtually nothing other than that level of money in which to deal with.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that municipalities have recognized that and not all municipalities can afford it. So there is inconsistency across the province with respect to assisting seniors and that is the reason why this bill is of such significant importance because it gives the opportunity for these individuals who have been cut off prior to April 1995 to at least get a rebate on the financial cost of their expenditures on property taxes.

I want to refer, Mr. Speaker, to the Halifax Regional Municipality that has one in place and it is the residential property tax exemption and deferral program. I have had senior citizens who have come in because they did not and could not qualify under the seniors' program, under the Department of Community Services, get at least a portion of their money paid for in taxes as a tax exemption. I just want to use an example. The Halifax Regional Municipality, they set a table schedule out and persons with $14,000 and under, who have a $1,500 or less property tax, they have received $300; the level goes down to between $14,000 and $19,999, it is $250 to $325; between $20,000 and $25,999, which is $26,000, they have the opportunity of $225. This if, in fact, we are in the austerity of government and government restraint, we can at least introduce a program similar to this whereby there is a gradual scale of reduction in the amount that we are able to assist seniors with.

I just want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Community Services chopped its seniors' property tax rebate program in 1995. That program offered seniors in receipt of a guaranteed income supplement, who owned a home and who lived in that home, a rebate of 50 per cent of their property tax. Those seniors in the program were allowed to remain and would continue to receive the rebate until they died or failed to meet one of the program criteria.

In 1997, Mr. Speaker, there were 17,000 applications to this program and I wanted to tell you as well with respect to statistical information, and I want this Legislature to be aware, that Nova Scotia in 1991 was the fifth highest in over age 65 population. It represented 12.6 per cent of the population. In 1997 that increased to 13.7 per cent, the third highest in the country. As a matter of fact, Nova Scotia's age population is growing faster than any other population, except for Newfoundland. Now there is a prime example of how important this kind of a program is. There is a prime example why, regardless of what political stripe you are, you should be supporting such legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that this government, by its own action that it has committed to today, is, in fact, and will deny and will have cut-off all seniors from applying for this program and now are waiting for the seniors to die off so they can eliminate the total program. That is the answer here.

[Page 4006]

Mr. Speaker, in my summation, I should certainly hope that this minister demonstrates the compassion that she started in her reply to this bill and her comments to this bill and that this minister understands the compassion and the number of seniors who live in Nova Scotia and the continuous growth in the aging population that exists here at the present time and will be in the future.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, on this particular bill, I want to say that I stand here in support of this bill once again and, for the final time, I will support it and if we are fortunate enough to have this bill come back, it will receive my full endorsement and, hopefully, that of every member of this Legislative Assembly. Because if we owe anything, we owe it to the seniors of this province whom, in fact, as one member has already stated, and I will use his quote, "paved the way for us to be here today.". That is the single, most important thing that we ought to recognize. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on this bill and it is a bill that I very much support, a bill, really, to give benefits or relief to the senior citizens of this province. I mentioned in this House before that I was amazed when I campaigned and seniors were indicating to me that they were no longer eligible to file for this property tax rebate. I will be honest, I thought that they were misinformed. We were all busy in the election and we were running from house to house and trying to meet people and hear their concerns. So I listened to what they had to say and I said that, once the election was over, I would sit down with them and go over their case.

Mr. Speaker, I will be very candid. I believe that they were misinformed until I started getting three of four people coming to me with the same story. Then I started to wonder whether or not there was any truth to the matter that the program had changed. I was out of politics from 1993-98, so I don't profess to know all the changes that came about and, for some reason, I was not aware of the modifications that had been made to the seniors program. So when we called this bill today, we realized that the government has the opportunity, if they so desire, to talk this bill out to its completion, whereby it doesn't come on a vote.

I am on my feet today, Mr. Speaker, to talk a bit about this bill, but to indicate to all members of this House, no matter what Party they are, whether they are Liberals, whether they are NDPs, or whether they are Progressive Conservatives, that what we are talking about here is a question of fairness and whether we, as Nova Scotians, and we, as legislators, want to give the dignity and respect to the seniors of this province that doesn't exist in the program as it currently is. I think all members of the House, and I can speak with full conviction, that the members of the government side are not comfortable with this bill. If they are, I will be very surprised. When you have a senior citizen coming to you and saying, I don't get property tax relief, but my neighbour does, and they may very well be making considerably less money than their neighbour, you have to ask yourself the question. How can that be?

[Page 4007]

I appreciate that you are in a deficit-cutting mode and that you are trying to grasp control of this issue and you are saying that we are going to stop spending money. But how can you explain this? There is no way that I can go home and talk to my kids or to anybody, if you want to get down to it, and explain to them what the justification was for saying that if you were on the program before 1995, you get it, and, if you weren't until after, you don't. I listened to the minister speaking. I appreciate the situation that you are in. You are in a situation where you have been told that you have to hold the line but whoever came up with this policy that discriminates is beyond me. I think a lot of times you make a decision and you don't stop and think why you made it. It is a lot like the farm tax rebate, when they looked at it and addressed it, they said that it was wrong. To this government's credit, they changed it and I congratulate you for changing it. I am standing here today and saying that this Liberal Government made a right decision when they changed the farm tax credit. Now you can go to the Yarmouth Vanguard, le Petit Courrier or whatever publication you want and I will say that I said it in this House and I meant it.

Now this is another one that you really should look at and this goes beyond politics. It is a matter of fairness and I honestly believe that if a senior citizen could get funding to bring this to the Supreme Court of Canada, he would win because this is discriminatory. There is no way that you could pay someone on a program and not pay the other one. I am sure if the minister stopped and thought about it, of all the people who have won cases going to the Supreme Court of Canada because it was unfair, if this one here doesn't qualify, then nothing does.

So we look at the situation and say, what do we do as a House of Assembly to try to correct a wrong? This bill will not change the budget in this session. What we are looking at is to repeal this provision and my understanding of it is that it would apply to the following year. If it doesn't, if there are some questions about it, I stand up in the House today and say, we will put through amendments, our Party is prepared to put amendments forward to the Law Amendments Committee to ensure this bill will not affect this year's budget. I am saying that on behalf of our Party and I am sure that all members of this House that support this would go along with that.

I appreciate the minister is in a difficult position and she may feel that she cannot back down. I really believe that if she can work with our caucus and say that we will let this go through to the Law Amendments Committee and that we will support it at this point in time, that our Party will give her full marks and all members of her caucus in saying, you made the right decision and we will congratulate you for doing so. We talk about minority governments working and whether or not they don't. This is a test that I believe that if we can look at this objectively, that we can make a difference here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 4008]

I am making sure I am not going past my time, Mr. Speaker. I am going to sit down now, there is still a minute and I would ask all members to put this to a vote. I believe if we do so that it will be in the best interest of Nova Scotia and we will say that this House worked in a proper and non-partisan way.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, some speak of fairness and of trying to correct a wrong and of showing us that we have a heart. I don't think the way to do that is to burlesque the problems faced by the senior citizens of this province. Any member of this House who could bring in a financial measure of this type without the necessary funds to support it is certainly, in my view, making a mockery of the process and of the plight of our senior citizens.

I challenge honourable members opposite to identify where the funds would come from to provide for the measures encompassed in this bill? If they can identify where that money would come from then I would take my place. Are they to pass a collection plate perhaps? Perhaps the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia would share its large bounty with . . .

AN HON. MEMBERS: The unions will give it to you.

MR. MACEWAN: The unions. I am told that maybe instead of funding the NDP would fund this program and enable the senior citizens of Nova Scotia to receive justice. Could they inform us?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time is up.

MR. MACEWAN: I just began.

MR. SPEAKER: I know.

The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, someone said his time is up. I think the answer is very much obvious and I don't compliment the member for getting up and not bringing it to a vote. I will move onto our next order of business which is Bill No. 48, Highway Construction and Maintenance Act.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 48.

[Page 4009]

Bill No. 48 - Highway Construction and Maintenance Act.

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

[5:15 p.m.]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out at the outset that again, this legislation, subject to passing, would not commence until the 1999-2000 fiscal year. A first-class transportation system is key to our economic growth. All modes of transportation are inextricably linked. If one is weak, the chain of efficiency is broken. This Liberal Government's road policies have weakened our transportation system and, unfortunately, it is all Nova Scotians who must pay the price. It is my caucus' belief that the neglect of our secondary road system has placed hundreds of thousands of rural Nova Scotians in the position of second-class citizens. Nova Scotia must have a properly funded plan for rebuilding the provincial highway system so it can once again be an instrument for economic opportunity and jobs for Nova Scotians. The current amount budgeted by the Department of Transportation and Public Works is $236.5 million which was slashed nearly $30 million since the 1997-98 fiscal year.

The bill that the Progressive Conservatives brought forward, Bill No. 48, the Highway Construction and Maintenance Act, provides a firm basis of funding. It would ensure that the Department of Transportation would spend an amount at least equal to the gross amount of revenues received from two sources, the Registry of Motor Vehicles receipts - this year they are estimated to be around $51.1 million - and Part I of the Revenue Act. That is the Motive Fuel Act. Again, the department's own figures suggest that they will bring in approximately $21 million more through those ordinary revenue sources, than they will spend on the highways in this province. We find it unprincipled and unethical for the department to charge road tax and then not spend it on our transportation system, Mr. Speaker.

The bill would ensure that the Minister of Transportation and his department had a financial foundation to provide essential services, if you will; snow and ice control. Now, my colleague, the member for Lunenburg, raised a very good concern in Question Period. His point was that this year the Department of Transportation slashed the snow and ice control budget. The fact of the matter is, it is slashed - perhaps not from last year. Yes, it may be $300,000 more than last year, but last winter and the winter previous were exceptionally mild. What the minister neglected to do was go back and look at the history relative to the budget for snow and ice control and then he would find out and easily discern that, in fact, it has been slashed. It has been cut.

It does not matter where you go in Nova Scotia, especially in Tory ridings, you will find out that for the last six construction seasons - Mr. Speaker, you know first-hand from representing Hants West, how your riding, for one example, has been seriously neglected. The

[Page 4010]

Minister of Transportation and that Liberal Government have permitted this eroding of our highways to continue.

The Halifax regional portion of my constituency, the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, has not, under the Liberal Regime, be it Savage, be it MacLellan, has not received one single tender for a secondary road - six construction seasons. That is to mention my riding. I know that Hants West has been neglected and we pointed out during the bill briefing relative to this bill, that the ridings represented by the government, this minority government which is talking the talk and not walking the walk, they tell us that they are cooperating with the Opposition and they are doing things fairly.

Upon close examination, when you scrutinize the budget, when you start looking at the tenders - now again I am speaking specifically to secondary highways - you will find that over 70 per cent of the budget expenditures have gone to Liberal-held ridings. Now, Mr. Speaker, is that any way to treat a minority situation and the constituents of Nova Scotia? No, absolutely not.

Even though we are helping the Minister of Transportation and Public Works by providing him with more money to do his job, Mr. Speaker, we expect him to carry out his duties a little more fairly than he has in the past. I know it is extremely difficult because the Department of Transportation and Public Works went on a spending spree, if you will, from April to August. In five months, they spent nearly $8 million purchasing new equipment. But what good is new equipment sitting in a garage if you don't have the necessary manpower or financial resources to have those machines and manpower out working, Mr. Speaker? What we are doing and what we are saying is simply this. We understand the situation during the present fiscal year.

The member for Cape Breton Nova mentioned, regarding the previous legislation, where are you going to come up with the money? Well, I will throw out a couple of suggestions, Mr. Speaker. One area would be for that government to get out of funding golf courses. That is one area. (Interruptions) Oh, I had lots of suggestions as to how the government could save money but to get to the point, the crux of the problem is that the Minister of Transportation and Public Work's budget has been slashed. He doesn't have the necessary financial foundation to carry out the work that needs to be carried out in all the constituencies in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I appeal to the Liberals, I appeal to the NDP, to support this legislation. We, like the NDP, support no more toll roads in Nova Scotia. The government tells us they don't want any more toll roads so what we are saying is, you have got no agreement with Ottawa, let's at least spend Nova Scotia road tax on Nova Scotia roads.

[Page 4011]

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about Bill No. 48, the proposed Highway Construction and Maintenance Act. I would like to begin by describing precisely what the Department of Transportation and Public Works does.

Mr. Speaker, Transportation and Public Works is about more than roads. As my honourable colleague should be aware, my department also serves the buildings, property and accommodation needs of government. My department employs engineers and designers for roads and buildings. Transportation and Public Works is also responsible for several environmental remediation projects. This Tory bill completely ignores the other essential work performed by this department.

As Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I would love to have $0.25 billion a year to spend on transportation infrastructure so I support the bill in theory. Practically, however, this bill fails to recognize my department's other responsibilities. It fails to recognize the needs of other government departments and agencies. It fails to recognize the fiscal reality in Nova Scotia.

The budget for my department this year is $236.5 million - that is just about what the province collects each year in fuel tax and license revenue - and $45.3 million is spent by my department each year on non-road items. These include accommodations, industrial properties, public works, capital expenditures, buildings and environmental projects. The remaining $191.2 million goes toward the provincial transportation network, including new construction, new paving, repaving, patching, micro sealing, ice control, plowing, ditching, gravelling and cleaning culverts. I could go on but I think you get the message.

Bill No. 48 would direct about $261.2 million each year solely to the construction and maintenance of highways. What this Tory bill actually proposes is an annual increase of nearly $70 million in spending. This bill states that the gross revenues from the fuel tax and for motor vehicle licenses and permits will be allocated to the construction and maintenance of highways and other transportation links.

Could we use more money? Yes, Mr. Speaker, definitely, we could use more money, but there is nothing in this bill to indicate where or how the Government of Nova Scotia would finance the Public Works side of the department or the Department of Agriculture, or the Department of Education, or the Department of Health.

Mr. Speaker, this bill does not recognize that other departments are also supported by the same revenue sources. Where do the Tories propose that the government make up the shortfall which will occur if this bill is enacted? Clearly, they have not thought this through. This Party and the other Opposition Party have been extremely critical of the government for cutting my department's budget. Let me remind them - and essentially the Tories - that if we

[Page 4012]

had not inherited a $617 million deficit in 1993 and billions of dollars in debt, Nova Scotia would have plenty of money to invest in everything from highways to health care.

The Opposition wants Nova Scotians to believe that our situation happened overnight. The reality is that Tory free-spending put the province in the red; the Tories must accept the blame. Mr. Speaker, each year we spend $1 billion to service the debt that the Tories created. That is a legacy that stretches far into our future; it will burden generations of Nova Scotians who are yet to become taxpayers. Imagine what we could do with an extra $1 billion per year; I could certainly pave a lot of roads.

This government recognizes the importance of our transportation network. We understand that solid infrastructure means a solid future. We have delivered new infrastructure, perhaps not as much or as quickly as some would like, but we have done it and we done it within our means. We need to invest more in our infrastructure, but this government will not sacrifice future generations to do that. It is unthinkable.

In summary, I cannot support Bill No. 48 for the following reasons: it does not recognize the Public Works function of my department; it would siphon government revenues away from other departments; and it would increase government spending by $70 million a year. I believe that this bill has good intentions, but I remind all members precisely which road is paved with good intentions alone. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to support, in theory, with the hope of moving on to second reading and the Law Amendments Committee this proposed bill, in terms of the fact of making some common-sense solutions to funding when it comes to improvements and making sure that we do have the proper budgetary allocations for roads in our province.

I think it is of true importance to realize that the road system, as we all agree no matter where our riding is, has been neglected. It has been neglected for various reasons, and there is no point in this House of pointing fingers. I listened to the minister and his comments that he just made, Mr. Speaker, and I am aware of past errors, however, is it now time to move on, to learn from the experience of where we are, and accept the possibility that this idea does have some merit. The motoring public, no matter who they are - whether they are tourists, whether they are business people - they are concerned about the fact that if they pay a certain portion of their tax dollar, it is allocated for various reasons to transportation. Why can't they get full value in return for that dollar that they have paid in whatever form of taxation?

I have heard the numbers exchanged back and forth and I have some to add to the grist mill. However, it seems to me that it would be of more importance if the minister stands in his place and accepts the theory of this particular bill. Does that not alone allow it, with some

[Page 4013]

merit, to move on so that we can make some common-sense solutions for the public, so they can look at the realization that this is the amount of money that we have in this particular department and this is where it comes from?

The great concern with taxpayers is that their taxes get lost in this pot of money, and it doesn't sit at the end of the rainbow, but if we can explain to the paying public and, in this case, the motoring public as proposed by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, if we can explain to the motoring public you have paid this amount for permits, for licenses, you have paid this amount in terms of the gas tax, should we not, therefore, be able to count on the Minister of Transportation to make the case, I need more of the money that is generated from the main users, I need that money in my department so that we can meet the basic needs of the public as they pay this tax.

[5:30 p.m.]

I have heard comments about the winter ahead. I do not think it is our role in this House to act like weathermen or weather people, weather persons. My concern, Mr. Speaker, however, is that now we are talking about a budget that depends upon the weather. It is so tight that we have to be concerned about how much snow, or how much freezing rain, with the hope that we might be able to save $1.00 here and save $1.00 there, which says to me that budget decisions cannot be based on the weather channel. They should be based on sound financial decisions and to the compliment of my Tory colleagues beside me, it is a start. It is a beginning. So I think that we should allow this particular suggestion to move on so that perhaps we can gather further solutions and further suggestions for funding to help the Minister of Transportation of Public Works.

We all can tell our stories about neglected roads, secondary roads that need attention. I can go back to my favourite hill and it is winter season soon time enough. I am sure the students coming out of Terence Bay will be skiing Porcupine Hill because their parents, sure as God makes little green apples, are not going to be in any kind of possible way of being able to drive it. However, for the minister to stand in his place and say that he supports in theory but cannot follow up with the basics, I question his honesty - not his honesty, I am sorry for that, I would never question your honesty - I question the fact that your opinion is based upon good, solid, open facts.

I am aware of the fact that you said in your comments, siphoning off of dollars that were raised through these particular licenses, through these particular taxes that are paid by the motoring public. The road to that place is paved with good intentions. I have heard you say it. I think that we should take this bill as a worthy suggestion and take it out that door, through those few feet of carpet, and take it next door so that we can have a look at it in the Law Amendments Committee. I know that there is a member opposite prepared to stand and speak but I want the member to know that I congratulate you for bringing it forward. It has merit.

[Page 4014]

It does not have all the answers, Mr. Speaker, but it is a start because the motoring public can then grasp this is the amount of money that I pay into the system and in return can I not be guaranteed proper roads, proper safe transportation, based upon the fact that I, too, want a safe way to and from my place of work or my home. So I congratulate the member and I look forward to working with the minister and moving this on to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak on this bill, Bill No. 48. I, as my colleague, the Minister of Transportation, said we are always in favour of spending more money on roads. I live in a rural area, so do many of the members here, and roads are one of the key things we have to economic development and tourism in our areas. To spend more money on roads would be a very good thing. However, with the reality of what is going on in the province today and the debt that we inherited from the past government, that is not quite possible to the level we would like to see it.

The other thing with the roads is we have had many years of roads being built, sort of not up to proper standards. I have one road in my area, a 100-Series Highway, one section was opened in 1978. It has had zero repairs on it and the other section was opened in 1988 and it needs literally millions of dollars worth of repairs because it was not built properly in 1988 when it was done. Probably at the time that it was done that there was not a tight enough quality of assurance on it. The standards might have slipped a bit but we cannot tolerate that anymore.

One thing I will note, the work that is being done on the roads now is being done properly. There is a lot of work to make sure that the pavement is put on properly and it is there to last for 30 years or 35 years or longer, which it has to be, with the restricted budgets that we have.

We have heard the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley indicate that no roads are paved. Well, just during the election campaign and just after the election campaign, there was a large section of road paved in his riding by this government. Just recently, in the Preston riding, there was another section of road paved that desperately needed to be done. I would have liked to have had that work done in my riding, but I am very pleased that it was done for the people of Nova Scotia that travel on the roads every day. That is the commitment this government has had and will continue to have, to do the roads on a priority basis.

Ways to get funding, I mean, we have to get innovative in ways we get funding. We have to get lower costs in doing that work, but, at the same time, demand high quality for the work. I think that that is the key. In the past, there has been a lot of money spent that could have been spent, probably, more wisely over the large number of years and we are really

[Page 4015]

reaping the lack of benefits from that at the present time and it is unfortunate because we have seen, in the past, just before elections, there has been a lot of money spent on roads and with little results.

I know, in my own riding, several million dollars were spent in a two year period and I can defy anyone to come and show me where the money was spent, because it sure wasn't the asphalt. It wasn't fixing side roads or anything else, but the money is gone. So I would like to know where it did go. It is an interesting question and a lot of my constituents have asked that question and it is tens of millions of dollars. Since our government has taken office, we have, in my riding, made some major repairs to roads, but it has only been a small portion of the money that has been spent provincially. The priority in the initial part had been on the 100-Series Highways, which I feel we have to have. We have to have them as critical infrastructure links and for businesses and tourism and the citizens alike to make sure that they have access to these roads and other markets.

It is important, but the base of this Bill No. 48, I just simply cannot support it. It doesn't really look at the overall picture of the government issue. It says a gross amount of revenue received should be put forward. In other words, how are we going to collect this money? We won't even have money to collect it with and we will not be able to operate the overhead. So it is really a deceptive bill. It doesn't really address the issue of more funding, proper funding, and long-term funding for the roads. If you look at the numbers of the gasoline tax and stuff that is going and the amount of money that is spent in transportation, it is pretty well equal. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired for that bill.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1890.

Res. No. 1890, re Health - Y2K Problem: Solutions - Provide - notice given Nov. 17/98 - (Mr. G. Balser)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. GORDON BALSER: I am speaking on Resolution No. 1890. It is very important that the people of this province and the members of this House, in particular, have an opportunity to speak about Y2K and the province's level of readiness in terms of what will happen on January 1, 2000. (Interruption) Exactly, that is the point. Whenever that issue is raised, people have catcalls of fear-mongering and futuristic ranting that this is nothing more than an imagined problem and that is not the truth. That is unacceptable.

[Page 4016]

The government of this province, in fact the entire world, is rapidly approaching the wall. On January 1, 2000, the full implications of this problem will come home to roost. Experts in computer technology have said that we are not ready. We cannot even hope to be ready by the year 2000 to address this problem. Leo MacDonald, of CIC Year 2000 Consulting said, Our provincial government has no idea of the impact of the Year 2000 problem. Minister Harrison's comment, our target is to have our critical systems test-run by late September proves this very fact. Any plan that leaves testing that late invites disaster. That is a fact.

Experts have said the cost of ensuring Y2K compliance is astronomical. Some estimates have placed health care costs alone at being in excess of $65 million. The Province of Alberta has contributed $170 million to this problem while the Province of Ontario has basically issued a blank cheque. The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism should be well aware of those problems. Given Nova Scotia's present financial situation it is not realistic to make blanket statements about how much money is available and that the problem will be addressed. Where is the money going to come from? Is it going to be taken from one department or another?

Some Year 2000 watchers have stated that the Atlantic area, unlike other areas of Canada, actually are a little bit better off because we are so technologically backward, the problem will not be as great for us. That is an unfortunate statement because what it implies is that when we say we are developing an industry based on technology for Nova Scotia, for the Atlantic Provinces, on one hand that is a good thing and on the other we are saying because of the implications of the Year 2000, it might not be as serious for us.

The other issue is that as we approach the year 2000, the costs of resolving the problems are going to escalate dramatically. Programmers who currently work for the government, who are becoming versed in solving the problem, will be lured away to the private sector once they become knowledgeable about how to program to adjust the problem. The government is going to find itself having to find money to pay increased salaries simply because the private sector will have the economic wherewithal to hire experts away from the government, experts that taxpayers are training as a result of their present occupation. Private sector companies are well aware of this problem and are addressing it.

Another area of concern that receives absolutely no mention is the area of embedded technology. Embedded technology speaks specifically about microchip processors; they are a fact of life. They are in digital watches, microwave ovens, in satellite dish television, they are in everything. The fact is no one knows for sure what will happen in the year 2000.

Offshore drilling rigs have in excess of 10,000 microchip processors embedded in them, many of them below the water line. No one knows on January 1, 2000 how many of those will fail; in fact, what will happen if some fail and some don't. One leading expert in technology has indicated it is much like watching a room full of dominoes being knocked over. What

[Page 4017]

happens halfway through if one of them doesn't fall? What happens if some fall and some don't? There is no way to clearly know what will happen.

The reality is, when the question is raised, all that happens is we get quasi-answers or delaying tactics. It is a real problem, there is no question. Business recognizes that it is a problem, the Ontario Government; the federal government has said the problem lies with the provinces, they are the weak link. Unless the minister addresses this problem, we are going to be caught behind the curve. (Interruption) It is a real problem, it is not fear-mongering and it must be addressed. The longer we delay, the more it is going to cost.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all I appreciate the member opposite raising this issue today. I don't think his comments, when he starts to hypothesize about potential disasters, do anything to reassure people that he or his Party have a clear understanding of this problem. However, I also understand in this climate of uncertainty, that the member opposite would resort to that sort of tactic because you can hypothesize about anything and talk about any possible scenario and not have to be responsible for the answers.

The member opposite is now suggesting that we answer the question and the question he is asking is, do we have planning going on? What he is saying is that unless we have planning going on, and he refers to some vague federal document here. I can only suggest that he is probably reading some of the rhetoric of the Finance Critic from Ottawa who happens to represent the Valley at the moment, who is also out there casting all sorts of hypotheses about what could happen.

The one point he did make is that the problem is real. There is no question that governments and private individuals and private businesses face quite a challenge in terms of making sure that the essential services, and government in particular, are well in advance tested, found compliant, ensure that embedded systems are discovered and corrected, whether it is in Health or the public buildings of the Province of Nova Scotia. This is not just a responsibility of one particular secretariat supporting the efforts of government, it is a responsibility of all Nova Scotia citizens.

As the member opposite indicated, if certain things in some ways over which we have very little control, i.e., some sort of domino effect from somewhere else, do we have a contingency plan in place? Is there a back-up plan that will ensure that there is adequate redundancy, such that essential services are protected? As an example of steps taken back in 1993, the BTAC department of senior officials in the Government of Nova Scotia issued compliance edicts at that time to ensure that four digits rather than two digits were used in terms of government practice from that point on.

[Page 4018]

[5:45 p.m.]

There is, as we know, a whole mainframe conversion has just gone on. Needless to say, when you are doing major conversions that deal with issues like cheques, in terms of Community Services, payroll, issues of drivers' licenses and other things which perhaps are not quite as high a priority in terms of being fully compliant, nevertheless that mainframe is all Y2K compliant and every application is tested. In the Technology and Science Secretariat, we have a simulator that can test any software. Government departments are coming through and it simulates the time-frame such that you would know whether that software that was running was Y2K compliant.

You have heard the Minister of Health talk about regional health boards and non-designated hospitals which are working through the process of identifying priority projects, funding them and getting on with it. The member opposite is right to need the reassurance, just as the people are, that the Government of Nova Scotia and each of its departments are conducting themselves in a management audit, risk management, then determining priorities, costing those priorities and making sure there is full compliance in lots of time to check and double-check and reassure the people that, again, essential services are available.

All of those things are happening, department by department. The member opposite talks about budgetary concerns and he has heard me say on numerous occasions that when you make a government commitment to essential service compliance by a certain date, it is a matter of finding budgets, that budgets themselves have to be found because that is a commitment you make, simply to find an embedded system in a piece of hospital equipment that is needed, you simply find resources, either federal or provincial, or you reallocate budgets within and you make sure the job gets done. You have a management system in place to ensure that you discover the problem in the first place.

The member opposite extrapolates from other provinces. We are not extrapolating from other provinces, we are working through a series of priorities and costing them out and ensuring that the dollars are there to match, so that the work gets done. The member also talks about a problem with workers with the resources necessary, the very people with the skills necessary. He might also realize that the government also recognizes this problem, that Public Service contracts in certain areas, the issue of our debt portfolio management, in other words, the management of the debt of the province, you need some pretty capable people who can handle international commodities, international currency trading, who can look at our debt portfolio in terms of repatriation, who are experts at handling what I wish were an $8 billion positive portfolio but, unfortunately, it is an $8 billion negative portfolio, but you need just as much skill ensuring that you reduce the cost of that debt service by tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact, since May 1993.

[Page 4019]

Those people need a salary and need a way of working within the Civil Service commensurate with equivalent salaries in the private sector, and adjustments have been made in full respect to all of the contractual agreements that we have in this province, to keep those people working for the Public Service and in the public interests of Nova Scotia with different Public Service scales that are commensurate with the market place that could draw them away in a moment, in an instant. The same can be said for those resource workers we require to deal with the Y2K problem, and steps have already been taken to ensure that those workers remain within the Public Service that we're able to contract out for needed services but, more importantly, that the people with the skills are retained by the Public Service.

I thank the member opposite for raising this issue. We restate again our guarantee to the people of Nova Scotia that the Nova Scotia Government, all of its departments, will get the job done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: May I enquire, Mr. Speaker, as to how much time I have to speak?

MR. SPEAKER: You have six minutes, I believe.

MR. DELEFES: I will have to foreshorten my comments. I remember once, Mr. Speaker, when I was in school some years ago. A Latin teacher called me a gabby, garrulous Greek so I will try and be brief and succinct tonight.

I am pleased to speak on this resolution introduced by the member for Digby-Annapolis concerning the province's state of preparedness for the Year 2000. We have asked the Liberal Government to tell the public and the Legislature what is being done to ensure that services will be deliverable to all Nova Scotians come January 1, 2000.

For some time now, millennium bug observers and provincial Auditors General have been raising the alarm about the very slow reaction times of provincial governments to ensure that the critical systems - now, these are the essential parts of the province's infrastructure; health care, electricity, water, communications, transportation, that these critical systems have been investigated, have been tested and that they are Year 2000 compliant.

We believe that Nova Scotians have a right to be assured that these essential services will not be disrupted come January 1, 2000 and that all the necessary steps have been taken to protect Nova Scotians and their loved ones.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I have raised questions repeatedly in this House with respect to our preparedness for the Year 2000. We asked these questions during the spring session. We asked them in between sessions. We have asked them this session. I asked them today

[Page 4020]

during Question Period and I am asking again this evening what the province's state of preparedness is for the Year 2000?

Now, when the information was not forthcoming, Mr. Speaker, before the start of this fall session, we filed a freedom of information request for the information with respect to the government's spending and plans for the year 2000.

We wanted to know which essential services were being tested. We wanted to know what the less critical systems were. We wanted to know what the contingency plans were in the event of any disruption come January 1st. We wanted to know how much money has been and will be allocated to deal with this situation.

During the fall session I have continued to question the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat about Year 2000 issues, as has the member for Digby-Annapolis and other members. We have been unsuccessful in obtaining any information which provides Nova Scotians with a measure of assurance that we are on the road to Y2K or Year 2000 readiness.

The minister has been vague; he has been evasive; he has been obtuse; he has been deliberately uninformative in his responses to questions posed in this House. (Interruption) He has, indeed. (Laughter) He used the opportunity to respond to legitimate questions about Year 2000 readiness, to claim that members of the Opposition were fear-mongering, that they were using scare tactics by raising concerns about our preparations for the Year 2000.

He refers to our requests for information as "an extensive fishing trip", as if our efforts are intended solely to dredge up facts and figures to pillory the government for not being prepared for the Year 2000. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, this is not the case.

Unfortunately, since he has responded to our questions with vague generalities and with unsubstantiated assurances that solutions are being found to Year 2000 problems, and since he radiates a confidence not warranted by the facts, Nova Scotians have every right to be concerned about the state of readiness for the onset of January 1, 2000.

The truth of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, if the minister had been open and forthright about this matter from the very first time it was raised back in the spring session, this would not be an issue today. By being vague and elusive about plans and costs, he has raised flags for Nova Scotians and, in fact, now, the Y2K issue is a serious concern for Nova Scotians.

I expect that the minister will once again accuse me of being a prophet of doom and gloom, a nabob of negativity - I remember that phrase coined by a certain gentleman from Newfoundland - and a fear-mongerer.

[Page 4021]

Well, I wish I could have a more Pollyannaic view that all is well and there is nothing to worry about, Mr. Speaker, but we musn't be lulled into a false sense of security and must ensure that as the days slip by, and January 1, 2000 approaches, that tangible steps are taken to provide for our security and for the continuing operation of government services.

As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, Auditors General have issued warnings about the province's slow reaction times getting essential services ready for the year 2000. Two weeks ago, Alberta's Auditor General was critical of the government for being ill-prepared to deal with the Year 2000 problem in that province. The Ontario Government's Auditor General reported five months ago that only six out of 63 critical government systems have reached the testing phase and thousands have not yet been tested.

The president of the Global Millennium Foundation, Joel LeBlanc, indicated the official view is that everything is okay, everything is fine, but every Auditor General indicates that things are not under control.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for debate on Resolution No. 1896 has expired.

The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am going to move into House Orders. I would like to call House Order No.1, and I so move.

H.O. No. 1, re Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads - Priority Lists (1997-2000) - notice given Oct. 22/98 - (Mr. M. Scott)

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: I will table all possible information on a future day.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 2, and I so move.

[Page 4022]

H.O. No. 2, re Commun. Serv. - Children-Benefits/Soc. Assist. - notice given Oct. 22/98 - (Mr. J. Muir)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think I can concur with this request to the degree possible. I just want to possibly get some more advice on what specifically is being asked here. I am going to make every effort to comply with the request.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 3, and I so move.

H.O. No. 3, Re NSLC - Truro Store: Location Search - Corres. - notice given Oct. 22/98 - (Mr. J. Muir)

THE CLERK: That has been returned already. It was never issued, but it was returned.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 4, and I so move.

H.O. No. 4, re Sports - Fin. Assist. (1997-99) - notice given Oct. 22/98 - (Mr. J. Muir)

[H.O. No. 5, re NSLC - Truro Store: Location Change - Leaseholders Corres. - notice given Nov. 4/98 - (Mr. J. Muir)]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, yes, I think we can accommodate. As a matter of fact, I thought that information was provided, but if there is some misunderstanding, we can certainly provide the honourable member with the information.

[Page 4023]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted some clarification. The honourable Minister of Natural Resources, was he referring to House Order No. 3?

MR. MACASKILL: House Order No. 5.

MR. LEBLANC: Actually, I called House Order No. 4.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Stand it.

MR. SPEAKER: Shall the order stand?

MR. SPEAKER: House Order No. 4 is stood.

The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, that concludes our business for today and, I believe, the Government House Leader has some bills that he wants to report. I will pass on the remaining time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4024]

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

Bill No. 71 - Intercountry Adoption Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the hours of sitting tomorrow will be from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and following the daily routine and Question Period, I would ask that we convene into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will be calling Bill No. 77 and Bill No. 71. Following that, we will be going to Public Bills for Second Reading and calling Bill No. 24, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act for adjourned debate.

While I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House that the member for Inverness, Charlie MacDonald, is celebrating his 31st wedding anniversary today and I thought that the House would like to know that. (Applause)

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now adjourn until the hour of 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We are now at the moment of interruption. I will recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. I read the notice of motion this morning.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 4025]

DEVCO - COAL INDUSTRY (C.B.):

UMWA (DIST. 26) - PROPOSALS SUPPORT

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the motion before the House reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House support the proposals of District 26, United Mine Workers of America, entitled Creating Opportunity: A Plan for Cape Breton, and urge all possible action to implement its contents.".

I have copies of this document here, Mr. Speaker, which I would like to circulate to those honourable members who are interested. I would like to provide a half a dozen copies or more here to the Page and anyone who wants a copy of that document is certainly welcome to have one.

There is no question that the Cape Breton coal industry is in a very acute situation at the present time. The coal industry is responsible for approximately one-tenth of the Gross Domestic Product of Cape Breton. This amounts to $300 million annually in wages, pensions, taxes, contracts and so on being spent and respent on everything from homes to cars and groceries and entertainment. A recent statement by Premier Russell MacLellan emphasizes the importance of the coal industry to the economy of Cape Breton, the Premier suggesting that should anything happen to the coal industry, Cape Breton's economy could collapse. This was reinforced by statements Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation recently made that should the coal industry close, Cape Breton's unemployment rate would increase by 11 per cent in their estimate. My personal estimate is that it would increase by more.

The Cape Breton Development Corporation has a 5-year plan in existence for maintaining and developing the industry. This plan, however, has failed to realize projections for development, production, cost reduction and inventories. Coal revenues have been decimated by an 18 per cent price reduction in the price paid for coal by Nova Scotia Power, who is the principal, indeed the sole, customer of the Cape Breton Development Corporation at the moment, the primary customer in any event.

Export sales have been eliminated, these formerly having been shipped from the international piers at Whitney Pier, but those piers have been mothballed for some two years now leaving Devco at the mercy of a single customer, that is Nova Scotia Power, which seems determined to reduce payments for coal even further during upcoming contract talks. Strategies developed under the 5-year plan have resulted in a marked disability to provide a reliable source of coal to the customer. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of tons of foreign coal being imported to Cape Breton which has a negative long-term impact on Devco's bottom line. This I see every week as I drive up here and drive back at the Canso Causeway where the ships tie up and load the coal to hopper cars, imported coal, American coal, which is then shipped by rail up to the power plants at Point Aconi and at Lingan in Cape Breton.

[Page 4026]

This is a very serious problem, Mr. Speaker. I have been referring here extensively to the text of the submission from the United Mine Workers of America. I do not know if the Rules permitting only 10 minutes debate on this item would allow me to traverse the entire contents of the document but under the headings we can see that the Cape Breton coal miners feel that they, themselves, are part of the solution and that they would like to attempt to secure a sustainable market-focused economy in Cape Breton in which they would be willing partners.

They believe in the importance of a partnership with government and a balanced approach to the support of the industry. There is a package of recommendations aiming to improve the quality of life in the coal mining communities by promoting job creation, training and education, improving the environment, and enhancing and developing community-spirited participation.

Six options are listed in the UMW presentation, the first being to set up a task force to draft a comprehensive action plan for the coal industry. The scope of this task force would be to identify how partners such as government, unions, agencies, and the private sector can maximize on the resources of Cape Breton to help grow the economy. Option number two, and this is something that I have advocated publicly on a number of occasions, a comprehensive post-1968 retirement program.

Now, according to the records of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, the average worker in the coal industry today is 47 years of age. By the year 2001, more than 850 people will be eligible for retirement and, by the year 2008, the employees eligible for retirement would number 1,200. This retirement scheme would include, but be not limited to, an Early Retirement Incentive Option and a permanent pension plan based on years of service. The objective of such a retirement plan would be to allow eligible employees to retire with dignity and would help to secure sustainable employment for junior employees in a revamped coal industry.

The United Mine Workers of America has met with federal and provincial representatives several times to discuss the post-1968 retirement options. It is certainly something that I have advocated publicly and, from my studies of the finances of the Devco Pension Fund, I believe that this is doable.

Option No. 3 is to develop training programs to match the skills of the workforce with the needs of future investors in Cape Breton coal.

Option No. 4 is to develop proposals for the remediation of former mining sites of which there are many in Cape Breton, and they are generally wastelands where nothing will grow because the grounds are poisoned and these require environmental remediation. There was such a project undertaken at a site in my constituency between Scotchtown and New Victoria several years ago which, while it didn't solve all of the problems at that particular site

[Page 4027]

which is known as the summit site, certainly the summit is much better today than it was some number of years ago. A great deal of coal was reclaimed from that site remediation operation, and a number of individuals were put to work for some considerable period of time. I believe that there is much scope for an expanded initiative in terms of site remediation throughout the Industrial Cape Breton area in terms of the sites of former coal mines.

Option No. 5 is the development of a three mine plan for the Cape Breton coal industry. The UMW submission states on this point that for more than 20 years, federal government representatives have promoted the opening of the Donkin Mine as the future of Devco. From the perspective of those who work in the industry, this should still be the case; however, the federal government has indicated that there is no federal funding at the present time for the future Donkin Mine. This reduces the options for industry expansion, yet opens the door to other opportunities such as a mutually beneficial partnership agreement between unions, government and the private sector. The UMWA has met with Donkin Resources Ltd. several times to discuss the Donkin operation. The task force which the United Mine Workers believe should be appointed, should explore options in their view and make recommendations to government for a partnership in a Donkin Mine operation.

Option No. 6 is the development of an energy strategy for Nova Scotia. Now this is particularly important with the development of natural gas at the present time. The provincial government, in cooperation with a task force, could develop a comprehensive energy strategy which would allow coal and natural gas to co-exist in the long-term plan for the province's energy requirements, just as coal and gas now co-exist in Alberta, where both industries are developing on a growing scale yearly.

I discussed this matter this morning with the Premier and I found him very supportive for the content of the document that I have just read from. This has been reported in the press. I have here before me a clipping from The Sunday Herald, November 15th, and the heading is: "Premier seeks commitment on coal mining.". I have another clipping here from The Cape Breton Post of Monday, November 16th, under the heading of "Province backs coal miners" and it shows Premier Russell MacLellan and United Mine Workers of America President Steve Drake conferring together on this very, very important matter.

I wish I had more time - I believe the time has expired at 6:10 p.m. - I just simply wanted to indicate my own support for these initiatives. The House today passed unanimously a motion that I had presented along the same lines as that before the House now, so we are already on record as supporting these initiatives. It is certainly my hope that we will press that commitment and seek to bring fruition, to bring to reality, these very commendable proposals. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 4028]

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise tonight to speak to the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House support the proposals of District 26, United Mine Workers of America, entitled Creating Opportunity: A Plan for Cape Breton, and urge all possible action to implement its contents.".

The issue of the economic difficulty faced by Cape Breton is one that has been talked about on a number of occasions in this House. In fact, I think, if you went back and looked at Hansard, for the last 25 years you would see that at various times, the issue has come up for discussion and debate, and lo and behold, very little seems to change. The economic reality for Cape Breton is that the coal industry has been under constant attack for many years.

Enterprise Cape Breton says the coal industry is responsible for one-tenth of Cape Breton's Gross Domestic Product. It amounts to about $300 million in wages, pensions, taxes, contracts and so on. It says that because of the problems that the coal industry has faced, unemployment rates have increased greatly; as the coal industry downturned, the chronic unemployment problems increased.

The difficulty is that the world economy is changing greatly and the reliance on coal as the industry which is the backbone of Cape Breton may be too one dimensional. The fact is that the only way to bring economic prosperity to a region like Cape Breton - in fact, all of Nova Scotia - would be to develop a plan that has many dimensions. Coal as an industry could be part of that industry. The fact is that we are aggressively developing the natural gas industry in this province. The implications that that will have for the coal industry are far-reaching and, I would hazard a guess, not fully understood.

I think, when we speak of looking at a way of developing a more sustainable economy for Cape Breton, you really have to look at a number of different levels; in fact, this document calls for a task force that brings together a number of players. Ask the people involved in the coal industry what they can do to diversify. Is a solution simply trying to expand a mining industry as it presently exists? Is that going to work? Is it going to be sustainable? Is it going to have the longevity necessary? I think what is offered in this document is a number of strategies but it is not a panacea. The fact is that in order for the industry to be viable, they have to look at retraining, retooling, re-approaching and rethinking the way they have approached the coal industry in Cape Breton.

[Page 4029]

The fact that the government has had so much trouble over the past number of years in addressing this very serious issue, is a clear indication that the current strategy is not working. Once again, the suggestion that they draft a comprehensive action plan is very laudable but, again, they are going to have to look at a number of different strategies.

All across Nova Scotia, there is an increased reliance on the tourism industry. What I am suggesting is that to limit the solution to Cape Breton's economic problems to saying, yes, if we adopt this document, it will solve the problem. I think that is a little shortsighted. What needs to happen is that the stakeholders must sit down. They must put aside personal agendas. The fact that the United Mine Workers union have an agenda, there is no question. The Government of Nova Scotia has an agenda.You need to put those aside and work towards what is best.

That is one of the difficulties that I have noticed in this particular House of Assembly and it may be the fact that I am new and naive but, invariably, I see that what Nova Scotians need is lost somewhere in the discussion, the posturing, the rhetoric, the false answers, the empty questions. People of Nova Scotia - and in this instance, the people of Cape Breton - deserve better than this.

If there is a solution in this document, then sit down and bring it forward. If it is part of a solution, that is great. Work together to put in place a plan that is going to work, not for the short term but for the longer term. There are people who cling to ideas and ways of doing things that are long in the past. What worked 25 years ago or 50 years ago does not work any longer.

In this document - and I mentioned this earlier - it says that people who are currently employed in the coal industry, in the mining industry need to have new skills. If that is a solution, then put together a plan, a program that will allow that to happen. If it is just empty words, then nobody benefits. The problem, as I said earlier, has been there for longer than I have been alive. Yet it will be discussed tonight. It will be discussed in a week's time. There will be resolutions tomorrow and the day after and they do not do anything. To be blunt as a spoon, I am talking to an almost empty Legislature and that is part of the problem. I recognize that many people have commitments, but if this is a problem that needs to be answered, then put forth the effort and the energy and the commitment that will answer the problem.

[6:15 p.m.]

I would say that this is a start. The people who drafted this document had good intentions, I am sure. They genuinely want to see the coal industry viable in Cape Breton. They genuinely want to see the people who are second and third generation coal miners have the opportunity to carry on a way of life. It is not a job. It is like the people who fish in my riding. They are hanging on, not because it is a lucrative occupation but, simply, it is in their

[Page 4030]

blood. I genuinely believe that. There are people for whom mining is more than a job. Maybe that is what happens. Maybe what happens is that people are so desperate to cling to something that they will grasp at straws. I am not saying that is what is in this document. What I am saying is that if that is part of what is driving it, that needs to be addressed. I genuinely think that simply pinning the hopes for economic prosperity for Cape Breton on a renewed coal mining industry is shortsighted and will not be effective in the long run.

Cape Breton has a great deal to offer. It has a population that is hard working, honest and committed to that area. If you can tie that into a plan that draws on the tourism industry, that looks at the aquaculture industry, that looks at various ways to make a cross-sectional, sustainable economy for that region, it will benefit us all. The reality is, we talk about Nova Scotia being viewed from Ontario as a have-not area. There is a perception that because of the level of unemployment in Cape Breton that they are a drain on the rest of Nova Scotia. That winds up pitting one section of Nova Scotia against another. There is a perception that if it goes to Cape Breton, it is not going to be good for my area or the areas in other parts of mainland Nova Scotia. That is not acceptable.

We need to put together a plan that will work for everybody. If Cape Breton is economically viable, then the revenues will come to the provincial coffers and then, indirectly, to other areas. That is what we need to do. We need to put aside this bringing forward resolutions and arguments just to stand and talk about them. We need to put in place a plan and I think this can be part of that plan. We need to bring representatives from government, from industry, from the business community, and say what will work? What is in this document that will actually be doable? Put that on the table and then bring forward the other strategies that will work. Out of that will emerge a new and vibrant economy for Cape Breton. Again, I think this is a good starting point. I commend the member opposite for putting it forward as a resolution to be discussed. I genuinely hope that because of action taken it is the last time that it needs to be discussed. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure for me to stand here tonight in support of the creating opportunity proposal put forward by District 26, United Mine Workers. I would like to talk about the up side of this. While I would probably take exception with some of the statements the member from the Third Party just made, because I do not see this document as a proposal that perpetuates coal mining forever and a day. I think they realize that any time you dig into a hole and take out a non-renewable resource, that there is going to be a day when it is going to be over. What they are saying is let's manage this resource. Let's make sure that we do it for the best interests of Nova Scotians, which they realize is the best interests of Cape Bretoners. It will flow from there. I do not think that this document is put together to somewhat artificially protect jobs. It is there to help the economy of Nova Scotia. My friend over the way talked about what is good for one

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part of the province, by reflection of tax dollars, is good for all of the province, which I agree with wholeheartedly.

You know there was a time in this province, Mr. Speaker, when, as in most of the industrialized world, that energy costs were soaring out of control. But this very province had an energy sector that was restrained because Cape Breton coal was sold at depressed value, which gave a boost to the economy of the rest of this province. I may say that that is a burden that Cape Breton coal miners, I don't think, have really been acknowledged for, the work they did to help this province through that energy crunch. I honestly believe that what goes around comes around and, at some point, that acknowledgement has to be paid its dividends. Some of those dividends are some kind of appreciation for what they did and a move forward with some kind of job security.

This document is bang on. They are talking about the relative age of miners. I am not telling anybody who is sitting in this House now who doesn't realize that it is a very arduous job and it is hard on the body and it is not one that you get out of with a lot of limbs intact, a lot of times, Mr. Speaker. It is a very dangerous profession, but one that I think, again, my friend across the way said before, it is one that becomes ingrained in one's family. The people are proud to be part of that profession and, indeed, they should be.

I am sure many members in this House attended Veterans Day observances and how these people added to our lives in the fight for freedom. In my area, I sat down with a few and these two were hand in hand. The majority of them were service veterans and were coal miners and talked fondly of both situations. The one part that I think shows a real great amount of foresight is the importance of training these men, because they are primarily men in this profession, Mr. Speaker, for work that goes beyond their scope and training in a meaningful way. No more of these training coal miners to be barbers and meat cutters and stuff like that that have no real market value after a few. These are all fairly good trades, but I mean the sense is right, that is it, you can't go.

I agree with the body of the text here, Mr. Speaker. I have got to take some exception with the member who proposed it and his own government. I brought this to the floor of the House last week and the Premier was fairly non-committal about his answer. So they tell us that this is a great blueprint, that we have it great and it involves everybody. The catchphrase is stakeholders and I want to be a stakeholder. So the Premier and a couple of his ministers scurry off to Cape Breton this weekend. They huddle in a corner of a hotel in Sydney. One meeting held, I may say, that the mover of this motion was not invited to.

AN HON. MEMBER: I was busy hearing confessions in my constituency.

MR. CORBETT: The honourable member is a priest. I didn't realize that. He is a cleric. He is not a comic. These headlines are saying, Liberals support the coal industry. I think it would be much akin to the three little pigs hiring the big bad wolf as a bodyguard, Mr.

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Speaker. They speak well of these things, but what do they do? They take one of their deputy ministers, or whatever his title is, Bob MacKay, take him down and he is going to save the coal industry. We won't invite miners to this meeting. We won't invite area people that have a stake here. We will invite our little clique. They are going to say to the whole industry, listen you boys, just a little pat on the head and you go home and we will tell you when we are going to call you to the table. When we take the big cuts of bread, we will leave some crumbs for you.

These people are the same ones that, if you pardon the pun about coal mining, dug this hole for these workers and now they are going to save them. I have no faith in that group and I believe, in large, the mining community of Cape Breton have no faith in that group. I am saying that while we support this document we believe the whole idea of this provincial Liberal Government supporting it is just a veiled promise that will bear no fruit.

I am going to ease way on the floor now because I am sure there is another member who would like to say a few words. Thank you.

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

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, just for the last few minutes, to underscore the significance of the debate with respect to this industry as it relates to our province, it has cost the federal government $1.6 billion since 1967, in terms of expenditures for capital and operational funds for the Cape Breton Development Corporation. If the mining industry were to be closed down in Cape Breton tomorrow, there would be a direct immediate cost to the federal government of $600 million. In addition to that, there would be a loss to the Nova Scotian economy of $500 million. Those two figures alone would exceed the combined total sales or growth in the tourism industry in Nova Scotia last year, $1.2 billion.

We should not for one moment underestimate the magnitude of the debate that is going on with respect to this industry. Those figures do not for a moment address the 1,200 to 1,500 jobs that will be directly lost in the industry or the effect, as a consequence of that, in industries that depend on the money, the jobs and the economy generated by the expenditures from salaries that are produced in that employment. In addition to that, nobody has even begun to address the cost to the federal government of the environmental clean-up.

The bottom line here is that there are more sound reasons to advance in favour of securing this industry, even at a reduced scale, than the argument that seems to be gaining ascendency in the debate that for some reason this industry is no longer viable and it is time to move on. For example, we hear time and time again down home about the technological industry and it has produced 300 jobs in the last 8 to 10 years. That is wonderful, in the last 8 to 10 years, 300 jobs. But I would suggest to you it is akin to a dairy farmer who wants to experiment raising buffalo, you don't slaughter your herd of cattle. If that is going to be a long-term solution, wonderful. If tourism can continue to grow, wonderful. If Sable natural

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gas someday can come onstream, or the Laurentian Field to the extent necessary to supplant or provide impetus in the economy of industrial Cape Breton, wonderful.

Right now none of those alternatives shows any short-term, quick solution in terms of offsetting the cost to the economy of this province and particularly to Cape Breton if this industry were lost tomorrow. If it makes all kinds of economic sense if you have power generation stations built next to collieries that presently exist, designed specifically to burn coal that those collieries produce, that to me is an optimum condition upon which we can work toward securing some reasonable base for that industry in the future, whether it be in the long term or whether it be as a bridge to the Laurentian development that is going to take 10 or 15 years down the road to arrive. Nonetheless, in the short term there are all kinds of reasons for this government and the players to get together and begin the very serious planning necessary to secure that industry either in the short term, so be it if the facts bear that out, or, as I believe, in the long-term. The bottom line is the economics are there, the costs, in terms of turning our backs against it are prohibitive, and I would submit are too large, given this province's present economic situation to sustain in the short term.

I speak in support of any proposal that begins to address the very serious question of what can we do to secure our industry in Cape Breton in the short or long term and specifically, the proposals as are put forward by the United Mine Workers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired.

We stand adjourned.

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