The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Nov. 24, 1998

First Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. James Smith 4275
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Agric.: Livestock Producers - Tax Deferral, Hon. E. Lorraine 4276
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 89, Medical Act, Hon. J. Smith 4278
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2059, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Econ. Summit (C.B. 15/11/98) -
Reason, Mr. R. Chisholm 4278
Res. 2060, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Distribution - Accelerate, Dr. J. Hamm 4279
Res. 2061, Educ. - Sister Cordeau (Holy Angels Convent, Sydney):
Commitment - Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 4279
Vote - Affirmative 4280
Res. 2062, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation - Extend, Mr. G. Moody 4280
Res. 2063, Aboriginal Affs. - Aboriginal Youth: Best Wishes - Extend,
Hon. D. Downe 4281
Vote - Affirmative 4281
Res. 2064, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Interests (N.S.) - Defend, Mr. J. Holm 4281
Res. 2065, Commun. Serv. - HRM: Homelessness - Alleviate, Mr. J. Muir 4282
Res. 2066, NDP (N.S.) - Failures: Responsibility Refusal - Condemn,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 4283
Res. 2067, Terry Fox Run - Lake Echo Commun.: Support - Congrats.,
Ms. Y. Atwell 4283
Vote - Affirmative 4284
Res. 2068, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Y2K Problem: Progress Report -
Table, Mr. G. Balser 4284
Res. 2069, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - CED Awards: Finalists - Congrats.,
Mr. R. White 4285
Vote - Affirmative 4285
Res. 2070, Nora Topping - Project Mgt. Professional: Certification -
Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 4285
Vote - Affirmative 4286
Res. 2071, EMO - Y2K Problem: Plans - Provide, Mr. J. DeWolfe 4286
Res. 2072, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Arichat: Waterfront -
Vision Recognize, Mr. M. Samson 4287
Vote - Affirmative 4287
Res. 2073, NSCAD (Ceramics) - Hungry Bowls Dinner: Participation -
Encourage, Mr. J. Pye 4287
Vote - Affirmative 4288
Res. 2074, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Ferry (N.S.-P.E.I.): Third Vessel -
Ensure, Dr. J. Hamm 4288
Res. 2075, Educ. - Pearson Peacekeeping Ctr. (Cornwallis):
Student Participation - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 4289
Vote - Affirmative 4289
Res. 2076, Environ. - East Hants (Corridor): Curbside Organics
Collection Prog. - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 4290
Vote - Affirmative 4290
Res. 2077, Health - MedMira Lab. Ltd.: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. M. Baker 4290
Vote - Affirmative 4291
Res. 2078, Culture - Music (Piano): Melissa Perry (Antigonish) -
RCM (Silver Medal [G3]) Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 4291
Vote - Affirmative 4292
Res. 2079, Culture - Art Gallery (N.S.): Faith Exhibition -
Supporters Thank, Mr. P. Delefes 4292
Vote - Affirmative 4293
Res. 2080, CFB Greenwood - Cuts Further: Prevention - Ensure,
Mr. G. Moody 4293
Vote - Affirmative 4293
Res. 2081, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Inconsistencies Exorcize:
Hfx. Chebucto MLA - Confer, Mr. P. MacEwan 4294
Res. 2082, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Interests (N.S.) - First, Mr. J. Holm 4294
Res. 2083, Commun. Serv. - Remarks (Min.): Listen (Min.) - More,
Mr. J. Muir 4295
Res. 2084, DFO - Internat. Ocean Inst. (Peace in Oceans Conf.):
Organizers - Recognize, Mr. G. Fogarty 4295
Vote - Affirmative 4296
Res. 2085, Econ. Dev. & Tourism/Educ.: Mins. - Remove, Mr. G. Balser 4296
Res. 2086, Sports - Judo: Ont. Championships - Medal Winners (N.S.)
Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 4297
Vote - Affirmative 4297
Res. 2087, RCMP (Scarlet and Spurs Assoc.) & Royal Bank of Canada -
Tom Forestall Prints (Charities): Generosity - Recognize,
Mr. M. Scott 4297
Vote - Affirmative 4298
Res. 2088, NDP (N.S.) - Gov't. Future: Tax Increase - Reveal,
Mr. H. Fraser 4298
Res. 2089, Commun. Serv. - Child Day (Natl.): Maggie's Place -
Appreciation Extend, Mr. E. Fage 4299
Vote - Affirmative 4299
Res. 2090, NDP (N.S.) Caucus - NDP (N.S.) Leader: Policies (Varied) -
Discuss, Mr. M. Samson 4300
Res. 2091, Mrs. Theresa Gallant (Dec'd.): Commun. Serv. -
Acknowledge/Condolences - Extend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 4300
Vote - Affirmative 4301
Res. 2092, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Fin. Critic (Hfx. Chebucto MLA):
Resignation - Request, Mr. R. White 4301
Res. 2093, Culture - Music Mural (Amherst): Commun. Contributions -
Recognize, Mr. E. Fage 4302
Vote - Affirmative 4302
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 563, Health - QE II Health Sc. Ctr.: Mammograms -
Waiting Period, Mr. R. Chisholm 4303
No. 564, Health - Mental Health Unit (Yar. Co.): Adequate Care -
Ensure, Mr. N. LeBlanc 4304
No. 565, Health: Cancer (C.B.) - Prevention, Ms. Helen MacDonald 4305
No. 566, Health: QE II Health Sc. Ctr. - Y2K Funding, Dr. J. Hamm 4306
No. 567, Health: Hepatitis C - Compensation, Mr. D. Dexter 4307
No. 568, Tech. & Sc. Sec't.: Y2K Problem - Plan, Mr. G. Balser 4308
No. 569, Commun. Serv. - Child Benefit Prog.: Child Poverty -
Assist, Mr. J. Pye 4309
No. 570, Commun. Serv.: Child Benefit Prog. - Clawback, Mr. J. Pye 4310
No. 571, Health - Breast-Screening: Mobile Units - Benefits,
Mr. E. Fage 4311
No. 572, Commun. Serv. - Soc. Assist.: Parenting - Single Mothers,
Ms. Y. Atwell 4312
No. 573, Hfx., Port of: Appts. - Corres. (Premier & PM), Dr. J. Hamm 4313
No. 574, Commun. Serv. - Food Banks: Usage - Increase, Mr. J. Pye 4314
No. 575, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cumb. Co.: Route 219 - Repave,
Mr. M. Scott 4315
No. 576, Health: Mental Health Prog. (Yar. Hosp.) - Inadequacy,
Mr. John Deveau 4316
No. 577, Nat. Res.: Pipeline (Strait of Canso) - Jurisdiction
(Gov't. [N.S.]), Mr. G. Archibald 4317
No. 578, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cobequid Pass: Winter Delays -
Readiness, Mr. W. Estabrooks 4318
No. 579, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103 (Otter Lake-Exit 5):
Twinning - Progress, Mr. W. Estabrooks 4319
No. 580, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Infrastructure - Importance,
Mr. J. Muir 4320
No. 581, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: C.B. (Indust.) - Socio-Economic Impact,
Mr. J. Holm 4321
No. 582, Justice: Atl. Police Academy - Cost, Mr. M. Scott 4322
No. 583, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Truckers (Leon Thompson et al):
Untendered Work - Eligibility, Mr. John MacDonell 4323
No. 584, Health - Kings Rehab. Centre: Beds (Long-Term) - Status,
Mr. G. Moody 4324
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 38, Private Career Colleges Regulation Act 4325
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 88, Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act 4325
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 3:47 P.M. 4326
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:48 P.M. 4326
CWH REPORTS 4326
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 81, Occupational Therapists Act 4327
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 3, Nova Scotia Music Teachers' Act 4328
No. 57, Town of Lunenburg (Linden Avenue) Act 4328
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 43, Public Archives Act 4328
Hon. R. Harrison 4329
Stood 4329
No. 60, Optometry Act 4329
No. 84, Family Division of Supreme Court Statute Amendment
(1998) Act 4329
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Y2K Problem: Solution - Cost Provide:
Mr. G. Balser 4331
Hon. R. Harrison 4333
Mr. P. Delefes 4335
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 25th at 2:00 p.m. 4338

[Page 4275]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, I would advise members that the late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Cumberland South. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Technology and Science Secretariat stop playing a game of deception and provide taxpayers with the total estimated cost to government for solving the Y2K millennium bug.

We will commence with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

4275

[Page 4276]

Bill No. 81 - Occupational Therapists Act.

Bill No. 84 - Family Division of Supreme Court Statute Amendment (1998) Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture on an introduction.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I recognize some students who were part of a press conference held at 1:00 p.m. today to announce the Trans Canada Trail as one of Nova Scotia's millennium priority projects. Brittany Scott spoke on behalf of students from Tower Road, Sir John A. Macdonald and her own Cavalier Drive Junior High School. Brittany is joined by her classmates from Cavalier Drive Junior High School and their teacher. I would like the members of this House to welcome those junior high school students who have raised money for 10 metres of the Trans Canada Trail and were here today to celebrate that, along with the rest of us. (Applause)

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the federal government announced it would be offering a tax deferral to livestock producers in Digby, Annapolis, Kings, Hants, Colchester and Cumberland Counties. This is good news for the Nova Scotia producers.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, last week this government announced a $20 million relief package for farmers hurt by two consecutive years of disastrous weather. I talked to the federal Minister of Agriculture a number of times about offering a tax deferral to our livestock producers, many of whom were forced to sell off herds or part of their herds because of the lack of hay and feed.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the federal minister has listened. By offering livestock producers a chance to defer taxes on the sale of their herds for one year, they will have a chance to replenish their herds, which is good for them and good for the future of the livestock sector in Nova Scotia. Again, this is good news for Nova Scotia producers and I want to make the House aware of it.

[Page 4277]

Mr. Speaker, I want to say, while I am on my feet, that this came about out of a number of meetings I had with the federal minister but, more importantly, a meeting between the federal minister, my deputy minister and the member for Kings North. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the minister's announcement and I congratulate the minister, his department and the member for Kings North, whatever role he might have played (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACDONELL: Certainly along with good news there is a fear that with the taxes being deferred that means that they are going to have to pay it, whether or not these farmers will be on their feet well enough in a year to do that. Maybe with the next negotiations with the federal minister, and I know they must be ongoing regarding the disaster program, the minister could see whether or not they can have those taxes written off completely. It is a welcome announcement. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Minister of Agriculture. He did provide me with a copy of the ministerial statement that he just made earlier today.

The government, under this minister, has certainly been paying attention to the agricultural industry. Last week, the minister announced a program on drought relief, which is not as good as many would have liked to have seen it, but it is a good first step.

The hog industry, Mr. Speaker, is also in dire straits and two weeks ago the minister announced that the government would be helping. The bad weather has adversely affected Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other over the last two seasons. I think probably hardest hit could very well be the livestock industry. The beef industry hasn't been on good solid ground for many years. By allowing tax deferral this year, perhaps it will allow some of the people that were in the industry to restock at a better time for them, so that we can indeed have a strong and vibrant beef industry for Nova Scotia.

I would like to thank the minister for making his announcement, and for trying and working as hard as he has to try to help stabilize the agricultural industry in some very adverse conditions. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 4278]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 89 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Medical Act. (Hon. James Smith)

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, if I could, an introduction. In the east gallery, I would like to introduce to the House for their warm welcome, the Registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Cam Little. I would ask him to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2059

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: 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 Premier sent his senior officials to hold an economic summit with chosen municipal and business representatives from industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas five days later, the Premier's staff issued a permit for natural gas pipelines under the Strait of Canso to try and short-circuit the National Energy Board hearings on the Point Tupper lateral; and

Whereas Cape Bretoners learned today that socio-economic studies of the Point Tupper lateral did not consider how natural gas will affect the Cape Breton coal industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier explain why he bothered to convene a Cape Breton economic summit when his government does not want to know about major economic issues in Cape Breton and does not want public discussion of those issues.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

[Page 4279]

RESOLUTION NO. 2060

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

Whereas the Premier waited months to release gas regulations; and

Whereas the process resulted in very little substantive change, but great delay; and

Whereas as others are rushing to be first, we seem determined to be last;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier accelerate the process to have gas distribution decided as all have been urging.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2061

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

Whereas Holy Angels Convent in Sydney has led the way in educating young women; and

Whereas Sister Agnes Cordeau, CND, has been Principal of that school for over two decades; and

Whereas Sister Agnes Cordeau will be honoured on Wednesday, November 25th on the occasion of her retirement after 36 years of dedicated service;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends congratulations and thanks to Sister Cordeau for her commitment and service to the education of young people.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4280]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2062

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

Whereas the Conservative Government of Ontario announced yesterday that they will provide residents who contracted hepatitis C through Canada's tainted blood supply with $10,000 each; and

Whereas this is the first compensation to be paid to Canadians who contracted this disease from tainted blood, even though the federal Liberal Government promised eight months ago to distribute $1.1 billion through a federal-provincial agreement; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas the federal and provincial Liberals continue to hide behind their legal technicalities and fail to do the right thing for all Canadians affected with this disease;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the important first step taken by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Government and encourage this Liberal Government to demand that their federal cousins in Ottawa extend compensation to all hepatitis C victims.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

[Page 4281]

RESOLUTION NO. 2063

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

Whereas the Aboriginal Youth Career Fair - Blueprint for the Future - is being held today at the World Trade & Convention Centre for the first time in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation has brought together over 1,000 aboriginal youth, business leaders and aboriginal community leaders to highlight career, education and business opportunities; and

Whereas John Kim Bell, founder and President of NAAF; Peter Jensen, Director of the Blueprint for the Future; and all corporate, educational and governmental exhibitors and sponsors should be congratulated for their role in securing the future of our youth;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send sincere best wishes to all aboriginal youth and future leaders in attendance as they prepare for the challenge and the promise of the next millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking to this group of 1,000 this afternoon and I would ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate so I can inform them that this Legislative Assembly is supportive of this very important initiative.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2064

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

[Page 4282]

Whereas the Premier secretly reconstituted the Nova Scotia Energy and Mineral Resources Conservation Board to quietly grant approval of Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline's request to construct sections of the Point Tupper lateral without public notice or input; and

Whereas the government's first loyalty should be to the people of Nova Scotia and not to their oil company friends; and

Whereas the National Energy Board had to protect Nova Scotia's interests by refusing to allow sections of the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline's application to be hived off;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand the Liberal Government end its collusion with their friends in big oil by beginning to defend Nova Scotia's best interests.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2065

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

Whereas officials in large metropolitan centres are calling the enormous increase in numbers of homeless people a national crisis; and

Whereas the decrease in welfare payments, lack of affordable housing and poverty are major contributing factors for the increase in the number of homeless people; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality, which has seen a tremendous increase in its number of homeless persons, has at least 13 separate community initiatives formed to address the needs of homeless people;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government work closely with the Government of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the community groups to take immediate steps needed to help alleviate homelessness in this area.

Mr. Speaker, I will request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 4283]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2066

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

Whereas after the budget vote in June, the NDP blamed their failure to defeat this government on the Progressive Conservatives; and

Whereas the NDP then tried to goad the Tories into voting against the Financial Measures Act and recently tried to shift blame for a threatened tax hike on the Progressive Conservatives; and

Whereas the NDP seem to be pointing the finger in every direction - blaming everyone else for their failure to seize power in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP should be condemned for refusing to take responsibility for their own failures as a Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2067

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

Whereas Canada is one of the few countries where cancer research is privately funded; and

Whereas since its inception in 1981 the Terry Fox Run is an annual event to raise funds for cancer research; and

Whereas the community of Lake Echo annually raises funds in support of cancer research;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Lake Echo community for its continued support in the Lake Echo community Terry Fox Run.

[Page 4284]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2068

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

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat ended his November 18th comments on the Y2K problem by stating, we guarantee to the people of Nova Scotia that the Government of Nova Scotia, all departments will get the job done; and

Whereas getting the job done included a commitment by the minister that within 15 days of a self-imposed October 30th date for reporting Y2K progress to the public; and

Whereas in spite of repeated requests, the minister is almost a month late in honouring even this minor commitment regarding Y2K;

Therefore be it resolved that since this government's track record on promises kept is not something to inspire faith and confidence, the minister prove the public concerns regarding the millennium problems are unfounded by tabling the much-anticipated Y2K progress report.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 4285]

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2069

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

Whereas the first-ever Community Economic Development Awards and Showcase is being held in Halifax this week; and

Whereas finalists in the category of Best New Community Economic Development Project include the Port Bickerton and Area Planning Association and the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso; and

Whereas this recognition is a demonstration of the efforts by these communities to work together to develop new ideas for economic growth in Guysborough County;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the finalists of the Community Economic Development Awards and recognize the work done by these groups plays a vital role in the diversification of the Nova Scotia economy.

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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 2070

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

Whereas Nora Topping of Halifax has been certified as a Project Management Professional; and

[Page 4286]

Whereas Ms. Topping is one of the first women in Atlantic Canada to be so certified by the Project Management Institute; and

Whereas Ms. Topping has achieved this distinction through her work as an information systems expert;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Nora Topping on being certified as a Project Management Professional.

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 member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2071

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

Whereas the Y2K problem is expected to cost somewhere between $600 billion and $800 billion worldwide before the issue is resolved sometime early in the next century; and

Whereas the next century is only 13 months away, yet Nova Scotians are being kept in the dark towards plans by this Liberal Government to combat the Y2K, even though it could impact upon them concerning everything from loss of power to disruption in our health care system; and

Whereas worst-case scenarios must be planned for in hopes they will never have to be acted upon;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Emergency Measures Organization begin providing Nova Scotians with clear and concise information as to what plans are now in place within EMO to handle any worst-case scenario as the result of Y2K.

[Page 4287]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2072

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

Whereas Arichat was once a busy shipbuilding and trading port; and

Whereas the local community plans to revitalize the historical and cultural significance of the Arichat waterfront with help from the provincial government, Enterprise Cape Breton, the Regional Development Authority, Development Isle Madame and the local boat club; and

Whereas these plans include construction of a marina, renovations to buildings and a new recreational wharf;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the vision demonstrated by the organizers of this ambitious project and wish the entire community luck as the Arichat waterfront evolves into an attraction for tourism, recreation and social activities.

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 Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2073

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

Whereas the Ceramics Department of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design is hosting its annual Hungry Bowls Dinner tomorrow; and

[Page 4288]

Whereas in the past four years, the event has raised almost $15,000 for Hope Cottage and Adsum House; and

Whereas Hungry Bowls is a great way to have your piece of art and eat it too, because you eat the soup and get to keep a handmade bowl of your choosing;

Therefore be it resolved that as many Nova Scotians as possible participate in this worthwhile event at the Art College.

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2074

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

Whereas revenues from tourism in Atlantic Canada in 1998 set all-time records for both revenue generated and people attracted to this part of the country; and

Whereas despite construction of the Confederation Link between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, the number of tourists continued to increase on the Northumberland Ferries running between Pictou and eastern Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas the operation of Northumberland Ferries is vitally important to Pictou County and eastern Prince Edward Island and provides substantial economic activity for these two regions and was significantly curtailed all this fall when one of the two ferries was laid up;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately move and pull out all the stops with the federal government to ensure a third ferry is operational between Caribou and Wood Islands in time for the 1999 tourist season.

[Page 4289]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2075

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 Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Cornwallis has trained representatives from all over the world in the peaceful resolution to conflict; and

Whereas recently 50 students from Halifax inner-city schools spent two days at the peacekeeping centre learning how to settle disputes without violence; and

Whereas these schoolchildren were exposed to the concepts of anger management, conflict resolution and non-aggressive communication;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all Nova Scotia students who have participated in this unique peacekeeping program and wish them luck as they apply these techniques and methods to conflicts in their own lives.

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 Hants East.

[Page 4290]

RESOLUTION NO. 2076

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

Whereas residents in the Corridor area East Hants are making a success of the Curbside Organics Collection Program; and

Whereas the average participation rate for the entire area was 75 per cent with some streets having over 90 per cent participation levels; and

Whereas the Good Earth Organics Resources Group, the facility handling organics, have indicated that initial analysis of the program shows a contamination level of less than one per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer their congratulations to these residents of East Hants and encourage them to keep up the good work.

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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2077

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

Whereas yesterday MedMira Laboratories Ltd. celebrated the official opening of its new manufacturing and research facility in Bayers Lake Business Park by announcing the development of a two-minute diagnostic test kit for breast and prostate cancer; and

Whereas each test produces results within minutes, unlike conventional testing methods that can take up to two weeks; and

[Page 4291]

Whereas MedMira also makes a two-minute HIV test kit for laboratory use, has developed rapid screening tests for hepatitis B and C and is working on quick tests for ulcers and sexually transmitted diseases;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House recognize the important contributions being made by MedMira Laboratories Ltd. in improving testing response times and wish management and staff continued success and new medical breakthroughs in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2078

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 Conservatory of Canada recently held their annual music examinations at 160 locations throughout the country; and

Whereas Melissa Perry of Antigonish was awarded the silver medal for Grade 3 piano by the conservatory; and

Whereas the silver medal is awarded to the candidate who earns the highest marks in each province for each grade;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate 13 year old Melissa Perry on her prestigious award from the Conservatory of Canada, and wish her luck as she continues to develop her remarkable musical talents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 4292]

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 Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 2079

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

Whereas the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's exhibition, An Expression of Faith: Sacred Art of Centuries Past, features a magnificent selection of 15th, 16th and 17th Century European wood sculptures brought to Halifax in the 1840's and which were for many decades displayed in the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas following the donation by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia has helped to ensure the preservation and presentation of these treasures; and

Whereas the quality of the exhibition and its artistic and religious significance represents a profound reminder of the inextricable links and importance of religion and faith;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, the many private patrons and benefactors, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for making possible the presentation of An Expression of Faith: Sacred Art of Centuries Past.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 4293]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2080

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

Whereas the federal government has been downsizing military and civilian staff since the Liberals announced major spending cuts to the Department of National Defence in 1994; and

Whereas yesterday, as part of the 1994 plan to reduce air force personnel by 45 per cent, military officials announced that more job cuts are coming to Nova Scotia's largest air force base, CFB Greenwood; and

Whereas the latest cuts will eliminate almost 150 positions by the year 2000, adding to the cuts that were made in 1995 of 100 positions and again in 1996 also eliminating 100 positions;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Liberals take immediate steps to urge the federal government to ensure that no further cuts will be made to Canadian Forces Base Greenwood.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 4294]

RESOLUTION NO. 2081

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

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition stood in this House last night and questioned the credibility of the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party; and

Whereas once again the Leader of the socialists attempted to mask his own inconsistencies and those of his Party by shifting the blame to somebody else; and

Whereas the socialist member for Halifax Chebucto stood in his place and vowed never never never to vote for the Financial Measures Act and, 20 minutes later, voted for the passage of the Act;

Therefore be it resolved that if the Leader of the socialists is looking to exorcize the demons of inconsistencies, he should do a 90 degree turn and have a heart to heart talk with his colleague from Halifax Chebucto.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 2082

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

Whereas the distribution of natural gas to selected regions of the province will potentially have a negative impact upon jobs and the economy of industrial Cape Breton; and

Whereas Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline failed to do a socio-economic impact study on the effects natural gas will have upon the coal industry; and

Whereas by refusing to make available to the National Energy Board hearings the results of the government's own socio-economic impact study, the Premier supports Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline's head in the sand approach;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon the Premier and his Liberal Government to take a novel approach for them by putting the interests of Nova Scotians ahead of their friends in big oil.

[Page 4295]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2083

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services said in this Legislature on November 5th that she was sure she couldn't feed a family on the kind of budget being provided by her department to those families in need across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a senior government Economic Development official in today's Chronicle-Herald pointed to the fact that over 100,000 people either receive social assistance payments or employment insurance and that our present social support system is not healthy, and helps keep people in poverty; and

Whereas the Economic Development official stressed that more resources should be used in putting people to work;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services spend more time listening to her own remarks instead of trying to defend her department's policies, many of which tend to keep families in poverty rather than encouraging an exit.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I think I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2084

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

[Page 4296]

Whereas the history and culture of Nova Scotia are inextricably linked to the realities of life by the sea; and

Whereas next week Halifax will host an international forum of scientists, policy- makers, educators and industry leaders who will be discussing the problems facing the oceans of the world; and

Whereas the International Ocean Institute's Peace in the Oceans Conference will look at the crisis in the fishery, offshore oil and gas exploration, shipping and the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the organizers of this international conference for their global approach to addressing ocean issues and wish them luck in proposing viable strategies for preserving the oceans of the Earth.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2085

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

Whereas television game shows subject their participants to an endless barrage of mind-numbing and embarrassing activities; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is not the host of Let's Make a Deal, a show known to humiliate and embarrass contestants by forcing them to perform outrageous stunts or dress in outlandish costumes just for the opportunity to vie for prizes; and

Whereas the Minister of Education and Culture seems content to play What's My Line or Charades whenever he is faced with a question;

[Page 4297]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier listen to the people of Nova Scotia who are yelling, Gong Them! Gong Them!

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2086

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

Whereas the citizens of Mabou and Judique, Inverness County, have always been known as a good-hearted people with a tough fighting spirit; and

Whereas this fighting spirit was demonstrated on Saturday past when two Inverness County residents captured medals at the Ontario Open Judo Championship; and

Whereas Amy Cotton won gold in the under 78 kilogram category and Peter Murray took silver in the under 56 kilogram category;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all five Nova Scotian medal winners at the Ontario Open Judo Championship with a special recognition for the two from Inverness County who proved once again that you don't mess with Inverness.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2087

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

[Page 4298]

Whereas the RCMP's Scarlet and Spurs Association recently unveiled a painting by Nova Scotian artist Tom Forestall commemorating the RCMP's 125th Anniversary; and

Whereas the Scarlet and Spurs Association commissioned the painting with the support of the Royal Bank of Canada to raise money through the sale of 750 limited edition prints for three Nova Scotian children's charities: the IWK-Grace Health Centre, the Black Educators Association Fund, and the Sammy Gehue House Society; and

Whereas an additional 147 prints will be given to the families of Swissair Flight 111 crash victims;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the generosity of the Scarlet and Spurs Association and the Royal Bank of 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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2088

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

Whereas under an NDP Government the Province of British Columbia has the second highest corporate tax rate in the country; and

Whereas between fiscal 1995-96 and 1996-97 individual British Columbians experienced the largest tax increase in Canada, a hike of $107 per year; and

Whereas in the same period Nova Scotians experienced a decrease in income tax;

[Page 4299]

Therefore be it resolved that once again the Nova Scotia NDP come clean and reveal to the Nova Scotia taxpayers the amount of tax increase they will have to bear should the NDP ever gain power.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2089

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

Whereas last Friday Maggie's Place in Amherst hosted a celebration for National Child Day with close to 100 young children and parents attending; and

Whereas the staff and volunteers provide invaluable comfort and support to many children and families; and

Whereas children are indeed our greatest resource;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its appreciation to the dedicated staff and volunteers of Maggie's Place for the caring and nurturing support they provide to our children who are the future.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House, I would like to draw your attention to a well-known member of north end Halifax in the west gallery who has been active in civic affairs for many years and I would ask him to stand, Mr. Bruce Wallace. We will extend the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 4300]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 2090

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 Leader of the socialist Opposition spent the weekend using the Cape Breton media to send up more smokescreens, attempting to hide his plan to raise taxes to cover increased spending; and

Whereas the frantic, wanna-be Premier accused the government of not respecting the democratic process; and

Whereas this is the same socialist Leader who tried to circumvent the democratic process last week by seeking a non-confidence vote on a frivolous matter, attempting to avoid his eventual support of the Financial Measures (1998) Act;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the socialist caucus have a heart-to-heart chat with their Leader reminding him that loose lips sink ships.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2091

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

Whereas former Pictou Town Councillor, Theresa Gallant, recently passed away after a valiant battle with cancer; and

[Page 4301]

Whereas during nine years as municipal councillor, Mrs. Gallant served on many committees and was chair for the Police and Fire Committees, during which time she worked diligently to raise funds for the Jaws of Life; and

Whereas in addition to being involved in municipal politics, Mrs. Gallant was active in her community as a supporter of minor sports, a dedicated volunteer, and member of the Stella Maris Parish;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House posthumously thank Mrs. Theresa Gallant for her many years of dedicated community service and extend our sincere expression of sympathy to her husband and family.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 2092

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 in the House, the member for Halifax Fairview commended the federal NDP caucus for forcing the resignation of the federal Solicitor General; and

Whereas in this House the member for Halifax Chebucto stated quite plainly and clearly that neither he nor his caucus would vote for the Financial Measures (1998) Act; and

Whereas after having made that statement, the member for Halifax Chebucto and his NDP colleagues proceeded to vote for the Financial Measures (1998) Act;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP follow the lead of the Prime Minister and request and accept the resignation of the member for Halifax Chebucto as Opposition Finance Critic.

[Page 4302]

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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2093

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

Whereas last Saturday, a good crowd was on hand to officially dedicate the music mural on Princess Street in Amherst in recognition of the areas talented artists; and

Whereas among those on hand for the dedication were artists Bruce Rickets and Susan Tooke, who have painted murals throughout North America; and

Whereas support for public murals has grown considerably in the past few years with more being planned in the Amherst area, specifically to recognize the Nova Scotia Highlanders, the town's long hockey tradition, and Nova Scotia's African heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contributions of the community of Amherst, participants and organizers for their time and energy in depicting segments of their town's rich history through these murals.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 4303]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now being 2:45 p.m., we will terminate at 3:45 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - QE II HEALTH SC. CTR.:

MAMMOGRAMS - WAITING PERIOD

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. Last week the Premier said that the financial pressures facing hospitals like the QE II did not affect patient care, yet waiting times for routine mammographies that aid in the detection of breast cancer, at the QE II, now stretch to 120 days. My question to the Premier. Will he tell this House how his government is going to ensure that the deficits in the health care system are not affecting women's health?

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): I would like to refer that question to the honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, specifically on mammograms, I think this is a very emotional issue. It is very important. We are making many changes throughout the province on that particular issue. The national standard is six months' waiting time for routine not diagnostic. In the QE II area, it is in the range of four to five months. We are looking at that time-frame. We are well under the national average for a diagnostic imagery. It will either be done the same day or within five days.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the Premier. The waiting target at the QE II is 15 days, but the reality is that right now it is 120 days. The reason for the long wait is that the system is overburdened. It can only deal with emergencies, that is women who detect lumps in their breasts. My question to the Premier, what is this government going to do to decrease the wait for prevention programs for breast cancer?

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in the Halifax side of the metro community, last year there were 21,000 mammograms done. We are expanding. There is a new van coming in one of the regions. We now have two operational. We are looking at mammograms opening up and increasing services in the Dartmouth General Hospital. It is not only the mammogram tests

[Page 4304]

themselves, it is also the programs, and under Cancer Care Nova Scotia, with the advisory council and all of those groups, we are looking at the whole total management. Yesterday, we were opening the diagnostic screening laboratory . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, breast cancer is one of the most serious health concerns of women. This government has said that it would take steps to prevent cancer, yet waiting lists increase and cancer rates increase. My question for the Premier, will he explain to the members of this House what he is going to do to ensure that women don't have to wait such an unacceptably long time for screening mammograms?

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I didn't want to take too much of your time and touch on your good nature unduly, but I did very briefly outline several programs that we are doing: under Cancer Care Nova Scotia; one additional mobile mammogram unit, that will make three in Nova Scotia; Dartmouth General Hospital; we are exploring new services at the Bayers Road, whatever that group is called, the mammogram there.

Mr. Speaker, the figures that that honourable member is quoting are wrong. We are under the national average in Nova Scotia. Five days for a diagnostic . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - MENTAL HEALTH UNIT (YAR. CO.):

ADEQUATE CARE - ENSURE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is for the Minister of Health. There has been considerable discussion recently about the Mental Health Unit of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, and whether or not the residents in our area requiring medical assistance are receiving adequate care. Can the minister indicate to the House today that his department is actively pursuing this matter, this serious concern, to ensure that the people in the tri-counties are receiving adequate care?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for this question. This is a very important issue throughout all of Nova Scotia, not only southwestern Nova Scotia. It has been highlighted there, and I think it gives us the opportunity to address that. We have worked actively as a department with the previous administration of the Yarmouth Hospital, but also more effectively, perhaps, with the regional health board. When the regional health board addressed the issue, things were done, a report was commissioned, and we have been acting on that.

[Page 4305]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if the new regional health board is working on this more effectively than the previous Yarmouth Regional Hospital Board, I would like for the minister to try to explain why after two years after the report was tabled that nothing has gotten better at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, and the waits are actually longer? Can the minister explain to the House how the new regional board has solved all the problems?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I didn't say the regional board solved all the problems. We will have problems in mental health, I predict, for a long time, long after I am Minister of Health, and perhaps long after that member has given up his seat. Seriously, mental health is a challenge. There is a new clinical director in that western region, and things have been done. Yes, there were difficulties there. People lost their jobs. It is before the courts. That is a very serious matter and programs suffer and they have to be built from the ground up.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question is not about jobs or who lost jobs. My question is about the care of the people of Yarmouth County, Digby County and Shelburne County. (Applause) These points were brought up two years ago. I want to know what this minister and that health board have done to rectify the problem? People want answers. What is the answer to the question?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the report was received. The fact that we have a report, Mr. Speaker, means that the regional health care system is working. The department had promises that things would improve in that particular area but their action was taken, definitive action. The programs are working. There is direction and there is a commitment to do that. There are more psychiatrists in that area . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

HEALTH: CANCER (C.B.) - PREVENTION

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Back in October when we learned about the high rates of cancer in Cape Breton, the Minister of Health assured us that he would be developing prevention strategies for that region. Given the high risk of cancer, the government needs to act quickly to address this problem. My question for the minister is, what prevention strategies have been developed and when will they be acted upon?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue within the whole province but particularly within the Cape Breton area where there has been identified through two studies, the Government of Canada study and what is known as the Guernsey Report. There is a review panel now looking into that, that I have announced, and is now active. I would like to report that Dr. Richard Schabas, a director of the division of cancer prevention

[Page 4306]

and control of cancer care in Ontario, will be leading a review panel to review all those reports and act on those recommendations and make recommendations.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Again, Mr. Speaker, we see the government bringing in a team of experts from Ontario to study the studies that have already been done. Will this government stop wasting health care dollars on studying studies and use that money for real cancer prevention initiatives?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the health care system across this country is under a lot of stress but one of the good stories is the success that is happening in Cape Breton. People from Cape Breton are receiving cancer care in Cape Breton and they are having more prevention. There are two oncologists there. People are coming from all across this country to work in that community and Cape Breton people are returning. There are more services than ever before in Cape Breton.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister of Health to be in Cape Breton and tell Cape Bretoners that story. Access to screening and primary care are what is important. Will the minister admit that more studies, instead of prevention and early detection, will do little to reduce cancer rates?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no study to study studies. This is for action. What we are looking at is, there is a real concern in the Cape Breton community about environmental impact and there is real concern about lifestyles, smoking, and those initiatives that are very high in that community, but all those community programs within those satellite hospitals around the Cape Breton complex are developing programs and they are at the community level and they are at the grass-roots level.

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

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question too is for the Minister of Health. Is the Minister of Health prepared to confirm that the estimated cost for a Y2K fix-up at the QE II is $31 million; $23 million this year and $7 million next year?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Y2K program throughout this province is being addressed. It is being addressed by departments in conjunction with the Department of Finance regarding funding. We have not made any commitment to funding any amount, to my knowledge, at the QE II at this juncture. We are working with them. There is a $20 million number that has been floating around. That has not been confirmed by our department.

[Page 4307]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a document that came out of their business plan that confirms $23 million this year; $7 million next year; numbers that the minister does not seem to know. I will table that. This government's plan for the Y2K fix is months behind. Will the minister confirm that his response to the Y2K program in Health will mean that much necessary equipment will not have a Y2K fix by the year 2000 at the QE II, which means that ultrasounds and X-rays will not be . . .

MR SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health has the floor.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member would table that and label it as, leak of the week from the QE II to the members of the Third Party. There is a plan in place. We are working with the hospitals, they will work, and not only that, we have made a commitment to fund those programs.

DR. HAMM: Isn't it a shame, Mr. Speaker, that the QE II does not leak some information to the minister sometime. My final supplementary is to the Premier. You have a minister who does not know what is going on at the QE II. Will you order your minister to start answering questions in Question Period or do we have to go to Public Accounts and drag public officials in here to find out what is happening to health care in this province?

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Premier will not instruct the honourable Minister of Health to do that.

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

HEALTH: HEPATITIS C - COMPENSATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Ontario has come forward as the first and only province to offer compensation to people infected with hepatitis C prior to 1986. These people have the same struggles as those infected between 1986 and 1990. They will lose their jobs, their incomes and, eventually, their lives. My question to the Minister of Health, will this province match the compassion shown by Ontario and compensate all people infected with hepatitis C through the blood supply?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, in answering that question for the honourable member, I would say, yes, we will match Ontario with compassion. We do not lack compassion in this province, and we have shown that in dealing with the sufferers of hepatitis C. This is a very serious disease. We are working with the other provinces right across this country and the federal government to share in that program, that will not only be cash compensation for some, but, more particularly, it will be pharmaceuticals, it will be services

[Page 4308]

and those types of things. We are not proposing, at the same time we are announcing hepatitis C, to lay off 13,000 civil servants . . .

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this compensation would allow people to live with dignity and afford the health care and support they need. The minister has just said that they will match the Ontario offer. I would ask him, has the government determined exactly how much such a compensation program will cost?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I said we would match compassion with Ontario. That is what we are matching. We are team players with governments of all Parties right across this country. We are not playing games with Ottawa, the way that Ontario is doing, in my opinion. We will work within the framework, we are developing services for those suffering with hepatitis C that are outside the window and we will work with other governments to do that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is right. He is not playing games with Ottawa, he is playing games with victims of a deadly disease. The Canada Health Act states that Canadians will receive equal treatment no matter where they live. Will the minister ensure that people infected with hepatitis C in Nova Scotia receive equal treatment as the people in Ontario, will this government compensate them?

[3:00 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, even though a lawyer, is getting a little mixed up between the Canada Health Act and some compensation package in Ontario. He started off with the Canada Health Act and then he is into compensation. I am not aware of the part of the Canada Health Act that speaks in terms of compensation.

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

TECH. & SC. SEC'T.: Y2K PROBLEM - PLAN

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. Mr. Minister, I would like to go back to some fairly familiar territory. On a number of occasions you failed to really respond adequately to a question asking for details regarding any plan you may have for addressing Y2K. Do you have a plan and if so, what is it?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we responded to those questions both in debate and here on the floor of the House. Every department in government has a plan to ensure that essential services will be in full compliance by next summer and that the funds necessary to implement those plans are in place.

[Page 4309]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, to follow up on the minister's comment with regard to funds available. Would the minister delineate clearly how much money has been set aside or is anticipated to be needed to address this problem?

MR. HARRISON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, as plans develop those numbers will, in fact, be part of the regular progress updates. We have already indicated that in the health care sector, the estimate, province-wide, is $65 million to $70 million.

MR. BALSER: It is somewhat difficult to get details and that is what we are looking for. On October 16th government officials got together to hold a meeting to discuss Y2K problems. Request for information on the topics discussed at that meeting . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your final supplementary, a question please.

MR. BALSER: Would the minister please explain what information was passed forward at the October 16th meeting, which was secret?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the members opposite don't want to claim the label of fear-mongering but the issue here is that government officials are working on the risk management assessment of that plan daily, not just monthly and weekly, but daily. The member opposite should know that those meetings occur all the time because the commitment is to make sure that essential services are compliant and the only way to do that is to meet, implement plans and make sure it is done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - CHILD BENEFIT PROG.:

CHILD POVERTY - ASSIST

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Last Friday was National Child Day, but Nova Scotians didn't have a lot to celebrate. Almost one-third of Nova Scotians, the second highest rate in Canada are living in poverty. National Child Benefits could have been given to those millions of children.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, since this government continues to take money out of the pockets of the poor, how does it plan to get Nova Scotian children out of poverty?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be wise for the member opposite to refresh his memory on the many programs that are being carried out in this province around the issue of child poverty. If time will permit me to do so, I wouldn't mind

[Page 4310]

refreshing his memory. Not the least of which is $10 million went into social assistance rates this spring. Another thing is that the Nova Scotia Child Benefit is now on stream, bringing more money into the hands of families with children, and there are a number of other initiatives taking place around Healthy Child Start and subsidized child care spaces have increased. I think the honourable member needs to do some homework.

MR. PYE: Well, Mr. Speaker, my question would be, simply, why is poverty continuing to grow? According to the Social Assistance Employment Support policy, I want to ask the other question. If the National Child Benefit is not meant to be considered as an income, why is this Department of Community Services breaking its own rules by clawing back the National Child Benefit?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, once more, probably around the tenth time this has been explained in this House. The National Child Benefit Program is designated to assist working families with children. A reinvestment pool of money is created, which is spread across an income band of families with children who earn net income below $16,000. That creates new programs for children living in poverty and it creates the Nova Scotia Child Benefit Program.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, it is disgraceful for this government to claw back this benefit when we have over 40,000 children in Nova Scotia living in poverty.

MR. SPEAKER: You are on your final supplementary.

MR. PYE: Will this minister do the honourable thing and commit to eliminating the clawback and giving the National Child Benefit to families who really need it?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, once again, I think it is just astounding that this honourable member thinks that the families who are receiving this National Child Benefit and the Nova Scotia Child Benefit are undeserving. That is what is coming across in his remarks. Families living below $16,000 income are very deserving of the Nova Scotia Child Benefit.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: CHILD BENEFIT PROG. - CLAWBACK

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is again directed to the Minister of Community Services. Community groups and families say there is very little consultation around these programs. There are approximately $10 million to $20 million from the clawback that should be spent. Our province has not held consultation with any of the groups on these particular programs. My question to the minister is, when will this minister announce what she is doing with the money she and her department has taken from the poor?

[Page 4311]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, once again, there is confusion in this question. Obviously, what is being done, not with my money, but with the Nova Scotia Child Benefit and the National Child Benefit is it is being reinvested into programs and priorities for working families with children who are below a certain income band. There has been a lot of consultation . . .

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, obviously, I am not getting clarity. So once again, the money from the clawback is supposed to be spent by the end of this year. Will the minister tell us how much of this money has been spent, and whether any of it has been spent on new programs?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, yes, every cent of the money that is in the Nova Scotia Child Benefit can be accounted for. Obviously, monies that are flowing through that program are going directly to families who are low-income families, and yes, new programs are now being designed in consultation with stakeholders across this province.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, thank you. That isn't what the stakeholders are telling me. They are telling me that they are being shut out of the decision making, and the department is still not sharing the information. My question to the minister is, will the minister provide stakeholders with a full accounting on how the clawback has been spent, and table it in the House by tomorrow?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, this program is ongoing. It has started as of October of this year. It was retroactive to July of this year. It is ongoing, probably over the next three to four years as more monies flow through the program from the federal government. I can account for this when I have an accounting of it, but the program right now is about six weeks old.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH - BREAST-SCREENING: MOBILE UNITS - BENEFITS

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health. Mr. Minister, last year I rose in Question Period in this House concerning a mobile screening unit for the northern region of Nova Scotia. Through those interventions, one has been established. To the minister, my question is, that mobile breast-screening unit seems like a great idea to establishing base-line mammograms for the protection of women at risk to cancer. Mr. Minister, is that a good idea to have mobile breast-screening and . . .

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think anything that opens up any diagnostic procedure, and also more importantly, the awareness, is a good idea. I think coming into the community, the mobile vans really create awareness, and hopefully out of that will come early detection. The answer is an obvious yes. That is how I would answer the honourable member.

[Page 4312]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, I think everyone would agree that it is very laudable and that is the right answer. But accurate information and waiting times are extremely important. Could the minister explain to this House why those films for those mammograms are stored in Sydney, when the patient could be in Amherst or Truro?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the honourable member means by storage. The main thing is the early assessment of that, and whatever procedure is worked out. This is an administrative issue. If there is some problem, that it is not working well, I would like to know about it. I would certainly look into it. The function of reading the mammogram interpretation and returning the results in a sensitive way, that system is working. That is the most important part of that . . .

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

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the minister has little comfort for the family doctor and the patient, whether it is in Amherst, Nova Scotia, or Oxford, Nova Scotia, that needs accurate information if there is a problem concerning the mammogram because you need the original to compare it to. Mr. Minister, here we have a situation that no one in the local area has anything to originally compare it to. Would the minister ensure that those mammogram original films are stored with the family doctor in the local hospital so that that accurate information is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, if the system is working, then that is the best system. If there are problems with that system, then I think that should be looked at, but I will make no such guarantee until I have more information that that is so. Many things come to the House of Assembly that are not actually quite true, and actually are working quite well and this may well be an example.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOC. ASSIST: PARENTING - SINGLE MOTHERS

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Single mothers on social assistance used to be exempt from job seeking while their children were pre-schoolers. The new social assistance and employment support policy now requires that these women leave their children and find low-wage jobs. My question to the minister. How did the minister come to the conclusion that encouraging women to actively parent their children on a full-time basis is not worthwhile?

[Page 4313]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell the honourable member opposite that I think her claim is inaccurate and, certainly, I don't know of anyone who would not recognize the importance of parenting new-born children, or families of children within whatever setting they may find themselves, as a social assistance recipient or otherwise.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, children whose parents have post-secondary education are less likely to live in poverty and this is a fact. Given this fact, why does the new social assistance policy actually keep people poor by denying social assistance to single parents who want post-secondary education?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think that is an important question the honourable member is asking. It is one of the reasons why we are engaged in a social assistance restructuring initiative. A number of public consultations are ongoing, addressing those very questions. It is an important policy issue, it is receiving a lot of public policy debate at this point in time and the information that we glean from that process will certainly help us shape the future policies.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, this policy does very little to get children and parents out of poverty. The minister's policies do very little to get families and children out of poverty. My question to the minister. Will the minister commit to holding meaningful consultations with stakeholders, to develop policies that will really get Nova Scotian children out of poverty?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think that the entire issue around consultation is very strategic as we shape policies to bring us into the year 2000, obviously. The consultation process that we are engaged in, we have had over 3,000 copies of our restructuring paper sent out, and we are receiving information and feedback now on a daily basis from that effort. The standing committee has been consulting across Nova Scotia, and the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women plans a consultation. It is all a very valid process as far as getting feedback to help us implement policy changes.

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

HFX., PORT OF: APPTS. - CORRES. (PREMIER & PM)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Local nominations to the Port Authority have been ignored. There have been recommendations from the longshoremen and the shipping association of the Chamber of Commerce. On October 14th, you wrote a letter to the Prime Minister registering your objections to his appointments over the appointments that were recommended by local people. Have you received a reply and have you had satisfaction from your letter to the Prime Minister?

[Page 4314]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have had conversations with the Minister for Transport Canada and we have discussed this matter. He has assured me that the interests of the Port of Halifax will be uppermost in his mind when the appointments are made.

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Thank you. It must be a great disappointment when the Premier writes to the Prime Minister and he does not hear from the Prime Minister, he hears from a minister. It must be a great disappointment, Mr. Premier. Alan Abraham, Fred MacGillivray, Merv Russell, are appointments of the federal government and do not represent the people of this area.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: My question is, are you prepared now to drop the issue or are you prepared to ensure and fight to see that local interests are represented on the Port Authority? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just would challenge something the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party said in that Fred MacGillivray, Al Abraham and Merv Russell are not supportive of the people of Nova Scotia. Just because they are federal government appointments does not mean they do not have the interests of the people of Nova Scotia at heart. These are good community people who have served this community well and served the port very well. I feel, frankly, that there is going to be a good result come out and we are going to have a good authority to govern this port.

DR. HAMM: Again, the Premier has struck out. He went to Ottawa and came back with nothing. Can this Premier tell us, when was the last time he went on our behalf to Ottawa and he came back with anything?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party forgets the deal that we were able to strike for the airport. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - FOOD BANKS: USAGE - INCREASE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question once again is to the Minister of Community Services. Almost 8,000 children rely on Nova Scotia food banks each month, children whose school lunches come from food banks and babies whose solid food comes from food banks. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, if the minister is really doing such a great job to get children and families out of poverty, how does she explain the ever-growing number of visits to the food banks.

[Page 4315]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I do not think that there is a Canadian in this land who does not agree that this phenomenon of family poverty and child poverty is a growing problem. We recognize that in this province. It is one of the reasons we have put more money into our social assistance budget. It is the one reason why we are the only province in this country that did not cut social assistance rates. (Applause)

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, since the Liberals came into power in 1993 the number of children relying on food banks has almost tripled. Will the minister confirm that her department has failed to meet its own goals of creating healthy children and reducing poverty in Nova Scotia?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have the opportunity to send the honourable member opposite a detailed response around what programs we are putting in place with the monies from the National Child Benefit and the initiatives that we are taking in this province to address those very concerns around child poverty.

MR. CHAIRMAN: You may table it.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, food banks are meant as an emergency measure. The minister should be ashamed that so many children rely on them on a regular basis. My question to the minister is, will the minister abandon the government's let-them-eat-cake attitude and develop policies that will end poverty in Nova Scotia?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, once again, I think it is so important on this issue that the honourable member get information that is factual. We do have programs in place. We have increased our subsidized child care seats this year from 50 to 80. We do have healthy child development initiatives and we have a number of programs coming under the NCB Program and we have the Nova Scotia Child Benefit.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - CUMB. CO.:

ROUTE 219 - REPAVE

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Mr. Minister, you are well aware that taxpayers have pumped millions of dollars into the Cape Chignecto Wilderness Park in Advocate, Nova Scotia, but this government continues to ignore one main concern those people have and that is in regard to Route 219 between Parrsboro and Advocate.

I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, if you will indicate to the House today when Route 219 will be repaved?

[Page 4316]

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the honourable member knows that we are looking at new paving projects for the Province of Nova Scotia in the spring. This will be considered and we will see where it stacks up on the list of priorities.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, even the business people are concerned. People are transporting goods to market over roads that are causing their products to appear inferior when they reach market. These people want to know, where on that priorities list is Route 219?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, all rural roads and 100-Series Highways are very important to the Province of Nova Scotia for moving goods and services around this province. I just want to assure this honourable member that we will be looking at this, we will be testing this route out and we will see where this fits on the priorities list.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again for the minister, will you table in the House for me today the priorities list for secondary roads in Cumberland County?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, that list is being put together. I certainly cannot table that here in the Legislature today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

HEALTH: MENTAL HEALTH PROG. (YAR. HOSP.) - INADEQUACY

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. A review carried out in 1997 found the mental health program at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital to be dangerously inadequate. The program did not meet professional standards, financial dealings were suspicious and patients' complaints were not heard. Perhaps the most shocking finding is that the Department of Health knew about the problems and did nothing. My question for the Minister of Health is, since the minister knew about these very serious problems with the mental health program in Yarmouth, why didn't his department take action?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health, prior to the commissioning of that report, had been working with the administration of the Yarmouth program. When the Western Regional Health Board came to be, they brought their concerns to that board. That board acted immediately on that information, commissioned a report, and the report was received by the board. I was briefed in August 1997 by the chair of the board and the executive director. Action was taken and some of the matters are in the court. Program clinical directors have been hired in that area, and the expansion of the Home Care Program and those other programs in that area.

[Page 4317]

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, problems with mental health programs are not unique to Yarmouth. We have also heard that the QE II's mental health program is in serious trouble. Will the minister confirm that there are also serious problems with the mental health program at the QE II?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as a family physician for 29 or 30 years, mental health has been very important to me as a practitioner and health care worker. Programs, I think probably throughout the world, have been neglected in mental health. In specific response to the member's question, he is making a hypothetical assumption that I cannot address on the floor of the House of Assembly.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, psychiatrists are leaving the QE II, the clinical director has been terminated, patients feel abandoned. Based on the recommendations in the Yarmouth report, what will the minister do to make sure that the problems we saw in Yarmouth are not repeated at the QE II?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, one of the real advances, and probably we should be hearing more about it, is the strengthening of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health Services in this community. There were years, several years ago, when there were no graduates in psychiatry and all of the therapy groups, such as social workers, nurses and those people, were not working as a team. That has changed under Dr. Stan Kutcher and Dr. Vivek Kusumaker and those people, who are working not only in the QE II, but in the community where the people are, and that is where those programs need to be.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES.: PIPELINE (STRAIT OF CANSO) -

JURISDICTION (GOV'T. [N.S.])

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. The Energy and Mineral Resources Conservation Act indicates that the undersea pipe between the mainland and Cape Breton Island will be their responsibility. Could the Premier indicate why that was done?

THE PREMIER: I just wonder, is this the one in the Strait of Canso? (Interruption) Yes, right. It was felt that this is part of the pipeline, I don't see why it would be excluded.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, why did the Premier want it under provincial jurisdiction rather than federal jurisdiction?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question of the pipeline now to the Strait of Canso, along with the liquids line, is being examined by the National Energy Board, they are presently seized with that hearing.

[Page 4318]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, that is right but the Province of Nova Scotia at the last minute introduced an area of concern and confusion and I am just wondering if the Premier could indicate why the province felt it was necessary to do that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the province is going to be one of the interveners at this hearing and we have some areas that we want to ask questions on. We recognize that this lateral and the hearing on this lateral is under the jurisdiction of the National Energy Board.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - COBEQUID PASS:

WINTER DELAYS - READINESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Mr. Minister, winter is not far away. Last year, if you recall, we had interruptions, we had delays, we had shutdowns on the Cobequid Pass Toll Highway. In your remarks to this House the other day you commented on how quickly winter can arrive. My question to the Minister of Transportation is are we ready for Highway No. 104 delays?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member wants to know if we are ready for delays. I want to tell that honourable member right here and now, we have two of the best and the largest trucks available on that road, two brand new vehicles that we will be using on that road for snow and ice removal. Also, we have put in place snow fences and we are ready for winter on the Cobequid Pass.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, last year I remember crawling up one hill and sliding down another on the Cobequid Pass. My question for the Minister of Education is, when will you stop relying on the weather channel to make your decisions?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education or Transportation?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is very confusing here today. He is not sure whether the Minister of Education looks after the Cobequid Pass or the Minister of Transportation. I will assure that member that we are ready on the Cobequid Pass for winter to proceed.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, well, the inevitable delays will happen and the Cobequid Pass will have delays. My question to the Minister of Transportation is, have you readied the old Wentworth Highway to handle increases in traffic to compensate for these delays?

[Page 4319]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we are ready for winter. I just want to remind the honourable member that one of the most important things on the Cobequid Pass and also the Wentworth Highway, there have been zero fatalities, they are both safe highways.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on a new question.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 103 (OTTER LAKE-EXIT 5):

TWINNING - PROGRESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Area residents who use Highway No. 103 daily as their route of choice to and from their place of work are waiting for this busy highway to be twinned beyond the exit to the landfill site at Otter Lake. My question is, when will the minister stand by his promises and twin this highway to Exit 5 and when will the work on this next section begin?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, he knows that this highway project is a four year project. It is a $22 million project, 18 kilometres. The project will proceed when the weather is fit in the spring.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: The work that has to be done on that road, Mr. Speaker, does not have to wait until the spring. I have received numerous phone calls concerning the dangerous plowing practices because of the narrowing of the road after the Otter Lake exit.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question to the minister is, will the minister tell this House if his department has reviewed the plowing practices on Highway No. 103 as it narrows beyond the Otter Lake exit?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, my department has snowplow and snow and ice removal, we have everything under control and we are all ready for the winter.

MR. ESTABROOKS: As long as you check the weather channel. Timberlea residents want assurances, Mr. Speaker, that the Timberlea West Connector to Highway No. 103 will be completed as soon as possible. Mr. Minister, what guarantees can you offer Timberlea residents that this connector road will be a top priority for work throughout the winter months?

[Page 4320]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, everything is on a priority list and if this is at a high priority, then this will be taken care of as soon as the money comes available for it.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: INFRASTRUCTURE - IMPORTANCE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I am delighted to hear that his department is prepared for winter. (Applause) I could add it does mean that they were not ready for it last winter.

Transportation infrastructure means moving goods and services throughout this province, natural resources as well as manufactured goods. Does the Minister of Transportation agree that his department has responsibility for transportation infrastructure in this province?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MUIR: I am pleased to hear that he responded positively, Mr. Speaker, because that infrastructure needed is a new bridge over the Salmon River, just outside Truro, so that trucks going to the Irving lumber mill can cross that bridge. Right now the bridge that is there is not safe.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MUIR: Would the minister agree that this is a needed project, the replacement of that bridge?

MR. HUSKILSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, this bridge is very important to this area. We are looking at this bridge. I have spoken to the honourable member, the Honourable Edward Lorraine, for the area and we have agreed we are going to have a meeting with the mayor of that area.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the minister does recognize that there is priority of that even if it is shared between my colleagues for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Colchester North. My concern right now, Mr. Minister, you have recognized that that is a priority because that bridge is not safe for those trucks.

MR. SPEAKER: Can we have the question, please.

MR. MUIR: Those trucks are coming through the Town of Truro and tearing up the town streets.

[Page 4321]

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. MUIR: Will the minister commit to the Town of Truro to assist, provide financial assistance for the necessary road repairs that are needed because those trucks are running through the town?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I just want to advise the honourable member that as we speak there is a traffic study going on in this area, the area of Bible Hill, and when I get the results of this traffic study, then we will prioritize which bridge, which structure, is going to be replaced.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: C.B. (INDUST.) -

SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Premier. Maritimes & Northeast has ignored the potential negative impact that the natural gas industry will have upon industrial Cape Breton and refused to do a socio-economic impact study. The Premier, through his lawyers, has refused to make his socio-economic impact study available to the NEB which is conducting hearings on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: So my question to the Premier is this, why is it that the government has chosen to support Maritimes & Northeast rather than the people who live in industrial Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have chosen to support both. We have chosen to support the people in Cape Breton, because we have initiated our own socio-economic impact study, and the honourable member will know, as the member for Halifax Chebucto knows, that it was the original tribunal that decided not to do the socio-economic impact study.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier of course knows that he has refused to make it available. I am not going to be sidetracked by the Premier's non-answer. The Premier will know that Maritimes & Northeast tried to get certain portions of the pipeline exempted from the NEB hearings, and the government secretly, through their conservative board, tried to accommodate them. My question to the Premier is, simply, why is it that once again the Government of Nova Scotia and yourself have put the interests of Maritimes & Northeast ahead of the people of industrial Cape Breton?

[Page 4322]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the people of industrial Cape Breton's interests are first and foremost. That is the reason the socio-economic impact study was done. That socio-economic impact study has very little bearing on these hearings, because this is for a lateral to the Strait of Canso, not to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

MR. HOLM: The Premier is spinning the line exactly the same as Maritimes & Northeast at the hearings. My question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, through you, is why is it that this Premier seems to be putting forward the line of Maritimes & Northeast, toting their line, instead of standing up for the people of this province who you were elected to represent?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is the government that said that natural gas was going to be going to all 18 counties in seven years. This is the government that said that natural gas would be available in all parts of Nova Scotia at the same price in every home. This is the government that said there would be a preferential toll rate for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE: ATL. POLICE ACADEMY - COST

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Mr. Minister, the Province of Nova Scotia finds itself in a deficit situation. Many Nova Scotians are having a hard time paying for the necessities of life. Nova Scotia, over the past, has supported the Atlantic Police Academy, who even this year, you have put dollars into that facility, yet your department insists on pushing ahead with training police officers in this province. Can you tell me today what this training is costing the taxpayers of Nova Scotia?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, any program that we have been involved in, and as of now, any program is on hold. As the honourable member would know, we had reviewed our relationship with the Atlantic Police Academy and that is now on hold. We have no commitment with the Halifax Regional Police or any other groups, and when we did, that was a fee for service. Policing is a municipal responsibility in this province, and anything from the Department of Justice that was expenditures of the taxpayers' money was on a fee for service.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Justice, will this province continue to support the Atlantic Police Academy in the future?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, some of the matters relating to the relationship between the Department of Justice of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island is before the courts, or we have received notice that it may be. I don't want to comment on that. Any initiatives are on hold. In the meantime, we are keeping our commitment, we are paying our share up until April 1999. We have kept our commitments.

[Page 4323]

MR. SCOTT: Again to the Minister of Justice, are you or your department considering training police officers in this province, in the future, in the Town of Truro?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are exploring at one juncture a relationship with the community college, and we thought that was quite appropriate, where the recruits would not have to go out of province, and particularly the in-service training would be an initiative that could be either in the metro area or not too far from the metro centre where most of the police officers were coming from. There are no plans. The plans are now on hold, as I said in answer to the earlier question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - TRUCKERS (LEON THOMPSON ET AL):

UNTENDERED WORK - ELIGIBILITY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister is aware of the Leon Thompson rule and for two years Mr. Thompson has only been allowed 10 days of government tendered work in order to remain eligible for the untendered work, referred to as 20-80 respectively. Last week Mr. Thompson could not get work in Elmsdale where he lives, yet trucks from Colchester and Halifax were on the job. My question, why are Mr. Thompson and a few others the only ones having their private work taken into consideration for allowing them access to untendered work, while no one else is?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, my understanding of the 20-80 rule is that the local trucks in the local area are to be used first and if they are not available, then the contractor can go to another area to call on other vehicles that can be brought in.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, for over a year, Leon Thompson has requested your department's rationale behind its pup trailer rules, which force a trucker to fall behind four places in line when working by the mile, when the same does not apply when working by the hour. My question to the minister, what is his reasoning for allowing this difference in unloading procedure when for the years previous no one felt a need for the change?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, if there are problems with the truckers, there is an organization that is set up for arbitrations, for talking about this and deciding. If there is a problem with it, take it to the independent body.

MR. MACDONELL: This is department policy. Three years ago it was proven that Mr. Thompson was deliberately skipped on the dispatch rotation and was told by Mr. Ray Snair of the minister's department that he would be compensated and to date he has not been. Mr. Speaker, will the minister explain why Mr. Thompson has not been compensated when he was assured by his department that he would be?

[Page 4324]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member there, I would have to take this under advisement and look at it closely. I believe the honourable member is making serious accusations here and this has to be followed up.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - KINGS REHAB. CENTRE: BEDS (LONG-TERM) - STATUS

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is well aware of the Kings Rehab in Waterville. I know he has been there and I know he is well aware of the programs. They have been filling in for the Wolfville Nursing Home while it is being modernized, and they have applied for, I think, 20 long-term care beds. The facility is there, there would be no cost to add these beds and they are needed in the area. I ask the minister, is he considering their request?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, yes, I am quite aware of that institution, as the honourable member says. That facility has good programs, good outreach programs. It is a good mix and if there is a proposal for it, I have not reviewed it personally, but I will certainly give it favourable consideration.

MR. MOODY: I appreciate the minister's answer. I know the request is in. I would ask the minister, given the fact that he has not seen the request, could he give me a commitment that he would personally look at the request to see if it does fit in with the plan for the Annapolis Valley area?

DR. SMITH: Yes, I thank the honourable member for his question and I will personally make that commitment to review that file and get back to the honourable member.

MR. MOODY: Would the minister agree that the government has agreed that there are needs for more long-term care beds? If there is a need, this would be, obviously, a cheaper way to go with no cost for renovations or anything else, just a matter of approving the beds. Would he agree that there is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will say that discussions I have had within the department when we have allocated or looked favourably on one particular area, say, to add 20, 30, 40 beds, that we have looked at facilities that are already in place. I think we should do that and I think that is a good suggestion from the honourable member and I will share that with staff.

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

[Page 4325]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 38.

Bill No. 38 - Private Career Colleges Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 38.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any interveners on Bill No. 38?

The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 38. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, will you please call Bill No. 88.

Bill No. 88 - Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act.

[Page 4326]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 88, the Upper Stewiacke Fire Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 88. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[3:47 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[4:48 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 57 - Town of Lunenburg (Linden Avenue) Act.

Bill No. 3 - Nova Scotia Music Teachers' Act.

Bill No. 60 - Optometry Act.

Bill No. 81 - Occupational Therapists Act.

Bill No. 84 - Family Division of Supreme Court Statute Amendment (1988) Act.

[Page 4327]

Bill No. 63 - Halifax Water Commission Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment, except Bill No. 63 with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the House, I would like to have these bills read for a third time today.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed? (Interruptions)

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Certain bills, the ones that we did earlier today. I am not sure which ones they are, Mr. Speaker. I have five or six in front of me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: To bring about some cooperation, I think that if the House Leader would bring forward the bills individually that perhaps some of them would go through, and we would be more prepared to do it in that vein.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[GOVERNMENT BUSINESS]

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 81 and I so move.

Bill No. 81 - Occupational Therapists Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 81. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 4328]

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

[PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 3 and I so move.

Bill No. 3 - Nova Scotia Music Teachers' Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 3. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. (Applause)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 57 and I so move.

Bill No. 57 - Town of Lunenburg (Linden Avenue) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 57. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 43 and I so move.

Bill No. 43 - Public Archives Act.

[Page 4329]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 43.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there are some minor amendments which may be necessary to this bill. Prior to doing what we are about to do to it, I would ask that that bill not be referred to third reading and stood at the moment.

MR. SPEAKER: The bill is stood.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 60 and I so move.

Bill No. 60 - Optometry Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 60. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 84 and I so move.

Bill No. 84 - Family Division of Supreme Court Statute Amendment (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 84. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 4330]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the government's business for today. (Interruption) Sure, what is the number of the bill, I will call it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Bill No. 63.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 63.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with the continuing log jam over in the Law Amendments Committee, that completes the government's business for today. I think it was a very worthwhile day. I would like to inform the House that we will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. tomorrow. It is Opposition Day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, we intend to call two bills for sure and if there is time there will be a third bill. We intend to call Bill No. 61, Bill No. 76 and if time permits, Bill No. 44.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a motion to adjourn?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that we now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption, and the late show this evening, for those who are not aware, was submitted by the honourable member for Cumberland South who wishes to debate the matter:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Technology and Science Secretariat stop playing a game of deception and provide taxpayers with the total estimated cost to government for solving the Y2K millennium bug.".

[Page 4331]

We will start at 4:55 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TECH. & SC. SEC'T - Y2K PROBLEM: SOLUTION - COST PROVIDE

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise to speak on the resolution regarding the Y2K problem. It seems that we have been visiting that issue on a number of occasions, obviously, in the form of resolutions or questions to ministers or in the late debate. It doesn't seem that we are making a great deal of progress. Each time that the issue is brought forth there are catcalls of fear-mongering and doom prophesying. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a very critical issue and it would be, indeed, unfortunate if on January 1st we were in a position of saying, I told you so. We want to have the issue clearly addressed. We want to be reassured that, in fact, the government is on top of this problem. If they are, then they are, in fact, leading the way. Each of the provinces in Canada and, in fact, the federal government have clearly indicated that this problem is of mammoth proportions. Cost estimates run anywhere from the tens of millions of dollars to the hundreds of millions of dollars and without assurance that we do have the economic wherewithal to put in place the resources to address the problem, there is, indeed, cause for concern.

It is interesting to note, I have in front of me a document from the Attorney General in Alberta. I realize that the issue of calling forth information from other provinces has already been raised, but I think the point is well taken, that they very seriously are concerned about the cost of dealing just with the implications in terms of health care. It indicates here that in March 1998, the Alberta Health Department has indicated that $130 million must be directed toward solving the health component of the Y2K problem. They are concerned. The federal government has indicated, and I have mentioned it before, the fact that the provinces, by and large, are thought to be a weak link.

The other evening we talked about the fact that because of the demand for people who are trained to deal with this problem from the private sector that there will be a time when expertise may not be available to the government, simply because they do not have the finances available to be cost-competitive. That is a serious issue. All we have asked for, continually, repeatedly, is for the information to be made available. The fact that there have been meetings held, and we are having a great deal of difficulty even finding out what the agenda was. We have been able to get copies of the transparencies used by the presenters in terms of the issues of where they want to go. That is helpful, but it certainly is not sufficient to clearly show that we do have a handle on this problem.

[Page 4332]

I know today in the House the question was asked and general assurances were given that, yes, we do have the issue in hand, and yes, we do have the expertise to solve the problems, but the reality is that we are somewhat sceptical. On the one hand, you cannot have all these various agencies, other government departments, other provincial governments, saying, this is a problem, we don't know if we do have a handle on it. Then to be given platitudes and reassurances generally that, yes, things are well in hand. I think, to borrow a phrase from a recent movie, show us the proof. Show us and make sure that it is, in fact, in place. One of the issues is that we are on a downhill grade and we were given assurances that testing would be in place so that by the end of the summer of 1999 we would be able to do some testing.

The problem is that IBM, a leader in information technology and, certainly, in computer science, has indicated that the bulk of the problems will not emerge until testing takes place. What happens then is that testing that uncovers difficulty will lead to further testing and, in fact, experts in the field say that if the time lines are compressed, once they start to determine the problems, there will be difficulty in actually putting in place the solutions. This is not fear-mongering, this is reality from experts in the field. They are saying that you have to allow sufficient time for testing to take place and for adjustments to be made.

The other issue, and we spoke of it the other evening, was with regard to embedded technology. There are literally tens of thousands of chips embedded in various pieces of machinery. I know the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party spoke of the issue with regard to health care. The fact that once these chips start to fail, life support, critical equipment in hospitals, may fail. While conservative estimates indicate that only 2 per cent of these chips may, in fact, be impacted by the millennium bug, when you think of how many chips there are, in fact, across Canada, it is a significant problem and a very expensive problem to correct.

[5:00 p.m.]

The other day we likened it to a room full of dominoes and what happens when some of them do not do as they are supposed to do, what are the impacts, and that is the issue, that we need to know that there are, as I say, clear plans, clear monies available. That is the other issue that needs to be discussed. We have numbers ranging from $50 million to $100 million, $200 million. Ontario has talked about a blank cheque to address the problem. Surely by this juncture the government must have some clear idea of how much it is going to cost or how much money has been allocated.

We spoke earlier of the fact that in the budget estimates there were no clear line items that talked specifically about monies devoted to Y2K. Now, it is fine to say that within department budgets there is the opportunity to put aside funds to address the problem but that is little reassurance. In fact, conversations with someone in a government department

[Page 4333]

indicated that the demand for IT people is so great that they are having a difficult time just getting personnel to deal with problems. That is little cause for comfort I would say.

Overall I think that the government can, if they clearly decide to address this problem, address it in such a way that the bulk of the problems can be handled by January 1, 2000. That is the issue. I think that the people of Nova Scotia need to know. That is not too much to ask. When you have a problem of this magnitude on the horizon, I think it would be some comfort to be given paper documentation that clearly shows a plan that has been delineated with time lines, with finances committed to address the problem, so that we can be reassured, so that we can have the documents that say clearly this is what is going on. Without that we are left doing just exactly what we are doing now.

I know that the issue, as I say, one of the reasons that we keep revisiting this problem is because the government is not being forthcoming with the information. Having read articles in the newspaper and spoken to some people who have a fair amount of expertise with regard to Y2K, they are saying that very thing. They say why is it that it is so difficult to get the information? Is there a need for secrecy? Is there a need for meeting behind closed doors to put in place contingency plans, to talk to legal counsel about the potential implications of litigation as a result of system failures?

If that is the case, then we need to know that. It is not necessarily for the purpose of creating this fear among the populace. What it is about is simply letting the people know. The government is composed of people elected to serve the populace and if the populace is saying why can't we have access to this information, we need to know what it means to us, that is a reasonable request. I do understand, and as the comment has often been made here, we do not like to negotiate or go through these things on the floor of the Legislature. So be it. If the question is asked and the paper is forthcoming, there is no need to do this.

Mr. Speaker, I really, genuinely hope that this is the last time that we have to talk about the Y2K problem but I firmly believe that as we move closer and closer to January 1, 2000, you will hear not just one or two voices calling forth with concern, you will hear many voices and I do genuinely hope that the minister responsible will allay those fears now. Thank you.

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

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raises the question of reassuring the people of Nova Scotia and that is exactly what is needed on an issue like this. This is a real problem but a problem that must be dealt with in a managed and purposeful fashion. It is one that requires finances, obviously, and an expenditure of funds. It requires some problem solving which has been going on now for years, in fact, and taking steps to make sure that all of the elements of a plan to address systems that are critical to the well-being of Nova Scotians from a government perspective at least, are modified and projects

[Page 4334]

undertaken to ensure that those essential systems are compliant. The member opposite is really just saying, where is the information?

As I have indicated on a number of occasions in this House, it is our intention to not only do an overview of a progress report, but also to try and link up to individual departments that have been working for some time now, making progress, achieving compliance standards, working towards priority areas, some 150 projects that have been determined as critical in the government, each broken out by department and, where they cross departments, listed as well, budget allocations and steps taken to complete those projects, so that the public can start to see all the work that has been completed, all of the work yet to be done, the target dates for doing it, and the funds and personnel necessary to complete those tasks.

This is a real problem. Without proper planning it could have significant impact. It is our intention not only to do the planning and to keep doing the planning, but to ensure that those critical systems are fully compliant well before the millennium date. Just as an example of one of the things that will appear on the information page or on the hard copy of same is the mainframe conversion that has already taken place so that much of government business, the essential components of government business are already fully compliant.

The software testing ability that we have to allow departments to bring in software to simulate the Year 2000 conversion date and to assure themselves that those software programs will be fully functional, all of that work is under way. The member opposite is saying well just show us. We have indicated and we will comply with the commitment we have already made to provide Nova Scotians with regular updates, not just government overview updates but department by department, so that they too can see the progress being made in the compliance dates. Part of our job as a support team in Science and Technology is to provide support, and provide monitoring, to provide progress reports. We have to gather that from departments like Health, who have multiple partners, and put those into some sort of standard format so that people accessing the information can read it, understand it and be reassured that we are on task.

It should be noted that Canada is a leading nation in terms of Y2K compliance in the world. Not only governments, but businesses in this country have taken this problem seriously and have addressed it as well as any nation on earth. Nova Scotia is doing much the same work; hard work by capable individuals with adequate resources. You will hear every minister say that whatever is needed to deal with a problem that is determined to be critical will be found within budgets; there is no question of the commitment to be compliant. The members opposite have said we have had these estimates. Well, I don't know who is creating estimates, we have said pretty clearly that we have approximately $65 million in costs by the time the compliance is finished within the health care system in Nova Scotia.

[Page 4335]

We know that departments are forging ahead with other budget estimates which are precise and clear and that is forming up around an additional $20 million, so we know at this point at least that approximately $85 million in costs will be required to meet the compliance test. If more is needed, if additional funds are required, as people proceed with their risk management strategies, then we will undertake that work as well, Mr. Speaker. We simply intend to be compliant on essential services. We will fulfil that and we will report to Nova Scotians, as we have committed to do in this House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me to get my props here. How much time do I have?

MR. SPEAKER: Ten minutes.

MR. DELEFES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to be able to speak this evening on the resolution of the member for Cumberland South. The resolution reads: "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia's Science and Technology Secretariat stop playing a game of deception and provide taxpayers with the total estimated cost to government for solving the Y2K millennium bug.". I certainly agree with the intent of the resolution, Mr. Speaker, which is that the taxpayers of this province be provided with a total estimated cost for the Y2K fix. The minister appears to be deliberately avoiding apprising this House of the total estimated cost and of the state of readiness for the Year 2000.

We all know that the Year 2000 crisis is a global phenomenon. It refers to the tremendous potential for malfunction of computers, due to their reliance on the two digit code. There is, of course, potential for huge disruption to services that the government provides to its citizens. We have heard, of course, of the frightful possibilities of aircraft navigational systems failing and elevators failing and heart defibrillators failing and health monitoring devices failing come the year 2000. So there are some frightful and horrendous possibilities. We do have to be prepared for these contingencies, Mr. Speaker.

The Auditor General of Canada reported two years ago that the cost of dealing with the Year 2000 problem was estimated at $600 billion world-wide. In Canada, the estimated costs were in the range of $50 billion. Government Services in Canada, the bill for that was estimated at around $1 billion. We have had no indication yet, in Nova Scotia, what the estimated figure is. We have heard $15 million, and that figure was escalated to $25 million and then to $50 million and, most recently, the minister made reference to $70 million. The Third Party House Leader the other day made reference to $100 million. So people are starting to play games with these figures and they are ever escalating. We ask the minister to put to rest this speculation and provide us with the actual cost of the Y2K fix.

[Page 4336]

Here in Nova Scotia, we have been aware of the problem for a long time, as, in fact, people have been globally. We now have about 400 days left until January 1, 2000. Yet, we haven't had a detailed report on our state of preparedness for the year 2000. Last January 1998, the provincial Auditor General recommended that the government should periodically report to this House on the state of preparations for the year 2000. So far we have had nothing. As I say, they are 400 days to go until January 1, 2000. We have little snippets of information here and there. As I say, the figure $60 million to $70 million was made with reference to health care preparations alone.

In the spring session, despite our request for information for the year 2000 preparation, there was no information forthcoming. As I have said before, Mr. Speaker, citizens do have a right to know that the government is doing everything possible to ensure their safety come the new millennium. On October 2nd, I sent a letter to the Minister responsible for Technology and Science Secretariat, requesting very specific information about the government's plans. I asked if the Year 2000 Project Office and individual government departments have identified those services vital to the functioning of the Nova Scotia Government, those mission critical systems, systems with reference to health care, with reference to transportation, with reference to communication, with reference to the provision of electricity and water and food services. I also asked what efforts are being made to assess the thousands of less critical systems, the telecommunication equipment, the computers and the software used by thousands of government employees every day. I also asked what contingency plans are in place in the event of disruption of services on January 1, 2000. Of course, we asked how much money is being allocated to addressing the millennium problem and how much money will be allocated to addressing this problem. Again, there have been no answers in this House and there no references in the budget to the millennium bug problem.

As well, the federal government's Year 2000 Task Force made several recommendations to provincial governments, with respect to how they should conduct their affairs around the Year 2000 problem. Provincial governments were encouraged to provide support to private businesses to make sure they are Year 2000 compliant. They were also asked, provincial governments, to initiate a transparent process whereby provincial legislative bodies could report regularly on progress and year 2000 readiness and so far we have heard nothing in that regard.

[5:15 p.m.]

To ensure that this vital and critical information is available, we filed a freedom of information request regarding the government's plans for year 2000 readiness. Whenever we ask for information in this House from the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat, we get that predictable response that we are used to. Again, the word fear-mongering was used again today. We are doomsayers, doom and gloomers and, as I pointed out, the minister made that same reference today in reply to a question from a member of the Third Party. In fact, it is regrettable that the minister has seen fit to release

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more information to the press outside this House than in fact he has to the members of this Legislature with respect to our readiness for the year 2000.

On November 4th, in the Halifax Herald, not in this House, in response to questions put to him by the Opposition about year 2000 readiness, the minister put a price tag, as I say, of about $70 million in the health care field alone. That was the first time we heard the mention of the figure of some $70 million. Today we heard the Minister of Health who was quite equivocal about a $20 million cost for year 2000 readiness at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, when the Leader of the Third Party indicated that the business plan of the QE II made reference to some $30 million being spent over the next two year period. In fact, the Minister of Health was not at all clear about how much has been budgeted at the QE II hospital.

As pointed out, the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat has indicated that $70 million have now been allocated to health care. He has not indicated how much will be spent on other departments. So this is where we play the game of speculation. Is it $70 million, is it $80 million, is it $100 million, is it $150 million, is it $200 million? Goodness only knows how much has been allocated.

The problem is not that the money has to be spent. The money has to be spent, we know that and we are prepared to have money spent to fix the millennium bug problem. The problem is the cloak of secrecy around the spending plan. In the absence of a fully developed plan, the public assumes that we are embarking on a spend-as-we-go approach without any idea of the magnitude of the problem. Maybe the government does have a view of the scale of the problem and its potential costs. However, my feeling is that the public is in the dark and I ask the minister to enlighten us.

As I mentioned, the provincial Auditor General recommended that the government should periodically report on the state of year 2000 readiness. On November 4th during Question Period, I asked the minister if the first progress report will be released while the House is sitting. He said there will be regular updates filed on the website before this House concludes its business. Those were his exact words. Today I checked the home page of the Technology and Science Secretariat, I checked the home page of the Department of Finance, I checked the home page of the Department of Education. I even checked the home page of Virtual Nova Scotia. I conducted a search within the system and found nothing. So there is yet no report and my question is, when are we going to receive the regular updates that were promised.

In closing, I again ask the minister to provide us with the assurance that year 2000 preparations are in hand and that there is a plan and that the plan will be made available to members of this House before the House rises for the Christmas period. Nova Scotians have a right to know that we are preparing, that there will be a measure of security come year 2000

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and that we will have the financial capacity to cover the enormous costs surrounding this very serious matter. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Seeing no other speakers, the House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

[The House rose at 5:20 p.m.]